Sunday, January 27, 2013

What an Australian Open!

Upsets. Injury. Drama. Records. These are what the last two weeks of the Australian Open brought to its followers all over the globe. This weekend, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka outlasted everyone else in their respective fields. Which is too bad for me because they both won at the expense of the person I was rooting for. :) Azarenka took home her 2nd Australian Open trophy in a row; Novak his 3rd. This win means Novak has now won six Grand Slam singles titles, putting him alongside tennis legends Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, and I'm willing to bet he will win more.

The men's final was had a lot of signficance (which is pretty much the case now whenever any of the Big Four meet). Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were both gunning for their own respective records. Novak's "threepeat" win means he has become the only male player so far in the Open Era of tennis to win the Australian Open three times in a row. If Murray won, it would have meant that he would be the first player in the open era to win a Grand Slam title immediately after winning his first (in his case, it was the 2012 US Open).

The women's final was filled with a lot more drama. It was contested by defending champion Victoria Azarenka and 2011 finalist Li Na. Both of them were gunning for their second Grand Slam victory. It was Li who drew first blood, winning the opening set. Vika, as she is popularly called, surged ahead in the second set before Li went over her left ankle. This required an immediate medical timeout. While she still had some fight after that, I felt the tide had already turned. Li fell over that same ankle again in the 3rd set, causing her to fall over and hit her head hard on the court, and by then, it was just a matter of time before Victoria successfully defended her title.

Too bad Li lost. Not only was I rooting for her, I was also rooting against Victoria Azarenka. Her shriek has always annoyed me and when Azarenka"cheated within the rules" during the semis against Sloane Stephens, I became firmly planted me in Li's corner. The result may have been different if Li didn't fall over her left ankle twice but then that is all part of the game. I do hope Li can still win at least one more Grand Slam title.

Some memorable moments:
  • Andy Murray defeated Roger Federer for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament. Also for first time, Federer was caught dropping an F-bomb towards his opponent. (Apparently, he also said it a couple of other times during the match. Check this out.)
  • Kimiko Date-Krumm stuns two higher-ranked opponents en-route to the third round. At 42 years old, she now holds the record for the oldest player to have gotten to the third round in the Australian Open.
  • Sloane Stephens scoring a massive upset over pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams. Would she have won if Serena was fully fit? Maybe not. But you can only play who's in front of you and Sloane was facing a Serena hobbled by a sprained ankle and a bad back. Nevertheless, Sloane still managed to play with composure and played smart and positive tennis to score the biggest win of her career so far. This win also snaps Serena's 20-match winning streak.
  • Li Na stuns Maria Sharapova in the semis. There was so much talk about Maria's sheer dominance over everyone she played so far, and the nine games she dropped in her first five matches is a record low games lost leading up to the semis in the Australian Open. Unfortunately, Li dominated this match-up.
A strong start to the tennis season and I am now wanting more. Nadal is set to make his tennis return soon so that should be something to look forward to. Hope we have more fantastic tennis the rest of the year. And I also hope that my favorite players get to win big at some point in 2013.

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