The eagerly anticipated first round clash on Day 2 at the Australian Open between the six time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia and the Spanish veteran left hander Fernando Verdasco was completely overshadowed by the record breaking performance of Croatia’s 37 year old Ivo Karlovic who slammed down 75 aces in a marathon five hour fourteen minute encounter against Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos. The 20th seeded Karlovic came from a two set deficit to win 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.
The second ranked Djokovic who had saved five match points against the 2009 semi finalist Verdasco in the semi final of the ATP 250 event in Doha just 10 days ago, broke serve twice to go 5-0 up against the left handed Verdasco and raced through the first set 6-1. The second set was decided in a tie-break as both players broke serve twice. The third set again was all Djokovic as he raced to a 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 win in 2 hours and 20 minutes on Rod Laver Arena in the opening match of the evening session.
Earlier in the day, the 2009 champion Rafael Nadal of Spain put in a sterling performance to beat another veteran Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The winner of 14 grand slams is bidding to become the only player in Open Era to win all the four majors at least twice. Apart from a record nine French Open titles, the 30 year old has a pair of Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles. With a win next Sunday he could have two career slams.
All the sixteen men’s seeds in action, with the exception of the 28th seed Feliciano Lopez, have gone through to the second round. The Spaniard Feliciano Lopez was dumped in straight sets by the Italian Fabio Fognini. The temperamental Italian made his way to the second round, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. Third seeded Milos Raonic of Canada defeated the German Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, the sixth seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils went through, without much fuss, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, while the Austrian Dominic Thiem, seeded eight was made to work hard by the German Jan-Lennard Struff as he won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
There were hard fought five set wins for the 11th seeded David Goffin of Belgium who won 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, while the German prodigy Alexander Zverev, seeded 24th, beat the Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Other seeded players to win were the German Philipp Kohlschreiber, the Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut, David Ferrer and Pablo Carreno Busta, Frenchmen Giles Simon and Richard Gasquet, the resurgent Grigor Dmitrov of Bulgaria.
Following is the list of matches in the second round to be played on Day 3 with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (1) v. Andrey Rublev
Sam Querrey (31) v. Alex De Minaur
John Isner (19) v. Mischa Zverev
Malek Jaziri v. Alexander Bublik
Tomas Berdych (10) v. Ryan Harrison
Roger Federer (17) v. Noah Rubin
Lukas Lacko v. Dudi Sela
Kei Nishikori (5) v. Jeremy Chardy
Stanislas Wawrinka (4) v. Steve Johnson
Viktor Troicki (29) v. Paolo Lorenzi
Diego Schwartzman v. Steve Darcis
Nick Kyrgios (14) v. Andreas Seppi
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (12) v. Dusan Lajovic
Jack Sock (23) v. Karen Khachanov
Bernard Tomic (27) v. Victor Estrella Burgos
Marin Cilic (7) v. Daniel Evans
Serena Williams began her quest for a 23rd major title against a tricky opponent, but came through against the Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-3. Other leading seeds to advance were the third seeded Agnieska Radwanska of Poland, fifth seeded Karolina Pliskova and sixth seeded Dominica Cibulkova, both of the Czech Republic.
Joining them are Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, the Australians Daria Gavrilova and Samantha Stosur, Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, Elina Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, Frenchwomen Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Johanna Konta of Britain, Barbara Strycova of the Czech Republic and Timea Babos of Hungary.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]