Igor Andreev throws himself into his crashing forehand with such vigour that you sometimes wonder whether his arm might one day fly off and follow the ball over the net. Even without the prospect of being struck by a flying limb, it is one of the most feared strokes in the game, which is why the 26-year-old Russian might forever be haunted by the three successive forehand errors that led to his defeat by Roger Federer in the first round of the Australian Open here yesterday.
Having shared the first two sets, Andreev had broken Federer twice in a row and forced three set points when he served at 6-5. To the world No 37's horror, that was the moment when his forehand went into meltdown. Three errors in a row let Federer off the hook and barely half an hour later the world No 1 was celebrating a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-0 victory. He now plays Romania's Victor Hanescu.
Federer's serve was broken five times during an error-strewn display. The Swiss admitted afterwards to "a few hiccups", while Andreev was at a loss to explain his failure to take his chances. "Something missed, something went wrong," he said. His girlfriend, Maria Kirilenko, had knocked out Maria Sharapova 24 hours earlier and had joked about how he might emulate her performance. "She put too much pressure on me," Andreev smiled.
Nikolay Davydenko, who has beaten both Federer and Rafael Nadal on his way to victory in his last two tournaments, is being talked about as a contender here and dropped just four games in defeating Germany's Dieter Kindlmann. The world No 6, never the less, would be happy to maintain his low profile.
"I am not Paris Hilton," the balding Russian said. "I don't want to be like Nadal and Federer. I never see these guys at breakfast. They stay in their room and have room service. For me it's better to go downstairs for breakfast or dinner and not to be so famous."
Asked what he had done with his $1.51m (about £925,000) for winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, Davydenko said he had invested it. "If you win money, you need to make more money," he said.
Had he bought his wife a present? "Look, if I buy everything for my wife, how can I invest the money?" How would winning here affect his life? "I don't know. It's 50 per cent tax. You can't make millions here."
Novak Djokovic, another of the major challengers, made a fluent start with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver, but the No 8 seed, Robin Soderling, struggling with an elbow injury, lost 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to another Spaniard, Marcel Granollers.
Serena and Venus Williams enjoyed straight-sets victories over Urszula Radwanska and Lucie Safarova respectively. They were joined in the last 64 by Katie O'Brien, who beat Austria's Patricia Mayr 6-3, 6-3 to put two British women into the second round here for the first time since 1991. Today O'Brien was playing Jelena Jankovic, the world No 8, while Elena Baltacha was facing Kateryna Bondarenko, the world No 32.
O'Brien has been staying with relatives here – she has two aunts and six cousins in the city – and admitted that she had been enjoying herself so much that she was falling behind in her work towards a Business Studies degree with the Open University. "I have a marketing textbook with me," she said. "I had a deadline a couple of days ago and I've asked for an extension.
"I can't do anything here. I've been faffing about. There are so many things to do in the evening, but you get plenty of time in different places on tour."Reuse content