We are approaching the end of the first week of the Australian Open and here is what you missed when you decided not to tune in to watch the many wonderful women’s matches that were on show:-
1. Kimiko Date-Krumm, 42 years young, ousted No. 12 seed Nadia Petrova. Granted Petrova was carrying an injury from Sydney, but she ended her 2012 season on a high, beating Agnieska Radwanska in Japan and moving up the rankings and earning the No. 12 seeding. It was the shock of the first week.
2. Madison Keys is the real deal. 17 years old and playing tennis beyond her years. Keys’ match against Tamira Paszek was something to behold. A 6-2, 6-1 drubbing of Paszek. She serves big and she hits even bigger. One to watch in 2013.
3. Victoria Azarenka is on a mission. She is playing like a No. 1 should. The in your face brazenness, which is sometimes offensive, shows that she is not afraid of what being No. 1 is and has sent out a challenge to those below her in the rankings. If you want me, come get me.
4. Sabine Lisicki played an unbelievably messy match against Caroline Wozniacki. From 3-0 in the third set, Lisicki would not win another game, losing the match in a flurry of unforced errors that left people’s mouth on the floor.
5. Laura Robson dealt a death blow to former Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova. Kvitova, leading 4-1 in the third set, would go on to lose the match 11-9 in the third. Robson, showing poise way beyond her 18 years, served the match out to love.
6. Compelling storylines. While the organizers are trying their hardest to sell the ATP No. 1’s quest to win the Australian Open 3 times in a row, (no one is buying that), the lack of depth in the men’s game shows just how much above the rest of the field the top 4 in the men’s tennis truly is (and I am not talking about Ferrer). It makes you wonder the real reason for the men constantly harping on equal prize money.
7. Which brings me to the early round matches on the women’s side. We have had 3 double bagels dished out, 2 of these by Maria Sharapova in her first 2 matches. The other double bagel was dealt by Serena Williams. While the score lines may say the opponent did not win a game, the fact remains that the intensity and focus of both women in accomplishing this goal tells a different story.
8. The WTA product is alive and well. There were lots of new faces for fans of women’s tennis to watch, below is a list of those young women who will be playing in big matches in a few years.
· Donna Vekic – Croatia – 17 –
· Eugenie Bouchard – Canada – 19 –
· Karoline Pliskova – Czech Republic – 21 –
· Krystina Pliskova – Czech Republic – 21 –
· Caroline Garcia – France – 20 –
· Timea Babos – Hungary – 20 –
· Camila Gorgi – Italy – 22 –
· Yulia Putintseva – Kazakhstan – 18 –
· Kiki Bertens – Netherlands – 22 –
· Monica Puig – Puerto Rico – 20 –
· Irina-Camelia Begu – Romania – 23 –
· Alexandra Cadantu - Romania – 23 -
· Daria Gavrilova – Russia – 19
· Bojano Jovanovski – Serbia – 22
· Aleksandra Krunic – Serbia – 20
· Jana Cepelova – Slovakia – 20
· Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino – Spain – 21
· Garbine Muguruza – Spain – 20
· Luksika Kumkhum – Thailand – 20
· Johanna Konta – United Kingdom – 21
· Laura Robson – United Kingdom – 18
· Heather Watson – United Kingdom – 21
· Madison Keys – USA – 17
· Sloane Stephens – USA – 20
Even though she has all but been forgotten and is now the butt of every first round loss, Melanie Oudin deserves special mention here. She has 1 Tour title to her name, beating Jelena Jankovic in Birmingham last season. That is a lot more than a lot of Tour veterans on either Tour can say. She all but seems to have disappeared and one only has to wonder whether that dream run to the USO quarter finals in 2009 basically destroyed her career.
There is lots to look forward to in Week 2 of the Australian Open.
· Caroline Wozniacki for all that has been written about her has made it to the second seek of this year’s first Grand Slam. She seems to have gone back to the game that took her to No.1 and she and her team looks like they have decided to abandon any thoughts of changing things up.
· Elena Vesnina is in the second week of a Major. That deserves a standing ovation.
· Sara Errani – is this the beginning of her fall after that breakout 2012 season?
· Carla Suarez-Navarro seems to be picking her game up, even though she always plays well in Australia. Hopefully, she will not disappear as she usually does.
All in all I think this first week of the Australian Open has been superb for the ladies. The top 3 in women’s tennis (and Radwanska) have shown that if you want to beat them you have to come prepared to win.