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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Djokovic, Murray to come out swinging

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray answer the bell for round two at the Australian Open today with neither expected to struggle on day four, while Maria Sharapova kicks off the action against qualifier Jamie Hampton on Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic, whose victory in Melbourne last year sparked a remarkable season in which he won three grand slam titles, beat Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi in just 92 minutes and will seek to make equally quick work of Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.
While the Serb has quickly found his rhythm at Melbourne Park, Briton Murray had a rude awakening in the first round by going a set down to American Ryan Harrison before rallying for an ultimately comfortable victory.
But the world number four, the losing finalist here for the last two years, should be sharper against Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin as he seeks to put a smile on new coach Ivan Lendl's face at Hisense Arena.
The Scot will hope to avoid a physically taxing match against the well-rested Roger-Vasselin, who advanced to the second round when Xavier Malisse retired after the first set of their encounter on Tuesday.
American qualifier Hampton could be forgiven for being a bag of nerves ahead of her meeting with Sharapova after the Russian pounded Gisela Dulko 6-0 6-1 in her opening match on Tuesday.
Sharapova had not played a competitive match this year before coming to Melbourne Park after an ankle injury flared up but the world number four showed no signs of rust against the Argentine.
Ankle injuries have forced Serena Williams to join the ranks of the walking wounded for the first grand slam of the year but the American, who faces Czech Barbora Strycova, has no doubts she is more than capable of winning a sixth Australian Open.
Williams follows Sharapova on court at Rod Laver Arena, which should mean she will be able to avoid the dive-bombing crickets that drove her to distraction on Tuesday night against Tamira Paszek.Also in action are Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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