Andy Roddick of the U.S., seeded second, serves to Irakli Labadze of Georgia during their first round match on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005.
AP Photo/Rick Rycroft
MELBOURNE, Australia Andy Roddick withstood a frenetic start by Irakli Labadze and won his opening match at the Australian Open 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday after the out-of-condition Georgian player wilted.
Roddick, the No. 2 seed, lost only five points on serve in the first set and producing 30 winners with only 19 unforced errors. Labadze often took the low-percentage option and finished with 38 unforced errors after a promising start.
Roddick will face another left-hander, Britain's Greg Rusedski, who lost the first four games to Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman before rallying for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, 7-6 (7) win.
Rafael Nadal, who beat Roddick in Spain's victory over the United States last month in the Davis Cup final, beat Julien Benneteau of France 6-0, 6-4, 6-2.
On the women's side, French Open champion Anastasia Myskina eliminated Kveta Peschke 6-1, 6-4 shortly after U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova declared her innocence in a doping case.
Kuznetsova didn't answer questions before or after her practice session, but issued a statement Tuesday saying she was certain she'd be cleared of any doping violation.
Myskina raced through the first set in 20 minutes, helped by Peschke's 16 unforced errors. She lost only two points in the first three games of the second set before trading service breaks in six consecutive games.
During that stretch, Myskina loudly berated herself for missing opportunities, spiked her racket into the court and smacked a ball into the crowd.
Myskina, who served for the match at 5-3, won when Peschke dumped a forehand into the net. It was her 33rd unforced error of the set and 48th for the match. After only two unforced errors in the first seven games, Myskina had 14 in an erratic second set.
No. 10 Alicia Molik, winner at the Sydney International last week, mixed 28 winners with 29 unforced errors in a 6-1, 6-3 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain. Medina Garrigues fended off five match points on her serve before double-faulting on the sixth.
Roddick only needed two match points to finish off Labadze, who had the 22-year-old American scampering around in the first set with 10 forehand winners.
Roddick wasted three break chances in Labadze's first service game and then didn't get another opportunity until the 12th game when Labadze lost a set point and committed three unforced errors.
After walking back into the shade behind the baseline, trying to regain his breath, Labadze sprayed another forehand wide on the next point to give Roddick the first set.
Roddick dominated the rest, firing 11 aces and converting five of his nine break chances.
He had match point in the sixth game of the third set when Labadze drove an overhead into the net with the court wide open. Labadze kept the match alive with a forehand winner and forced Roddick to serve out the victory.
In a later match, No. 3 Lleyton Hewitt was to take on Arnaud Clement for the third time in three weeks.
Kuznetsova was identified by Belgian regional sports minister Claude Eerdekens as having tested positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine during an exhibition tournament there last month.
But WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott doubts Kuznetsova will be penalized. Her backup sample hasn't been tested; rules call for two positive samples and a review before punishment.
Scott said he tried without success to speak with Eerdekens, and called the Belgian's announcement ''premature, highly irresponsible and damaging to the sport.''
''It's something that could possibly be a common cold remedy, and the player might be innocent,'' he said. ''Yet he's gone ahead and publicly tainted the sport.''
The 19-year-old Russian is seeded fifth in the Australian Open and beat American Jessica Kirkland 6-1, 6-1 in the first round Monday.
''There is absolutely no reason why I would take a stimulant to enhance my performance at an out-of-competition exhibition match in the middle of the offseason,'' Kuznetsova said in a statement on Tuesday. ''I pride myself on being a clean athlete of the highest integrity and am offended by these disgraceful allegations.''
''I am sure of my innocence.''
She also noted she was tested 11 times last season. Ephedrine is often contained in cold remedies, and players can be exempt from doping sanctions under certain conditions if they test positive during out-of-competition testing.
In other women's matches, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova beat Akiko Morigami of Japan 6-4, 7-5, and Tathiana Garbin earned a 7-5, 7-6 (5) win over Marlene Weingartner, who made a splash when she beat then defending champion Jennifer Capriati in the first round of the 2003 Australian Open.
Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport, coming off bronchitis that forced her out of the Sydney International, was to play 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez in a later match.
Argentina's Guillermo Coria, seeded sixth, and Guillermo Canas, seeded 12th, advanced in the men's draw, while No. 14 Sebastien Grosjean a semifinalist here in 2001 and at Wimbledon last season earned a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra.
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