Serena came through her opening round by totally overpowering Tatjana Maria in under an hour. Maria didn’t play her best but at least Rena looked sharp. That is all you can ask for at this stage. She will need to be on her toes against Eugenie Bouchard next. Bouchard thrashed Shuai Peng and is starting to show some signs of getting back to where she was.
Now, I wouldn’t say I have been Genie’s biggest fan but these kind words about her next opponent do gain her some brownie points. “Her ranking is top-20 right now, but to me, she’s always basically number one. I admire obviously the longevity of her career, her dominance over such a long amount of time, how she’s come back so many times from injury, pregnancy, etc. I don’t want to talk about it too much and put her on too much of a pedestal because I have to play her in two days, but I love her.” This certainly does not mean Serena should take her lightly.
Venus had to win a second set breaker to stay in Melbourne, having trailed Mihaela Buzarnescu by a set. Good fight from Venus (as per) against a player I rate. Top seed Simona Halep beat Kaia Kanepi from a set and a break down. Kanepi beat her in New York last year but tightened up with the finish line in sight this time around. Halep doesn’t sound overly confident and Sofia Kenin, winner in Hobart last week will fancy giving her a game next round. How much the American has left in the tank is another thing, after winning 7/5 in the third today.
Jo Konta beat Ajla Tomljanovic in a final set breaker to set up a second-round match with Garbine Muguruza. This certainly looks winnable for Jo, which Garbine will turn up? The hot? The cold? Who knows? The cold has been readily available for a while now but we know how good she is when she is on. Could be a cracker.
Daria Kasatkina and Dom Cibulkova are two of the biggest names out. Kasatkina didn’t really look interested by all accounts against Timea Bacsinszky and Cibulkova lost to Shuai Zhang after throwing up a load of unforced errors. Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, Elise Mertens, Anastasija Sevastova, Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina were all straight sets winners. Osaka played pretty well but Svitolina apparently really does look to have bulked up and this showed in her performance, dropping only three games against Viktorija Golubic. Vika Azarenka lost to Laura Siegemund and then cried in her press conference later. I feel for Vika at the moment. More than just tennis going on.
In the men’s, two of the worlds top ten survived early defeats on day two of the Aussie Open. Kei Nishikori was in real trouble against Kamil Majchrzak, the Pole struggled with the conditions from two sets up though. Majchrzak said he couldn’t bend his fingers for sets three and four, before retiring a double breakdown in the fifth with cramps. This is a let off for Kei as he was being outplayed and it looked like it was going to be one of those days, he wasn’t playing great. Dominic Thiem almost went from the reverse position, he was two sets up against Benoit Paire. Thiem said that he was “too fired up” in the first two sets and it cost him a lot of energy. The Austrian broke late on in the decider to progress but it was squeaky bum time before.
Novak Djokovic coasted past Mitchell Krueger but will face a bigger test against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the second round. It has been a good start to the season for JW and he has a 7-17 record against the Serb. The Frenchman ousted Martin Klizan today.
Milos Raonic gave Nick a bit of a going over. Raonic apparently served out of his nut and there ain’t too many people who have an answer for him when he’s in that mood. Kyrgios said that his knee wasn’t an issue but it cannot of helped him. I doubt he is that bothered by this early exit in the context of things. Raonic will play Stan The Man next after Ernests Gulbis had to retire. The Latvian had taken the first set but Wawrinka had started to find his range when Gulbis pulled out with a back problem at 1/3 in the second.
Other winners today were Sascha Zverev, Borna Coric, Daniil Medvedev, David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov, all in straights. Hyeon Chung came from two sets down against Bradley Klahn and Fabio Fognini was well on his way to victory over Jaume Munar before the Spaniard retired.
Andy Del Potro