Aussie battler finally up for seconds at Open

AUSTRALIAN Matthew Ebden is confident his ankle will hold up in what should be another gruelling Australian Open clash against Canadian and 28th seed Vasek Pospisil today.

Ebden won his first-round match 6-3 7-5 4-6 0-6 6-3 against world the No.46 from France, Nicolas Mahut.

It would have been sweet redemption for Ebden, whose past two Australian Open campaigns have ended with five-set losses to Japan's Kei Nishikori and Russia's Mikhail Youzhny - after squandering two-set leads in both outings.

Ebden also overcame a rolled ankle to win through to the second round, after suffering a freak accident just before Christmas.

The 26-year-old from West Australia had trod on a ball during a practice session, spraining his ankle.

"I was on crutches for a couple days," he said. "I kind of rushed the recovery. But this last week I had a couple days to settle it down, and get some good preparation."

Pospisil, 23, has already cruised past one Aussie, the big-serving Sam Groth, in the opening round, 6-4 6-3 6-4, and will be confident.

Also buoyed will be Australia's top hope in the women's draw, Samantha Stosur, who redeemed herself in her 6-3 6-4 first-round victory over Czech Klara Zakopalova on Monday.

The 17th seed suffered a horror 6-1 6-3 loss to the same lower-ranked opponent in their Hobart International semi-final last Friday.

Stosur will take on Tsvetana Pironkova, from Bulgaria, in a second-round match-up today. Stosur has beaten her in all three previous head-to-head clashes, but Pironkova won last week's Sydney International final.

"To go through (the) quallies (qualifiers) and win a tournament as tough as what Sydney was, she must be playing very well. (But) I kind of know her game a little bit," Stosur said.

In other games to look out for today, Pat Rafter will come out of retirement to partner Lleyton Hewitt in the men's doubles first round against Eric Butorac (USA) and Raven Klaasen (South Africa).

Hewitt said he asked Rafter, 41, to partner him.

The two-time US Open winner's last professional match was during the Davis Cup final against France in Melbourne back in 2001.

Also in round-two action, Aussie Casey Dellacqua will take on Belgian 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens.




Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] v Kenny De Schepper (FRA)

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) v David Ferrer (ESP) [3]

Tommy Robredo (ESP) [17] v Julien Benneteau (FRA)

Leonardo Mayer (ARG) v Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2]



Serena Williams (USA) [1] V Vesna Dolonc (SRB)

Sam Stosur (AUS) [17] v Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)

Na Li (CHN) [4] V Belinda Bencic (SUI)

Angelique Kerber (GER) [9] v Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)

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