Serving it up

Updated: January 17, 2006, 6:41 PM ET wire services


Three of the four American men's seeds survived the first round and are in action tonight. No. 2 Andy Roddick, who was a semifinalist in 2005, takes on Wesley Moodie. Roddick had an easy time in his opening match, losing just eight games. Roddick, though, has advanced past the second round of a Grand Slam just once in his previous three tries.

No. 13 Robby Ginepri and 20th-seeded James Blake both face qualifiers tonight. Blake has won six of his first seven matches in 2006.

Thomas Johansson, the 2001 Australian Open champion, looks to advance but will be tested as he takes on Belgian's Xavier Malisse. The Belgian had an easy time in his first match with a straight-sets win.

Three former Australian Open champions on the women's side are in action tonight, including Lindsay Davenport. The No. 1 seed dropped just three games in the first round. Davenport will take on a trickier opponent in the second round in Karolina Sprem from Croatia. Sprem had a win over Venus Williams in Wimbledon two years ago.

Defending champion Serena Williams did not look sharp in her opening match, but she'll next play France's Camille Pin, who she beat last year at this event, 6-1, 6-1.

Justine Henin-Hardenne, the 2004 Aussie Open champion, has been plagued by injuries for more than a year, but has been successful when she's played. The four-time grand slam champion played just nine events last year but won five titles. Her Czech Republic opponent, Hana Sromova, is playing in her first-ever Grand Slam event.


First Round

The first Grand Slam of the year everyone wants to see what type of form the players are in because there hasn't been a lot of preparation leading up to the Australian. A lot of players get in match shape during this event, and most aren't match tough coming into this event.

Martina Hingis is the story for the second day of the first round. She's been quite funny, saying she's here to defend her appearance in the final in 2002. Everyone is looking forward to her matchup vs. Vera Zvonareva to see how well she will be able to compete against tougher players.

On Monday, everyone was looking forward do seeing Serena Williams play. There was a lot of speculation about her fitness and just what type of shape she is in. She had a tough first match against Na Li of China -- and needing to go three sets gave us some answers.


First Round

The theme for Day One is all the seeded American men who are playing: Andy Roddick, James Blake, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri. It would have been nice to not to see those four Americans all on the same side of the draw.

Blake comes in with a ton of confidence as does Roddick. Blake won in Sydney and he really looks like a different player. He's more sensible and is using his athleticism and staying within himself on the court.

But as long as Roger Federer is in the tournament, he's the favorite. He relishes being the overwhelming favorite and he has that quiet confidence in his game to back it up. Roddick should be able to take advantage of being on the opposite side of the draw from Federer and I expect him to make his first final in Australia.


• Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the 14th seed who lost to Tommy Haas, has never advanced in three tries past the first round at the Australian Open.

Tommy Haas has now won six straight first-round matches at the Australian Open. However, he's just 2-3 in second-round matches.

Dominik Hrbaty, who plays Haas in the second round, has won the last three head-to-head matches against the German, each in straight sets.

• Following his first-round exit, Tim Henman now has lost in the first round in four of the last eight events he's entered (dating back to 2005). He lost in the second round in the four other matches.

Lindsay Davenport is 3-0 against her second-round opponent, Karolina Sprem of Croatia, winning each match in straight sets.

• France's Amelie Mauresmo faces fellow Frenchwoman Emilie Loit in the second round. Their only other meeting was in 1999 at this event, which Mauresmo won in straight sets.

Venus Williams loses in the first round of a Grand Slam event for only the third time in her career and first since the 2001 French Open.

• Dating back to the quarterfinals of the 2005 U.S. Open, Williams now has lost three of her last four matches.

Elena Dementieva lost in the first round of the Australian for the third time in the last four years.

Craig Austrie
AP Photo
American Shenay Perry returns a shot against Ana Ivanovic during the first round of the Australian Open. Ivanovic won the match in straight sets.
16-1 -- Martina Hingis' combined record in the first and second rounds of the Australian Open. Her lone loss came back in 1995, when she lost in the second round.


• Every day from Australia, Luke will submit a daily diary outlining what's going on Down Under.

Day Two: I just pulled into the hotel after a solid 10-hour day. I just finished watching Martina Hingis make her Grand Slam return, winning an easy two-setter.

Lleyton Hewitt, the Aussies' big hope, had a huge scare in the first round. If he loses, it would mean the heart and soul of this tournament is gone for the Australians. During his five-set, first-round win, the thousands of fans who could not get a ticket in Rod Laver Arena to watch the epic match hung out in the garden square and watched the match on a giant big screen. Ton of fans having a nice little party while watching some great tennis.

The fans make any sporting event. You have your face painters and you have your groups of shoppers. If you like the tennis experience, any Slam is the place to be. Players with nets over their heads calling themselves the Net Heads. There are stores to buy tennis clothes and racquets. There's even a place to see how fast your serve is. A fast-serve cage seems to have the longest lines.

The main story I was following was the injury update on Kim Clijsters. The No. 2 seed has a bad left hip flexor and was not sure if she was going to play. So I was running from one person to another. Coach and trainer … anyone that had any word. Going to transportation, that was Gilbert's idea. (Every player goes through transportation to get to and from the site.) So there I was, waiting and waiting until, finally, Clijsters rushed onto the practice court and I was there! Sweet! I got the scoop. She played and won and I got the job done! See you on Day Three.