WEATHER at both ends of the spectrum gave players a taste of the ‘four seasons in one day’ for Melbourne, with scorching heat, followed by rain forced delays and suspended contests. Here is a quick look at what did go down on day two.
- Epic tennis. There were some absolute thrillers on both the men’s and women’s sides of the draw, with the Round of 128 rarely providing too many nail-biters but day two did just that. There were nine matches that went to five (men’s) and three (women’s) sets, with a number of contests either suspended and could just get there, or yet to be played.
- It was a glorious day for the Aussies despite a shaky start with Jaimee Fourlis bowing out early. Kimberly Birrell, Alexei Popyrin, Alex de Minaur all won, with Thanasi Kokkinakis also in a great position prior to his match being suspended.
- In one of the most unusual day’s play in Grand Slam history, players were forced to have their matches suspended due to the excess heat policy in the afternoon as temperatures tipped into the late 30s. After it cooled down, they returned to the court, only for it to rain and many to be suspended for a second time. As it stands there were a host of incomplete matches due to low light by the nighttime.
- Though there were a number of tight contests, there were just as many blowouts. Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was arguably the most disappointing on day two, with the talented Russian bowing out in just 55 minutes, in a 6-0 6-1 loss to Camila Giorgi. Russian 19th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova rolled Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure 6-2 6-1 in 52 minutes in the other match to not last an hour.
- Popyrin was the talk of the town for the Aussies, needing five sets to finally overcome Chun-Hsin Tseng in a late night match on John Cain Arena. Trailing two sets to one, Popyrin got ahead by winning the fourth set – and third tiebreaker – then cruised to the finish line, 4-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-1 in four hours and 26 minutes.
- Second seed Ons Jabeur is a fan favourite and one of the tournament favourites, but she was in real trouble throughout her first two sets against Slovenian Tamara Zidansek. After trading blows throughout the first set, Jabeur closed it out in a tiebreaker, before dropping the second set to level the match. Luckily for the Tunisian, she steadied to run out the match comfortably in the end, 7-6 4-6 6-1.
- Local wildcard Kimberly Birrell looked initially in trouble against experienced 31st seed Kaia Kanepi, but somehow found a way, grinding out a win in the second set tiebreaker to level the match, then like Popyrin played the tennis of her life to run out a 3-6 7-6 6-1 in two hours and 31 minutes.
COMEBACK OF THE DAY:
- It might not gain the coverage of many Aussie matches, but American Michael Mmoh quietly rose from the dead thanks to a fortunate match delay. Trailing two sets to love and 6-6 in the third set tiebreaker, Mmoh faced match point after losing his sole serve returning hours later. French qualifier Laurent Lokoli had never won a Grand Slam main draw match coming into the contest, but had a chance to serve for match point, but double faulted. Mmoh won the last three points of the set to close it out, then won the fourth and went a break up in the fifth. One could not help but feel Lokoli’s chance may have slipped.
MATCH OF THE DAY:
- Few could disagree that on quality, Brit Andy Murray‘s five-set win over Italian 13th seed Matteo Berrettini was a must-watch. Racing out to a two sets to love lead, Murray then watched his lead evaporate as Berrettini won a tight fourth set 9-7 in the tiebreaker. Then at 5-4 up, Berrettini had the chance to win the match upon approaching the net, but a relatively simple groundstoke went into the net. That proved costly as Murray won the fifth set tiebreaker 10-6, and the match, 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 7-6 in four hours and 49 minutes, the longest match of the opening two days.