Serena, Young Guns Highlight Week One of Australian Open
by Sean Randall | January 22nd, 2007, 7:10 pm

As I watch Rafael Nadal polish off my boy, my runner-up pick, Andy Murray, thought I’d put together a few notes on the week in Australia we just saw (or didn’t see). By the way, this Murray-Nadal match is the best of the tournament thus far. Great tennis. Keyword being tennis.

1. Ivan Ljubicic
What a pitiful performance by a guy who was just ready to prove that he could stand up to the Grand Slam test. After starting strong last year with a quarterfinal in Australia and a semifinal at the French, Ljubicic has followed with a 3rd RD exit at Wimbledon followed by first rounders at the US Open and this week in Melbourne. Tough draw or not, not good for a guy we are suppose to think of as a top five player.

2. Andy Roddick
Gotta give it up to A-Rod. Beating Marat and Ancic are pretty impressive wins, and I think he’ll take out Fish to set up that showdown with Roger. Can he beat Rog? No. But I think he could actually sneak a set. 

3. Fat Serena
She only gets bigger with age, but she’s through to the quarters with wins over Petro and Jankovic. Makes me wonder if she’s that good or is everyone else that bad? Just imagine if she was in shape!

4. End of the Line for Lleyton
I know Lleyton said at the start of the year he’s playing as good as he did when he was No. 1. Does he still think that? Ha. Sorry Lleyton, too many off court issues and you’re a step slower. I can’t see him getting to another Slam final.

5. Heat Rule
I don’t know of another sport in the U.S. that stops play due to heat. Maybe it doesn’t get as hot as it does in Melbourne, but it gets well over 100 during the summer hard court season in places like Washington and the US Open. But now there’s an outcry for some reason tennis players in Australia should not play in such conditions? Why, because WTA starlet Maria Sharapova says so. Just because she wasn’t fit enough to handle the conditions why should they stop play. After all, Pin looked to be okay in the heat as were several other players who were playing on the outer courts like Robby Ginepri and Paul Capdeville. I like what Fed said and that is basically you have to be fit, this is tennis, play on.

6. US Men
What a great start for the American men. Looks like some of James Blake’s success is rubbing off with Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey putting up big numbers Down Under. Well done, Yanks, keep it up.

7. James Blake
Will he ever get over the hump? I think his lack of Slam success is starting to get into his head, somewhat like his 0-9 five set record. I’m sure he’ll keep doing well but looks like he’ll have to wait till July at the earliest to get that first Slam semi. Too bad.

9. New Blood
People are jumping on the new guys and so they should. Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic and let’s throw in Sam Querrey. I like them all to be Top 20 by the end of the 2008 Australian Open. Okay, maybe not Querrey. Just to add, how great of match was Murray-Nadal just from a tactical standpoint. That was some real thinking-mans tennis, and with this new bunch I think we’ll see a lot or more of that style ahead. Can’t wait.

10. Gael Monfils
Energy, energy and more energy. Talk about fun to watch. Too bad a fear a few too many ankle sprains may be in his future. I hope not. I’d buy a ticket to watch him.

11. Wayne Arthurs
Is there a sadder week one story than that? Bad luck for big Wayne.

12. Nicole Vaidisova
Just 17 and already chasing Maria.

13. The Roof
If it wasn’t for the roof weekend play at the Australian Open would have been washed out. Wonder just how jealous the US Open folks are about that.

14. Jimmy Connors
Without his arrival I think Andy would have lost to Marat. Even though I question his motives in coaching Roddick (missing out on the publicity??) he’s definitely made an impact.

15. Breakfast in Australia
I don’t stay up late some I miss out on a lot of the late evening coverage, but I do get up early so catching ESPN live tennis at 7am (when on) is way better than CNBC!

16. Amelie Mauresmo
Crashing out to Safarova was a stunner. Can’t believe she fell apart so soon in her first GS title defense.

17. Harkleroad/Hantuchova
They should play every week. That drama is too good. That’s like pay-per-view worthy.

18. The Challenge System
Looks like it’s here to stay, though I still wonder what came of that error in the Mauresmo match when a ball that was graphically out (there was space between the line and the ball) was indicated as in.

