Australian Open Day Two Journal and Results: The calm after the storm

Tennis Rafael Nadal Melbourne Australian Open 2012
Rafael Nadal. (Creative Commons)

The first round is wrapped up in Melbourne! While Day One was a busy mixture of seeds scraping through by the skin of their teeth and top players getting bounced out early, Day Two was much more businesslike in comparison.

Still, the excitement and intrigue was present once again. Here are the results from Day Two at the Australian Open, and a few comments.

(Okay, maybe a little more than a few…)

ROD LAVER ARENA

Karolina Pliskova [5] d. Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2 6-0

The US Open finalist made her Grand Slam breakthrough in September, and many are calling her to win the Australian Open thanks to her devastating efficiency in New York. Her swift opening victory will have made them feel pretty confident, but Sorribes Tormo is not exactly the most challenging of opponents. Things will surely get tougher.

Serena Williams [2] d. Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3

Serena had owned her head-to-head with Bencic up until the teenager’s shock upset of the then-world no. 1 in July 2015, and their first meeting since then was the most-anticipated first round match in either Melbourne draw. Nevertheless – while 19-year-old Bencic broke serve twice – it was not the contest attendees had hoped for. After a wind-wrecked Auckland second round exit, the younger Williams sister was back to the business of going for every shot in Melbourne. While she was far from perfect – finishing with 30 winners and 30 unforced errors – Serena’s aggression was enough to get the job done. Her victim is left to rue the unfortunate draw as she packs her bags early.

Rafael Nadal [9] d. Florian Mayer 6-3 6-4 6-4

An ATP title winner last season, Mayer has previously been ranked as high as world no. 18. Nevertheless, this was a rather soft opener for Nadal, who now has a potentially nightmarish couple of rounds ahead of him. This straight sets win was a much-needed boost for the confidence – especially as he claimed it without facing a break point – as he prepares for an encounter with former finalist Marcos Baghdatis. The Cypriot almost upended Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round last season. And although Mikhail Youzhny retired partway through the second set of their encounter on Tuesday, Baghdatis is dangerous here.

Novak Djokovic d. Fernando Verdasco 6-1 7-6(4) 6-2

It was either going to be incredibly close, or a one-sided victory for Novak Djokovic. It turned out to be the latter. It never boded well for Verdasco – a victor over Nadal in the first round last year – that he could not convert on five match points against Djokovic just two weeks ago, and he was erratic from the offset in Melbourne as he tried to go for broke. The defending champion quickly warmed to the contest, but that was nothing compared to the blazing sermon his opponent later preached on the court conditions. Hmm…

Agnieszka Radwanska [3] d. Tsvetana Pironkova 6-1 4-6 6-1

A 2016 semifinalist, Radwanska got revenge on the woman who sent her crashing out of Roland Garros – just. Unforced errors cost former Wimbledon semifinalist Pironkova in the final set, but Radwanska was clutch when she needed to be. This early test could be greatly beneficial to her.

MARGARET COURT ARENA

Johanna Konta [9] d. Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2

Annabel Croft thinks Konta is a leading contender for the title. Greg Rusedski called her the “hottest player on tour right now”. I disagree with both statements, but the pressure of matching her 2016 run does not seem to be detrimentally affecting the recently-crowned Brisbane champion. Keeping her feet on the ground and her head in the game is one of the former Aussie’s greatest assets, and it has seen her to a pleasing opening victory.

Milos Raonic [3] d. Dustin Brown 6-3 6-4 6-2

On paper, this looks like a highly impressive triumph for the Canadian – who saved all three break points he faced during his clash with the entertaining Dustin Brown. But people forget that the German rarely performs away from lawns. Efficient from Raonic, but the later rounds will tell us more about what kind of form he is in.

Heather Watson d. Samantha Stosur [18] 6-3 3-6 6-0

A great win on a show court for Watson, who hasn’t really done anything notable since winning the Wimbledon mixed doubles title alongside Henri Kontinen. But for Sam Stosur, it’s the same old story of simply not being able to deal with the insane expectation that comes along with her home major. One has to feel for her.

Grigor Dimitrov [15] d. Christopher O’Connell 7-6(2) 6-3 6-3

In-form Dimitrov takes his first step into an opportune Melbourne draw. His world no. 231-ranked, 22-year-old opponent was the serious underdog in this encounter, and talented 20-year-old Hyeon Chung – coming off a much-needed triumph – should make things closer. Nevertheless, I see the Bulgarian sticking around for a while yet.

