Murray crashes out of Aussie Open

A Frenchman ranked 38 in the world ends the British player's stay.

    Andy Murray lets off some steam on his way
    out [GALLO/GETTY]
    Qatar Open champion Andy Murray has become the first big casualty of the Australian Open after crashing out to little known French man Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-5, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (5) in Melbourne.

    There were no such problems for defending women’s champion Serena Williams and Justine Henin who both cruised through their first round matches.

    "I think I was a wee bit nervous out there," defending champion Williams admitted after beating Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3, 6-3 in the first match on centre court.

    "I think everyone could probably tell I was a little scratchy. But it's the first round. Just moving forward."

    Top-ranked Henin, making her first appearance here since defaulting with an upset stomach in the 2006 final against Amelie Mauresmo and sitting out last year with personal problems, ran off the last six games to finish off a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Japan's Aiko Nakamura.

    "It was a little bit windy and she had a game that wasn't the easiest for me to start the tournament. I'm glad it's behind me now," said Henin, who pushed her winning streak to 29 matches, six short of Venus Williams' record.

    Andy Roddick, who himself was given a tough time by Tsonga in the first round last year, had a easier time this time around.

    The sixth-seed advanced 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 over Czech qualifier Lukas Dlouhy, who self-destructed with 12 double-faults in the first two sets.

    No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, still subject to an ATP investigation into illegal gambling, beat Michael Llodra 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.

    Jankovic prays

    Women's No. 3 Jankovic wasn't sure how she managed to beat Austria's Tamira Paszek 2-6, 6-2, 12-10, fending off three match points in the third set, which ran nearly two hours and included 15 service breaks.

    "I was praying, 'Please, God, help me get out of the situation'," said Jankovic, who appeared to be fit after struggling with a leg injury at the Hopman Cup earlier this month.

    "I didn't want to go home, and that was what was driving me."

    Davenport, the 2000 champion here who has won three of four tournaments since coming back after the birth of her first child last June, held off Italy's Sara Errani 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in what she called the worst outing of her comeback.

    "When you can get through, kind of scrape through not playing your best, a lot of times you can turn it around,'' said Davenport, who surpassed Steffi Graf atop the all-time list of money winners on the women's tour at $21,897,501 with the win.

    "I'm hoping that happens.''

    She likely will have to be at her best Wednesday when she plays fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova, who had no easy time downing Jelena Kostanic Tosic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3.

    An unlikely champion

    Serena Williams: The defending champ back
    in action [GALLO/GETTY]
    Last year, Serena Williams was unseeded, ranked 81st and coming off one of her worst losses on tour, in a Tier 4 event at Hobart, yet she beat six seeded players en route to the title here. It was her eighth, and least expected, Grand Slam win.

    This time, she's seeded seventh, looks to be in excellent shape and is one of the clear favorites.

    The courts also have been resurfaced in bright blue.

    "It's obviously a lot different, I'm not No. 81 any more. And the court's different, it's a different color," Williams, dressed in fuchsia bicycle shorts and headband, a short white dress and dangling, chandelier-inspired earrings, told the crowd after her 62-minute victory over wild-card entry Gajdosova.

    After an inconsistent start, Williams ran off the last three games of the first set, with three aces in the last game. Grunting with effort on every shot, she dropped only one of her last 16 points on serve.

    Mauresmo, who has slumped from No. 1 to No. 18 since winning here in 2006, opened with a 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-0 victory over Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus.

    Three seeded men needed five sets to advance: No. 11 Tommy Robredo rallied from two sets down to oust Mischa Zverev, No. 24 Jarkko Nieminen beat Canada's Frank Dancevic, and No. 28 Gilles Simon downed American Bobby Reynolds.

    In a match between two former finalists, 2003 runner-up Rainer Schuettler of Germany beat 2001 runner-up Arnaud Clement of France; while Mardy Fish, who combined with Serena Williams in the United States' Hopman Cup-winning team earlier this month, beat Serbia's Boris Pashanski.

    Also advancing were eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France and No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who won in Sydney last week.

    Second-ranked Rafael Nadal, the only player to beat Roger Federer at the last 10 Grand Slams, at the last two French Opens, played Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the late match.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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