Sunday, January 30, 2011

Australian Open: The Finale

As I said before, as amazing for tennis as it would have been if China produced its first major winner or for Britain to have a homegrown champion after many unsuccessful years, it just wasn't meant to be down under. Instead, Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic, both third seeds in the tournament, won the Australian Open for their 4th and 2nd Grand Slam title respectively. For Clijsters, it was her first major title outside of New York. For Djokovic, he became the first multi-slam winner not named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal since Lleyton Hewitt won Wimbledon in 2002.

Clijsters was able to overcome being down a set against Na Li who ate up the pace that Clijsters was feeding her in the first set. Clijsters started to vary her balls in the last two sets unnverving Li who also started getting frustrated by the crowd, the noise, the cameras, everything. Both players were broken a few times during the match, but Clijsters was the more stable of the two in the last couple of sets ultimately winning 6-3 3-6 6-3. For Li, it was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but here's to hoping she'll have more chances. For Clijsters, her comeback is already one of the most successful in sports. She was 1-5 in slam finals before her retirement and now she's 3-0 and with a good result in another tournament, it's likely she'll take over the #1 ranking from Caroline Wozniacki.

Both Djokovic and Andy Murray knew that with Nadal and Federer out of the tournament, it was a huge opportunity for both of them. Unfortunately for Murray, Djokovic was on fire as he was the rest of the tournament. For the first eight games or so, it was pretty even between the two and it looked the the match was going to be a long one. It wasn't until Murray was broken while serving to stay in the set 4-5 where the momentum shifted, permanently, to Djokovic who then went on a tear of games into the second set and led 5-0. Murray finally held and broke, but Djokovic took the second set and then the third set with ease en route his straight sets victory of 6-3 6-2 6-4. Murray's second serve massively let him down, but it was Djokovic who really stepped up to the challenge playing unbelievable tennis from start to finish making it impossible for the Brit to gain any foothold on the match. The result must have been disheartening for Murray who not only has lost his first three slam finals, but has also yet to win a set.

In doubles, the top seeds prevailed with Bob and Mike Bryan defeating the reunited team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes for the Men's Doubles Title and Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta beating Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko for the Women's Doubles Title. Finally, the second seed team of Katarina Srebotnik and Daniel Nestor claimed the Mixed Doubles Title. And with that the first Grand Slam tournament of 2011 is done.

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