Baltacha: I can shock Henin

BRITISH No1 Elena Baltacha is convinced she can produce a major upset in the second round of the Australian Open when she faces former world No1 Justine Henin.

Baltacha, 27, yesterday secured progress at the first grand slam of the year with victory over American qualifier Jamie Hampton 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

It was a day of success for the Brits down under as Anne Keothavong also made round two with a straight sets win over Russian Arina Rodionova.

Baltacha’s clash with seven-time major winner Henin will be a big test for the Scot but the world No55 believes she can spring a surprise.

“I’ve got to believe that I’ve got a chance because otherwise there’s no point playing,” Baltacha said.

“On the match day, I’m going to go out and I’m going to fire. I’ve got nothing to lose at all.”

Baltacha, who reached the third round in last year’s tournament, will be encouraged by Henin’s struggles in her first round match with India’s Sania Mirza. Henin, 28, lost the first set but battled back to seal a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 win.

Baltacha did have problems of her own, losing the first set to Hampton, who is ranked 77 places below her. “She came out firing, it was just ridiculous” Baltacha added.

Keothavong’s progress was sealed in slightly more comfortable fashion with a 7-5, 6-4 win. She will now face 30th seed Andrea Petkovic in the second round.

The British No2 admitted to feeling tense against Radionova and knows she must play more freely in order to make the third round.

“If I don’t hit out against Andrea Petkovic I’ve got no chance.” Keothavong said. “I feel like I’m moving well. I just want to go out there and give it the best I’ve got.”

Both Brits will certainly need to be at their but it is Baltacha with the toughest challenge in round two. Henin won the Australian Open in 2004 and was a losing finalist in last year’s competition, so this match presents Baltacha with a chance to record one of the biggest victories of her career so far.

Davydenko falls at the first hurdle

FORMER world No3 Nikolay Davydenko and American Sam Querrey became the first major casualties of the Australian Open when they suffered shock first round defeats.

Russian Davydenko, the 23rd seed, was beaten by Florian Mayer 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 whilst 18th seed Querrey lost to Poland’s Lukasz Kubot 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6.

There were no such problems for other top seeds, however, as Roger Federer [2], Novak Djokovic [3], Tomas Berdych [6] and Andy Roddick [8] all won in straight sets.

In the women’s draw, world No1 Caroline Wozniacki sealed her first win of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentine Gisela Dulko.

Fourth seed Venus Williams, French Open winner Francesca Schiavone and Victoria Azarenka [8] also reached round two.


Men’s Singles:
R Nadal (SPA) [1] v M Daniel (BRA)
K Beck (SVK v A MURRAY (GBR) [5]

Women’s Singles:
S Bammer (AUT) v Z Zvonareva (RUS) [2]
D Safina (RUS) v K Clijsters (BEL) [3]