After four days of action, I discuss the main talking points of the 2014 Australian Open.
Temperatures have soared into the mid 40s. Fortunately, they’re on their way down. I wouldn’t mind a fraction of those temperatures in the rainy UK.
I’m always in awe of the unbelievable fitness levels of players but I have been more so over the past few days.
Caroline Wozniacki’s water bottle began melting, Peng Shuai vomited, Frank Dancevic collapsed and Jamie Murray was treated for heatstroke – just to name a few incidents as a result of the extreme heat.
Dr Tim Wood, the event’s chief medical officer, said “We evolved on the high plains of Africa chasing antelope for eight hours under these conditions”.
The Australian Open three-times runner-up is in the third round. Andy Murray played very smartly and in total dominance in round one and a colossal 23 consecutive points helped him transact his way out of trouble to win in straight sets.
Looking ahead, Feliciano Lopez, the world number 27, waits in the third round tomorrow. The Brit has an unbeaten record in the pair’s seven meetings and I can see that continuing. As a strong server, the Spanish left-hander, aged 32, follows his immense serves up with good, solid volleys – on the faster courts he can be a threat but I believe Murray, who’s now got a bit more playing time under his belt, will be too strong.
Roger Federer has also been impressive in his opening matches. It is perhaps a little soon to suggest that he’ll have a much improved year but I feel he will. What’s clear is that the Swiss master isn’t ready to give in on further titles yet, the coaching recruitment of Stefan Edberg and racket changes after just one bad year demonstrates his hunger. 32-years-old isn’t too old to excel; there are in excess of 15 over 30s in the ATP top 50.
He is still on course for a tasty quarter-final clash with Andy Murray.
An incredible victory to begin the year in Sydney made Juan Martin del Potro a decent outsider bet to win the Australian Open title. That victory offered more hope to the common view that 2014 could be a more consistent year for the Argentinian. However, a defeat to the world No 62 Roberto Bautista Agut made him the event’s biggest casualty thus far.
In the wake of that crushing loss, Mats Wilander, Eurosport’s pundit, suggested that his work rate isn’t of the same standard of his fellow professionals at the top.
Here are a few Tweets that have caught my eye, a few nuggets of information and photos.
– Nathan Morley