It was Slovenia Day on Day 2 at the Aus Open and the guys weren't handed easy draws for their matches. Naturally it would have been good for all of them to go through, but this didn't happen.
Kavčič vs. Bellucci
For those who don't know Kavčič looks like Dexter, so that's the reference in the subject title just in case it was lost on some readers. This was not an easy draw on paper for Kavčič, as we know tennis matches aren't won on paper.
Bellucci does have some poor days, so this was the chance for Kavčič to get him. They played on clay at Gstaad and Bellucci beat him comfortably. The first set is always the key for the lower ranked guys when it comes to playing a seeded player, this was no different. It was going along comfortably on serve for both guys, then Bellucci played a poor service game and Kavčič broke. Normally when Kavčič serves out sets, it's time to get in the brace position as they show in the safety demonstrations on aeroplanes.
What was noticeable and continued through the match was Kavčič was playing aggressive tennis standing just behind the baseline and moving Bellucci around who looked even more disinterested than usual. Yes, there was some classic defensive stuff from Dexter, but the second set was a high level and Bellucci had a mental break.
Start of the 3rd set Bellucci broke, but Kavčič broke back straight away. The theme continued from the previous sets with Bellucci even moonballing whereas on clay when he hits the forehand well it has some big spin and pace. Here, he was brushing up the back of the ball too much and not even racquet head speed into the ball.
Kavčič served at 69% first serves for the match that was a big factor in the result and also that he wasn't passive as he can be, especially when he has a lead. Good winners down the line exposing the poor hardcourt movement of Bellucci. You know it's a big performance from Kavčič when he serves a set out to love.
Big opportunity for Dexter next round when he plays Duckworth.
Seppi vs. Zeballos
As this was on at the same time as the Kavčič match. I didn't see as much of this match as I should have but what I did see it was a training clinic for Seppi. He was hitting well from both sides especially the forehand side and was breaking when he felt like it.
Zeballos has a bit of a belly at the moment, but he was being rushed into errors from Seppi. He should be able to maintain his top 100 ranking and it showed the level from challengers to the big stuff.
On a side note, the South Tyrolean Sex Machine's girlfriend is here in Melbourne. Lets say this, she is pretty easy on the eye and not a diva at all, so unlike most of the ones on tour, it suits Seppi down to a tee.
Žemlja vs. Granollers
This was quite a brutal match for the time it lasted. There were plenty of extended rallies and Granollers defending like Franco Baresi getting to everything, of course he is not as stylish as Baresi but very effective.
Žemlja was trying to make more of the play, but one thing he wasn't doing and it's necessary against a guy like Granollers is that you have to hit behind the guy. Žemlja was mostly hitting open court in fact 97% of the time in rallies it was open court and Granollers was anticipating it well, making the shots putting them into difficult spots.
The first tie breaker was hard fought and Granollers was making running forehand passing shots, then on his set point. Žemlja works him around the court, gets Granollers at the net and Grega has a very short ball drills at Granollers who makes the reflex volley winner.
At 4-4 in the 2nd set Žemlja who always looks tired and asleep at the best of times, was really struggling not moving his feet. He fought hard to get to the TB, but Granollers was too solid and he could have ran for another 5 hours. The grunting was on and off in this match.
Cool to see Fernando Vicente there and yes he was smoking at the side of the court, though at least he is not in the Dirk Hordoff league.
Bedene vs. Becker
Bedene has improved for sure, but there is still some work to be done. He isn't working with the academy in Austria anymore. His brother Andrjaz is working with him as a hitting partner after retiring. One thing I noticed about Aljaz he has a touch of the Seppi about him build wise, wouldn't say the same game wise.
This match was a case of missed opportunities for Bedene. Becker was his usual self hitting big, but he has his moments where the game goes off and Bedene needed to take advantage of these which he didn't in the last 2 sets.
Bedene broke back at 5-5 in the 3rd, then to serve to take it in the TB, he played a poor game. Then Bedene was up a break in the 4th set, but a combo of not making enough first serves, some average shot selection and Becker making some winners.
As for how far Bedene will go, it all depends on whether he can keep injury free. He is good enough for top 30 in a couple of years, but who knows what can happen.
Haas vs. Niemien
Fun match between the 2 veterans. No moonballing here, just a lot of all court tennis but this is the one that got away from Haas.
Nieminen still serving the 110km/h second serves which were dealt with for the most part. Have to give it to the Shark, saving the match point against him with a sexy serve and volley.
Haas getting broken at 6-6, through 2 double faults and a poor dropshot that was amateur stuff from such a seasoned pro.
Nieminen very pumped after the win and was mobbed after the match. It was funny he was walking while doing an interview with Finnish radio and the security.
Slovenia went 1 for 3, but Dexter will survive to Saturday.