at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Melbourne - Maria Sharapova scorched into the third round of the Australian Open with a second successive 6-0 6-0 victory on Wednesday to bring a welcome bit of pizzazz to the main showcourts on the third day of the tournament.
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych had earlier failed to fill the charisma chasm left by the absence of the injured Rafa Nadal and while both got through the second round with some ease, most of the drama was on the outer courts.
Agnieszka Radwanska extended her winning streak this year to 11 matches with a 6-3 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena, while Zheng Jie wrapped up the day session with a 6-4 1-6 7-5 upset of local hope Sam Stosur.
Anyone looking for real fireworks, though, needed to be out on court eight, where Radwanska's fellow Pole Jerzy Janowicz exploded in a sensational tantrum before battling back brilliantly to beat Somdev Devvarman 6-7 3-6 6-1 6-0 7-5.
The 24th seed was enraged by a line call during a 79-minute first set, roaring his displeasure before hitting the umpire's chair with his racket and throwing his water bottle across court.
“I was really worried about his voice,” said Indian Devvarman. “He was really yelling at the top of his lungs and I said, 'Dude, calm down!.'“
American Brian Baker could have been forgiven for letting out a scream of frustration of his own after his tournament ended in a wheelchair when he sustained a serious knee injury.
The 27-year-old, who returned to the professional circuit last year after seven injury-plagued years out, had won the first set against compatriot Sam Querrey when he broke down.
“He said he kind of just felt his knee almost buckle and kind of heard like a pop or a snap,” said 20th seed Querrey.
“He didn't know if it was bones or a tear, but he couldn't straighten it, couldn't walk. I feel awful for him.”
Women's second Sharapova was in no mood for sympathy as she dismissed Japan's Misaki Doi in just 47 minutes on Hisense Arena, her second 'double bagel' in two matches this week.
Sharapova is unlikely to make it through the third round without dropping a game, however, especially if Venus Williams beats Alize Cornet in the match to decide her next opponent.
With defending champion Novak Djokovic not playing until the last match on Rod Laver Arena and the two other members of the men's 'Big Four' not back on court until Thursday, there was a somewhat flat feeling to the start of day.
Radwanska was followed on Rod Laver Arena by men's fifth seed Berdych, who wrapped up a 6-2 6-2 6-4 hammering of Frenchman Guillaume Rufin with his eighth ace after exactly two hours.
Ferrer, seeded fourth in the absence of Nadal, was playing out on Margaret Court Arena and required 38 minutes longer to despatch dogged American lucky loser Tim Smyczek 6-0 7-5 4-6 6-3.
Berdych is the likely quarter-final opponent for Djokovic, while Ferrer is seeded to play the Serbian world number one in the semi-finals.
Japan's Kei Nishikori said he had brushed off the knee injury that forced him to withdraw from the Kooyong warm-up after his 7-6 6-4 6-1 victory over Argentina's Carlos Berlocq on court three.
“It's getting better,” the 16th seed said. “And I didn't feel any pain today. Just the hot conditions bothered me a little, but otherwise fine.”
There was more Asian success on Hisense Arena when China's Li Na battled back from 4-2 down in the second set to secure a 6-2 7-5 win over Olga Govortsova, but for once she was outshone by compatriot Zheng.
The 2010 semi-finalist emerged with a 6-4 1-6 7-5 win over Stosur but in truth the former U.S. Open champion handed her Chinese opponent the victory as she continued her miserable run at her home grand slam.
“In the final set 2-5 (down), I was thinking, 'how many more times would I get to play on this court?'“ Zheng said. “I needed to keep fighting and enjoy the match.
“Yeah, just too simple. It was amazing I was able come back.” – Reuters