Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Second Round Action

Men’s Second Round on Tap
Top Seed Novak Djokovic does have to show up to play his match, but it’s pretty much a formality. Unless the “Niles Jinx” kicks in, Novak should be through without much trouble. Andy Murray is in pretty much the same situation, although a Murray loss would surprise me far less than a Djokovic defeat.
Sixth Seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga is also on the menu tonight, and should move through to the third round. However, Tsonga has been known to make things interesting even when it should be a yawner, so keep an eye on this one.
The two American men remaining in the Draw, Andy Roddick (15) and unseeded Ryan Sweeting play their second round matches tonight (wee hours). Although neither Roddick nor his opponent, Lleyton Hewitt, figure to be a part of the tournament’s climax, this contest should be a crowd favorite. Sweeting faces fifth-seeded David Ferrer, and there’s nothing in the record of either player that suggests an upset in this one.  
Men’s Second Round Completed Matches
Nadal looked good in his second round match against Tommy Haas. He started the match with two service breaks and jumped out to a 5-1 lead before the competition stiffened and Haas earned a break point to reach 5-5. As usual, Nadal fought off the break and rolled on from there, winning in straight sets.
Third seed Roger Federer waltzed into the third round when his opponent, Andreas Beck, withdrew due to a back injury. He will face the 6’ 10” Ivo Karlovic next. Given that Fed has successfully played David to Ivo’s Goliath nine of the 10 times they’ve played, chances are he’ll still be playing in Round 4. 
One of the best men’s matches of the second round included the extremely talented David Nalbandian and John Isner (16), who seems to be the primary leading man in Grand Slam drama. Isner emerged victorious in the scintillating five-set battle, taking the fifth set 10-8. Isner will surely be fined for smashing his racquet, but he should be able to handle that with the cash he’ll pocket for moving into the third round.
Bernard Tomich, who scored the event’s first upset by knocking out Fernando Verdasco (22) in the first round, showed that he means business when he sent Sam Querrey packing in the second round in four sets. He will face the ever entertaining Alex Dolgopolov (13) in Round 3. Dolgopolov survived a five-setter against unseeded Tobias Kamke.
Fallen Seeds- Men
American Mardy Fish (8) has the distinction of being the first major upset of the Men’s Draw. Fish looked lethargic throughout his second round match, making unforced errors at inopportune times, and Alejandro Falla (who has local ties- dad in Naples) took advantage.
Falla brought a mix of shot-making, consistency and mental toughness to the table. He digested everything Fish served up, and sent Mardy back to the hotel for room service after three (including tiebreaks in the opening and closing) sets.
Women’s Second Round on Tap
On the women’s side, tonight’s action will include Maria Sharapova (4) and Petra Kvitova (2), who many are picking to win the Championship. Sharapova will take on one of America’s young hopefuls in Jamie Hampton of Auburn, AL. The second round of a Slam is Jamie’s career highlight, and her family should be welcoming her back home shortly after this one.
Kvitova may have a little stiffer test with Carla Suarez Navarro, but not much of one. Suarez Navarro is a nice player, but she has a one-handed backhand, and I can’t see it holding up against Kvitova’s firepower. A Kvitova loss here would be an upset of colossal proportions.
Also on tap, America’s big gun, Serena Williams (12), takes on unseeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova tonight, and although Strycova has beaten some quality players over the past year, nothing in her record suggests an upset. But this is tennis and one never knows.
Unseeded Sloane Stephens, another young American, will take the court against Svetlana Kuznetsova (18) a multiple Slam winner. Reaching the second round of a Slam is also Stephens’ career highlight thus far, so tonight should be her swan song.
Women’s Second Round Completed
Those seeking hope for the future of American tennis can take heart in the performance of unseeded Christina McHale, the almost-20-year-old from Jersey. In her second round match, McHale dropped the first set, but gutted out a tiebreak in the second and held firm for a 6-3 final set, earning a date with former World No.1Jelena Jankovic (13) in the third round.
Jankovic posted a straight-set victory in moving through to Round 3. The two have played once (2011), and Jankovic treated McHale to a bagel in the second set. If McHale plays like she played yesterday, the match ought to be much more competitive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if McHale pulls off the upset there.
Title contender Kim Clijsters (11) showed no sign of injury, losing just one game in the dismantling of her unseeded opponent. Victoria Azarenka (3) followed the “no prisoners” policy, dropping only one game herself.
Caroline Wozniacki (1), on the other hand, failed to follow suit, needing a second set tiebreak to dispatch unseeded Anna Tatishvili, who swung for the fences to the very end. Wozniacki had a trainer come out to attend to her foot, and given her game, that may be significant as things proceed.
Fallen Seeds- Women
The only seeded player of note in the Women’s Draw to be sent packing in the second round was No.10 Francesca Schiavone, who has struggled to regain the form she displayed in claiming the French Open in 2010.
All for Now
Things are shaping up nicely! So far all whom I suggested would have a shot at bringing home the bacon are still in it. Click here for Women’s preview and here for Men’s. Links to Draws and Schedules are also available by clicking on those links. Until next, game, set, match…T A

1 comment: