Alicia Molik shocks Amelie Mauresmo

PROFESSIONAL TENNIS: It was the second meeting between the players, but Molik still had a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Mauresmo at the Australian Open fresh on her mind

AP , CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIAAND TORONTO

Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 23

Australia's Alicia Molik used a dominating serve to upset second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 Wednesday in the second round of the Acura Classic.

Molik, unseeded and ranked 29th in the world, overcame Mauresmo of France in the third set by using her strong serve to control play, losing just two points on her five service games and none in the last three.

"I was impressed with the way I served it out," Molik said. "Forget the match. To serve it out at love against someone like Mauresmo, I think I can pat myself on the back."

It was only the second meeting between the players, but Molik still had a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Mauresmo at the Australian Open fresh on her mind.

"Revenge a little bit," Molik said. "In saying that I didn't win last time, I was more determined this time. I knew that if I did get my chances, I would work that much harder and make sure that I would close it out."

Mauresmo, who had a first-round bye, did not play like the No. 3-ranked player in the world. She certainly did not resemble the player who reached at least the quarterfinals in each of the three Grand Slam events this year.

"She played great, especially on her service game," Mauresmo said. "It was very difficult for me to break her because she was serving so well."

Fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport staved off an early challenge before winning the final nine games to beat Croatia's Karolina Sprem 6-4, 6-0 in her opening match on Wednesday night.

Davenport, who has won her last two tournaments, extended her winning streak to 10 matches.

The American, who had a first-round bye, traded early service breaks with Sprem in the first set and then held her serve at 4-all to start the streak. Sprem, who upset Venus Williams at Wimbledon before losing in straight sets to Davenport in the quarterfinals, hurt herself with six double faults in the first set alone.

Davenport, fresh off an easy victory over Serena Williams in the finals of the Carson event on Sunday, also won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford the week before. Davenport is attempting to win all three California summer WTA events for the second time in her career. She pulled off the feat in 1998 when she went on to win the US Open, the first of her three Grand Slam titles.

With three more wins on Wednesday, seven of the eight Russian players entered have advanced to the third round. No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia beat Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-2; Elena Bovina of Russia defeated Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 6-1, 6-4; and Elena Likhovtseva of Russia downed the Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-3.

Mauresmo is the highest ranked player Molik has ever beaten. The victory was only the Australian's fourth against a top 10 opponent.

Molik, winner of two career WTA titles, was down 3-0 in the first set. Molik rebounded with a break, and the players were back on serve with Mauresmo holding a 5-4 lead. With a set point facing her in the 10th game, Molik served an ace, won the game and finished off the set.

After Mauresmo won the second set by winning the first three games, Molik started the third set by taking a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game. The players held serve the rest of the way.

Argentine No. 9 Paola Suarez lost 6-3, 6-0 to Marion Bartoli of France.

In other second-round matches, eighth-seeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan defeated countrywoman Shinobu Asagoe 6-2, 6-2, and Spain's Conchita Martinez, making her 13th appearance here, was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic. It marked the 10th time that Martinez, the 1995 champion, won her first two matches here.

Masters Canada

Top-seeded Roger Federer, defending champion Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and Tim Henman advanced to the second round of the US$2.5 million tournament and left behind seven beaten seeds.

Among those knocked out included 2000 champion Marat Safin, French Open champion Gaston Gaudio and runner-up Guillermo Coria, and last year's Masters Canada finalist David Nalbandian.

"The depth in the game is pretty impressive," Roddick said. "It's really, really tough these days, especially in tournaments like this where everybody is here.

"There aren't a lot of easy matches."

Federer beat Morocco's Hicham Arazi 6-3, 7-5, finishing a match he'd started on Tuesday night before rain ended play after he'd won the first set.

"I was in a good position, which makes it much easier," Federer said. "I was happy to be up a set because I didn't know if we were going to play [Tuesday night] and the first round is always tricky, especially with rain delays like this.

"Today, I just tried to serve more consistent and it worked out. He played better from the baseline, I thought, and made it tougher for me in the second set."

Second-seeded Roddick, fresh from winning another RCA Championships title in Indianapolis at the weekend, dispatched French qualifier Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2 for his 50th match win of the year.

Benneteau had a 2-1 lead in the second set when he was forced to duck abruptly to avoid being hit by Roddick's passing shot. He required treatment on his neck and returned with the score tied 2-2. But he didn't have enough to match up with the hard-hitting Roddick, the second seed.

"It's unfortunate he got hurt because I think it was pretty high-level tennis until then," Roddick said. "He wasn't going to rally too much, he was going to go for his shots and win or lose going for it."

No. 9 Hewitt overcame rising Spanish talent Rafael Nadal 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, and No. 4 Moya also endured a battle in beating Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (9), 6-3, 6-4 for his 14th successive win over fellow Spaniards this year.

No. 5 Henman had an easier time handling Mariano Zabaleta 6-4, 6-1 but only evened their head-to-head record at 4-4.

Zabaleta was one of four Argentines to exit.

No. 3 Coria retired at 5-1 down to Luis Horna of Peru with a shoulder injury, No. 11 Gaudio's streak of four consecutive finals since his French Open success was snapped by Australian qualifier Todd Reid 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-3, and No. 6 Nalbandian was upset by Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The in-form Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, twice a finalist this month, won 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (2) against 15th-seeded Safin, who was ousted in the first round along with No. 8 Rainer Schuettler, No. 12 Sebastien Grosjean, and No. 13 Nicolas Massu.

Safin was his own worst enemy. The Russian rallied from 4-1 down in the first set to take the tiebreaker 7-3 on an unreturnable serve, then was overtaken in the second set, losing the last three games from 4-3 up. In the last set, the pair forced another tiebreaker, and Kiefer ran away with it 7-2 thanks in part to soft Safin errors.