Djokovic Blows Out Ferrer; Azarenka Gets Controversial Win Over Stephens, Will Meet Li Na In Australian Open Final
by Staff | January 24th, 2013
  • 69 Comments

It was a day of straight set semifinals at the Australian Open, but not without controversy and drama. The first and last matches completed on the day were surprisingly one sided and overly drab.

Following Serena’s Wednesday shocker, new tournament favorite and No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova was routinely dismissed by Li Na 6-2, 6-2. Sharapova had looked invincible in her five previous matches losing just nine games, a record low for an Australian Open semifinalist. And she had beaten Na three times last year. But the Russian’s soft draw and one dimensional game was exposed by the heavy-hitting Na who was on the offensive right from the start.

“Beginning of the match I was nervous,” said Na who reached the finals in 2011. “I was happy I come back to semis again, but for some reason I really want to win the match. I don’t know what happened today. Just come to the court, feeling like, Okay, just do it.”

Sharapova had looked so good in the tournament but today her game wasn’t good enough.

“I think she played a really great match,” said Sharapova. “She was certainly much more aggressive than I was, dictating the play. I was always on the defense. When I had my opportunities and breakpoints in games that went to deuce, I don’t think any of them really went my way today.”

For all her fury and notoriety, Sharapova hasn’t claimed a title since the French Open. Maybe new boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov can change that.

In the night match, streaking Novak Djokovic won his 20th straight match at the Australian Open by absolutely obliterating world No. 5 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

“Definitely at this stage of a tournament, playing semifinals against the world No. 4, somebody that I have respect for, great competitor, and being able to perform as well as I did, it’s incredible,” Djokovic said. “I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment. Now I have two days off before the finals which gives me enough time to get ready, you know, and recover for the finals.”

Djokovic is into his third straight final at the Australian Open as the Serb seeks an Open Era record fourth title in Melbourne. He began his Australian Open defense with three blowout wins but then nearly was clipped by Stan Wawrinka in a 5-hour epic last Sunday. The top seed got his game back against Tomas Berdych in a four set quarterfinal victory but tonight against Ferrer it was pure devastation.

“He play very, very good,” said Ferrer who had just escaped in five against Nicolas Almagro. “I didn’t have any chance for to win tonight. Nothing else. Only can I say is Novak, he was better in all the moment than me.”

Ferrer now drops to 0-5 in his career in Grand Slam semifinals and he’s never beaten Djokovic in five tries at a Major. Ferrer, however, will replace Rafael Nadal as the top ranked Spaniard in the rankings on Monday.

Next for Novak is the winner of Friday’s much-anticipated Andy Murray-Roger Federer affair.

“It’s going to be a great match, obviously,” he said of the second semi. “They’re great rivals and also best players in the world at this moment. They will definitely perform their best for sure in semifinals. I wouldn’t rate anybody as a favorite. Just considering myself, I’ll be ready for whoever I play against.”

Sandwiched between the two lopsided semifinals was what looked to be another straight forward finish. Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka was cruising to victory up 6-2, 2-0 on upstart American Sloane Stephens. But then there seemed to be a knee/foot injury that allowed the young 19-year-old Stephens to level to 2-2.

Azarenka shrugged off the apparent injury to grab the break and lead 4-2. Then serving for the match at 5-3 things began to unravel. A visibly nervous Azarenka squandered five matchpoints missing wildly on several forehands including one that landed a good 20 feed out.

With the temperatures approaching 100F adding pressure to a prompt finish, Stephens simply kept hitting balls back allowing the Bela-Russian self destruct and it paid off. From the brink, Stephens got the break back and the crowd came to life.

During the 5-4 changeover Azarenka called for the trainer. After a brief evaluation for what appeared to be a spinal/back issue, she was taken off court for a good ten minutes while Stephens just sat, looking glazed.

When play resumed with Stephens serving 4-5, Azarenka found a second wind and closed it out on her sixth matchpoint when a Stephens backhand landed inches out. GSM Azarenka 6-1, 6-4. Phew. The ordeal was over. Or was it?

Azarenka was asked during subsequent on court interviews about her odd, untimely medical time out. Her response, “I almost did the choke of the year right now,” she told Sam Smith of Channel 7. “At 5-3, having so many chances and I couldn’t close it out. I was a bit overwhelmed realizing I was one step away from the final. Nerves got into me, for sure.”

And then on to ESPN, a similar answer. “It was nearly the biggest choke of the year,” she told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I couldn’t breath”.

Immediately the airwaves became abuzz as to how Azarenka was afforded a medical timeout at that stage for what appeared to be…choking???

