Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was the highest-profile upset on Tuesday at the Australian Open, running out of gas at the end of a three-set marathon to Russian Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.
The No. 19-seeded Ivanovic attributed the fitness issue to not being able to train hard enough entering the Aussie Open due to an abdominal strain.
“A few points here and there decided,” Ivanovic said. “And I created enough of chances for myself in that second set in particular, but couldn’t convert them. It was just a little bit of footwork lacking towards the end of that third and that was pretty much what decide it. But I think she played really good match today…I was a little bit too passive. What really I think got to me in the end was fitness, just not being able to stay with her in a longer rallies. That was really disappointing.”
The Top 10 seeds in action cruised into the second round without dropping a set with winners (2) Vera Zvonareva, (3) Kim Clijsters (d. fellow former No. 1 Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0), (5) Samantha Stosur (d. newly-minted U.S. pro Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1), (7) Jelena Jankovic and (10) Shahar Peer.
“If I would know the answer, I guess I would do different things,” said a despondent Safina after consuming the double bagel. “I don’t know. I didn’t know how to win a point. Basically came to this thing. I didn’t know. I was sitting in the changeover and I was like, ‘Okay, at least how can I get a chance to hurt her?’ There was nothing that I could hurt her. Embarrassing…It’s really to scratch the head and to think what the hell I’m doing. It’s not that I don’t want. I want. There’s no doubt about. I want to come back and I want to play better. But now to find answers how I can come back…First to find the reason what’s going on, what are the mistakes, and then to work on them. Not to go blindly on the court and killing your ass for like five hours. Sometimes it makes no sense.”
Seeds surviving close scrapes were (12) Agnieszka Radwanska edging Japan’s ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-5 in the third, (18) Maria Kirilenko outlasting Italy’s Romina Oprandi 8-6 in the third, (26) Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beating hot-handed Hungarian Greta Arn 6-2 in the third, and (31) Lucie Safarova defeating China’s Zhang Shuai 6-1 in the third.
The other lone upset was Japan’s Ayumi Morita defeating (27) Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4, 6-4.
Unseeded first-round action of note included Czech Klara Zakopalova continuing American Melanie Oudin’s troubles 6-1, 3-6, 6-1; Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro out-battling American Christina McHale from a set down; France’s Alize Cornet easing past American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-1; and Aussie wildcard Alicia Molik winning to the delight of Aussie fans, topping Italian Roberta Vinci in a marathon 8-6 in the third.
“The crowd were getting pretty electric,” Molik said. “They were pretty eager between first and second serves, calling out, yelling out. But I think I focused pretty well today, didn’t let anything distract me too much. You really feed off of it. God, I really felt it out there. It’s quite an amazing feeling, especially in the later stages of a match when fatigue can set in, I felt like she dropped her level a bit. It just gave me a heap more energy.”
Matches to look for on Wednesday in Melbourne include (11) Justine Henin vs. Brit Elena Baltacha, (4) Venus Williams vs. Czech Sandra Zahlavova, Aussie adoptee Jelena Dokic vs. Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. American veteran scrapper Vania King, France’s Virginie Razzano vs. (14) Maria Sharapova, former world No. 1 junior Arantxa Rus vs. (23) Svetlana Kuznetsova, and (20) Kaia Kanepi vs. Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges.
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