Oz and Ends – Day One at the 2013 Australian Open

Melbourne park grounds

Oz and ends  and bits of news from the Australian Open for January 14, 2013


Bagels and breadsticks

Maria Sharapova won her first match of the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0 in 55 minutes over fellow Russian Olga Puchkova. It was her third career “double bagel” in a major tournament. She only needs a double bagel at Wimbledon to complete a “double bagel slam.”

Three women have completed the “double bagel slam” – they are Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.

Venus Williams added to the bagel set count with a 6-1, 6-0 demolishing of Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva.


Win streak continues

Agnieszka Radwanska has extended her 2013 win streak to 10 by defeating Australian wild card entry Bojana Bobusic of 7-5, 6-0 on Monday.
Twitter News

Maria Sharapova has officially joined twitterverse. Follow her at @MariaSharapova

[tweet https://twitter.com/MariaSharapova/status/290778598774829058]


Tweets of the day



Lucky Loser is a winner
Tim Smyczek is lucky loser was a winner on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Ivo Karlovic. The American it into the draw thanks to housemate John Isner who pulled out of the tournament with a right knee injury.


Tough day for Aussies

Matthew Ebden, Ashleigh Barty, Olivia Rogowska, Sasha Jones,  John Millman, Lleyton, Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua all exited on day one of Australian Open. Sam Stosur was the only victorious Australian on Monday.


Two seeds falls

The 11th seed Juan Monaco was the only seeded played not to win on Monday. The Argentine who withdrew from last week’s Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament with a hand injury was clearly stuggling clearly struggling on the court in his straight set loss to Alex Kuznentsov, was applauded by spectators for not retiring from the match.

Monaco told Reuters: “My leg tightened up at the start of the second set and it was very tough for me,” pointing to his right leg.

On the women’s side Ksenia Pervak  stopped 32nd seed Mona Barthel 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Federer out of Davis Cup

Roger Federer will not participate in Switzerland’s first round Davis Cup tie versus the reigning champions, the Czech Republic


Five set marathons

[22] Fernando Verdasco def. David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
[10] Nicolas Almagro def Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2
Edouard Rogers-Vasselin def. Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-7, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9
Daniel Gimeno-Traver def. Lukasz Kubot 6-7, 6-4, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4
[23] Mikhail Youzhny def. Matt Ebden 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3
[28] Marcos Baghdatis def. Albert Ramos 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Roberto Bautista Agut def. Fabio Fognini 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
[31] Radek Stepanek def. Viktor Troicki 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5;
Brian Baker def. Alex Bogomolov 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-2.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Thirteen American Men Accepted Into Australian Open Qualies

James Blake

James Blake

(December 18, 2012) Thirteen American men have been accepted into the Qualifying draw of the 2013 Australian Open. They include James Blake, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne, Rajeev Ram, Tennys Sandgren, Tim Smyczek, Ryan Sweeting, Michael Yani and Donald Young.


Rhyne Williams also was accepted into qualifying, but Williams claimed a wild card entry into the main draw by winning the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff last weekend. Bradley Klahn and Daniel Kosakowski are the second and third listed alternates, respectively.


The 2013 Australian Open qualifying tournament begins on January 7 in Melbourne.


The USTA reports that Jesse Levine is listed as an American on the Australian Open qualifying acceptance list, but will be representing Canada in Melbourne.


The Australian Open women’s qualifying acceptance list will be announced at a later date.



Keys and Williams Capture Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs


(December 16, 2012) NORCROSS, Ga.,  – Madison Keys (Rock Island, Ill.) and Rhyne Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.) each earned wild card entries into the main draw of the 2013 Australian Open Sunday by winning the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs.


Keys defeated Mallory Burdette (Jackson, Ga.), 7-5, 6-3, and Williams took down Tim Smyczek (Milwaukee), 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, in Sunday’s indoor finals, each in a match format emulating the Grand Slam.


The 17-year old Keys, seeded third, won the event for the second year in a row, becoming the first woman and second player overall, along with Ryan Harrison (2009-10), to do so in the tournament’s five-year history.