In her official press conference that followed about an hour after she finished (getting PR instructions no doubt), Azarenka’s tune had changed.

“I had been struggling a little bit throughout the whole match, from the second set, my back,” she said. “And it just kept getting worse. I should have, called the trainer a little bit earlier before that when I got to the point that I couldn’t really breathe and had to go off court. So there was a little bit of my bad. But just a rib got locked and kept getting worse. I had to have it adjusted. I really had to go and take that medical timeout.”

By rule Azarenka is allowed a medical time out and she was within the rules to take it at that juncture. But from the evidence given it sure sounded like she asked for and received treatment for gagging. Brickbats to the Australian Open medical staff.

Stephens, who shares the same agent as Azarenka, naturally avoided any issue with her Victoria’s act.

“It’s happened before,” Stephens said. “I’ve had in the last match, the match before, medical breaks, go to the bathroom, the whole showdown. It was just something else, but it didn’t affect anything, I don’t think.”

Azarenka controversial win put her into the final against Li Na in a battle of two players into their third Slam final seeking a second crown. Azarenka won last year’s event demolishing Maria Sharapova while Li Na took home the 2011 French Open title. As an added incentive if Azarenka wins it she’ll hold on to the No. 1 ranking. Victoria leads Na 5-4 in their series but after the show Azarenka put on today there’s little wonder as to who the crowd will be behind come Saturday night.

Before then on Friday night it’s the second men’s semifinal between Federer and Murray.


Also Check Out:
Sloane Stephens Says She Has A “Nonexistent” Relationship With Victoria Azarenka
Australian Open Women’s Final Open Thread: Victoria Azarenka v Li Na
Serena Williams’ Dramatic Exit; Thursday Semis Set at Australian Open
Federer, Murray Roll; Serena v Stephens at Aussie Open
Sloane Stephens Just Wants To Play Tennis

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69 Comments for Djokovic Blows Out Ferrer; Azarenka Gets Controversial Win Over Stephens, Will Meet Li Na In Australian Open Final

grendel Says:

Just popping the old head out of the old burrow to conclude my thoughts on Sharapova, following her 2-6,2-6 defeat by Li Na.

In her oncourt interview with Sam Smith (after she’d played possibly the best tennis of her life in demolishing Venus Williams), Sharapova was asked if she had thought of the match as being in some sense a final. She made the standard “player correct” noises – one match at a time and all that – but in fact Smith’s query was a shrewd one. The intensity of the Sharapova celebrations left the viewer in no doubt as to the importance Sharapova attached to the manner of her victory. With hindsight, one has to wonder if she might not have left a little on the court.

She started off today with a couple of doubles, and really was struggling throughout to impose herself. Of course, the chief credit must go to Li Na, the cleanest hitter of a tennis ball on the womens’ tour when her game is on. (Ivanovic is a similar player with gorgeous natural timing, but one who has a rather loose conception as to where the lines lie). Li Na hit consistently hard but safely, biding her time until letting loose with a bomb. The consistency with which Li Na did this I think affected Sharapova’s mind. She hardly could have expected such cavalier treatment given her terrific form in this tournament.

As a matter of fact, it is instructive to compare the styles of the two players. Sharapova in full flight is a magnificent spectacle, a great blonde amazon of a woman who pours herself onto the court with every nerve and sinew and crashes into the ball as if she has personal issues with its very existence. And with all this extreme physicality, the miracle is how frequently the ball lands just where it is intended to. The spectator is overwhelmed. Li Na, on the other hand, somehow evades attention. Her presence is normal, even slightly clownish given her tendency to berate herself, sometimes with great, ambiguous grins. Her tennis, when it is good, leaves you with the impression of being tidy and efficient. Easy to underrate the consistent power which keeps the opponent at bay, and when she strikes a clean winner off a perfectly respectable , even difficult ball, you nod in appreciation but somehow take it a little for granted. Li Na very definitely lacks histrionics. But what a player. She tore Sharapova apart today with a cool, precise performance.

