Nadal, Clijsters emphasize class gap at Melbourne

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal and Kim Clijsters continued their smooth progress through the Australian Open as Melbourne Park finally witnessed a smattering of upsets and sustained periods of sunshine on Thursday.

The morning after Roger Federer survived a huge scare in his second round match, Nadal resumed normal service for the dominant top-two in the game with a 102-minute 6-2 6-1 6-1 battering of world number 116 Ryan Sweeting.

American Sweeting was game, but if the gap between Nadal and Federer and the rest of the top 10 is wide, there is a chasm separating the Spaniard from players outside the top 100.

Nadal married his usual muscular aggression with a fully functioning serve to set up a third-round meeting with local teenager Bernard Tomic, who shocked 31st-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 6-3.

Clijsters's 6-1 6-3 victory over world number 62 Carla Suarez Navarro was so straightforward that the highlight came afterwards when the third seed handbagged the courtside interviewer over a text message he had sent to another player.

"You said you thought I was pregnant!" she told the former grand slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge, continuing: "The text said: 'She looks really grumpy and her boobs look bigger'."

The three-times U.S. Open champion denied she was expecting a second child, laughing as Woodbridge cringed in embarrassment and declared his television career over.


Jelena Jankovic had no cause for such levity after she became the first top-10 seed from either draw to exit the tournament, losing 7-6 6-3 to China's Peng Shuai.

The seventh seed blew a 4-1 first-set lead and racked up 39 unforced errors as she slumped to her seventh defeat in her last eight matches.

"I mean, as a top player -- I've been number one in the world -- it's tough to sometimes accept those mistakes," a despairing Jankovic said.

"Really at times I couldn't believe I can do that, why am I doing that?"

Another upset came in the men's draw where big-serving Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic beat French 22nd seed Michael Llodra 7-6 6-3 7-6.

"This is my biggest result," the 20-year-old said. "It's my biggest achievement to date. But I hope to do more than this. I feel that I can. I feel like I'm playing at a level... that I'm there with the top guys."

Raonic will test his confidence against Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the third round after the 10th seed came through a grueling five set match against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 6-3 6-1 5-7 4-6 6-1.

(Editing by John O'Brien)