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Melbourne Highlights - Day 4

by Alexandra Willis
Thursday 19 January 2012

Rackets. And smashing them. That was the talk of the town at Melbourne Park on the first Thursday after Marcos Baghdatis destroyed four of his bats, one after the other in a ruthlessly methodical mode during his loss to Stanislas Wawrinka late last night. Player after player rolled through the main interview room, and player after player was asked what they thought about obliterating their tools.

With Baghdatis fined $800 for the incident, considerably less than the $2,000 fine Fernando Verdasco received for on-court coaching, the question remains ... is smashing a racket good or bad for your tennis?

First to be asked for her opinion on the subject was Serena Williams, an easy winner, 6-0, 6-4, over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

“I actually used to break a lot of rackets on the court," Williams said. "I sometimes break them in practice, just not in a match anymore. I think when you're young it kind of maybe lets out a little frustration. It just is a way to express yourself. I think those players are super, super intense. So I can't necessarily go and say you shouldn't do that when I was actually someone that did it a lot.

"I got to a place where I could see how many places I could crack in a racket. I got five. This is great. But it's definitely not the best way to release your anger. I think the older you get, you realise there's more different ways."

Then there came Novak Djokovic, also gifted a stroll in Melbourne Park, breezing past Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

"Individually it depends from a player, from a person, you know, who has more temperament, let's say, how you handle yourself, how do you react after, you know, smashing the racket," Djokovic said. "In my case, I've stopped doing it. I'm not doing it as often, which is good for my coach, good news. But when I have a smash of the racket, I usually feel relieved afterwards. I feel that the pressure is out. But a bit embarrassed, as well. So I try to hold my composure."

There was also Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who perhaps put it the best.

"My father told me all the time, if you broke the racket, I broke you. So I go easy with the racket. Sometimes I prefer hit myself than my racket."

Racket-smashing aside, earlier in the day, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Williams raced to complete the quickest win of the day, taking an hour and four minutes, an hour and three minutes and an hour and eight minutes respectively to reach the third round. They were eclipsed, however, by the efforts of Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki, who crunched past Shahar Peer in just 53 minutes.

Andy Murray meanwhile continued to reap the benefits of a cool, calm and collected attitude on the court during his straight sets win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France. Murray prevailed 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, and will next meet another Frenchman, Michael Llodra.

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Congratulations to Nicolas Mahut, through to the third round of a Grand Slam for only the second time in his career. The Frenchman, who lost the infamous 70-68 record-breaking marathon against John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010, will need to play the match of his life to turn third round into fourth round though. He takes on world No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic.

There was agony though for two Australians, James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden, both of whom saw early leads slip away from them despite their best efforts. Duckworth lost in four sets to Janko Tipsarevic, Ebden in five to Kei Nishikori.

It was farewell in the men's doubles to Jamie Murray and Ken Skupski, both of whom lost their first-round encounters with Paul Hanley and Xavier Malisse respectively. Jamie is still in the mixed doubles though, partnering Peng Shuai. Colin Fleming, still in the men's doubles with Ross Hutchins, is playing with Liezel Huber.

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Most-anticipated clash of the night however belonged to Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, two former Grand Slam champions, meeting in the last match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.

As many had expected and suspected, it was Roddick who proved much the stronger in the early stages, taking the first set off the Australian relatively simply. But then, having turned his ankle and tweaked his groin, the former US Open champion fell away. And Hewitt, energy renewed, took full advantage.

Taking the second set 6-3 and moving a break ahead in the third, the Aussie had three set points on Roddick's serve before snatching it on his own serve with a heavy net cord.

Moments later, Roddick retired, the ankle and groin proving too much. Hewitt moves on to a third round clash with Milos Raonic, aiming to repeat his heroics of 2010, when he made the fourth round.

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For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website


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