As I watch Rafael Nadal polish off my boy, my runner-up pick, Andy Murray, thought I’d put together a few notes on the week in Australia we just saw (or didn’t see). By the way, this Murray-Nadal match is the best of the tournament thus far. Great tennis. Keyword being tennis.
1. Ivan Ljubicic
What a pitiful performance by a guy who was just ready to prove that he could stand up to the Grand Slam test. After starting strong last year with a quarterfinal in Australia and a semifinal at the French, Ljubicic has followed with a 3rd RD exit at Wimbledon followed by first rounders at the US Open and this week in Melbourne. Tough draw or not, not good for a guy we are suppose to think of as a top five player.
2. Andy Roddick
Gotta give it up to A-Rod. Beating Marat and Ancic are pretty impressive wins, and I think he’ll take out Fish to set up that showdown with Roger. Can he beat Rog? No. But I think he could actually sneak a set.
3. Fat Serena
She only gets bigger with age, but she’s through to the quarters with wins over Petro and Jankovic. Makes me wonder if she’s that good or is everyone else that bad? Just imagine if she was in shape!
4. End of the Line for Lleyton
I know Lleyton said at the start of the year he’s playing as good as he did when he was No. 1. Does he still think that? Ha. Sorry Lleyton, too many off court issues and you’re a step slower. I can’t see him getting to another Slam final.
5. Heat Rule
I don’t know of another sport in the U.S. that stops play due to heat. Maybe it doesn’t get as hot as it does in Melbourne, but it gets well over 100 during the summer hard court season in places like Washington and the US Open. But now there’s an outcry for some reason tennis players in Australia should not play in such conditions? Why, because WTA starlet Maria Sharapova says so. Just because she wasn’t fit enough to handle the conditions why should they stop play. After all, Pin looked to be okay in the heat as were several other players who were playing on the outer courts like Robby Ginepri and Paul Capdeville. I like what Fed said and that is basically you have to be fit, this is tennis, play on.
6. US Men
What a great start for the American men. Looks like some of James Blake’s success is rubbing off with Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey putting up big numbers Down Under. Well done, Yanks, keep it up.
7. James Blake
Will he ever get over the hump? I think his lack of Slam success is starting to get into his head, somewhat like his 0-9 five set record. I’m sure he’ll keep doing well but looks like he’ll have to wait till July at the earliest to get that first Slam semi. Too bad.
9. New Blood
People are jumping on the new guys and so they should. Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic and let’s throw in Sam Querrey. I like them all to be Top 20 by the end of the 2008 Australian Open. Okay, maybe not Querrey. Just to add, how great of match was Murray-Nadal just from a tactical standpoint. That was some real thinking-mans tennis, and with this new bunch I think we’ll see a lot or more of that style ahead. Can’t wait.
10. Gael Monfils
Energy, energy and more energy. Talk about fun to watch. Too bad a fear a few too many ankle sprains may be in his future. I hope not. I’d buy a ticket to watch him.
11. Wayne Arthurs
Is there a sadder week one story than that? Bad luck for big Wayne.
12. Nicole Vaidisova
Just 17 and already chasing Maria.
13. The Roof
If it wasn’t for the roof weekend play at the Australian Open would have been washed out. Wonder just how jealous the US Open folks are about that.
14. Jimmy Connors
Without his arrival I think Andy would have lost to Marat. Even though I question his motives in coaching Roddick (missing out on the publicity??) he’s definitely made an impact.
15. Breakfast in Australia
I don’t stay up late some I miss out on a lot of the late evening coverage, but I do get up early so catching ESPN live tennis at 7am (when on) is way better than CNBC!
16. Amelie Mauresmo
Crashing out to Safarova was a stunner. Can’t believe she fell apart so soon in her first GS title defense.
They should play every week. That drama is too good. That’s like pay-per-view worthy.
18. The Challenge System
Looks like it’s here to stay, though I still wonder what came of that error in the Mauresmo match when a ball that was graphically out (there was space between the line and the ball) was indicated as in.
19. Tommy Haas
I heard he’s in the quarterfinals, can anyone verify?
20. The Fed
He’s the man. Simple as that. Forget his strokes, his footwork, quickness, balance and court positioning is second to none.
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