Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australian Open Report: Quarterfinals

Australian tennis fans are in for a double treat today as not only are they celebrating a national holiday (Australia Day of course), but the tennis lineup is just ridiculously awesome as both women semifinal matches will be played as well as an epic blockbuster of a men's semifinal match at night, but before that let's quickly rundown what happened in the quarters...

Roger Federer d. Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-3 6-2

Federer has only lost to two players in Grand Slam finals and Del Potro is one of them, so Federer has a lot of respect for the Argentine's game. It clearly showed when Federer put on a masterclass and wowed not only the crowd, but himself on his great play. Not to say Del Potro played badly, but Federer was just on another level. He is the only player left in the draw not to drop a set. He'll take this momentum and use it to his advantage when he next faces a very familiar foe...

Rafael Nadal d. Tomas Berdych 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-4 6-2

Two days earlier, Berdych made headlines when he refused to shake Almagro's hands at the end of his fourth round match garnering a ton of bad press. Many thought that would color the match between Berdych and another Spaniard Nadal. I don't think it did, especially since both already have a contentious history. With that said, Berdych played Nadal tough in the first few sets seemingly fearless. But Nadal stepped it up and took care of business in the fourth to setup a tantalizing match-up with Federer.

Novak Djokovic d. David Ferrer 6-4 7-6(4) 6-1

Defending champion Djokovic has been in cruise control all tournament long until he met up with Hewitt a round before where he lost his first set. Indefatigable Ferrer would seem like a bigger obstacle for him, but Djokovic was able to take advantage of Ferrer's non-threatening serve, especially in that crucial second-set tie break to jump ahead. Djokovic has won 19th straight Grand Slam matches and will try to make it 20 games to reach the final. But before that, he'll have to play in a rematch of last year's final with...

Andy Murray d. Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-3 6-1

It's obvious that Murray is the lone non-Slam winning member of the Big Four, but reaching nine major semifinals and three finals deserves credit. In this tournament, Murray has been blessed by the draw gods with his most dangerous opponents losing before they get to him. It was in this way that he faced Nishikori instead of Tsonga. The scoreline may seem overtly one-sided, but Nishikori played pretty Murray quite closely especially in those first two sets making Murray work hard. In the end, Murray was just too much.

Kim Clijsters d. Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 7-6(4)

This was a do or die situation for both players. If Wozniacki lost to Clijsters, she would relinquishes her no. 1 ranking. If she had won, she would be Clijsters final Australian Open opponent. Clijsters, still tentative especially with the ankle injury she sustained a match prior, really took it to Wozniacki in the first set. It was closer and more nervy, from both, in the second, but Clijsters finally came out on top in the tiebreak. She next faces...

Victoria Azarenka d. Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7(0) 6-0 6-2

Azarenka must have been super frustrated at herself after losing the first set tiebreak at love, but she took a break and came back a different player. That and she also got some help from Radwanska would couldn't string together points after winning the first set. This match has actually been very similar to many of their matches with Radwanska winning the first then losing composure for the last two. It's pretty bad since Radwanska is also the highest ranked women's player to never reach a Grand Slam semifinals.

Maria Sharapova d. Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-3

If you ask around, it seems that everyone is calling Sharapova the favorite to win the tournament. It's certainly a sound prediction especially with the way she has been in cruise control all tournament long. She continued her great form against an outpowered and outshrieked Makarova. But she'll have to get by another 'ova in the next round and this one has been on a roll...

Petra Kvitova d. Sara Errani 6-4 6-4

Kvitova is probably the best player in the women's game at the moment, but she really needs to live up to her seeding and reach the finals and possibly win to solidify this. Her match against Errani wasn't as straightforward as the straight-sets scoreline indicate. She was actually down a couple of break points in the second before reeling off five straight games to win the match. It's that fighting spirit she will need when she goes up against Sharapova.

Final Note: The semifinal stage is seriously stacked. Not only do we have the top 4 men, but also 3 of the top 4 women along with Clijsters. Both of the defending champions are still alive and amongst all of them, they have 38 Grand Slam titles. There's not one match that isn't intriguing, but I do admit that there is one match that is the MOST intriguing and that is Nadal-Federer XXVII. I will be up until the break of dawn for that one.

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