The Australian Open grind never sleeps. After last night’s surprisingly excellent day of tennis marked by a near upset from Mackenzie Mcdonald, an insane Wozniacki comeback, a disastrous service game in the third from Denis Shapovalov, and a really entertaining Nadal match, we are back with more tennis.
As always, you can watch on Watch ESPN or ESPN2. It’s extremely hot in Melbourne (92 degrees Fahrenheit!), so today will be a real test for the players.
Also, have you checked our latest podcast? It’s already out of date, but our reactions to live tennis are worth mocking.
What to watch:
- Sharapova plays Sevastova in the early session, which doesn’t sound like a great matchup on paper, but trust me, it’s worth seeing. The two somehow produced two amazing three-set matches in 2017, with Sevastova upsetting Sharapova in the US Open and Sharapova winning a third set tiebreak 9-7 in Wuhan. It’s really a fun contest of contrasting styles. Sevastova is the queen of slices, drop shots and ball control. Sharapova is hitting the cover off the ball, as she’s done since age 17 at this level. Radwanska and Tsurenko should also be great matchup of contrasting styles, if you’re willing to tune off the Sharapova match.
- The early men’s matches are really bad unless you’re a fan of Dominic Thiem beating people on surfaces that are not clay. The first mens’ matches of any interest should be at 10 p.m. EST with Djokovic/Monfils, Khachanov/Del Potro and Chung/Medvedev all set to go off at the same time. The fact that Djokovic/Monfils is during the day is a complete travesty, as it’s going to be way more fun than Struff/Federer in the nightcap. I’m all in on Chung. Ben is all in on Monfils. We should be thoroughly disappointed, somehow.
- The rest of the mens’ slate is also very solid. Goffin and Benneteau should be a good match, as Benneteau recently crushed Goffin in Paris and can play some real good tennis. I expect Goffin to win, but it’ll be watchable. Donskoy/Fognini is another good matchup. Hopefully Alexander Zverev plays a little better against Peter Gojowczyk, a competent German with some nice groundstrokes.
- The marquee women’s matchups of the night session will be Ashleigh Barty and a red-hot Camila Giorgi and Simona Halep vs. Eugenie Bouchard. Halep suffered a rolled ankle against Aiava in the First Round, so her status should be closely monitored in that match.
Forget everything I said about that Sharapova/Sevastova match, Maria is going to win in a laugher. Took the first set 6-1.
(ten minutes later)
Well, Sharapova broke Sevastova to start the second and immediately proceeded to lose the next two games. Konta is somehow down a set to an American qualifier I’ve never heard of. Sam Querrey dropped the first set to Fuscovics and Thiem has somehow been broken by Denis Kudla (back on serve with Thiem). That’s a wild 10 minutes.
(six minutes later)
alright the Sharapova show is back.
I can’t stop laughing at Dominic Thiem right now. He was up 5-3, lost 3 straight games, broke back, went up in the breaker, then lost two set points and the set to DENIS KUDLA. Also, Konta is on the verge of getting knocked out. Sharapova has failed to serve out the match and is now down 5-6 to Sevastova. It’s all happening.
Sharapova won in a tense breaker. Kudla is still up on Thiem even though Kudla looks like he is being baked alive. Querrey is somehow down two sets to Fucsovics, because American tennis makes no sense anymore. Konta just saved a bevy of match points but is down 6-5 again.
Ben: Hey, I’m late to this live blog thing, because I have a job, which is honestly a bit of a bummer at this time of year.
Maria Sharapova won! That’s good for me, as I picked her to win the whole thing and she looked like she was going to drop that second set for a little bit.
Sam Querrey is down a set. American tennis is bad.
But wait, Dominic Thiem is a garbage man who should only play on clay court and is down not one but TWO sets to Dennis Kudla! Kudla’s American!
Thiem is the 5th seed because everything is stupid and only getting dumber. He’s awful on this surface.
Ben: I’m honestly just treading water until Monfils starts. There are some really good matches going on! But nothing is close to the adrenaline rush that Monfils-Djokovic is going to be. I picked Monfils, and the fact that his odds have gone from +375 to +275 in less than 30 hours is making me more confident. Let’s just get to the dang headliner already.
Tristan: Garcia and Vondrousova just played a fantastic match. Garcia was a real contender to win this tournament, and you can now argue that Vondrousova might be as well, at like 30-to-1 or something. Garcia saved three break points down 4-3 and it’s been a serve-fest since. It’s really good.
Finally, at 6-6, Garcia cranked a couple of winners and then forced a Vondrousova error to go up 7-6. The Frenchwoman served it out and has to be the favorite to get out of her section of the draw (other seeded players: Keys and Bucic-Laroni).
Tristan: Fucsovics has knocked out Querrey and Ramos-Vinolas has knocked out Smyczek, meaning that unless Kennis Dudla can close this out, Ryan Harrison will be the last American in the 2018 Australian Open. This would’ve been a fair prediction in like 2010, but as much as I dislike him, credit to Ryan for making his way up and actually performing at a decent level. Can’t say the same about the other Americans. Querrey completely imploded in the second set against Fucsovics, which cost him the entire match. Smyczek and Donaldson were just overmatched by Ramos-Vinolas, which is something that Ramos-Vinolas probably didn’t even expect.
American tennis is still in serious trouble on the men’s side. Other countries are getting their prospects deep into slams and good tournaments (see Rublev, Andrey and Shapovalov, Denis). Even South Korea has a better prospect than anyone Chung’s age in the American ranks. This is probably bad for the future. But this has already been said.
Tristan: We all saw the Kennis Dudla collapse coming, but this was a little hard to watch. Thiem finally started playing like the No. 5 player in the world and has really returned well off Kudla’s serve. The American Denis is down a break in the fifth now and it looks over.
Elsewhere, Aliaksandra Sasnovich bombed Lucic-Baroni 6-1, 6-3. Sasnovich is capable of playing amazing tennis (she made the final in Brisbane last week) and should give anyone a match in the Third Round.
Remember when I said Garbiñe Muguruza needed to have a good tournament for the WTA’s sake? She’s down 2-5 to noted pusher Su-Wei Hsieh. Needs a Wozniacki-esque comeback now.
Tristan: Pliskova 6-1, 6-1. She looks really good. The underrated thing about Pliskova is that she is quite a good returner when he wants to be. Unfortunately, she only manages to do this in low-key matches. We’ll see what she has when Safarova (probably) faces her in the Third Round.
Elsewhere, Hsieh has knocked out Muguruza. That’s not great.
Much like Monfils in this match, I’m running out of steam. I got a great Karlovic article queued up for tomorrow. Enjoy it.