Credit has to go to her coach, Carlos Rodrigues formerly of the Henin stable. I have expressed doubts as to the significance of the coach, at any rate where seasoned players are concerned. But I have to revise this opinion, at least partially. There can be little doubt re the impact of Lendl on Murray. Annacone has done what he was hired to do, and revived Federer’s enthusiasm for net play. Nigel Sears seems to have had a steadying influence on Ivanovic, but above all Rodriguez has somehow got into Li Na’s jittery head and convinced her of her worth. As in the match against against Radwanska, one kept waiting for the implosion – but it never came. Although Sharapova showed some slight signs of recovery, Li Na kept her nose steadily on the job in hand. For example, in the 2nd set Sharapova was 0-30 down and then presented an easy shot for Li Na to put away and thus give her three break points for the double break. Incomprehensibly, she tapped the ball back to Sharapova (well, she was trying to wrong foot her – but why so soft?) when she had the whole court at her disposal. Maria gained heart, a game point of her own, and one thought: well, that’s it, then. But Li Na quietly put her mistake behind her, pulled out a couple of outrageous shots, and got her double break after all. Then when serving for the match, she tried a very difficult inside in shot (I think it’s called) at match point, and missed – she wasn’t quite in position so the attempt was really wishful thinking. Having watched Almagro just fall apart when he had Ferrer at his mercy, I couldn’t help wondering whether the same fate was about to befall Li Na. Not a bit of it. She quietly got on with the job, some nicely angled serves sliding away out of reach and it looked easy in the end. What a different player she has become.

Couple of words on the other semi. Azaranka reverted to old form towards the end. She was getting crosser and crosser, and as a consequence her forehand started to disintegrate. This led me to ponder on the curious fact that when nerves take hold, it tends to be the forehand rather than the backhand which goes. Consider Venus Williams, Sharapova herself (though not particularly today – she was just outplayed) even Federer. His trials with Nadal on the backhand have ensued from technical deficiencies. Generally, the Federer backhand is steady (when it is not brilliant) but the forehand – much the stronger shot – can be all over place. And as I say, Azarenka’s forehand started to collapse against Silky Smooth Sloane. This was not without its humorous aspect. After a spot of shouting and racket waving and so forth, Azarenka finally directed a sarcastic smile to no one in particular. Public self-communing, you might say. You got the impression she was thinking: well, that fascist up in the sky clearly has it in for me, not much I can be expected to do about that, eh?

But actually, Azarenka did come up with an idea, which proved fruitful too. She took an injury time out, extended the three minutes allowed to about five (some nice calculations must be involved, I always think, in these sorts of circumstances – let’s see, can I push it another minute, two possibly?) and calmed herself down somewhat, although Stephens was unable to take full advantage, she’s still a bit green about the gills I’d say. In her post match interview, Azarenka admitted to choking. I daresay somebody has already commented on this, but it seems to me she was exercising a pretty liberal, shall we say, interpretation of the rules in taking her time out. Nerves are something you are supposed to deal with I’d always assumed.

To get back to why the fh rather than bh tends to bear the brunt of choking debacles, I have only a very non-tennis explanation – naturally, since I am not a player. Forehands, difficult though they are to execute – just observe players on public courts, and be amazed at where they imagine the ball is supposed to go – they are still a lot easier than backhands. Surely this is because the forehand is (basically, and stripped of top spin accretions etc) quite a natural physical movement. Any drunk swinging a hopeful fist will go for the forehand, not the backhand. The backhand, then, is a more difficult shot to learn – cast your mind back to when you were first learning the game, and the backhand was full of mysteries was it not? To gain even a basic control, then, required endless hours of practice. Discipline was, of necessity, installed very early. So when danger looms and the soul quivers, the backhand holds steady whilst the flashier forehand reverts to infantilism. But what about the serve? Doesn’t that contradict this thesis? Yes, it does. That’s another story altogether though.


Michael Says:

To say only one word about the Novak Vs Ferrer match – Novak murdered Ferrer on court.


grendel Says:

Just one more point, and I am done. When people learn to play tennis they are taught, among other things, to volley. This is natural. Part of the equipment. You would assume that as a player progresses, gets first beyond public park level and then beyond club level,you’d think, wouldn’t you, that all aspects of his game would progress.

And yet, looking at the cream of the tennis players of the world, this doesn’t appear to be so. Berdych, for example, occasionally ventures to the net rather as if he is penetrating an unmapped jungle rumoured to be overrun with venomous snakes. So he doesn’t do it very often. The trouble is, he is such an awesome player, by and large he can get away without it – volleying and stuff, I mean. And yet the man is not without ambition. After beating Anderson, Berdych contemplated the prospect of meeting Djokovic. He remarked (if memory serves correctly) that Djokovic had beaten him twice at the AO – the implication was, it was his turn now. I kid you not. Buggins’ turn. This was the intellectual premiss upon which Berdych expressed his expectations of defeating Djokovic.

Now anyone with half a grain of sense knows that Berdych cannot beat Djokovic playing more or less exclusively from the back of the court. That’s not to say he could beat him if he learnt how to approach and volley. But at least it would be a practical possibility, if unlikely. So what does Bersych do? He plays it “safe” (actually, if you think about it, it’s highly dangerous, if courting defeat constitutes danger – but never mind), pinches a set, and bows out to “fight” another day. What’s the point?

