American John Isner may have had the first great match of the 2012 Australian Open during Day 3 of the event, as he outlasted Argentina's David Nalbandian in an epic match to claim a five-set victory.
Isner entered the Aussie Open ranked 16th in the world, but he still needed four hours and 40 minutes to overtake the unranked Argentinian veteran. The final set scores were quite close -- 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8.
Isner used his biggest weapon -- his serve -- to tally 43 aces compared to Nalbandian's seven, but conversely doubled up in unforced errors as the American committed 69 mistakes compared to Nalbandian's 33.
As far as other top tennis players are concerned, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were able to advance in Day 3's action as they move closer to meeting prior to the tournament championship. American Mardy Fish wasn't quite as lucky, however, as the No. 8 ranked player dropped straight sets to Alejandro Falla to be eliminated from the tournament.
On the women's side of the bracket, Kim Clijsters and Li Na were both able to advance through to the next round. The only American woman in action also advanced as Christina McHale rallied for a three-set victory over New Zealand's Marina Erakovic.
As expected, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer advanced in their Round 2 matches on Day 3 of the 2012 Australian Open in Melbourne, although Federer's victory was in a slightly different form than anticipated.
The No. 2-ranked Nadal defeated German-born Tommy Haas in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Nadal has been dealing with a nagging knee injury, but won the match handily. Haas did take an early lead in the final set, but Nadal battled back and closed out the win during his opponent's serve.
Federer, currently ranked as the No. 3 men's tennis player in the world, advanced to the third round when his Day 3 opponent, Andreas Beck of Germany, withdrew due to injury. There was a note of bittersweet irony here, as Federer was forced to pull out of his semifinal match due to a back injury in the last tournament he participated in, at the Qatar Open in early January. It is not yet determined who Federer or Nadal will face in Round 3.
No. 11 Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, defeating Blaz Kavcik in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Kim Clijsters advanced to the third round of the tournament in just 47 minutes. The Belgian defeated her French opponent 6-0, 6-1. The No. 11 seeded Clijsters, the tournament's defending champion, will face the No. 20 seeded Daniela Hantuchova, with whom she's quite familiar. From the AP:
"When the injury happened, it happened against Daniela,'' Clijsters said of the hip muscle spasms she had at the Brisbane International. "She's been playing well this season so far.
"We both go back a long way - we grew up playing under-14s together. Now almost 30 - still battling it out.''
Li Na also slid through to the third round. The tournament's fifth seed, Na beat Australia's Olivia Rogowska, 6-2, 6-2. The match took 62 minutes. Despite the score, Na told reporters after the match that it was harder than it looked. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
"I think today was, how you say, the score looks like easy, but some games do fighting a lot.
"I mean, she's young, I think she need more experience."
The 2011 Wimbledon champion will face 26th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in the next round.
Mardy Fish wasn't supposed to have much trouble with Alejandro Falla on Day 3 of the 2012 Australian Open. In fact, he wasn't supposed to have much trouble at all until he got to Juan Martin Del Potro a couple of rounds from now. Instead, he's out of the tournament after a poor performance, with Falla defeating him in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (6).
Fish's first serve percentage was actually better than Falla's, but Fish made 58 unforced errors during the match to Falla's 34. In the third set, many of the errors were very bad misses on shots that Fish usually executes with ease. He gifted Falla a number of holds of serve on bad errors, while Falla capitalized on his chances in the match, converting on five out of six break points.
Falla will now move on to face Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. This section of the draw could feature a fourth round match with Del Potro for a winner, while Roger Federer will be the likely quarterfinal opponent for the players in this section of the draw.
The first week of the Australian Open rarely features marquee matches or major upsets. Even though Samantha Stosur went out on Day 2, there's no reason to believe that any of the stars playing on Day 3 are going to struggle. Rafael Nadal, Mardy Fish, Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki are all in action, and all are expected to progress in straight sets. The most intriguing match at Rod Laver Arena on Day 3 actually features a couple of unranked players.
American Sam Querrey is going to be playing against an entire country when he takes on Australia's Bernard Tomic. Querrey is coming off of a straight sets win that took him just 87 minutes, while Tomic is coming off of a grueling five-set match in which he produced a minor upset of No. 20 Fernando Verdasco. When asked about his feelings on Tomic coming off a five-setter, Querry's reaction was a predictable one.
''I guess I was pretty happy, but he's a professional athlete, he's got a day-and-a-half to recover, and I'm sure he'll be ready to go and nothing will be lingering when we play.''
The two players will face off in the fourth match of the day at Rod Laver Arena, and they should play a more competitive match than anyone who precedes them. Both players are young and improving; Tomic is just 19-years-old while Querrey is 24 and is finally healthy after a 2011 littered with injury problems. Both players will be consistently ranked before long, and could be meeting deeper in majors in the future.