© Ella Ling

Victoria Azarenka

Notes from Melbourne - day three


Our highlights reel of all the action from the third day of the 2012 Australian Open

Match of the day
John Isner v David Nalbandian
John Isner’s star is rising. So it was perhaps fitting that the lean-limbed American, enrobed in his new Lacoste gear, had to come through against a former great to reach the third round. David Nalbandian dealt Lleyton Hewitt the gut-wrenching agony of a five-set defeat in the first round here last year.

This time he felt the pain, this time in the second round, as Isner demonstrated a fitness that many have questioned to come through in five. Nalbandian, paunch still in evidence, took the first set, then the third, to remain ahead. But Isner fought back, completing a superb tie-break to force a fifth set. The Argentine practically buried his racket into the Margaret Court Arena surface in response.

The fifth was an exercise in loggerheads, Nalbandian taking a well-timed bathroom break that seemed to sap Isner’s energy. But amid a kerfuffle with umpire Khader Nouni, it was not Nalbandian, but Isner that prevailed, 10-8 in the fifth. Quite remarkable.

The upset
Two years ago, on the green grass of the All England Club, Alejandro Falla had one foot in the camp of the greatest win of his life. He led Roger Federer by two sets to love and a break. And then crumbled, spectacularly.

For a split second in his match against eighth seed Mardy Fish, it looked like it might happen all over again. Falla played brilliantly to take the first two sets 7-6(4), 6-3, and then, a high bouncing lob in the third set tie-break, he had two match points. He double-faulted.

That could have well been it, the Colombian staring at the heavens dolefully. But he was given a third match point on a Fish error, and this time, made no mistake. It couldn’t have been more deserving. As for Fish, he’s the highest men’s seed to fall.

In the day’s other big tumble, Francesca Schiavone, quarter-finalist here last year and winner of the longest women’s grand slam match, wore a face like thunder as she was ousted 6-4, 6-3 by fellow Italian Romina Oprandi. “It’s an ugly sensation,” Schiavone said. “I was not me.”

Don’t wait around for…
Li Na. The 2011 finalist became the first winner on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Aussie wild card Olivia Rogowska. Each set took 31 minutes precisely. But, just as she was beaten in last year’s final, Li was beaten in the quickest match stakes by Kim Clijsters, who took just 47 minutes to swat aside Stephanie Foretz Gacon, 6-0, 6-1. Ouch.

Tomic does it again
As Sam Querrey silkily moved through the first set against Bernard Tomic, one could understand why he had looked quite so good when he lifted the Queen’s trophy two years ago. True, he has that American ‘goofball’ aura, but he remains a serious threat.

At least 19 year-old Tomic thought so, inviting him in, and then disposing of him. Pretty brutal, I have to say.

Easy pass for..
Roger Federer. His second round opponent, Andreas Beck, retired with a lower back injury. Thus Federer sails through to the third round.

Don’t try this at home
Midway through the early stages of his dramatic four-set loss to Stanislas Wawrinka, Marcos Baghdatis, no stranger to late-night heroics at Melbourne Park, pulverised four brand new rackets. YouTube it.

Keep an eye on
Christina McHale. The American youngsters battled from a set down against Marina Erakovic to come through 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 and set up a third round clash with Jelena Jankovic. She has a lot of firepower.

Bad day for…
The American men. Donald Young was dumped out in four by qualifier Lukas Lacko, Fish had already departed, and was then joined by Sam Querrey. John Isner was the only saving grace.

Treatment of the day
Caroline Wozniacki called the trainer for what looked like a pedicure treatment, strapping up the big toe on her left foot. She has purple-painted toenails, we discovered.

Talk of the press room
Maria Sharapova’s dress. It’s apparently called Statement Slam. Which means?

Hardly sweating…
Tomas Berdych, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Iveta Benesova,Yen-Hsun Lu, Feliciano Lopez, Philipp Kohlschreiber (thanks to a retirement), Nina Bratchikova, Julia Goerges (another retirement), Juan Martin Del Potro, Jelena Jankovic, Rafael Nadal, Galina Voskoboeva, Caroline Wozniacki, and Victoria Azarenka were in the did-not-drop-a-set crew.

Quote of the day
“I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to dress in a towel”
Caroline Wozniacki, on why she was late to press after misplacing her bag

Brit watch
Tough luck for Jonathan Marray and Jamie Delgado, seen off 4-6, 4-6 by the tricksy Poles Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, and Laura Robson (playing with Aussie youngster Ash Barty), who lost to Jill Craybas and Dominka Cibulkova 6-3, 2-6, 3-6.

But, in chirpier news, it proved to be back-to-back losses to Brits for Ryan Harrison, as he and Ryan Sweeting were put away 7-5, 7-6(2) by Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in an excellent display. They play Alex Bogomolov Jr and Igor Kunitsyn next.

Something I noticed
Arina Rodionova has finally joined her sister Anastasia as an Australian citizen, just in time for the Olympics. The Russian-born duo are playing doubles together.

Come back tomorrow for
Jamie Hampton v Maria Sharapova, first on Rod Laver Arena

Jelena Dokic v Marion Bartoli, first night match on Rod Laver Arena

Lleyton Hewitt v Andy Roddick, second night match on Rod Laver Arena

Michaella Krajicek v Ana Ivanovic, first on Hisense Arena

Andy Murray v Edouard Roger-Vasselin, fourth on Hisense Arena

  • Penny

    Point of order. Nalbandian defeated Hewitt in 5 sets last year. He retired in the following match (fatigue).