By Ian Ransom
Roger Federer was made to work for his place in the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday after Maria Sharapova suffered a huge scare against a 150th-ranked qualifier as the heat rose at Melbourne Park.
Rod Laver Arena’s centre court was ground zero for high drama early in the day, with Russian Sharapova finding herself two service breaks down at 4-1 in the deciding set against compatriot Alexandra Panova.
With the temperature rising above 32 degrees Celsius (90F), Sharapova showed ice in her veins, first clawing back to 5-4 and then clobbering a string of forehand winners to save two match-points in an exhilarating counter-attack.
With that, the belief drained quickly from her plucky 25-year-old opponent and after levelling with another smoking forehand down the line, second seed Sharapova closed out the match 6-1 4-6 7-5.
“When other things aren’t working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out,” the five-times grand slam champion told reporters.
“Until the very end I still try to dictate, I still try to find my way.”
Federer was forced to find his own way through in the third match at Rod Laver Arena after losing the first set to Italian Simone Bolelli.
The Swiss master was troubled by a painful injury to the little finger on his racquet hand and growled at a prying television camera when medical staff worried at it before the second set.
He shrugged it off, though, and marched on to a 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 over the 48th-ranked Bolelli, sealing the match with a rush to the net that would have pleased coach Stefan Edberg.
“It felt like a bee stung me,” the 33-year-old second seed said of his finger problem. “I was like, ‘this can’t be possible’.
“I’d never had this pain before… Thankfully it wasn’t so bad at the end.”
MURRAY IN A HURRY
Andy Murray had a far more serene outing on the second show-court at Margaret Court Arena, trouncing Marinko Matosevic 6-1 6-3 6-2 to retreat to the cool of the shade after 102 impressive minutes.
The Scot’s win extended his unbeaten record against Australians to 10-0, deflating the crowd’s joy slightly after 10 locals had made it past the first round across both the men’s and women’s draws.
“I think I moved pretty well today. I defended well, you know, which is something — if you want to win these tournaments, you need to defend well,” said Murray, who next faces Portugal’s Joao Sousa before a potentially mouth-watering clash against young gun Grigor Dimitrov.
The Bulgarian Dimitrov’s heart may have been in his mouth had he watched his girlfriend Sharapova’s match and the 10th seed also suffered a wobble in beating unseeded Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-3 6-7(12) 6-3 6-3.
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych had no such troubles, roaring forward with a straight sets demolition of Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer.
The evening session sees third seed Rafa Nadal play American Tim Smyczek on centre court for a place in the third round, with Canadian hope Eugenie Bouchard taking on Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.
Cyprus’ Marcos Baghdatis defeated Belgian David Goffin, seeded 20, to advance into the third round.
Bagdatis claimed the first two sets, 6-1 and 6-4, lost the third but rallied back in the fourth set without dropping a game.
Results from the Australian Open Women’s Singles Round 2 matches on Wednesday
7-Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) beat Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) 6-0 6-3
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (U.S.) beat Kristina Mladenovic (France) 7-6(3) 7-6(6)
31-Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) 3-6 6-2 8-6
14-Sara Errani (Italy) beat Silvia Soler Espinosa (Spain) 7-6(3) 6-3
Caroline Garcia (France) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 6-3 6-4
Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) beat Lara Arruabarrena Vecino (Spain) 6-4 4-6 6-4
2-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Alexandra Panova (Russia) 6-1 4-6 7-5
Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) beat Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 4-6 6-3 6-2
22-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) beat Oceane Dodin (France) 7-5 5-7 6-4
Irina Begu (Romania) beat Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) 7-5 6-4
Julia Goerges (Germany) beat Klara Koukalova (Czech Republic) 6-3 4-6 6-2
Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) beat Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) 6-2 7-6(6)
10-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Roberta Vinci (Italy) 6-2 6-4
21-Peng Shuai (China) beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-1 6-1
Carina Witthoeft (Germany) beat Christina Mchale (U.S.) 6-3 6-0
Results from the Australian Open Men’s Singles Round 2 matches on Wednesday
Bernard Tomic (Australia) beat 22-Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(6) 7-6(5)
3-Rafa Nadal (Spain) beat Tim Smyczek (U.S.) 6-2 3-6 6-7(2) 6-3 7-5
Samuel Groth (Australia) beat Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) 3-6 6-3 7-5 3-6 6-1
Malek Jaziri (Tunisia) beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) 1-6 6-3 6-4 1-6 6-3
Dudi Sela (Israel) beat 28-Lukas Rosol (Czech Republic) 7-6(2) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Nick Kyrgios (Australia) beat 23-Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 7-6(4) 6-4 5-7 6-4
Andreas Seppi (Italy) beat 29-Jeremy Chardy (France) 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-1
10-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) beat Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 6-3 6-7(10) 6-3 6-3
2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat Simone Bolelli (Italy) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
14-Kevin Anderson (South Africa) beat Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania) 6-2 6-2 7-6(3)
6-Andy Murray (Britain) beat Marinko Matosevic (Australia) 6-1 6-3 6-2
Joao Sousa (Portugal) beat 32-Martin Klizan (Slovakia) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 1-0 (Klizan retired)
24-Richard Gasquet (France) beat James Duckworth (Australia) 6-2 6-3 7-5
Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) beat 20-David Goffin (Belgium) 6-1 6-4 4-6 6-0
Viktor Troicki (Serbia) beat 26-Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-0
7-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat Jurgen Melzer (Austria) 7-6(0) 6-2 6-2