ASerena Williams won her third round encounter against compatriot Nicole Gibbs 6-1 6-3 and to be fair, never looked like losing. However, late in the second set a troubling flaw emerged that may make it difficult for her claim a seventh Australian Open title.Australian Open 2017
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Her serve is the best on the women’s tour without a doubt, but when it came time to close the match out, it faltered badly. Her second serve was weaker and she dished up a couple of double faults as it looked like nerves were getting the better of her.
This only delayed the inevitable, but Channel Seven commentator and former pro Rennae Stubbs warned this disturbing trend could come back to haunt Williams the deeper into the tournament she gets.
“We have seen this throughout the tournament,” Stubbs said. “No matter what this is, it’s stuff that sits in your brain. No matter how well you have played, finishing off bigger matches may be a problem.
“I think it’s nervous tension. We have seen this before. In the first two rounds she
did the same thing. She played fantastically well but struggled serving the match out.
“There’s no question in my mind she is winning this match, but two to three years ago this would never have happened. That’s a concern for her later on in the tournament.ustralia as local hopes Ashleigh Barty and Bernard Tomic exited the first grand slam of the year, but Daria Gavrilova is still alive to fly the Aussie flag.
The 22-year-old — who became a cult hero at last year’s Australian Open — takes on 12th seed Timea Bacsinszky from Switzerland as she aims to progress into the fourth round.
Teenager Alexander Zverev — who beat Roger Federer on the grass courts of Halle last year — will be keen to claim another big scalp in Melbourne when he takes on Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams is also in action against countrywoman Nicole Gibbs.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov takes on Frenchman Richard Gasquet and the ever-improving Johanna Konta will no doubt be using her run to the semi-finals at the same event last year as motivation when she faces off against Dane Caroline Wozniacki.
It will be interesting to see whether the flair of No. 6 seed Gael Monfils — who pulled off a spectacular behind-the-back shot on set point against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday — is enough to defeat German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, while World No. 3 Milos Raonic is still looking to claim his maiden grand slam title, and will be one step closer to achieving that goal if he beats France’s Gilles Simon.Racquet-maker Yonex has introduced a clause allowing it to penalise players for smashing up racquets, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Yonex’s clients include Nick Kyrgios and Coco Vandeweghe, who are among the 12 players fined for racquet abuse so far at the Australian Open. “While it could be argued the brand promotion of a racquet smash is a positive endorsement for the company, Yonex clearly holds a different view and has moved to protect its image from such acts of frustration,” the report said, adding that Yonex declined to comment on its contracts.Venus Williams seems to be getting a little tired of being reminded she’s the oldest player in the women’s draw. The subject has repeatedly come up and Williams, 36, said now even Australian legend Margaret Court had got in on the act, signing a letter to mark her achievement. “It was congratulations for being the oldest player in the draw, or something like that,” Williams sighed.
Meanwhile, US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a “gorilla” at the Australian Open — although he insisted the word he used was “guerrilla”.
ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner’s win over Stefanie Voegele.
“During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection,” an ESPN statement said.
“He apologised and we have removed him from his remaining assignments.”
During the second-round match on Wednesday, Adler, a 59-year-old former player, said: “She (Voegele) misses a first serve and Venus is all over her.
“You see Venus move in and put the gorilla effect on. Charging.”
Viewers were quick to register their distaste on social media, while tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg called it “appalling stuff”.
“Horrifying that the Williams sisters remained subjected to it still in 2017,” he tweeted.
A report on the ESPN website said: “Because the words gorilla and guerrilla are pronounced similarly, it’s impossible to say for certain which word Adler spoke.”
Svetlana Kuznetsova is no fan of the ice baths which have become a common part of the recovery process. The Russian veteran would far rather have a sauna, but after her three-and-a-half-hour marathon against Jelena Jankovic, she knew she had little choice. “Definitely I will have to do the cold bath, which I hate. Even though I’m from Russia, I hate cold weather and anything icy. I would rather do a sauna,” Kuznetsova saidAndy Murray has sprung to the defence of his great rival Novak Djokovic after the Serb’s surprise exit at the Australian Open.
Djokovic, toppled as world number one by Murray at the end of last year, was sent packing by wildcard Denis Istomin in the second round to end his hopes of a seventh title at Melbourne Park.
It was 12-times Grand Slam champion Djokovic’s earliest loss at a grand slam in nearly a decade and fuelled talk that the 29-year-old is showing signs of a decline.
Murray, now clear favourite to claim his first Australian Open title having reached the last 16 without dropping a set, said people should not be too quick to judge Djokovic.
“I think everyone needs to give him a bit of a break. It is hard to keep up the intensity week after week, that’s why everyone has been so impressed by the group of players at the top of the game over the last few years,” Britain’s Murray said in his column on the BBC website on Friday.
“I think the players themselves are a lot more understanding, as we know how difficult it is and how incredible the consistency has been over the last few years. It’s almost inevitable it will drop off at some point.”
Murray, the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champion, said he was surprised by Djokovic’s early defeat but said it hardly represented a crisis for a player who has so often been his nemesis.
“Everyone was surprised by Novak’s exit in Melbourne, for sure. But out of the last few grand slams he made the final of the US Open, the third round at Wimbledon and won the French Open,” Murray said.
“Every single player on the Tour, bar one or two, would sign up for those results. When you compare it to what his standards are, he’ll probably be disappointed.
“But if you compare it to every other tennis player in the world, his last 12-18 months have been phenomenal.”
Murray, who dispatched big-serving American Sam Querrey on Friday, next faces unseeded German Mischa Zverev.
Quote of the Day
“Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks … I did surprise myself.” – Roger Federer on his third-round win.