Archive for January, 2010

 

Women’s Final

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Women’s Final

Heavy strapping or no heavy strapping, Serena Williams demonstrated just why she is at the top of the rankings by beating Justine Henin in the final yesterday 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Henin was planning to take her first open title since her return from an 18 month long retirement, in a very similar vein to Kim Clijsters’ achievements at the US Open in 2009. She fell foul to the strength of Williams, after making a promising start. It soon became obvious that it was not only Serena’s strength which was going to get her the points, but her serve. The big serves came exactly when she needed them, getting her out of a couple of sticky break point situations. Henin struggled to capitalise on her opportunities and fell behind. Even when she was level at 4-4 in the first set, she could not get a firmer grip on the direction of the set, and Serena took it with some more frighteningly powerful serves.

In the second set, it appeared that Henin was back. This was the tennis that had got her – as a seedless, rank-less, returning player – to the finals. Henin played some superb back-to-back games, clawing her way back onto the scoreboard. On the other side of the court, Serena’s play became a bit heavy. Still, no-one doubted there was a battle on Henin’s hand to keep Williams under control. Henin played a beautiful hold game, and broke Serena to take the second set.

Everybody took a moment for a breather, players and audience alike. The decid more »

 

Men’s Final

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

To think ‘three set match’, you may think ‘walk-over’, ‘battering’, ‘easy’. But the Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer three set Australian Open final was no picnic for either player. With die-hard fans behind him and an almost violent craving for a title, Murray tested the champion at every opportunity. As we all know though, Federer tends to have the answers up his sleeve. The final started well for both players, the scoreline crawling up according to serve. Andy Murray seemed confident, testing out a few of his angle-defying moves to hold his serve well.

Then…oops. The scoreline changes to 5-3. Break points were earned with some dreamy shots, both backhand and forehand, testing the meaning of ‘down the line’. Murray wasn’t helping himself with some awful serving, his serving percentage lingering around 40. It wasn’t just his own game letting the game run away from him though, at the other end of the court Roger Federer had the game by the scruff of the neck and was dragging it where he wanted it to go. First set to Roger Federer. There was no change in excitement of the crowd; they were perfectly happy to be there for five sets.

The second set, however, started to dampen the confidence of ‘Muzza’ fans and fire the excitement of the Federer ones. It wasn’t too long at all before Federer broke Murray again. “Hadn’t Federer seen his opponent change into his lucky white shirt?”, the crowd seemed to cry, “Is nothing sacred anymore?” Breaking M more »

 

Starkly Different Semi-Finals

Friday, January 29th, 2010

To get to the epic final that has now been set up, two very different semi-finals took place. First, there was Murray vs. Cilic. The excitement was palpable. In Britain, the BBC had whipped every ‘Muzza’ fan into an hysteria. Supporters of Cilic were trembling with the idea of another fairy-tale final for a lower ranking player.

Anyone who saw the match will know that the big Croat made the Scot work for the advance to the finals that he desired. He took the first set in a rather brutal fashion, with his serve his best bet against a nifty Murray. The eventual scoreline was 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2, but the battle to get the finals for Murray only really began to ease off at the end of the third set.

As the third set came to a close, Cilic needed to step it up a gear to have a chance, and unfortunately he just couldn’t find it. The words ‘pummel’, ‘batter’ and ‘broken’ started to appear in the running commentaries, whether they were Murray-backing or not. It was four sets, but it may as well have been 3. After a rocky start, Andy Murray found his game, the kind of form that may win him this Open.

The second semi-final, Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was over and done in 88mins. With a scoreline of 6-2 6-3 6-2 and a time like that, I’m sure you wouldn’t need more than the one guess at who was the winner. Federer demolished an exhausted, listless Tsonga, who looked like he had decided he wasn’t going to win before he even arrived on the cour more »

 

Henin to face Serena

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

I think it would be stating the obvious to point out the nice symmetry Henin’s path through the Australian Open has had with Clijsters’ epic return at the US Open. She finds herself in the final of the Australian Open, unseeded, and up against the world number no. 1 for the Open title. It promises to be a showdown.

Henin’s match against Zheng was short and not all too sweet from Zheng’s point of view. Zheng failed to get an upper hand on the Belgian, only managing one game in what was basically a demolition derby on the part of Henin. This confidence and power will be her greatest women about up and coming opponent, a player who didn’t exactly get the world no. 1 spot by playing nice.

Henin looked like she had never been away, and if Kim Clijsters hadn’t warmed us up to the possibility of such a miraculous turn, her advancement through the tournament would be even more astounding. It seems unlikely she will shy away from the challenge of ousting Williams to get to the title; in fact she seemed to be revelling in it.

Serena Williams had a bit of a trickier time with her semi-final opponent, Li Na. Na of China was hardly a pushover for the world no. 1, taking the score line to 7-6 7-6. Williams’ brutal strength appeared to be her ticket to a win, as well as some smart tennis that belied the heavy strapping on their thigh.

As for the tone of this promising final? Well, there is certainly an old rivalry between the two. They have played more »

 

Quarter Finals No. 1

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Only two quarter final matches have been completed and I already need a lie down and a hot cup of tea from all the excitement that’s been going on. I imagine most of you will know the first two to get through to the semis: Andy Murray and Marin Cilic will square up to each other to get a place in the final once the rest of the quarters are completed. And the pair of them did it in some undeniable style.

Andy Murray had a dominance over the start of his match with Rafael Nadal after a little bit of a rocky start when the Spaniard appeared to be going for the jugular. But it was in no way a sure thing when they went into the second set. Rafa played the brutal way we all know and love; Murray went for his ‘smart tennis’, with nifty drop shots, passing shots and volleys galore.

But as the second set started to move in favour of the Scot, Nadal started to have some problems. It was his knees that robbed him of so many tournaments last year, and it was the same problem again that meant the trainer was called on. After some treatment on his tendinitis-stricken knees, he was back in the game. Unfortunately, for not much longer. There was no doubt that Murray was on fine form, but what frustrated many watching was that Nadal had been too. The injury appeared to have flared quite suddenly, and no-one was happy to see him retire in the third set. Murray was amongst them.

Although he will take satisfaction from getting through to the semi finals a more »

 
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