“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been doing and how I’ve been playing. Hopefully I can just really keep it up now,” said Keys, who fell to Jie Zheng in the first round of last January’s Australian Open, 6-2, 6-1. “It’d be great to go to Australia and not get killed in the first round this year. Hopefully that happens. But I’m just really excited to go down and start playing some tournaments again.”


The fourth-seeded Burdette, who made the third round of the US Open this summer and turned pro shortly after, gave the 137th-ranked Keys her most difficult match of the tournament. Each went back and forth with breaks in the first set until Keys held at five-all and carried that momentum into the second.


“She definitely kind of hit her stride at five-all, started serving much better, much more difficult for me to break her serve, and that just put more pressure back on my service game,” Burdette said. “So, hats off to her. I think she played very well and sustained it throughout the second set. I definitely had my chances there in the first, so I’m a little bit disappointed, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”


Williams and Smyczek, meanwhile, split the first two sets of the best-of-five match, but the 21-year old Williams found control of his powerful forehand to pull away.


“I’m moving incredibly well, and when I’m moving my best I feel like I give myself a really good chance of winning, and I feel like I could play with anyone,” said the 190th-ranked Williams, who will play in his second straight Grand Slam after qualifying and reaching the first round of the US Open this summer.


“Tim, he’s been playing incredible to end the year. He beat me the last two times, and I woke up this morning and just told myself I was going to try to give myself the best chance to win,” Williams added. “Everything just kind of came together, and I played some of the best tennis I’ve ever played.”


It was Williams’ first win over Smyczek in three tries this year, and it leaves the 24-year old from Milwaukee, ranked No. 128, to attempt to qualify for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 14 in Melbourne.


“He just kind of reeled off several winners, and it seemed like every time I had at least a shadow of an opportunity he came up with something big,” Smyczek said. “The beauty of this tournament is that I get another chance to try to qualify, so I’m playing good tennis, and I’m putting in the work this offseason, so I’m really excited for Australia.”

Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

At Life Time Athletic & Tennis

Norcross, Ga.




(3) Rhyne Williams d. (1) Tim Smyczek, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3



(3) Madison Keys d. (4) Mallory Burdette, 7-5, 6-3


Notes & Quotes from the First Day of the BB&T Atlanta Open


By  Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – Collegiate rivals and even a high school student dominated the first day of qualifying in the BB&T Atlanta Open. Here are some notable quotes and events from the first day of qualifying.


Kevin King photo by Audraine Jackson

Georgia Tech’s Kevin King talked about how he was able to finally defeat rival University of Georgia’s Wil Spencer 6-4, 6-3 after losing in three previous collegiate matches:


“I was able to be a little more patient and wait for my opportunities to attack and just take advantage of some of those close games. It could have gone either way. Today I was fortunate enough for it to go my way”, said King. He admitted the atmosphere was a bit different from college play with the absence of fans rooting for a particular team. He broke a string but appeared to play better despite the temporary setback. It happened right after the first set but appeared to help him loosen up and play better. “It was bad luck. I mean it could have happened at anytime. There’s nothing I could do about it so I just kind of moved on past it.”


King talked about the heat, indicating it was a bit different from other heat he’s played in before. “It was hot but the past couple of weeks have been hot here, you know, over 100 a lot of days so that’s been great to get me prepared for the heat today. It’s very humid here as well. It’s just a different environment.”


Nathan Pasha photo by Audraine Jackson

University of Georgia’s rising sophomore and Atlanta native Nathan Pasha who experienced a successful freshman year talked about the difference between collegiate tournaments and the BB&T Atlanta Open and factors that may have led to his 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-5 defeat to 5th seeded Rik De Voest of South Africa:


“It was a long, physical match. I won a long first set. The second set was a bit shorter, he won. Third set I was doing pretty well and ended up cramping. I sweat a lot. I’m a heavy sweater so I’m guessing it was from that. It was little bit from nerves too. It’s unfortunate, I couldn’t pull it out even if I wasn’t cramping.”