This kind of thing is quite typical. Consider Kuznezova. To my absolutely non-professional eye, she has the most natural volley, man or woman, on the tour. She plays exquisitely at the net, not just volleing, either. One extraordinary shot she made against Azarenka was a slice shot, executed from about midcourt which was not exactly a drop shot, but whatever it was, it left Azarenka floundering. And yet most of the time, she is content to do this back court stuff. Why?


beowulf Says:

I enjoyed your comments, grendel. thanks for taking the time to write such insightful thoughts.


skeezer Says:

How can you take a MTO cause your choking? WTF? A new way to abuse MTO. Choking? Seriously!

——–

“Now I have two days off before the finals which gives me enough time to get ready, you know, and recover for the finals.”

Really? Novak, that is funny.

Congrats on your demolition, and your GS trophy coming up shortly. Your form is impeccable.


Gordo Says:

We really need a healthy Rafa back and fast, because until he is #4 again the semi-final match to any final is a 50-50 cakewalk for one of Djokovic or (at the moment) Fed (whoever is seeded #2) depending on literally the luck of the draw.


jane Says:

Wog boy, Nole had a MTO too but it wasn’t as controversial ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlMHy9mS9XA&feature=player_embedded


Thangs Says:

I dont know how people think Ferrer deserve a slam…Tsonga, Berdych are way higher than Ferrer. WIth Nadals absence, Ferrers draw was easy on USO and AO to make it to SF…If Delpo/Tsonga/Berdych landed on ferrer side, atleast we could have seen a worth SF…


alison Says:

Jane thats very funny thanks for the link,i especially loved the bit with Pat Cash bending Henry Leconts legs like that,ha ha hilarious.


andrea Says:

thanks for your always eloquent posts grendel. but surprised to hear that you don’t play tennis.


jane Says:

“If Delpo/Tsonga/Berdych landed on ferrer side, atleast we could have seen a worth SF”

Well, Berdych was on Ferrer’s side at the AO, only Nole had to play him in the QFs.

And at the USO, Delpo was on Ferrer’s side, only Nole had to play him in the QFs.


skeezer Says:

Fact is Nole has had an unbelievable easy draw. The title is his, no matter how much some want to milk the drama. U either relish in it, or ignore the critizism. Djoker has owned Ferrer since 2011. He met Ferrer in last years AO in the qtrs, last years USO in the semis, and the Masters in Miami. All HC. The problem with looking at stats though, is that when you start beating everyone all of the sudden your draw looks easier ;)


Nina Says:

Easy draw my ass. Nole almost lost to a red hot Wawrinka who on that day would have probably beat every other player. Ferrer is not an easy opponent by all means, but today Nole play was from another galaxy, his level was really stunningly high.

I like this review of my always admired Steve Tignor. :)

MELBOURNE—The crowd in Rod Laver Arena came for a semifinal tonight, but what they got looked and felt more like a first-round match. From start to finish, from his first winner to his 30th, Novak Djokovic walked, ran, served, and scrambled with an air of utter self-assurance against David Ferrer. He controlled the points when he was on the attack, and looked just as confident when he was on defense. Djokovic’s 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win was less like a Grand Slam match against the world No. 4 than it was an exhibition of everything that the Serb can do on a tennis court.

Djokovic hit winners from both sides and to both corners, and his pace and court position were such that he didn’t even have to put the ball close to the lines to get it past the speedy Ferrer. The stats, as you might expect, were impressive. Djokovic was seven for seven on break points, made 86 percent of his returns, won 91 percent of points on his first serve and lost just seven points in 11 service games against a very good returner, went 13 of 16 at the net, and hit 30 winners against 16 errors. As for Ferrer, the only number he could point to as a positive was 89: That’s how many minutes this mercifully brief blowout took.

Ferrer, who didn’t blame his five-set quarterfinal win over Nicolas Almagro for slowing him down, said afterward that there was nothing he could have done. For the second time this week he claimed that, despite his ranking, he’s simply not as good as the world’s four best players. That’s an attitude that helps keep him grounded against other players; he never takes anyone lightly. But tonight it also felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy. He looked like as sure of his own doom as Djokovic did of his ultimate victory.

Djokovic seems to be peaking at the right time in Melbourne. He called this one of the best matches he’s ever played, and it would be hard to argue. Tonight he was a No. 1 player at the peak of his powers. The whole thing went by so quickly that I’m not sure I even saw half of his winners. Every time I looked away and looked back, there was another ball flying past Ferrer, and the score had gotten a little worse for the Spaniard.

