Yesterday was a brutal day 3 5 set matches and the mercury reached 40.8, so there was no blog from last night. Dehydration, cold showers and electrolytes were my friend last night.
Before getting into the matches from the second round. There were a couple of quirky moments that I forgot to mention previously. In the Sela vs. Davydenko match in the 4th set when Sela had a break point on second serve. Someone possibly a member of the Davydenko camp threw one of the balls over the fence on the court, so Davydenko gets 2 serves which he held. This guy must have laid some cash on Davy holding the service game.
Quirky moment number two was in the Ram vs. Garcia Lopez match when Garcia-Lopez lost serve in the 4th set. He smashed a ball down the court and almost cleaned up Rampras on the side of the head. Ram naturally wasn't impressed and glared down the court and the umpire had to do some work in this one. You don't get these moments on the main courts for the most part.
Melzer vs. Bautista-Agut
This wasn't a bad match overall. Initially it was about all the idiots who kept walking in between points that was pissing both players off. Most of the cattle really have no clue about tennis etiquette.
Melzer was a little bit off, bitching about everything and Bautista was his solid self hence this was the reason it went to 5 sets. Bautista had an early chance in the 5th but once he missed that and Melzer took it, he ran away with the last set as Bautista was tiring.
It's clear Bautista-Agut has improved and should stay in the top 100 for a while barring injuries. He moves well and has a flat game for a Spanish player, his differences between clay and hard aren't say to the level of Andujar.
Stepanek vs. Lopez
This was such a clinic, the real handsome beast Stepanek showed LaLo how to play tennis. He was toying with him, just moved the serve around enough to get the burro out of position, then would come in on LaLo's backhand or hit the winners from the back while keeping him off balance.
Sure, Feli had his Justin Bieber like fangirls supporting him, but this was just too easy and fun in the process watching Thunder Lips just block back the returns of Lopez to the neutral position and then work him over and finish him off quickly.
Seppi vs. Istomin
These two had another tight 5 setter at a Slam. Since the Aus Open organisers like to troll me and put both Seppi and Kavcic on at the same time, this is where this match is a mixture of mine and Sammy's experiences.
Very few chances in the first set with the extended rallies that were dominant in this match, but Seppi was more aggressive in the breaker and the forehand held up well and he took it.
Second set was more of the same there was the feeling that Seppi was just in front. Then all of a sudden at 15-15 at *5-6, Seppi decides to be like Santa and serve two double faults in a row to give Istomin 2 sets points, which he took to level it.
Seppi started to be a bit passive but when it's almost 40 degrees it's not always to have clear decision making. The match hit a flat patch until the 4th set buster and in this period Istomin was the slightly better player but he wasn't dominant.
Once Seppi took the buster, then he stepped it up and was able to run through the 5th set with momentum on his side. This was the first time he has made the 3rd round at the Aus Open and has a tough but winnable match with Cilic.
Seppi has bought a big crew down to Melbourne. Max, the coach's brother is here as well huge AC Milan fan, cool guy. He summed up Inzaghi perfectly with the feet he was nothing, but he always where to find the goal.
Kavčič vs. Duckworth
Thankfully had some more time to digest this match. What a great fight from both guys this was not necessarily about the quality of tennis in brutally hot conditions. It was a big opportunity for both players to make the 3rd round of a Slam for the first time and that added some extra spice to the match.
Kavčič got the early break in the 1st set, then Ducky who has an outstanding serve for a player of his height consistently hitting 215km/h wide took the first one comfortably.
Kavčič started to make more returns and once he was able to do this, then he was dominating the baseline rallies though he wasn't as aggressive as he was against Bellucci. Then again the circumstances and conditions weren't comparable, that match he was the underdog and here he was the favourite.
As the momentum changed with Kavčič taking a more offensive position in the court and taking the 2nd and 3rd sets there were no major indications of the major drama to follow.
Duckworth called for the trainer first, but he must have been over at the Melbourne Storm training ground since it took him a good 15 minutes to get to the court. This was before the medical assessment, then the treatment took place, so it seemed like 25 mins.
It helped Duckworth who improved his serving again, starting to hit some good forehands. Kavčič was struggling physically and Ducky was getting energised from the crowd who helped him through a tough time to take the 4th set.
Kavčič gets the early break then at *2-0 at 30 all decides to serve 2 double faults to give the break back. There were about 6 Kavčič fans and the rest of the crowd was very pro Duckworth as expected. They had the "quack, quack, quack" chants, especially when there was a challenge which is much better than "Aussie, Aussie , oil oi oi".
Now this match was about who could take their chances, endure the brutal conditions and take this big opportunity. Kavčič had to take a medical timeout, both guys were feeling it and were only chasing down drop shots when they were so poor that they had to be dealt with.
Kavčič has improved the serve which was key in this set, apart from when he tried to serve the match out at *5-3, where he was so nervous and had no acceleration on his shots played it so carefully and Ducky broke easily. There is a reason when Kavčič serves out matches, that getting in the brace position is common.
Both guys giving it their all and struggling against the elements. Kavčič blows another 4 match points through a mix of passive play, clutch serving from Ducky. Finally something had to give and it was Duckworth who hit the ball long. If Kavčič had more energy then there would have been a greater celebration.
Good to see Channel 7 who broadcasted the match didn't show the Kavčič camp at the end of the match and John Newcombe is still as biased as ever. Ducky has a big upside to him as a player and the IV drip Kavčič was on after the match was worth it after this big win.
Nieminen vs. Dodig
Match of the tournament so far and easily so. It helped that the conditions while warm weren't oppressive which was different from the early matches.
Dodig is great to watch, this guy is so determined and came from nothing that he is an inspiration to other players. He fights for everything, but doesn't play a negative gamestyle which makes it all the better.
He was serving from the tree in this match, hitting the corners regularly with good pace on serve and Nieminen who is a good returner wasn't able to get as many balls back in play as per usual.
Neither player were taking a backward step from the baseline moving each other around with flat and deep groundies mixed in with some angles. Nieminen trying to pass when he could and Dodig for the most part coming to the net and making volleys.
Main difference in this match was Nieminen was slightly down from his level against Haas, while Dodig was playing a very high level of tennis. They split the 4 sets which wasn't a surprise, Nieminen who has an excellent 5 set record didn't make many first serves initially and was down to the weaker 2nd delivery in which Dodig attacked either hitting for winners or making volleying winners from weak Nieminen shots.
There was a game where Nieminen had break back points, but Dodig was serving like Karlovic saved them with ease and was able to run out a comfortable winner in the end.
This match was played in great spirit, both sets of fans were in a good mood, high quality tennis involving all aspects of the game, good serving, baseline rallies, volleying, desire from Dodig and excellent passes.
Seppi provided the stability, Kavčič provided the drama and Dodig/Niemien provided the quality.