Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Things Kick Off Down Under

 Well day two of the Australian Open is over, despite my constant protestations the first Slam of the year continues to be played at local time, 11hrs ahead of the UK.  Grrr.  Anyway, I've not been able to see much live action and have already been reduced to replays. :( Luckily they do play until insanely late at night so I saw all of the Hewitt-Nalbandian marathon.  It lasted nearly five hours, entirely five sets, with Nalbandian winning 9-7 in the fifth after Hewitt (Aussie legend, packs out a stadium, won two grand slams, former world number one, suffered with injuries) had two match points in the fifth set, and was a point away from a 4-1 lead in the fourth set before losing it in a tie break.  Harsh loss me thinks.  And yes, that was all I did this morning/afternoon.

Good news for British fans, or fans of the British, (or Scottish, if you want to be like that) Andy Murray, Elana Baltacha, and Anne Keothothong all won their opening matches and are through to the second round.  Murray looks comfortable until at least the quart finals, but thats what happens when youre a seeded player.  Keothothong and Baltacha have a tougher journey with the former up against the current number 30 Petkovic (sigh, no I can't my -vic es straight either), and the later up against Justine Henin, current number 12, former number one, multiple grand slam winner.  I can't see either of them winning, but they both have a chance- Henin is still recovering from a gross elbow thing (tendon came away from bone ewww) and not quite at her best.  She lost the first set of her first round match to Sania Mirza (you remember her from the Common Wealth games final), but eventually came through 6-1 in the third.  

Generally speaking it's been plain sailing for the top players- Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Wozniaki, Sharapova, Jankovic, Zvonerava, Clijsters, V. Williams (S not here from restaurant related foot injury) all through with little trouble.   Davydenko lost in four sets though, a shame for a player who was consistently in the top five, and then top ten until a bad broken wrist forced him out of the game for a while.  He won the prestigeous End of Tour Finals in 2009, but didn't make the cut in 2010 (only the top 8 play) and lost significant points pushing him out of the top 20.  He was playing well at the start of the this year though, getting to the Final of Qatar before succumbing to Federer (also playing a bit well), but lost yesterday to Florian Mayer.  A similar story on the womens side as former world number one Ana Ivanovic lost in a tough three setter to the Russian Markorova (yes I have trouble with my -va s as well, but apparently she won Eastbourne last year, beating a bunch of top 20 players along the way).  Ivanovic suffered from the stress and pressure of being world number one and her ranking dropped down to the 60s, but slowly she's worked herself back into the sport and is seeded 19th here.  Or she was until she lost 10-8 in the third, saving 5 match points, but not the sixth.   

Not that surprisingly was the 0-6 0-6 loss of Dinara Safina, another former world number one and three time grand slam finalist, to Kim Clijsters, another another former world number one, current world number three and three time grand slam champ.  Dinara suffered at the hands of a mean hearted press room, constantly questioned and critiqued about her number one ranking (without winning a major, clearly evil), as well as an ill fitting outfit, and then a bad back injury took her out of the game for a few months.  Her ranking is in the 70s now and will soon be out of the top 100 for the first time since 2002.  She does, however, have a much better fitting dress to wear.  Just a silver lining.

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