The Australian summer heat that year on year provides an added challenge for the world’s best in Melbourne was out in full force today. As well as causing many to wilt, it brought with it too the unwelcome debate of favourable scheduling for some players; it seems that some people cannot accept they may not be the biggest draw right now.
Onto the on-court goings on, and some markers were laid down today by those in contention as a series of seriously impressive performances were joined by some considerable shocks.
Garbine Muguruza can go a wandering sometimes, but today was in a constant state of shock against the unconventional but deftly devastating Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei. In a perfect showcase of accuracy over power, those awkward little backswings of the veteran outfoxed the former world number one time and time again.
Joining Garbine in the upsets was Jo Konta, although this is no surprise given the overhype placed on her poor shoulders by the British press – talk about heaps of expectation with no foundation – Konta needed to show a lot more consistency at the tale end of last year to warrant such spotlight. We also lost Petkovic and Vesnina.
This half of the women’s draw is saturated with talent, and all of the big names won very convincingly today in a glittering advert for the strength of the women’s game without the Williams sisters. Halep dismantled the still recovering Bouchard, Kerber dismissed talented Vekic in similar fashion whilst Pliskova, Sharapova, Keyes and Safarova all looked excellent. Radwanska and Garcia are through too, but needed three to clinch it.
With poor Stan (a premature return to the tour in hindsight) the exception, it was business as usual for the men, albeit with some performances more convincing than others.
Again we have to mention Djokovic as the man of the moment who prevailed against the toughest mix of opponent (a still dangerous Monfils) and 40 degree conditions. Federer came through in straight sets but was a tad rusty, and his next opponent Gasquet looked all the better sweeping through to the loss of just 6 games.
Elsewhere, it was harder for DelPo, Zverev, Berdych, Querrey (looking a real force again) and Fognini who all needed four sets today. Dominic Thiem needed the full five to prevail.
But in our highest seed exit in David Goffin (losing in another four set encounter), we also have our hero of the day in Julien Benneteau, the endearing Frenchman who retires this year continues to warm the heart with his swashbuckling swinging.