Australian Open – Day 11

They call this the Happy Slam but strange things are brewing Down Under. Without a doubt the four consecutive matches yesterday had to the wildest and wooliest played on one court with each having more than an unusual twist than the other. We went 13 1/2 hours straight on Rod Laver Arena.

First it started with Venus and she was serving for the match for an absolute routine first match before the wheels came off. She unexplicably took the foot off the gas pedal and gave a gift to her opponent Li Na a place in the semifinals. Serena then takes to the court and probably a little stunned from here older sister’s defeat. She takes to the court against a hot Azarenka who shoots out for a 6-4, 4-0 lead. And it looked like the Williams day was over. I should have known better that Serena has made a habit of making amazing comebacks Down Under. She put on a display from 0-4 down in the second that was as good as I’ve ever seen her. She seemed to be hobbled by her leg but she upped the power and left Azarenka crushed. She rallied to win 13 of the final 17 games. Hopefully she will have something late in the tank since the top half has to come back today for the semifinals. It’s a tough turnaround.

In the next match, the Little Machine, Nikolay Davydenko, comes out with guns blazing and has Roger Federer in a sleeper hold, leading 6-2, 3-1, double break (15-40), playing as good as tennis as I’ve ever seen anybody play. He misses one sitter for double break and then the wheels come off for one hour. He loses 13 straight games and you think it’s over for sure and he mounts one more comeback when you think it’s zero chance he would wake up, only to go down 7-5 in the fourth. Davydenko will surely be kicking his heels with so many missed opportunities (5 of 19 break points). But the Great Fed escapes to advance to a record 23rd consecutive Grand Slam semifinal.

In the last match of the evening, which started one hour and 15 minutes late, as we thought this would be the most electric play of the day. These two athletes put on an amazing display for two hours. With Djokovic ahead 6-7, 7-6, 6-1, it looked for all the reason that Djokovic was the fitter and stronger and better player. But this was yesterday with strange events. Out of nowhere Joker starts to feel ill and he asked to leave the court down 0-2 in the fourth. Obviously he was never the same and Jo WIlly got a burst of energy and steamrolled him in the fourth and fifth 6-3, 6-1. Credit to Tsonga who never played a five-setter in his career and he’s now won back-to-back five setters in his 11th Grand Slam tournament. He’s bidding to become the first Frenchman to win Down Under since Jean Borotra in 1928. The last Frenchman to win a Slam was Yannick Noah in 1983.

On today’s card, we have the small semifinal first with “Sparky” Justine Henin (5′5″) against 5′3″ Zheng Jie. Henin has got to be flowing with confidence and she seems to be getting better as the tournament goes on. She’s looking to one up on Clijsters who won last year’s US Open in her third event back. Sparky is trying to do it in two tournaments in her comeback. Look for Henin to roll in two sets. In the next semifinal, it should be a tired Serena Williams, who seemed troubled with her calf yesterday. But Li Na had to work incredibly hard to beat Venus. Both player should be equally tired. But something tells me that Serena is going to want to avenge her sister’s loss to Li Na and look for Serena to take care of business today. Look for Serena in two easy sets.

And tonight’s men’s semifinal features 22-year-old Andy Murray against 21-year-old “Marin County” Cilic. Murray is still stinging from that fourth round straight-sets loss to Cilic at the US Open and he takes a 3-1 lifetime advantage against the Croat. The one stat is that Murray has not lost a set in the tournament, winning all 15 sets. He’s the only player, man or woman not drop a set. Marin County has played 22 sets and you figure he’s got to be fatigued. He’s played eight hours more on court than Murray. Good thing for Cilic is that it’s a night match and the weather is expected to be cold again. I am gong to continue with the trend and Murray will reach his second Grand Slam final in straight sets. He’s trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 74 years since Fred Perry won the US Championships.

This has to be record cold temperatures at this year’s tournament. I am definitely going to hit a shop and find some winter clothes for tonight. I’m tired of freezing my tail off.

G’Day Mate

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One Response to “Australian Open – Day 11”

  1. Andy says:

    Brad,

    Saw the Fed/Davy match and knew Fed would come through in spite of the ups and downs. Always love your references to other American sports in your commentary/analysis. Just a minor correction – when referencing the best reliever in baseball history, it would be good to get his name right: it’s The Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, not Manny Rivera. Keep up the good work.

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