Archive for January, 2011

 

And Novak does it again

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Novak Djokovic outplayed Andy Murray in their final match up to winthe Australian Open 2011, and he adds the title to the one he received at the same tournament in 2008.

It was sweltering hot in Melbourne as the match rumbled into view, not that the heat was needed. Things were already tense and viewers in the stadium and at home were sweating out their nerves. This was a strange final: no Rafa, no Roger. Murray was wanting his first Grand slam title, Djokovic his second. Novak Djokovic had the slight favourite edge over Andy Murray, having beaten Roger Federer in the previous round, but both men are well-known for being volatile and unpredictable in these sorts of moments.

It all started as you would expected; a good to-ing and fro-ing between the pair as the game got underway. But there were already signs that the immense speed and elasticity of Djokovic was going to be a factor throughout the game. He was a white blur behind the baseline. Both players were, understandably, nervous. The first couple of games had a handful of errors from both sides.

Once the first few games were underway, Djokovic didn’t just settle into a rhythm; he kick started another gear completely that seemed to sweep Murray away. He took the first set after a hot and sweaty 59 minutes, and it was by no means over at that point. Murray is generally a good player at coming back into matches. Novak, however, seemed adept at stopping him from doing so.

The pace and the power continued on into  more »

 

Murray/Djokovic??

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

When Novak Djokovic knocked Roger Federer out of the tournament in their tense semi-final, the Serb even managed to complete the game needing only 3 sets, 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 6-4. Djokovic has been on fire throughout the tournament, and this semi-final proved that with a combination of positivity and great form Djokovic is a man to look out for.

This is the first time since this same tournament in 2008, that a final will not feature either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. In fact  in this tournament’s final 2008, it was Novak Djokovic again who beat Federer in the semi-finals and made his way to the finals, where he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It was not especially strange, after Djokovic’s good past run with meeting Federer in Grand Slam tournaments, that Federer lost this year. As always, it was a surprise, but it shows that times are changing when Federer being knocked out before the final isn’t some sort of sign of the apocalypse.

Djokovic’s Australian Grand Slam title is his only one, so he has a lot to live up to in this final. He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Andy Murray, on the other hand, who beat David Ferrer in a tense semi-final match just after Djokovic, has been to an Australian Open final but not converted it to a win. This will be his third appearance in a Grand Slam final, but he has had trouble ever claiming these final appearances as a win. He swears that the pressure of Britain’s expectation is not a factor. I hope it isn’t, because they will be  more »

 

Clijsters Does it Again

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Kim  Clijsters has won her first Grand Slam title outside of the US, beating Li Na in the final earlier on today 3-6 6-3 6-3. It took a lot to beat Na, who made a strong start to her match, putting Clijsters on the back foot almost instantly. She dominated in the first set, rarely letting Clijsters get into her stride, and was rewarded with a 3-6 win.

But the second set Clijsters finally managed to wrangle back her game, and she started to inch her way ahead as Li’s error count increased. Although it seemed possible Na might fight her way back into the set and deal the deciding blow, she just didn’t have enough in her to finish off Clijsters. The next set was a game of nerves as Clijsters held on to her service games, and when she broke Na it started to become clear that she was heading to her third Grand Slam title.

Clijsters had been beaten in an Australian Open final back in 2004, but none of that seemed to matter as she stood on the brink of winning the title. She close out the championship game to love, and collapsed in what looked like relief on the championship point. Clijsters was tearful and emotional, but couldn’t have enough good things to say about her opponent. She admitted that it had been tense, and that Na had wrong footed her the whole way through.

Clijsters has now won three Grand Slams since returning from retirement. The strangest part of all is that she had only won one before retirement. Better post-retirement than pre-retirement? Apparently it  more »

 

The Women’s Semi Final Set Up

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

It is sad to see that Justine Henin has had to retire for the second time because of injury. But it sounds like it was definitely the best decision, with a recurring elbow injury causing her pain and putting her long-term health at risk. She was beaten in the third round by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Australian Open, and it seemed to just be another early shock defeat. However, that seemed to be the last straw for Henin, and she has decided to leave the sport not long after deciding to come back. She will be sorely missed, and we will always wonder about the lengths that her sporting rivalry with Kim Clijsters could have got to.

Justine Henin left a draw that had been blown wide open; not only by her disappearance, but by the exit of Venus Williams too. Once again, the draw is dotted with players who all desperately want a first Grand Slam title, and now have a much better chance of doing so with two top players gone. The one who I imagine will make the most of this is Kim Clijsters. The Belgian beat Agnieszka Radwanska in a tentative 6-3 7-6 (7-4) quarter final, and will face Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals.

Zvonareva met an unsettled Petra Kvitova in her last round, and she has gone through to the semis off the back of a comfortable win at 6-2 6-4.

On the other side of the semi finals, Caroline Wozniacki beat Francesca Schiavone for her place, battling from a set down to win 3-6 6-3 6-3. She had a struggle on her hands with the Italian French Open title holder, more »

 

The Make Up of the Men’s Semis

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Some things have been pretty much as expected in the quarter finals of this Australian Open event. For example, Federer has plodded along in his typical fearsome but ever regal presence to the semi-finals on the back of very convincing wins. He beat Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets, and spent little time brushing aside his fellow Swiss player. This, though, is not a Federer that has yet to prove he is unbeatable. He has dropped three sets in the last four rounds and, for Federer, that is uncharacteristically wobbly. He wants his 17th Grand Slam, and this is probably the first time I have personally thought that he may have to wait a while.

After all, there are other sharks circling the title. One of them, however, would not be Rafael Nadal. Yes, I know, there were tears all round when this blogger heard the news. My local tennis club have announced that they will be holding (in what sounded like all seriousness) a minute’s silence in his honour. The Spaniard fell foul to a leg injury, and Ferrer put him out of his misery with a surprisingly quick 6-4 6-2 6-2. David Ferrer is now heading to his first semi-final at the Australian Open, where he will meet Andy Murray.

Now, Andy Murray. There are strange echoes about last year to his trajectory through the tournament. He starts off well, shrugs off the challenges, has an epic battle that tests his current form and then…well, last year he made it to the finals. He beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets in t more »

 
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