Monday in Melbourne featured almost no upsets? Will Tuesday be any different? And is Bernard Tomic's form finally ready to keep up with his mouth?
1. Where are the upsets?
Day one in Melbourne was almost completely bereft of upsets. Only one of 16 seeded men (No. 11 Juan Monaco) and only one of 16 seeded women (No. 32 Mona Barthel) fell on Monday, and few are expected to be challenged on Tuesday as well. As mentioned on ESPN's broadcast, the top players stay in better shape during tennis' "offseason" these days (to the extent that there is an offseason at all), and rust is far less of an issue at the Aussie Open than it used to be. Still ... two upsets? Either the elites are further ahead than ever, or Tuesday is going to be a crazy day.
If we're looking for potential upsets on Day Two, here are a few interesting candidates:
- Women: No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki v. Sabine Lisicki (Match No. 1 at Hisense Arena). Lisicki was ranked in the Top 15 in the middle of 2012 and made the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and she has taken two of three matches from Wozniacki. A late-season slump caused her ranking to tumble into the 30s, but she is a really, really tough draw for Wozniacki, who hasn't made the second week of a major since last year's Australian Open.
- Men: No. 19 Tommy Haas v. Jarkko Nieminen (Match No. 4 on Court 5). Nieminen, a 31-year-old Finnish lefty, made the Aussie quarterfinals in 2008. The two have played only once since 2002 -- a tight, 7-6, 6-4 win by the 34-year-old Haas at Indian Wells in 2012 -- but both have been around the block a few times. Their first meeting: at the 2002 French Open.
- Women: No. 8 Petra Kvitova v. Francesca Schiavone (Match No. 2 at Margaret Court Arena). Kvitova won all three matches versus Schiavone in 2012, but they went to three sets at Wimbledon, and of the six sets Kvitova won, Schiavone won at least four games in three of them. Kvitova should win, but her form varies drastically from match to match. Keep an eye on this one.
- Women: No. 29 Sloane Stephens v. Simona Halep (Match No. 3 at Margaret Court Arena). Still only 19, Stephens made a lovely breakthrough in 2012, but she faces a tough challenge in her first match as a seeded player in Melbourne. Halep, 21, made the third round of the Aussie Open last year and beat Stephens in straight sets on clay in Barcelona last year. Stephens did win, 6-4, 6-0, when the two played recently in Hobart, Australia, however.
2. Are you ready, Bernie?
On Monday, I called Bernard Tomic the "Mario Balotelli of tennis." Known more for arrogance and antics, Tomic saw his ranking plummet in 2012, but he found his form last week in Sydney. If his game can match his mouth, he could have himself a memorable week or two in Melbourne. But before he can potentially get to Roger Federer in the third round, he must get past Argentina's Leonardo Mayer with the giant spotlight of Rod Laver Arena shining upon him. Tomic-Mayer is the first match of the evening session.
3. Whose early form is the most flawed?
No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 4 David Ferrer each cruised through their Monday matches while rarely having to shift up from third gear. No. 5 Tomas Berdych did, too, for that matter. On Tuesday, we find out if No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Andy Murray, No. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro and No. 7 Jo-Wilifried Tsonga are ready to keep up. Last year's men's Aussie was one of the most high-quality tournaments, start to finish, I can remember watching; most of the top names all played like it. So consider Tuesday a form check for the elites.