Pasha talked about the difference playing collegiate tournaments and with the pros:  “It depends where you play. If you play high in the lineup at Georgia in a good conference, there are a lot of good guys who can play these tournaments and do well. So it’s not a huge difference. The only difference that I would say is pros are a lot more emotionally leveled and college people are a little bit more up and down emotionally and that could give you games here and there.”


Pasha talked about playing in an urban environment for the first time: “The venue’s really cool. It’s really unique, you know. It’s not often that I get to play and I get to see downtown buildings you know, right above the stadium. It’s a really urban area. You look up and people are on bridges, just random people walking by watching matches. It’s unique and cool.”


Tim Smyczek photo by Audraine Jackson

Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Tim Smyczek talked about how his experience over his opponent helped him in his defeat of Judd Motz, a nationally ranked high school player from metro Atlanta, winning 6-0, 6-1:


“With these tournaments especially in this heat the less time you spend on the court, the better. I didn’t know a whole lot about him going into it but I gathered that he was a younger guy and this might have been one of his first events. So I wanted to go out there and work on some things and take care of business. I don’t want to say get out of there quickly because he is a good player and I know he didn’t play his best today. I was happy with the way I took care of business.”


About playing in a very urban venue, Smyczek found it quite interesting:


“I had heard earlier in the year that they were going to build it on top of one of the parking structures and it didn’t work out. I think it’s a really neat idea. I think depending on what kind of turn out they have this week they might start doing more stuff like this cause I think it’s pretty interesting. It was a little uncanny watching up from the court and see skyscrapers in the back.”


Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.


Saturday’s First-Round Qualifying Scores
(1) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, def. (wc) Erik Graves, U.S., 6-2, 6-1
(wc) Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic, def. (wc) Christopher Eubanks, U.S., 7-6 (3), 6-0
Olivier Charroin, France, def. (wc) Luiz Inaimo, Brazil, 6-3, 6-4
(8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil, def. Philip Simmonds, U.S., 7-6 (6), 7-5
(2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, def. (wc) Ignacio Taboada, U.S., 6-2, 6-1
(wc) Drake Bernstein, U.S., def. Bradley Cox, U.S., 6-3, 5-0 Ret’d
(wc) Kevin King, U.S., def. (wc) Wil Spencer, U.S., 6-4, 6-3
(5) Rik De Voest, South Africa, def. (wc) Nathan Pasha, U.S., 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5
(3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, def. (wc) Jack Anton, U.S., 6-1, 6-0
Catalin-Ionut Gard, Romania, def.  Juan-Carlos Spir, Colombia, 7-6 (4), 6-1
Olivier Sajous, Haiti, def. Pierre- Ludovic Duclos, Canada, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3
(6) Tim Smyczek, U.S., def. (wc) Judd Motz, U.S., 6-0, 6-1
(wc) Mbonisi Ndimande, Zimbabwe, def. (wc) David Span, U.S., 6-3, 6-0
(7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S., d Dean O’Brien, South Africa, 6-2, 6-2
(4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, def. Mikhail Ledovskikh, Russia, 7-5, 7-5
Luca Margaroli, Switzerland, def. (wc) Eric Sock, U.S., 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
Sunday’s Second-Round Qualifying Schedule
Stadium Court Starting at 11 a.m.
(2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, vs. (wc) Drake Bernstein, U.S.
Followed by
(wc) Kevin King, U.S., vs. (5) Rik De Voest, South Africa
Followed by
Luca Margaroli, Switzerland, vs. (7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S.
Grandstand Court, Starting at 11 a.m.
(1) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, vs. (wc) Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic
Followed by
Olivier Sajous, Haiti, vs. (6) Tim Smyczek, U.S.
Followed by
(4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, vs. (wc) Mbonisi Ndimande, Zimbabwe
Court 3, Starting at 11 a.m.
Olivier Charroin, France, vs. (8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil
(3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, vs. Olivier Sajous, Haiti
Main Draw Singles
First Round
[1] John Isner (U.S.) d. Bye
[SE] Rajeev Ram (U.S.) vs. Qualifier
[WC] Steve Johnson (U.S.) vs. Donald Young (U.S.)
[WC] Jack Sock (U.S.) vs. [7] Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS)
[4] Andy Roddick (U.S.) d Bye
Paul Capdeville (CHI) vs. Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Michael Russell (U.S.) vs. Qualifier
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs. [5] Kevin Anderson (RSA)
[8] Go Soeda (JPN) vs. Xavier Malisse (BEL)
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) vs. [WC] Brian Baker (U.S.)
Qualifier vs. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) d Bye
[6] Ryan Harrison (U.S.) vs. James Blake (U.S.)
Qualifier vs. Matt Ebden (AUS)
Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Marinko Matosevic (AUS)
[2] Mardy Fish (U.S.) d Bye

