MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Defending champion Rafael Nadal says he had a bad day at the office.
He didn’t lose, advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open with a sober outlook. Here’s how Nadal summed up his 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
In the first set, “I played bad.”
In the second set, “A few moments, I played well.”
“In the third I started terrible, no?”
“I think I played much better in the fourth set than the rest,” said Nadal, who converted only three of fifteen break point chances. “Everybody has not very good days.”
Last year, Nadal beat Roger Federer in a marathon five-set final that left the stoic Swiss star in tears. Nadal went on to dominate as the top-ranked player until the French Open, when the four-time defending champion had an early exit and extended time off because of injuries.
Nadal faces 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic, who holds the ATP record for the most aces in a match with 78.
To counter that, Nadal plans to play more aggressive, longer points.
“(But) if I lost here next round, I’m going to have chances to play well all season,” Nadal said. “The Australian Open is a very important tournament, but it’s not the end of the world.”
BRIGHT PROSPECTS: Justine Henin is wearing a new diamond ring.
Henin has been spotted wearing it on the ring finger of her left hand during matches at the Australian Open, her first Grand Slam since ending a retirement.
On Friday, she staged another memorable comeback to advance to the fourth round and was asked about the new piece of jewelry.
“Well, it’s not coming from a lover, if that’s the question,” she said, laughing.
“It’s a gift from a friend,” said the 27-year-old Henin. “I was surprised the question didn’t come earlier, actually.”
In late 2007, Henin and her husband of five years divorced. She stunned the tennis world in May 2008 by announcing her retirement while ranked No. 1, saying at the time she had lost her passion for the sport. The retirement lasted 16 months.
Henin beat No. 27 Alisa Kleybanova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in her third-round match, after losing the first set and facing two break points at 1-3 in the second. She managed to hold that game, hitting more winners and finding her rhythm.
“It’s always good to win this kind of match because I came back from nowhere,” said Henin, who faces fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. “I’m very happy that I’m still in the tournament.”
PRESSURE COOKER: Dinara Safina knows how to whip up a decent risotto but will be expanding her menu after buying a Julia Child cookbook.
The fledgling chef and No. 2 seed at the Australian Open spent her rest day practicing in the morning and watching movies at her hotel. She was so inspired by the film “Julie and Julia” that she ventured out of the hotel to buy the cookbook.
“That’s what made me buy the book,” Safina said after her win 6-1, 6-2 win over Britain’s Elena Baltacha. “I like cooking. I have a new apartment in Moscow. I’m like, ‘OK, instead of a library of books, I’ll have cookbooks.’ I want to cook.”
Safina, who called her loss to Serena Williams at the 2009 Australian Open among the toughest of her three Grand Slam final defeats, said she knows how to make a “not bad” risotto with asparagus.
“And, of course, green salad with olive oil,” she added.
So far, so good.
“Until now nobody got sick, so this is the positive,” she said, smiling.