Early upsets abound in Australia

Monday, January 19, 2004

MELBOURNE, Australia --Swedish teenager Robin Soderling upset 2003 runner-up Rainer Schuettler 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open.

Schuettler, seeded sixth, won the first two sets and had a break point at 5-5 in the third, but the 19-year-old Soderling -- playing just his fourth Grand Slam event -- rallied to win in the first match on Melbourne Park's center court.

Soderling, who jumped more than 100 places in the world rankings last year to finish at No. 59, closed the opening-day match with two aces.

Earlier, Jelena Jankovic beat seventh-seeded Elena Dementieva, and two other seeded women also were eliminated.

Jankovic, of Serbia and Montenegro, beat Dementieva 6-1, 6-4, with the Russian committing eight double-faults and 32 unforced errors in the match that featured nine service breaks.

"I think it was me and my unforced errors," Dementieva said. "I usually have some problems in the beginning of the year, especially here in Melbourne. I feel like I never play well here."

Tenth-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia and 31st-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn also lost early matches.

Petrova was the first seeded player to fall, losing 6-3, 6-3 to Hungary's Aniko Kapros in 65 minutes. Big-serving American Laura Granville beat Tanasugarn 6-1, 6-3.

Petrova, who withdrew from a tuneup event in Canberra last week after injuring her thigh in the Gold Coast final the previous week, dropped five service games and had 35 unforced errors against the Hungarian baseliner, who finished last year at No. 92.

Granville, who had the second-fastest serve on the women's tour last season at 123 mph, had only one ace against Tamarine, but won almost three-quarters of the points on the first serves.

Eleventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva and 30th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, both of Russia, advanced. Zvonareva beat Zuzana Ondraskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-1, and Kuznetsova edged Shenay Perry of the United States 6-3, 6-3.

In late men's matches, top-ranked Andy Roddick faced Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, and defending champion Andre Agassi was set to play Australian wild-card entry Todd Larkham.

In early play, Americans Taylor Dent and Robbie Ginepri advanced, while Frenchman Arnaud Clement was the first of the men's seeded players to lose.

Dent, seeded 27th, was leading 6-2, 6-1, 2-1 when Spaniard Fernando Verdasco retired because of illness.

"At the end of the first set, I thought something might have been bothering him," Dent said. "He took a long break, but I didn't count on him retiring, because that's the worst thing I can do. He was hurting a bit, but I tried to keep the pressure on him."

Ginepri, seeded 32nd, beat Portugal's Luis Horna 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

"I was a little rusty at the start. I got broke first game, but luckily broke back," Ginepri said. "I didn't hit the ball as clean as I'd have liked, but I got the job done.

"For a first-round match, I'm excited."

Clement, the 2001 runner-up who was seeded 27th, fell 6-7 (6), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.

Sweden's Thomas Enqvist and Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti advanced. Lapentti, a semifinalist in 1999, beat Spain's Oscar Hernandez 6-1, 6-3, 6-1, and Enqvist edged 29th-seeded Vincent Spadea of the United States 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

In late women's matches, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne faced 15-year-old Australian wild-card Olivia Lukaszewicz, and No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo of France played Chuang Chia-jung of Taiwan.

"I was a little rusty at the start. I got broke first game, but luckily broke back," Ginepri said. "I didn't hit the ball as clean as I'd have liked, but I got the job done.

"For a first-round match, I'm excited."

Clement, the 2001 runner-up who was seeded 27th, fell 6-7 (6), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.

In late women's matches, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne faced 15-year-old Australian wild-card Olivia Lukaszewicz, and No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo of France played Chuang Chia-jung of Taiwan.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: