For the second consecutive day at the Australian Open, 15 of the 16 seeded men in action advanced into the second round, with the lone loser attributed to injury. On Monday it was Tommy Haas. On Tuesday it was John Isner.
The big-serving American, who entered Auckland with a hot hand and the Auckland title under his belt, retired with a foot injury after two sets trailing Slovak Martin Klizan 6-2, 7-6(6).
“I know movement is not the best part of my game,” said Isner, who injured his foot the week before winning the Auckland title last week. “But at a certain point I’ve got to be able to move without pain and I wasn’t able to do that today.”
Last year Isner withdrew from the Australian Open with a bone bruise.
Aside from No. 5 seed Juan Martin Del Potro dropping the first set against American Rhyne Williams before rallying for a win, the Top 10 seeds in action were through in straight sets.
No. 1 Rafael Nadal needed only a set before Aussie opponent Bernard Tomic retired with a leg injury, No. 4 Andy Murray rolled Japan’s Go “Get Me a” Soeda 6-1, 6-1, 6-3; No. 6 Roger Federer in an ugly, mishit-filled display in the windy and hot conditions defeated Aussie James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; and No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga handled Italian veteran Filippo Volandri 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
“It was sad,” said Tomic, who was grimacing in pain in the first game of the first set before eventually retiring after a set against Nadal. “I felt it yesterday. I took a day off after the final in Sydney. I started hitting. I went for one ball and felt pain in my left leg. I thought it was going to be OK. I went for one ball on the backhand and just felt it…I just felt like, if I continue playing, who knows, something worse can happen, cannot play maybe for a few months. I don’t want to do that.”
Federer remained upbeat despite his error-filled display in the 105 degree heat.
“Conditions were playing pretty quick, so we didn’t have much rhythm, much rallies,” the Swiss said. “I kept missing some opportunities, which made it harder on me, because I think I could have been in a more comfortable lead early. I think he did also well to stay in the match because and in most of the games, because he did serve well when he needed to…So it was a solid match from start to finish, yeah. Could have maybe won a few more break points here and there, but who cares now?”
Among the slew of lower seeds getting the job done, albeit in shaky fashion, were No. 16 Kei Nishikori outlasting Aussie Marinko Matosevic 6-2 in the fifth; No. 18 Gilles Simon saving seven (7) match points in topping German Daniel Brands 16-14 in the fifth; and No. 24 Andreas Seppi saving a match point in ending former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt’s Oz Open experience 7-5 in the fifth.
“It would be nice to get through a bit more comfortabler [sic],” said Hewitt, who tied Andre Agassi’s record of number of five-set matches played in the Open Era. “With that said, I didn’t have a lot of choice after being down two sets to love today. That was the only way out of it. I had to try to keep fighting, find a way. You know, ended up one point from coming back from two sets.”
Unseeded winners of note into the second round were former Top 10er Marin Cilic coming from 0-2 sets down to defeat Spaniard Marcel Granollers, Aussie comer Nick Kyrgios topping German Benjamin “Not That” Becker in four, unheralded Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis shocking Dutchman Igor Sijsling in four, Slovak Blaz Kavcic advancing when Radek “The Worm” Stepanek retired in the fourth set of their encounter with a neck injury, and Americans Jack Sock and Donald Young advancing.
“I started to feel it really early, maybe 5-6 in the third set,” said the Aussie teen Kokkinakis, the runner-up in the boy’s final last year, of cramping in the 5th set against Sijsling. “I was like, ‘Oh, this ain’t going to end too well.’ I just tried to make returns…I was trying to hang in there and try to find the cheap points. I was shortening the points as much as I could, because when it was going for a while I wasn’t having much success.”
The Aussie will next face the world No. 1 Nadal, who he practiced with entering the event.
The top seeds on the women’s side returned to high form on Tuesday, with only No. 5 Aggie Radwanska struggling in an eventual victory over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-0, 5-7, 6-2.
“I think she was very, very nervous in the beginning but then she started playing much, much better,” Radwanska said of her teen opponent.
Other Top 10-seeded players advancing in straight sets were No. 2 Victoria Azarenka defeating Swede Johanna Larsson 7-6(2), 6-2; No. 3 Maria Sharapova handling a tough late-night assignment against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4; No. 8 Jelena Jankovic rolling over Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-2; and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki looking sharp in a 6-0, 6-2 dismissal of Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
“I mean, it’s not easy, those conditions,” Azarenka said of the heat. “You can’t escape those. It’s pretty hot out there. But it’s the same for everybody. You just have to adapt to it and try to do the best way to prepare for those conditions…But I feel pretty good. Actually, I felt better as the match was going on than in the beginning…I just went out straight to go hit [practice after the match]. Actually put on a long sleeved shirt. It wasn’t probably the smartest thing to do, but I’m fine.”
Wozniacki had her own methods for dealing with the heat, which is expected to reach around 106F on Wednesday.
“Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more,” the Dane said. “I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm…Yeah, just had an ice bath now. Yeah, I could go out and play another two sets now (smiling).”
On the upset tip were the Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina toppling No. 19 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3; New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic defeating No. 21 Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 7-6(6); and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza Blanco, who claimed her first career title last week, outlasting No. 24 Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
Matches to look for on Wednesday in Melbourne include (4) Na Li vs. Swiss teen riser Belinda Bencic, (1) Serena Williams vs. Serb Vesna Dolonc, (2) Novak Djokovic vs. Argentine Leonardo Mayer, (17) Samantha Stosur vs. the hot-handed Tsvetana Pironkova, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino vs. (5) David Ferrer, in men’s doubles Lleyton Hewitt/Patrick Rafter vs. Eric Butorac/Raven Klaasen, (28) Flavia Pennetta vs. Puerto Rican riser Monica Puig, Sam Querrey vs. (23) Ernests Gulbis, Nikolay Davydenko vs. (9) Richard Gasquet, and German riser Annika Beck vs. (14) Ana Ivanovic.
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