ESTORIL (Portugal): Big Belorussian Max Mirnyi stemmed the slaughter of the seeds yesterday, claiming a place in the quarter-finals of the US$655,000 Estoril Open over qualifier Victor Hanescu.
The seventh seed joined No 5 Tommy Robredo as he stayed alive on the clay of the Estadio Nacional.
Mirnyi had to do battle with the 21-year-old Romanian, dropping the first set and fighting back to level with the second.
The outcome was in doubt until Mirnyi broke for 5-4 in the third, then served out the tight victory with an overhead smash on second match point for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
In the opening three days of the first clay tournament of the season, top seed Jiri Novak, No 2 Rainer Schuettler and third-seeded Dutchman Sjeng Schalken all made early exits.
Mirnyi next plays Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who put out Schuettler in the first round. Yesterday, Lopez defeated Portugal's Bernardo Mota 6-3, 6-4.
Mirnyi has been finding his feet on clay after Davis Cup play indoors last week.
“I was still playing indoor tennis,” he admitted yesterday.
“Winning my first tournament in Rotterdam has given me a lot of confidence, and just winning lots of matches has made me believe in my abilities.”
The winner spent just short of two hours in obtaining victory on a cloudy day. Mirnyi totalled 11 aces but was able to convert on just two of his nine break points chances.
In the women's section, top seed Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia crashed out in the second round yesterday. Germany's Julia Schruff doing the honours with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win.
Second-seeded Magui Serna of Spain, however, had no such problems, defeating Petra Mandula of Hungary 7-5, 6-0 to make the quarter-finals.
Top seed Williams, who owns all four Grand Slam tennis titles after capturing the Australian Open title in January, advanced to the third round of the US$1.3 million event, in which she is a heavy favourite.
The clay-court match-up will be the final tune-up for Williams before she joins sister Venus on the United States Fed Cup team for a first-round tie against the Czech Republic.
Serena Williams will next face the winner of a match between Italy's Tathiana Garbin and Spain's Conchita Martinez, a two-time champion here, that was among three postponed to yesterday due to rain.
Martinez advanced 6-4, 1-1 earlier on Wednesday when Russian beauty Anna Kournikova retired due to a left adductor strain in a match that she led 2-0 when it was halted Tuesday by rain.
Second seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium advanced by defeating Slovenia's Tina Pisnik 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 while Yugoslavian sixth seed Jelena Dokic ousted Slovenia's Maja Matevzic 6-1, 6-4.
Rain halted the match between seventh seed Anastasia Myskina of Russia and France's Mary Pierce, with Myskina ahead 6-4, 1-6, 2-0 when the showers struck.
Also postponed was a second round match between Slovakian fifth seed Daniela Hantuchova and Russia's Tatiana Panova. – AFP