19. Tommy Haas
I heard he’s in the quarterfinals, can anyone verify?

20. The Fed
He’s the man. Simple as that. Forget his strokes, his footwork, quickness, balance and court positioning is second to none.

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20 Comments for Serena, Young Guns Highlight Week One of Australian Open

Asswipe44 Says:

why u obsessing with federer. yah hes good but enough already. u label roddick as second-rate trash . Oh well. Rafa is the best of em all dude. yes tommy haas made the quarterfinals. I verify. or is that rhetorical?

Sparko Says:

What???? Nothing on Fernando Gonzalez fantastic last two matches….the guys he beat get a mention for loosing, but not the player who botted them out.

reno Says:

Dude, get off Serena. Obviously if you had watched any of her matches you’d see that she really is that good, rather than her opponents being that bad. Who cares uif her body is not the typical tennis/athlete type? She’s still an incredible player with amazing determination. You are basically what people complain about in tennis journalism – uninformed, unarticulate, and simply regurgitating viewpoints you’ve overheard elsewhere. The rest of your list speaks to that clearly.

atptour03 Says:

Dude, you really need to watch your language by calling Serena fat and other names that are derogatory. That stuff is no longer funny. This type of commentary is no longer relevant. Serena and Venus are the s**t and have always been. As Venus said “people have to be a lot more careful about saying whether or not the Williams sisters are going to be gone, because every time they do, they come back.”

Larry Says:

Thanks for the noteworthy updates during the Open. I am not able to watch the matches so I sure appreciate someone to break down the highlights so that I feel informed.

Steven Rahn Says:

Results speak for themselves. If Serena can win carrying a few extra pounds who cares. I believe she would almost certainly win the Oz Open if she were fitter. As she is, I think she will be lucky to get by Vaidasova. Peer played great, but her serve isn’t a weapon….Vaidasova’s is….big time.

David Nalbandian Says:

Serena isn’t fat. It’s just that TV adds 10 pounds.

penise Says:

To clarify: Serena IS that good. That’s why she is so infuriating, she’s wasting her talent.

Ron Says:

TV adds 10 pounds? How many TVs are on Serena lol….

Steve Says:

I agree and agree…..serena IS FAT and a disgrace. And Lleyton who??? Many players never see the end coming and keep deluding themselves well past their use by date, and I am afraid Lleyton is in denial. Or maybe he just needs to keep playing to be able to pay for his fiancee.

And all the way with the Fed express. Enjoy people as we are witnessing history.

the_fury Says:

you question connors’ because you think he misses the publicity? that doesn’t seem at all accurate given the way he has been really low-key, especially given the fact that he coaches one of the most popular players in the world. more likely is he just missed the game.

Jemappell Says:

Yes, Serena is that good. Although the commentators really hate to acknowledge it. Yes she is carrying a little extra weight , but the big girl is taking them out as they come across her path. She really has nothing to lose this tournament. She is ranked #81, oh my bad, she is now ranked in the 30’s. She is definitely a ‘dangerous floater’. So go ahead all you higher ranked players and analysts/commentators and join the fools that have been thinking that Serena is too overweight, too out of shape and not a threat to win the Championship. I wouldn’t bet against her.

John Says:

My two cents:

1) The Hopman Cup seems to have helped Ashley Harkleroad and Mardy Fish a lot.

2) The challenge system sucks. I saw that image where the ball was called “in” but the picture said “out”. Nice. BTW, two challenges are too many. I’m for one per set or none. Another improvement, the women players should have their mothers make the call rather than the players. In Maria’s case, Yuri. Now that would be exciting. Yuri could indicate a challenge with a fist pump.

3) ESPN2 was in seventh heaven with all of the American players doing well. But it shows that we need another channel for the non-US players. We also need another channel for the “desk”. How much tennis time was replaced by Patrick and company?

4) ESPN2’s sometime start time of 9pm ET was a huge mistake since the real start was 7pm ET. This caused some of the matches to not be live, but on a 2 hour tape delay. However, the 3:30am “live” was a success. Most interesting was seeing Agassi hang around for 3 OT of basketball for his interview at around midnight ET.

