by Karen 

Whenever people ask me about my love of tennis I always tell them that I came to tennis during the toughest period of my life.  It was at a time when I had lost everything and was on the verge of checking out.   This sport has given me so much and I will lose sleep, not eat, not work and pay big bucks just to be able to watch a match. 

Last night I missed Simona Halep’s match and when I woke up this morning to hear that she had lost, especially coming on the heels of Venus’ loss I was sad. But then I saw this and realised once again why I truly love this sport. 

Zhang’s tears and her emotions hit me at a place that I thought had died.  The complete and utter love of this sport which brings out so many emotions in not only the players but in the fans as well. 

Congratulations Ms. Zhang.  You have without a doubt done yourself proud. 

This post will be updated later with match reviews and Day 3 Previews. 

The last time a top player double bagelled an opponent at the Australian Open was Sharapova, who went the first two rounds without dropping a set.  In her quarterfinal match against eventual winner Li Na, Sharapova won 4 games in 2 sets of devastating tennis played by Li Na.  Why am I saying this?   I watched Azarenka completely dismantle Van Uyvtanck, a player I thought would give Azarenka some amount of problems.  Clearly, Vika felt the same way as she came out with laser like focus and intensity, intent on sending a message to the rest of the field.  I am not quite sure what message that was, except that she was in a position to take down someone who seemed to be suffering from stage fright, and whose game, which is by no means insignificant, she could dismantle at will.
I felt sorry for Van Uyvtanck and I felt even more sympathy for her when the crowd started to encourage her and cheer that she would at least hold serve once in the match.  It was not to be as Azarenka completed the mopping up procedures by doling out a double bagel.
Azarenka looked good for me until she did the dab.  I am minded to start a petition to get rid of this ridiculous after match gesture. I have no idea what it means. Azarenka looks ridiculous doing it and it should go the way of the Petko Dance.
Venus Williams went out, fighting as she always does against Rising Star, Joanna Konta of the United Kingdom.  It was a devastating loss for us Venus fans as she not only lost ranking points (she made the quarter finals last year), but Venus who was wearing one of the better outfits of this year’s Australian Open leaves me feeling sad. Here’s hoping that Venus gets some much needed rest and fixes whatever it is that is ailing her at this time.

As expected, Misaki Doi gave Angelique Kerber all she could handle in a 3 set tussle.  

Day 3 features some really tasty matches. 

Rod Laver Sasnovich Sharapova I have not seen the Russian hit a ball.  Maybe tonight
  Williams (S) Hsieh Serena looked focused in her first round match.  She should maintain that 
  Radwanska Bouchard This one should be good
Margaret Court Bencic Babos In the battle of the young ones, I am going to go with the more experienced of the two (Bencic)
  Suarez-Navarro Sakkari Will CSN play better than she did in her first round match
  Gavrilova Kvitova Will we have a Fed Cup atmosphere for this one?
Hisense Bondarenko Kuznetsova The younger Bondarenko has been on a slow build since returning to the Tour.  She might cause Sveta some problems
  Falconi Vinci Pick em
Show Court 2 Han Putintseva Putintseva deserves to be here.  As does Han
Show Court 3 Davis Rybarikova Both women had to battle to get here.  Another pick em
  Nculescu Kulichkova Kulichkova
Court 6 Wang Friedsam The qualifier looked focused against Sloane.  Can she maintain that focus
  Mladevnovic Gibbs Mladenovic
Court 8 Gasparyan Nara Nara
  Puig Pliskova (Kr) Puig
Court 13 Konjuh Kasatkina Konjuh

 If you are a fan of the women’s game you should definitely tune in to see:-

Bencic v. Babos 
Gavrilova going up against Kvitova in what should be a Fed Cup type atmosphere
Mladenovic against Gibbs should also be good as well as Wang against Friedsam. 

Match Fixing 

Unless you have been living under a rock, the tennis world has been rocked by a BBC/BuzzFeed story regarding match fixing in tennis.  The article is alleging that the Tennis Integrity Unity has ignored clear evidence of players, some of whom are in the top 50 and have won singles and doubles Grand Slams, are involved in match fixing.  It alleges that it not only affects the men but the women’s tour as well. 

Chris Kermode, CEO of the ATP World Tour has been doing the media rounds denying these allegations.  As of now, I have not heard anything from the WTA, which in my view is quite concerning.  The silence from the WTA on this issue, especially because I have seen where allegations have been made against named players, one of whom is still in the tournament, is not what I would expect from the WTA.  Unless I have missed it, I am hopeful that someone can point me to the WTA statement on this issue. 

For what its worth, I do believe that there is match fixing happening within tennis. It was only recently on the Realz Podcast that I opined about the level of remuneration that players were asking from the Grand Slam tournaments and the fact that as the players ask for more money, the networks will balk at the need to ante up money for broadcast rights, as surely advertisers and sponsors are going to be backing away from spending more money on a sport that is now being seen as corrupt down to its very core. 

It does not help that at the start of this year’s Australian Open, it was revealed that one of the sponsors of the event is William Hill, a large betting concern.  On the heels of these recent allegations, news broke this morning that 3 members of the board of Tennis Australia have resigned effective immediately.  Up to the time of writing no reasons have been given for their resignations. 

ESPN took at least 15 minutes to have their talking heads discuss the match fixing allegations and a true head buried in the sand moment, or should I say an ode to jingoism, Chris Fowler opined that match fixing was as a result of people from “over there”.  I am not quite sure where over there was but someone needs to tell Fowler that the reason why VPNs are so popular is to allow Americans to gamble at their heart’s content. 

In any event, in much the same way that tennis has buried its head in the sand when it comes to discussing doping (which does not happen in tennis by the way, just a few bad eggs here and there), this match fixing scandal will perhaps die as soon as the Australian Open is over.  Mayhap it will revive itself at each of the year’s 4 Grand Slams so that action can be taken. 

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