It’s January and that means it’s also time for the first tennis major of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne. I’ve been so distracted over the past week-and-a-half trying to keep up with all the games in between and around working and shooting high school sports. Missed several ladies games because of Mondays morning early meetings, but was able to catch back up with the tournament at lunch and again later in the evenings.
You have to love cable; I do anyway. Tennis Channel and ESPN2 are doing a bang-up job putting as many games on the air as they can. Week one had some early departures for several ranked favorites and some up-and-coming players came out playing for blood and created some major upsets. Italian Francesca Sciavonne was upset and Aussie Samantha Stosur lost in the first round. The U.S. men are already toast with Andy Roddick having to pull out of his much-anticipated match with Lleyton Hewitt on Thursday night in week one after straining a groin/hamstring. That also put the kibosh on the equally anticipated odd-couple pairing of Roddick and Serena Williams in mixed doubles. The pair was looking to make this a stepping stone to the Olympics this upcoming summer. Roddick is now in question and Williams doesn’t have the requirements after sitting out because of an injury late last year. Mardy Fish also got eliminated way before anyone expected. USA’s final hope, John Isner, took Feliciano Lopez to five sets on opening week Friday and also lost. Having to play five sets in the early rounds certainly is not preferable, but Isner has made quite a name for himself over the last year again after his record-breaking mark of 11 hours five minutes against Nicolas Mahut during the 2010 Wimbledon tournament that took two days to complete. His future is certainly bright and he made it through the third round of the Open this time around.
Favorites still alive include Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who was taken to three sets in his third-round game last Friday. Not something Rodge was too happy about, but when you go in expecting to walk over a lesser opponent, sometimes that game plan can come back to bite you in the butt. Speaking of butts, I still have a hard time watching Nadal play and it has nothing to do with his tennis skills. He has this really annoying and distracting habit of digging his underwear out of his crack before EVERY serve.
Where that bizarre habit came from, I don’t know, but it BUGS me. Just as annoying are the couple of ladies who have broken the sound barrier with their screeching during play. Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are the two most annoying. This time around, the crowds are imitating them. I played tennis in high school, and way before tennis rackets became more powerful! There is no need for any extra noise to come out of any player unless they have fallen to the ground. If you happen to follow and watch tennis on TV, just watch the opponents— the majority don’t make a peep. Sharapova has taken unwanted criticism for her screeching because she reportedly doesn’t do it in practice sessions. Interesting. She still sounds like she’s killing someone on court. Thank goodness for the mute button.
Serena Williams was upset by Elenia Makarova Monday and Ana Ivanovic lost to Petra Kivitova during Sunday’s telecasts. Novak Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and many of the ova, nova, sova, kovas on the men’s and women’s side are still in the hunt. Several more upstarts are looking to kick several more top names to the curb.
When I filed this story on Tuesday, Kim Clijsters had upset No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Sharpova was still in contention and Azarenka was going to elicit more crowd banter when she took on Clijsters in the quarterfinals. A Federer/Nadal quarterfinal has been set and Djokovic was to take on David Ferrer, while Andy Murray was to collide with Nishikorji. I got lost in the days and times on these after falling asleep during the Clijsters/Wozniacki match on Monday night.