5) Serena’s match against Peer was a fun match. IMO, if Peer didn’t choke, she would have won.

6) The heat rule (i.e. when to close the roof) should be changed. IMO, if both players agree to close it, they should. If one disagrees, leave it open. Part of the heat problem is the Rebound Ace (rubber) surface. A 103 degree temperature got amplified to 118 or more on court.

ben (the real one) Says:

my reply to ur two cents:

1) i could care less

2) the challenge system is great. its fun for the fans and it puts the players’ minds to rest. its not 100% accurate though, its like 98% or something. one mistake out of so many calls isnt bad at all.

3)i hate pmac and co. (except cahill). and i agree. ive talked to so many ppl who say “i havent even seen federer (or nadal) play!” cmon! the two top players in the world, the most dominant, probably the most exciting to watch, get the least freaking air time? wtf is that?

4) i agree with this one too. its supposed to start at 9 but basketball usually interferes and it starts at 9 30 or later. unfortunately, thats tennis in america for u. its not important according to espn, so that show it as little as possible. the 3:30 is ok if u really wanna stay up that late, but id like more tennis in the day time even if it isnt always live.

5) i hate serena, peer should have won.

6) y should the heat rule be changed? if anything they should allow both players to agree on the closing of the roof during a match. but otherwise laissez-faire. this is what makes the AO unique and interesting. the AO is like the slow hard surface, but then it becomes the fast indoor surface. a true test of a player’s abilities. like playing two tourny’s in one, prove u r the best on more than one surface kind of thing. instead of winning a slam at the french and going on to call urself a champion even tho u can only win on one surface. thats like a fake champ.

John Says:

I forgot one:

7) Has the Tennis Channel ever heard of the Australian Open? During ESPN2 commercial breaks, I’d occasionally switch to the TC just for fun. Most of the shows were old and stale reruns. For example, how many times can you watch “Murphy in Moscow”? Or watch Joe Dinoffer? Or a Martina Hingis Real Life on the WTA Tour from 2002?

yana Says:

oh how you poor souls love to write of those Williams girls, and oh how sweet it is when they win slams out of the blue. Even if Serena doesn’t win this one, she has nothing to be ashamed of. Yeah, she needs to spend a little more time in the gym, but she should’ve lost in the third round to Petrova, but apparently, no one told her that. Then she was supposed to lose in the fourth round to Jankovich. I guess she missed that memmo too. Then, Peer was supposed to take her out in the quarters, but Serena had other plans. Serena, please avenge Venus, by beating Vaidisova and give these haters another reason to be mad.

Jimmy oshi Says:

Why do commentators hate Serena so much? especially the lady commentator. She had never given Serena good commentatory always looking for bad things to say about her but not to others??

The same thing with Monica Seles. Even when she was knifed she was still by the commentator Mary G. They all complained that mnonica screams too much and disturb other plays…wait a minute,…the last time I check all most of the current so called young gun scream!!!!!!!! & never heard the commentators say a work. They are their favorites. Believe me Monica Seles was the greatest woment tennis player ever!!!

Rockville Says:

I honestly am amazed at the comments and the criticism of Serena. The lady played 4 tournaments last year and appeared in court twice because of no fault of her own. If she wasn’t at the gym the entire time it is her fault and something she should not be judged on. When Hinges came back everyone welcomed her with open arms and she was allowed to work her way back. Shouldn’t Venus and Serena be allowed the same respect? If you look at the other side of the quartet-finals they also struggled and they played a full tournament year. I will not hate on those other players because they are playing their game.
The negative comments about Serena only makes you look quite stupid. And I believe that she will continue to win with or without your feedback. I hope that she does win the Open because she has the determination and the ability. How many seeded players did she knock out?

jonakaa Says:

is sean randall the worst blogger on this site or what? first he says that blake’s success has rubbed off on his buddies then in the very next line he trashes blake for his lack of success at slams. what a maroon!

Michael Jordan Says:

Serena is an athlete shes not fat she just
has a large build.
Shes probably in a lot better shape then most
tennis players out there and by the way
she kicked sharapovas ass.

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