Day 3 of the Australian Open turned out to be a smooth ride for Indian tennis stars Leander Paes and Sania Mirza as they both won their respective opening matches in doubles. But it turned out to be a test of survival for two of the biggest contenders – Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. While Sharapova came back to win after saving two match points, Nadal put up a gritty display to triumph in five sets. Roger Federer too lost the first set before coming through in four sets.
‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’
The adage was perfectly applicable to both Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova on Wednesday. Both dug deep and put up a show of guts that enabled them to live to fight another day.
Maria Sharapova was expecting a routine win in the second round. This was so as the five-time Slam winner was up against a 150th-ranked qualifier, Alexandra Panova. An easy first set for Maria which she won 6-1 did not give any indication of what was to unfold over the course of the next two sets.
But Sharapova lost the second set and was unbelievably one point away from going down 1-5 in the third. The world number 2 fought back to recover a break. She was still facing elimination with Panova serving at 5-4. Pushed to the brink, Maria Sharapova brought forth her champion’s spirit and saved two match points by hitting winners. The champion finally clawed back for a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win.
It was the same courage and mental fortitude that helped world number 3 and former champion Rafael Nadal get a win over an energetic world number 112 Tim Smyczek. Rafa had to fight cramps, dizziness and nausea and looked to be in physical discomfort even after winning the first set comfortably. Soon enough, Nadal went two sets to one down as the American kept unleashing his booming groundstrokes from the other end tirelessly.
But Nadal can never be one to be counted out and sure enough the Spaniard found a way to hold off the charging American in the fourth and fifth sets! It was 4 hours and 12 minutes when the Spaniard finally got his entry into the third round with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 triumph.
Indians have an easy day at the Australian Open
Auckland champions Leander Paes and Raven Klaasen carried on the momentum to the Australian Open with a 6-4, 7-6(6) win over Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram. The Indian doubles legend Paes is seeking his second men’s doubles crown at Melbourne Park after having reigned supreme back in 2012.
It turned out to be a similarly good day for his compatriot Sania Mirza who had an even easier outing. The Indian tennis queen who is playing just her second tournament with new partner Hsieh Su-Wei, breezed past María Irigoyen and Romina Oprandi, 6-2, 6-0 in just 48 minutes. Mirza is looking for her first women’s doubles Grand Slam title.
Roger Federer overcomes tough start
A finger injury and an inspired opponent – Roger Federer seemed to have problems aplenty but the second seed and 17-time Grand Slam champion knows best how to rise to the occasion. Despite losing the first set 3-6, the Swiss maestro stormed back to take the next three for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Simon Bolelli.
Smooth sailing for Andy Murray
While two of his greatest rivals toiled hard, Andy Murray had a fairly easy day at the Melbourne Park. Murray beat Aussie Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to move into the third round.
Halep, Bouchard win
Third seed Simona Halep played some solid tennis to beat Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 6-2 and progress into the third round. No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard had an equally comfortable second round match. The Canadian defeated Kiki Bertens, 6-0, 6-3.
Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi will kick off their men’s doubles campaigns on Day 4 at the Australian Open. In singles, all eyes will be on top seed Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stan Wawrinka and women‘s World no. 1 Serena Williams as they continue their quest for the year’s first Grand Slam.