With increasingly heavy eyelids and a huge pot of coffee, Andrew took in all the action from day 2 – here’s what he learned:
1- Sam Stosur lives!
The Australian Open is something of a torture chamber for the home favourite and former US Open Champion. The pressure of playing in front of her home crowd has always weakened her game, and an early round loss feels inevitable. Drawing Monica Niculescu in the first round, when you’re nervous anyway, is a potential disaster – the Romanian can slice and dice you into meltdown.
Stosur survived, though. Not only survived, but she won with a solid result of 6-4 6-1. It’s nice to see Sam following in the footsteps of several younger Australians, and making the second round. It remains to be seen how much longer she can hold her nerve.
2- Victoria Azarenka lives!
Vika opened her Australian Open campaign against Sloane Stephens, a match-up that is fast becoming a Melbourne tradition to varying degrees of entertainment. There were lots of question marks around Azarenka, who is still very much in a recovery phase after a long break with injury, but once she got warmed up, her game started to look good.
Stephens was able to hit some great shots, a capability that has never been in doubt, but her footwork doesn’t allow her to play with any kind of consistency. Azarenka won 6-3 6-2*, and will face good friend Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, the Dane taking out Taylor Townsend in straight sets.
3- Playing a tournament the week before a slam makes life hard
Hobart Champion Heather Watson was unable to find her game in the first round, visibly tired and carrying a niggling injury. Her victory in Hobart came just three days earlier, and probably didn’t help her chances. Her opponent was another big problem, of course; Tsvetana Pironkova has a game that can cause even the best players a lot of trouble, and was the clear favourite in the match.
For Watson, the trade-off of winning Hobart was probably worth the first round exit from Melbourne – it’s not every week the Brit is able to lift a trophy, and her chances of going deep in this slam were slim anyway.
4- Fabio Fognini is out
The tennis world mourns. Also this essential truth from Courtney Nguyen was the tweet of the day.
Putting Gulbis in the same breath as Fognini as "wacky players" is just plain lazy. Disservice to Gulbis and waters down FF's insolence.
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) January 20, 2015
5- Wawrinka and Nishikori look strong
For the reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, and US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, there is a lot to prove over the next two weeks. Critics are divided over whether the two will be able to uphold the fine form they displayed in 2014 when it comes to the biggest stages this year.
If their mission is to consolidate their former victories, they have started well. Nishikori was a picture of solidity during his 6-4 7-6 6-2 win over tough first round opponent Nicholas Almagro. Wawrinka made short work of qualifier Ilhan, progressing to the second round with a final score of 6-1 6-4 6-2.
6- There will be no Jankovic vs Serena match in the top quarter
In a heartbreaking development, unless you’re Timea Bacsinszky, Jelena Jankovic has tumbled out of the draw. This is particularly cruel when you realise that she was scheduled to meet Serena in the fourth round – a match up that always draws fireworks. JJ is the rare player who is very much inside Williams’ head, and even if that doesn’t necessarily help her steal regular victories, it makes for entertaining viewing.
Kudos to the Swiss World No. 41, who went through with a dominant scoreline of 6-1 6-4.
7- Five set battles are the in thing
Is it just me, or have there already been a lot of massive five set matches in this slam? Today saw further turmoil in the men’s draw, with Stakhovsky, Lopez, Soeda, Pospisil and Monfils all having to survive marathon encounters. Lopez and Monfils in particular were taken by surprise by the fantastic efforts of wildcards Denis Kudla and Lucas Pouille, both of whom made good on their invitations into the draw.
It remains to be seen if the survivors have anything in the tank for round two.
8- The Australia party continues
On day one Groth, Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, Tomic, Gajdosova, Matosevic and Duckworth all progressed to the second round, and it seems they inspired confidence in their compatriots.
Joining them in the second round are Aussie veterans Lleyton Hewitt and the aforementioned Sam Stosur, alongside Ajla Tomljanovic and 29th seed Casey Dellacqua.
Tune in tomorrow for all the big news from Day 3.
*Editors note: an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Azarenka’s winning score as 6-4 6-3.