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Chani into 3rd round

Our Chani Scheepers has gone through to the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The top-ranked South African women’s tennis player overcame Russia’s Regina Kulikova in three tough sets, writes Mark Etheridge. After winning the first set 6-4 she lost the second by the same margin and then the final set saw her prevail 7-5.

Her victory means she will now play the eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the third round. Azarenka beat Czech Republic player Andrea Hlavackova in straight sets 6-4 6-4.

Scheepers’ match on Court 18 lasted 3hr 14min and she served just two aces compared to Kulikova’s four. However her first service percentage of 68% was better than the Russian’s 61%. The double-fault count was 4-3 in favour of Scheepers.

Having reached the fourth round of the French Open in Paris last year, this is Scheepers’ best Australian Open showing so far.

It’s going to be tough going against Azarenka though. The US-based player is ranked ninth in the world compared to Scheepers who is just outside the top 100 at 107th.

The two have only met on one previous occasion, back in 2008 in Charleston, Carolina where Azarenka was a comfortable 6-1 6-0 winner on clay.

Meanwhile our top-ranked singles player, Kevin Anderson also lost in the doubles competition. Earlier this week he lost to Slovenian qualifier Blaz Vadcic in the singles and on Wednesday him and Romanian Victor Hanescu lost in straight sets 6-3 6-4 to eighth seeds Michael Llodra of France and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic in the first round.

Our top-ranked Wes Moodie is in action on Thursday. He and big Belgian Dick Norman take on Belgium’s Xavier Malisse and Britain’s Jamie Murray in the first round of the doubles.

It’s Moodie’s first tournament of the year. “My wife’s due in February with our second child so I’m taking a bit of time out to be with the family. I’m also using that time to get myself in shape to make the return to the tour a little easier.

“The Australian Open will just be a case of treating each match like a final as nothing can be taken for granted.

“At this point I’m also not playing the SA Open in Johannesburg and might only start playing in April at the start of the clay-court season,” said Moodie.