Published on January 10, 2008
A smart game plan propelled Danai Udomchoke to a 6-3 6-3 win over old foe Takao Suzuki as the men's singles qualifying round of the Australian Open began yesterday in Melbourne.
Danai tried something different from the past, keeping the Japanese veteran off balance with penetrating shots, to tame Suzuki for the first time in five years.
"Normally when he hits to my backhand, I would return with a top-spin crosscourt and the ball would be short for him to come to the net. So this time I used deep slices to make him stay at the baseline. He couldn't play his game,'' said Danai, who is seeded 28th in the draw.
"Today, I returned his serves very well. I broke him many times,'' said Danai, who had lost five of his six encounters with Suzuki prior to the match.
The only other time he managed to defeat the Japanese was in the 2002 Davis Cup in Muang Thong Thani.
Danai will have a day's rest before resuming action tomorrow in the second round against Anthony Depuis of France, the 197th-ranked player who survived a three-setter to overcome Australia's Colin Ebelthite 6-4 3-6 8-6.
Tamarine Tanasugarn, the other Thai representative in the qualifying competition, will cross swords with world No 213 Melanie South of Great Britain in the first round.
Tammy, the sixth seed, has been placed in a tricky section of the draw. If she is successful in round one, she will have a tough assignment against either former top-10 player Jelena Dokic of Australia or New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, who lost in the semi-finals of the Auckland tournament last week.
Mirza crashes out
n India's Sania Mirza paid dearly for not taking advantage of her numerous break-point chances to crash out of the Hobart International in the quarter-finals yesterday.
The sixth seed looked to be heading for the semi-finals when she levelled the match in the second set for the loss of just one game, but Italian Flavia Pennetta came roaring back to win 7-5 1-6 6-3 in 92 minutes.
Mirza, who finished last year at 31 on the WTA rankings, converted just five of 12 break-point opportunities while Pennetta capitalised on five of eight.
"It was not a very good match for people to watch," Pennetta said. "There were a lot of mistakes from both players."
Pennetta said she was nervous before the match but regrouped in the final set to progress to the semis.
In the battle of the qualifiers, American Ashley Harkleroad had a straight-sets win over Romania's Edina Gallovits. It took the 22-year-old 92 minutes to reach her first Hobart semi-final with a 6-4 6-4 win.
Harkleroad will take on Russian second seed Vera Zvonareva, who defeated countrywoman Elena Vesnina 6-3 6-3.
"I think I did pretty good," Zvonareva said. "It was a tough match but I am happy to get through."