Serbian pair cruise into third round of Australian Open

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
RICK STEVENS ~Associated Press
Defending champion Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Jeremy Chardy during their match earlier today at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Djokovic won in straight sets.

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round of the Australian Open earlier today, with both 21-year-old Serbs looking as if they could make another memorable run in the season's first major.

Ivanovic beat Italian Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena, and defending men's champion Djokovic followed with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Chardy matched the third-ranked Djokovic shot for shot before wilting while trying to force a tiebreaker in the first set.

Djokovic, who ended Roger Federer's 19-match winning streak at Melbourne Park in last year's semifinals, was dominating on his serve against Chardy, faltering only when he was broken at love while serving for the match.

But he broke right back, finishing it off when Chardy netted a forehand on match point.

Ivanovic lost the last Australian Open final to Maria Sharapova, then won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open and gained the No. 1 ranking.

Now seeded fifth, she is drawing inspiration from her last run here. Sharapova is not defending the title because of a shoulder injury.

"I was in this situation before French Open last year, coming into the tournament as pretty serious finalist," she said. "That experience will help me a lot to approach this Australian Open."

Another Serb, women's No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, was playing later today.

No. 3 Dinara Safina overcame 44 unforced errors in a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-0 win over fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova and will next play No. 25 Kaie Kanepi of Estonia.

Safina lost to a qualifier in the first round here last year, but went on to be runner-up at the French Open, take the Olympic silver medal and reach the U.S. Open semifinals.

No. 10 Nadia Petrova had a 6-3, 6-2 win over India's Sania Mirza and No. 26 Ai Sugiyama of Japan defeated Nathalie Dechy of France 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.

On the men's side, No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain had a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over 31-year-old qualifier Dominik Hrbaty, who helped Slovakia win the Hopman Cup title in Perth earlier this month.

Safina's brother, 2005 champion Marat Safin, set up a potential third-round matchup with Federer, whom he beat en route to his title here four years ago. Safin beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Second-ranked Federer's quest to tie Pete Sampras' record 14th Grand Slam title continued Wednesday in a second-round match against Russian Evgeny Korolev.

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