Main Draw Doubles

First Round
[1] Colin Fleming (GBR) / Ross Hutchins (GBR) vs. Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) / Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Steve Johnson (U.S.) / Jack Sock (U.S.)
[3] Treat Huey (PHI) / Dominic Inglot (GBR) vs. Matt Ebden (AUS) / Ryan Harrison (U.S.)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) / R Ram (U.S.) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA) / Rik De Voest (RSA)
Xavier Malisse (BEL) / M Russell (U.S.) vs. John Paul Fruttero (U.S.) / Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
Olivier Charroin (FRA) / Adil Shamasdin (CAN) vs. [4] Jamie Delgado (GBR) / Ken Skupski (GBR)
Colin Ebelthite (AUS) / Marinko Matosevic (AUS) vs. [WC] Kevin King (U.S.) / Ignacio Taboada (U.S.)
Raven Klaasen (RSA) / Donald Young (U.S.) vs. [2] Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) / Scott Lipsky (U.S.)


Dunlop Signs Tim Smyczek

Dunlop has announced the signing of 23 year old American player Tim Smyczek. The Milwaukee native turned pro in 2006 and has steadily moved up the rankings with wins at the ATP Challenger and ATP World Tour levels.


Last week, Smyczek used his Biomimetic 300 Tour  at the 2011 USTA French Open Wild Card Playoffs in Boca Raton and emerged the winner, earning a wild card into next month’s French Open. Smyczek snared a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, ­­­6-2 win over Donald Young.


Smyczek, who trains at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, will make his second appearance in a Grand Slam main draw; he won the USTA playoff last August to get into the US Open. This year he’s continued his upward momentum by reaching the quarters in San Jose in February and the second round in Indian Wells after qualifying for the main draw.


“My game has really taken off this year, and switching to the Biomimetic 300 Tour has played a key role,” said Smyczek. “Whenever I step onto the court, no matter what the surface or conditions, I’m confident with this racket. I’m looking forward to continuing my partnership with Dunlop.”


“Tim is a great signing for Dunlop,” said Kai Nitche, Vice President and General Manager of Dunlop Racket Sports. “He possesses the key characteristics we look for in our Tour Team members; he works extremely hard both on and off-court, he’s dedicated, and he pulls through in clutch situations. It’s been a pleasure to work with him thus far, and we wish him well as he continues his climb up the ATP World Tour rankings.”

More information on Tim Smyczek – Official Website: www.timsmyczek.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/timsmyczek, Twitter: @timsmyczek

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Sony Ericsson Open – The Excitement Starts Here and Now

By Craig Hickman

Tours, draw ceremonies, and qualifying matches filled up most of the day at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open.

At 10:00 am, I toured the 34-acre site guided by tournament director Adam Barrett and Media and Public Relations Director Sam Henderson. Tracking down minor facilities issues (“Why is the Head Tent Closed?”) while walking a small group of media around the exquisitely designed and built set of facilities, it was clear that the Sony Ericsson Open has its eye on a bigger future. Adding another television court, hardwiring expanded workrooms for faster connectivity, and including a high-end VIP restaurant which will feature four celebrity chefs over the next week, the event will remain the premiere event outside of the Grand Slams.

