Pre-Australian Open Drop Shots

Except it’s started already! Argh!!

Day One of the tournament is over and out – as are eight of the women seeds!

Umm, yikes!! Before anything else it’s embarrassing, but secondly, we’re really going to see how these stumbles rob some excitement from the next few rounds.

But never mind. Only two of the seeded guys fell!

Let’s get on.

Drop Shots!! It’s the new post heading for random little tennis bits and bobs that are worth taking notice of (or are just amusing) (or both).

For fear of becoming too… alike to other tennis sites, these will only happen at certain times of the year. Such as pre Grand Slam. And will be (for now) instead of yet another draw preview.

My draw previews would take forever, I’m afraid. This is just supposed to be a short update.

So, here they are!

DROP SHOTS!!

– Sharapova and Bouchard practically have a stroll through the easiest quarter of the womens draw (typically). And with the sudden tumble of seeds today, it’s just got even better for them.

However, there is another force not to be overlooked in that half. One that could quite easily stop them both in their tracks.

Simona Halep.

And this year, the Romanian is not being overlooked so much. In fact, many have her down as favourite for the title…

– Serena’s long-time hitting partner, friend and valuable team member, Sascha Bajin, will be missing a Grand Slam with her for the first time in 8 years! While initially rumours circled of a rift between the pair, Sascha spoke up to reveal that he is sidelined with an injury, and had been unable to train with Serena pre-season.

His temporary replacement is a French guy who took Grigor Dimitrov’s bag, mistaking it for Serena’s. 

Awkward. Even more so when Serena tweeted Grigor her apologies, and he didn’t appear to reply. But what would Sharapova think if he did?!? (You could make a TV series out of this one.)

Only time will tell if the changes cost Serena.

– Juan Martin Del Potro – whose brilliant comeback from his ten month injury lay-off ended in a 7-6 7-6 quarter final defeat to Kukushkin last week – has withdrawn from the Australian Open. It’s a massive blow to both him and the fans, but it shows a smart mind and a strong character behind his racquet. He’s looking to the future of his career – what’s best in the long run. That can only benefit his later results.

– The most crowded first section of the draw will take place on the WTA. The winner of Azarenka vs Stephens (last year’s quarter final, and 2013’s controversial semi final) will face off with the winner of Townsend vs Wozniacki. And the Dane, who has been gathering steam recently, picked up a wrist injury last week in Sydney. Drama!

– Federer and Nadal have landed in the same half of the draw once again. But this year, Nadal is being extremely pessimistic about his chances. Is this fully genuine, or is it also an Uncle/Nephew plan to put the guy at ease? The Spaniard flew through a potentially tricky first round encounter with Mikhail Youzhny today. Whatever the case, with Nadal definitely not at 100%, this could be Federer’s biggest chance in recent times to upend his rival, should they come up against each other in the semis.

– Heather Watson won her second WTA title – and first since her glandular fever and dip in form – at the warm-up event in Hobart. I mention this because I will be writing about it either here or elsewhere very soon. She has the advantage of playing her opening round – against Pironkova – on Tuesday, giving her more time to adjust to the change in situation.

– Li Na and her husband, Jiang Shan, are expecting their first child. Li announced this the day after she had transported the heavy winner’s trophy through busy Melbourne and up several flights of stairs.

You have to love Li Na. They way that she announced “Our first child will be out in the Summer” made it sound like the baby was a popular new item to be released!

– Viktor Troicki could be a dark horse in the men’s competition. Set on making the world’s top ten after a lengthy suspension from the game (a controversial ban which he claimed had ‘ruined his career’), he won his second tour title last week. And he just knocked off another of last week’s champions, Jiri Vesley, in the first round.

– There are Aussies galore lined up for home glory! Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jarmila Gajdosova and Marinko ‘Mad Dog’ Matosevic have all recorded first round victories, with the latter two players ending long droughts here to do so. The likes of Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur are still to play.

It goes without saying, it’s better than the Brits at Wimbledon!

– Serena and Venus share the same half of the women’s draw. While Serena’s quarter is the most difficult of all, she has the determination to master it, and obviously should sail through if she’s on form (although she herself has voiced doubts over this.) Venus has a kinder draw, and though there’s some resistance that could cause her problems if she has an off day, this is the most likely it’s looked in a while that we’ll have an all-Williams semi final showdown.

The sisters have also teamed up for the doubles competition, and could face Taylor Townsend (one of Serena’s biggest fans) and Sloane Stephens (not quite as big a fan) in the second round. That could be interesting…

For all the wrong reasons!

*** *** ***

All for now!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll all be keeping up with the first Grand Slam of the season! Look out for more Aussie Open posts in the coming days, and remember that the official twitter account will keep you updated with the action.

For now, I leave you with another great Rafael Nadal interview that’s bound to get you smiling. No one does awkwardly, endearingly hilarious better than Rafa!

WATCH IT HERE!

(Note: The Rafa Q&A is a product of the yearly Kia Open Drive interviews, which you can check out over the next two weeks at the brilliant Australian Open YouTube channel.)

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