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Australian Open 2012: 5 Takeaways from Opening Rounds of Year's First Slam

Kevin PacelliCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2012

Australian Open 2012: 5 Takeaways from Opening Rounds of Year's First Slam

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    The first two rounds of the 2012 Australian Open have come to a close.

    It is certainly living up to Grand Slam tradition with its fair share of upsets, rising stars, and strong showings by familiar faces.

    Although it has only just begun, the recent matches in Melbourne have given tennis fans around the world plenty to talk about.

    Here's a look at what the early stages of the tournament have revealed.

Andy Roddick Has Seen His Last Success

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    The last couple of seasons have been disappointing for former world number one Andy Roddick.

    A somewhat strong showing in Flushing Meadows sparked hope in the hearts of desperate American fans. But in order to satisfy his country, he needed more than just a quarterfinal appearance in Melbourne.

    Unfortunately, with a mid-match withdrawal against Lleyton Hewitt in the second round due to a leg injury, he failed to get the job done.

    Coming into this year's tournament, some bold fans had predicted unexpected success from the veteran. This kind of departure may have flushed any remaining hope away.

    American tennis fans will most likely rely on their young prospects for success in the next few years.

There Is Hope for American Tennis

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    Tennis fans in the United States have been searching for a new national hero.

    With the exception of the occasional underdog, Americans haven't been represented well in Slams since the peak of Andy Roddick's career.

    But American prospects are emerging in both the men's and women's game early on in Melbourne.

    Let's face it - Ryan Harrison was doomed to a first-round exit by being drawn against Andy Murray to start off the tournament.

    Although he did lose the match, he put up an impressive fight for a 19 year-old hopeful, taking the first set 6-4 and competing throughout.

    Looking at the women's side, New Jersey-native Christina McHale has been putting on a show once again.

    Coming off of a third round appearance in the U.S. Open (in which she defeated Marion Bartoli, the eight seed, in straight sets), McHale began her Australia campaign with a victory over 24-seed Lucie Safarova, and came back from a set down to win her second round match against Marina Erakovic.

    American tennis fans will be pleased with their representation in the coming years, even if veterans like Roddick are on the decline.

Samantha Stosur Fails to Fulfill Expectations

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    Coming off of an unexpected U.S. Open victory this past September, Australian Samantha Stosur was undoubtedly hoping to repeat in front of a more-than-welcoming crowd at the 2012 Aussie Open.

    Her devastating first-round departure didn't give anybody Down Under much to celebrate.

    Any recent Slam champion comes into the next one generating high expectations in the tennis community. To lose in the first round all but vanquishes those hopes for the future.

    For players like Stosur who are already in their late twenties, winning a Slam can show the world that they are still worthy opponents. But she lost in straight sets to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

    Unfortunately for Australian fans, Stosur has failed to represent her country early in 2012.

Bernard Tomic Is Living Up to the Hype

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    At only 19 years old, Australian Bernard Tomic is expected by many to be one of the prominent figures in men's tennis during the coming years.

    Currently ranked number 38, Tomic has shown a lot of potential. Australian fans have wondered how he will show off his talent in front of his country.

    Despite falling two sets behind to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the first round, Tomic came back to win an epic five-setter that (as expected) had the Rod Laver Arena crowd on its feet. 

    In the second round, the Aussie once again dropped the first set to American Sam Querrey. He won the next three to take the match.  He advances to face 13-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov.

    Will Tomic be the hero Australia has been waiting for?

    That question remains unanswered, but fans can be more hopeful than ever after watching his early play in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic Isn't Slowing Down

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    Novak Djokovic's 2011 season was dominance at its finest.

    Coming off of a subpar finish, though, he left some of his fans slightly hesitant to believe that he would be able to do anything similar in 2012. 

    Based on his first and second round matches in the year's first Slam, it is evident that his confidence and play have not let up.

    Obviously, it's still too early to decide whether or not his upcoming season will be anything even close to last year's. But with two straight-set wins so far in Melbourne, he isn't giving his fans much to worry about.

    His combined game record between the two matches is 36-8 - nothing short of impressive.

    As the Australian Open progresses, we will get an even better view at what 2012 has in store for the Serb.

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