Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Australian Open Report: First Round

After two days of first round play, the field of 256 men and women tennis players have been cut to half.

The top men moved through, most of them quite easily, including former champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. Former finalists Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also moved through despite losing a set. Only five seeded players, none seeded higher than 22, lost in the first round: Fernando Verdasco, Juan Monaco, Ivan Ljubicic, Radek Stepanek, and Jurgen Melzer. In their defense, they all lost to dangerous floaters with Verdasco notably losing to Australia's #1 male tennis player, Bernard Tomic who mounted an impressive comeback after being down 2-0 in sets.

Tomic was joined by three other Australian men in the second round, the most since 2005--Lleyton Hewitt, Mattew Edben, and James Duckworth. Hewitt joins Tommy Haas in the old-timers club. Both will have tough opponents in Andy Roddick and Nadal respectively. Roddick in the meantime was one of six American men to move through to the next round include 8th seed Mardy Fish and 16th seed John Isner. Other notable first round losses include unseeded players such as Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny who both lost in five grueling sets.

It was pretty much the same story on the women's side with many top seeds and contenders moving through in straight sets even doling out breadsticks and bagels on their path including dominant performance from Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, and Victoria Azarenka. One top player not so lucky was 6th seed Samantha Stosur who was defeated by an excellent Sorana Cirstea. US Open Champion Stosur is the fourth straight Grand Slam champion who ended up losing before the second round in the next Slam tournament. It's especially gutting since it happened in her home country. Three Australian women did step up with Jelena Dokic, Casey Dellacqua, and Olivia Rogowska making the second round.

Other upsets include 24th seed Lucie Safarova and 28th seed Yanina Wickmayer. Notable unseeded players to lose in the first round include Kimiko Date-Krumm, Anna Chakvetadze, and Sania Mirza. 7th seed Vera Zvonareca and 8th seed Agnieszka Radwanska fought in three hard sets to move through. Americans moving to the next round include Christina McHale, Sloane Stevens, Jamie Hampton, Vania Kind, and last but definitely NOT least, Serena Williams. She will apparently team up with Roddick for mixed doubles in preparation for the Olympics.

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