Sunday, 30 January 2011

And its all over

The finals have played out, the results are in, absolutely no surprises.

Li Na played Kim Clijsters in the womens singles final, and although she dropped the first 9 points (bit nervy apparently, I don't know I was showering at the time) Li came back and won the first set.  She dazzled with amazing speed that meant she got to every ball Clijsters hit, and created some exciting rallies.  There were a few breaks in the second set before Clijsters closed it out 6-3 now playing better and putting pressure on Li Na, the first Chinese women (and at 28 something of antiquity) to get to a Grand Slam final ever.  Clijsters became more aggressive in the third set and some unforced errors, as well as silly line judgements from Li, meant she won the third set and the Championship.  3-6 6-3 6-3.

Li gave a short and amusing runner up speech (the best kind) which Kim gave a long, dull, speech thanking the sponsors as well as the 75 people in her box.  Does anyone else find her agressively dull?  I was really rooting for Li. :(  Oh well she took it all with humour and grace, and a smile on her face.  Unlike someone else...

Novak Djokovic against Andy Murray was, on paper, a close match.  Friends from childhood, haven't played in years, only 2 places away in the rankings, both have crazy fans, every one was saying it could go either way.  Lies all lies.  Of Course Novak was the favourite, he won this tourny in 2008, took out Federer in the semis here then and now, as well as last years US Open, and won the Davis Cup (with his team), and he much more attractive than Murray.   The first set was a tight, tense one though, although it finished 6-4 to Novak it took an hour including a 15 minute opening service game from Murray.  After that it was fairly one way traffic, Djok played super well while Murray's strategy seemed to be miss all your first serves and look really negative and miserable. 

The second set could have gone 6-0 but Murray held his serve at 5-0, then managed to break Novak, as he began to be more aggressive as his task became more hopeless, also Novak probably lost a little concentration as he was crusing it at this point.  He won the set 6-2, there were a couple of breaks in the third as Andy played more aggressively on Novaks service games but failed to hold his own, and Djokovic won it and the Championships.  6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

Also British Peter Norfolk lost in the final of the wheelchair singles, if you're thinking we can never win anything Ill have you know that Norfolk is extremely successful.  He has won four Australian Opens, two Olympic golds, one silver, and one bronze, and French Open singles and doubles titles, has been number one in the world, currently number two (oh yeah, he's 50!), also an OBE and MBE.  Shame that he is relagated to a papragraph in the disability sport section. :(

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Nearly There

Well well well, a few days of shocks.
Firstly world number one Rafa Nadal was playing his quarter final against David Ferrer (Spanish, likes clay, top ten player, gets to EVERY ball) when he pulled a muscle in his leg :(  He carried on playing, but a shadow of his former self lost in three sets to his compatriot.  It seemed that he was carrying on more to give Ferrer the joy of beating him, then anything else.  But also he's a professional, competitive athlete and probably the idea of giving up doesn't sit well with him.  But it became a little sad to watch as the match continued and Nadal realised his dream of winning Australia (and in doing so being one of the few men to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time after winning the French, Wimbledon, and US Open in 2010) was over.

Not long after that Justine Henin announced her second retirement.  She quit in 2008 when she was world number one, she came back last year and got to the Australian Final before losing to Serena Williams.  She hurt her elbow in the summer, took several months off, and started the year saying she was playing with pain.  She lost to Kuznetsova in the third round of this Australian Open, and has aggrevated her elbow to the point that doctors have told her to stop playing.  I'm not that sad, I really liked her back in 2008 but I've moved on. 

And on to today, well the front pages will be full of Novak Djokovic beatin Roger Federer, but is that really shock.  After he beat him at last years US Open (in 5 sets, saving two match points) he's looked a better and more mature player.  While Federer (who is playing better and more focused than when he was first knocked off the top spot a few years ago) arogantly assumes he is still in his Federer bubble where just going out and playing well against any opponent is good enough- it's not and has been proved so numerous times in recent years.  Although you can't say he's playing badly, there is no direction to his energies as if he has given no thought to how to play his opponent.  And beautiful Novak is too good for that.  And Novak will play either Murray or Ferrer in the final.

