Credit to Andy Roddick. From what I saw Fernando Gonzalez was firing on all cylinders last night at the Australian Open, reducing Roddick to just a bystander watching winner after winner go zinging past. But as I thought going into the match, Gonzalez wouldn’t be able to sustain such a high level for a complete match. And so Roddick, waited and waited until the end of the fourth set when Gonzalez finally imploded.
On set point against at him down 5-6, Gonzalez mistakenly let a Roddick forehand cross-court screamer into the corner land uncontested. The ball was called out and we appeared to be headed for a tiebreak. But an immediate Roddick review showed it had landed in. The call was reversed.
Replay the point? Not in this case. The umpire correctly judged that Gonzo had given up on the ball before the call was made. Gonzo was disgusted. Point to Roddick, game to Roddick, set to Roddick, momentum to Roddick and virtually the match to Roddick.
In the fifth, Andy held then broke immediately. Gonzo, who was just minutes earlier sizzling hot was now agitated, undone and breaking racquets. About 20 minutes later Gonzalez double faulted giving Roddick a well-deserved, hard-fought 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory sending him the American into the quarterfinals.
This was worth waking up early for!
The match wasn’t the only five-setter on the day. After a couple of four set battles and one epic five setter against James Blake, Juan Martin Del Potro’s body and effort just wasn’t good enough for the what looked to be a fresher Marin Cilic. The 21-year-old Croat who also survived a five-setter of his own and a tough four-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka nabbed an early break in the fifth and hung on for the win.
Cilic and Roddick who are both 9-0 on the year will now meet in the quarterfinals come Tuesday.
Much earlier in the day (or last night US time), the tall really did fall. Andy Murray thumped 6-foot-9 Big John Isner 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in relatively easy fashion. Murray has just too many options and too many defensive skills for Isner who didn’t seem to have that same zip on his shots as he had in his earlier matches. Murray still hasn’t lost a set!
Rafael Nadal did surrender a set but for the most part the Spaniard was untroubled in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over the ever-dangerous Ivo Karlovic.
And of course Nadal’s win sets up the massive early season showdown against Murray on Tuesday. Nadal leads their head-to-head 7-2 including two straight. I absolutely cannot wait for that one!
On to the women. Dinara Safina’s back flared up late in the first set against Maria Kirilenko. That puts Maria K into the quarterfinals against Zheng Jie, a winner over Alona Bondarenko. In the other quarter it’s Justine Henin, a tough, three set winner over fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, against Nadia Petrova.
I’ll have my picks for tonight’s matches later in the day for what should be a great conclusion to the fourth round! Now I’ve got to focus on some football!
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