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« Australian Open Day 1: Too Much Electricity Not Enough Rainbows | Main | Ivanovic, Wozniacki, Tsonga, and Simon Play Stick√© Tennis »
9:41AM

Shanked Balls and Double Faults

Laura Robson wears a discrete rainbow hair tie to show her support

Kait O'Callahan is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis.  She is currently at the Australian Open with her brother and will be sharing her stories from the matches they attend.

It's already hot when we turn up for our first match. The wind is blowing strong and it looks like we are in for a day of shanked balls and double faults. It certainly starts that way as we tune in for Frederick Nielson and Kevin Anderson. Nielson, who we developed a soft spot for during his Hopman Cup choke loss to Gasquet, has fought his way through qualifying and been rewarded with a match against the man who donated a huge chunk of his first ATP title's prize money to saving rhinos. Anderson is too good for Nielson, and we leave after the first set.

A Russian woman is seated in front of us, playing with the pearls dangling from her neck. Her matching earrings and expensive looking black dress stand out amongst the masses of t-shirts and denim shorts. She flits on her high heels towards the shade every few games. It's hot work being that glamourous. She's there to watch Nikolay Davydenko, who appears to be playing well against the very defensive Flavio Cipolla. Unfortunately, that all changes when up two sets up to one, Davydenko begins to tire, and eventually loses in five. It's a disappointing first round exit for a man who used to be world number four. We wonder if it is the last time we will see Davydenko live.

"I'm awld aand even I can tell that wuur in" a voice yells in a heavy American accent. Mardy Fish didn’t join the man’s fretting over the possibly bad call; by the time we get there he's up a set and cruising against Gilles Muller. We see a set out and leave.

Alexandr Dolgopolov may have made the Brisbane Final but he's losing to an absolute no-namer on Margaret Court. His opponent, Australian Greg Jones, leads two sets to one. I can't tell you how Jones got there, because as soon as we take our seats Dolgopolov recovers. Jones falls to pieces mentally and physically and loses over five sets in a mere 2.5 hours. If there is such thing as cruising to a five set win, Dolgopolov managed it.

Margaret Court served up a few disappointments today. I’m not sure what the plans are regarding the rainbows protest, but I saw only one rainbow flag. Laura Robson wore a discreet rainbow coloured hair tie to show her support. So discreet, I didn’t notice it. Robson’s game was the second disappointment. She gave out easily to Jelena Jankovic, who played well but nowhere near the ‘perfect’ a journalist on Twitter claimed.

Despite taking home the title in Sydney yesterday, it wasn’t hard to feel sorry for Jarkko Nieminen when he stepped on court less than 24 hours later to take on David Nalbandian. The Finn, who had played two finals on Sunday, put up a strong fight in the first set. Nalbandian showed promising form and the shotmaking was the best I saw that day. Sadly, Nieminin’s body wasn’t as willing and he retired in the second set.

“It’s like watching the Rugby World cup final,” a lady calls out behind me. We can only be watching the sole New Zealander in the singles draw, Marina Erakovic. She’s playing Irene Pavlovic on court 15 - a court closer to the bush than the action (trust the Aussies to put the Kiwi on the far court, ha ha ha). Bugs and seagulls create a canopy above the players who are entertaining a passionate crowd with what must be their best tennis. Pavlovic hits her two-handed forehand heavy and makes a sneezing sound for a grunt, but she can’t topple the crowd favourite, and Erakovic wins in two close sets. It is my favourite match of the day, and produces the only nerves. With that, we retire home. We managed a 12 hour day, and will be back in another 12.

Kait O'Callahan also has her own tennis blog Any Given Surface.  To follow her on Twitter, click here.

Photo via Getty Images

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