Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer progress at Australian Open

 

It may not have been as straightforward as Roger Federer's passage into the third round but Rafael Nadal was pleased to have avoided any major drama in progressing at the Australian Open today.

Federer received a walkover when German opponent Andreas Beck was forced out of their second-round clash due to a lower back problem.

The news broke at the same time Nadal was slugging it out on Rod Laver Arena against German veteran Tommy Haas.

But the Spanish second seed, who won 6-4 6-3 6-4, revealed afterwards he was quite happy to have played, and performed well, against a tricky opponent.

Asked if he too would have preferred a bye, he said: "Before the day started yes but now I played and won I am happy."

 



Nadal had a couple of nervy moments, most notably in the first set when having already relinquished one of the two breaks he claimed to establish a 4-0 lead, he had to face another break point at 5-4.

He escaped, though, thanks to some big serving and cruised through the second.

Haas threatened again by moving 3-1 ahead in the third but Nadal simply upped his game to hit straight back and then broke again to move through to the last 32.

Reflecting on a good work out, he added: "I don't know if it was the perfect match but I won in three sets.

"It was positive but not that demanding (physically). We didn't play for four or five hours."

As for the knee he injured when sitting on a chair on Sunday, Nadal insisted the heavy strapping was merely precautionary.

"It is much better and I am so happy the knee is improving and I am able to play without pain," he said.

Federer was also an injury concern coming into the event after hurting his back during the Qatar Open but it was not tested further today.

The Swiss, seeded number three in Melbourne, revealed he was unaware of Beck's injury until after practice this morning.

"I didn't know anything about it until I saw him in the locker room and he came up to me. I was like 'hey, what's going on? Good to see you again', because he's a good friend. I've practised with him in the past in Switzerland.

"He said 'I'm not so good actually, I have a bad back'. It came as a surprise.

"He said he had a lot of painkillers during the last match. I think it happened four, five days ago. He doesn't want to risk it early in the season. I guess it's the smart decision for him to take."

The 16-time grand slam winner was adamant having an extra day off would not disrupt his momentum.

"I'll just take it easy this afternoon and come out tomorrow and hit intensely and then I'll be ready for the next match," he said.

There will not be a next match for Mardy Fish, who became the highest seed to exit the tournament when he lost to Alejandro Falla.

World number eight Fish turned in a mistake-laden performance, making 58 unforced errors, to hand the Colombian a 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 7-6 (8/6) victory in exactly three hours.

"I didn't play great and he played well," said Fish, who was irritated at Falla's repeated call for the trainer at the changeovers.

"For someone who is in the latter stages of his career and prides himself on his fitness, I don't enjoy that at all," he added.

"I have a hard time calling the trainer for anything. First of all, I wouldn't want the other guy to know that I was hurting in the first place. But to be able to get help for lack of fitness..."

Elsewhere, seventh seed Tomas Berdych eased past diminutive Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-1 6-0 7-6 (7/4), 11th seed Juan Martin Del Potro beat Blaz Kavcic 6-4 7-5 6-3 and left-handed Spaniard Feliciano Lopez overcame Flavio Cipolla 7-5 7-6 (7/4) 6-2.

John Isner progressed after a controversial end to his match against David Nalbandian.

After an epic struggle reached 8-8 in the deciding set and with Nalbandian on break point, chair umpire Kader Nouni overruled a linesperson who had called out an Isner ace.

Television replays not only showed Nouni had made a mistake - the ball was indeed wide - he then compounded the error by refusing Nalbandian the right to challenge via Hawk-Eye due to the time taken by the Argentinian to make the decision.

Isner duly held and then broke a clearly livid Nalbandian in the next game to complete a 4-6 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7/5) 10-8 victory.

"I didn't know what was going on as I was towelling off," Isner told ESPN immediately afterwards. "I guess I was just a little luckier out there."

PA

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