by: Tom Cochrane
There’s a long way to go in the tournament, but Andy Murray got his campaign for a maiden Grand Slam title off to a scintillating start, demolishing Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets on Day 2.
Day 2 Recap
Tipped to be a difficult encounter for the fourth seed, Murray came charging out of the blocks against Davydenko, losing just 2 of the first 14 games of the match as he set up a commanding 2 sets to love lead. Davydenko put in a more respectable performance in the third set, but Murray stayed focused to record a very impressive opening round victory.
Things didn’t look good for Rafael Nadal when he lost the opening 4 games of his match against Thomaz Bellucci, but the Spaniard stayed composed and rallied to claim the first set in a tiebreaker. From there, it was smooth sailing for the second seed as he claimed a straight sets victory. Among the other men’s seeds, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga scored a good win over former champion Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Martin Del Potro saw off Robin Haase and Philipp Kohlschreiber outlasted Tommy Haas in a 5 set thriller.
Last year’s quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic was a first round casualty, going down to Belgian David Goffin in 4 sets. Also upset was South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in a very tight 4 set encounter.
In the women’s tournament, Serena Williams atoned for her sister Venus’ loss on Day 1, cruising through to the second round in straight sets. Joining her there was defending champion Petra Kvitova, second seed Victoria Azarenka, and former finalists Marion Bartoli and Vera Zvonareva.
Matches of the Day – Day 3
1. Novak Djokovic vs. Ryan Harrison
Young American Ryan Harrison is definitely a player on the rise, but so far he hasn’t been able to translate good performances at lesser tournaments into a breakout performance in a Grand Slam. Harrison did however push Andy Murray in Melbourne and Gilles Simon in Paris, so there’s no doubt he has the ability to match it with the best.
Harrison has nothing to lose in this match, but he also has far less experience on the main stage than the world number one. Djokovic’s brilliant movement and defensive abilities mean that it will be very hard for Harrison to really hurt the Serb from the back of the court. I think Harrison will be competitive in each set, but I suspect that there will only be 3 of them. Djokovic in 3.
2. Roger Federer vs. Fabio Fognini
While Roger Federer strolled through his opening round match, losing just 3 games in total, Fabio Fognini also put in a stellar first round showing. The clay-court specialist did very well to upset French veteran and serve-and-volley expert Michael Llodra, but I can’t see Fognini having anywhere near the same level of success against the Swiss master.
Although it’s been 30 months since Federer won a Grand Slam, the third seed has been in good form in general in the last 9 months, and most important of all, he still believes he has the game to win more majors. Who knows whether that will occur, but I’ve got no doubt he will make a decent run at the All England Club this year. Federer in 3.
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Tsvetana Pironkova
After easing into the tournament with a straight sets victory in round 1, Maria Sharapova faces a far tougher task in this second round clash. In the last 2 years, Tsvetana Pironkova has shown herself to be something of a grass-court specialist, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals and quarter-finals and taking down players of the calibre of Venus Williams along the way.
This is a definite danger match for Sharapova, and as always, how the Russian serves will go a long way towards deciding the match. I have to favour the top seed, given her fantastic form of late, but she will be in trouble if she is not at her best. Sharapova in 3.
4. Xavier Malisse vs. Gilles Simon
A former semi-finalist at the All England Club, Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse is still a delightful player to watch, being a very clean striker of the ball. His opponent today, thirteenth seed Gilles Simon, is also blessed with a pure tennis ability, so this should be a high quality match.
Simon has a game that is well suited to grass-courts, given that the Frenchman is very quick around the court, times the ball well, and likes faster-paced courts. However, he needs to be on guard against Malisse, who will be looking to make another deep run at this year’s championships. Simon in 5.
5. Ana Ivanovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
Ana Ivanovic has really improved her form in the last 6 months, with the former world number looking far fitter and more confident on court than she looked during her dry spell of 2010-2011. Ivanovic was unlucky in Paris to run into a red-hot Sara Errani (who went on to make the final) but perhaps Ivanovic will be able to capitalise on her improved form in this tournament instead.
Martinez Sanchez has a game built for grass-courts, full of tricky spin and slice shots, and is an adept volleyer, but the Spaniard hasn’t been beyond the third round at the All England Club. She could give Ivanovic some trouble today, but I’ll back the Serb to grind her way through to a victory. Ivanovic in 3.
Put your house on: Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to rise to the occasion in their second round matches against Fabio Fognini and Ryan Harrison respectively.
Upset alert: Unlucky number 13? I think Klara Zakopalova could take down the thirteenth seed in the women’s tournament, Dominika Cibulkova, while Xavier Malisse is capable of upsetting men’s thirteenth seed Gilles Simon.
Likely to go the distance: Alejandro Falla thwarted John Isner’s quest for another rematch against Nicolas Mahut, but I suspect the Mahut-Falla clash will go the distance. But will it break the 2010 Isner-Mahut record for the longest ever men’s match? The chances of that are most definitely less than zero.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.