Grand Slam tennis is back with the Australian Open, the tournament where you have to stay up until 4am to see out a match. While your sleep schedule might be out of wack, this is the first chance this year to see all the top players back in action.
One of the highlights of day 1 was seeing Roger Federer back on the court. After Roger endured an injury riddled season in which he failed to even participate in the French Open or Us Open, the Australian Open represents the first step to climbing back into the top 10. It is an odd sight to see the number “17” next to Federer’s name TV but he looked relatively sharp hitting 46 winners but also committing 36 unforced errors. With that ranking also comes a very difficult which could see him face off against (10) Tomas Berdych in the 3rd round and (5) Kei Nishikori in the 4th.
That sumptuous potential fourth round matchup with Nishikori was almost dashed early as it took Nishikori five sets too dispatch of the fiesty Andrey Kuznetsov. Nishikori will be hoping to build on two straight Australian Open quarterfinal appearances but a grueling three-and-half-hour first round match might not be the best start. Stan Wawrinka was in the same boat as Nishikori, as it also took him five sets to finally dispatch of the craft lefty Martin Klizan. Each player had plenty of chances to break the other and had around the same amount of winners as unforced errors, but what stood out was Warinka’s poor serving. While he did hit 21 aces he double faulted 6 times and only has a 64% first serve percentage. While Stan’s performance left plenty of question marks all anyone could talk about after the match was his overhead that pegged Klizan in the family jewels.
On the women’s side Angelique Kerber, last years Australian Open Champion, also needed to go the distance to make it to the 2nd round. As she explains in her interview below, she had match point in the second set but failed to capitalize. In her first round match last year she was the one down a match point early and she rallied and eventually won the whole tournament. She admitted the irony of the situation ran through her head during the match but she kept her cool and rolled in the third round against an over-matched, fifty-first ranked Lesia Tsurenko. Kerber is the undisputed top ranked player on the women’s side and should be able to easily overcome this blip.
The number one seed on the men’s side, Andy Murray, will behoping to build on his scorching hot end to the 2016 season. While for years it seemed impossible that Murray would be able to climb to the very top of the men’s game, now that he is there it wouldn’t be surprising if he held onto it for a good chunk of the year. He is the slight favorite over Novak Djokovic and these first couple matches will go a long way in telling us just how comfortable Murray is playing as the number one seed.