Anyway, the realy shock is that Li Na beat World Number One Caroline Wozniaki in the Semi.  Li becomes the first Chinese woman ever to get to a Grand Slam Final.  The Chinese players were developed years ago after China was given the 2008 Olympics to host, they focused mainly on doubles believing they had the best chance of medals there, but now the singles women are reaping rewards of the Chinese Tennis Programme, and tough training regime.  Li also showed her humerous side (and might I say impressive English as it's not easy to crack jokes in a foreign language) after the match joking about her husbands snoring, wedding anniversay, and prize money motivation. :) 

And Li will face Kim Clijsters (her again) who beat poor Vera Zvonerarava, in straight sets.  Vera has got to two grand slam finals at Wimbledon and US Open, and I hope she isn't disheartened by losing here.  She seems to have used her experience at getting to grans slam finals as a confidence builder but I'm sure she doesn't like the sight of Clijsters on her draw sheet.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Week Two Beginth

Well Andy Murray powered through the fourth round, losing only 5 games to Jurgen Meltzer, and now will play unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov who took out fifth seed Robin Soderling, and before that Tsonga. 

If he wins he'll get into the Australian Open Semi against Nadal or Ferrer (Ferrer one of those top ten players who's very consistent and good on clay, but you've never heard of him).  Well never count your chickens but it'll probs be ol' Rafa.  Nadal took out Cilic in the fourth round.
Cilic is the tall Croat who beat Murray in the US Open, and has a nice face shape. Cilic played some good points but couldn't string it together against Nadal (who can?) and made too many unforced errors.  But at times it was a close match, and Cilic was 4-0 up in the second set, had he managed to hold on to it and win that set it could have been an interesting time for Rafa fans.
On the other side of the draw Federer beat fellow Swiss Wawrinka (pronounce the w as v btw), fairly easily.  Wawrinka who's on the way back to the top ten beat Monfils and Roddick playing rather superbly couldn't stand an on fire Federer.  And Federer (defending champ remember) is in the Semis against Novak Djokovic. 
Novak also won fairly comfortably against Berdych, he play great in the first and third sets winning them both 6-1, the second set was much tighter however, with Novak struggling with contact lens problems and being a bit whiney about it really.  Berdych took a break, but lost it and Djoko won it on a tie break.

On the women's side Chinese Li Na won her match against Petrovic (who has the much famed Petro dance when she wins), coming from a break down in the first set.  This sets up a semi final with world number one Wozniaki, who beat prize fighter Schiavone.  Schiavone had a mammoth match against Kuznetsova (lasted 4 and a half hours, longest in grand slam history, and 16-14 in the third set), but still battled hard through three sets against The Woz.  

 On the other side of the draw it's still in the quarter final stage with Clijsters against Radwanska, and Zvonerava against Kivitova.  All going to plan it should be Clijsters against Zvonerava in the semi, but it's always silly to speculate on women's grand slam results. 

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Who's wearing what?

It was Heineken Day at the Australian Open, which seems like a good idea, when have drunk Australians ever been a problem?  So much of the photos on the website are of people drinking and Heineken signs- dullsville.  So lets take a look at the fashion so far...

Our Maria, wearing a nice orange and grey two tone dress.  But you know when you're 10 feet tall, 9 and half feet of legs, it's quite easy to wear a dress.  And yet she has worn some awful things (you won't have seen it but for one event a black leather dress with gold buttons down the front looking like dominatrix barbie with 8 gold nipples).  But this I like. The colours seem to clash but in a strangely pleasing manner.
 Alright, another tall, pretty, blonde lady in a nice dress, athough Wozniaki never manages to pull off sporty but pretty mid shot in the same way Sharapova does, huh? Equally, Caroline has worn some hideous outfits, all seem to be designed by Stella McCartney, this is the best of the bunch, much nicer than the black scuba dress from the US Open, although still a little    see through for a prude like me. 

Well talking of see through, heres Venus.
Only got a look at three of the frocks this year, after she pulled a stomach muscle and retired after 7 points of her third round encounter.  The first two are the same; stripes of colour then stripes of transparency, in blue and black.  Once again too short, the millionaire athlete and clothing designer apparently can not find a dress to fit over her ample behind and as soon as she moves in her outfits they become little more than badly fitting stretchy tops.  Although its the yellow dress (below right) which has provoked the most interest/instant and total derision, apart from from Judy Murray who tweeted (yes I said tweeted) that Venus 'knows her fashion'....  Anyway I feel like I should include Venus's explanation of the dress, because it's bonkers:

"The outfit is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. It's kind of about a surprise, because when Alice goes down the rabbit hole, she finds all these things that are so surprising. This outfit is about having a surprise in a tennis dress, and showing some skin and then just having a print. Prints don't happen that often in tennis. So it's called the Wonderland dress."

The men are all looking rather dull, I'm afraid.  Both Roger and Rafa have taken to wearing grey shorts regardless of the colour of their shirts, although I do appreciate Roger coordinating the colout of the shirt piping, armband, and bandana.   IMO the best dressed man was Giles Simon (you really have to say it in a french accent), wearing green shorts and a lovely stripey green top.

