1. Gulbis being Gulbis:
"Jerzy is on FIRE!" -Ernests Gulbis, to me, after seeing his score on TV. Janowicz trails 17-y.o. Aussie WC Jordan Thompson 6-1. #AusOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 13, 2014
2. Venus Williams lost a tight three-set match to Ekaterina Makarova. I took a look at some detailed stats from their encounter.
3. Aleksandr Nedovyesov, new to the top 100, put in a valiant effort against Tomas Berdych, losing in straights, but playing a courageous match. He was hitting huge serves, matching Berdych’s power, and showing off good instincts at the net. At 26, he’s not a young up-and-comer, but he’s one to watch as he works to improve his ranking even further.
4. Julia Goerges looked great in her 6-3, 6-2 win over Sara Errani. As usual, she made some erratic mistakes, but she kept them to a minimum, and reaped the rewards of her big serve and forehand. Less fun to witness was the commentary of Doug Adler and Chanda Rubin, who apparently assume they’re talking to a kindergartner who has never seen a tennis match.
1. I decided to liveblog Day One of the Australian Open. Most of my thoughts on everything that happened are there, along with bad outfits, nice outfits, trivia, funny tweets and who knows what else.
2. Perhaps Jerzy Janowicz spent the entire offseason trying to hack his way into the NSA or something, because he sure looked rusty out there today. His first two sets (in which he didn’t create a single break point) were inexcusably mediocre. The last two sets were pretty dominant, though.
3. I want to see more of Jordan Thompson. He showed a lot of good things in the first two sets against Janowicz (great court coverage, smart point construction, accurate and powerful serve, very decent return of serve), before wilting and losing the last three stanzas of their match. The last two sets were no contest, really.
I want to see more simply because I want to know just how much of Janowicz’ mediocrity played a part in making the 19 year-old Australian wildcard shine. However, a word of caution: Thompson will turn 20 in April, is ranked at No. 319 (his career best is just 308, and that was last April), and his match against Janowicz was his first ever ATP-level bout.
So, we gonna see, no?
4. Belinda Bencic and Ana Konjuh are 16 years old. Ashleigh Barty is 17. All three showed great promise today, though only one managed to progress (Bencic, who beat someone 27 years older than her – you can probably guess who it was). However, Konjuh and Barty had to deal with top 4 opposition (Li Na and Serena, respectively), and both were nursing ailments. Konjuh is set to have elbow surgery post-Australian Open, and Barty had a tear in her abductor recently.
After watching all three play, I think Konjuh has the highest upside (her pace is unreal, and she can slide on hard courts), Bencic is the most polished right now (though her second serve might be the biggest weakness of all 3), and Barty will probably end up being the most entertaining of all of them (great defense, and likes to mix up some slices and droppers here and there).
May the injured ones recover without any problems, and may all of them continue to develop at a good pace. It’s going to be fun to write about them in the coming years.
5. I spent all of Day One using the WatchESPN streams, and they were quite wonderful. I didn’t see a minute of studio chatter, and some matches didn’t even have commentators on. It was quite a peaceful experience, and one I’ll look to repeat throughout the fortnight.
6. If you haven’t read Jewell’s piece on what Lindsay aptly called “casual sexism,” you really should.
1. I’m pretty sure that my exact quote on the podcast, where I insanely picked Petra Kvitova to make the semifinals without someone pointing a gun to my head or threatening my life if I didn’t, was that “she could also easily lose in the first round to this player I have never heard of.”
Well…guess what happened? SIGH.
Here’s what Petra had to say about it:
Q. Can you describe how disappointed you are right now.
PETRA KVITOVA: I will try, but I’m not sure what I can told you.
I mean, I really wanted to know what’s happen out there. But unfortunately I didn’t play well. I didn’t play my game what I really tried all off season to work on. It was great off season. I was really excited to be here, feeling good.
But I think that probably I wanted too much, and then everything just fell down.
Q. Can you talk about your off season a little bit, what you did, what you worked on.
PETRA KVITOVA: Obviously my priority was to improve my movement on the court what I didn’t show today actually (smiling).
But I played great matches in Paris and Sydney. So I hope someday maybe it will come. I actually tried to work on my serve also. Yeah, that’s I think was I do big things to improve.
Q. Radek is a great player in terms of strategy and tactics. Does he talk to you sometimes?
PETRA KVITOVA: No, not at all. I have a coach for that.
Q. Is it so discreet that he doesn’t say one word?
PETRA KVITOVA: No, we are not speaking about the tactics.
2. When I went to bed (I KNOW, I’M WEAK), Madison Keys was in a tight third set with Patricia Mayr-Achleitner. I was glad to wake up this morning and see that she eventually pulled it out, 9-7 in the third. Keys has a great draw and a chance to make a run to the quarterfinals, but she’s got to stay calm and take it one match at a time.
3. SAMANTHA STOSUR WON A MATCH AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN.
4. I know this is horrible, but I knew that Venus was going to lose that match the second I turned on the TV and heard Brad Gilbert bragging about how well she was playing in the first set and how he expected her to have an “easy second set.” Nothing is easy for Venus these days, and really, nothing has been easy for her for some time, even when she was contending for majors. Venus goes for broke with her shots, and often she will have a strong start, and then her opponents will either figure out how to play her in the second set or she’ll lose a bit of her accuracy–usually both. It’s all about the third set for Venus, and, after Makarova went down 0-3, the Russian was simply the better player on the court. I give Makarova credit–she knows how to play in Australia–but gosh was it hard to watch Venus lose the plot like that. (Again.)
I wish that somewhere along the line Venus had decided on a “Plan B.”
5. I wrote about Novak Djokovic’s evolution and contradictions for Sports on Earth.
6. After one appointment no-show and six hours on the phone with them over the past week, AT&T is supposed to come to my apartment this morning to actually give me cable and internet, so I can, you know, actually do my job. Pray for me, readers. I might actually go mad if they don’t come this time.