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Home   News   This week in tennis: Aus Open 2017 begins

This week in tennis: Aus Open 2017 begins

Jan 21, 2017
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada
filed in:

For tennis fans, January is the real “greatest time of year” because of the season starting and the Australian Open. Over 300 players are in action at the first Grand Slam of 2017 and we know it’s challenging to watch 16 courts at the same time, so here are the major highlights to recap the first week of this year’s Aussie Open.

But first thing’s first, let’s us focus on a great moment that happened before play began!

Highlighted matches

Did you know: Lucie Safarova saved NINE match points in her first round match against Yanina Wickmayer? The 2015 Roland Garros runner-up survived intense heat to win the match 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1 after two hours and six minutes. What was Safarova’s reward for such a thrilling win? Serena Williams in the second round. ?

Speaking of Serena, she and Belinda Bencic delivered some great quality in the first round. The pair last faced each other in the 2015 Rogers Cup semifinals, where 18-year-old Bencic came back from a set down to defeat Williams. This was probably the most anticipated first round matches and they put on a show. Williams broke, Bencic broke back. Williams served for the match, Bencic upped the intensity and broke her again. The 19-year-old Swiss was down 0-5 in the second set and fought back to 3-5 before Williams put the match to rest once and for all.

Onto the men’s side, revenge was served. In 2015 Andreas Seppi was two sets up on Nick Kyrgios in fourth round action before the fiery Australian charged back for the win. Kyrgios won 8-6 in the fifth set. In 2017, Kyrgios was the one in front and Seppi was the one storming back from two sets down to win their second round encounter 10-8 in the fifth. The two had combined for 44 aces and 114 winners in the three hour, eight minute match. The score and stats say it all – INTENSE! Click here to watch the highlights.

You want intensity? Genie Bouchard vs. Coco Vandeweghe in the third round was just that! With some big shots, a bunch of high-pressure moments, and a third set that went the distance, it was no doubt one of the stand-out matches from the first week.

Finally, it was a legends versus young guns showdown in the third round between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev. The 19-year-old German held a two-sets-to-one lead over the 9th seed and people could sense the upset, but former champion Nadal roared back to take the match in five. Fans of the Big 4 got to see Rafa back in top form and playing his best tennis, while fans of the ATP “Next Gen” realized just how close this younger generation is to taking over tennis.

 

Canadians in action ??

Vasek Pospisil, Steven Diez, Peter Polansky, Francoise Abanda, and Aleksandra Wozniak were the Canadians that started their Australian Open quest in the qualifying draw. Polansky advanced to the main draw as a lucky loser, and all was well in his first round match against World No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta. Polansky was 2-sets to one up before the heat tampered with his game and he retired in the fourth set.

Genie Bouchard was the lone Canadian woman in the draw this year. She made one round better than 2016, cruising to the third round this time before falling to Coco Vandeweghe in three tough sets. Bouchard is now 5-3 to begin 2017 and, what’s worth noting, all of those wins came in straight sets. Two of her three losses went to three sets, so Bouchard is putting up some big fights to kick-off the year. Genie’s start to the 2017 season has been encouraging and many have said she appears to be “back on track” to the top of the game.

With some of the shots she was producing, we think she’s well on her way back to top form, too!

Milos Raonic’s Australian Open campaign thus far can really be summed up in one tweet…

The 2016 semifinalist won his first two matches in straight sets and is the highest seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw following Djokovic’s upset. Seriously, defeating trickster Dustin Brown and Sydney champion Gilles Muller in straight sets has been nothing short of impressive from Raonic to begin his Australian Open campaign. From there he took down World No. 25 Gilles Simon, who had the infamous performance last year against Djokovic when he made the then-World No. 1 hit 100 unforced errors in the fourth round. Raonic did not fall victim to such a performance this time around and has breezed into the fourth round.

In doubles action, Daniel Nestor and partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin were seeded eighth. The pair have won three titles together, the biggest one coming in Cincinnati in 2015. There are nine Grand Slam titles between the two, but they still search for their first Major title together. That search will be delayed until Roland Garros as they were eliminated in the second round by Marc Polmans and Andrew Whittington.

