Friday, January 20, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Second & Third Rounds

Men's Action
Ok, we have had some really good tennis, but nothing too unbelievable yet. In second round play last night (Wednesday), Spain’s David Ferrer (5) and unseeded Brian Sweeting of the Bahamas played a tremendous five-setter, and Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic (9) and 19-year-old Aussie, James Duckworth put on a spectacular display of shot making.
Tipsarevic’s upcoming third round match with Richard Gasquet (17) of France ought to be one the more entertaining matches of the event. Janko’s matches are almost always chock-full of incredible shot making, and shot making is one of Gasquet’s fortes as well.
The Contenders
On to the guys who are likely to be there in Week 2. Novak Djokovic’s (1) second round win over unseeded Santiago Giraldo of Columbia was routine and he will take the court against France’s history-maker Nicolas Mahut (longest match in history with John Isner) in the third round. There’s a very good chance that this match won’t challenge Mahut’s historic Wimbledon effort. Ya think? I suspect Djokovic will roll in three, four at most.
Rafael Nadal (2) didn’t disappoint his fans one iota, making short work of Slovakia’s unseeded Lucas Lacko in straight sets to move into the fourth round. He was the first man into the third round, and chances are that he won’t be the first out.
Rafa will face the winner of American John Isner (16) and Spain's Feliciano Lopez (18). I’m thinking Isner will be bombing serves at Rafa tomorrow. John hasn’t yet beaten Rafa, but he took him to five sets last outing…at Roland Garros no less! Sooooo…
Roger Federer (3) faced his giant in the third round, going up against 6’ 10” Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. In the third game of the match, Karlovic blasted three consecutive aces to hold serve, and you knew if he could keep that up, Roger would be in trouble.
Andy Murray (4) eased into the third round in straight sets and will face unseeded Michael Llodra. Murray has won both times they have played, but they haven’t played since 2008. Barring a meltdown, Murray should find himself in the Round of 16.
David Ferrer (5), the Tour’s "Pit Bull," will face Juan Ignacio Chela (27) of Argentina in Round 3. This one could go the distance but look for Ferrer to make it to a Round-of-16 matchup with Tipsarevic, who should get past Gasquet in his third round match.
Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga (6), the last of my potential winners, looked a bit shaky in his second round match with unseeded Ricardo Mello of Brazil, but still marched into Round 3. Tsonga should make it into the next round since he hasn’t yet dropped a set against Mello.
Notable Fallen Seeds- Men
Gilles Simon (12) of France was shown no brotherly love, dropped by fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau in five sets. Benneteau will battle Kei Nishikori (24) of Japan in round three. Nishikori came back from two sets down two defeat Aussie Matthew Ebden.
Andy Roddick (15) couldn’t finish against Former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, retiring with a knee injury after winning the first set and losing the next two. Hewitt will face one of the new, young stars in Canada’s Milos Raonic (23), who played a tough four-setter in the second round.
Victor Troicki (19) received his walking papers from unseeded Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan (say that three times fast!) in five as well. No, Troicki isn’t very “notable,” but I really dug “Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.”
Top Ladies Moving on 
The upper echelon women who played tonight moved relatively easily into the fourth round. Caroline Wozniacki (1) lost just four games against Monica Niculescu (31) of Romania, and will face the winner of the Christina McHale-Jelena Jankovic (13) match. I give the young American, McHale, a good chance to post the upset, and to give Wozniacki a good run in the Round of 16.
Victoria Azarenka (3) struggled a bit in the second set against Germany’s Mona Barthel but still moved through in straights. She will face unseeded Czech Iveta Benesova, who has won her last two matches in straight sets after a tough first round match. Azarenka should emerge with a victory here, but Benesova is playing with confidence and may give Azarenka trouble.
I expect Belgium’s Kim Clijsters (11) to topple Daniela Hantukova (20) of Slovakia, as long as she brings at least her A- game, and I believe Na Li (5) of China should get past Anabel Medina Garrigues (26) of Spain. That sets up a tough fourth round matchup between Na Li and Clijsters. This may just be the match where Clijster’s injury plays a role.
Although I don’t believe she’s much of a threat to win the event, Poland’s Aggie Radwanska (8), the “Pit Bull” of the WTA Tour, cruised into the Round of 16 with a straight set win over Galina Voskboeva of Kazakhstan. She will face Julia Goerges (22) of Germany, who outlasted her opponent in a three set war of attrition in Round 2. Radwanska should finish on top in that one.
Maria Sharapova (4), who had no trouble in the second round faces Angelique Kerber (30) of Germany in Round 3, and unless Sharapova is off her game, she will have to matchup against either Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova (18) or Sabine Lisicki (14) of Germany. Neither of these two will be a walk in the park for Maria. She’ll have to come ready to battle in the trenches.
Serena Wiliams (12) who appears to be rounding into form, downing her second round opponent in straight sets, including a first set bagel, should move through to the Round of 16 where, chances are, she’ll face Vera Zvonareva (7) of Russia. Zvonareva has played Serena tough the last two times, taking her to three sets, and won the match prior to those last two. In this matchup we have to give the edge to the double-digit Grand Slam Champion.
Notable Fallen Seeds- Women
Although she isn’t a viable threat to win the Championship, unseeded American Vania King had her shining moment, upsetting No.15 Seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (15) of Russia in three sets. Next up for Vania is Anna Ivanovic (21), and Ivanovic has been known to be a bit fragile mentally, so Vania has a shot. Whoever wins will likely have to face No.2 Seed Petra Kvitova.

Well, Isner's struggling big time, so that prediction isn't looking good, and Tomas Berdych (7) is crushing the ball, so perhaps he should be in the conversation. Can't stay up but I'll be back at ya tomorrow. Game, set, match...T A

1 comment:

  1. T.A., Always a pleasure to get your postings. With your permission I will post them to our facebook and twitter sites. Also, I'm sending you a press release about the week of play days for Senior Mini Tennis that will be held the week of Feb. 12-18. Hope all is well.