And Novak showing off alternating outfits, just like Venus, you know one on, one in the wash.  I vastly prefer the black, but this contravenes all my rules about wearing black in the sun- pure madness.  It may have something to do with his rather lovely arms?
I heart Novak.

And some nice pink on show here with Victoria Azarenka showing off a hot pink halter dress with drop waist and pleated bottom (do I sound like I know what I'm talking about?).  And Jelena wearing a dullish pink dress that looks much better as a shorts and top ensemble IMO.  Really really really, why why why, don't any of the women wear shorts???

Anyway, that's it.  Nothing else has caught my eye. 

The Weekend at the Aussie Open

And Finally some big name seeds are out:
Aussie hope, and fifth seed, Sam Stosur lost to Petra Kivitova.  Kivitova once was a lumbering dinosaur style tennis player, she's clearly done a ton of gym work, lost  loads of weight, but still has the strength to whack the ball around the court.  She got to the semis of Wimbledon, and now shes in the fourth round of Oz. 
And Justine Henin who beat British Elena Baltacha, lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova (who won the US Open then disappeared, then won the French Open a few years ago and then dropped out of the top 20).

And just kidding, he went through beating the last Australian left in the draw- the 18 yr old, German born, Bernard Tomic who's already 6ft 4" tall.  Apparently press about him has been rather critical, his style is unorthodox and he lacks strength.  Needs some more time in the gym, get a bit wider, although how he can even walk at 6ft 4" I don't know. Anyway, he showed off his chops somewhat, by getting to 4-0 in the second set, but still lost in straight sets.  One for the future I say.

In other news Roddick, Federer, Djokovic, Soderling, and Murray all went through, and Wawrinka beat Monfils, Meltzer beat Bagdhatis, and Cilic beat Isner. So now Wawrinka plays Roddick, Cilic plays Nadal, and Meltzer plays Murray.  On the womens side Sharapova, Clijsters, Wozniaki, and Zvonerava won their matches.   But alas Jamie Murray lost his second round match :( 

My next post looks at what everyones wearing...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Week One Half Done

Well then, well then what's ben happening in Australia, I hear you ask?

Firstly, Mr Federer was pushed to 5 sets by Giles Simon (who, when beaten by Nadal last year said he was happy to be going home to his new baby, awww), in fact Simon had a good chance to win the match as Feds was no where near his best for the second half of the match.  Even at 2-5, 0-40 down Simon kept fighting, saving three match points and holding his serve.  But Federer was able to serve, and win the fifth set 6-3.
Top seed Nadal, however, brushed aside American qualifer Ryan Sweeting 6-2 6-1 6-1.  And Andy Murray came through comfortably against Illya Marchenko in straight sets.  He's a curious fellow, 'our' Andy, determined to do his darnedist to win his first grand slam but came to Australia without his current coach, did no research on his first round opponent who he had never played before, and said he wanted a slow start to the tournament so he could peak at the end.  Not sure this the approach I would take, but it's worked for him so far I guess. 

The most interesting match of today was Juan Martin Del Potro (who won 2009 US Open beating Federer before serious wrist injury took him out for a year, his ranking dropped from 4 to around 260, but he has a protected ranking allowing him into this tournament without needing to qualify) against Bagdhatis (who stunned everyone in 2008 by getting to the Aussie Open final, where he was beaten by Djokovic).  Good signs for Del Potro who was whacking the ball without his hand falling off, but he did need the doctor 3 times in the second set.  He  lacked consistency and made too many unforced errors. He lost the first two sets, came back hard in the third winning it 6-3 and suggested a tidal turn in the match, but failed to capitalise and lost the fourth set 1-6.  I hope he does well, he has a nice attractive face, with tufty facial hair. 

On the women's side, 7th seed Jankovic lost in straight sets to Shuai Peng, the world number 54.  And Venus wWilliams tore a muscle in her match but came through it in three sets.  Also through are Stosur, Clijsters, and Zvonereva.  Alas, as predicted, both British ladies lost their matches- Baltacha in straight sets to Henin, but Keothothong had a real chance against Petkovic after winning the first set 6-2 and having a break in the second.   But she lost the second set 5-7 and collapse in the third 1-6.  Shame too, as she won have played Venus Williams in the third round who may have given her an injury walkover into the fourth round for the first time.

And the doubles has kicked off with a win for Jamie Murray :) and his partner Xavier Malisse, who knocked out the 9th seeds.  Doesn't seem that Jamie's playing in the mixed doubles though, shame because he does well in that.  But its only men's doubles which give him ranking points so hopefully he'll get a few good points here.  Although he did kill a bird :( See Below.