Australian Open – Round 1st + 2nd
Before the tournament withdrew three players who would have been seeded: Florian Mayer, Marin Cilic and Robin Soderling. The last one has been suffering an injury since July 2011.
It’s been a good tournament so far for the local fans. The old legend (Lleyton Hewitt – 181) and the new big hope (eleven years younger Bernard Tomic – 38) moved through to the third round with entertaining matches on Rod Laver Arena. Especially in the first round against left-handers, Hewitt came back from a 1:5 deficit in the 4th set to beat a talented Stebe (I expect he might advance to the Top 30 this season), Tomic survived a 5-setter with an experienced Verdasco, despite two-sets-to-love down and *3:4 in the 5th set.
There wasn’t a triple bagel in the history of the Australian Open, but Novak Djokovic equaled an impressive achievement of Murray, winning 17 games in a row in Melbourne #. The defending champion and the main favorite to the title, did it in the first round after being a break down at 1:2 playing against a weak Italian player Paolo Lorenzi, who stunned through set and a half Nadal last year in Rome. “Obviously I want to get a good start of the year in my first official match in this season,” said Djokovic. “I am satisfied with the overall performance today. It took me a couple games to get into the right rhythm. It’s a bit difficult conditions. I think it was really the hottest day since I’ve arrived here, so trying to get used to that.” The Serb won also first two games of his another match with Giraldo. Astonishing 16-game winning streaks notched also Germans Philipps: Petzschner against Lukas Rosol (6-0, 6-0, 6-2) and Kohlschreiber, who bagelled Monaco in the 5th set in the opening round, and took first 10 games of his second round match with Riba when the Spaniard retired at 0-6, 0-4… “I wanted to win badly [with a] triple bagel,” said Petzschner  playing this season in unusual knee high socks. “Maybe it’s a lifetime opportunity. I’m not sad that I didn’t make it. I was just trying as hard as I could, and it just didn’t pay out at the end.” In the second round the flamboyant German ended Raonic’s impressive streak of 72 games held on serve (counting since his last match of the previous season in Paris) but it was enough only to get a set.
In contrary to Djokovic, his compatriots had more than three-hour opening matches. Janko Tipsarevic prevailed in 4 sets against Tursunov saving 3 set points to avoid a 0-2 deficit (14:12 in a 83-minute tie-break set, one of three longest tie-breaks this season by far) whereas Viktor Troicki surprised me a lot erasing a two-sets-to-love deficit against Juan Carlos Ferrero. In the 4th set Troicki was 5:6 (0-30) on serve, then fought off two ad-match points, and came back from a 0:1* (0-30) in the 5th set to win 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2. This way Troicki known as one of the biggest chokers on the tour, ousted a player who never lost a match point-up ‘the best of five’ encounter during his very long career.
A couple thoughts about “baby Federer” Grigor Dimitrov . The young Bulgarian played his first 5-setters in career at majors. His game-style is more pleasant to watch than other youngsters, but I’m afraid the lack of the fighting spirit and physical liability may cost him losing many important matches in the future. I expect he will be entertaining to watch at the biggest arenas but don’t expect from him gathering the biggest titles…
“At 28 years old, it’s kind of surreal. But it’s very exciting.” said Alex Bogomolov Jr. , who at the advanced age for a tennis player, participated in a Grand Slam event as a seeded player for the first time – in the Slam he had missed the last five editions, he also played it for the first time under the Russian flag (he changed his nationality in December last year). It didn’t help to reach the last 32 for the first time in Melbourne, however, Boggy led three times with a break in the deciding set against Llodra (the match consisted of 19 breaks of serve!).
A player with similar name – Alexandr Dolgopolov  became a revelation of the previous Australian Open eliminating much more higher ranked opponents (Tsonga, Soderling) after lopsided 5-setters. He has already won two another lopsided 5-setters at the Australian Open 2012, this time against much more lower ranked opponents (Greg Jones, Tobias Kamke). In the second round he fought back from a 1:3* (30 all) deficit in the 5th set on Hisense Arena. Later on, at match point down (*5:6) in a 5-stroke rally, his forehand clipped the line and a moment later caught Kamke contre pie with a backhand down the line winner. It was a funny match with enormous running on both sides because both players prefer similar style of play.
