Liveblogging Day One of the 2013 Australian Open

G’day, mates! It’s finally here! The Australian Open is officially underway!

As I either celebrate or grieve over my NFL team, the New England Patriots, making the AFC Championship game or failing miserably (pending results), I will be liveblogging all the action right here. My fellow Changeover writers, Lindsay and Juan Jose, will be providing an assist as we attempt to watch everything all at once.

10:45 a.m. – I have my eye on a couple of interesting matches. Venus Williams is taking on the streaky Galina Voskoboeva, while Grigor Dimitrov and Julien Benneteau square off on Court 13. You can check out the full Order of Play here.

10:51 a.m. – Availability depends on region, but there is live video streaming on the Australian Open site from many of the courts. I love when Slams make it this easy!

11:19 a.m. – 2011 NBA Champion Dirk Nowitzki, a big tennis buff, is as excited as we are.

11:22 a.m. – Some very early updates:

11:31 a.m. – Juan Jose: Early impressions from Almagro-Johnson: Almagro looks to be in fantastic shape. Can’t recall him looking this good. Johnson was down 0-30 at 2-2, but three bombs later, he ends up holding. He has a really nice serve: pretty sound, easy-looking motion.

At this point in time, Sharapova and Puchkova have played three games. Venus and Voskoboeva haven’t even finished their third game. Almagro and Johnson are starting their SEVENTH.

11:42 a.m. – Maria Sharapova has dished out the first bagel of the tournament, taking the first set, 6-0, over Olga Puchkova.

11:54 a.m: Venus Williams, Li Na, Kristyna Pliskova, Pauline Parmentier, Sorana Cirstea, Tsvetana Pironkova, Julien Benneteau, Julian Reister, Nicolas Almagro, Maxime Authom, and Xavier Malisse have all bagged the first sets of their matches.

12:01 p.m. – Juan Jose: Steve Johnson reminds me a lot of Sam Querrey when he was coming up a few years ago: nice serve, nice forehand, but bad point construction and an even worse backhand. The potential is there, but a lot of work needs to be done.

Almagro was impressive in taking the one chance he had to break (aided by Johnson), but had classic Almagro wobbles when serving for it. He started the game with a double fault and a backhand unforced error. He played brilliantly to dig himself out and take the set.

12:41 p.m. – Juan Jose: Impressions from the second set of Almagro-Johnson (7-6(4), Johnson) — This was a classic Almagro set, tactically a mess. He’s letting Johnson take control of the points with his forehand, and doesn’t seem interested in finding Johnson’s atrocious backhand at all. To compound the mess, Almagro played an Almagro-esque tiebreaker: He had a chance to go up a minibreak but hit two bad passing shots from good positions, and then badly framed a regulation forehand when he had the entire court open. A mess.

Johnson is doing a lot of running around his backhand (like any sane person would do given his limitations on that wing), and it’ll be interesting to see how his body holds up from the constant scrambling to get in position to hit those inside-out forehands.

12:43 p.m. Venus Williams, clad in a great EleVen dress, beats Galina Voskoboeva, 6-1, 6-0.

12:59 p.m. – Julia Goerges and Vera Dushevina are currently at a set all, and 3-2 on serve.

1:03 p.m. – Grigor Dimitrov falls to Julien Benneteau in straight sets. I’ll take this time to mock Juan Jose for his jinx-y piece from earlier this week.

1:09 p.m. – Juan Jose: In the third set, Johnson has tried repeatedly to hit backhand drop shots. They’ve all landed in the net, including the one that gave Almagro a 4-2 lead. This kid’s backhand is just sad, particularly when compared to his great serve and forehand combo. It’s like a nice car with only three wheels. To top it off, Johnson made some bad forehand errors to get broken a second time and lose the set 6-2.

1:37 p.m. – Sam Stosur takes the first set, 7-6(3) against Kai-Chen Chang, shocking tennis observers everywhere.

1:50 p.m. – Agnieszka Radwanska holds off Bojana Bobusic to take the first set. Bobusic served for the set at 5-4, and Radwanska stormed back to take three straight games. She has yet to drop a set in 2013.

