The change in court colours works to the benefit of TV viewers, but the AO still doesn't make for as good TV as the USO. I don't care for the camera angle, and the court is a strange hybrid - the ball doesn't speed up after impact the way it does on US hardcourts, yet the bounce seems low (the effectiveness of Federer's slice being a good yardstick to measure that), making for some awkward errors and problems in returning serve. Then again, few players are sharp, as playing the AO at the very peak of Australia's summer heat seems to take priority over establishing a proper series of warmup events.
Danger signals everywhere, for tennis in general (sparse crowds at several courts) and for women's tennis in particular (persistent lack of new talent, alarming decline in the player's fitness standards, veterans attempting comebacks because they feel the overall competitiveness of the Tour is exceptionally low).
Can't use the multicourt livestreams, so I got what Eurosport saw fit to broadcast.
ES coverage was par for the course for the first couple of rounds at the Slams: hops from court to court much more than it should, almost aimlessly at times, and ends up wasting most of its time showing irrelevant matches between mid-ranked ATP mugs hoping to find a "dramatic" (read pointlessly long) five-setter.
Saw her play (briefly) for the first time almost a year and a half ago. I thought that she packed firepower that most of today's hopefuls can only dream of having, but overall her game was astonishingly raw.
So a year and a half went by - and she showed no signs of improvement. Serves some bombs and hits spectacular winners here and there, but is comically inept at anything other than hitting standard groundstrokes from behind the baseline. And considering that Ivanovic's "kill shots or junk" game provides little in the way of rhythm, the stage was set for a trainwreck.
Not to mention the tactical cluelessness, almost painful to see at times. Gave away 384734957340 BPs with needless errors, failed to make adequate use of her serve when an even halfway decent serve into Ivanovic's BH would have allowed her to start the point from an advantageous position, and a good serve into Ivanovic's BH = point won.
On the other side of the net - increasingly true of Miss Language Barrier what is true also of Kuznetsova: has she ever played a good match?
One of those players that I really want to see play. Only a handful of points yesterday, when she was sucking. Zvonareva kept pounding her FH side, which probably means her BH is her most solid wing.
Played just enough to do the business, which seems to have become her policy in recent months.
Wozniacki vs Peer
Couple of games ES showed she was letting herself be bossed around by Peer
But does she look hot.
Peer's FH fell apart about a year ago; before that, it was loopy (like say Jankovic's or Wozniacki's) and relatively harmless but reliable. Now it's frighteningly erratic, and leaks random errors out of standard rally shots. To add to that, she now seems lost on court - which is odd, considering that shot selection is seldom a problem for one-dimensional grinders (unless they rush the net, that is).
Dokic vs Paszek
Word on the street was that Dokic was hitting the ball beautifully, and that she was playing (at least patches of) top 50 tennis. But I didn't like what I saw from her. Slow, unathletic, with very little in the way of defense and one-dimensional she always was, according to what I heard; but for all the challengers she slogged through last year and for all the WC playoffs that she played, she seems extremely rusty. That, some of the inevitable deterioration her game has suffered over the past 4-5 years is also irreversible. Very slow to react and change directions, she rarely hit with any accuracy when on the move, her ROS was often lousy, and the timing of her shots went on and off without warning. Some undeniably
ballstriking when she was fully on though, and she seems to have fixed the problems with her serve - it was very effective at times, and helped her defend her lead in the 3rd set even when everything else seemed to be falling apart.
Paszek has hit a wall in her development. Everyone noticed her excellent natural ballstriking skills when she first showed up on the Tour - problem is, she really has nothing else. Her build couldn't be less suited to tennis. Her shots, though clean and accurate, don't qualify as weapons, let alone kill shots, by today's standards. Played too passively, but I suppose waiting for Dokic to self-destruct/choke was the most tempting tactical option.
Hantuchova vs Dellacqua
Hantuchova: an elegant player with an elegant game built around gorgeous ballstriking or an unathletic slowpoke with medium-paced groundstrokes depending on how you look at it. (Nearly) always a delight to watch as far as I'm concerned. OK performance, at least compared to some of last year's horror shows. Seems reluctant to take risks, and unwilling (or unable?) to hit with the consistent depth and accuracy she once did. Probably an ajustment until she finds some better form. Against Dellacqua, it did the business. Against others, it may not be enough.
Dellacqua tries really hard to impersonate a power player (swinging away at 2nd serves, going for broke from defensive positions, etc.), but since she doesn't really have the tools required to do so (so-so BH, FH can be an embarrassment), she's only intermittently successful.
The TB was dramatic, if poorly played, but the latter stages of the 2nd set saw both players progressively and simultaneously raising their games, allowing for some of the least bad tennis of the day.
Day two may be posted tomorrow or not at all.