Commentary

Maladies hitting Melbourne's stars

Updated: January 19, 2011, 7:41 AM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The first three days of the Australian Open have provided plenty of drama.

Fernando Verdasco became the latest man to come back from a two-set deficit, Venus Williams came back from the dead to win in three, and Maria Sharapova toughed it out against sweet-hitting but erratic Virginie Razzano.

Here are five things we learned from Day 3 in Melbourne.

The Aussie crowd can be impolite

Isn't this supposed to be the Happy Slam?

There was Williams, battling against Sandra Zahlavova while visibly ailing, and several in the crowd didn't like it when the seven-time Grand Slam champion caught her ball toss in the final game. It was Roland Garros for a second.

Further, the majority at Rod Laver Arena appeared to be rooting for the Czech. Remember, Williams hasn't won a major outside Wimbledon in 10 years.

Maybe they didn't like Williams' dress. She went with the flesh-colored undergarment again, accompanied by a mesh top.

It's hard to compete when ill

Mardy Fish, who has been hit hard by a virus, didn't have anything left in the tank against Tommy Robredo after going five sets in the first round.

Fish did well to extend it to four against the workmanlike Spaniard.

"I was really sore after the first match," Fish said. "I haven't been able to practice much in the last week, and there's nothing like shocking the body with a 3½-hour first match after you've only been able to hit for 30 minutes the past three or four days. I was probably lucky to get through the first one."

There was good news, however. Fish feared he might have mono, but tests revealed it's a thyroid problem, which is probably less serious.

Schiavone is a battler

The little engine that could came through.

French Open champion Francesca Schiavone overcame three missed match points on serve in the second set to knock off rising Canadian star Rebecca Marino 9-7 in the third.

Schiavone, hindered by a leg injury, trembled in her chair when it was over, in real discomfort. Like Venus, things don't look good for the next round.

Tipsy will never change

After being part of Serbia's Davis Cup title-winning team, Janko Tipsarevic had an opportunity to get on a roll.

Sure enough, Tipsarevic held three match points of his own against Verdasco, all on serve, in the fourth set. But Tipsarevic panicked on the first two, giving Verdasco a chance to come back, and ended up blowing the third. Tipsarevic then went into tank mode, losing 19 straight points, and was bageled in the third.

Verdasco's fellow Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, won in five against Russian Igor Andreev.

Almagro suggested earlier this year he could crack the top 10. Big words for someone so inconsistent, even if he's mega-talented.

Kuzy knows basketball

Svetlana Kuznetsova, a French and U.S. Open winner, has seen better days. The Russian, formerly in the top three, has fallen to the 23rd seed. What does she make of that?

"I don't know," she told reporters. "The first thing it makes me think of is Michael Jordan's number."

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.