Thursday, January 22, 2009

Australian Open: Day 4 Wrap – Nadal, Murray March On, Gulbis Crashes Out

The Ballad of Rafa and Roko

Actually it was far from a ballad and more like a stampede from Rafael Nadal, but I couldn’t help myself and not use the Lennon song reference (silly I know). In my opinion, Roko Karanusic seemed just as eccentric as Yoko Ono. The Croat reminded me of one of the villains on Alias, and his facial expressions and tantrums throughout the match were rather frightening. But we gotta give credit to Roko, the guy is a pretty good returner.

Up until the last game of the first set, Rafa was pretty much on cruise control; his service was impressive, he was hitting the lines almost flawlessly, but then the errors showed up in the last game, when he was serving for the first set. The top seed didn’t get broken but he struggled before he clinched the set 6-2. Sets 2 and 3 saw some smart returning efforts from the Croat, but Rafa was too strong and he finally finished off his angry opponent, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Next up for the Spaniard in round 3, is Tommy Haas who cruised past Flavio Cipolla, 1,2 and 1.

The French 4 Keep Going

Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, and Richard Gasquet, all advanced to the third round on Thursday, but some faced tougher opposition than others. Gasquet cruised in straights while Tsonga endured 3 tie-break sets before nailing an easy 4th set. Simon and Monfils also came through in 4, but the end result is: the French seeds are moving strong!! The unseeded ones however, not so much. Arnaud Clement suffered a miserable straight sets loss to 14th seed, Fernando Verdasco, while Sebastien de Chaunac, whose fancy name makes him sound like a French prince or something, fell to 9th-seeded, James Blake.

Gasquet is now one match away from a potential 4th round matchup against Nadal, but the Frenchman must overcome 13-seed, Fernando Gonzalez first.

Gulbis’ Melbourne Campaign Ends in 5

Latvian hope, Ernests Gulbis, stumbled out of the Aussie Open second round to the hands of 18th-seed, Igor Andreev. The 2 players battled it out in 5 sets, before the Russian claimed his spot in the third round. Andreev next faces Blake.

Match of the Day

Mario Ancic vs Ivo Karlovic [25]

In the battle of the tall Croats – of course one particularly taller than the other – Mario Ancic stood his ground and eliminated the serving giant, Ivo Karlovic. The match had a retaliatory aspect to it, considering the 5-7, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 scoreline. Ancic has a tough test coming up against 6th-seeded Simon. Let’s hope the 5-setter didn’t wear him down!

Other seeds who marched on, on Thursday, include Andy Murray [4], Radek Stepanek [22], Nicolas Almagro [17], Jurgen Melzer [31] and Fernando Gonzalez [13]. For complete Thursday results, check here...

Unmiss-able Day 5 Matches include:

Roger Federer [2] vs Marat Safin
Marin Cilic [19] vs David Ferrer [11]
Stanislas Wawrinka [15] vs Tomas Berdych [20]
Amer Delic vs Novak Djokovic [3]

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