On the bright side – there are five Roland Garros titles between the two ?. We may not have to wait much longer for that elusive Grand Slam title.

Gabriela Dabrowski partnered with Michaella Krajicek in women’s doubles and the pair posted a convincing 1R victory over Aleksandra Krunic and Oksana Kalashnikova 6-0, 6-4. Despite the strong start, the Canadian-Dutch pair fell in the second round to Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez in a tight match that last just over two hours.  Dabrowski is entered in the mixed doubles draw with World No. 28 in doubles Rohan Bopanna.

 

Upsets

It’s practically tradition that the first round of a Grand Slam have a few major upsets (not really, but it happens so often that it’s basically routine). This year is no exception to the norm and we saw some big names fall in the first two days of action.

The most shocking 1R defeat was perhaps World No. 4 Simona Halep, who has now lost in the first round the last two years in a row.

Despite being the World No. 3 and a two-time semifinalist in Melbourne, Aga Radwanska was considered a “dark horse” by many. We will have to wait another year to find out if “The Ninja” can win Oz – She was upset by World No. 79 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the second round.

Upsets don’t always refer to seeded players, however. This is one “upset” that grabbed the attention of everyone: Ashleigh “Ash” Barty (world no. 223) defeated Annika Beck (world no. 50) in the first round to win her first Grand Slam main draw match since the 2013 US Open!

John Isner has a tough streak working against him in 5-setters, and it continued when he faced Misha Zverev in the second round. Like Nick Kyrgios, 19th seed Isner blew a two set lead and lost 9-7 in the fifth.

And perhaps the most shocking result thus far (and may stay that way all year)… World No. 119 and wildcard Denis Istomin stunned World No. 2 and 6-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the second round ?. Istomin had only beaten 1 Top 10 opponent in 33 matches prior to upsetting the defending champion and it was a result that stunned everyone, even Istomin.

 

History has been made

It wasn’t exactly John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon, but Ivo Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos made Australian Open history in R1. 108 aces between the two and just over five hours spent on Court 19, Karlovic and Zeballos recorded the longest fifth set at the Aus Open. The final set and the ace count were jaw-dropping stats.

While Karlovic and Zeballos recorded huge numbers, Richard Gasquet had no time for such things and recorded a different sort of history. ?

17-year-old Australian teenager Alex De Minaur recorded his own historic win in Melbourne. The World No. 301 won his first Grand Slam match in five sets, saving a match point en route to his victory over No. 87 Gerald Melzer.

 

LOL in Melbourne!

“Rafa” started the tournament by giving an exclusive interview… that is Nadal, right? ? A+ impression right there!

Novak Djokovic welcomed Roger Federer back to the tennis court by helping him out in a fun Kids Tennis Day game on Rod Laver Arena…

When you find out you’re playing your best friends in doubles…

Venus fought early struggles in her opening match against Kateryna Kozlova. It was the second time in a row that the 7-time Major champion faced the young Ukrainian at a Grand Slam, and the second time experience overpowered youth. When asked how she does it, Venus had the perfect response!

#SLEEPISFORTHEWEAK

Andy Roddick has an early contender for Troll Tweet of the Year when he pointed out a big typo from ESPN!

Arthur Ashe Stadium is only a short trip away from Rod Laver Arena and the rest of Melbourne Park, right?

ICYMI – Andy Murray is now SIR Andy Murray and these Knights embarked on a long journey to cheer Sir Murray on. ?

 

A look ahead

Will you be a member of “Sleep is for the weak” until the Australian Open finals in one week’s time? Click here to read our Australian Open ‘survival kit’ (and avoid the struggles that Madison Keys faces ?).

Andy Murray will remain the World No. 1 after the Australian Open regardless if he wins it or not due to Novak Djokovic’s early exit. Murray has been the top ranked player since November 2016 and will continue to carry that title into February.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams still has a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber.

First-time Major contenders continue to look promising in the draw. Will Karolina Pliskova or Johanna Konta win their maiden Grand Slam trophy, or will someone like Serena, Kerber or Garbine Muguruza win Oz? Can Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov or Kei Nishikori stop Murray on his quest for his first Australian Open title, or can Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal cause a plot twist?

The Australian Open continues until January 29 on TSN.