January 19, 2015
The first day of the Aussie Open had it all!
Serbian fifth seed Ana Ivanovic could hardly do a thing right after winning the first set against Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka 6-1. Just when we though the match was as good as over, Ivanovic imploded to serve a total of ten double faults. The world number 142 grew in confidence, rushed the net and took the last two sets 6-3, 6-2.
Some top stars are philosophical when defeated. Ivanovic wasn’t. In fact a sense of perspective appeared to have deserted her along with her serve. “The whole match I didn’t really feel myself out there,” she said, before adding: “It’s probably the worst thing that could happen.” Not really, Ana. You’ll get over it.
Hero of the day was the 18-year-old Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis, who pulled off an even more popular shock when he wore down the seeded Ernests Gublis 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6 in four hours and seven minutes, saving four match points in the process. No wonder the delighted teenager did a lap of honour at the end. A frustrated Gulbis had snapped angrily at the umpire in an embarrassing altercation and may leave Melbourne having made few new friends.
Not to be outdone by his fellow Australian, young Nick Kyrgios defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in another marathon, this one lasting into Tuesday, local time. Melbourne’s tennis-crazy supporters certainly had plenty to cheer when it came to their two young home-grown heroes. Kyrgios thanked the fans for sticking around. They looked delighted to have done so.
Reigning Aussie Open champion Li Na – recently retired – addressed the crowd and let them in on a little secret. Usually, her husband and former coach, Jiang Shan – nicknamed “Dennis” – provides the inspiration for her public jokes. This time was no different – except that he is now her hero. Li Na explained: “We are so excited. Our first child will be out this summer. I think Dennis is doing a good job. He just made one ace.” Something has changed. He was previously famous for irritating her with his snoring.
Meanwhile Roger Federer, who already has four “aces” to his name, was questioned about the future, after beating Lu Yen Hsun of Taipe 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. Having played a truly mesmerizing shot around the net during his impressive display, Roger might have expected to be questioned exclusively about his tennis. Instead his interviewer decided to ask what the chances were of his sons, Lenny and Leo, appearing at the Australian Open one day. “Very slim,” replied Roger, causing mirth in the crowd. “They haven’t picked up a racquet yet, it’s a little bit heavy,” he added, to more chuckles. ” Roger suggested that he might be a better tennis dad than a coach if his children – and let’s not forget Charlene Riva and Myla Rose – do eventually want to take up tennis. A bemused-looking Federer probably left court wondering what on earth he will be asked next, if he dares to win another match at the tournament.
MURRAY AND NADAL
There were no major on-court complications for Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal. The Scot saw off the spirited Yuki Bhambri of India of India 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), though in truth Murray became less impressive as the match went on. Nadal beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. The Spaniard’s opponent was reduced to milking applause theatrically, just for winning a second game in the final set. The more grounded Rafa concluded: ‘I need to be a little more dynamic with my movement sometimes.’
Watch out Melbourne if the familiar, dynamic Rafa returns during the next fortnight!
No shortage of drama on day one, then. More shocks, laughs and marathons expected tomorrow!