Every morning during the Australian Open, Busted Racquet will recap the previous day of tennis and preview the matches to come:
Lackluster start on Laver -- The five matches (three women's, two men's) at Rod Laver Arena went a total of 13 sets, just one over the minimum. Only Yanina Wickmayer's three-set victory over hometown favorite Jarmila Groth went longer than straights, providing for a yawn-inducing first day on the main show court in Melbourne.
Maria Sharapova quickly righted the ship after opening the match with two double-faults, Caroline Wozniacki emphatically quieted all the doubters that predicted she'd be a first-round upset victim, Roger Federer played as crisp a first-round match as he's played in years (the six games he lost was the fewest in a first round since the 2008 Aussie Open), and Novak Djokovic was equally efficient in dispatching Marcel Granollers.
Middling day for Americans -- Andy Roddick and Venus Williams cruised to straight-set victories, but Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Jill Crabyas, Jamie Hampton and Alison Riske weren't so fortunate. Querrey has won just once since the U.S. Open and lost 8-6 in the fifth to Lukasz Kubot. Mardy Fish prevented the opening day from total disaster in coming back from a two-set deficit to Romanian Victor Hanescu.
The buzz around Melbourne was that the enigmatic Monfils was nursing a back injury and it sure looked like it for the first two sets against the Dutchman de Bakker. But Monfils turned it around in the third and then won with ease in the fourth, prompting claims after the match that de Bakker tanked the set in order to get to the fifth. After the match, Monfils said (via The Sydney Morning Herald):
"I saw he was tanking. Maybe if I break him early, he would tank and then be ready in the fifth. I was kind of surprised. But I know Thiemo a bit. I know sometimes he snaps in the head ... It's a weakness for him, so you play with that."
A pretty light day for upsets, particularly on the men's side. Even Nikolay Davydenko's loss wasn't much of a surprise. Though the Russian was tagged as a possible darkhorse on his side of the draw, his first-round draw of Florian Meyer (ranked No. 36 in the world) was a tough one.
What to watch on Tuesday (play begins Monday night in U.S.):
Coverage will open at 7 p.m. ET with Vera Zvonareva and Bernard Tomic featured on the main courts (imagine the ratings!), but things get more interesting later in the session with Clijsters-Safina and the return of Del Potro to Grand Slam tennis. Also watch out for Donald Young-Marin Cilic (possible upset?), and the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm trying to pull off another victory over a top player. And for all your early birds, be sure to flip on the TV when you wake up on Tuesday morning. There's a good shot Nalbandian and Hewitt will still be going at it as day breaks in the United States.
- Rod Laver Arena