Hrbaty def Gaudio
The Dominator is back! This was one of the best performances I've ever seen from Dominik, including matches from 1999-2001. He came out of the blocks straight away, hitting winners everywhere and dominating Gaudio, just hitting him off the court. There was nothing Gaston could do. Gaston played the same as he did against Tommy, with great retrieving, but unlike Tommy, Dom was patient, hitting from side to side and sometimes taking 3 or 4 balls to put Gaudio away. Dominik raced out to a 5-0 lead, then Gaudio held, and Dom served it out. At the start of the 2nd set Dominik had a bit of a concentration lapse after winning the first so easily, he lost his serve with lots of unforced errors and went down 3-0. Then he got himself together and went on a tear again, winning the next 4 games and going up a break, but then gave the break back with more errors. However he tightened the screws again, breaking and holding serve to win the set 7-5. In the 3rd set Dominik was just flawless, hitting amazing winners from all corners of the court. One of the best shots was when Gaudio rifled a return down the line off Hrbaty's wide serve which would have been a winner against most players, but Hrbaty slid over to it and hit it cross court for a clean winner! There were so many Hrbaty supporters, we outnumbered the Gaudio supporters by a lot and he was giving plenty to cheer about. In the 3rd set Gaudio got pissed off at the Hrbaty fans, especially Hrbaty's friend Martin who had been shouting encouragement to Dominik in Slovak. He kept giving Martin dirty looks and said something to him in Spanish which didnt sound very nice. Not very wise as Martin is about twice the size of Gaston. And that only made him and the other Hrbaty fans cheer even louder of course, and support Hrbaty even more. After the match Martin told us he didnt really care about Gaudio and it was his own problem that he concentrated more on him than the match, which was true as maybe Gaston could have won at least one game if he'd not allowed himself to get caught up in such things. Anyway Dominik won with a bagel playing superb tennis, and got a standing ovation as he left the court. As he left he was interviewed by Eurosport too! Dominik gave us his towel at the end, they have nice warm towels for players at the AO.
The Nadal/Robredo doubles match was on the court behind this one, so i watched a bit during breaks, Tommy/Rafa seem like a good pair and they played well, though I was concentrating more on the Hrbaty match.
Arthurs/Hanley def Beck/Hrbaty
Arthurs and Hanley were the better doubles team today, they were solid and were never threatened and played very well. Beck served well and won his service games pretty easily, but thats about all he did well. Most of the time the other team would hit to Beck, with great success. Beck/Hrbaty just werent a team in the same class as Arthurs/Hanley.
Safin def Nieminen
Both players played well but Safin was just a class above Jarkko. He served very well like in his last match. Jarkko retrieved well and played great counterpunching tennis to make it a close match. Safin generally played well but sometimes he had concentration lapses and made some poor shots. In the first set TB Safin was up 5-2 with 2 serves to come and he stuffed both the points up with stupid errors and let it get back to 5-5, but luckily he was good enough to close it out 7-5. He broke early in the 2nd set and hung onto it until the end to take a two sets to love lead. I left after this.
Paradorn def Golmard
Paradorn started slowly, and looked a little tentative on his backhand and struggled on his opening serves. But then he got himself together and started playing great tennis, breaking Golmards serve and keeping the break till the end. Golmard didnt look injured at all, but early in the 2nd he walked off the court and called the trainer. He looked like he already made up his mind that he was going to retire as he took his sweatbands off. The trainer didnt even treat him, he just had a chat, then Golmard retired. I saw this replayed on tv later and apparently Golmard strained his hamstring on the last point but it didnt look that bad that he had to retire immediately without even trying to play on. Buts hes had his fair share of injuries lately and maybe he wanted to be cautious. Everyone was disappointed as we wanted to see more of this match. Paradorn was great after the match, there were literally hundreds of people from all over the court leaning down to get his autograph, and he went around the whole court signing them all! There were huge cheers as he ran from one side of the court to the other, signing everything! When I saw him in practice he'd sign everything for his fans too, hes one of the most fan-friendly players.
Escude def Soderling
As usual there was a huge block of loud boisterous Swedes out to support Robin, and I was sitting next to them while cheering Nico. Nico played very well, i think hes playing as well as before he got injured. He hit a lot of groundstroke winners as well as many great winning volleys. Soderling seems like a pretty good baseliner, he's pretty fast and retrieves well and knocked off quite a few winners himself, but he wasnt as consistent as Nico. In the 2nd set Nico should have won it easier, he had many break points on a few of Soderlings service games but couldnt convert them. Robin showed he was a great fighter by hanging on when Nico was putting the pressure on and had a few chances to break Nico himself, but Nico's play was just too good on those break points.
Todd Martin def Karlovic
Same story with Ivo, the match was routine holds of serve and TB was the most exciting part. Unlike Fish, Todd Martin had a better mentality and waited patiently for opportunities on Ivo's serve, which he seized in the TB and was able to win at least one point on Ivo's serve to win the TB's, most of the time by making great low returns. In the 2nd set TB Ivo made two double faults to give the TB away easily. In the 3rd set TB Ivo was up 4-2 but missed a volley to get it back on serve, and missed another volley on match point to give Martin the match. Ivo could be one of the best players if he worked on his groundstrokes and was more consistent on his volleys, the serve is the only thing he has but is one of the best and most consistent big serves I've seen. No one can break his serve and if he worked on his return game he'd be unstoppable.
Erlich/Ram def Ferrero/Garcia Lopez
I thought this would be an easier win for Erlich/Ram, seeing that Ferrero's never done well in doubles, but JCF was doing all right for himself, from what I saw. He hit some great returns at their feet and stayed mainly on the baseline and used his heavy groundstrokes to good effect. JCF/GGL took the first set 6-2 and led 4-3 with a break in the 2nd, and looked like they were going to make a surprising upset. I didnt watch after this but Erlich/Ram won the 2nd 6-4 and the 3rd 6-3.
Llodra/Santoro def Verkerk/Sluiter
Llodra/Santoro were the better team and they were serving for the match at 5-4 but Verkerk/Sluiter fought hard to break back and force a TB, playing some great tennis. Verkerk is really not a bad doubles player, he was hitting lots of great shots off the ground to get Llodra and Santoro in trouble. However Llodra and Santoro took control again in the TB and finished off the match there.