Archive for the ‘Australian Open’ Category


Roger and Rafa

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

It wouldn’t be a Grand Slam final without a Roger and Rafa showdown. Not a good one, anyway. That’s my opinion, and it was obviously the opinion of all those bums on seats at the Rod Laver Arena.

Well, the two greats in the modern game didn’t disappoint. For three hours and 42 minutes, the two players battled it out to get to the final of this year’s  Australian Open. But unlike many of their former clashes, there was a slightly bizarre note to this particular match. Bizarre because – in what seemed to be an attempt to disarm Nadal – Federer hit 63 unforced errors. About half of those were on his usually exquisite forehand.

It’s like seeing a lion with a claw ripped out. Federer without his wonderful forehand. But it just shows Federer’s talents that he can still force Nadal to have to come from a set down to win. Whilst on one side of the net, Federer was struggling with his forehand, Nadal seemed to be trying to use his own forehand over his trusty backhand.

This match wasn’t the sort of epic that we have seen before between Roger and Rafa in the past. But Nadal having to come back from a set down, after being moments away from pulling out of the tournament just before it began, is another fairytale to add to the list. He was calm when he needed to be, he was explosive when it was required. And when it came to the final game, Federer sealed his own defeat. Het nets a forehand, sends one long, then even a backhand misfires, and soon he was hitting his 36thmore »


Is Sharapova regaining her former glory?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Maria Sharapova was the name on everyone’s lips when she emerged as a contender back in Wimbledon. She was the third youngest woman to win that Wimbledon title, and she did so playing Serena Williams who was arguably at the top of her game. She was young, beautiful, and the papers had got hold of her life story: a girl who had arrived in the US to advance her tennis career with her father and no ability to speak English. She charmed and delighted everyone by beating the favourite and bringing about a huge upset.

Since then her media spotlight has been constant, but her performance and fitness has been up and down. The fluctuations mean that although she has secured two more Grand Slam titles since her first in Wimbledon, there have been dark moments in between.

Last year, she was runner up to Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon. And after she secured her place in this year’s Australian Open, it seems she may be currently on a high.

In today’s women’s semi-final, Sharapova had a chance to enact some revenge on Kvitova. Not that Petra went down easily. The match lasted a long two hours, with the finally scoreline 6-3 3-6 6-4 not really doing justice to the battle. Looking at the serving statistics you’d have every right to be confused at the final scoreline. Sharapova committed 10 double faults and this nearly lost her the game, with Kvitova using those little wobbles to her advantage and pushing the game into the third set. In fact it seemed like Kvitova had the steadier head  more »


Does calmness make the player?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Although Roger Federer beat Ivo Karlovic in straight sets, there were moments when you would have forgiven Federer for acting out in frustration.  In any given match, no matter how good you are, there must be moments when things just don’t turn out the way you want them to. In those moments you’d forgive a player for venting his frustrations.

But what if you are Roger Federer? His reputation for having a cool, calm head no matter what the circumstances is well deserved. He has gone through hellish matches with the same measured calm as when he is comfortably winning (at least, on the outside). After his match with Karlovic, Federer told reporters that he sometimes just wants to go crazy. Like other players who scream and shout and throw their rackets around, Roger sometimes feel the emotions sizzle and wishes for the chance to throw a wobbly.

So why doesn’t he? Apparently, it’s because nobody remembers his early days. Anyway who does know Federer’s history knows that he used to throw some tantrums in his time. He threw rackets, kicked water bottles, all relatively minor stuff but completely unheard of in the Federer nowadays.

After 10 years of being the Buddha of the tour, he now has a reputation to uphold. As he states himself, he is now a role model to thousands of people young and old. He needs to maintain his calm because that is what is expected of him. When it comes to incentives to stay cool, that’s a pretty useful one.

As one of the best players ever to gr more »


Scaling tennis mountain

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Day 6 means we’re tantalisingly close to the end, but still just too far. Enjoyable for us, barely maintained torture for the players baking out on the Melbourne courts every day. Here’s a quick roundup of everything that has happened in these last few days:

Novak Djokovic barely stopped for breath whilst beating Nicholas Mahut, losing only 2 games, and looks as good as he did this time last year when he went on to win the Australian Open. Poor Mahut didn’t have much of a chance with a strapped up leg and Novak in a good mood, and it took only an hour and 14 minutes before was dispatched from the tournament. He was a hit with the crowd, though. After all, it was Mahut who narrowly lost to John Isner in the fifth set that went to 7-68 at Wimbledon 2010.

Michael Llodra couldn’t stop the force of Andy Murray. He was beaten 6-4 6-2 6-0 by Murray, not able to put up much of a fight. Murray’s sparkling form has had little to test it, so it will be interesting to see what happens to him over the next few days.

From the looks of things, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are on course to clash in the semi finals. Fans are rubbing their hands in glee. Roger is reaching his 1000th match on the Tour, and does he look like he’s slowing down? Does he heck. Having twins didn’t slow him down, turning 30 didn’t slow him down, so what will? Maybe Rafa, if only temporarily.

Then again, Roger’s game is an effective speed bump for Rafa’s form too. He dispatched the dangerous I more »


Day 3

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Day Three of the Australian Open and already my confident choice of Stosur to win has been blasted in the foot by the proverbial shotgun. Surely the biggest upset of the tournament so far, Sam Stosur was beaten 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 by world number 59 Sorana Cirstea. Stosur was the home favourite, and the disappointment was palpable in the crowds as she was systematically blown away by a more focused opponent. A US champion should definitely not be beaten this early on in the first tournament of the year, on home turf, with a relatively straight forward opponent. Unfortunately for Sam it’s a habit she appears to have picked up this year.

The rest of the women’s results appear to be moving in a smoother direction. Petra Kvitova – no stranger to being thrown out in shock early exits – managed it through past Dushevina. Maria Sharapova is also safe, only dropping one game against the Argentine Dulko. Azarenka could come out of this tournament aa world number 1, and she seems on course so far after beating Australian wildcard Dellacqua with style and flourish.

Paths for the top seem similarly smooth in the men’s draw. Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have all made solid starts to the tournament. Andy Murray did better than his British compatriots and pushed through the first test. Even though he dropped the first set, Murray breezed through the rest of the first round challenge and that’s that hurdle passed.

Federer moved with the typical grace of a player who has done this all befor more »