It's long...you've been warned.
My first port of call today was to Vodafone Arena (I have a Grounds Pass, so basically I can go anywhere except Rod Laver), to catch a bit of Justine...so that's where I'll begin
Justine Henin-Hardenne v Myriam Casanova
Sought refuge from the emerging sun in the shad at V/fone. Watched most of the first set and it wasn’t the most spectacular match. Myriam certainly goes for her shots and is definitely a player of the future, but she goes for too much too soon (typical of a kid her age) and thus hits many errors. Justine played herself slowly into the match, breaking for 4-2 and then it was all over pretty much. She just did enough to keep herself ahead, like a true top tenner does. Justine hit some great shots, but obviously first match in, she is not going to go for broke on every point. Myriam certainly wowed the crowd on some points, so she has nothing to be ashamed of
After this did some wondering around and caught glimpses of a few other matches….
Ai Sugiyama v Angelique Widjaja
Just caught a bit of set 3. Ai seemed to have the upper hand and Angie seemed buggered. Angie wasnt hitting as hard as I know she does, but who can blame her...it was extremely hot! I like Angie, and was hoping she'd pull it off, but Ai is just too experienced in situations like this.
Nadia Petrova v Greta Arn
Nadia totally overpowered Greta. Nadia’s serve was on song and she basically blew Arn off the court. Arn played pretty terribly, but even still she really had no chance out there (and yes Im biased, Nadia is a fave of mine)
Paola Suarez v Dally Randriantefy
A pretty flat match, not surprisingly, but I wanted to see a bit of Paola, as she is a fave of mine. Dally played pretty ordinary and you can tell she would definitely feel more at home on clay. Paola played pretty well, and was a class above her. Watched the latter stages of set 2, and she was relieved to finally win that game for the match as it was getting hotter and it was starting to get to her. Paola can certainly play on this stuff, she is not just a clay courter. Mixes it up well and can hit quite flat also.
Daniela Hantuchova v Fabiola Zuluaga
Saw most of set 2, and boy Fabiola can whack that ball. From her results, a lot of people could be forgiven for thinking that she is just a claycourter, but she really does have a game that can do damage on a hardcourt. She was matching Daniela in the power department and giving as good as she got on some points. Both players were obviously bothered by the heat, but still managed to produce some great rallies. Don’t know how the 3rd set was, quality wise, cos I didn’t watch it, but Fabiola can hold her head up high. Great effort indeed. Daniela on the other hand, will need to work on her timing and cut down on some errors if she wants to progress further. At this stage, if seedings hold up, I think Venus will beat her comfortably. Hopefully, Daniela will find better form this week.
I then wanted to go to Margaret Court, and watch a bit of Anna K, but after queuing for about 20 minutes, it was looking pretty hopeless in the ‘getting a seat’ department. Had a gutful so I just said stuff it and walked off to do some more roaming…when I….
Yes, after 10 long dedicated years of fandom I got the chance to speak to her! (I patted her on the back last year, but that doesn’t count) She must have been watching Mario Ancic, and then walked past me as I was walking there to see some of his match, and she walked by and I just kind of said to myself “say something dammit!”…so after almost letting her slip through my fingers, I turned back and yelled “Iva!”…she was by herself and seemed in a good mood so I thought ‘what the hey’…she turned around and looked at this salad roll wielding freak rather suspiciously but I just told her I wished her luck for tomorrow to which she smiled and said thanks. After a rather awkward silence, I asked her if she is feeling confident and she just 'yeah yeah I feel good', and then I thought Id stop harrassing the poor girl and let her go do her thing, and told her I’ll see her play tomorrow, to which she smiled and said, 'OK cya'…..and then she left
Adriana Serra-Zanetti v Elena Likhovtseva
Part of the reason I saw some of this was, cos it had a grassy knoll on the side of the court and shade. I was hot. Anyway, not much to report here but Adriana played solid tennis and Elena was just buggered you could tell. Adriana must love Melbourne! She just saved her ranking from sliding out of the 100.