What, if anything, does this tell us about Novak’s chances on Sunday? Obviously, he’ll be rested. As far as the first set of the final goes, when things are tight and nerves are still in play, his form against Ferrer doesn’t mean anything. But if Djokovic wins that set and starts to feel and play anything like he did tonight, look out.

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/01/australian-open-djokovic-d-ferrer/46168/#.UQGQ6Rw4VZc


jane Says:

Mathieu, Harrison, Steps, Wawa, Berd, and Ferrer isn’t unbelievably easy imo. It’s not super hard either. But he had top ten opponents the last two rounds and he hasn’t had an opponent lower than the 60s (ranking wise) since round 2. I think it’s played out middle of the road, and he’s been tested – he’s dropped sets and played hard the R16 and QFs.


Ben Pronin Says:

It wasn’t the most daunting draw, on paper. But matches aren’t played on paper. It’s a testament to how good Djokovic has become that this draw can be deemed so easy. At the end of the day, he completely owns everyone he’s faced, big time, for that matter. His h2h against the likes of Wawrinka and Berdych are Federer-esque. But how hard did Federer’s draw turn out? Up to the semis it was pretty even. Djokovic even dropped one more set. But the semi, without question, Federer has the tougher foe. Not his fault Nadal pulled out, though. It’s the gap! The gap!!


skeezer Says:

Lol…the gap!


Brando Says:

@Skeezer:

‘Fact is Nole has had an unbelievable easy draw. The title is his, no matter how much some want to milk the drama. U either relish in it, or ignore the critizism. Djoker has owned Ferrer since 2011.’

BRILLIANT POST SKEEZ!

He’s got to the final as everyone predicted prior to the start of the slam.

Was Mathieu, Harrison, Stepanek EVER going to beat him?

NO!

Did anyone even give them a chance?

NO!

Why? Since it’s a cushy draw!

Berdych: 12-1 v nole, was he ever going to beat him?

NO!

Ferrer: NEVER won a set on HC v nole until last year USO SF, was he ever going to beat him?

NO!

Wawrinka was NOTHING other than a surprisingly tough match- and guess who won despite this?

BOTTOM LINE:

BAR the Wawa match which NO ONE saw coming, he’s got to the final through a cake walk draw.

He’s dropped ONE MERE SET outside the wawa match.

How shocking.

His fans can be as defensive as they want about this, but deep down they know that this was a CUSHY draw and were more than happy to have it.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter: he’s in the final as everyone predicted.

NO ONE expected anything else with that cushy draw and guess what: no other outcome occurred!


skeezer Says:

C’mon nina, even Sean Randall picked Nole to beat Ferrer in 3! Now that is bad! ;-)


Brando Says:

‘It’s a testament to how good Djokovic has become that this draw can be deemed so easy.’

DISAGREE!

Would fed, rafa and muzza be EXPECTED to beat:

Mathieu, Harrison, Stepanek?

YES.

Without dropping a set?

VERY POSSIBBLY.

Would they ALL be expected to beat Wawa?

Of course they would.

Ferrer?

Again all 3 would be favs v him.

Berdych?

Rafa owns him. Fed and Muzza MAY somewhat struggle here but even then they would be favs!

Long story short: He had the draw that ANY of the top 4 would love to have at ANY slam.

BAR Muzza @ FO.

It’s a dream draw!


Brando Says:

@Nina:

Can you please stop being so annoyingly defensive over nole?

Seriously: defend him when there is reason to.

But over ANYTHING and everything is just plain annoying and uncalled for.

In case you have forgotten: this is an open tennis forum where folks are FREE to air their opinions.

Your reaction to some views is just a tad over the top.

Especially when you follow it would the most ridiculous hyperbole ever:

- ‘he’s the most charismatic player o tour ever’:

Based on what?

- ‘would have probably beat every other player’:

What evidence is there to support this assertion?

- ‘but today Nole play was from another galaxy’:

So there is human life beyond our planet?

WOW!

- ‘Easy draw my ass’:

‘Easy draw’= popular, consensus opinion.

‘My ass’= er no thanks!

Seriously: take it easy!


Ben Pronin Says:

Brando, 1) Ferrer has 2 wins over Djokovic on hard court. I don’t know why you keep saying he’s only won one set.

2) Yeah but a few years ago and people would question Djokovic’s ability to come through such a draw. It would’ve been easy for Nadal, too. And Federer. And maybe Murray, although Murray’s draw proved to be the absolute easiest in real life, not on paper!

