Tramlines

Five-set marathons not only exhausting players?

Tramlines

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John Isner

Women's tennis is frequently bashed for its ability to produce a disproportionate number of service breaks, with some particularly cynical tennis fans even questioning whether the women know that service games are supposed to be the easier ones to win.

Tramlines is not among those voices, and has decided the time is right to turn this question on its head and ask whether some of the men on tour don't know that the point is to win in as FEW sets as possible.

There are few things that make TL shudder more than sitting down to another long day of Grand Slam tennis commentary and seeing Nicolas Almagro's name on the schedule.

As impressive a battler as the Spaniard is, there is nothing he seems like more than an epic five-setter, especially on the clay. There's just no telling how long his matches are going to take and he was at it again today needing three hours and 29 minutes to get past Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 4-6 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4 6-0.

There are certain players you just know will go to five sets, before they've even taken to the court. Alexandr Dolgopolov is fast becoming one of those players. Having come back from two sets to love down in his opening match this year, the Ukrainian was at it again in the second round; dropping the first set before storming back into contention with two very comfortable sets, then remembering where he was and promptly squandering the fourth so that he could go the distance in the fifth. It eventually finished 8-6 in the 13th seed's favour.

John Isner is another. Not content with holding the record for the longest ever men's match (you all know which encounter TL is referring to) Isner once again tried to break that record with a four hours and 41 minutes, five-set clash against David Nalbandian that eventually finished up 10-8 in the final set.

Of course, Tramlines is being facetious. These epic matches could just as easily be taken as a sign of the depth in men's tennis but regardless of that TL can still be heard to groan when it sees certain players on the day's schedule.

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So all-powerful is Roger Federer that even the moment he gets shifted out to Hisense Arena became a bit of a drama as his opponent Andreas Beck withdrew unexpectedly with a back injury.

Federer's last 52 matches have been on the Rod Laver Arena. Not since his first round clash with Alex Bogomolov Jr in 2004 has Federer played anywhere but the main court at Melbourne Park.

And afterwards, what did Federer think of his opponent's withdrawal?

"Surprising. It came as a surprise. He said he had a lot of painkillers and pain during the last match. I think it happened four, five days ago.

"Nothing he could have done, even though he would love to play against me. (I) feel sorry for the fans, you know, who were excited to see me on Hisense today."

Very gracious of you, Roger!

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It's early days in the Australian Open but Trammers is crossing its fingers for Janko Tipsarevic to go deep into the tournament at Melbourne.

Why? Tipsy time.

A remarkable effort from the Serbian today, who after spending the first 30 seconds of his video blog checking out his hair in a variety of locations, then tells his audience that "The only reason I'm doing this blog is to get my popularity up in Serbia because they're all about Djokovic..."

Which would be fine, if a certain world number one wasn't standing behind him listening to the whole thing.

Watch and enjoy.

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SHOT OF THE DAY: Look no further than David Nalbandian's effort at 7-7 in the fifth set against 16th seed John Isner. Having been forced to play a fifth when he could have won it in four, Nalbandian, at full stretch on the run, flicked a squash-like backhand just high enough of the net to leave he American floundering at the back of the court to go 0-15 up.

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RALLY OF THE DAY: Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro takes the honours in this section today, making light work of his lanky frame to scamper around the court before putting the rally to bed with the increasingly popular between-the-legs shot.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY #1:

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David Nalbandian argues with the tournament referee

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PHOTO OF THE DAY #2:

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Tobias Kamke tries out a new tactic - racquet whispering

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LOOKING AHEAD: Obviously, from a British point of view, Tramlines is happy to see the return of Andy Murray to the court, the fourth-seed taking on Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, while Novak Djokovic is also back in action against Colombian Santiago Giraldo. But from a neutral's point of view Lleyton Hewitt's clash against 15th seed Andy Roddick has all the hallmarks of a classic late-night Australian Open encounter, with their last but one clash (at Wimbledon in 2009) being a five-set battle that lasted for nearly four hours.

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