19 January - 1 February 2015
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Put yourself on court with ReturnServe. From analysing returns on the court to measuring social sentiment. Data is a game changer. IBM.
Casey Dellacqua


Sometimes it can be tempting to put all your focus on the merits and achievements of Lleyton Hewitt, of Bernard Tomic, of Sam Stosur. Captivating as they can be, the first day of a Grand Slam will always throw up other stories of national interest in abundance, and Monday was no exception to the rule.

For those Aussie fans seeking a match outside the big three arenas, it was an afternoon to get your seat early and keep it regardless on Show Court 2.

No corner of the stadium could hide from the sun, but the tennis was enthralling for all spectators backing the locals.

The plaudits went to Matthew Ebden in the afternoon, but hopes of a double domestic triumph were torn apart just after 7pm when Melbourne resident Samuel Groth went down against Canadian Vasek Pospisil in a genuine battle of the giants, each man all sinew, muscle and height.

Not to mention the serve. Many of Groth’s first efforts consistently climbed above 220km/h, and he served 16 aces to four double faults in less than an hour and three quarters.

But it still wasn’t enough, the match ending in straight sets to the Canadian in a fast contest of few rallies, each point as short as the next, but engaging nonetheless. The match was once again enlivened by raucous loyal support from the yellow-clad Australian contingent stretching across the lower seats behind one stand.

Perhaps it suffered by comparison to the excitement of the previous match, Ebden shading a five-setter against the stylish if inconsistent Nicolas Mahut after surviving a major wobble in the fourth set, which he lost to love. It was a victory Ebden achieved thanks to a well of determination and grit, and a resolve not to lose.

It was only his second-ever win at Melbourne Park, and richly deserved it was too. Afterwards, Ebden was quick to credit his vociferous followers.

“It was insane,” he said of the support from the crowd.

“The first five minutes, the warm-up, the Fanatics, they had everybody on their feet clapping and cheering. You got however many thousand people cheering. From the word 'go' that definitely got me pumped up. That was probably the best crowd I ever had, right through till the end.”

Ebden was quick to acknowledge another of the early Aussie victors in Casey Dellacqua, who saw off veteran Vera Zvonareva in straight sets, the Russian former world number two on the comeback trail after a shoulder injury derailed her entire 2013.

“She's done well the last few weeks,” Ebden said of Dellacqua.

“Last year she had an incredible year in the doubles. She has been doing well in the singles. Hopefully she can kick on and get on in the singles as well. It's great for Western Australia. We're both doing our best.”

Much of Dellacqua’s victory on Court 3 was won in the planning.

“I wanted to make her work for every point. I know I have been out injured with a couple of surgeries and stuff, and that first big match or first big tournament coming back, I know how it feels,” she said.

“I wanted to make her play as many balls as I could to make her feel like she was under a lot of pressure and create a few errors from her side.” 

Sunday, 21 December 2014
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