First, with the women’s…
1. Caroline Wozniacki struggled. Surprise! Honestly, I’m not positive she’ll make it past the fourth round. She look great in the first set against Anna Tatishvili. She can only live on those defensive tactics for so long, because eventually she’ll have to play the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Li Na, Victoria Azarenka, etc. One thing about them all? They’re hard hitters. And as we’ve noticed for years now, Wozniacki hasn’t been able to solve those heavy hitters. A new coach, Ricardo Sanchez, is the right first step to her elusive first Grand Slam win, but is it enough right now? No. The first set, as I was saying, was fantastic for Caroline. She was whacking the ball all over the court, something extremely rare for her. But in the second set, where she barely won in a tiebreak, she played defensive. She’s got to start hitting with more authority if she wants to make it to even the quarterfinals.
2. Samantha Stosur flopped big-time. I mean, big-time, losing to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets in her first round match, 6-7 (2-7)-3-6. The visibly upset Australian obviously had not planned to lose so early. ““Third, fourth rounds obviously aren’t where you want to go, but certainly better than a first round. All you can do is come back next year and keep trying. I want to do better here.” The most disappointed people have to be all the fans in Melbourne as they were desperately hoping for an Australian to win their home Slam, and it looks like that’ll have to wait, at least on the women’s side. Bernard Tomic won his second round match against Sam Querrey in 4 sets, but he’s nowhere near being a serious contender.
3. Wow, Kim Clijsters must’ve had somewhere to go. She won her second round match against Stephanie Foretz Gacon 6-0 6-1 in an incredible 47 minutes. She did have time however to convince the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to her sister. Anyway, the shrieker, Victoria Azarenka, won her second round match by almost the same score, 6-1 6-0 in 57 minutes. The day wasn’t all so easy for top players, as last year’s French Open finalist, Francesca Schiavone of Italy, lost in straight sets, and was very disappointed in her effort, even going as far as saying it was her worst effort in a Grand Slam ever.
4. Li Na looks quite good out on the court right now, breezing through her second round match. I have no doubts she’ll make it to at least the quarterfinals. On the other hand, Serena Williams hasn’t looked super impressive yet, the jury’s still out on her.
5. Lastly, the race for the No. 1 spot is on. If you didn’t know, Caroline Wozniacki has to reach at least the quarterfinals to keep her spot as the top player in the world (according to rankings, not opinions. I don’t think anyone in the world thinks she’s truly the best player in the world right now). There are a ton of contenders for her spot should she not get past the 4th round, including Petra Kvitova, who’s my favorite to take over the top spot.
On to the men!
1. How bad did Mardy Fish look today. He just seemed out of sync, against Alejandro Falla (that’s pronounced “Fiyah!”. Yes, with an exclamation point, it sounds much better. What a great name). Falla took down the top American in straight sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). Fish just didn’t play well today, and there’s nothing to blame really. It was just an off day. And to be fair, Falla’s not a bad player at all. He was producing some memorable shots against a weary Fish. Remember, this guy almost took down Roger Federer in his prime (2008) in arguably his best tournament (Wimbledon), in the first round. He had a two set lead, then failed to close it out in what might be the biggest scare of Fed’s career.
2. It was a bad day for American tennis in general. Besides Fish, Donald Young, he of the recent surge, fell in four sets, 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to Lukas Lacko. American tennis fans have to be disappointed by his efforts in the first Grand Slam of 2012. At the same time, John Isner made his case to be the number one ranked American, winning an epic encounter with Argentine David Nalbandian in 5 sets, lasting nearly 5 hours, 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 10-8. He’s like the Energizer Bunny, only much larger and serves aces all the time!
3. Easy days for the top stars, as Rafael Nadal crushed over-the-hill veteran Tommy Haas in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Nadal’s frightening knee injury was almost nonexistent, as he dispatched of the German easily. Roger Federer had an even easier day, and didn’t have to even play a single point as his second round opponent, Andreas Beck of Germany, withdrew due to a back injury. Hopefully Federer will be able to put this off day into good use, meaning he should save energy for what lies ahead.
4. Juan Martin del Potro won in straight sets, as did Tomas Berdych, but I think that del Potro’s looked a little rusty recently. Not sure why, but by the fourth round, should he get there, he’ll probably be in better form. Have to give props to young Ryan Harrison a day or two late, he really gave Andy Murray all he could handle. Andy Roddick was proud of him, and I’m sure the USTA is too.
5. Looking ahead to Day 4, the most interesting match of the day for the men should be Andy Roddick against Aussie Lleyton Hewitt. I’m picking Roddick in five hard contested sets, with the crowd against him. Should be a doozy. Novak Djokovic shouldn’t have any problems whatsoever against Santiago Girardo. That’s my match of the day for the men. As for the women? Either Jelena Dokic vs. Marion Bartoli or Serena Williams vs. Barbara Zahlavova Strycova.