Australian Open 2010: Andrew's reports (preview + 1r)
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
2. UK TV-alert
3. First-round draw
4. Lucie afářová preview
5. Order of play for Tuesday
Master thread for my Australian Open 2010 reports:
Where to look at many players:
Where to search for specific players:
* Getty Images
2. UK TV-alert
The evening-sessions on Rod Laver Arena will be televised on BBC Red Button from 08:00 GMT each day of the tournament (digital viewers press Red or tune into Freeview 301).
This coverage will be followed by highlights on a continuous loop (from 17:00 GMT, or 19:00 GMT on Freeview, with daily variations).
Additionally, all Andy Murray's matches will be televised live on either BBC 1 or BBC 2 (the first such programme was on BBC 2 on Monday). Bits of other matches might be shown in these programmes if Murray's match starts late or finishes early.
There will also be tennis on BBC 1 at 13:00 GMT on Saturday 23rd January.
Daily details of the BBC Red Button schedule:
3. First-round draw
[WC] wild card
[LL] lucky loser
[EF] member of my Eternal Fanship
[DF] member of my demi-fanship
(* ?x v ?y) I prefer ?x to win
(my loyalty is to ?x) I like both players, but prefer ?x
(my Reason says ?x, but my Passion says ?y) I prefer ?x in tennis-terms, but want ?y to win because she's more attractive
(my Passion says ?x, but my Reason says ?y) I find ?x more attractive, but want ?y to win because I prefer her game
3.1 Top quarter: Vera Zvonarëva
* Urszula Radwańska v SERENA WILLIAMS  (dawaj Ula!)
* Petra Kvitová v Jill Craybas
* Renata Voráčová [Q] v Andrea Petković
* Ayumi Morita [s] v CARLA SUÁREZ NAVARRO  (ganbatte Ayumi!)
* SABINE LISICKI [21,DF] v Petra Martić (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* Varvara Lepchenko v Alberta Brianti (go Varvara!)
* Kristina Barrois v Akgul Amanmuradova
* SAMANTHA STOSUR  v Han,Xinyun [Q] (go Sam!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [9,EF] v Kristína Kučová [s] (my loyalty is to VERA)
* Iveta Beneová v Chang,Kai-Chen (pojďme Iveta!)
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Zuzana Kučová [Q] (¡vamos Gisela!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [20,DF] v Shenay Perry [Q] (ajde Ana!)
* ELENA VESNINA  v Tathiana Garbin (davai Elena!)
* Yaroslava Shvedova v Kimiko Date Krumm (davai Yaroslava!)
* Stefanie Vögele v Melinda Czink (hopp Stefanie!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [7,DF] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro [WC] (davai Vika!)
3.2 Second quarter: Daniela Hantuchová & Lucie afářová
* CAROLINE WOZNIACKI  v Aleksandra Wozniak (kom så Caro!)
* Tamira Paszek v Julia Görges (my Passion says Julia, but my Reason says Tamira)
* Tsvetana Pironkova [DF] v Galina Voskoboeva (aide Tsvetana!)
* Lucie Hradecká [s] v SHAHAR PE'ER  (my Passion says Shahar, but my Reason says Lucie)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [22,EF] v Viktoriya Kutuzova (my loyalty is to DANIELA)
* Jarmila Groth [WC] v Sofia Arvidsson [Q]
* Ágnes Szávay v Stéphanie Dubois (Ágnes's sexier body just edges Stéphanie's prettier face for me )
* Marina Eraković v LI,NA  (go Marina!)
* Tatjana Malek v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA  (komm jetzt Tatjana!)
* Melanie Oudin v Alla Kudryavtseva
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Julie Coin (go Alicia!)
* Alizé Cornet v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE  (allez Alizé!)
* Karolina prem [DF] v ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES  (my loyalty is to Karolina)
* Casey Dell'Acqua [WC] v Anastasiya Yakimova
* Arantxa Parra Santonja [s] v Sybille Bammer (¡vamos Arantxa!)
* Lucie afářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS  (POJĎME LUCIE!!)
3.3 Third quarter
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA  won
* Justine Henin [WC] won
* Sorana Cîrstea v Olivia Rogowska [WC] (hai Sorana!)
* ALISA KLEYBANOVA  won
* Ekaterina Makarova v Virginie Razzano (davai Ekaterina!)