Daria Gavrilova [22] d. Naomi Broady 3-6 6-4 7-5
While the home crowds provide immense energy, they inevitably provide immense pressure simultaneously. Gavrilova handled that with an upset of the absent Petra Kvitova last season, and a comeback victory over an opponent who hit 19 aces to zero double faults doubtless leaves her as confident as ever.

HISENSE ARENA

Alexander Zverev [24] d. Robin Haase 6-2 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-2

A close shave for a teenager expected to make some noise in the Australian Open draw. Zverev’s mental strength shone through in the last two sets, and he goes into his clash with fellow youngster Frances Tiafoe as the favourite.

Dominika Cibulkova [6] d. Denisa Allertova 7-5 6-2

Allertova has pulled off several upsets in the not-so-distant past. Cibulkova – a Melbourne finalist in 2014 – looks promising after progressing without losing a set. But we all know that everything can change in an instant.

Caroline Wozniacki [17] d. Arina Rodionova 6-1 6-2

This time last year was the beginning of a tumultuous eight months for Wozniacki, but the Dane’s convincing opening victory over the younger Rodionova sister confirms that the counter-puncher is settled mentally once again. She may not be a likely eventual champion, but she could easily do damage.

Omar Jasika d. David Ferrer [21] 6-3 6-0 6-2

This was definitely the most surprising result of the day. Ferrer looked to be on his last legs throughout last season, and freely admitted to mental and physical issues. That he dismissed such a promising player as Jasika for the loss of a mere five games is worthy of applause. But it’s a blow to the wild card and the home fans, after the 19-year-old won his spot in the main draw for the second straight year in convincing fashion.

ALSO NOTEWORTHY

Jordan Thompson d. Joao Sousa 6-7(2) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1

Great comeback from the home star who has been making unexpected waves this month.

Lucie Safarova d. Yanina Wickmayer 3-6 7-6(7) 6-1

Safarova saved NINE match point to come through, and the Czech lefty – ranked at a lowly world no. 61 thanks only to an abysmal 2016 – will be yet another mental and physical test for Serena Williams.

Dominic Thiem [8] d. Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-3

If any seeded player in either draw needed a triumph, it was Dominic Thiem, The Crumbling Star Of 2016. An early exit could spell doom for the next few months of his 2017 campaign, and this start goes a long way to calming his nerves in a decent draw.

Gael Monfils [6] d. Jiri Vesely 6-2 6-3 6-2

I called Vesely to triumph in this one with little hesitation. Monfils was having none of it. But how long he will keep up his form? It’s an unguessable question.

Naomi Osaka d. Luksika Kumkhum 6-7(2) 6-4 7-5

Kumkhum has reaped some of her best results at the Australian Open, but big-serving fan favourite Osaka survives to set up an intriguing clash with Konta.

Benoit Paire d. Tommy Haas 7-6(2) 6-4

Now the Indian Wells tournament director, 38-year-old Hass’ return to competitive tennis did not have a happy ending. Still, that the man who does not tire of making comebacks should return to court again at all was a happy occasion in itself.

Ana Konjuh d. Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-2

She was plagued by injury during her transition to the senior tour, but Croatia’s Konjuh went all the way to the quarter-finals at the 2016 US Open. Under the radar once more, the 19-year-old should have a couple of upsets left in her. Gavrilova’s up next.

Hyeon Chung d. Renzo Olivo 6-2 6-3 6-2

Good preparation for his duel with Grigor Dimitrov.

Donna Vekic d. Lizette Cabrera 7-5 6-2

Vekic wins a Grand Slam main draw match for the first time since the 2015 French Open. Miracle. Don’t expect her to claim another.

Maria Sakkari d. Anett Kontaveit 6-0 6-4

I’ve been bigging up Greece’s Sakkari since Wimbledon last year, and her powerful game appears to have taken to the conditions at Melbourne Park. She gets Alize Cornet, the no. 28 seed, next.

Ivo Karlovic [20] d. Horacio Zeballos 7-6(8) 6-3 5-7 2-6 22-20

Worth losing a two sets to one advantage to set a record for longest fifth set in Australian Open history? For Ivo Karlovic, who hardly has a hope of raising the trophy, it probably was.

The Croat also set a record for most aces hit in one match at the tournament with 75.

Fabio Fognini d. Feliciano Lopez [28] 7-5 6-3 7-5

No comment.

SEE ALL DAY TWO AUSTRALIAN OPEN RESULTS HERE

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Thanks for reading! Any highlights from Day Two for you personally? Any players you think will make a deep run after their opening match? Let me know!

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