The opening day in Melbourne looked like a microcosm of American tennis over the last few years, with Andy Roddick cruising, and the U.S. “B” squad struggling to stay around.
Roddick walked past Czech Jan Hajek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, but fellow American and No. 18 seed Sam Querrey exited 8-6 in the fifth set against Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. Querrey looked to struggle on a blustery day in cooler conditions that Roddick described as “a bit weird.” Querrey exits in the first round on the heels of a fourth-round exit last year.
No. 16 seed Mardy Fish quickly found himself down two sets against Romanian Victor Hanescu, but threw in some aggressive serve and volley play to fight back 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
“When I went off to my match, Mardy was trailing two sets and it did not look good,” Roddick said. “But he pulled it out and it was a great effort. I tell you what — Mardy would not have won that match two years ago.”
The few number of overall American men in the draw took a further hit when vaunted comer Ryan Harrison unceremoniously exited to unheralded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.
Among the Top 10 seeds, world No. 2 Roger Federer looked unhindered in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win over a potentially tough opponent, Slovak Lukas Lacko. Other Top 10 winners, all in straights, were Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco.
No. 12 seed Gael “Force” Monfils looked like an early out when he went down 0-2 sets against Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, but he kept his head against an opponent who has trouble finishing.
“I think he get tighter and then start to struggle physically,” said Monfils, who dropped three games in the last two sets. “I find a solution and then just dive on it. I just try to play simple, hold it, like move him a bit, he knows I can run. So it was just basic stuff in my mind. But I know Thiemo a bit. I know sometimes he snap in the head. It’s a weakness for him. So we play with that.”
Also on the upset tip, German Florian Mayer ousted No. 23 seed Nikolay Davydenko in four sets. No. 25 Al Montanes survived a meeting with German-Jamaican Dustin Brown 7-5 in the fifth.
Unseeded winners of note into the second round were Gilles Simon, Tommy Robredo, Kei Nishikori, Xavier “X-Man” Malisse, Philipp Kohlschreiber (d. fellow German Tomas Kamke in five), and Nicolas Mahut.
Federer spoke on next playing the Frenchman Simon, who he has struggled against in the past.
“It’s up to me to mentally try to forget those matches or remember the good things I did, because both matches we did play against each other were close,” Federer said. “I mean, one no excuses but I came in, it was the back issue at the Masters. But, look, he played well. He was on a great run there, playing the finals I think in Madrid, beating Rafa there. So he’s beaten the best in the world really. If he can do it once, he always feels he can do it again, which he did against me.”
Matches to look for Tuesday on the men’s side in Melbourne include (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Brazil’s Marcos Daniel, David Nalbandian vs. Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic vs. Jeremy Chardy, Karol Beck vs. (5) Andy Murray, Philipp Petzschner vs. (13) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, “The” Donald Young vs. (15) Marin Cilic, Dudi “Where’s My Car?” Sela vs. Juan Martin Del Potro, Jarkko Nieminen vs. (7) David Ferrer, and (24) Ernests Gulbis vs. Benjamin Becker.
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