* Klára Zakopalová v Sara Errani (pojďme Klára!)
* Yanina Wickmayer [Q] won
* FLAVIA PENNETTA [12,DF] won
* KIM CLIJSTERS  won
* Sesil Karatantcheva [WC] v Tamarine Tanasugarn, 1-6 6-5*
* Chan,Yung-Jan v Kaia Kanepi
* Edina Gallovits v NADIA PETROVA 
* Sania Mirza [DF] v ARAVANE REZAÏ  (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Olga Govortsova v Angelique Kerber [Q] (davai Olga!)
* Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won
* SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA  won
3.4 Bottom quarter
* Monica Niculescu [s] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ  (hai Monica!)
* Katie O'Brien v Patricia Mayr (go Katie!)
* Yuliana Fedak [Q] v Polona Hercog (my loyalty is to Yuliana)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO  v Kathrin Wörle [Q] (davai Alyona!)
* MARÍA JOSÉ MARTÍNEZ SÁNCHEZ  won
* Zheng,Jie won
* Sandra Záhlavová v Coco Vandeweghe [WC]
* MARION BARTOLI [11,DF,S] v Rossana de los Ríos (allez Marion!)
* Maria Kirilenko [DF] won
* Yvonne Meusburger [Q] won
* Roberta Vinci v Anna-Lena Grönefeld (forza Roberta!)
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVÁ  v Vania King, 3-6 2-1* (15/30*)
* KATERYNA BONDARENKO  won
* Elena Baltacha won
* Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v Regina Kulikova [Q], 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (10/12) *4-3
* DINARA SAFINA  won
4. Lucie afářová preview
Lucie afářová is one of the most supremely talented tennis-players I've ever seen. She's a fearless, ambitious shotmaker who loves to go for broke, and hits many spectacular winners. Her athleticism is amazing: she runs like the wind. Every time I see her play, she is a joy to watch.
In the quarter-finals of the Australian Open 2007, Lucie's average groundstroke-speed was measured at 71mph: 1mph faster than her opponent Nicole Vaidiová, and only 2mph slower than men's #2 Rafael Nadal. And she achieves such speeds with flairsome power: she may be only 5'9" with a light frame, but her groundstrokes are flat and she hits them with superb timing.
Lucie has a swinging lefty serve, and frequently uses it to set up a groundstroke-winner on the third stroke of the rally. She also has Seles-like returns of serve: she takes them early, often standing up to 1½ metres inside the baseline to receive. She's very aggressive off the second serve.
Lucie has wonderful left-handed angles, and she can mix up the pace with very short, softly-spun crosscourt forehands and backhands to the sidelines, which are a speciality of hers.
After her slump of 2008, Lucie enjoyed improved form in 2009 - although still not up to the standards of 2007 - compiling a 36:25 singles-record, and rising back up the rankings from #65 to #40 (her career-high is #22 from August 2007).
Lucie reached the quarter-finals of Brisbane 2009, and the third round of the Australian Open, where she lost 3-6 6-2 6-1 to #17 Marion Bartoli after leading 6-3 *2-0.
Lucie reached the quarter-finals of Memphis, Monterrey and Barcelona, and the third round of Madrid. In the second round of the French Open, she had a match-point against Venus Williams before losing 6-7 6-2 7-5.
Some mediocre results followed, then Lucie's form improved as she scored 6-3 7-6 wins over #24 Kaia Kanepi in the first round of Los Angeles, and #30 Iveta Beneová in the first round of Cincinnati.
She then won five matches to reach the quarter-finals of Toronto as a qualifier, with main-draw wins over #26 Kaia Kanepi, #11 Ana Ivanović, and #25 Zheng,Jie. But she lost in the first round of the US Open to #20 Patty Schnyder after leading *5/2 in the third-set tiebreak.
Lucie reached the final of Québec City with four wins over players ranked no higher than #91, but disappointingly missed out on a title for 2009 as she lost 4-6 6-3 7-5 to Melinda Czink despite leading 6-4 1-1* (40/30*), and 5-4* (15/0*) in the third set.
Lucie beat #11 Ana Ivanović again en route to the quarter-finals of Tokyo, and also reached the quarter-finals of Linz. But her season ended with the ignominy of a loss to #290 Romina Oprandi in the first round of ITF Ortisei.
