First Round Nerves

Jan 17, 2011

It’s day one at the Australian Open 2011, and some players have earnt the right to relax a little after a first round performance, whilst some are yet to face their first challenges.

Andy Murray has had to admit that he hasn’t planned tactics against Slovakia’s Karol Beck. He faces the Slovakian, ranked 101st in the world, in the first round tomorrow. Beck was once number 36 in the world, and so Andy Murray hasn’t been given the easiest of first round tests. With his experience, it seems surprising that Murray has publicly said he has few pre-planned tactics, instead saying that he will ‘work it all out’ on the court. This just adds to the worry of British fans; his coach Alex Corretja hasn’t travelled to Melbourne with Murray, leaving him with just his mother and hitting partner for support and advice. There’s also the likelihood that, with the Australian rains continuing, he could be playing under the roof, which has played havoc with his game before.

Roger Federer made his way through the first round, barely breaking a sweat (does he ever?) to beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-1 6-1 6-3. He has a tough opponent in Gilles Simon in the next round, but with Federer looking comfortable and determined to get his 17th Grand Slam title, I think it might be a while before someone truly gives him some trouble.

Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic, Fernando Verdasco, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco and Viktor Troiki also made it through to the second round in the men’s side of things, with impressive wins over their opponents. Djokovic is coming off the high of having been part of the winning Serbian Davis Cup team, so if he keeps his sunny personality throughout the tournament and combines it with the physicality he displayed in his first match, he could be a real contender.

Although British fans may be a little uneasy about Murray’s trajectory through the tournament, some fears have been calmed over the British women’s performances.  Elena Baltacha beat Jamie Hampton 3-6 6-4 7-5 in the opening match, and now faces the daunting challenge that is Justine Henin. Anne Keothavong also got through to the second round, and it’s her first victory at the Australian Open’s main draw.

Caroline Wozniacki had a bit of a shaky start, but held on to her nerve to beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina to win through to the second round.  She looks set to stay within the top rankings if she gets to the semi-finals, and the 20 year old will be itching to get her hands on a Grand Slam for the first time. It will be a comfort for Wozniacki to know that there is a women’s player who knows a lot about winning Grand Slams who has also had a rough start. Venus Williams hasn’t played since the US Open in September, and started off the match with some nerves and rusty play. She managed to overcome it to get to the second round though, where she plays Sandra Zahlavova. Her sister Serena is still absent with a foot injury.

Also to go through to the second round were Justine Henin, Francesca Schiavone, Marion Bartoli, Chanelle Scheppers, Yanina Wickmayer, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Li Na.

Tomorrow Rafael Nadal will have his first test, but I think it’s safe for even me to make the prediction of a sure win. Andy Murray’s match stands out as the most interesting, and no doubt the other men’s competitors will also be taking an interest. Once he get the first-round demons off his back, however, maybe he can finally make a Grand Slam title his own. Obviously Nadal, Roger, and every other male player has other ideas, but Britain keep their fingers crossed.

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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