At approximately 11:45, the women’s draw was unveiled. Samantha Stosur chose the chips with the 32 seeded players whose names were taped on a giant draw board threatening to blow off the easel. “Right now, it’s all just a bunch of names,” she said of her place in the 128-line draw. The No. 4 seed and Roland Garros finalist will face the winner of Zheng Jie and Xperia Hot Shot Sorana Cirstea in the second round.


The men’s draw followed with Jurgen Melzer doing the choosing. “The first thing I look at is where is Juan Martín del Potro in the draw,” said the No. 10 seed. “He’s in Robin Soderling‘s section so that’s going to be a nice little section. I think everybody says you play one match at a time, but we’re human so sometimes we do look ahead. If you’re confident you don’t care who you play, but if you’re not, you want to know what’s coming.” What’s coming for Melzer is his doubles partner Philipp Petzschner of Germany or Florent Serra of France.

Next, I jumped around and the grounds and darted in and out of several qualifying matches.

American wildcard and birthday girl Sloane Stephens had to rally from a set down to advance to the second round of qualifying. She beat the No. 4 seed Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. For a place in the main draw she’ll face Aussie Sophie Ferguson who upset No. 13 Alberta Brianti of Italy 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

The No. 4 seed in the men’s qualifying draw fared no better. Milwaukee native Tim Smyczek picked about Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-4. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said after the match. Had me fooled. Though only 5′ 9″, the 23-year-old hits a big serve, has no weakness on either wing, and plays the net with aplomb. Perhaps his best asset on the court is his positive attitude. He played every point as though it were the last and never let an error cost more than one point. Smyczek will have a tough match against Olivier Rochus of Belgium who beat Flavio Cipola of Italy 6-3, 6-2.


American Ryan Sweeting also advanced in straight sets. Even though he yelled out to his box that his backhand was the worst it’s ever been, you wouldn’t have known it. Not the way he dismantled Juan Sebastian Cabal 7-6(4), 6-2. The Colombian became so frustrated he double faulted twice to lose the match. Sweeting will play Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic for a spot in the main draw.

Coming off the biggest win of his career with an upset of Andy Murray at the BNP Paribas Open, Donald Young was back to the business of qualifying for another major event. Against the wily veteran in Arnaud Clement, Young was out of sorts out the gate, dropping the first 10 points of the match with a listless performance and cantankerous disposition. But the young American who has seemed burdened by big expectations shook off a lopsided first set and turned the match around. “I didn’t play my game in the first set. I started to keep more balls in play and kept fighting,” said Young. He took pace off his shots, forcing Clement to create his own pace, and that change in tactics forced the Frenchman to make more errors. “If I keep playing my game, the way I played in the last two sets, I can get through.” He’ll have to fight past Frank Dancevic of Canada who can produce good tennis on North American hardcourts.


Americans Lauren Davis, Irina Falconi, Jamie Hampton, Christina McHale, Robert Kendrick, Michael Russell also advanced.

Tomorrow, matches from the women’s main draw begin on the Grandstand, Court 1 and Court 2. Find the full schedule here.

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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Delray Beach – First Day Qualifying Adventures

Raven Klaasen

DELRAY BEACH, FL, February 19, 2011- The day dawns warmly and beautifully at the ATP 250 Delray Beach for the first day of qualifying action. It’s so toasty, in fact, that this February day in South Florida offers a reasonable facsimile of what I’d imagine Australia was like around, say, the Tennis Australia Wildcard playoffs. Not content to merely imagine, I proceed to track down every Aussie on the grounds throughout the day, it seems.

I arrive early and scavenge the practice courts. First and best stop of interest is out on Court 6, where none other than International Tennis Hall of Famer Mark Woodforde is out with new charges Marinko Matosevic and Matt Ebden, helping them with their serves (note: they’re all Australian). “Use the same setup when you go down the ‘T’,” he advises Matosevic. “Gotta get that disguise.” Matosevic scolds himself for each little technical transgression but is very supportive of Ebden.

In the first match of the day, I see Ebden put that serve to good use, as he faces 2010 Easter Bowl champ, 17-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, who received a wildcard into qualifying. Ebden serves five aces and just one double fault, connecting successfully on seventy percent of his first deliveries, and winning 79% of those.

