While the opening two days at the Australian Open 2014 brought forth record-equaling withdrawals and soaring heat waves, Day 3 was comparatively sedate without too many obstacles to waylay the proceedings. Here’s a recap of the most noteworthy action:
The Fine Line of Distinction: Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk
There are those tennis players who not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Then there are those who simply do the former but fail to accomplish the latter. And finally, there are those who accomplish neither. Ernests Gulbis started out somewhere in the first category, got himself scaled down to the second and now finds himself hovering on the horizon of the third. The 27th seed may be a lot of things but against Sam Querrey in the second round, he ended up being the biggest dud, crashing out in straight sets: 2-6, 3-6, 4-6.
Of seeding the front-lines and upsetting deviations
Where most of the seeded players advanced safely into the third-round, there were a few blips as well with a few seeded players bidding adieu quite unexpectedly. Czech Tomas Berdych achieved the distinction of being the first player to progress into the round of 32 defeating Frenchman Kenny de Schepper 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. Top seed Novak Djokovic too had pretty smooth sailing, defeating Argentine Leonardo Mayer 0, 4 and 4 in the second match at the Rod Laver Arena. Ninth seed Richard Gasquet came through against Russian Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets as well. Third seed David Ferrer and eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka suffered from minor dips in their performances against Adrian Mannarino and Alejandro Falla respectively though both did well to finish strong in the end, wrapping up their matches in four sets each.
In the women’s section, Serena Williams made short work of her opponent, winning 6-1, 6-2 against Serbian Vesna Dolonc, while Australian Casey Dellacqua brutally upset 18th seeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-0. 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki suffered a casualty at the hands of unseeded Romanian Monica Niculescu as she was rounded up 6-2, 2-6, 2-6 in her match. Dellacqua’s compatriot Sam Stosur, meanwhile, routed Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, making quick work of her night session match. Kvitova’s vanquisher, Thai player Luksika Kumkum, was defeated by German Mona Barthel in three sets, ending the youngster’s dream run quite abruptly.
Age no Bar: Timeless Classics
Li Na won her second round match against Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic who’s exactly half her age at 16. And then there was Patrick Rafter who made a comeback with a wild-card entry in the doubles alongside Lleyton Hewitt at the age of 41. For some players, it’s as if age is just a number and nothing more.
Flags flying high, flags flagging by
The Canadian flags billowed into the winds the furthest while the Australian flag had a mixed bag of a day. 30th seeded Eugenie Bouchard wrestled a hard-fought victory against Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, winning her second round match 6-2, 7-6. In the evening session at the Rod Laver Arena, her countryman Vasek Pospisil, seeded 28th, fought his way against his sore back and a spirited Matthew Ebden to make it to the third round.
The highly anticipated wild card partnership of Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter wasn’t able to do much for flagging Australian hopes as the duo fell in straight sets in their opening round to the American-South African team of Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen.
Doubling in sync
Day three also saw the start of doubles action at Melbourne Park. The results were pretty much straight-forward with most of the seeded teams advancing. The unseeded Indian-American team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rajeev Ram advanced to the second round as did the Indo-New Zealand pairing of Yuki Bhambri and Michael Venus. The Indo-Chinese Taipei pairing of Divij Sharan and Yen Hsun Lu however failed to progress, falling to the unseeded team of Swede Johan Brunstrom and Dane Frederik Nielsen. The highlight of the day was the win of the British team of Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming, with the former making a comeback after a year-long absence from the tennis circuit on account of cancer.
Other notable performances of the day include Jerzy Janowicz’s exuberant post-match celebrations, the anti-climatic end to the Daniela Hantuchova-Karolina Pliskova marathon brought on by the latter’s double-faulting at match point, Tommy Robredo’s hiccuping act against Julien Benneteau and the incredible run of Bosnian qualifier Damir Dzumhur into the third round, following Ivan Dodig’s pull-out in their second-round match.