Australian Open – Day 2 (1R)

haase_murrayThe second day was in my opinion much less interesting than the first one. Matches of main favorites were so short that will soon evaporate from memories of fans. Andy Murray dropped just seven games to Robin Haase, whom he hardly defeated two years ago at US Open. “If you aren’t nervous, it shows that you’re really not that bothered,” said Murray. “When the nerves are there, sometimes it can be for 10, 15 minutes before you go on the court or the beginning of the match or the evening beforehand.” The Scot is on a quarterfinal collision course with Juan Martin del Potro – the Argentine committed only eight unforced errors during a 6-1 6-2 6-2 win over three months older Adrian Mannarino. They met in the Australian Open first round also last year, and Del Potro needed four sets then. The potential Murray-Del Potro encounter is highly expected because they haven’t met since November 2009. “I’m obviously very happy with this first-round match, so total control. He can be a tricky opponent, but I guess his playing style doesn’t disturb me that much overall. I’m happy I was able to play a clean match out there today.” said Roger Federer after dismissing Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4 6-1 – this year’s debut of the Swiss maestro. Gael Monfils, in his first Grand Slam match since last year’s Australian Open, hit as many as 15 aces in the 1st set against Alexandr Dolgopolov, but lost it squandering a set point in a tie-break. The Frenchman added just 9 aces in three following sets, but it was enough to move further (6-7 7-6 6-3 6-3). Both entertaining players entered the Margaret Court Arena in yellow T-shirts, it’s a color which dominated this year’s Aussie Open clothes. Qualifier Amir Weintraub [196], who had helped Israel in winning a play-off tie last September, notched first Grand Slam win at the age of 26. He’d failed all seven previous approaches in GS qualifying rounds. Di Wu [186] became China’s first man in a Grand Slam event of the Open era. Wu made this milestone in history of Chinese men’s tennis thanks to a “wild card”, which he earned by winning an Australian Open qualifying tournament last year in Asia. The last Chinese man to play singles in a Grand Slam tournament was Mei Fu-Chi, who won a round in 1959 at Wimbledon (in the second round lost to Torben Ulrich, a father of Metallica’s drummer Lars). Australian spectators will have to wait at least another year for a reasonable number of home pupils in the second round to cheer for. Only 2 out of 8 Aussies advanced to the last 64, and one of them – James Duckworth [223] – had plenty of luck of being Tomic’s 2nd round comrade, as he met on Tuesday his friend, equally unexperienced Benjamin Mitchell [334] on Court No. 2. It was a lifetime opportunity for both 20-year-old local “wild cards”, and they left on court everything they have, strongly supported by enthusiastic crowd. The sturdy Duckworth was close to win in four sets (two points away), afterwards choked a bit in the 5th, but his powerful serve (28 nieminen_2013aces) made a difference in the end – it’s the longest match of the first round. In other 5-setter, which was also concluded after a 14-game final set, Jarkko Nieminen attested once again that he’s one of the smartest and most resistant active players. The Finn rallied from a 2:4 deficit in the 5th set against Tommy Haas, at 5:6 he saved a match point with a serve & volley action – something he doesn’t apply often. It irritated the moody Haas, who committed two consecutive double faults in the following game. Nieminen serving to win the match, first surprised Haas with an amazingly slow serve (113 kph) that caused a return error, then struck two fast aces in a row and celebrated his 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 4-6 8-6 victory falling on the ground. One German lost a match point-up meeting, other (Florian Mayer) won from a match point down. Mayer saved two match points in a very long 4th set tie-break (9:10, 11:12) against American “wild card” Rhyne Williams, who was trying to get his first main-level win in fourth attempt. Mayer survived 2-6 3-6 6-2 7-6(12) 6-1.

Longest match: 4 hours, 26 minutes. James Duckworth d. Benjamin Mitchell 6-4, 7-6(8), 4-6, 5-7, 8-6
Most aces: 30 – Milos Raonic, defeated Jan Hajek
5-set barometer:
20-20 Tommy Haas, 16-8 Jarkko Nieminen, 6-5 Florian Mayer, 1-0 James Duckworth, 0-1 Benjamin Mitchell, Rhyne Williams
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