Fratangelo is overmatched, sure, but it’s among the more impressive less-than-an-hour defeats I’ve seen in a while. If that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I don’t mean to be. He hits some terrific-looking backhands, displaying excellent footwork, balance and technique, outright catching the man from Perth flat-footed on a few. Good movement and the occasional ripping forehand, too (although he seems a bit more inconsistent off that wing).

Ultimately, though, the Western Australian is just that much stronger and steadier, on serve and otherwise. He advances 6-2 6-3 to the next round, where he’ll face second seed Igor Kunitsyn, a 7-5 4-6 6-2 winner over Tim Smyczek.

I watch a bit of Smyczek, who looks good in the set I see him play (I’ll let you guess which one that was), then move to catch top-seeded Blaz Kavcic against the popular Ecuadoran, the 28-year-old Giovanni Lapentti. From Smyczek to Kavcic – seems poetic enough to me. Oh, wait. Back up a bit. While watching Smyczek, I’m treated to the unintentional hilarity of well-meaning fans accosting poor Woodforde while he watches yet another Aussie, Mr. Samuel Groth, fire some first balls.

One gent tells Woody that he got his autograph at Disneyworld in 1999. Another quizzes him about long ago matches vs. the Bryan Bros. “Do you remember that match?” the beset upon coach is asked. “Yeah, we played them a few times,” Woodforde answers patiently, while trying to do his job. Good man.

OK. Kavcic. Lapentti. What can I say? Blaz blazed through the tired-looking younger Lapentti bro, taking some time to gripe along the way, as per. The 23-year-old Slovenian is one of those players whose venting just amuses me (though not in a Joe Pesci way). With others’ negativity, there’s a real sense of menace. With Blaz, it’s just what he does. The Courier-esque baseliner, currently on a career high of No. 83 in the rankings, displays his usual tenacity and scrambling – with bits of skill and volleying thrown in for good measure. The net result is all kinds of not bad – he advances 6-2 6-2 and will play Rajeev Ram in QR2, who won 7-5 6-2 over local fave and wildcard winner Eric Hechtman.

As today is turning into an Ozsome theme day, I check in on how Matosevic is faring against 28-year-old South African Raven Klaasen. Under a watchful Wood(e)y(e), he’s playing haphazardly, as has been the case for 2011. At 3-all in the third set, he looks up at the chair umpire. “Score?” he inquires. Then he ma-tosses in three consecutive service winners from 15-0 and flashes a cheeky, little-boy smile to his coach, like, “Look what I just did!” He reels off the next eight points to win the match 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3. Amazing how he can just seem to click his game “on” sometimes and thereafter look unbeatable. He’s similar to Alex Bogdanovic, in the respect. When it’s all going right, you think, “How is this guy not Top 50? Top 25?” It seems so effortless. Sadly for them (and possibly for us as well), it hardly ever all goes right.

Next stop? You guessed it. Another Aussie – the Thunder from Down Under, a certain Mr. Groth. The Grothawk is still in full effect, and he begins his match against Lester Cook on a nice roll, breaking for an early 3-0* lead, and serving out of his shoes, as he’s been known to do.  The wheels come off the Good Ship Groth a bit as he serves a few double faults up 4-2 and Cook gets the breakback. “How many doubles is that this set?” Sam wonders aloud. Three, by my count, Sam (just doin’ my job). Groth pounds a ball into the palm fronds across the street in frustration.

The Californian Cook evens up the first set at 4-all as Groth forehands long. “YESSSSS, MATE!” Sam screams, nonsensically. Gotta love Grothy. This match is a battle of one-handed backhanders, incidentally, and at 4-5, the American puts the man from Narrandera’s one-hander to the test; but Groth passes with colors, some of which are flying. The Melburnian gets the break for the first set 6-4.

Slammin’ Samuel starts acing by the bucketload in the second set. “Nice serve,” says someone from the crowd, which to me is kinda redundant, in Groth’s case. He nails a couple of line judges and a ballgirl with a couple of firsties (saying “Sorry” each time, polite gent that he is), and then thanks the ballgirl for bringing his towel.

