Molik serves up a treat
January 11, 2005
AUSTRALIAN women's No.1 Alicia Molik thundered down the fastest serve of the tournament to power into the second round of the Medibank International in Sydney today.
In form ... Molik is in the form of her life ahead of the Open.
Fellow in-form Australian Samantha Stosur also breezed through her opening match, but Anastasia Myskina's Australian Open preparations were left in tatters after the world No.3 became the first major casualty of the tournament.
While No.6 seed Molik was unchallenged in her 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win over Italian Francesca Schiavone, and Stosur comfortably beat Croatian Jelena Kostanic 6-3 6-3, Myskina was never in her match against Chinese qualifier Shuai Peng.
Not even a pre-match introduction to Australia's Russian-born world boxing champion Kostya Tszyu – who dropped by to support his former countrywoman – could inspire No.2 seed Myskina as she slumped to a stunning 6-1 6-3 defeat at the hands of the 80th-ranked Peng.
Myskina, the ITF 2004 player of the year, said she was unable to adjust to the outdoor conditions after playing indoors at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.
"It was my first match outside, so that's why it was tough, really tough for me," the Russian No.1 said.
"It's really hot and a little bit of wind. But it's no excuse.
"I'm not confident, but I still look forward to the Australian Open. It's one more week, so I have enough time to practise."
Molik has no such concerns after racking up her 27th win from her past 31 matches.
The world No.12's latest victory featured a 186km/h ace, easily the quickest serve seen this week at Homebush Bay, and set up a second-round meeting tomorrow with Croatia's Jelena Jankovic.
"I felt like the match was always in my hands," Molik said after making relatively light work of a player ranked just six spots behind the South Australian at world No.18.
"Francesca didn't hit any winners, so it was up to me to dictate."
Apart from a brief lapse, in which Molik failed to serve out the first set at 5-3, the 23-year-old dominated in what she described as another "good test" ahead of the Australian Open after winning all three of her matches at the Hopman Cup.
"I was happy with the way I started that tiebreak. I hit three forehand winners on the trot," she asid.
"So when you come into a pressure situation and you're coming up with big shots at the right time, it's a reflection of the level you're playing at.
"To come up trumps in a tie-break in my first set in Sydney, which I haven't played for a while, was a good feeling."
Stosur, fresh from her debut appearance in a WTA final on the Gold Coast last week, said it was important to keep her roll going.
"It was good to get another win, especially after last week, to back it up fast," she said.
"Confidence plays a big part in it, after having a few matches last week."
The 20-year-old Queenslander will play Tatiana Golovin tomorrow for a berth in the quarter-finals after the talented French teenager surprised Japan's eighth seed Ai Sugiyama 6-1 2-6 6-3.
Other first-round winners today included Russian fifth seed Nadia Petrova, who downed Slovak Ludmila Cervanova 4-6 6-1 6-2, and Swiss seventh seed Patty Schnyder, a 5-7 6-2 6-3 victor over Karolina Sprem of Croatia.