Wed, Mar 16, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Dust bedevils top desert tournament

SANDPIT Despite playing in dustbowl conditions that blanketed the main stadium court at Indian Wells with a thin layer of moving sand, the big guns went through

AFP , INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to Dinara Safina of Russia during the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California on Monday. Sharapova won the match 6-2, 6-3.

PHOTO: AFP

Two-time runner-up Tim Henman held off a stiff challenge and third seed Andy Roddick rolled to an easy win as both advanced on Monday at the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters Series event.

Englishman Henman beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-4 and American Roddick cruised past Czech Jiri Novak 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

The 30-year-old Henman hammered more winners, 21-14, and won 71 of 129 total points in the 83-minute match in the California desert.

Sixth seed Henman advances to face Spain's Tommy Robredo, who rallied from a set down to beat Sweden's Thomas Enqvist 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

Playing in dustbowl conditions that blanketed the main stadium court with a thin layer of sand, Henman won 67 percent of his first-serve points and was successful on three of six break chances.

Wind gusts at the main stadium court reached up to 50kph during the day session.

"It was like running on a piece of paper, only someone was moving the paper," Henman said. "You can't take anything for granted in these conditions."

Henman and the Austrian had split their two previous meetings.

Henman said against Robredo he will try to use his serve and volley game to his advantage. It worked on Melzer as he won 64 percent of his net points to the Austrian's 38 percent.

Roddick was on the court just 45 minutes, registering his fastest victory since turning pro four years ago.

Roddick is not only trying to make it past the quarterfinals here for the first time but also looking to rub out memories of losing a recent Davis Cup to Croatia.

"Does it erase the pain from Davis Cup? No. But it helps in the process of moving forward," he said.

Roddick will next play Olympic singles bronze medal winner Fernando Gonzalez, of Chile, who dispatched American James Blake 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 on Monday.

Fifth seed Guillermo Coria defeated Asia's No 1 Paradorn Srichaphan 6-4, 6-2 in the evening match on the main stadium.

Coria advances to the fourth round where he will meet eight-time major winner Andre Agassi, who overpowered Romanian Andrei Pavel 6-3, 6-4.

Coria was the last seeded male to advance on Monday as nine of the top ten men are still alive in the draw. Third seed Roddick, No. 6 Henman, No. 9 Agassi and tenth seed David Nalbandian also reached the fourth round.

sharapova wins

In the women's draw, reigning Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova pummelled Russian compatriot Dinara Safina 6-2, 6-3 in a third-round match.

Sharapova will face Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, who stopped 2002 Indian Wells champ Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-2.

Top seed Lindsay Davenport advanced to the fourth round by defeating fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

Davenport weathered a second-set blip and called the daytime conditions on the court almost "unplayable."

Former Australian Open champ Mary Pierce beat 15-year-old Nicole Vaidisova 6-4, 6-4 and world No. 473 Viktoriya Kutuzova of the Ukraine upset 17th seeded Amy Frazer of the US 6-3, 6-3.

Taking to the court yesterday was world No. 1 Federer, No. 2 Hewitt and No. 4 Marat Safin.

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