1:58 p.m. – Juan Jose: Nothing much happened in the fourth set, until Almagro had a match point on Johnson’s serve at 4-5. Johnson saved it, and in the next service game, Almagro finally lost his cool (hadn’t happened until then), faced a couple of break points, but survived. In the tiebreak, Johnson went up a minibreak to start, but Almagro got it back, and went up 5-3. At that point, he hit a horrible backhand unforced error to lose the minibreak. Still, he served for the match at 6-5, but Johnson saved it with a huge forehand that barely caught the corner. Soon after, Almagro made a bad forehand unforced error, and Johnson pounced. That was Almagro being Almagro, essentially. Huge kudos to Johnson for staying with it, and going for his shots down match point.

2:05 p.m. – Into a fifth set, Johnson gets immediately broken after stopping play on break point because he thinks a line call is incorrect. He is wrong. Unbelievably, Almagro does the exact same thing, with the exact same results in the next game on break point, also getting broken.

We have a schedule update:

2:13 p.m. – After failing to serve out the first set at 5-4, Bobusic fails to win another game in the match, Radwanska winning nine straight, and dishing out a bagel.

2:24 p.m. – Almagro toughs out the five-setter against Johnson, winning it 6-2 in the fifth. Almagro will play the winner of Gimeno-Traver and Kubot, who are still locked in a fifth set.

2:41 p.m. – Paul-Henri Mathieu is sporting an interesting shirt in his match against Novak Djokovic. Juan Jose hates it, but I like it.


3:10 p.m. – Juan Jose: Djokovic takes the first set against Mathieu, 6-2. Djokovic is playing well, not forcing anything and taking what Mathieu gives him. The definition of “playing within himself.” The backhand is looking rock-solid. Mathieu is not doing a terrible job out there, but he’s far from coming up with something special to truly trouble Djokovic.

3:44 p.m. – Our favorite British Journo returns!

4:00 p.m. – The order of play for tomorrow has been released. On Rod Laver: Andy Murray vs. Robin Haase, Victoria Azarenka vs. Monica Niculescu, Benoit Paire vs. Roger Federer, Bernie Tomic vs. Leonardo Mayer, and Yanina Wickmayer vs. Jarmila Gajdosova.

4:05 p.m. – Jelena Janovic beats Johanna Larsson, 6-2, 6-2. It was not exactly a classic:

4:14 p.m. – Defending champ Novak Djokovic beats Paul-Henri Mathieu in routine fashion, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5. It was a solid display from the World No. 1.

4:46 p.m. – Angelique Kerber is debuting a new Adidas dress, an EXTREMELY welcome change from the sea foam green and yellow atrocity she wore for much of 2012. She takes the first set, 6-2, against World No. 127 Elina Svitolina, but now trails 2-0 in the second set.


A couple of great exchanges from Sharapova’s post-match presser:

Q. You aren’t aware that you may have to face [Venus] in the third round?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have seen the draw, yes. Thank you.

Q. On the court it’s cold or hot?


Q. What’s your feeling?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You were there. Did you watch?

Q. Yeah, I watched.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it cold or hot?

Q. Cold.

5:23 p.m. – Kerber closes out the match, 6-2, 6-4. Meanwhile, Dominika Cibulkova, fresh off being double-bageled by Agnieszka Radwanska in the Sydney final, drops the first set to Ashleigh Barty. No comment.

6:08 p.m. – Fernando Verdasco answered my question on Twitter:

6:14 p.m. – Cibulkova toughs out the match, beating Barty 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. Not a great start, but she was fine once she got some momentum.

6:35 p.m. – Bolelli is sporting a bizarre shirt. The logo appears to be a skull (possibly), or an alien? Some pictures:


6:54 p.m. – On ESPN, Cliff Drysdale breaks out the, “When is Ferrer going to get some respect?” line right off the bat as David Ferrer and Olivier Rochus start their match. Then … this:

7:22 p.m. – With Lleyton Hewitt vs. Janko Tipsarevic on my TV, and Jerzy Janowicz vs. Simone Bolelli on my computer, I have plenty to watch right now.

7:35 p.m. – Hewitt is wearing a shirt that looks like its purpose is to hypnotize his opponent into making errors.


7:43 p.m. – 16-year-old Aussie Ashleigh Barty took her first round loss to Dominika Cibulkova hard:

8:40 p.m. – Jerzy Janowicz wins in straights, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. The World No. 26 came back from 4-1 down in the first set, but steadied himself.

Juan Jose is liveblogging the Hewitt-Tipsarevic match in more detail.

Thanks for following along! I am off to grab a few hours of much-needed sleep. The first day of the Australian Open is in the books.

Amy can be spotted on a tennis court in the Philadelphia area, shanking backhand volleys.