Victor Hanescu

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (above), who “upset”  15th seed Jelena Jankovic today, as we expected.

As you know, we were on Radek Stepanek today, and unfortunately for us, after taking the first 2 sets from Fernando Verdasco, whom we think is a quite poor big match player, the Spaniard got out of jail, winning 3 straight sets, and 9-7 in the extended fifth.  We aren’t about to apologize.  This is the kind of action we like, and we’d go the same way if there was a rematch of these 2 on grass tomorrow.  Some of other picks did a little better.  We think that Gonzo is officially back, after popping 25 aces and playing very clean tennis against Alexandr Dolgopolov, who got stung by an abysmal draw.  Gonzo hit 50 winners and had only 19 UFE in a very entertaining match in which Dolgopolov played pretty well, save for his weak second serve, now very exposed come fast court season.

We loved Ryan Harrison and along with Gonzalez and Martinez Sanchez, we were very happy with a nice trio of wins from those dogs.  Simply put, Dodig was not the same player he was last week against Harrison, who dominated every positive category except aces.  Harrison will play David Ferrer in round 2, and we’ll be liking him again in that matchup on Thursday.  Harrison is a very tough kid, for an American.  Very atypical of the sort of tennis brats our nation has been raising.  Speaking of brats, how about that Melanie Oudin, who caught a bagel and a breadstick from Ana Ivanovic, in the route of the day.  Oudin should give it up.  How sad was that performance, in which she won a mere 15 points out of 39 on serve, and a meager 8 points in the return game?

Frankly, we are absolutely sick of seeing her touted as a rising American.  She has gotten by too long on her opponents double faults.  If we trot her out for Fed Cup again, I’m gonna puke.

We thought Lleyton Hewitt would out-tough Kei Nishikori on the grass, and he did, for his 104th career win on grass.  We also thought talented 1-hander Sergiy Stakhovsky would roll British hack Daniel Cox, and he did.  We had Isner going through, if you recall, with few breaks of serve, and we loved Dimitrov, and fully expect him to come through when his match is resumed tomorrow.  The Bulgarian 1-hander who has been called by some a Federer clone wass up 7-5, 7-5, 3-3 when darkness fell.

On the women’s side, sure we went against Wozniacki, as we will in every round until she is eliminated.  We weren’t impressed with the short work she made of Parra Santonja, and have no respect for her game or rank.  As we expected, Irina Falconi, a terrible favorite, fell easily to Stephanie Dubois of Canada, 2 and 2.  Tamira Paszek came through againt Ayumi Morita in 3 sets, and will draw suprise winner from New Jersey, Christina McHale in the second round.

And before we get to the morning’s odds, we’d just like to mention that Serena had a very tough match and seemed, by her post match comments, just happy to be there and to have won a match.  We have seen her get hot many times, and many times, off of long layoffs, notably dusting Justine Henin, and silencing the “Serena is fat” bandwagon by winning at Melbourne while fat, but we just feel like this may be a bit too much for here here, despite a favorable draw.

Serena may bow out early.  And we might be betting against her.  As for tomorrow’s odds:

Nadal:  – 12000

Sweeting:  + 3000


Fish:  – 400

Istomin:  + 250


Hanescu:  + 700

Roddick:  – 1500


Paszek:  – 175

McHale:  + 125


Dulgheru:  + 250

Kuznetsova:  – 400


We think Kuznetsova’s movement is suspect on grass, and we don’t like her as a big favorite here.  McHale has a fighter’s chance in what is basically a toss up.  We hate Roddick at minus 1500, and Nadal at minus 12000.  I mean, who really wants to lay 1500 units or 12000 units to win a 100.  I’ll take my chances with the dogs at those rates.  We also don’t like Mardy Fish much at (-400), and don’t think he’s much good in the big spot.  There are a lot of 1st round matches yet to come off, and we spoke about some of them yesterday.  We didn’t mention Kristina Barrois,  a one hander whom we have a soft spot for.  We are pulling for her, a slim favorite over Petra Cetkovska.  And Bethanie Mattek-Sands is (-600) against Misak Doi.  Wow.  Another sign of how bad the women’s game is.  Gun to our heads, we’d say Hanescu/Istomin would be our long shot parlay of the day.  Maybe throw in Ryan Sweeting if we are feeling really crazy.  A 5 unit 3 team parlay there would net 4340 units, if the stars aligned.

Crack (,

Yonug one handed prodigy, Griror Dimitrov (above).

Bulgarian ace Grigor Dimitrov, perhaps the future of the men’s game on the one handed side has been busy of late.  Despite rising to world #106, which to us, being well inside the top 128 players means an automatic bid, instead came through 3 tough qualifying rounds on the Plexicushion and had to earn his way in, despite, in our opinion, already having earned it.  And he played lights out in the first round, getting on top of of Kazakastan’s Andrey Golubev early with 2 quick breaks, and carried them on to an easy win over world #38, the Russian born 23 year old, Golubev, who has to be upset about the first round ouster.

