Because the Australian Open is played under the blistering daytime heat of the southern hemisphere, Three_Sets has struggled to live as a night owl in the UK. This is worse viewing than an away Ashes series, where at least you have the morning to catch up on the day’s play.
Possibly the one great discouragement about watching the Aussie Open in Europe is the fact that it spans sleeping hours and so, rather than attempt to provide up-to-date news, views and features, a Week One round-up feels far more sufficient.
And what a week it has been for the WTA side of this year’s first Grand Slam. We’ve seen (or for some parts watched back in the highlights) two British players reach the third round, Caroline Wozniacki pick up her form and some big hitters already crash out under the Melbourne sun.
The top seeds – Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska – are all safely though to round four, having dropped just one set between them from a combined 12 matches – naughty naughty Miss Azarenka!
Serena looked as strong as ever when taking apart Ayumi Morita of Japan in the third round, while Sharapova won her first 24 games of the tournament before facing Venus.
Credit must go to Radwanska, however, who looks primed to cause a minor upset this championship and is Three_Sets’ outside tip to reach the final. She plays a much-improved Anna Ivanovic in round four but should have enough to see off the 13th seed, before an expected date with Li Na in the quarters.
Radwanska has won both Auckland and Sydney already this year and is in the form of her life as she aims to take her maiden Grand Slam. With the Pole set to avoid Serena until the final she has a real chance to claim the Aussie Open this January.
Britain’s Laura Robson and Heather Watson have also lit up Week One after both impressing to reach round three. This so rarely happens yet UK fans were still disappointed they both fell at the third hurdle – so good had they been in the opening two rounds.
Robson took down eighth seed Petra Kvitova in round two, a stunning performance that overran by quite a while as the Brit came back to win 2-6 6-3 11-9. That third set was a mammoth task in the sticky heat of the Melbourne evening and may have taken its toll on Robson, who lost to Sloane Stephens two days later.
As for Watson, an elbow injury heading into the tournament didn’t help but she swatted away Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan in three sets. Up against the formidable Radwanska Watson had little chance of claiming even a set and the Pole used the advantage of three years more experience on the circuit to cruise through 6-3 6-1.
Certainly the two disappointments so far are Kvitova – who still struggles to reach the form that won her the 2011 Wimbledon crown – and home favourite Sam Stosur, who is turning into the Tim Henman of Melbourne. Stosur has struggled to live up to home expectations since her debut tournament in 2002 and the ninth seed crashed out 6-4 1-6 7-5 to China’s Zheng Jie in the second.
The disappointment in the stands was evident and Stosur, a defeated and depleted wreck, left the court in ignominy yet again. At 28 she’s running out of chances to match the expectations of this home crowd – for Stosur hasn’t progressed further than fourth round in 11 attempts.
Week Two offers an even greater spectacle and Three_Sets will hopefully follow it more closely that the scattergun of matches afforded to us in the opening rounds. Can Azarenka, world number one, see off Serena in an expected semi or will she fall just as in Istanbul late last year? Can Sharapova win her second Aussie crown? And could Ivanovic even find the form that has eluded her for so long?