India had mixed fortunes on Day 4 of the Australian Open as Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor won their opener but Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner succumbed in the first round.
In singles, all the biggest title contenders including Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Stan Wawrinka safely made it through to the third round. In the most anticipated match of the day, it was the former champion Victoria Azarenka who prevailed in straight sets over eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Bopanna wins but Bhupathi crashes out of the Australian Open
Seventh seeds Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor came to Melbourne Park fresh off their title win in Sydney. Even though they faced a spirited challenge from the Cypriot-Aussie duo of Marcos Baghdatis and Marinko Matosevic, the Indo-Canadian combine emerged victorious 7-6(2), 7-5 in one hour and 36 minutes. They will next take on Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi.
Mahesh Bhupathi’s Grand Slam comeback was stalled as the doubles ace lost his opener at the Australian Open. The Indian who was partnering Austrian Jurgen Melzer lost his men’s doubles first round match 4-6, 3-6 to Argentine pair of Diego Schwartzman and Horacio Zeballos.
Mahesh Bhupathi had earlier played at the Chennai Open after a nine-month break. Bhupathi and Saketh Myneni had lost to eventual runners-up Leander Paes and Raven Klaasen in the quarter-finals.
Welcome back Azarenka!
Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka returned to the scene of her greatest triumph and passed her biggest test yet with flying colors. It was the most awaited match on the women’s side during the first week of the Australian Open as she clashed with her great friend and eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Back after an injury-ravaged year, the Belarusian was unseeded and a dangerous floater for any of the title contenders in the draw. On Thursday that was proved right, as Azarenka brought forth her fighting spirit and her sizzling groundstrokes to defeat Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 for a trip to the third round.
All we can now say is ‘Welcome back, Vika’!
Big guns progress
Novak Djokovic – The top seed posted a commanding 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 victory Russian Andrey Kuznetsov at the Rod Laver Arena in his second round match. The Serbian is looking to win his fifth Australian Open crown.
Serena Williams – The women’s World No. 1 faced a familiar opponent – Vera Zvonareva who is on the comeback trail. The Williams groundstrokes were off in the first set and the Russian Zvonareva even had set points for a one-set lead. But like we have seen so many times, Williams regrouped and raced through the second set for a 7-5, 6-0 victory.
Stan Wawrinka – Defending champion Stan Wawrinka had an inspired opponent who refused to give up. The Swiss had to do some hard work to stave off Marius Copil and take the first two sets in tie-breaks. It turned out to be an easier outing in the third set for the Chennai Open winner as he closed out the match for a 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 win.
Also winning on the men’s side on Day 4 were Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic. But former finalist Lleyton Hewitt went down in five sets. 17th seed Gael Monfils too had the same fate as he lost in a thrilling five-set encounter to unseeded Jerzy Janowicz.
On the women’s side, Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova both put up emphatic performances for their second round victories. Seven-time Grand Slam winner and reigning Auckland champion Venus Williams also showed vintage form to move into the third round.
The action gets hotter and even more thrilling Friday onwards as singles third round begins at the Australian Open. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will all look to book their places in the fourth round.
In Men’s doubles, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will be in action. Meanwhile Sania Mirza will have to do double duty with both her women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches featured on Friday.