World No. 83

MURRAY IS NOT THE ONLY BRIT FLYING THE FLAG DOWN UNDER

By Melina Harris

Andy Murray is not the only one flying the flag for Brits down under after his comprehensive dismantling of Marc Gicquel in the second round in difficult weather conditions: the first round victories of Brits Elena Baltacha and Katie O’Brien in the women’s singles meant that for the first time since 1992, Britain had two women into the second round of a Grand Slam tournament outside of Wimbledon.

Unfortunately, while O’Brien looked out of her depth as she lost to former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in straight sets Wednesday admitting, ‘I was trying to go for a little bit too much, I think I expected her to put me under more pressure, and to be honest, she didn’t. She just played solid but she didn’t do anything outstanding.’ Elena Baltacha’s impressive and gutsy win against Kateryna Bonderenko, an opponent ranked 51 places higher on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, has set up a fantastic duel against world No. 2 Dinara Safina in the third round Friday.

This will be a great challenge for Britain’s top player, whose career has taken more knocks than Muhammad Ali, suffering from tonsillitis, glandular fever and liver problems to name just a few. However, she is now certain to establish a new career highest ranking once the event is over. The world No. 83 said ‘I feel good. No, I feel fantastic’ after her victory revealing ‘the thing that has changed with me is confidence…if you really believe you can deliver, whether it’s in a very tight situation or not, then you can get there. I know there’s a lot more to improve on my tennis but mentally I think I’m getting there now.’

She went on to say ‘Now I have got nothing to lose against Safina. I know she is a good player, but she has had her blips recently. I have a day off to recharge and then I’m going to go for it again.’ Safina is in desperate need of a Grand Slam tournament victory to silence her critics and justify her elevated world ranking but this pressure could actually go in Baltacha’s favour if she can capitalize early in the match.

Next up for Murray is Florent Serra, who struggled through five sets and saved two match points in his match against the Finn, Jarkko Nieminen, so hopes are high in Britain that a relatively rested Murray can dispatch of him with ease. In his post match interview Murray noted ‘He’s been around the 50 mark for quite a long time. He’s a solid player. He’s had two very long matches so far. Saved a couple of match points today. So, you know, he’s gonna go for it. Have to make sure I’m on my game.’

Let’s not forget Laura Robson, who was granted a sweet 16th birthday present with an impressive win against the experienced American pair, Jill Craybas and Abigail Spears, 6-3, 7-5 with the shrewd choice of Aussie, Sally Peers as her partner. Robson has been adopted by the Aussie crowd, with one cheeky spectator even giving her a certificate to change her residency to Australia; sorry mate, she’s ours!