Golubev made two finals on the main tour last year, and in Melbourne, scored a major upset over American Mardy Fish in the first round, for his 3rd 1st round victory at a major (2009 French, 2008 US Open).  Fish nearly suffered a similar fate versus tough one handed Hungarian big man last night Victor Hanescu, before taking over the match when down 2 sets to zero.  But Golubevv could not do much against Dimitrov, who an impressive 53/80 points on serve, on his way to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory in which he won a whopping 96 points to Golubev’s 61.  Dimitrov only 1 hour and 23 minutes for the impressive victory.

We love Dimitrov’s brand of aggressive tennis and hope this is only the beginning for him, who has a stern test ahead in rounnd in Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, a survived a a tight 3 setter in round 1 versus the under-whelming Teimuraz Gabashvili, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4.  Wawrinka comes in playing great tennis.  He took his 3rd career title last week in India, surprising lumbering Czech Tomas Berdych in fine fashion in the final.

Right now, Dimitrov and Wawrinka look like mirror image players.  They are both movers, and try to dictate with laser strike one handed backhands.  A win against Wawrinka, a top 20 guy, would be quite a coup, and could set up a match with a lot of flair: Dimitrov vs. Gael Monfils.  Monfils survived Thiemo de Bakker yesterday ( 6-7 (3), 2-6, &-5, 6-2, 6-1 ), who dominated the first two sets before a complete turn around by the Frenchman.  Monfils next faces Portugual’s Frederico Gil who also survived a tough 5 setter in round 1, going to an extended 5th set where he defeated Pablo Cuevas, 9-7.

For Dimitrov, the match gace him his first win in a major, in only his second showing.  We see big things for the Bulgarian upstart known as “G-Force” by his contingent. 

We hope that the ITF now sees fit to grant Dimitrov entrance into both majors and 56 field tournaments, as he has clearly played his way into the the top 64 and beyond at the tender age of 19.

Crack (,

Big Sam Querrey (above) who let America down today.

The great man took to his Australian Open title defense today in style.  Lukas Lacko, a perhaps capable Slovak in anotheer setting, was treated to the full reportoire by Roger, who won 9 out of the first 10 games, in only 36 minutes.  The match had the feel of an exhibtion with Federer throwing in several backhand drop shots, that left the opponent and the crowd in a daze.  The oohs and aahs came a plenty, for Federer, decked out in tennis whites with stylish yellow accents, serving big, setting up points with the deadly forehands, slice backhands, and finishing them in style at the net, where he dominated. 

Check out these stellar match stats:

  Rod Laver Arena – Men’s Singles – 1st Rnd.
    Lukas Lacko SVK          1   1   3          
Match Completed
    Roger Federer SUI (2) Winner       6   6   6          
  Match Statistics Serve Statistics  
  Match Summary
     Lacko(SVK)   Federer(SUI)
  1st Serve %
56 of 83 = 67 %
38 of 59 = 64 %
3 8
  Double Faults
1 1
  Unforced Errors
27 18
  Winning % on 1st Serve
33 of 56 = 59 %
33 of 38 = 87 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve
6 of 27 = 22 %
14 of 21 = 67 %
  Winners (Including Service)
11 37
  Receiving Points Won
12 of 60 = 20 %
44 of 84 = 52 %
  Break Point Conversions
1 of 1 = 100 %
7 of 14 = 50 %
  Net Approaches
6 of 12 = 50 %
16 of 20 = 80 %
  Total Points Won
51 91
  Fastest Serve Speed
202 KMH
206 KMH
  Average 1st Serve Speed
186 KMH
183 KMH
  Average 2nd Serve Speed
149 KMH
151 KMH

Roger needed but 1 hour and 24 minutes.  A different story entirely for our American boys and girls.  Samurai Sam Querrey, frankly, got punked by Poland’s Luckas Kubot, in a spot where, let’s face it, it was a must win for the American.  Querrey does not seem to have the steele of his friend and counterpart, John Isner.  We were not surprised, with Querrey being easily upset by Alexander Dolgopolov, world #49, in his first match of the year in Sydney last week, where he was seeded first.  The Ukrainian bombed serves on his way to an easy 6-4, 6-3 win in 62 minutes.  Sam is the one who is supposed to be bombing the serves and ripping huge forehands, but he played timid tennis last week, and again today, and deserved to lose.  This morning Kubot was the agressor, making an astounding 49/69 points at net.  Kubot played the right way, and dug in after losing the first and third sets, continuing to play all or nothing tennis.  Kubot blitzed Querrey 6-1 in the 4th, and then took the extended fifth set 8-6.  Querrey looked lost while Kubot looked like he wanted to win.  Good win for the Pole, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 in 3 hours and 20 minutes, and smacked an impressive 75 winners on his way to victory.

Mardy Fish, looking lean and mean, but lost early versus Victor Hanescu, dropped the first two sets before figuring his opponent out.  In the end, Fish had an impressive 5 set victory in which he struck 70 winners and won 36/48 of his approaches, showing nice touch and smart instincts as far as when to get in to net.  Fish moves on, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 in 3 hours and 32 minutes.

At the moment, we are waiting for Venus to pull through against Sara Errani.  She suffered an early break of serve, but righted herself to take the 1st set 6-3.  A few nervous moments for Lady V, who did notoriously little in the way of traditional match preparation leading up to this year’s Australian.

Crack (,