This post arriving later than usual after some flu-like nastiness knocked me for six earlier today. Although I’m sure you coped with the wait!
The gang from the irresistible Tennis Podcast proclaimed yesterday’s opening day of AO22 as something of a dud. Maybe I don’t care as much about the likes of Kokkinakis, Norrie or Gauff, or more likely I was just so happy to be back in tennis’ embrace. Unlike Catherine, Matt and David despite my best efforts, tennis does not make up my life week in week out.
Anyway, Day 2 certainly made up for anything lacking from Monday, and it was the Brits who stole the show and for mostly all the right reasons.
Andy Murray’s trademark five set heroics rightly were the story of the day -despite the five-time finalist having historically rather owned his 21st seeded opponent Basilashvili on many occasions- but Emma Raducanu made it a close run thing.
Murray’s triumph is significant for many reasons, not least to further make a mockery of the self-imposed retirement Tennis Australia granted him when he last graced Rod Laver arena.
Should Sir Andy be confident of a deep run here if his body allows him, given his enduring quality? Well it isn’t the kindest of draws but as is his mantra, never say never.
Raducanu’s topsy turvy tussle against fellow US Open winner Sloane Stephens was remarkable too, given the Brit’s struggles on tour since that fairytale fortnight in September. True Sloane herself has been in a major rut and runs so hot and cold anyway, but this was at times another spellbinding performance from the 17th seed who should feel little pressure as the matches roll on.
Elsewhere? Dan Evans and Heather Watson also won, the former impressively so against dangerman Goffin in straight sets. Liam Brody could not join them in Round 2, succumbing to the showy Kyrgios in 3.
Victories too today for Tsitsipas, Muguruza, Swiatek, Medvedev, Rublev, Halep, Kontaveit, Sinner, Schwartzman, Cilic, de Minaur and Fritz (phew).
But with the exception of de Minaur’s gutsy win over Musetti whilst the above roster progressed with relative ease, there were battles to be had. Sabalenka looked rusty in her 3 set slog and Felix Auger-Aliassime seemed determined to throw it all away in a dramatic five setter, one of many marathon contests on the men’s side. Serve and Volley disciple Maxim Cressy downed John Isner in a sublime encounter and wins too for Steve Johnson, Tiafoe, and Paire. Rybakina beat Diyas in an all-Kazakh battle that also went the distance.
Shocks? Well read these as you will but on paper at least Cirstea swatting aside Kvitova (despite the Czech former finalist dominating the highlights reel) and the always dangerous Kanepi trumping 2016 champ Kerber were both shocks. A definite surprise was the disappointingly limp loss by US Open finalist and starlet Fernandez to an Aussie wildcard.
Lastly, it was a day for some of the Oldies on tour as wins for Cornet, Stosur, Kohlschreiber and in particular Richard Gasquet’s downing of much revered countryman Umbert added to the surprises and feel-good stories emerging from Round 1 here in Melbourne.
Day 3 picks
Zverev Vs Millman
Hurkacz Vs Mannarino
Bencic Vs Anisimova
Alcaraz Vs Lajovic