Murray Needs Three In Debut At Brisbane, Serena Stomps Stephens, Gets Azarenka Tonight; Tomic In Tune
A few results during the overnight to catch-up on. In Brisbane, tournament favorites Andy Murray and Serena Williams both won, but in different ways. Serena had little trouble handling the rising Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-3 while Murray, who was making his 2013 debut, needed three sets to oust unknown Australian qualifier John Millman 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.
“I think it was a pretty high quality match,” said Murray. “The first set wasn’t that comfortable. [In the second set] he gained in confidence and started going for his shots more. He was returning my first serve extremely well and playing right up on the baseline and just going for big shots. It was tough for me to dictate too many of the points. I made some adjustments with the way I was serving in the third set that turned it around, but he played really, really well for the most part.
“I wasn’t too disappointed with the way I played tonight either, so it was a good first match for me. For a first match of the year, that was a perfect match in many ways to go through some tough moments, a lot of long rallies, close games, and important points.”
Expectations for Milos Raonic are sky high for 2013, but his year began on a down note losing to peer Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3. The Federer-esqe Bulgarian won all 26 points on his first serve in the victory. Maybe Dimitrov is the kid to watch this year, not Raonic?
Dimitrov now faces Jurgen Melzer tonight in the quarterfinals. Murray meets Denis Istomin, who beat Lleyton Hewitt, and in two good ones, its Baghdatis-Simon and Dolgopolov-Nishikori.
The women’s semifinals tonight will take center stage. In the first big showdown match of the new year, Serena will clash with top ranked Victoria Azarenka tonight! Serena has won 11 of 12 in this series including all five last year. Just to add some further drama to the women’s tour, I’d like to see Vika win that, but…
In the Hopman Cup, the big news was Bernard Tomic’s win over Novak Djokovic the other night. Tomic, who made little progress in 2012 – actually regressed, has won all three matches this week with wins over Tommy Haas, Djokovic and last night Andreas Seppi. That’s all nice and good, but let’s highlight that it is exhibition tennis.
However, injuries at exos are nothing to sneeze at and unfortunately giant John Isner had to withdraw with a knee injury. The American No. 1 says he expects to be fine for the Australian Open.
And in a first result today from Doha, Gael Monfils comeback was cut short by Daniels Brands in the quarterfinals. Monfils still won two matches including a nice win over Philipp Kohlscreiber so perhaps there’s some life left in his game. I hope.
Top seed Tomas Berdych is in control at the moment in Chennai. Marin Cilic won earlier.
BRISBANE FRIDAY SCHEDULE
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:30 am
M Baghdatis (CYP) vs  G Simon (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 1:30 PM
 A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 A Murray (GBR) vs D Istomin (UZB) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  S Williams (USA) – WTA
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [LL] L Tsurenko (UKR) – WTA
SHOW COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
 J Melzer (AUT) vs G Dimitrov (BUL) – ATP
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