Later today we’ll determine our last singles finalist of the Australian Open, that between three-time champ Roger Federer and former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Already in the women’s final are – no surprise – Serena Williams and Justine Henin. The two rivals will meet for the first time in a Grand Slam final tomorrow night Melbourne time. What a good one that will be!
Andy Murray has already booked his spot in the Sunday men’s final. I’ve only had time to view the first two sets on DVR – I may watch the rest later today or tomorrow – but once Murray got over a poor start, he was the better player and quite the shotmaker! Credit to Marin Cilic who played that first set about as well as he could, it’s too bad he couldn’t keep that level. I have to suspect that his prior court time caught up to him, and that’s too bad.
Despite the setback, Cilic showed that he has even more upside than I thought. I picked him to be the new breakthrough star on the tour this season, I just didn’t think he would be capable of winning multiple Slams. I may have to rethink that now after seeing what he’s already accomplished at age 21.
I will say that Murray did again look passive if not a bit nervous in the early goings. And if he’s feeling the nerves and pressure in the semifinals, well, just wait until Sunday…
On to the last semifinal.
Roger Federer v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Much like the Marin Cilic, I have to believe that Tsonga is feeling the affects of back-to-back five-set matches. Remember, the guy had never played a five-set match in his life until a few rounds ago when he went the distance against Nicolas Almagro. A couple of nights ago he beat a depleted Djokovic also in five. But Novak was fighting some stomach(?) issues that prevented the Serb from putting up much resistance in the final two sets.
But still, Tsonga is not going come into this match at 100% full strength. His reserves are not going to be as high as a Murray or even a Federer who is coming off a tough four-setter against Nikolay Dayvdenko. Nor has Tsonga ever been a guy we classify among the fittest on the tour, and he’s already endured a career-worth of injuries and ailments.
On the other side of the tennis court, Roger should be fine. I know he went four with Nikolay but really for a good two-thirds of that match it was just one-way traffic. Either Dayvdenko was rolling or Roger was rolling before the two finally seemed level out in fourth.
Federer and Tsonga have met twice before. Federer beat JW in 2008 Madrid while JW, in a very memorable match, overcame a 5-1 third set deficit to stun the choking Federer in Montreal last year. Federer will absolutely want revenge for that loss which remains one of the most amazing collapses you will ever see from a tennis legend.
Tsonga matches up decent with Federer. Roger likes the pace but if Tsonga can get hot and take it to the highest of levels, he can bully Roger around the court. And today I think we’ll see a little bit of that power and emotion from JW. Unfortunately, I just don’t think in a best-of-five set match in which he may not be 100% fit, he can maintain it long enough to pull out win. It’s another case of best-of-five helping Roger and hurting his opponent.
That said, unlike Davydenko, Tsonga should hold up in the mental department far better than the Russian did. So if the Frenchman’s fresh, gets hot and in a position to win he can close the door. In my mind, the match is really up to Tsonga because from what I’ve seen in the last year Roger simply doesn’t have that ridiculous higher gear anymore. More and more we see him winning points on the mistakes on his opponents. And I think today is another one of those matches. The pick here is Federer in four.
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