Clijsters, Hingis closer to showdown

Melbourne, January 18:

James Blake advanced to the third round of the Australian Open beating Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday.

Now Blake faces, Robby Ginepri, who beat German qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-4, 7-5, 6-1. Spain’s second seed Rafael Nadal had a marathon 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory over German Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the third round. Nadal will next play Swiss 31st seed Stanislas Wawrinka.

Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis — raced to see who could finish their match first and took another step toward a possible quarter-finals showdown. Maria Sharapova, the top women’s seed, needed only 58 minutes to beat fellow Russian Anastassia Rodionova 6-0, 6-3.

Clijsters extended the winning start to her farewell tour, beating Akiko Morigami 6-3, 6-0 in 59 minutes. Clijsters recovered from an inconsistent opening set to run through the second.

Hingis continued to build momentum in her comeback after three years away with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva. Sixth-seeded Hingis won three straight Australian titles from 1997 and then lost three consecutive finals before quitting the tour because of nagging foot and ankle problems.

Hingis comeback to the Australian Open in 2006 ended in a quarter-final loss to Clijsters. She next meets Aiko Nakamura of Japan, a surprise 6-3, 6-2 winner over India’s Sania Mirza.

Also advancing on the women’s side were eighth-seeded Patty Schnyder, No 9 Dinara Safina, No 12 Anna Chakvetadze, No 13 Ana Ivanovic, No 15 Daniela Hantuchova, No 19 Li Na, No 22 Vera Zvonareva, No 24 Samantha Stosur, No 29 Alona Bondarenko and No 30 Tathiana Garbin. No 17 Anna-Lena Groenefeld lost to American Ashley Harkleroad.

Men’s winners included third-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, Ferna ndo Gonzalez, Tommy Haas, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt, Dmitry Tursunov and Sebastien Grosjean and Stanislas Wawrinka. Juan Ignacio Chela ousted Jarkko Nieminen.