Stan v Raonic proved to be an absolute cracker. Had you have said to me before that Stan would play that well I would have taken that. Raonic is just utterly relentless on serve. Stan should probably have taken it the distance, after serving for the fourth set but ultimately he went down in four extremely close breakers. The match going indoors after the rain obviously helped Raonic a little more too. The standard was pretty high and serve was only dropped twice apiece. It did look like Raonic was struggling at one point physically in the fourth set but he regrouped. I hope his body holds up on him here as that will be incredibly frustrating. Stan was playing well enough to go a few rounds here. The same is obviously true of Raonic, who is playing very well, he just needs his body to hold out. The Canadian plays Pierre-Hugues Herbert next after he beat Hyeon Chung. Last years semi-finalist has a priority to be fit and healthy again first and results are further down the line.
Sascha Zverev seems to love dropping sets. I pointed out in my review I thought Chardy might take advantage if Zverev was not 100% and that’s what happened. The Frenchman came from two sets down only to run out of gas in the decider. Alex Bolt is his next opponent after he defeated Gilles Simon in five. This is turning into a bit of a fairytale as Bolt had a break from tennis, only to return and find some form and here he is in the third round. It is a huge win against Simon and he was apparently superb in sets four and five.
Dominic Thiem was ill and pulled out at two sets and a breakdown against Aussie Wildcard Alexei Popyrin, the 19-year-old impressed in the circumstances, however. Lucas Pouille will be his next opponent after he defeated Maximillian Marterer in four highly competitive sets of tennis. It is nice to see Pouille winning a few matches again.
Borna Coric defeated Marton Fucsovics in straight sets, the Hungarian was struggling with a hamstring problem. Still yet to drop a set, which is tidy form from Coric. I am going to hedge with a bet on Coric, I put him up for the quarter with Stan so might as well have a ‘chasing bet’ on him. Filip Krajinovic is his third round opponent, a potentially tricky match but one you would hope he will come through. This section has opened a tiny bit more now with Thiem going out.
Novak Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in straights. Two things here, it was probably asking a lot for Jo to do too much more than he did here at the moment. Also, the conditions at that time of the evening are considerably colder, thus slower. Denis Shapovalov says he has nothing to lose against Nole next up. Djokovic is a top price 1/14 and I would not be steaming into that. Let’s see if the youngster can at least take a set here.
Kei Nishikori had to keep his cool to fend off an Ivo Karlovic comeback. Having led by two sets, Nishikori lost his grip on the match as Karlovic hammered a couple of winners to gain breaks in the next two sets. Nishikori says it is a win that will give him a lot of confidence going forward. He plays Joao Sousa in the third round after the Portuguese player ousted Philipp Kohlschreiber, playing some lights out tennis. Kohlschreiber said it was pretty much too good after.
Other winners today were, David Goffin in four over Copil, who lost his mojo after the rain delay by the sounds of it. Daniil Medvedev won in three over Ryan Harrison and Fabio Fognini and Pablo Carreno Busta were also straight-sets winners over Leo Mayer an Ilya Ivashka respectively. Fognini only dropped serve once today, go on lad.
Serena took out Genie Bouchard with minimal fuss, Bouchard didn’t play particularly well and Serena just put in a relatively solid shift. She got the early break and it was never really in doubt from there on in. Dayana Yastremska is next, the 18-year-old Ukranian. Matches like this are always a worry to me as there is very little to be gained, these younger players have zero to lose. A lot of the time it is just how they handle the occasion, with the big show court, crowd and cameras. Yastremska stood strong to out Suarez Navarro in three.
Simona Halep was lucky to get through against Sofia Kenin today. She led by a set and 3/0 it looked a procession for the world number one but Kenin really upped her level of aggression. Halep looked all at sea for a while but with Kenin serving at 4/2 30/30 in the decider, she double-faulted and never recovered. The momentum had switched. It was a high level for large parts though. A juicy third round with Venus is scheduled for Saturday. Williams outlasted Alize Cornet in three sets, serving up a bagel in the decider. This has been pencilled in the diary to watch.
Garbine Muguruza beat Jo Konta with a finish after 3am local time in Melbourne. It sad to Konta lose another close match and she played well enough. It was high-quality stuff. The Brit wasn’t happy at the scheduling/time of the match and said “I don’t agree with athletes having to physically exert themselves in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t think it’s healthy. I think it’s quite dangerous.” She has a point. Timea Bacsinszky is next for Muguruza, a totally different matchup.
Camila Giorgi has beaten the 17-year-old, Iga Swiatek, winning the last eleven games from 1-2 down. Giorgi will play Karolina Pliskova in a hard-hitting contest next round. Don’t expect too many rallies in this one. It is a question of ‘who is the bigger bully?’. Pliskova dropped the opener against Madison Brengle but took the next two sets 6/1 6/0, getting in some ‘bullying’ practice by the end.
Elina Svitolina impressed me against Viktoria Kuzmova. Kuzmova really went toe to toe with the Ukranian in the first set and there were some uncomfortable moments around 4/4. Having got through that though Svitolina powered her way over the line, showing some good service figures in doing so. Shuai Zhang is waiting on Saturday.
Also through are Anastasija Sevastova, Qiang Wang, Elise Mertens and Madison Keys (who is sneaking through unnoticed at the moment). Naomi Osaka was also a straight sets winner as was Su-Wei Hsieh.
Andy Del Potro