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Clijsters, Kuznetsova into 3rd round

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JOHN PYE | January 19, 2010 11:38 PM EST | AP

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MELBOURNE, Australia — U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters took another step toward winning a second consecutive Grand Slam with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tamarine Tanasugarn in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Clijsters won the last six games after dropping serve to open the second set against the 32-year-old Thai veteran who was playing her 51st major.

Clijsters will next play No. 19 Nadia Petrova, one of the Russian women already into the third round after French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Kirilenko advanced earlier Wednesday.

On the men's side, No. 7 Andy Roddick had a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci and No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, the 2007 runner-up, beat Turkey's Marsel Ilhan 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

The 26-year-old Clijsters won at Flushing Meadows in September in only her third tournament back from two years off the tour in which she got married and had a baby.

No. 15-ranked Clijsters improved to 20 wins and three losses since her comeback, a run in which she became the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.

She beat former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin for the title at the Brisbane International on Jan. 9 in what was Henin's comeback tournament after 20 months off the tour.

The Belgian pair will stay on track to meet in the quarterfinals here if unranked and unseeded Henin can get past Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva later Wednesday. Clijsters has reached the semifinals or better in her last four trips to Melbourne Park and lost the 2004 final to Henin.

No. 16-ranked Yanina Wickmayer, a Belgian who didn't get a seeding here because her suspension for a World Anti-Doping Agency "whereabouts rule" violation hadn't been overturned before entries closed, reached the third-round with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 win over No. 12 Flavia Penneta of Italy.

Kuznetsova was first into the third round when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2.

She broke Pavlyuchenkova's serve twice to start and got on top of most rallies with a strong forehand and had 27 winners against only seven for her fellow Russian.

Kuznetsova, who has two Grand Slam singles championships – adding the French last year to her win at the 2004 U.S. Open – has a chance to reach the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she clinches the Australian Open title.

In eight previous trips to Melbourne Park, Kuznetsova has advanced to the quarterfinals twice, including last year when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams after being up a set and a break.

This year, the 24-year-old Russian is feeling more confident of winning.

"Yes, definitely, I know all the way how to go – I've done it twice," Kuznetsova said. "It's exciting. You always have different motivation at the Grand Slams – I love to play here."

No. 11 Marion Bartoli advanced and Britain's Elena Baltacha equaled her best run at the season's first major by reaching the third round with a 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 30 Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine. She could next meet 2009 finalist Dinara Safina, who was playing later Wednesday.

China's Zheng Jie won 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 over No. 24 Maria Jose Martinez of Spain.

No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who lost the U.S. Open final to Clijsters, had a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.

In other first-round matches carried over to Wednesday from the rain-interrupted opening days, No. 7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat French wild card Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-2, 6-0, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva beat Kristina Kucova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-0 and No. 16 Li Na of China, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open, beat New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-0.

No. 22 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and No. 29 Shahar Peer of Israel also advanced.

Serena Williams returned to Grand Slam play Tuesday for the first time since her tirade against the line judge who called her for a foot fault during her U.S. Open semifinal loss to Clijsters.

And while the 11-time major winner did seem less effusive than usual on court, Williams didn't hold back after her 6-2, 6-1 win over 18-year-old Urszula Radwanska about what she thought of the punishment.

"I don't know whoever got fined like that. People said worse, done worse," she said, "I think it was a bit much."

Williams was fined $82,500 and warned she could be suspended from the U.S. Open for another "major offense" at any Grand Slam event in the next two years. Williams said she doubts whether one of the top men would have drawn such a fine.

"In tennis I think we've been able to do really well with having fought so hard to get equal prize money," said Williams, who last year became the first woman to surpass $6 million in prize money in a season. "I think that's really good," she said. "But I think we still sort of, say, live in a man's world. Some incidents can bring you back to life and back into reality."

Sixth-seeded Venus Williams opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lucie Safarova. Melanie Oudin, the 18-year-old American who made a surprising run to last year's U.S. Open quarterfinals, lost 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 to Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.

Roger Federer had a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-0 first-round win over Russia's Igor Andreev, while No. 3 Novak Djokovic, the 2008 champion here, beat Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.