Just this past Monday the 2015 Australian Open unveiled some of the most exciting tennis matches of the beginning of the new year. On DAY 3 in Australia, Rafael Nadal dropped to his knees, clasping his hands tightly and appearing to be on the verge of tears as he celebrated a win at the Australian Open.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion has played some epic matches at Rod Laver Arena, including an almost-six-hour final. This was a second-round comeback win over U.S. qualifier Tim Smyczek, a player ranked No. 112 who had never beaten a top-10 player.
But the 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5 win Wednesday was a breakthrough of sorts for the third-seeded Nadal, who came into the first major of the season after playing just four tournaments since Wimbledon due to a right wrist injury and appendix surgery.
At the end of the third game of the third set, Nadal called for assistance and was given medication for stomach pain. At times in the match he was doubled over in pain, seemingly on the verge of sickness or exhaustion.
Yet he pulled through, earning the only break of the fifth set in the 11th game and then serving it out — after wasting three match points — in 4 hours, 12 minutes.
Smyczek pushed Nadal to the limits, and played fair. Serving at 6-5 in the fifth set, a spectator shouted just as the Spaniard was about to make contact with his first serve, causing him to miss long.
Three-time finalist Andy Murray didn’t let the parochial crowds in Margaret Court Arena bother him as he beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, while No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov beat Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-7 (10), 6-3, 6-3.
Matosevic’s first-round opponent, Alexander Kudryavtsev, accused boisterous Australian fans of behaving like “animals” after he lost in five sets to the Melbourne resident.
After Wednesday’s match, Murray laughed as he said: “It was a fun atmosphere to play today. Even if not everyone was supporting me.” Murray has a perfect 10-0 record against Australian players.
“I love Aussies. I get on well with a lot of the players from Australia,” the Scottish star said. “Sometimes it’s just luck. I’m sure in the next few years, with the players the Aussies have coming through … I won’t be able to hold onto that record much longer.”
Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych advanced with a 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-2 win over Austrian qualifier Jurgen Melzer, moving into the third round along with No. 14 Kevin Anderson and No. 24 Richard Gasquet.
Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist in 2010, lost to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals last year at Melbourne Park, where he has reached the quarterfinals or better ever since 2011.
Seven of the men’s seeds were beaten Wednesday. Among them, 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis took down No. 20 David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0. Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios — who was a wild card ranked No. 144 when he beat Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year — ousted No. 23 Ivo Karlovic in a four-set match featuring a combined 65 aces, 40 by the loser.
On the women side, No. 1 Serena Williams is wearing a somewhat similar dress, in yellow with pink straps but with a large chunk cut out of the back that she says is meant to draw attention to “the beauty and the shape of the back.”
After Williams’ first-round win Tuesday on Margaret Court Arena, the Australian Open’s second show court, the same presenter asked her to twirl for the crowd, which she often does anyway to thank the crowd after winning. Click here for more details: http://espn.go.com/tennis/aus15/story/_/id/12197202/2015-australian-open-women-results
“Serena is good at her twirl. She does them all the time,” Bouchard told the presenter after her awkward twirl and then added: “Maybe I should cut a hole in my top tonight and show off my back like Serena.”
Be sure to check out this other video for more action on the 2015 Australian Open: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Puz2x6KiE1A
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