MELBOURNE, Australia -- Every previous time Rafael Nadal has
played the Australian Open, he's gone deeper into the tournament
than the time before.
He advanced to the third round Wednesday on a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win
over Frenchman Florent Serra, showing signs that he could reach the
two stages that he's never been at Melbourne Park.
Nadal made the third round in his debut in 2004, the fourth
round in '05 and, after missing a year, made the quarterfinals last
Now he wants to up the ante.
Against Serra, he unleashed some of the weapons he hopes will
help him end Roger Federer's dominance at every Grand Slam not
played on clay.
Nadal has been ranked No. 2 for the last three seasons and is
the only player to beat top-ranked Federer in the last 10 Grand
Slams -- in the finals at Roland Garros the last two years.
His heavy slice and top spin that work so well on clay are well
suited to the new, blue Plexicushion surface at Melbourne Park,
which seems to be slower-paced and not as spongy as the old Rebound
He yielded only 10 points while racing through the first set in
22 minutes, committing just four unforced errors.
Serra got a loud ovation when he held serve for his first game
while already down a break in the second set.
Nadal's retrieving skills often left Serra muttering to himself
and he had no answer in the last game when the 21-year-old Spaniard
set up triple-match point with a backhand winner and closed with an
ace, his ninth.
"Yeah, very happy," Nadal said. "I'm trying to play a bit
more aggressive and definitely serving better, which is good."
Roddick, with momentum from leading the U.S. team to victory in
the Davis Cup final and winning last week's exhibition in Kooyong,
conceded only eight points in his first eight service games.
Berrer finally broke Roddick's first service game of the third
set. Roddick saved two break points before almost completely
missing a service return from the German on the third.
After Berrer held to pull ahead 3-0, Roddick ran off the next
five games, getting the deciding break when the German badly
misjudged an easy overhead and shanked it into the net to hand
Roddick a 4-3 lead.
Berrer fended off four match points while serving at 3-5. Then
Roddick easily held to finish off the match.
"I had fun out there tonight," Roddick said. "If he was
getting one step into the court, even if he was behind the
baseline, it seemed like he was charging. It was pretty cold, the
ball wasn't going anywhere, so I figured maybe I would let him take
his chances. Over the long haul, I felt like I might get ahead."