And even if they would have been favored against Berdych, we all know they have both had their fair share of struggles against him. Federer just lost to him at the last slam! The US Open, where Federer had reached at least the semi for 8 straight years! I don’t know if he would have preferred him over Tsonga, but it wouldn’t have been considered as easy. And if not for the wind, who knows how the US Open semi between Berdych and Murray would’ve turned out? I’m sure he prefers Chardy, or even Del Potro who Murray has actually owned, unlike Berdych.


skeezer Says:

Ben,

Maybe he was piggy backing my comment, where I referred to “since 2011″. Regardless, Daveeds appointments with Nole in HC Slams has not been competitive,


Brando Says:

@Ben:

1- Yes i was going off Skeez’s comment and my admittedly short memory tennis wise. A quick look at the h2h points out 2 wins:

1- In 2007 in the Master Cup he beat a 20 year old novak.

2- 2011 in the YEC, where nole was tanked in most people’s opinion. Heck, he even lost to tipsy there.

Both matches were INDOOR, if I am correct.

Either way: ferru is an easy opponent for nole on outdoor HC. Recent history pretty much backs that one up!

2- Ben, it’s 2013, nole is the clear no.1 and undisputed man to beat on outdoor HC.

He was NEVER in any real danger of losing to feru or berdych.

Honestly:

I do not understand why folks are being defensive regarding Novak and his opponent’s.

It’s crystal clear that:

1- The draw is NOT his fault as he ain’t handpicking his opponent’s.

2- His recent history v these players, automatically and strongly indicates an ADVANTAGE NOLE scenario.

Ultimately he’s in the final as everyone predicted as NO ONE thought he would be out due to any his predicted opponents.


Tennis coach Says:

If anybody is anoying about the draw is you Brando and Skeezer. Since day 1 you kept talking about Novak’s cake walk draw . Enough, It is not true.


Wog boy Says:

Grendel,

In support of your post about Berdych coming to net. In the second set he tried and for the moment it looked like it was working against Nole, Berdych won that second set but when Nole passed him few times he got to scared and stoped coming to the net. That brings back memory Andy/Nole final at AO. Andy also tried to come to net and Nole passed him few times and then we could see Andy in two minds, making step towards net and changing his mind and going quickly backwords. Rafa was doing the same thing to Federer, passing him too often so making him nervous when ever he was coming to net, IMO.
Now about Nole/Berdych match I might be wrong since I cannot watch Nole’s matches without rewatching them since I am to nervous and couldn’t do that here in Melbourne, couldn’t rewach the. Still pretty sure Berdych change his game in the second set.

jane,

Thanks, that is why Nole was late for press con.


skeezer Says:

Just to add to Nole fans,

Regardless of the chatter up here ( yes, including yours truly ) IF Nole wins the AO trophy looking back no one is going to give a hoot how he won it, he’s got it and that can’t take it back. I remember Rafa at 2010 AO and how a lot of protest was out there about how easy his draw was. Regardless, Rafa still has that HC Slam, he won it, and he is not giving it back! lol….point is, that is all that really matters in the end. This banter is just for fun and hype, none of it can take a trophy away if he wins it!

—-

As for Fed having a hard(er) draw, I have enjoyed it. I got to see him play quite a few quality opponents, every match had a reason to watch. He wasn’t playing 150 in the world and then 87 in the world and so on. Been one of the best ever tournies to watch the Fedster!! Win or lose, it was been a great great run.


Wog boy Says:

Predicton for tonight is 17-18 degrees, pretty cold day in Melbourne today. This should favour Andy, the court is going to be even slower. Now that is another thing to complain, tough draw for Federer snd even the weather is against him. He would like hot night like last, Nole’s, night;)
Andy should win tonight in four, pretty sure. On my way to airport talk to you tonight.


Tennis coach Says:

If anybody is anoying about the draw is you Brando and Skeezer. Since day 1 you kept talking about Novak’s cake walk draw . How is easy?


Tennis coach Says:

Apology for double comments


grendel Says:

“And if not for the wind, who knows how the US Open semi between Berdych and Murray would’ve turned out? ” (Ben).

Berdych would have won.His initial play, and then the last few games when he finally stopped wimping around, make that clear enough. However, ifs of one sort or another, whilst tempting to pursue and even irresistible, should nevertheless be resisted. I mean, if I hadn’t been picking my nose one fateful morning and thereby attracted the attention of a certain lady with unaccountable tastes, then – well, we’ll leave that one. But you know how it goes. And, after all, supposing Djokovic and Ferrer hadn’t been called off in the other semi – perhaps Ferrer would have won. And posters on TennisX would be showing him a little more respect right now. So it goes.

