Thu, Jan 19, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Roddick, Serena cruise

ROUND 2Andy Roddick battled past some pain while serena Williams appeared to be playing a practice match

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Wang Yeu-tzuoo of Taiwan in action against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. Nieminen defeated Wang 6-2, 7-6, 6-2.

PHOTO: AFP

With Andy Roddick's personal cheering section leading the way, it was a red, white and blue day at the Australian Open.

Second-seeded Roddick overcame an ankle sprain and was nearly perfect in beating Wesley Moodie of South Africa 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.

Defending women's champion Serena Williams used her match against soft-hitting Camille Pin of France as a virtual practice session while extending her winning streak here to 16 matches with a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport had to work a little harder to defeat Karolina Sprem of Croatia.

Another American, 20th-seeded James Blake, rallied from a set down to oust French qualifier Jean-Christophe Faurel.

Robby Ginepri could have made it an even better day for the US contingent but fell to qualifier Denis Gremelmayr after winning the first two sets and leading 3-0 in the third.

Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova overcame 31 unforced errors and fended off three set points for American qualifier Ashley Harkleroad in the second set to advance 6-1, 7-5.

Men's No. 4 David Nalbandian of Argentina was taking on Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the final night match.

It was a cloudless day at Melbourne Park, and the heat had players sheltering in the shade between points.

Roddick's cheering session included a group of young women who wore spangled red, blue and silver hats, had the letters of his name painted on their stomachs and chanted cheers.

With a sprinkling of American flags around Rod Laver Arena, it almost looked like Roddick was playing at the US Open.

When Moodie, the Wimbledon doubles champion, netted a backhand on match point, Roddick turned to them, pumped his fist and whacked up to them as they chanted "USA!"

"Would you believe me if I said every one of those is my cousin?" Roddick joked afterward. ``It's nice when you have 30-some-odd girls in bikinis cheering for you.''

Roddick was at the top of his game, yielding only 17 points in 15 service games and committing only nine unforced errors.

"I'll take that most days," he said.

Moodie tried to pressure him, rushing the net behind a serve that was nearly as fast as Roddick's primary weapon. Despite his deft volleying, Moodie won only 57 percent of his 58 net approaches as Roddick's passing shots left him lunging from side to side.

Roddick broke serve for the first time to take the first set. After Moodie fended off a break point and held for 3-3 in the second set, he didn't have another game point until he already was down 2-0 in the third set.

"I wanted to return well," Roddick said. "I feel like after the first four games of the match, I really started doing that. If I can do that, it will make my serve look that much better to the other guys."

Roddick said he slightly injured his right ankle early in the match but hoped that the trainers would give it "a little TLC" and make it better.

A shock first-round loser at the last US Open, Roddick meets Julien Benneteau of France in the third round.

Williams, seeking her eighth Grand Slam title, lost her serve twice in the match but broke Pin six times and finished with 30 winners against only six for the French player.

"It's never as easy as it looks," Williams said. "I'm just happy to be getting through the rounds."

Williams, backed by a vocal contingent in her first appearance on packed Vodafone Arena, seemed to get frustrated with the 130th-ranked Pin's lack of pace, pounding the ball harder and harder, grunting with the effort.

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