Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Highlights of Day Two

Gilles Simon won the match of the day in a 16-14 final set over Daniel Brands. He then spontaneously combusted due to heat 

From a sheer rankings perspective, Day Two at the Australian Open offered little surprise. Most of the favorites ended up winning and only three seeds (one male and two female) fell in what could be categorized as a fairly "by the book" day in Melbourne.  With that said however, there are always story lines that develop and for me, these were the highlights of a sweltering Day Two:

John Isner Lets a Brilliant Chance Slip Away

When it comes to majors and John Isner, the best opportunities always seem to slide through his fingers. Isner's Australian Open draw looked quite appealing when announced, as injuries and good fortune produced a bracket that seemed perfectly set to allow Isner to slide into a Round of 16 matchup with Andy Murray. Alas, it wasn't meant to be as Isner succumbed to an ankle injury and intense heat after falling two sets behind to Martin Klizan. It was a valiant effort from Isner, who seemed ready to take the second set tiebreak after a 4-0 lead, but according to the giant, then his ankle acted up, he dropped a number of points and he could no longer go forward. For John, it is another opportunity lost, forcing him to potentially head home to spend time with his girlfriend (whose photo montage pictured above shows a couple that loves close-up selfies as much as any twosome in America). We at The Outer Courts are now left without are best American hope down under and explanations as to the result, the best of which was shared by a television announcer:

The Heat Continues to be a Massive Story

Players passed out, players threw up and everyone seemed to have a jolly old time lamenting the extreme heat that has overtaken the Australian Open. At one point the temperature hit 107 degrees and it looks as if no relief is in sight. Most of the complaints about the heat relate to the late afternoon matches when it is at its most extreme, and players have commented that the situation is "brutal" and "inhumane." Heat is a hard feeling to translate over the television and where I am watching the matches (in my living room), it is a cozy 71 degrees at this very moment. But one can certainly tell that the heat is speeding up play (both in terms of ball speed and the desire to get off the court) and causing those players who didn't spend the offseason training (hello Mr. Tomic) much difficulty.

Lleyton Hewitt Loses Another Epic

The Australian Open comes on at a hideous time here in Kentucky, thus one has to truly want to see an afternoon 5 setter to fight off the overnight sleep requirements and make it to the end of such a marathon. But Lleyton Hewitt's defeat at the hands of Andreas Seppi was exciting enough that I was able to fight through and make the ends. Hewitt lost again, as happens all to often in these big matches, and he left many of the Australian fans somber following the ordeal. None however may have had quite the reaction as this Australian columnist, who took it very seriously:

THERE's no way we're going to sit here and offer copious amounts of sympathy to millionaire tennis players competing in appreciably lung-busting, fatigue-inducing conditions when bushfires are devastating families and destroying homes on their rampage through the more combustible areas of Victoria and Western Australia.
Still, Lleyton Hewitt's marathon heartbreaker at the Australian Open came on an A-grade scorcher. The Blue Jasmine court inside Rod Laver Arena shimmered in impossible heat while Hewitt was mowed down 7-6 6-3 5-7 5-7 7-5 by the 24th-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi in four hours of ultimately non-profitable slog.
The only possible positive to emerge from the wreckage: Hewitt's schedule was cleared for his Harlem Globetrotters doubles appearance alongside Pat Rafter at 5pm today.