The point is, being able to deal with the wind and other unkind elements should be part of the repertoire of any professional. Berdych paid the price for behaving like a baby. And meanwhile, Murray took advantage of this odd quirk of fate, and whilst you can’t exactly say he deserved it – nobody deserves the arbitrary fates a cold and indifferent universe allots to them – he had drawn the short straw often enough that one felt a measure of justice (however illusory)was more or less what the quack ordered. Furthermore, that little bit of luck has helped to turn the wheel – Murray these days exudes more genuine authority. You expect him to win more grand slams now.

Andrea – yes, I hang my head in shame. But there is room, I hope, for us armchair bozos. If we can’t do it, we can at least pretend…..


Brando Says:

@Tennis Coach:

Seriously: quit being overly sensitive about others airing their opinions!

Opinions that they have the absolute right to air, and guess what: seemingly make sense for some, maybe many.

This isn’t anything against nole: it’s just about the draw.

Rafa’s draw got rightfully blasted at USO 2010 for his draw. And the next seemingly easy draw will get blasted too.

It’s just talks among fans. That’s all.

Ultimately:

IF nole wins, history will not give a damn about his draw.

Rightfully so nor will it lessen his win either!

So seriously: take it easy and accept it for what it is:

banter between fans!


skeezer Says:

TC,
Not true? Reasons were posted why. Why don’t u post the reasons u believe its not true? We’re all Adults here, well most of us ;)


grendel Says:

Wog boy, surely the point is to move forward with discretion, and at the appropriate moment, not to charge ahead on a whim and a hope. Federer and Tsonga are the masters here, but Djokovic and Murray and Nadal have all become increasingly accomplished in this area. And note that they do it not to satisfy our jaded palates but because they recognize that they will find it hard to win otherwise against their most potent rivals. Berdych (and others) have ducked the challenge, and they pay the price. It’s a mystery, though, why such a consummate mover and volleyer as Kutznesova have this tendency to hang shyly back….


andrea Says:

is it worth all the back and forth arguing over who had ‘easier’ draws? this seems to bring out the claws in everyone, depending on who your favorite player is.

it’s been proven over the years that any given player – especially on the men’s side – can have the match of their life against a top player. (wawrinka, rosol, soderling (FO against nadal), falla (wimby against fed first round) etc etc). no one can predict when those matches will happen so draws are what they are.

since dominant players on both the men’s and women’s side have existed for decades, the liklihood of the top guns making it through the draw are usually pretty good, save for the ‘lights out’ player that can show up on any given day. (or unforeseen injuries such as serena’s a couple of days ago. sloane would have been dispatched in straights otherwise.) champions usually find a way to win.

draws being easy or hard, are in the eye of the beholder until the rubber meets the road.


the DA Says:

@ grendel – “The point is, being able to deal with the wind and other unkind elements should be part of the repertoire of any professional.”

Absolutely. Well put. The ability to play in windy conditions is an unsung skill. A player has only themself to blame if they are unable to adjust and/or let it get into their head.


jamie Says:

According to some Argentine bird, the AO winner this year is coming from the second SF. Whoever wins the SF of Federer or Murray will win the final as well.


jane Says:

Fed’s draw was the hardest.

I think in the end, even though it didn’t look that way at the beginning, up to the semis, Andy’s draw was the easiest because he had two opponents in the 100s range (Sousa and Berankis) and then Chardy upset Delpo so his QF was pretty straightforward. Plus Simon was injured.

Nole’s draw played out as expected due to Berd being there, but played out harder than expected because Stan played like “the MAN.”

At the semis obviously Fed/Muzz is harder.

Ferrer didn’t really challenge Nole last night; but last year he nearly took a set and he won a 6-1 set at the USO. The H2H isn’t utterly lopsided.

But he’s not Rafa!


jane Says:

andrea – you’re right. And everyone sees it from a different p.o.v. as you point out.


grendel Says:

I’d like to add to andrea’s excellent post at 5.48 that what goes round comes round. Leaving aside the fact that – as Ben pointed out – a hard draw on paper can prove quite easy in practice and vica versa, although sometimes a hard draw really is hard and an easy draw is indeed easy,you never know, and in fact sometimes an easy draw badly affects a player’s chances because the silly chump’s had it too easy and sometimes a hard draw increases a player’s chances because it’s toughened him up for the stern battles ahead, and sometimes this isn’t the case and an easy draw really is easy and actually helps the player, or then again an easy looking draw might not prove to be easy after all but even so, just because it proved not to be in fact easy, it helps the player concerned for reasons given above – erm, now, where were we?

Ah, yes. There be a lot of permutations, and in a long career, a player can expect to run through most of them. So whilst it’s always legitimate, and definitely interesting to speculate on the nature of a draw, invalid conclusions tend to be drawn because who knows what really is – yeah, all that – and also, short memories abound.