Lucie started 2010 with a quarter-final at Brisbane: reached by beating #65 Anna-Lena Grönefeld 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 6-1, and thrashing #34 Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3 6-1. She then lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in a see-saw match: 6-1 0-6 6-4. Lucie lost just nine points in the second set, hitting clean winners all over the court!
In the first round of Hobart, Lucie retired with a left-pectoral-muscle strain at 2-6 7-6 2-3* against #31 Kateryna Bondarenko. The week before the Australian Open, I can only hope that this was a precautionary retirement.
4.1 First-round preview
* Lucie afářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS 
A very tough draw for Lucie against the seven-times Major champion, who leads her 3:0 head-to-head:
- 2006 Rome: Williams won 6-1 6-4
- 2009 Rome: Williams won 6-2 4-6 6-2
- 2009 French Open: Williams won 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5
And all these meetings came on clay, which is Lucie's best surface and Venus's worst.
Lucie did have a match-point against Venus in the second round of the French Open 2009. With Venus serving to stay in the match at *4-5 in the third, Lucie hit two searing crosscourt backhand winners for 0/30, but was desperately unlucky to lose the next two points. She had the match-point at 30/40, but Williams saved it with a one-two punch.
Venus's career seems in decline, seeing as she hasn't won a Major since Wimbledon 2008, a Major outside of Wimbledon since the US Open 2001, and will be 30 by the time Wimbledon comes round again. But she still compiled an impressive 38:16 singles-record in 2009, and maintained her year-end #6 ranking from 2008 to 2009.
Venus can be surprisingly vulnerable at the Australian Open - like last year, when she lost in the second round to #46 Carla Suárez Navarro 2-6 6-3 7-5 after leading 5-2* in the third set. So what can a #41-ranked Lucie do to her this year?
Venus's title-victory at Dubai 2009 goes some way to the high ranking that she still has. She beat #4 Elena Dementieva and #1 Serena Williams in that tournament, and followed it up with an International title at Acapulco, thrashing #15 Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-2 in the final.
Venus reached the semi-finals of Miami and Rome, beating #11/12-ranked Agnieszka Radwańska in both tournaments - 6-1 6-2 at Rome. After surviving the aforementioned French Open skirmish with Lucie, she folded 6-0 6-4 to #31 Ágnes Szávay in the third round the next day.
Venus once again reached the final of her beloved Wimbledon, making a mockery of Dinara Safina's #1 ranking by thrashing the Majorless one 6-1 6-0 in the semis. But she lost the final 7-6 6-2 to #2 Serena Williams.
Venus thrashed #4 Elena Dementieva 6-0 6-1 in the semi-finals of Stanford, but lost the final to #14 Marion Bartoli. She lost 6-0 0-6 6-4 to unranked Kim Clijsters in the fourth round of the US Open. She lost to #40/39 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second rounds of both Tokyo and Beijing.
Venus went 1:2 in the round-robin phase of the season-ending championships at Doha (the win coming against #3 Svetlana Kuznetsova), but due to the vagaries of the round-robin system, she still qualified for the semi-finals - and beat #8 Jelena Janković before losing the final 6-2 7-6 to #2 Serena Williams.
Venus has prepared for the Australian Open 2010 with a series of exhibitions. She lost 6-3 6-4 to #14 Maria Sharapova at Hua Hin, Thailand. She beat #4 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 (just one set, due to rain) in a women's singles rubber of the Hong Kong Tennis Classic semi-finals, and beat #35 Zheng,Jie 6-3 6-2 in a women's singles rubber of the Silver-Group final in Hong Kong.
Lucie's chances are not good, but if she can rediscover the magic that beat Kim Clijsters 6-0 in that second set at Brisbane, then she just might get another match-point against Venus - and this time convert it!
5. Order of play for Tuesday
Hisense Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: FERNANDO VERDASCO  v Carsten Ball [WC]
WS 1r: Monica Niculescu [s] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ 
MS 1r: JO-WILFRIED TSONGA  v Sergiy Stakhovsky
WS 1r: Lucie afářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS 
MS 1r: NOVAK ÐOKOVIĆ  v Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Dr. Andrew Broad
Last edited by andrewbroad; Feb 1st, 2010 at 05:06 PM.
Reason: edit Title