For as excellent as the tennis has been during the early stages of the Australian Open, the main headlines for 2014’s first Grand Slam have all been about the weather.
As the temperatures have climbed into the triple digits, many of the matches have been more of a test to see which player has the better endurance to outlast his opponent and the heat.
Weather aside, fans have been treated to exciting tennis from the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and others. We may be on the collision course for semifinals that include plenty of big names, but the favorites have to navigate through the early rounds first.
Djokovic did just that in relatively easy fashion in straight sets in his third-round match against Denis Istomin. Djokovic’s dominance was expected, so let’s dig into some other takeaways from early third-round action.
The one thing that may get tennis fans even more excited than a match featuring a genuine superstar is a thrilling five-set affair that has everyone on the edge of their seats. That is exactly what Australian Open viewers were treated to as the No. 19 seed Kevin Anderson outlasted Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-5.
What was most impressive about Anderson’s victory was the fact that he battled through the heat to overcome a two-set deficit.
Anderson’s impressive serve, which he is known for, and his groundstrokes eventually got to Roger-Vasselin, who did have to receive some medical attention at the end of the third set. If Anderson is going to progress further in the bracket, he will need his serve to come through for him.
An Upset in the Making
While Anderson’s impressive comeback victory may have been the most entertaining match of the day, there was a notable upset (at least via the seeds) that turned some heads.
No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet saw his Australian Open hopes dashed through a persistent effort from No. 17 seed Tommy Robredo. Robredo is a very talented player who could pose a threat to more favorites in later rounds, but it was somewhat surprising to see Gasquet teeter out before the quarterfinals given the dominance he showed in his first two matches.
Gasquet did not lose a set before his third-round defeat to Robredo. Robredo is one of the most athletic players on the entire tour, which undoubtedly helped him outlast Gasquet in the later stages of the 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 showdown.
David Ferrer Quietly Looking like a Contender
The headlines at almost any Grand Slam event for men’s tennis are dominated by the likes of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, but No. 3 seed David Ferrer cruised to another victory and is quietly looking like a contender to make some noise against the marquee names.
The straight-sets victory over No. 29 Jeremy Chardy (6-2, 7-6, 6-2) marks the 15th consecutive Grand Slam that Ferrer has reached at least the fourth round. Ferrer has only dropped one set thus far in the Australian Open and may be on a collision course with No. 2 Djokovic.
Ferrer’s consistency on the court is the biggest takeaway from his early matches. He told Sky Sports how pleased he was to reach the fourth round for the 15th straight Grand Slam:
I am very proud of that, I like to play consistent and over the last four to five years I have been getting some good results. I was relieved to win the second set, it was a miracle because I was a lot of set points down and after winning the second set I played more relaxed and felt better.
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