Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Cirstea beats Stosur in Australia

Sorana Cirstea
Sam Stosur was the only seed to fall at the first hurdle in the bottom half of the women's draw with a disappointing 7-6 6-3 loss to the Romanian world number 59, Sorana Cirstea.  By all accounts, Cirstea played her best match in years and reignited the excitement that many had felt when she reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in 2009 after beating Jelena Jankovic.  A key statistic I noted was that Cirstea made more than 3 times the amount of net approaches that Stosur did and had a much higher success rate of 88% (14 of 16) highlighting her attacking intent.  I have previously thought that Cirstea lacks up a back-up plan if her game is not flowing so she will look to prove her credentials and follow up this big win in the second round where she will play Urzsula Radwanska.  This was a big upset for me and one that I did not see coming.  It is interesting to note that this is the fourth consecutive Grand Slam where the previous Grand Slam winner (in this case, Stosur at the US Open) has failed to get past the second round.

Although no other seeds fell on day two, there were a number of a stern tests.  The biggest scare was for the number 7 seed, Vera Zvonareva who had to fight for 3 hours 15 minutes to get past Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-7 7-6 6-3.  Dulgheru hit more winners during the match (37 to 25), which I find rather incredible considering the Romanian is a relatively defensive player.  Zvonareva will have to improve in leaps and bounds after this error-fest and will be tested against the powerful, Lucie Hradecka in the second round.  Svetlana Kuznetsova also needed three sets to get past Chanelle Scheepers, but she rolled in the third set with some stunning forehand blows in a 6-3 3-6 6-0 victory.  Scheepers won five straight games in the second set and was playing extremely well and consistent from the back of the court.  Her level dipped slightly in the third set, but the main issue was a number of double faults at crucial stages of the set, which Kuznetsova managed to capitalise on.  The number 29 seed, Nadia Petrova won by the same scoreline as Kuznetsova as she beat the qualifier Andrea Hlavackova.

Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki struggled throughout her match against Stefanie Voegele, but somehow managed to find a way to win in a scrappy 6-2 4-6 6-4 win.  She is likely to be tested in the next round by Shahar Peer, who beat her in Cincinnati last year.  In other matches, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova eased into the second round with comprehensive wins; Kvitova lost the first two games, but won the next twelve to beat Vera Dushevina, and Sharapova bettered that by beating Gisela Dulko, 6-0 6-1.  Serena Williams beat Tamira Paszek, 6-3 6-2 in the night session; she made a lot of errors, but more winners.  There were also straight set wins for Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kaia Kanepi, Angelique Kerber, Marion Bartoli, Maria Kirilenko and Zheng Jie, who was impressively clincial in disposing of the talented Madison Keys, 6-2 6-1.

Radek Stepanek was the only seed to fall in the mens tournament as he was comprehensively beaten by a stunning performance from Nicolas Mahut, 7-5 7-5 6-3.  Andy Murray was tested as he lost the opening set of his first round match to Ryan Harrison, but he came back to win in 4 sets.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also came through in 4 sets in a competitive contest with Denis Istomin, 6-4 3-6 6-2 7-5.  Novak Djokovic was in imperious form as he picked up two bagels with an easy 6-2 6-0 6-0 victory against Paolo Lorenzi.  There were also straight set wins for David Ferrer, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils and the talented Canadian, Milos Raonic who disposed of Filippo Volandri, 6-4 6-0 6-2.  The second round gets underway tomorrow and below are a few tips to watch out for...

Womens 2nd round tips: Watch out for Mona Barthel who I fully expect to beat the 32 seed, Petra Cetkovska.  I also fancy Peng Shuai to be severely tested in her second round match with Iveta Benesova.  Benesova has won their last two encounters, although they were several years ago now and is 15/8 to cause the upset.

Mens 2nd round tips: I think the seeds that are in most danger tomorrow are Nicolas Almagro and Stanislas Wawrinka.  Almagro is up against the talented Bulgarian, Grigor Dimitrov (11/10 to win tomorrow) and Wawrinka will play the late night match on the Margaret Court Arena against Marcos Baghdatis, which promises to be an exciting match.

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