In case you missed it, here is what we learned on Day One ,Day Two, Day Three and Day Four.
1. Watch out, Roger Federer. Marcos Baghdatis has his eye on surpassing the Swiss’ reputation for being the worst Hawk-Eye challenger. During his Australian Open campaign, Baghdatis made a whopping 16 challenges. Only ONE of those was successful. Honorable mention to Gael Monfils, who has made eight challenges, only one successful. And he still has time to add to that total.
On the women’s side, the Serbian women take the cake. Jelena Jankovic challenged 14 times, only once successfully, while Ana Ivanovic has made 14 challenges, correct just three times. Valeria Savinykh was an impressive 5/6 on her challenges. That’s a lot of bad line calls.
2. Sergiy Stakhovsky loves to troll on Twitter during Sharapova’s matches. Don’t feed the trolls.
I think many people in #Australia are using MUTE bottom on their TVs))) @australianopen
— Sergiy Stakhovsky (@Stako_tennis) January 18, 2013
3. Someone found The Changeover by Googling “Tomic is a wanker.” We love our readers.
1. I saw Madison Keys play tennis for the first time today, and I bought a ton of her stock. We’re going to hear a lot from that young woman in the next decade. I’d like to see Keys get that second serve to sit up a little less, but otherwise, she’s ready to go. It will be fun to see her climb up the rankings – she’s as inevitable as a prospect gets.
2. Watching Jelena Jankovic play makes me sad. She seemed thoroughly outclassed in her derby match against Ivanovic today, and if it hadn’t been for a streaky patch of good play in the first set, the final result would have been more lopsided. She used to be such a dynamic player, and now she’s a sad shade of what she used to be. Jankovic is predictable, erratic, and she’s easy to boss around the baseline. The dreaded “r” word looms large over her head in 2013.
3. Apparently Lotto can’t design more than one kit for their endless stable of ATP players. The Italian brand somehow has produced at least three different Australian kits for the women they sponsor (Radwanska has two different dresses, Makarova has a separates kit), yet all the men wearing Lotto (Ferrer, Almagro, Anderson, Malisse, et al) have shown up out using the same kit, with only one variation: Ferrer uses a bandana, while others use a hideous hat or nothing at all. Also, what does Ferrer need to do to get his own line? He just signed a new deal with Lotto, and 2012 was the best year of his life. If not now … when?
4. Jerzy Janowicz has a lot of trouble returning good serves. In his straight set loss against Almagro, the #JerzyTrain failed to create a single break point opportunity en route to winning just 20% of return points. That’s just shockingly bad, and worse than the numbers Bernie Tomic put up yesterday. I really do think that improvement in the return of serve is what will dictate just how far Jerzy Janowicz can go.
5. Maria Sharapova can still reach her 2008 Australian Open heights. She came a few late wobbles short of double-breadsticking Venus Williams. It was incredible to see Sharapova come up with huge forehand after huge forehand. Her timing was simply impeccable. Inflamed collarbone? What inflamed collarbone?
1. Julien Benneteau is very good at prolonging the inevitable. The Frenchman played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play to get up two sets to one over Janko Tipsarevic, but then he withered away at the business end of the match. A lot of credit should be given to Tipsarevic, of course, who has turned his career around by gutting out these five-set matches that he used to let slip away. But Benneteau had the match on his racket, and simply took his foot off the gas. It was just another reminder of why the talented Frenchmen remains title-less. I think that Juan José best summed up the perils of Benny when he said, “His tombstone will read: This man once beat Federer, but he never could beat Jarkko Nieminen.”
2. Sam Querrey has a long way to go. The top American gave a very disappointing performance against Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round, falling in straight sets. I continue to see all the tools necessary in Querrey to give anyone on tour a run for their money, but it really is frustrating when he puts in performances like this. This is nothing against Wawrinka, who is a worthy opponent and the higher seed and absolutely deserves to be in the fourth round. (His present? Djokovic!) But at the 2010 US Open Querrey took Wawrinka to five sets, and this time he couldn’t even get one. It’s time for Querrey to make some strides this year.
3. Kevin Anderson seems to finally be living up to his potential. What an impressive January he is having. He finished off his match vs. Verdasco in style.
4. Maria Sharapova’s form this tournament is frightening.
5. On a non-tennis note, I was lucky enough to get to see the Broadway show “Once” last night with my aunt. If you get a chance to see that show run, do not walk. It was one of the best musicals I have ever seen.
You guys learn so many things, it’s humbling 🙂
Anderson had a decent end to the season in Paris, gave Berdych quite a time of it, good to see he’s started the year in the same vein.
We try to keep learning, Chris! It’s good for the mind.
Seriously speaking, I’m enjoying having to write this little (shared) column every night, because it forces me to think back about things that are noteworthy, but got washed away by some recent event (that might not be as noteworthy. So it’s a nice little exercise for the memory.
About Anderson – he seems to be having a nice late-20s resurgence. It was sad to see him double-fault away the break in the third set of the Sydney final – he had been playing very well until then.
Re: return of serve, it does seem to be something that plagues many of the “next” generation, which is kind of strange considering that three of the big four make so much hay out of their returns and the fourth, Federer, is the master of the lunging, point-neutralizing high chip return. It’s for this reason that I don’t see Tomic having much luck against Federer tonight (tomorrow??). Federer’s first serve is top notch and he won the highest percentage of points on his second serve of anyone on the tour last year. Tomic has been serving beautifully for a month, but Federer will get a lot of those big serves back into play and it will be up to a likely nervous Bernie to finish the point off. Add this disadvantage to the fact that Tomic still doesn’t move well enough to defend very well against Federer’s offense and I see a relatively straightforward victory for Federer. But it would be fun to be wrong.
I really liked your comment, Matt. You’re spot on, particularly on the comments about Federer.
I really don’t understand how these young guys falter so badly on the return of serve. There’s not one of them that has even decent instincts, and a prime prospect like Tomic does nonsensical things like backpedal before hitting some returns. It’s as if all their coaches didn’t watch much of the Big 4 era.
Hi guys, just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading your old chats and am enjoying
this blog immensely. I especially liked your chat about how you fell in love with tennis. There
were alot of references to TW and that’s where I got to know you, Linz, and JJ. Maybe this place
will be a nice substitute for me now that I don’t frequent TW anymore (it’s just so different now!).
I’m following the AO this year but it’s not the same without the heavenly creature 🙁 I don’t know
who is going to beat Maria. I wish I liked her but the shrieking is intolerable to me. My dream would be a Ferrer win but that’s not realistic.
The AO is my favorite slam. The exotic location on the other side of the world, the extreme conditions and the middle of the night viewing all contribute to why I love it so much!
Thanks for the kind words, Annie!
I’m very glad to hear you’re liking the site, Annie! And as you know, being married to a Nadal fan allows me to say that I can understand how you feel about this specific Australian Open. Hopefully Nadal can indeed come back in South America – I think he should use this kind of schedule from now on – no need to play on hardcourts more than it’s absolutely necessary.
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