January 22, 2015
Victoria Azarenka and Jerzy Janowicz produced the performances of the day in Melbourne. But Andy Murray stole the limelight in a way that may not please Rafael Nadal.
In the battle of the former world number ones, the unseeded Azarenka defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 with surprising ease for a woman who played little tennis last year. She celebrated with a dance and then explained: “I love to dance! I always look at other sports and see them celebrate that way, so I thought I might as well enjoy myself on the court and dance with the crowd.”
Azarenka seized early control but the Dane battled back to 4-4 in the first set before she was overpowered comprehensively.
Jerzy Janowicz fired a warning to rivals after defeating his friend Gael Monfils in a thrilling five-set dual, 6-4, 1-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. He collapsed on the floor, head in hands, then rose to punch the air as if to emphasise the importance of the occasion.
Jerzy said: ‘This was a huge match for me and I’m just really happy. It was the first preseason I could practise really hard. Before I had some personal problems but now I’ve changed my head. Even when I’m angry, I go for every ball and I don’t give up.”
Neither did Andrey Kuznetsov give up against Novak Djokovic, though you know a player has been outclassed when he raises his hand to celebrate winning a game at last. That finally happened for Kuznetsov in the second set but Djokovic required less than 90 minutes to win 6-0, 6-1, 6-4.
It took Stan Wawrinka much longer to deal with Marius Copil, though the popular Swiss did finally win in straight sets, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Now he can at least enjoy a day off to recharge the batteries and stay out of the searing sun.
What did Andy Murray do with his day off? He stirred up a storm on twitter and might just have annoyed Rafael Nadal in the process. Rafa, you will remember, had suffered from cramps the previous day during a gruelling five-set victory over Tim Smyczek in over four hours. Nadal received much more sympathy than Murray did after enduring similar agonies against Robin Haase at the US Open in September.
Murray tweeted: “When I cramped and was in the US Open last year I was ‘a drama Queen, unfit, needs to see a shrink, faker’ weird…
Andy may have a point but he probably should have got someone else to make it. He faced an instant backlash on twitter and if he ends up meeting Nadal at the Australian Open the clash will have extra spice!
Last word should go to Aussie hero Lleyton Hewitt, who blew a commanding position to lose to Benjamin Becker 2-6, 1-6, 6-3,6-4, 6-2. The crowd in Melbourne gave Hewitt a standing ovation anyway, clearly suspecting this might be the last time the veteran is seen at his home Slam. Hewitt, however, was keeping his options open and fended off questions about his future with answers such as: “I’ll sit down and think about it. I haven’t thought about it. The Davis Cup is the next big thing.”
Nothing like keeping us in suspense! Another fascinating day at the Australian Open – on and off the court.
Plenty more to come!