Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, man. Another year, another epic.
My weak self wasn’t able to finish this match. I was struggling to stay awake midway though the second set and after Stan lost the lead and, eventually, the set, I was convinced the match was over. (Sorry, Stan!)
What an effort from the Swiss to claw his way back into the match and give himself a chance at winning it until the very end. He was 2-1 sets down after almost being up 2-0 himself. Against the World No. 1 and someone he hasn’t beaten in 6+ years? A bit of crumbling in the fourth was customary. But he and his backhand didn’t and gifted us all a classic! We should be buying both these guys beers for the rest of the year. Errr… During their days off, of course.
The first day of a slam. It’s all so exciting and you make plans that it’s going to be such a fun and relaxed day of tennis-watching. Two hours go by and suddenly everything is happening at the same time, you can’t keep up and it is now super stressful. We fumble with our keyboards trying to flip streams because Twitter said a good match is going on at Court 18. What if it ends up becoming an epic? No one wants to miss out on an epic. *fumble* *fumble* *bufferiiiiiiing…* “Goddamnit!” Also, World No. 547 is leading the 12th seed over on MCA. “Wait, he was but not anymore? Is my stream delayed?” No. 22 is getting routined over at 4. Your sometimes favorite is in a deciding set against some dangerous floater. There’s an upset alert on Hise… RaaaaaaaaaahIlovetennis!
I tried to absorb as much as I could on Day 1 of the Australian Open. I tried so hard that my brain was starting to tap out before the day session ended then nodded off 2 games into the Hewitt-Tipsarvic match. WEAK. In no particular order, here’s what I remember most about the first day:
You don’t engage in a long rally with a “rusty” Maria Sharapova because she’ll come alive.
Venus Williams is looking sharp early on and is on course to meet Sharapova in the 3rd round.
Sam Stosur won her first match of the year! Phew.
Agree with Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic is still good at tennis.
Rafa announced yesterday that he will be skipping Doha and Melbourne due to a stomach virus. He said via Facebook:
As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks. I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event
My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, but this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open, as we had initially scheduled.
I did an extensive research on stomach infections (WebMD) and found out that these things usually take about 2-5 days. Skipping Doha, which starts Monday, totally makes sense but Melbourne doesn’t start until the 14th and he’s out of that too. This caused a widespread panic among tennis fans that Rafa’s knees might never be ready. (ZOMG, will he have to go under the knife?!) We thought he might be able to play the Davis Cup final a little over 6 weeks ago but didn’t. Now, we’re hoping he’ll show up in Acapulco which is over 8 weeks away! (Okay, maybe sooner but not til Acapulco?!)
I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for Rafa and his team. I’m bummed that we can’t frazzle over a potential Rafa-Andy semi then Rafa-Fed final at every draw announcement but, whatever their reasons for delaying his return another 8 weeks, I’d rather see him later fully fit than risk getting re-injured and be out again for months and months.
I went from Day 2 highlights to wrap. So much for daily blogging!
Vika finally got her Grand Slam title! At the start of this year’s Australian Open, I refused to pick Vika despite her great run in Sydney because she’s only been to a Slam semifinal once and does not have a great history with the Australian summer heat. “No way,” I thought, “she’ll get it but not this early.” Championship day came and I still refused to believe she’d do it. (Hilarious because I should know Maria better.) Vika was nervous for a whole minute and then decided to run Maria over. It felt like she didn’t miss after 0-2 0-30 in the first set and took control of all the points in that match. Vika handed a 6-3, 6-0 beat down to the 3-time Grand Slam champion. (Giiiirl, what’s is hapz?)
With this title, Vika is now the new Number 1. Phew, the tennis world can finally stop whining about a Slamless One.
This guy. Nole needed almost 11 hours and 10 sets to win his semifinal and final matches but he fought hard—blood and everything—to get the wins. He won’t lose, not if he can help it. This is his third straight Grand Slam title and joins Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the only men who have gone on this run. That’s some serious company and with the way he’s play now, he more than deserves to be among the elite.
Can Nole make it four in a row, complete his Grand Slam and go on a Nole Slam at Roland Garros? It’s going to be an exciting tournament and it will be hard to pick against him with the way he’s playing and willing himself these days.
Match of the Day: Sorana Cristea defeated Samantha Stosur 7-6(2), 6-3
“Probably the whole country hates me now…. Everyone was focusing on her and maybe they forgot about me.” – Cristea after her win over Stosur
Absolutely. Well, I sure did. I looked at the draw and didn’t highlight this as a first round to watch. “Sam’s got a good first round,” I thought. Way to make me feel stupid, Sorana Banana.
Sori was clear on her gameplan against Sam—take cracks at the serve and constantly attack her backhand—and executed it close to perfection. Sam was supposed to counter with her signature forehands and serving variations but instead her forehand collapsed and her serve was easy for Sori to read. Sam never plays well Down Under and that will most probably never change.
Most top seeds cruised through to the second round except for Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who both needed 4 sets to dispatch their tricky opponents.
Match of the Day: Bernard Tomic defeated Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
The match started with Fer looking like he was going to routinely beat Bernie, who seemed to be hobbling a set and a half in. For a match so hyped up, it was turning out to be a disappointment. But like everything else Tomic-related, he did something that no one anticipated. He stole that third set then went on to comeback from the dead to win the match. It was all assisted by Fer’s implosion, of course. Bernie so wanted to tap out in the third set but Fer just wouldn’t let him.
Update: Bernie actually pretended to tap out. Amazing.
Q. Was there any time in the match when his body language showed you something that you focused on?
BERNARD TOMIC: Um, yeah, in the third set. He thought I had a feeling he knew I was going to go away. I eased off, as well, I think on purpose. I eased off and seemed I didn’t care, and I think that’s what drawed him a little bit tonight. He thought he was going to win that third set, and when the right time came, I broke him.
You know, after that the third set, you know, he started getting a little bit tight and not hitting his shots.
Q. So you set him up a little bit?
BERNARD TOMIC: In that third set, yeah. I knew if I lifted my game early, he would have lifted as well and he wouldn’t have let go. I pretended a little bit in the first few games in that third set to not be there as mentally, but in a way to still be there.
Title contenders, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki, notched easy first round wins.
Agnieszka Radwanska survived the always-streaky, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, in 3 sets. New year, same ninja skills.
Just 2 years ago, I thought he was going to breakthrough in Melbourne and win a slam but Nikolay Davydenko seems to be moving further and further away from his good years. He was defeated in 5 sets by Flavio Cipolla, his second straight first round exit at the happy (not) slam.