Attention switched back to the bottom half of the draw on Day 3 of the 2021 Australian Open. It was quite an eventful day with three seeds falling and one of the favourites combing back from the brink. I was sad to see Petra go out 😢. Three days in and i’m definitely starting to flag. Aiming for a bit more sleep tonight although Thursday’s order of play is very tempting. A heads up for anyone using Eurosport that they are producing a 15 minute highlights package for every match. These are perfect if you missed a match but don’t have the time to watch it back in full.
Day 3️⃣ Highlights
(2) Simona Halep d. Ajla Tomljanovic, 4-6 6-4 7-5
Tomljanovic has always played Halep close, winning a set in three of their four previous encounters. The Aussie was so close to the biggest win of her career and a first victory over Halep as she led 5-2 in the third set. Tomljanovic was unable to close as Halep won the last five games in a thrilling contest.
In the third set, Tomljanovic grew in confidence as she mixed aggressive striking with some precise drop shots. Tomljanovic was able to capitalise on Halep’s positioning behind the baseline. A particular highlight was Tomljanovic’s service game at *2-2 as she rescued a *15-30 positions with back-to-back aces, followed by a sumptious forehand down-the-line winner to end a lung-busting rally. Tomljanovic served for the match at *5-3. There’s no sugar coating it, Tomljanovic tensed up and played a nervy game. Tomljanovic was two points away from the win in the next game after a Halep double fault. Ironically Halep served her way out of trouble. In the end, Halep’s champion instincts kicked in as she managed to outlast an increasingly error-strewn, Tomljanovic.
I think this win will only make Halep stronger going forward. I remember Tomljanovic impressed at this same stage of the AO last year when she gave Garbiñe Muguruza her toughest match en route to the final. I hope she’ll get that big result at a Slam one day because the game is there. There’s no doubting that this one will sting for a while.
Hsieh Su-Wei d. (8) Bianca Andreescu, 6-3 6-2
Watching Hsieh Su-Wei weave her magic on the biggest stage will always be a delightful experience. Hsieh scored her fourth top ten win at the Slams (via Tennis Abstract) with one of her best singles performance in a long, long time. Hsieh’s unique blend of angles, redirecting pace into the corners and coming forward worked a treat. Hsieh had one of her better serving days (59% of points won behind both 1st AND 2nd serves). Andreescu made inroads on the Hsieh serve in two separate games. The Canadian player struggled to do this consistently though. One of my favourite Hsieh-isms – when she’s at the net for a putaway smash and she doesn’t move her feet at all and nonchalantly dinks the ball back into court for a winner 😂.
Andreescu tried to be more aggressive. Hsieh was able to re-direct with interest. Andreescu tried to inject some variety. The drop shots just weren’t working. It’s quite jarring to see Andreescu lose because she’s set the bar so, SO high for herself. I’m just so used to her winning and managing to return from injury lay-offs and win tournaments right from the get-go. This lay-off was clearly different and there was match rust which is totally expected. In my opinion, there are only overwhelming positives to take away from this tournament in that Andreescu finally appears to be healthy again.
Sara Errani d. Venus Williams, 6-1 6-0
This was an absolute crusher. At 1-5 down in the first set, Venus rolled her right ankle when approaching the net She was clearly in a lot of pain. Venus had two medical time-outs, one for the ankle and another one for the knee which was already strapped. Barely able to move, Venus soldiered on. We already know that Venus is the ultimate competitor. Her passion to compete runs so deep. It was very inspiring to see her determination to continue and the belief that she clearly had that she could turn it around. To be honest, I was worried she was going to make the injuries worse by playing on! Fingers crossed it’s not as bad as it looked and wishing Venus a very speedy recovery.
Before the injury, this was a tough watch as Venus didn’t start well at all. I think she was striking the ball better after the injury. Errani kept her focus as it’s not easy to play an injured opponent. Well, she would know after what happened at Roland Garros 👀 . Errani is into the third round of a Slam for the first time since the 2015 US Open!
Funny moment 🤣
Hsieh was wonderful, as always, in the post-match interview. Love how she handled the question about her age 😂 .
Favourite snap 📸
Great picture of Sam from her Instagram page.
Press conference 📰
Plenty of insight from Heather Watson about the two week quarantine in her first round press conference.
Recommended media 📺
Iga Swiatek dropped in on Naomi Osaka’s press conference 😂.
Day 4 watchlist 📺
There’s a super line-up of matches for day 4 including Pliskova-Collins and Kenin-Kanepi. Thoughts about my 5 to watch on day 3 can be found here.