Cook holds serve at 1-4. “C’mon Les, let’s go – you go the mo!” says an onlooker. Questionable. Groth questions a call of let on another bomb, and the woman next to me says, “This guy is an a-hole.” OK, so he’s not for everyone, heh. Regardless, he hits three aces to hold to 5-2*, and Les just shrugs like, “What can I do?” Indeed. Groth finishes the match with a Day One high of 16 aces, 10 in the second set, and wins 6-4 6-3. Where’d that mo’ go?

Though I’d promised in my preview that I wouldn’t be stalking Jack Sock today, some retirements and withdrawals conspire to send me to Court 4, where the 18-year-old phenom is getting his latest test from the pro ranks, in the form of 30-year-old Austrian Alexander Peya, a former Top 100 playa. And I’m quite pleased I show up on this day. Either I have a terrible memory, or the wildcard puts in his most impressive performance off the ground that I’ve seen in the entirety of his Florida swing. Which is really saying something, as I’ve seen about a bazillion of his matches in the past month. Man, this kid can play.

Peya tries to scare the reigning US Open boys singles champ by coming to net on practically everything, but Sock is unfazed and takes to the forecourt many times himself, often successfully. He still struggles with serve, connecting on only 47% of his initial offerings. But he’s able to save all seven of the break points he faces, and he keeps the pressure on Peya’s serve, going deep into practically every one of his opponents service games. But just one break each set is all it takes. He advances 6-4 6-4 and will face fifth seed Ryan Sweeting in the next round, which should be corker.

Speaking of, the last match of the day (featuring – wait for it – an Aussie) promises to be just that: another 18-year-old phenom, Bernard Tomic, taking on the fourth seed, Lukas Lacko. The match proceeds quite predictably at first, with the Slovakian dictating and Tomic retrieving, floating, slicing and lulling. But then, the unpredictable: the teen starts pulling at his left hammy, and breaks for a lonnnng medical time-out. During which time, some schoolkids scoot by on scooters and bikes on the other side of the fence and toss little trinkets onto the court. Lacko looks up at the chu/mp (smiling, of course) like, “WTF?” The congenial ch/ump just rolls with it.

With Lacko serving at 4-5 deuce, he nails a short ball sitter that Tomic anticipates perfectly, rocketing back a backhand for a set point. The Slovak saves it with an off forehand winner. Two more set points come for the Australian, but go when he errs on his groundies. Lacko holds for 5-all with two service winners to Tomic’s forehand side, and then rattles off the next eight points for good measure, taking the first set 7-5. Actually, it’s Bernard who gives it to him, missing wildly off the ground and not even trying on some returns. Hmm.

The young Aussie takes an early break lead in the second set, but Lacko breaks back in the fifth game. An unusual sequence puts the cap on a long tennis day. Tomic serves at 3-all and seemingly wins the first point when Lacko smacks a forehand just long; but a ball comes into the court at the end of the point, and Lukas argues that he was distracted. Tomic joins the conversation and sportingly concedes the point should be replayed. Lacko claps his racquet to applaud the gesture of goodwill. But then Tomic loses that first point, and a subsequent would-be 40-30 point is now a break point against, and the 23-year-old takes advantage to indeed get the break.

From there, it’s a train wreck. Lacko holds to love in under a minute, and Tomic sextuple faults (six consecutive faults), then dumps a drop shot into the bottom of the net. Just like that, Lacko wins it 7-5 6-3. Was this thus the last sporting gesture we’ll ever see in Tomic’s young career? Tune in tomorrow, when I don’t answer that question at all, but instead bring you more ATP qualifying adventures!

JJ is covering the Florida swing, from the USTA Pro Circuit through the ATP  World Tour Delray Beach tournament for Tennis Panorama News. Be sure to follow him on twitter @Challenger10s and visit his website  Challenger Tennis which celebrates and chronicles the unsung heroes of the pro tennis world – the Challenger and Futures players who grind it out each day.