The top names in tennis continued to dominate the first week of the Australian Open. Former Grand Slam winners Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and defending champion Victoria Azarenka all enjoyed easy wins in the hot, sticky, triple-digit heat in Melbourne on Thursday.
Serena shook off any concerns over her ailing right ankle by trashing Spanish 19-year-old Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-0. The 5-time champ has now won her last 18 matches and 37 of her last 38.
“I didn’t feel anything today,” Serena said of her ankle. “Obviously when you go out to play you’re heavy on adrenaline and you’re really pumped up. Usually I feel injuries after the match, but so far, so good. I felt pretty, much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel.”
Serena then teamed with sister Venus to win an opening round doubles match. The sisters have 13 career Slam doubles titles including for in Australia.
World No. 1 Azarenka got the day started trouncing Greek vet Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-0.
The last match of the day on Rod Laver featured Bernard Tomic edging German Daniel Brands 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 in the heat of the afternoon. The 20-year-old Australian has not lost serve this week and he hasn’t lost a match in 10 this year, exhibitions included.
“I didn’t think he could serve like this,” said Tomic who hit a career-high 26 aces. “I think he served over 20 aces the whole match. Serving amazing. I couldn’t read it at all. I was happy I broke him in that second set at 5 All. Anything would have happened in that tiebreak. Being down two sets to Love is not a good thing in Grand Slams.”
Next for the young star is a super Saturday showdown against Roger Federer. And Tomic, who’s the last Australian left in singles, says he’ll be ready this time after losing badly to the Swiss last year.
“I feel so confident,” Tomic said of his chances. “This is the perfect time to play him (Federer). I think I’ve got a good attitude to win. I’ve beaten a lot of good players over the last past two weeks, especially Novak. I think I can do it if he wins his match. I’m ready. I mean, I’m not going to say I don’t have the belief. I do have the belief now. It’s possible. I showed that in Perth, that you can beat these players. Now I’m going to try to beat him.”
Meanwhile, Federer easily took care of the pesky Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The 4-time Australian Open champion is looking forward to the Tomic test.
“It’s nice he’s been able to turn it around after a tough end of the year last year,” Federer said. “It seems he’s playing well. Obviously a difficult matchup in terms of early in the tournament. But I’ve got to be ready, so I’m looking forward to the match.
“Hopefully we’re going to live up to the expectations and live up to the match. Hopefully it’s not going to be a bad match. I don’t want that to happen.”
Like Tomic, Federer also hasn’t dropped serve and despite this being his first event in two months he’s looked quite sharp early on.
Also, Juan Martin Del Potro has been looking scary good. The former US Open champ hasn’t dropped serve yet in the event after pummeling two patsies. He’s seeded to meet Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. The Scot easily dispatched Joao Sousa.
Other winners included American 19-year-old Sloane Stephens who has now reached the third round at all four Slams. Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki ousted future hope Donna Vekic. Former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga eased past Go Soeda in three sets and he was later joined by his countrymen Gael Monfils, Jeremy Chardy and Gilles Simon as winners. Big-serving Milos Raonic also advanced over Nadal-killer Lukas Rosol.
In the late match which just ended, Brit Laura Robson closed out former Wimbledon champion and No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-3, 11-9. Robson, who benefited from 17 Kvitova double faults, was a fourth rounder at the US Open. Kvitova was a semifinalist a year ago while Robson will play fellow 19-year-old Stephens on Saturday.
In cooler conditions tomorrow, the third round begins with the marquee match at night between longtime rivals Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams. Sharapova has won four of seven meetings including a 3-1 record over the 32-year-old on the hardcourts.
“Obviously I’m not really expecting anything too different,” Venus said about the match. “Whatever day that is, you have to win. It’s not about for me I have to play perfect every match. I don’t have that mentality.”
Sharapova, however, has been a perfect 24-0 in two matches this week and has never been in better form. But she knows her streak will end.
“There are certainly no secrets coming into that matchup,” Sharapova said. “We’ve played against each other many times. You know, despite the fact that she might not be seeded high or didn’t play for a little bit, she’s still a very experienced player and a tremendous athlete. Going out there, there won’t be too many secrets. I hope for it to be a great match.”
Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Agnieszka Radwanska and blossoming teen Madison Keys are also in action Friday. Plus a Serb war when Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic clash.
Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Angelique Kerber (GER) v. Madison Keys (USA)
Na Li (CHN) v. Sorana Cirstea (ROU)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Rod Laver Arena 7:00 PM Start Time
Venus Williams (USA) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Hisense Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Heather Watson (GBR) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) v. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Hisense Arena 7:00 PM Start Time
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) v. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
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