Brits on fire Down Under
Originally published on 17/01/17 00:00
Flying the flag
It was another good day for the British contingent in Melbourne. No.9 seed Johanna Konta overcame Kirsten Flipkens, while Kyle Edmund beat Santiago Giraldo 6-2 7-5 6-3, serving 12 aces and winning 91% of first serve points. The British No.2 plays Pablo Carreno Busta next. They have not played on the Tour.
“Carreno Busta is very good on all surfaces and he’s got a good ranking,” Edmund said. “I felt good today so that’s encouraging to go out there again and do a few things better. I felt happy today.”
Heather Watson got her first win against former US Open champion and No.18 seed Sam Stosur. “I thought Sam served really well today," said Watson, who will play American qualifier Jennifer Brady in the second round. "She has a really big serve I would say it is one of her biggest weapons. I liked that I was pushing her on her service games.”
Naomi Broady was two games away from making it a perfect four from four for British players on Tuesday, but came up short against Australian No.22 seed Daria Gavrilova. Broady served 19 aces and hit 45 winners, but Gavrilova was consistent on the big points and booked her place in the second round with a 3-6 6-4 7-5 victory.
Zverev Jr toughs it out
In a five set match lasting five minutes short of three hours, Alexander Zverev won his first match at the Australian Open, beating 29-year-old Robin Haase 6-2 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-2. Last year on his Melbourne debut the German teenager was defeated by Andy Murray, winning only six games and in 2015 he failed to qualify.
“If you're down two sets to one and 2-Love and Love-40 on your serve, there are thoughts going through your head a little bit,” admitted the 19-year-old. “But I kept playing, and I knew I had to keep playing and try my best. You know, I'm happy to get out of that.”
Serena outguns Bencic
It had been billed as one of the standout matches of the day, but Serena Williams came through with relative ease, beating Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3. Her 19-year-old Swiss opponent made fewer unforced errors than her opponent but the world No.2 hit 30 winners to Bencic’s 13.
“She was just playing very consistent and was doing everything a little bit better than me,” Bencic said, “I think she was very focused.”
The mercury hit 32oC at 11am when matches started and rose to the mid thirties during the day. A cool change is forecast on Tuesday night, so Wednesday is likely to see temperatures in Melbourne Park back in the 20s.
No.5 in a hurry
First up on Rod Laver Arena and the first match of the day to be completed, in just 61 minutes, Karolina Pliskova defeated Spaniard Sara Tormo Sorribes 6-2 6-0. Pliskova, who won her first title of the year in Brisbane, hit 26 winners but did not find her trademark big serve, with only five aces.
Asked about the conditions, she said: “It was fine. I don't know how many degrees it was, but I felt okay. But I was there an hour, so… I think if I would stay longer, it would be worse.”
By contrast, No.20 seed Ivo Karlovic needed five hours and 15 minutes to find a way past Horacio Zeballos on Court 19. At 84 games, it was the longest Australian Open match (by games) since the introduction of the tiebreak, passing Andy Roddick's marathon 83-game quarter-final win against Younes Aynaoui in 2003. Karlovic, 37, served 75 aces – and now owns three of the four Grand Slam records for most aces served in a match: 75 at the Australian Open, 55 at Roland Garros and 61 at the US Open, although he has some way to go to beat John Isner's tally of 113 aces at Wimbledon.
Rafa still Rules
So said one of the signs on Rod Laver Arena where Rafael Nadal defeated Florian Mayer 6-3 6-4 6-4.
“I think I played solid match. It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love the people. That is something that is very special for me.”
Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka will play Johanna Konta in the second round after she defeated Thai wildcard Luksika Kumkhum 6-7(2) 6-4 7-5. “I felt a bit shaky. I haven't really played, like points or practice sets at all before I played this match," said Osaka, who spent nearly two-and-a-half hours on court. "I was very nervous.”
Osaka, who is based in Florida, is known for her quirky personality and revealed that in the locker room she is now less shy and talks to the other players. “I feel like I'm very weird and they are completely normal, which is not a good sign," she admitted.
Goffin through in five
In a match lasting four minutes short of three hours, No.11 seed David Goffin defeated American qualifier Reilly Opelka 6-4 4-6 6-2 4-6 6-4. Radek Stepanek awaits in the second round.