Kuerten wins, South American seeds in control

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/G/Gustavokuerten.jpg' class='caption'> An impressive win by Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten was the highlight as South America's seeded men made it seven out of seven into the second round of the Australian

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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An impressive win by Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten was the highlight as South America's seeded men made it seven out of seven into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian (10) and Juan Ignacio Chela (19) of Argentina and Fernando Gonzalez (13) of Chile, also joined three others who advanced on Monday. Former No 1 Kuerten, seeded 30th but never past the second round in six visits to the Australian Open, served 14 aces and won 88 percent of his first serve points on his way to a 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3 defeat of Moroccan Hicham Arazi. "Guga" should now go further than he has before in Melbourne, facing Radek Stepanek, ranked 69th, of the Czech Republic in the second round. A likely third round meeting with No 1 Lleyton Hewitt was ahead of him. Kuerten won the final of the ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand last week, and this represents a change from his usually casual warm-up for Melbourne. "For me it's always been difficult to find my rhythm in the beginning of the year," said Kuerten. "I was very satisfied with how I played last week - it has gotten my game going. I came up with some great shots today when I needed them, just because I played some more matches last week. It's a better way to do it." Gonzalez overtakes Rios Gonzalez, seeded 13th, advanced to the second round after a three hour defeat of France's Julien Varlet, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. He overtook his country's "Greatest Sportsman of the 20th Century" Marcelo Rios as Chile's No 1 last year. "It was very hard to play today because it was very windy," Gonzalez said. "I started to play very well but at the end I wasn't very good. The important thing is I am through to the second round." Gonzalez rose 117 places on the rankings last year to No 18, a surge which put him ahead of the 24th-ranked Rios. He described his relationship with the fiery Rios as "not that close" but said the former world No 1 had been a help to him early on and through their Davis Cup commitments. Chela, who broke into the top 25 for the first time last year, was too good for Slovakia's Karol Beck, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. Also in the men's draw Brazilian Andre Sa fell to Romania's Adrian Voinea 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4 and Mariano Puerta of Argentina lost 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to Albert Montanes of Spain. Jose Acasuso of Argentina lost the first set to Gregory Carraz but advanced when the Frenchman suffered an abdominal injury and retired while down 4-3 in the second. The three other South American seeds who advanced from first round play Monday were Argentines Gaston Gaudio and Guillermo Canas and Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador. In the women's draw Paraguayan Rossana Neffa-De Los Rios fell to Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-3. (AP)

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