2009 Australian Open – Venus ousted in first big surprise

Well, we’ve been waiting for the big upset and it finally happened. Unfortunately, it happened to one of my favorites: Venus Williams. She was beaten by 2008 French Open quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. After winning the first set, Williams was serving for the match at 5-3 in the third and couldn’t close it out. She stopped attacking the net and didn’t show the same athleticism that she demonstrated earlier on. This has got to be a difficult loss for Venus to swallow after she came into the tournament so fit and ready to roll. I want to give a big congratulations to Navarro. She hung tough and never gave up. I really enjoy watching her play because she is full of life and really having fun out there.

With Venus out, her part of the draw really opens up. You’ve got Navarro and two other Spaniards, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Anabel Medina Garrigues, as well as 12th-seeded Flavia Pennetta. All of a sudden the players in that section have an excellent chance of making a deep run.

Venus’ younger sister, Serena, struggled as well but was able to defeat Gisela Dulko 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round. After the match Serena was right back out on the practice courts, which is not something you will see very much. This shows you how frustrated she was with her play, and how focused she is on winning this tournament. She will get Shuai Peng next.

Also winning on the women’s side was the Russian contingent of Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both won fairly easily and are always a threat to contend. The one thing about Kuznetsova is that she came into the tournament a bit injured so we will have to see if that has any bearing as the days wear on.

On the men’s side, all the top guys moved. The brightly colored Nadal continued to look brilliant on the court with a three-set dismantling of Roko Karanusic. He has only lost a total of 11 games in six sets so far. The big difference in Nadal’s game has been a flat forehand. He is driving through the ball with the racket and not letting it drop down as much so the ball is penetrating more through the court. Things are about to get a bit more difficult for Nadal though as he will now face NBTA alum Tommy Haas. Haas won easily over Flavio Cipolla and when he is on there are not many better. This is one of the bigger third-round matches on either side of the draw.

Also winning were top-ten seeds #4 Andy Murray, #5 Jo-Willy Tsonga, #6 Gilles Simon, and #9 James Blake. The only seeded player to fall was #25 Ivo Karlovic. The big-serving Croat lost to fellow countrymen Mario Ancic 5-7, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. This was a tough second-round match for Karlovic as Ancic is a former top-ten player and would still be ranked high if not for numerous bouts with mono. Ancic will face Gilles Simon of France next.

Blake is playing very free and loose, which seems to be helping him stay focused. His groundstrokes are extremely solid and he looks as gooas as ever. He’s got a strong opponent in the third round in Igor Andreev, but if he contines to play like he has been I like his chances.

There are some very good third-round matches on this half of the men’s draw and we will be breaking them down later today…

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~ by Nick's Picks on January 22, 2009.

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