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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top seeds shine on mixed day for Brits

Photo Titled Murray racquet
Murray racquet
From the most important British view of all, Day Two of The 2009 Championships went well. Andy Murray, seeded third and propelled by a surge of expectation, duly saw off the American Robert Kendrick, but not without the stutter that cost him the second set on a tiebreak.

He won in four sets to line up a second round meeting with Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, who saw off the Italian qualifier, Riccardo Ghedin, in straight sets.

The day did not go nearly so well for the other British hopes in action, mostly via the wild card entry route. Alex Bogdanovic lost for the eighth straight year, and the other home male hopes, Dan Evans and Jason Goodall were also eliminated, though Goodall made a brave effort, taking France's Michael Llodra to five sets.

There were defeats, too, for two of the three British women - Anne Keothavong and Katie O'Brien - but Elena Baltacha struck a notable blow for the home nation late in the evening by eliminating Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine after dropping the opening set and thus joins Murray as the only other Briton in the second round.

Perhaps the brightest performance of the day came out on Court 3, where Australia's lone male representative, Lleyton Hewitt, turned on the sort of style that won him the title in 2002 as he routed the American Robby Ginepri. After losing the opening three games, Hewitt won 18 of the next 21.

However, the 14th-seeded Marat Safin's hopes of a repeat of the sort of show he put on last year by reaching the semi-finals were rudely brought down when he fell to the American qualifier, Jesse Levine, in four sets.

But there was good progress for Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, the man who ended Murray's hopes at Roland Garros recently, while another Latin American, the fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, was not troubled by the French veteran Arnaud Clement. He may find himself required to work harder against his next opponent, Hewitt.

Another long-time French competitor, Fabrice Santoro, did much better than Clement by eliminating the 33rd seed, Nicolas Kiefer of Germany.

The defending women's champion, Venus Williams, started off confidently by defeating the Swiss teenager Stefanie Voegele for the loss of five games, while the top seed, Dinara Safina of Russia, did much better than her brother by winning her opening match comfortably.

Other leading women's seeds to progress were the 2006 champion, Amelie Mauresmo, the Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, the fast-improving Dane, Caroline Wozniacki and the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, fresh from victory at the French Open.

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