20 Jan 2011

Verdasco fights hard to reach third round

5:57 am on 20 January 2011

A stunning show of Spanish strength allowed ninth seed Fernando Verdasco to muscle his way past Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic and claim a place in the third round of the Australian Tennis Open.

Verdasco, the ninth seed, was down and almost out against Tipsarevic but fought back and then powered away to win 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-0.

One of seven Spanish seeds in the men's draw, Verdasco gave credit for the victory to the conditioning of Andre Agassi's former strength coach Gil Reyes.

As well as Verdasco and top seed Rafael Nadal, Spain is represented by the seeded players David Ferrer (7), Nicolas Almagro (14), Albert Montanes (25), Feliciano Lopez (31) and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (32).

While the Spanish presence grew more dominant, the American contingent dwindled to only five players in across the men's and women's singles.

At their head is eighth seed Andy Roddick who beat Russia's Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 6-3 to advance to the third round.

Playing in his 10th successive Australian Open, Roddick, at 29, acknowledges he is a lot closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

Among the other seeds in action on Wednesday, Tomas Berdych (6) of the Czech Republic beat Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4, French 28th seed Richard Gasquet beat countryman Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 and 17th seeded Croatian Ivan Ljubicic overcame Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-5).