Andy Murray knows a little something about playing in front of a rabid, nationalistic crowd. In his eighth try, the Scot won at Wimbledon and essentially made himself a hero for life on that great British island.
There was a time not so long ago when Australians dominated men's tennis; in the 1960s, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver won nine of 10 Australian Open titles. Mark Edmondson was the most recent native man to win the title Down Under -- and that came 39 years ago. Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt each won a pair of Grand Slam singles titles, but never the Australian.
On Wednesday, Murray faced another Aussie, 29-year-old Marinko Matosevic, whom he counts as a good friend on the ATP World Tour. Murray entered the match with a 9-0 career record against Australians, including a recent straight-sets exhibition victory over Matosevic.
Well, he's still perfect. Murray scorched the Australian 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in a flat match that required only 102 minutes.
"I played extremely well," Murray said in his on-court interview. "It was a great atmosphere. Thanks, everyone, for some fantastic support, although not everyone was supporting me."
Now's he's 10-0 against Australians and 10-0 in sets against Matosevic.
"I love Aussies," Murray protested with a laugh. "I don't know, sometimes it's just luck. I had no idea that's the case. I'm not sure I can hold onto that record much longer, but I'll try."
To be frank, the restive crowd at Margaret Court Arena wasn't expecting much. Only two days earlier, Matosevic had recorded his first match win at Melbourne Park in a five-setter over qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev. Matosevic was seeking the first third-round major berth of his career.
Joao Sousa, who is Portuguese (not Australian), is next, after Martin Klizan retired after the first game of their fourth-set match.
American women: Mattek-Sands first to third
Not that we're counting, but there are 11 American women remaining in the singles draw. Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Wednesday became the first to make it to the third round.
The colorful -- to say the least -- 29-year-old beat France's Kristina Mladenovic in a pair of tiebreakers in the second round on Wednesday. Mattek-Sands, who achieved a career-high ranking of No. 30 back in 2011, underwent hip surgery last April and finished the season with an 11-12 record. This after tearing her MCL in 2013. It's safe to say she's the most dangerous 258th-ranked player in the draw.
Christina McHale, the other American in action on Day 3, wasn't as fortunate. The 22-year-old from New Jersey, who made a YouTube appearance on Monday by emptying the contents of her stomach along the baseline during her first-round win, fell fast and hard to Germany's Carina Witthoft 6-3, 6-0. Witthoft won six of seven break points and finished the match in 49 minutes.
Mattek-Sands is guaranteed to be joined by at least two other Americans in Round 3 because Lauren Davis, a 21-year-old Ohio native, takes on Venus Williams on Thursday and Floridian Irina Falconi plays Madison Brengle of Delaware. The other Americans still swinging are Serena Williams, Nicole Gibbs, Anna Tatishvili, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Varvara Lepchenko.
Remember that smiling, cherubic fellow from Cyprus who blew into the 2006 Australian Open final opposite Roger Federer? What ever happened to Marcos Baghdatis?
On Wednesday, he reappeared in Melbourne and dropped a 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 beating on No. 20 seed David Goffin. The man who won all of one Grand Slam singles match a year ago now has two in three days.
In his 13th season as a professional, Baghdatis finished as the ATP's No. 86 player two years ago and consolidated that unpleasant position with a year-end No. 85 last month. But while he was struggling at the majors, Baghdatis lowered himself and played some Challenger tournaments. He went 22-2 and won titles in places such as Nottingham, Aptos, Geneva and Vancouver.
Clearly, the confidence has carried over. Now he'll have to channel that 2006 effort (he lost to Federer in four sets) in the third round, when he meets the winner of No. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov versus Lukas Lacko.
Juan Martin del Potro underwent surgery on his left wrist Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The Argentine injured the wrist on his off hand last year and shut down for the year in February after playing only 10 matches. The 2009 US Open champion returned a few weeks ago in Sydney and won two of three matches but was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open ... No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych dispatched veteran Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-2 ... Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-seeded doubles team, won their opening match 6-3, 7-5 over the Aussie pair of John Millman and Benjamin Mitchell ... No. 14 seed Kevin Anderson will meet No. 24 seed Richard Gasquet in the third round, after they both achieved comfortable, three-set wins.