61, 6-3 and it wasn’t even that close. I got up this morning and saw the scoreline and thought to myself, well at least the second set was relatively competitive, except it really wasn’t. I did want to mention that ever since Sharapova returned from her doping suspension, she has looked slow, unsure around the court and not as fired up as she was pre-meldonium ban. Without a doubt Kerber has improved this season, but Sharapova, title notwithstanding this year is a shadow of her former self. Caught behind the baseline for much of the match, Sharapova kept lunging after balls and there seems to be no improvement whatsoever to her game. She still can’t hit a traditional volley and while before she was known as the queen of 3 sets, now she appears exhausted after a straight sets match. As someone opined elsewhere the fear factor, if there was ever one in the locker room no longer exists.
However, the match of the day was the 2 hour and 45 minute wonder that was the third set of Halep/Davis. Who knew that 2 players who barely scrape 5 ft, 6 could make an entire stadium rise to its feet in appreciation. After 3 hours, Lauren Davis held 3 consecutive match points on the Simona Halep serve. She failed to take any of them. Simona Halep by extension had to serve for the match 4 times before finally earning her first match point. There was a medical time out drama (broken toenail), heat exhaustion, mental issues, but both women kept going and going and going.
After listening to Pam Shriver bemoan the many breaks of serve in women’s matches, it was a bit of karmic justice that one of the best matches of this year’s Australian Open featured a match where neither player had a big serve, and neither player was able to serve out a match until Halep through sheer willpower managed to do so.
I was late for church this morning as I ended up watching my new favourite player, Su Wei Hseih do her thing. In her match this morning against Radwanska, Hseih took control of the match from first to last ball. I don’t know what is going on with Radwanska but her body appears to be broken. In most if not of all her matches so far this year she has had to call the trainer to treat some injury or other. I dubbed her match against Hseih Ninja v. Ninja, but it was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Just no competition.
Naomi Osaka with a new coach and looking fitter and leaner than I have ever seen her shut down the crowd on Margaret Court Arena by taking out Australia’s last female hope in singles in straight sets. She served well but returned even better. Her shot selection was on point and her attitude on court was sublime.
Today’s matches feature the bottom half of the women’s draw and has some players that no one had on their draw sheets. Spin’s Picks are below
Kontaveit v. Suarez-Navarro (the more seasoned campaigner who has been down this road before against the big hitter who can go off the boil)
Rybarikova v. Wozniacki (the head to head matters but I don’t think it will feature in the results today. Wozniacki is on a mission to lift her first Grand Slam trophy. Rybarikova is looking to back up show that her run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals was not a fluke)
Allertova v. Svitolina (the qualifier v. the tennis pick. I loved the fight that I saw from Allertova in her previous match. She is match tough having come through qualifying. It is a night match so she will not feel the effects of the heat as she did in her last match. Svitolina looked good against her young countrywoman and made it look easy, but I feel as if the pressure to win a big title may come bearing down on her)
Martic v. Mertens (2 women who no one expected to be here. My heart says Martic but my head is going with Mertens on this one)