David Ferrer and David Nalbandian at Auckland was one of the most anticipated on the Road to the Australian Open. Ferrer is known as a pit bull on the court and Nalbandian, looking Nalbandian fit, had been playing very well of late. Instead of a knock down drag out brawl on the court Ferrer routined Nalbandian in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Nalbandian still goes into Melbourne as one of the dark horses and is expected to go deep.
Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils. In the end it was Hewitt who defeated Monfils. Monfils had both knees taped. Does Hewitt have it in him to get to the second week at Melbourne? Like Andy Roddick in the United States Hewitt is carrying Australian men's tennis on his shoulders. To say the Aussies would be ecstatic if he has a good showing is putting it mildly.
Jarmila Groth. I saw most of her match with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands who now, thanks to Alicia Molik, has a bulls eye on her back. Mattek-Sands could not handle the wind at Hobart though and it was Groth who held up the trophy in the end. Groth looked like a world beater but Bethanie was hardly in the match. Both women are expected to do well in Melbourne.
Gilles Simon defeated an emotional Viktor Troicki 7-5, 7-6(4) coming back in both sets. Simon was down a break in the first set, down a double break (0-3) in the second and was broken at 5-5 and still won in straight sets.
The news from this final was not only the win by Simon.
Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo defeated the team of Johan Brunstom and Stephen Huss at Auckland 6-4, 7-6(6).
Lukas Dlouhy and Paul Hanley defeated Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 6-7(6), 6-3, 10-5.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Kateryna Bondarenko and Laura Dekmijere 6-3, 7-5 at Hobart.
Congratulations to all the winners.
Maria Sharapova announced that Michael Joyce is no longer part of her team. She will play Melbourne under the guidance of Thomas Hogstedt. Joyce had been Maria's coach for 6 1/2 years but after Auckland it was decided that they needed a "break" from each other. Players rarely shake up their teams leading into a Slam and this split, sorry, break, comes on the eve of the beginning of play in Melbourne.
If nothing else it shows that Sharapova wants to be a contender in week two.