The big talking point on day 2 was the weather as temperatures soared to 42 degrees celsius and a number of players had issues, most notably Frank Dancevic, who collapsed on court and Peng Shuai, who valiantly fought on after cramping and vomiting on court. You can read Dancevic’s views HERE. First, my thoughts on day 2 and then previews for day 3.
TFF DreamTeam Update: After round one, AuzzieOpenDreamTeammm has taken a big lead at the top followed by Grand Slammers in 2nd and BK in 3rd. Out of the 58 mini-leagues that have entered, Moo’s Tennis Blog is ranked at number 11 in terms of average points so far.
It was the men’s draw that had the majority of the headlines on Day 2 as Bernard Tomic pulled out of his hotly anticipated clash with Rafael Nadal after losing the first set, 6-4 with a leg injury. It was a shame for the punters and there were reportedly some boos after he decided to retire. The commentators on AO Radio thought he should have played on, but it’s a difficult one because no-one knows except Bernard how bad the injury was. Lleyton Hewitt displayed his customary grit to retrieve a two sets deficit against Andreas Seppi, but lost out in an agonising deciding set where he had had a match point. On a tough day for the top two men in Australian tennis, it was up to the teens to salvage it. Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios both won their first round matches in four sets to progress to the second round.
Many of tennis pundits had suggested before the tournament that Gilles Simon would pull out of the tournament as he was apparently seen walking round in crutches after rolling his ankle in the Kooyong Exhibition last week. However the Frenchmen turned up for his first round match with Daniel Brands and rather astonishingly, went on to win 16-14 in the fifth set, in a match lasting 4 hours and 32 minutes.
Three women’s seeds fell on Day 2. Garbine Muguruza continued her sensational start to 2014 with a 6-2 2-6 6-2 victory over Kaia Kanepi. Sorana Cirstea continued her winless start to 2013 as she failed to serve out the second set of her clash with Marina Erakovic and ended up losing in straight sets. Lacking match practice, Svetlana Kuznetsova also went out in straight sets, to Elina Svitolina, 6-3 6-3.
1. Na Li v Belinda Bencic
In the off-season, I included Belinda Bencic in my list of players I thought would move up the rankings. I tipped her to crack the top 100 and she’s started in very promising form and obviously eager to make my prediction a reality! Last year’s French Open and Wimbledon juniors champion came through qualifying without dropping a set, which included knocking out the number one seed, Sharon Fichman. She carried that confidence into the main draw where she took out Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-4 4-6 6-3. Many of the teenagers often struggle against Date-Krumm’s rather peculiar game and although Bencic struggled at first, she demonstrated her ability to adapt and showed both calm and poise in closing out a first ever Grand Slam win.
Next up for Bencic is the number four seed, Na Li. Li is getting a good look at the best juniors on tour in this tournament as she defeated Ana Konjuh, 6-0 6-2 in her first round match. Li has a tough draw in Melbourne, but she has had great results at this event including reaching the final last year. I think Bencic will win more games than Konjuh, but Li will progress into the third round without a dropping a set.
Prediction: Li to beat Bencic in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
2. Mikhail Youzhny v Florian Mayer (ATP, R2)
There are a small handful of interesting men’s 2nd round matches on Wednesday’s schedule including this match-up between Mikhail Youzhny and Florian Mayer. Youzhny came into the tournament with a retirement in his first round match in Chennai so I was slightly surprised to see him come through with such ease in his first round match in Melbourne, a 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff in 109 minutes. His second round match should be much tougher against Florian Mayer. The German player knocked out Andy Murray in Doha on the way to making the semi-finals, but did lose first round in Sydney. He has a funky game, which can be very effective at times. Mayer leads their head-to-head by 4 wins to 3 although they haven’t played since 2011. Youzhny did come through his first round comfortably, but I think Mayer will claim the upset win.
Prediction: Mayer to beat Youzhny in 4 sets
3. Sam Stosur v Tsvetana Pironkova (WTA, R2)
I was pleasantly surprised to see Sam Stosur turn the tables on Klara Zakopalova and record a first round win at this year’s Australian Open. All in all, Stosur has done better in Australia this year and beating Zakopalova in straight sets was a very respectable effort. Stosur’s draw is a particularly testing one and if she were to make the 4th round where Serena is most likely to be awaiting, she will have done a marvellous job. Her second round opponent will be Tsvetana Pironkova, who produced the most heartwarming story of the year so far by coming through qualifying to take the Sydney title. The Bulgarian player, who has jumped up to number 57 in the world rankings by virtue of her first title, was never tested in a 6-3 6-2 win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the first round.
Stosur has a 3-0 head-to-head lead over Pironkova, which included a victory in the Tournament of Champions event in Sofia at the end of last year. I am not really sure what to expect of Pironkova this week. She did well to come through her first round, but I think there has to be some sort of come down. Sam in straights.
Prediction: Stosur to beat Pironkova in 2 sets
Women’s 2nd Round AO Predictions
Serena Williams to beat Vesna Dolonc in 2 sets
Karolina Pliskova to beat Daniela Hantuchova in 3 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Annika Beck in 2 sets
Madison Keys to beat Zheng Jie in 2 sets
Kirsten Flipkens to beat Casey Dellacqua in 3 sets
Eugenie Bouchard to beat Virgine Razzano in 3 sets
Lauren Davis to beat Julia Goerges in 3 sets
Lucie Safarova to beat Lucie Hradecka in 3 sets
Ekaterina Makarova to beat Irina Falconi in 2 sets
Sabine Lisicki to beat Monica Niculescu in 2 sets
Angelique Kerber to beat Alla Kudryavtseva in 2 sets
Alison Riske to beat Yanina Wickmayer in 2 sets
Monica Puig to beat Flavia Pennetta in 2 sets
Mona Barthel to beat Luksika Kumkhum in 3 sets
Men’s 2nd Round AO Predictions
Tomas Berdych to beat Kenny De Schepper in 3 sets
Ivan Dodig to beat Damir Dzumhur in 3 sets
Dominic Thiem to beat Kevin Anderson in 4 sets
Edouard Roger-Vasselin to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 4 sets
Jerzy Janowicz to beat Pablo Andujar in 3 sets
Jeremy Chardy to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in 5 sets
David Ferrer to beat Adrian Mannarino in 3 sets
Stanley Wawrinka to beat Alejandro Falla in 3 sets
Vasek Pospisil to beat Matthew Ebden in 3 sets
Julien Benneteau to beat Tommy Robredo in 5 sets
Richard Gasquet to beat Nikolay Davydenko in 4 sets
Jarkko Nieminen to beat Fabio Fognini in 4 sets
Ernests Gulbis to beat Sam Querrey in 5 sets
Dmitry Tursunov to beat Denis Istomin in 4 sets
Novak Djokovic to beat Leonardo Mayer in 3 sets