We’re here to see Stephanie Dubois lose. It isn’t nice, but we’re still bitter about Vesnina. Angelique Kerber stands strong, her thighs rippling, her blonde hair twisted into a tight bun. It doesn’t take a world traveller to guess her nationality. Her team yell encouragement at her in harsh German and she responds just as loudly. Dubois plays more aggressively than in her first round, but the match is still on Kerber’s racket. She takes it in straights, not without a struggle. She screams, pumps her fist, and finally allows herself a smile.
I expect some pretty poor tennis when we head over to Marcel Granollers and Frederico Gil - they’re not exactly household names. But Gil surprises me. He hits a strong backhand and moves well. There’s a big crowd, which is credit to how busy the Open is today. Our seats are quickly taken when we move on.
The difference between Asian and Australian culture is as exposed by the Westerners’ bronzed bodies when we take to Court 8. The fans of Japanese player Tatsuma Ito cover their arms, legs, and faces as they shield themselves from the harsh sun. The rest of us slather on sunscreen and hope it won’t halt our tan. I know whose idea of beauty is safer. Ito is fighting hard, but cult favourite Nicolas Mahut is starting to pull ahead. He will eventually seal a place in the next round against Novak Djokovic.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova cops a lot of criticism for her weight, and watching her lose today to Vania King, you feel it is justified. Pavlyuchenkova’s movement is poor and she appears to be suffering from an injury. We’ve heard talk about her breaking through in 2012, but unless she gets fitter it’s hard to see it happening. King plays solidly, but nothing spectacular.
Just days ago I read Steve Tignor agree that it is rude players don’t thank ball kids; that it makes them seem like divas. Tignor should take a look at Sabine Lisicki - she smiles and says thank you multiple times to the kids fetching her her towel and balls. As a person she’s the same in every match. But today, she is an entirely new player compared to her first round. She blasts her way through a helpless Shahar Peer in a mere 53 minutes. The German crowd barely have enough time to unleash their rehearsed chants, and Peer never gets a chance to get into the match. With such an emphatic win, whispers of a dark horse will be circulating by tomorrow.
Svetlana Kuznetsova is doing that thing she does where she tries really hard to lose. Sloane Stephens is trying hard to help her do just that, but Kuznetsova is playing well in the right moments. It isn’t a high quality match, and the crowd are the bored. Someone yells an anti-Russian insult and we figure it is time to leave. We don’t doubt that Kuznetsova can look after herself.
It is possible that I’m the only fan of Viktor Troicki’s who doesn’t like him for his nationality. The Serb is argumentative, angry, and irrational in almost all his matches. Yet I’m out there cheering him on against Mikhail Kukushkin. Troicki starts well and it seems he’ll wrap it up in three. I’m not really sure where the wheels start to fall off, expect they fall off his backhand first, and his confidence goes from there. Kukushkin is consistent throughout the match and doesn’t allow himself to be distracted by the vocal Serbian fans (plus me) and Troicki’s abuse of the umpire. He plays maturely and smart, only showing signs of nerves when he misses an overhead in the fifth set. Troicki plays passively; I hope his coach shows him a replay of exactly how much pace he had taken off the ball by the fifth. All Kukushkin has to do is continue playing his game. Troicki loses and leaves the court quickly. He doesn’t shake the umpires hand. I’ll have to wait longer for my favourite bad boy to break out at a Slam.
That wraps up my final day on the grounds. I head to Hisense Arena tomorrow. If you see a nervous girl biting her fingernails when del Potro is on court, wave hello. That’ll be me.
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