Lucky loser, all right: Delic moves into 3rd round
By JOHN PYE, Associated Press Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia
 -- Amer Delic need only look at the draw to be reminded of his good fortune at the Australian Open.

He made the field as a lucky loser, and has knocked off No. 28-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu in five sets. Next up is a third-round match against defending champion Novak Djokovic.

"Things have been going my way,'' he said. "Why stop it here?''

Delic rallied from two sets down Wednesday to beat Mathieu 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7, and now the Bosnian-born American is looking forward to his next match.

"Do I really need any more motivation than the fact that I'm still a lucky loser here and playing in front of fans that have come out to watch me?'' he asked.

Two years ago at Wimbledon, he lost to Djokovic in four sets in the second round. The 26-year-old Delic isn't discounting his chances, even if it's the first time in 10 majors that he's reached the third round.

Given the history in the Balkans, and the mix of its migrants to Australia, the atmosphere for Delic's match against the 21-year-old Serb could give him an edge.

Delic's run has attracted a group of enthusiastic fans -- unruly according to the father of his vanquished first-round rival, fellow American Taylor Dent; disrespectful by Mathieu's reckoning.

The flag-waving Bosnians who are following Delic traded chants across the court with Serbian fans Wednesday, during, before and after points against his French rival.

"I couldn't control any of that, though I was trying to,'' Delic said. "I felt bad for Paul and I apologized to him right after.''

Any extra tension for Friday's match is what police, local organizers and Delic want to avoid.

He said his family moved to Florida in 1996 to get away from any conflict, his parents wanting to start a new life for he and his sister after the Bosnian war.

"I just hope the next match with Novak doesn't turn into a World War III,'' he said. "I'm going to try to tell my fans that we don't need to be embarrassing ourselves in front of the world. I'm hoping Novak says something to Serbian fans, also. Leave the politics aside.

"It's not my fault and it's not Novak's fault. We're out here playing tennis and we need to keep it that way.''

At the 2007 Australian Open, fighting broke out between Croatian and Serbian fans at Melbourne Park and more than 150 people were removed from the grounds after skirmishes.

As much for security as Djokovic's profile, their match will likely be on center court. It also helps that Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was his college coach.

Rod Laver Arena is an all-ticket venue, and is the most secure at Melbourne Park. Organizers say general admission tickets are sold out, meaning tickets that become available late will be scattered.

Police will be in force outside.

Djokovic, who beat Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-1, 6-3, was ready for a tough reception.

"I don't want underestimate anybody. Delic deserves to be in the third round,'' he said. "If he came there, of course, he has a lot of qualities. He's a big server. We played in Wimbledon in 2007 and we had a really close match, so I expect the same in this round.''

Djokovic wants to get through this match and move on. If successful, he could meet No. 7 Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals and Roger Federer in the semis. He had an upset win over Federer in the semifinals here last year before claiming his first Grand Slam title.

Federer has his challenges before then.

The 27-year-old Swiss star, trying to equal Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam singles titles, had a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win over Evgeny Korolev in the second round. He faces 2005 champion Marat Safin, who beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Safin beat Federer in the semifinals here in '05, saving a match point and taking the fifth set 9-7.

"We have fought some battles,'' said Federer, who leads the head-to-heads 8-2 but knows how unpredictable Safin can be. "We had the epic in 2005.''

Safin is ranked 26th, will turn 29 next week and is contemplating a farewell year on the tour. He won't be daunted.

"I have nothing to lose,'' Safin said. "I'm going to go for it. Whatever comes, comes.''

Roddick had to work hard for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-2 win over Xavier Malisse of Belgium. The 2003 US Open champion next faces 36-year-old Fabrice Santoro of France, who needed five sets -- improving to 20-15 in matches that go all the way -- to oust No. 32 Philip Kohlschreiber.

No. 10 David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon finalist, went down in five sets to Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan.

Among the men's seeded players advancing were No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and American Mardy Fish, seeded 23rd.

Safin's younger sister, Olympic silver medalist Dinara Safina, joined top-ranked Jelena Jankovic and No. 5 Ana Ivanovic in the third round.

Ivanovic, last year's runner-up, had a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Italy's Alberta Brianti and Jankovic beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-4, 7-5.

"I wasn't really happy with my game, what I was doing on the court,'' Jankovic said. "I have to clean up my game.''

Second-seeded Serena Williams has a second-round match Thursday against Argentina's Gisela Dulko. Her sister Venus Williams has an evening match against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

Men's No. 1 Rafael Nadal takes on Roko Karanusic and No. 4 Andy Murray has the last night match on the Rod Laver Arena.

For the first time in six years, Delic is still in contention after two rounds.

And to think, he thought he was heading home after he was wiped 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-0 by Florian Mayer in his third qualifying match.

It'll mean he also has some extra cash.

"This was the first time ever I got in as a lucky loser,'' he said. "It's like when you lose a wallet and then you find it. It's like the best feeling.''
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