Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day Two: The Mighty Fall (More Often)

Marion Bartoli. Lucie Safarova. Agnes Szavay. What do all three of these women have in common? They all had a fantastic 2007 season (going 133-62 collectively).

After day two of the Australian Open, however, they now have another thing in common: they all crashed out in the first round.

Bartoli and Szavay both lost three-set affairs, while Safarova was dominated in straight sets. While Bartoli's slayer was more well-known Swede Sofia Arvidsson, who's lingered inside the top 100 for the last few years, Szavay lost to Ekaterina Makarova (just her fourth grand slam match, ever) and Safarova fell to Catalina Castano (currently ranked 139).

All three women have come to find much more notoriety and expectation over the last year - especially Bartoli, who was a finalist at Wimbledon just six months ago. But the Australian summer sun and the weight of grand slam expectation seemed to weigh to heavy on the shoulders of these women, all who are in their early 20s.

Here are the final few games of Bartoli-Arvidsson, in which the Swede won 6-7 6-4 6-3.

The loss was particularly stinging for Safarova, who beat then-defending champion Amelie Mauresmo here last year on her way to her first-ever grand slam quarterfinal appearance. Safarova even defeated Justine Henin last year at the Paris Indoors, before struggling for the rest of the season with injury and consistency. Here are highlights from her '07 win in Paris:

The three women were the highest seeds to fall in the tournament thus far.

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