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Nadal, Murray have it easy

Last updated on: January 22, 2009 20:03 IST

World number one Rafael Nadal gave another powerful statement of his Australian Open intentions by crushing Croatia's Roko Karanusic 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round on Thursday.

The Spaniard, minus his trademark long shorts and cut off sleeves, raced to victory in 97 minutes for the loss of just seven games.

Nadal, whose best performance at the Australian Open was when he reached the semi-finals last year, next faces Tommy Haas of Germany in the third round on Saturday.

"I won without any problems today, so that was good," the world number one smiled.

"The first big opponent, I think," Nadal said. "It is gonna be a very good test to see how I am. I am going to have to play very well if I want have chances to win, no?"

Fourth-seeded Briton Murray was explosive on Rod Laver Arena, pummelling Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a performance which included 37 clean winners.

"I felt like once I got ahead I could settle down," Murray said. "To come through in straight sets is obviously important. It was a good test to have at this stage in the tournament."

WINNING STREAK

Last year's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed a great day for French tennis when he beat Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2.

Tsonga showed no signs of the back injury that forced him to pull out of a warm-up event in Sydney last week as he wore down his opponent.

It has been 81 years since a Frenchman won the Australian Open singles title but five Frenchmen are through to the third round this year. Fabrice Santoro, the oldest man in the tournament, progressed on Wednesday, while Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils also won Thursday.

Serena hold off Dulko

Serena Williams produced another characteristic fightback to advance to the third round after a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Argentina's Gisela Dulko.

Williams comfortably won the first set but had to overcome 3-0 and 5-2 deficits in the second before she won the match in 110 minutes. The second set lasted 79 minutes alone.

The second seed's fighting qualities were never better displayed with Dulko serving for the set in the ninth game.

The Argentine had five set-points, each of which Williams staved off. Williams also held six break points of her own before finally winning the game on her seventh opportunity to take the score to 4-5.

The nine-times Grand Slam winner took some time to adjust a protective brace and strapping around her ankles in the changeover and then held serve to level at 5-5.

She broke Dulko in another epic struggle in the next game to serve out for the match, which she sealed with an ace.

Dementieva extends winning streak

Elena Dementieva extended her winning streak to 12 matches with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 victory over Iveta Benesova in the second round.

Dementieva, who is unbeaten in 2009 after claiming the Auckland and Sydney titles, admitted after her first round victory over Kristina Barrois that her run of matches had made her a little fatigued and affected her performance.

The world number four made 23 unforced errors and served five double faults on the second show court but was still too strong for the world number 35, wrapping up the match in 72 minutes.

The Beijing Olympics gold medallist overpowered Benesova with 20 clear winners to the Czech's seven and will meet either Australia's Samantha Stosur or Germany's Sabine Lisicki, who play later on Thursday, in the third round.

Mauresmo scrapes through

Former champion Amelie Mauresmo breathed a big sigh of relief after squeaking past the lone Briton left in the women's draw to reach the third round.

The ex-world number one made heavy work of her 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Elena Baltacha on Showcourt Two before admitting she needed to up her performance if she is going to survive much longer.

"I'm expecting to play better and better as the tournament will go on," the 29-year-old told reporters.

"I'm definitely expecting a tougher match, tougher opponent next round. So I will have to step up and play some better tennis."

Mauresmo was fortunate she was not facing a tougher opponent in this match.

Ukraine-born Baltacha is ranked 134 in the world and had been thrilled just to reach the second round after three of the four British women in the field fell at the first hurdle.

Mauresmo struggled to find her range as a warm wind swirled and shanked numerous shots off court in a scrappy win over an unfancied opponent.

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