Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Australian Open: Quarterfinals Report

Upsets! Injuries! Retirements! Epic 5-setters! Incredible comebacks! High drama! History made! Just your typical run-of-the-mill Grand Slam quarterfinal round.

But in all seriousness, I don't think I've witness a more volatile quarterfinal round in all the years I've been watching this sport. Every single match seems to have twists and turns and more importantly high drama and frankly I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just recap the results in the order the matches were played.

Justine Henin d. Nadia Petrova[19] 7-6(3), 7-5

Nadia Petrova defeated the current US Open champion and French Open champion to get to the quarterfinals. The serve was a bit of an issue for both and it was Justine Henin the six time Grand Slam champion who edged out a win. Unseeded here, she is two wins away from equaling fellow Belgian accomplishment at her first Grand Slam after retirement.

Jie Zheng d. Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-3

Maria Kirilenko beat two fellow top Russians players to set up a seemingly good quartefinal match against Chinese Jie Zheng. Zheng is the first Chinese woman to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam when she did it back in 2008. With ease, she matched her performance there to be the first Chinese woman to reach the Australian Open semifinals. To be continued...

Marin Cilic[14] d. Andy Roddick[7] 7-6(4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3

Both players had to endure tough five-set matches prior to their quarterfinal meeting. When Marin Cilic had the two set lead and with Andy Roddick feeling the effects of a shoulder injury, it looked to be an easy day on court for Cilic. It was then that Roddick found his game and it was Cilic who lost focus. In the fifth set, Cilic regained his focus to reach his first Grand Slam semifinals. Is he this years surprise finalist?

Andy Murray[5] d. Rafael Nadal[2] 6-3, 7-6(2), 3-0 Ret.

The biggest injury issue of last year was Rafael Nadal's knees because since then he's been title-less and has a 1-10 against top ten players. While he has relatively cruised through the quarterfinals, playing Andy Murray would tell a lot about his progress. He played aggressive and brilliant tennis for the first two sets, but so did Andy Murray. Midway through the second game of the third set, Nadal called for a medical timeout. He was broken and Murray held serve to go up 3-0. It was all she wrote as Nadal decided to retire for fear of aggravating it some more. What does this mean for Nadal's 2010? We'll see.

Na Li[16] d. Venus Williams[6] 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5

Not many gave Na Li a chance especially after a masterful first set from Venus Williams. Venus was two points away from winning the match in the second set before Li forced it to a tiebreak which she won. The final set was all Li as she joins her compatriot to the semifinals. This is the first time two Chinese woman are in the semifinals of a Grand Slam. Can they both do one better and make it the first all-Chinese Grand Slam final? Stay tuned.

Serena Williams[1] d. Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2

Coming into this match, Serena Williams was the only player in the draw to not lose her serve once. She was broken FIVE TIMES in the first two sets by Victoria Azarenka and was frankly playing like an old ripe mess. Before you knew it Serena was down a set and down 0-4 in the second. And still somehow Serena was able to lift her level while her opponent stayed at the same level and Serena went on to dominate for a win.

Roger Federer[1] d. Nikolay Davydenko[6] 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5

Nikolay Davydenko has defeated Roger Federer the last two times they have met, so this was a dangerous opponent for Federer. And it showed in the first set as Federer was blown off the court. In the second set, already down a set and a break, Federer lifted his game similar to what Serena did in her prior match and reeled off 13 straight games en route to serving Davydenko a bagel set. Davydenko staged a mini-comeback in the fourth set, but Federer held strong to break Dabydenko at 5-5 and to serve out the match at love. With this win, Federer extends his unbelievable streak of reaching the semifinals at Grand Slams to 23 and also clinches the #1 ranking after the tournament.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Novak Djokovic[3] 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1

This is a rematch of the 2008 final where Novak Djokovic was able to win his maiden Slam title. Since then, however, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has defeated Djokovic in other ATP events. Riding that wave, Tsonga was able to beat Djokovic in this roller coaster of a match that saw Djokovic call for a medical timeout due to nausea and vomiting.

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