Friday, January 28, 2011

Australian Open Report: Finals Preview

It's been a crazy few days down under as the stage was set for the women and the men's finals to take place this weekend.

Even before the tournament started, a lot of people saw this Grand Slam as an incredible chance for world no. 3 Kim Clijsters to finally get that major title away from New York especially with Serena Williams out and all of her other competitions either not as experienced or not 100%. Her opponent, 9th seed Li Na, also was fully aware that this is a big chance for somebody to breakthrough with Serena gone and so WHY NOT HER?

Both players showed incredible form leading up to the finals. Between the two of them, they had only lost one set and that was Li Na who lost the first set against her thrilling semifinal match against world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Li Na showed wonderful guts overcoming a match point to even the match in the second and winning the third. Her victory there meant she was the first Chinese player, man or woman, to reach a Grand Slam final. For Clijsters, she put the brakes on the great run from world no. 3 Vera Zvonareva, dominating the match with her bigger and more penetrating shots.

Their H2H is 4-2 in Clijsters' favor, but since her comeback it's been 1-1 with their last meeting happening just a few weeks ago in Sydney where Li Na had another amazing comeback being down 0-5 to win the final in straight sets. But as historically amazing it would be for China and the world of tennis, I'm predicting Kim Clijsters to win in two sets.

It was also going to be a toss-up match, more than a lot of people were willing to admit, but the fact that world no. 3 Novak Djokovic was able to take out defending champion Roger Federer in straight sets is an amazing result for him. Sure, he took out Federer in that epic 5-set match in their last Grand Slam meeting in Flushing Meadow, but to gut this out says a lot about his focus, his intensity, and his desire to win his second major. Federer fans, such as myself, should take heed that even though this is the first time since 2003 that Federer isn't holding a major title, he is far from over.

But with Federer (and Rafael Nadal) out of the tournament, not only can this be a fairytale slam for Djokovic, but to slamless world no. 5 Andy Murray as well. The two times Murray had reached a slam final prior, he was soundly defeated by Federer and while Djokovic is probably playing better than ever, he'll probably like his chances a little better against the Serbian. Of course, he had to first get through a tough four-set win against indefatigable 7th seed David Ferrer who pushed Murray every single game, making the Brit earn his second consecutive Australian Open finals appearance.

Their H2H is fascinatingly tight with Djokovic leading it 4-3 (3-3 in hard courts), but Murray has won their last three meetings, with Djokovic's last win on hard courts going back to 2007. Interestingly enough, they actually haven't played each other since the spring of 2009, so there's a lot of unknowns in this match-up. Frankly, this adds much excitement to the grand finale of the tournament. I'm predicting Djokovic to win in four sets just because he'll be the more steady of the two and Murray's need to win this might overwhelm him. I'm hoping for an epic duel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading. Feel free to drop me a line. Instead of being Anonymous though, pick a name. Any name would do. Thanks again!