Alexandra Stevenson v Elena Baltacha
Cant remember when I saw this, but I’ll slot it in here.Very curious to see Bally in action. She looked good, wearing a green and white striped top, kind of like a Wimby top
Anyway, she was just overpowered today big time. Saw some of set 1 and Elena played horribly, missing a lot of shots, and was obviously nervous. She has a great serve, but an awkward motion (holds the ball away from the racquet). Alex was hitting well and had too much firepower. She is in good form.
Should mention, I saw some players practicing hard throughout the day. Meghann Shaughnessy was quite the practice slut today, practicing with Daniela H On Vodafone in the morning, and then Kim Clijsters later. Also saw Andre Agassi get mobbed by heaps of annoying kids (no offence to any of those annoying kids reading), and Maggie Maleeva working up a sweat with Asa Svensson. Anyway, more tennis was seen...
Evie Dominikovic v Barbara Rittner
Long match, some good, some bad! Evie certainly can be frustrating, letting leads go by & playing very defensive tennis, rather than be aggressive. But her serve was working today (it’s a big one when it goes in) and she hit a few winners too. She should have won this in 2 and is lucky to have won, really. Barbara let 4-2 in set 3, and at 4-3, Evie called the trainer (a definite ploy) and then came out with heaps of confidence. Rittner also did her part in handing the match to Evie, but anyway well done Evie, Im really happy for her
A win over Kremer wouldn't surprise me, but she'll have to lift her game to beat Anne. On an adjoining court I could hear Vanessa Webb scream in delight as she beat Sanchez Lorenzo. Good to see Vanessa win through! I only caught glimpses of it, and she did well to hang in there.
Sam Stosur v Conchita Martinez
A pretty good match! Particularly from Sam, boy did she deserve this today. A great little player, I was very impressed. She handled Conchi’s spins and moonballs (there weren’t too many of those moonballs tho) and attacked quite well, showing off a solid net game. Her double handed backhand is very good, serve is great and hard but her forehand needs a bit more work. Conchi just doesn’t look too motivated and was hitting loads of errors, but all credit to Sam. She deserved this and is a player to watch no doubt about it. Lots of her colleagues from the challenger circuit were supporting, like Sarah Stone, Gaby Baker, Nicole Sewell and Beti Sekulovski. Well done Sam, one of the highlights of the day
Anca Barna v Francesca Schiavone
For those of you that haven’t heard Francesca’s grunt (or 'eeee'), your missing out! Saw the latter stages of set 1, which Francesca took with some gutsy play. Long rallies and a grueling match, didn’t really mind who won as I like both, but great for Anca that she hung tough to win.
Nicole Pratt v Mashona Washington
Watched most of set 1, then left as we were confident Nicole would roll through. Mashona has a decent game, just is quite erratic. Anyway, to her credit she made a match out it, but Nicole too strong with the win.
Alicia Molik v Iroda Tulyaganova
Final match of a LONG day. Alicia started off in a blaze serving up a storm. But in set 2 Iroda found her range with some stinging shots. Iroda almost blew a 5-1 lead, when Alicia clawed her way back to 4-5, 30-30 on Iri’s serve. Then tragedy struck. She seemd to bounce on her ankle awkwardly and immediately went to the chair, to which the trainer was called. I had a feeling she'd call it quits after that. Anyway, she came back on to big applause, and then conceded 2 points and then just packed it in to the crowds dismay. A big hug at the net between the 2, and really this is so sad for Alicia. Not sure if its really serious (don’t think it is, not as bad as Lina last year anyway), but it really sux
Funny point during the match I should add was when Iroda, serving at 30-30 in set 2 I think it was, hit a volley that then bounced off her racket, hit her head and went over the net. The umpire then called it as Irodas point for 40-30! The crowd were stunned and booed as it was clearly interference amd Alicias point! Alicia went to argue, but then Iroda was like “no its 30-40, it hit my head” LOL. Great sportsmanship from Iroda, the crowd appreciated it. Anyway, bad luck to Alicia, it's very unfortunate
Good luck to Iroda against Lindsay.
There, that’s its