Day 2 underwhelmed, at least from where I sat on my couch. Here are some of the moderate highs and lows of a low-key day. (Though things are looking up for the night session, with Clijsters vs. Safina and the fantastically feisty grudge match of Hewitt vs. Nalbandian up on Rod Laver. Alas, I’ll be sleeping. Damn day job.)
Darren Cahill called out Daniel Brands for taking to the court vs Rafael Nadal despite practically playing with a bag of ice taped to his knee. I guess the $20 grand payday was too tempting give away to a very lucky loser. Painful for all involved! Rafa advanced 6-0, 5-0 (ret.) and then hit the practice courts.
Rafa was sympathetic:
Karol Beck at least won six games before tapping out vs. Andy Murray: 6-3, 6-1, 4-2.
On center court, Zvonareva beat Bammer 6-2, 6-1 and Sam Stosur took out young American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1. Ticket holders woke up when Aussie Alicia Molik came back from losing a 1-6 first set to win 8-6 in the third. Oi Oi Oi!
This quote from Stosur on playing vs. Roger and Rafa at the Rally for Relief made me smile :
Q. Were you able to get any sort of confidence out rallying with Rafa the other day? You probably don’t get the chance to hit with him too often.
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Not too often. Yeah, that was a great experience. It was lots of fun being on the back end corner hitting forehands against Rafa. That certainly doesn’t happen every day.
Yeah, it was kind of funny how happy those two guys got every time they won a point against us. I guess we were hitting the ball pretty well.
Tournament organizers evidently heard Australian teenager Bernard Tomic’s complaints about playing too late on Rod Laver last year and put the wild-card grantee first up today on Hisense Arena. He scored a straight sets victory over Jeremy Chardy of France. His next opponent is Feliciano Lopez.
For a while, Radwanska’s racquet mishap was the most entertaining moment of Day 2:
I did enjoy Chris Fowler’s deferential interview with The Humble Rafa, who was at his easy going best during the exchange:
“I don’t think I’m going to have more chances than this one” Rafa laughed, when Fowler asked about the pressure of the possible Rafa Slam.
Then Fowler asked a strange question, wondering how Nadal felt about the nefarious Roger Federer hiring Paul Annacone, supposedly with the sole purpose of helping the Swiss beat Nadal. (I assumed Roger was like me, and still getting over his 2009 loss to Julien Benneteau in Paris.)
Rafa just squinted and said: “We will see. Roger is not my problem right now. My problem is the next round.”
(And why is a player supposed to hire a coach, exactly? To open the balls? There goes Roger with his gamesmanship, again.)
After confirming that Rafa flies economy, at least on short-haul flights, Fowler asked “No bodyguards?”
“No!” Rafa laughed adorably. “I am too shy! I am not that famous!”
Jelena Jankovic posted a solid 6-0, 7-6 win over Alla Kudryavtseva. Apparently the former World Number One is now being coached by former pro, Andrei Pavel.
What are you going to do when the top players are playing dud matches? Go find Dudi Sela, who’s always good for a first round scuffle! Bonus today, he was playing a recovering Juan Martin del Potro on Show Court 2. After del Po won an entertaining first set, 15-13 in the tiebreak, the Argentine tied it up in straights. A good, confidence building start for Juan Martin. “I feel very new sensations!” he told Pam Shriver after the win.
I’ll be feeling unpleasant sensations if I attempt to stay up another hour and a half for the night session to begin. As of post time, Soderling is putting a beat down on Starace, Ivanovic is up a set and Gulbis is down two sets. Over and out!
**Okay, it’s after 1am and I stayed up for the third set of Ivanovic vs. Makarova, with the Russian eventually winning 10-8. Wow! Those last few games made up for the Day 2 doldrums. (Sadly, the same could not be said about the 6-0, 6-0 drubbing Safina suffered vs. Clijsters.) If you didn’t catch the match, try going to ESPN3.com and watching the replay. It’s a bummer for Ana to be out so early – she’s never lost first round in the Australian Open – but Makarova is a fantastic player and there was no shame in the way the Serb went out (saving five match points in fantastic style.) Sounds strange, but this match is a positive development for Ana. As for Dinara. . .I really can’t stand watching her like this.
I will not stay up for Nalbandian vs. Hewitt. . .okay, maybe through the first changeover.