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Luksika Kumkhum

 

I'm calling it "Stakhovsky Syndrome", and Luksika Kumkhum is the latest player to contract this tournament-ending ailment.

We see it at every major – a little-known player upsets a highly-ranked seed in an early round, then promptly loses the next match. Like child stars, these fringe players are unable to shake the public's memory of their first big win and are forever remembered for that one success.

For every Gary Coleman, Punky Brewster and that kid from the Home Alone films (and wasn't he in a Sonic Youth clip as well?) the tennis world answers with a Sergiy Stakhovsky, Lukas Rosol and now Luksika Kumkhum.

The 88th-ranked Thai knocked out sixth seed Petra Kvitova in the first round, but she couldn't sustain the run against Germany's Mona Barthel, who rudely awoke her from her dream with a three-set loss.

Sadly for Kumkhum, the only known cure for Stakhovsky Syndrome is to become a top-10 player and win a Slam or two – that way this moment will cease to be considered "career-defining" and instead be labelled “a hint of things to come".

The doubles event kicked off in earnest today, and there were some big names in action, but it was the returns of Ross Hutchins and Pat Rafter that stole the show.

Serena Williams and Andy Murray among the current tennis players who tuned in and tweeted their support of Rafter, but it wasn’t enough as the Aussie favourite, and partner Lleyton Hewitt, were defeated by Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 6-4 7-5.

But it was Hutchins’ return to his first major since undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma which was the most heart-warming story of the day. With partner Colin Fleming, they won their first match since Hutchins’ return to professional tennis, a three-set victory over Marinko Matosevic and Michal Przysiezny.

Day three threw up its share of marathons and upsets. Daniela Hantuchova outlasted Karolina Pliskova 12-10 in the third set, Tommy Robredo needed four sets to overcome Julien Benneteau, Jeremy Chardy prevailed in a tough one against Alexandr Dolgopolov, Florian Mayer ousted 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny in five sets and Jie Zheng won a three-set thriller over Madison Keys.

In the upsets category, Australian Casey Dellacqua gushed “it feels pretty bloody good” after she showed 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens the door, American Sam Querrey served the combustible 23rd seed Ernests Gulbis off the court, although the Latvian did win the racquet-smashing contest. And Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki bid auf widersehen to Melbourne Park after Monica Niculescu surprised her.

Oh, and a raft of seeds also made it through, including Novak Djokovic, Li Na, Serena Williams, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Angelique Kerber, Richard Gasquet and Jerzy Janowicz.

What did you say?
After her 2-6 6-2 6-2 loss to Monica Niculescu, Sabine Lisicki tweeted: "Got beaten by the heat today. Very unfortunate but that's life. Thx so so much for your support out there!!"
Presumably she forgot it was Niculescu who was hitting all those winners, not the sun.

It’ll be a long drive home for …
Ernests Gulbis. Six Australian Opens, and the Latvian has never made it past the second round. The world No.23, Gulbis has made just one quarterfinal at the four majors (Roland Garros 2008) since making his Grand Slam debut in 2007. 

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Post-Tournament
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
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