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Tennis: Federer survives scare

Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Australia ó Roger Federer ambled to the net, slowly shaking his head. He let out a deep sigh.
The defending champion had escaped, and he knew it after five demanding sets. It was that kind of day at the Australian Open for Venus Williams, too. Her escape, however, came with screaming, wincing pain.
Williams injured a muscle between her stomach and groin Wednesday as she twisted for a volley. She needed a medical timeout after losing the first set. She was on the verge of tears, and apparently elimination. But she refused to stop playing, something she has never done in a Grand Slam match.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner rallied to take the next two sets and defeat Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-4.
Federer faced a more familiar problem ó Gilles Simon. Heís one of only three men on the tour with a winning record against the Swiss great. Federer raced to a two-set lead in a second-round night match, and seemed in the clear. He had never while lost so far ahead in a Grand Slam tournament.
Then Simon, who beat Federer twice in 2008 on hard courts in their only two previous encounters, started to take more risks, moving the 16-time Grand Slam champion out of his comfort zone. But Federer persevered, finishing off a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory on his fifth match point.
ěIím happy I survived a scare like today. Itís not the first time … it does happen,î he said. ěYou just try to stay calm even though Iím not playing for much. Heís playing for the huge upset, and Iím just trying to get through.But, look, I handled it well tonight, and Iím very happy that things turned out so nicely at the end.î
Itís been 31 major tournaments, dating to the 2003 French Open, since Federer failed to reach the third round at a Grand Slam.
The only other two active players with winning records against Federer play in the second round today ó Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
The top-ranked Nadal will be aiming for his 23rd consecutive victory in Grand Slam play when he faces American qualifier Ryan Sweeting. The muscular Spaniard is bidding for a ěRafa Slamî ó holding all four majors at once.
Eighth-seeded Andy Roddick fired his 17th ace to end a 7-6 (7), 6-2, 6-3 second-round win over Igor Kunitsyn of Russia.

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