Ivan Dodig won the battle of the Croats on day one of the Australian Open, in what was otherwise a very disappointing day, as five Croatians bowed out in the first round. Just nine games were won between the four Croatian women who played on Monday.
Ivan Dodig is now 4-0 all-time against fellow Croat and big server Ivo Karlović, after winning 7-6(8), 6-3, 7-6(4) in their first round encounter in Melbourne. Dodig took advantage of his limited break opportunities, converting two out of three times, as Karlović launched 25 aces and won 82% of his first serve points. 32 seed Dodig will face Damir Dzumhur in the second round on Wednesday, where expected highs are well over 100 degrees. Dzumhur, ranked 188th in the world, is the first ever Bosnian to play in the main draw of a grand slam, and was impressive against world #104 Jan Hajek in their first round match. Dzumhur won 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, and will be an underdog in the match against Dodig.
Ana Konjuh was given all she could handle in her first career grand slam match against #4 Li Na. The 16 year old started the match very well, holding serve twice to go up 2-1, before Na put the hammer down to win the remaining games and the match, 6-2, 6-0. Ana will now be out for a few months as she undergoes elbow surgery but there is much to look forward from her in the future.
“I was feeling she has a huge, big serve and very good baseline. I was feeling if she got more experience, I think she will be a very good player really.” -Na on Konjuh
Full match between Li Na and Ana Konjuh. Konjuh led 2-1 in the first set before Na took control
Donna Vekić fell disappointingly in straight sets to qualifier and world #143 Lucie Hradecka, losing 6-3, 6-1. The young Croat struggled mightily on Hradecka’s serve, winning just 24% of her return points and failing to convert on five break point chances. The loss slips Vekić out of the top 100 in the WTA rankings, as she was defending points from her 2nd round appearance last year. Ever since playing in the finals at Birmingham in June of 2013, Vekić, 17 years old, is 4-9, with no wins against players in the top 95 and four losses to players ranked outside the top 100.
Petra Martić, who was “bicycled” in her first round match
Petra Martić and Mirjana Lucić-Baroni were both beaten heavily in two setters on Sunday. Lucić, who was up against the #15 seed Sabine Lisicki, fell 6-2, 6-1, which was to be expected as Lucić is ranked 110th in the world. She had chances to make the match closer, but was o/7 on break point opportunities. Martić, playing world #53 Annika Beck, was a slight underdog going into the match, but played what has to be one of her worst matches of all time, losing 6-0, 6-0, with firing in only seven winners to her 34 unforced errors. The match lasted just 52 minutes.
Day 2 Preview
Marin Čilić and Ajla Tomjlanović both have great chances to make up for the poor first day, and are favorites to advance to the second round. Tomljanović will play a fellow 20 year old Balkan, Slovenia’s Tadeja Majeric. At #75, Tomljanović is the highest ranked Croatian woman, and following her win over #32 Daniela Hantuchova last week, she will be favored to advance. After the four Croatian women on day one had just nine games between them, almost any performance by Tomljanović will be an improvement.
Čilić has been hit and miss since his return from a doping suspension, with a 3-2 record in two tournaments. He has a tough first round match against Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who ranks 36th in the world and is on a two match losing streak. The Croat has taken five of the six meetings between the two. Čilić and Tomljanović will play early Tuesday morning (US) and are not on televised courts.