Another steaming hot day of play in the Melbourne park concluded. It was a mix of some thrillers, upsets and one sided affairs. Most of the top stars like Djokovic, Serena and Li Na were comfortably through. Few top seeds were tested and few of them were outplayed. Lisicki and Flipkens are the major casualties in the women’s half. Youzhny and Gulbis are the notable seeds to fall in the men’s draw.
Here we pick the best five matches of the day.
Vasek Pospisil def. Matthew Ebden 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(9) 6-1
This night session match on the Rod Laver Arena was more closer than the scoreline actually suggests. Canadian had fitness concerns from the beginning of the match and had physio on the court to help him out on two occasions. In the post match interview Pospisil admitted that he took a couple of pain killers early in the third set when he was unable to continue and was lucky to get away. After getting the early break in the first set Ebden didn’t look back and was cruising in the second set when Vasek had taken a medical timeout. Though his movement on court was restricted due to the ailment, Pospisil held his nerve when it mattered to close out the set in the tiebreaker. Ebden created quite a few opportunities when Pospisil was struggling in the third set but couldn’t capitalize. After a service break exchange in midway through the third, both players were comfortable with the serve towards the business end of the set and the tiebreaker looked inevitable. The crucial tiebreaker was the highlight of the match as both players refused to give up. The quality of tennis was fabulous. Ebden served and volleyed exceptionally well to save the set points. Finally, Pospisil clinched the set when Ebden’s forehand floated long at 10-9. With that, momentum shifted in the Canadian’s favor whose serve was rock solid at that stage. He got the crucial break in the fourth game and saved three break points in the following game with his clutch serving. Pospisil went on to break Ebden again to record one of his best career wins.
Daniela Hantuchova def. Karolina Pliskova 6-3 3-6 12-10
The former top ten player Hantuchova had a tough time out there in the middle dealing with less experienced players in the early round matches. She worked hard for her first round victory as well in three sets. Today she was set up for a marathon third set which lasted more than 110 minutes. The match was turning up and down in both players favor, but it was the senior Daniela who finally tasted victory. Being more than thirty years old, she must be credited for the fitness and grit expressed in the hot Melbourne weather.
Jeremy Chardy def. Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 7-6(5)
When these two shot makers take the court, an intense battle like this isn’t a surprise. Frenchman Jeremy was lucky to not have gone to a fifth set. Dolgopolov had to fight his way back in all the sets to push the match as close as the score indicates. Though Jeremy was looking better throughout, Ukrainian did well to challenge him and finally took a set off in this intriguing battle.
Stanislas Wawrinka def. Alejandro Falla 6-3 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4
Veteran Alejandro Falla is always a tricky customer in the early rounds of the grandslams. I still remember his first round match against Roger Federer in Wimbledon 2010. He was very close in winning that with his solid all court game. This time he was here to trouble Federer’s campatriot. Wawrinka looked on course for a straight sets victory when he had an early break in the third set. But Falla had other ideas. With solid ground strokes, he kept pressure on Wawrinka whose game shanked midway through the set and was taken to a tiebreaker. Falla had Stan on his toes to take the match to fourth set after winning the tiebreak comfortably. Wawrinka had to fought back from a break deficit to edge the Colombian 6-4 in the fourth. Falla was coming up with great shots from the first set, but Wawrinka’s brilliant game didn’t allow him to settle. Once Falla caught Stan on the back foot, he rose to the occasion and challenged the Swiss with some high quality tennis eventually falling short.
Jie Zheng def. Madison Keys 7-6(5) 1-6 7-5
The up and coming American was looked in control after winning the second set comfortably 6-1 despite losing the first in tiebreak. But the Chinese Jie Zheng dramatically clawed her way back in the decider to upset Madison Keys.