Kerber nabs birthday win
BY JOHN PYE Associated Press
Friday, January 18, 2013
1/18/13 at 5:49 AM
MELBOURNE, Australia - Angelique Kerber survived some nervous moments before fending off American teenager Madison Keys in the third round of the Australian Open, then got to blow out the candles on a cake to celebrate her 25th birthday.
Fifth-seeded Kerber of Germany won 6-2, 7-5 on Friday to move into the fourth round, further than she's gone in six trips to the Australian Open.
Local organizers brought Kerber a cake onto the court immediately after the match and the crowd at Rod Laver Arena sang "Happy Birthday." She blew out the candles and said thank you to the crowd and to 17-year-old Keys.
"Madison is a great young player and it was very tough," said Kerber, a semifinalist last year at Wimbledon. "So happy I won today on my birthday!"
Kerber will next play No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who advanced after a tough 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 win over 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli.
In the fourth round last year, Makarova beat Serena Williams and was the first of only four women to beat the powerful American in 2012. Kerber was the last.
Fourth-seeded Angieszka Radwanska, meanwhile, won her 12th match in a row with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Britain's Heather Watson on the second of the show courts at Melbourne Park.
"I'm extremely happy to be playing my best tennis from the beginning of the year," said Radwanska, who won tournaments in Auckland and Sydney before coming to Melbourne. "Hopefully I'll play on the same level the rest of the tournament."
She'll next play 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who beat Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3 in a matchup featuring two Serbians who were both former top-ranked players.
Ivanovic surged to a 5-2 lead in the first set but lost the next three games. The 13th-ranked Ivanovic broke Jankovic to pull ahead 6-5 and won the first set with an ace.
The 25-year old Ivanovic had an easier time in the second set, wrapping it up on her second match point.
Sixth-seeded Li Na advanced 6-4, 6-1 over 27th-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania to a fourth-round match with No. 18 Julia Goerges, who Zheng Jie 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.
After soaring to 106 degrees on day four, the temperature dropped into the mid-70s on Friday, and light rain briefly interrupted play on some courts.
Roger Federer has won four Australian Open titles among his 17 majors, and is ordinarily one of the most popular athletes in Australia.
The only problem is this: His 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday night set Federer on course for a third-round match against Bernard Tomic, the last remaining Australian in the men's or women's draws.
The 20-year-old Tomic beat German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8) in the last afternoon match on the center court at Melbourne Park, keeping his cool on a long, searing day.
Federer praised Tomic's play for the crowd, and later said he won't mind for whom or how loud fans are cheering Saturday.
"I don't think it matters whether he's the last Australian or 10 more," Federer said. "There's always excitement about Aussies playing here. I played him here last year. The crowd was great. I expect something similar. If it's not, if it's totally for him, that's fine, too. I'm always excited when the crowd gets into it."
Angelique Kerber hits a backhand return to Madison Keys during their third-round match Friday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. DITA ALANGKARA/Associated Press