5 talking points from Day 3 of the Australian Open
Day 3 of the 2015 Australian Open saw plenty of exciting tennis, with the higher-ranked players having to struggle to get through to the next round. Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal were part of incredibly dramatic matches, while Roger Federer had to fight off an injury scare. Here are the highlights from day 3 of the Happy Slam.
Note: You can watch all the action live on Sony Liv Sports here.
1. Rafa Nadal shows immense fighting skills
Rafael Nadal came back from the jaws of defeat to beat American Tim Smyczek in his second round tie. The World No. 3 needed over four hours to prevail over the qualifier 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5 and avoid a major upset early in the tournament.
Nadal started the match strong and took the first set after a couple of breaks. But the 27-year-old American wasn’t ready to hand in the towel. He fought back to take the next two sets and looked primed to carry on the momentum all the way to victory.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion had other ideas though. He forced the match into a decider with some ferocious forehands and impossible gets. And although Smyczek managed to save three match points, he wasn’t able to save the fourth one as Nadal came through in a nail-biting contest.
2. Maria Sharapova puts it all on the line to save match points and edge into round three
World No. 2 Maria Sharapova fought back against fellow Russian Alexandra Panova to reach the third round of the tournament. The 2008 Australian Open champion saved two match points, both with boom-or-bust forehands that nearly painted the lines, as she went on to win 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
Sharapova took only 26 minutes to grab the first set 6-1. But just when she looked ready to coast to an easy victory, the qualifier decided to strike back with some aggressive shots of her own.
Panova took the second set and led 4-1 in the third as a huge upset seemed likely. However, Sharapova fought back with some courageous winners to break twice in a row and take the deciding set 7-5.
3. Roger Federer wins despite injury concern
Roger Federer progressed to the third round after a four-set win over Italian Simone Bolelli. The second seed dropped the first set but comfortably won the remaining three to clinch a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Bolelli started the match by hitting a series of big shots, and a break of serve was enough for him to clinch the first set. On the ensuing changeover Federer called for the trainer as he felt pain in his little finger, sending ripples of concern among his huge fan base.
However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion quickly found his feet going into the second set. He didn’t show any signs of pain whatsover as the Italian’s game came apart to hand the match to the Swiss rather tamely.
4. Indians dominate doubles’ ties
India’s Sania Mirza and Leander Paes enjoyed opening round victories in the men’s and women’s doubles draws respectively. The Indo-South African pair of Paes and Raven Klaasen beat the American pair of Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 7-6 (6) to advance to the second round. The 10th-seeded pair showed great steel to close out the match in the second set tie-break. The duo hit 35 winners in the match.
Sania Mirza, partnering with Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei, began her campaign with a rousing start, winning her match 6-2, 6-0 against Maria Irigoyen of Argentina and Romina Oprandi of Switzerland. The second-seeded pair entered the match as favourites and wrapped it up in just 48 minutes after striking 23 winners.
5. Australians enjoy local support
Young Australian sensation Nick Kyrgios made his way to the third round after beating 23rd seed Ivo Karlovic in four sets. In a match that was filled with aces and unreturned serves, Kyrgios overpowered Karlovic 7-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes.
With the home crowd cheering him on, the Aussie had to battle hard to take the first set in the tie-break. Despite dropping the third set, he was able to recover and cap off a memorable victory in front of a roaring crowd.
In an all-Australian battle between Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkinakis, it was the big-serving Groth who clinched victory in a five-set thriller. He hit 26 aces en route a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win. Both Australians received huge cheers from the local crowd after every point, and after 2 hours and 53 minutes, it was Groth who managed to come out on top.