Nadal beats Haas as Federer puts feet up

Nadal hits a return against Haas in Melbourne.

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal cranked up his bid for a second Australian Open title with victory over Tommy Haas as rival Roger Federer had a walkover into the third round Wednesday. World No. 2 Nadal overcame four-time grand slam semifinalist Haas 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in 2hr 29min on Rod Laver Arena, while Federer put his feet up after his second-round opponent Andreas Beck pulled out injured.

Beck injured his lower back warming up in the morning and gave the 16-time grand slam champion a saloon passage into the last 32.

The third day also had its share of drama with David Nalbandian furious at being refused the use of Hawk-Eye adjudication by the chair umpire at a crucial moment in his five-set defeat to American John Isner.

Nadal, a 10-time major winner, was given a good match by Haas, who had reached a career-high No. 2 ranking in 2002 before a succession of shoulder operations derailed his career.

Haas, 33, the oldest player in the men’s singles draw, reached three Melbourne semifinals in 1999, 2002 and 2007 and provided a reminder of his former glories with some cracking forehands and backhands.

Nadal, who will face Lukas Lacko of Slovakia next, again played with his right knee heavily bandaged but reported no problems with it during Wednesday’s match.

Haas, on the comeback trail, had plenty to be pleased about after missing last year’s Australian Open.

“I still feel like I’m lacking the experience of matches because it hasn’t been really that many in the last almost two years now,” Haas said.

While Nadal was hard at work getting past the stylish German, Federer was taking it easy after losing his opponent through injury.

“I was completely focusing on the match, thinking that I would probably have two, three hours to go. So from that standpoint, the energy is there,” Federer said.

“Now, I’ll just take it easy this afternoon and come out tomorrow and hit intensely tomorrow, and then I’ll be ready for the next match.”

Ironically, what would have been Federer’s first match on the secondary Hisense Arena never materialized after playing 52 matches at the Australian Open on the main Rod Laver Arena.

Nalbandian was refused a key video challenge towards the end of his 4hr 41min marathon 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 10-8 loss to Isner.

Holding a break point at 8-8 in the deciding set, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up, called for a Hawk-Eye video review when the umpire overruled a fault call on Isner’s serve.

But chair umpire Kader Nouni told him he was “too late” to request the challenge, according to Nalbandian, who argued with the umpire for several minutes and called the match supervisor on court.

However, Nalbandian was told Hawk-Eye was used at the umpire’s discretion – and he lost the game, and was then broken, to end the 99-minute decider in acrimonious fashion.

Australian teenager Bernard Tomic claimed victory again, overturning American Sam Querrey, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and is set to play Ukraine’s 13th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw, American eighth seed Mardy Fish was knocked out of the tournament by Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (8/6).

Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych had a straight sets-victory over Belgium’s Olivier Rochus, and former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro ousted Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 19, 2012, on page 14.




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