The Wait…

Jan 29, 2009

It’s a taunting, tantalising limbo period in the Australian Open. The semi-finals are almost over, with some matches decided and others still waiting to be determined. It’s almost intolerable as a fan; the semi-final matches are exciting enough, but they (hopefully) are only a taste of what’s to come. The finals beckon not only the players who find the final round in their grasp, but for the fans too.

It’s a sudden shock to realise just how many players have been whittled away. In the men’s singles, names such as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick have been swept out of the tournament, leaving only three left standing. For example: Rodger Federer. His semi-final match against Roddick saw the American take a pounding as Federer took another determined stride to the finals. Federer relied on his instincts and skill, and made several successful line-calls with the technology proving him right every time. When Roddick had won in the quarter-finals, he had beaten a very different man; Djokovic may be up there in the rankings with Federer, but he was tired, a player who had a beaten body and strength that wilted under the heat. Those sort of problems weren’t so much as glimpsed in Federer’s game, and Roddick found it hard to dazzle the Swiss as the ever more »

Written by: SophieG | No Comments »

A Bygone Era…

Jan 29, 2009

21 years ago Mats Wilander and Pat Cash played an epic final in the first Australian Open to be held at the current venue. Wilander won that match 8-6 in the fifth and it is rated to this day as one of the classic matches of that era.

Tonight these two great champions of the game returned to Melbourne Park to relive that historic encounter, and on this occasion Cash was able to exact some revenge in a good natured match between two friends who set about entertaining a tennis loving crowd.

It got me to thinking about how much the game has changed in twenty one years. A perfect example of this came with Cash, on the wrong side of forty at this stage, sending down some thunderbolts on his serve, with his fastest of the night clocking in at 208kph – pretty quick by anyone’s standards.

I doubt in his heyday he would have been sending down serves of this speed too often, but with the racquet and string technology today, a faster paced game predominates.

What was also great to see once more was the serve-volley play that was the trademark of players such as Cash and Edberg when they were winning championships. Unless there are some major changes to equipment, and a move back to more tournaments on grass, we have sadly seen the last of this style of play.

In a way it was almost poetic that this game was played straight after the semi-final win of Roger Federer, who is one of very few players on tour who would not have looked out of place playing in a bygone era. His more »

Written by: Crooksy | No Comments »

The Final Push

Jan 28, 2009

The last few days has been bursting with examples of the trials and tribulations players must go through to win a Grand Slam title such as the Australian Open. It explains this giant of a blog; the past few rounds have been so packed that it’s hard not to get giddy when called upon to write about them. And now, the stage has now been set for the semi-finals, and the elements that nagged at their games in the first few rounds now start to become a gruelling test. The title is so close, yet so far. And there are plenty of things that make a Grand Slam title even harder to grasp for the remaining players.

The heat

With temperatures reaching 40c quite regularly on the courts, the heat has already taken its casualties. Although not playing his best at the time and also beset with cramp, Djokovic struggled against the intense heat in vain; he eventually retired from his match against Andy Roddick in the fourth set. Many others have wilted under the heat to eventually go on to lose the game, but he is now the fourth to have retired from a match due to the heat in the past two days. The quarter-final game b more »

Written by: SophieG | No Comments »

Top Seeds Through

Jan 28, 2009

There are two ways you could look at Serena William’s win today. Your take on it may depend slightly on whether you are a big fan or not.

1) She is a fighter. Today afer losing the first set she showed the fight that we’ve all seen before and ended up winning the match comprehensively. She is here to win this tournament and is hitting some form at the right time.

2) She got a little bit lucky. The first set of the match was played with the roof open, and with today’s temperature hitting over 42 degrees C (108 F) Williams was the player who was really struggling with the conditions. They then shut the roof for the rest of the match and Williams was able to compose herself and claim the victory.

Personally I strongly disagreed with the decision to shut the roof. They knew temperatures were going to soar, so they should have either had it shut for the whole match, or waited until the end of the match before closing it up. For me, changing the conditions mid-match is something that should be avoided.

On a side note, with her win today Serena Williams became the highest paid female athlete of all time in terms of prize money won. You get ten points if you can name the woman she replaced.

On The Men’s Side

Federer won his quarter final last night in such a manner that it had the feel of an off-season exhibition by the end – incredible shots of both power and finesse coming en masse from his racquet. By dropping just three games against a top ten more »

Written by: Crooksy | No Comments »

No Idea Who’s Going To Win!

Jan 27, 2009

As the tournament enters the second week I’ve got to you tell you, I’m pretty excited. The form that so many players are showing, particularly on the men’s side has been very impressive. I have found myself switching back and forth numerous times on who I think will win as the various players stake their claims with resounding performances.

After the Federer/Safin game I was convinced Federer would take this tournament by the scruff of the neck. But in his very next match he had to come back from two sets down to win in five against an opponent you’d think would offer him little resistance.

At the start of the tournament I was convinced Djokovic could not win – his confidence was down, he had an untried racquet in his hands and other players seemed more likely.

Then he goes and plays some unbelievable tennis on his way to defeating Marcos Baghdatis, who’s ranking in no way reflects the level of his play in this tournament. Djokovic is moving extremely well, and there was none of the holding back on ground strokes that a lack of confidence in equipment would bring. He is ready to win this tournament.

Unfortuntaely I have missed Nadal’s last two games, but a straight sets demolition of a player of Tommy Haas’s quality is impressive. Fernando Gonzale may have been a little leg weary after his previous two matches went the distance, but again Nadal’s win to progress to the quarter finals seemed very easy.

Outside of these three you have plenty of others that are more »

Written by: Crooksy | No Comments »