Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 AUS OPEN Day 4: Robson Upsets Kvitova

Roger Federer's shoes (featuring pink laces)
Day 4 of the 2013 Australian Open (dubbed the "Happy Slam" by Roger Federer) is over and there has been a major upset with 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova losing to up-and-coming 18-year-old Laura Robson of Great Britain. Roger Federer easily dismissed a challenge from former World #3 Nikolay Davydenko and 2012 US Open champ Andy Murray won another straight set match. For the second round in a row Gael Monfils won an epic five-setter, this time 7-6(5) 4-6 0-6 6-1 8-6 against  Yen-hsun Lu, despite double-faulting four times while holding match point. Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka continued their inexorable march through the draw to an expected semi-final clash that should be the best match of the tournament.

The Kvitova-Robson match was on my radar, since it is always difficult when two lefties play each other and Robson, even though she is just 18 (and turns 19 during the tournament) has started to make some noises in major tournaments. At the last one, the 2011 US Open, she took out Kim Clijsters and Li Na in consecutive rounds, eventually losing to Samantha Stosur. Because of the time difference (Australia is 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time) I did not expect to see the match live but I happened to wake up and catch the last few games of the 3rd set. At one point Kvitova was up 3-0 after the two split the first two sets but then the wheels came completely off her serve and Robson was able to break back and the two held serve until 9-all. Kvitova was unable to hit more than one first serve in that crucial 19th game and was broken and the 18-year-old showed the grand-slam winner how to close out a match by making four first serves to win the match on an ace and 3 consecutive Kvitova return errors. The British youngster will face American youngster Sloane Stephens in the 3rd round which should be an interesting measure of which player is more advanced. Stephens is seeded #29 while Robson is unseeded. 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm defeated Shahar Peer of Israel to reach her first 3rd round at the Australian Open.

Australian youngster Bernard Tomic set up another 3rd round clash with Federer by winning a surprisingly tight 4-set match 6-7(4) 7-5 7-6 (4) 7-6(8) over the very tall Daniel Brands of Germany. Tomic is the great hope for Australian men's tennis and he is not shy about letting almost anyone within earshot become aware of that. If Federer gets through that match in the 4th round he is likely to have Milos Raonic and in the quarterfinal Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just to reach Andy Murray in the semifinals and Novak Djokovic in the final. Almost certainly the roughest draw the 17-time major champion has faced in a grand slam tournament, possibly ever.

Day 5 will feature interesting Round 3 clashes such as Maria Sharapova-Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic-Jelena Jankovic, Angelique Kerber-Madison Keys and Sam Querrey-Stan Wawrinka, David Ferrer-Marcos Naghdatis and Novak Djokovic-Radek Stepanek.

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