In the most entertaining meeting of the first four days, on Margaret Court Arena, John Isner  fired 43 aces ## to battle past David Nalbandian  in the second round. The Argentinian was two points away from taking the victory at 5:4* in the 4th set, in the deciding set he held 3 mini-match points at 8:8 against the slightly limping Isner. The American head off the danger twice with baseline rallies, at the third break point he hit an ace and Nalbandian began to argue with the chair umpire Kader Nouni because he didn’t allow to challenge the ball (too late decision by Nalbandian to use the hawk-eye according to the referee). “Fat Dave” called the supervisor but it only ended up with a loss of concentration. In the following game he led 30-0 but lost four consecutive points. Interestingly both players were involved in similar matches (4th set tie-break, 5th set with a two game advantage) last year, but with reversal luck (Nalbandian beat Hewitt, Isner lost to Cilic). “It was a lot of fun, first off,” said Isner after a 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 10-8 victory in 4 hours 41 minutes. “Very similar to my match here last year where I lost 9-7 in the fifth on that same court. I told myself I didn’t want to repeat that effort. I wanted to actually win that one. It felt really, really good to win it“. The angry Nalbandian after the match threw a bottle of water at staff member and was fined $8,000 for that misbehaviour. Bad energy was in the air…
…there was an amazing outburst on the same court in the following match. The former finalist Marcos Baghdatis  who is rather associated with good manners and friendly attitude, sitting on his chair during the changeovers, broke four racquets in 40 seconds (!!) being two breaks down in the 4th set against Wawrinka. The Cypriot literally devastated the first two Tecnifibre racquets, dealing with another two he didn’t even bother taking them out of the plastic wrapping 😀 The furious attack cost him a $1.250 fine. Well, he suppressed negative emotions too long…
French veterans and doubles partners, Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut won their matches on day 4, grabbing second sets with five set points down in a process. Benneteau outlasted his compatriot Simon 7-5, 7-6(8), 1-6, 3-6, 6-2 on Court 6 in the last match of the second round, coming back from a *2:5 (15-30), 3:5 (set point) in the 1st set and saving another set points at *5:6 (three) and in the tie-break (two) of the 2nd set. He celebrated the victory on his back, his one month younger friend Mahut on the knees. He dig out of a big hole as he managed somehow to beat a newcomer Ito of Japan in four sets, although he was 1-6, *1:4 (deuce) down, later on saved a set point at 4:5 and a quadruple set point in the vital tie-break.
The longest match:
4 hours, 53 minutes. Andrey Golubev d. Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
23-18 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 17-12 David Nalbandian, 16-10 Mikhail Youzhny, 16-9 David Ferrer, 15-9 Fernando Verdasco, 13-9 Nikolay Davydenko, 11-5 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 10-18 Ivan Ljubicic, 9-8 Nicolas Almagro, 8-4 Yen-Hsun Lu, 7-4 Julien Benneteau, 7-5 Gilles Simon, 7-6 Danai Udomchoke, 6-1 Alexandr Dolgopolov, 6-7 Viktor Troicki, 5-7 Michael Llodra, 5-4 Sergiy Stakhovsky, 4-2 Jeremy Chardy, 4-1 Marcel Granollers & Kei Nishikori, 4-5 John Isner, 3-6 Juan Monaco, 3-4 Lukas Lacko, 3-0 Mikhail Kukushkin, 2-0 Andrey Golubev, 2-1 Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov & Donald Young, 2-2 Flavio Cipolla, 2-5 Alex Bogomolov Jr., 1-2 Tobias Kamke & Ryan Sweeting, 1-3 Jesse Levine, 1-4 Rik De Voest, 0-1 Matthew Ebden, Greg Jones & Peter Gojowczyk, 0-3 Illya Marchenko
# Almost “triple bagels” in Melbourne: Murray began his match with Alberto Martin (Aussie Open 2007) winning first 17 games, the final score 6-0, 6-0, 6-1. Four years before, Agassi had won 18 straight games against Hyung-Taik Lee after losing the first one (6-1, 6-0, 6-0).
## Five players to serve the most aces at the Australian Open:
51 – Joachim Johansson (2005 ) 4 sets, lost to Andre Agassi
48 – Ivo Karlovic (2011) 5 sets, lost to Ivan Dodig
47 – Gilles Muller (2009) 5 sets, defeated Feliciano Lopez
45 – Chris Guccione (2007) 5 sets, lost to Olivier Rochus
43 – John Isner (2012) 5 sets, defeated David Nalbandian
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