Actually, I used to get enraged at what I was convinced was a tendency for Nadal to get an easy draw. Why not, I would fulminate, just hand him the trophy? What is the point of going through this farce? It LOOKS like a tournament doesn’t it, to all intents and purposes we have a familiar situation in which players are allocated opponents,they go onto the court and do a warm up and play tennis in apparently the normal way with umpires and linesmen and official bodies of one sort or another strutting about all over the place and when a given player wins he moves onto the next round and earnestly speculates about his future opponent just as if all this were a real situation and so on and so forth – but that’s all just a smokescreen. Actually, the whole operation has been carefully designed for the specific purpose of handing the title to Nadal. Who is behind this massive conspiracy and what could be their motivation? Well, admittedly this is a little hard to tell, these chappies know how to work in the dark,but one day, mark my words …..


sheila Says:

thangs says how can ferrer deserve a slam when delp, berdych & tsonga are much better players. well thangs, ferrer made it to the semis, the other players didnt. i agree that delpo, tsonga & berdych have gr8 games, but mentally they are pussies until i see them beating nadal, murray or djokovic in a major. they are big power hitters but when the big moments come to reach a final of a major they are rarely there, i think once for each of them. ferrer may not have as big a game, but does he have heart. i dont mention federer w/nadal, murray & djokovic because he is 6 yrs older & hasnt been consistent w/those guys either although he is my fvt player out of all of these guys.


jane Says:

So true grendel, and like you of Nadal, I would think the same about Fed’s draws when he was super dominant. But then, when you consider H2Hs, most opponents look “easy” for Fed or Nadal, and maybe even Nole and Murray (more so now).

There is some truth to tougher and easier draws of course.

But there are a lot of variables that affect the reality as opposed to the paper: such as the aforementioned match ups, or day form,or weather, or upsets, or injuries, or Rosols, etc.

Even Berankis wasn’t a walk in the part for Andy; he has talent, had nothing to lose, and Andy wasn’t at his best that day – lots of factors.

So yeah, lots of draw analysis permutations to consider indeed. And perspective is not the least of them!


mat4 Says:

And there is also the H2H: Berdych has an abysmal record against Djokovic, but has pretty decent results against Murray or Federer; Ferrer never won against Fed, but he can be dangerous to Murray, while Tsonga is not a problem for him, but is a difficult opponent for Fed and Novak.

Anyway, luck has always had his part in the draws, and in the final results.


thark Says:

I’m really shocked to see people minimizing Ferrer’s accomplishments. It is true that he struggles in the final rounds of slams, and it is also true that he lost badly to Nole. These things are also true of everyone in the ATP ranked below Ferrer. He is remarkable in his consistency, and we will no doubt see him in the WTF again this year. He was as gracious as Fed or Rafa have ever been in accepting defeat from Novak – he blamed neither exhaustion nor injury but simply conceded that he was outplayed. There is endless emphasis on Fed’s age but no one seems to notice that Ferrer is doing all of this quietly at the age of 30. Thangs said “Tsonga, Berdych are way higher than Ferrer.” What do you mean by “higher” exactly? According to the ATP rankings, there are 4 people who are “higher” than Ferrer. 3 of them are in this tournament, and happen to be the only 3 people left in the draw. 1 of them is at home having a mojito and waiting on the inevitability of being “lower” than Ferrer in the near future. None of them is named Tsonga or Berdych. The ATP system isn’t perfect but at least there is a rationale for it. By what rationale do you claim Ferrer to be beneath players he outranks? Because he’s shorter? Older? Less charismatic? History will remember Ferrer better than you realize. He is not a multi-slam champion but his contributions are immense. You can be a fan of Daveed or not, but dismissing him as if he can’t play is just ignorant.


jane Says:

^ Good points about Ferrer: he had his best year last year I think. Maybe Nole played so well and/or raised his level because he knows how tough Daveed can be.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

You are right, Nole remembers how Ferrer almost got him last year at Ao and came into match 100% focused.


mat4 Says:

@Thark, jane:

Here are some stats, just to compare Ferru, Tsonga, Berdych and DelPo against the Fab4:

Ferrer
-0/14 against Federer (0%, 0-0 in GS)
-4/16 against Nadal (20%m 2-2 in GS)
-5-10 against Djokovic (33%, 0-5 in GS)
-5-6 against Murray (45%, 1-2 in GS)

Tsonga:
-3-9 (25%, 1-3) against Fed
-3-6 against Nadal (33%, 1-1)
-5-9 against Djokovic (36%, 1-3)
-1-7 against Murray (12,5%, 1-2)

Del Potro:
-4-13 (24%, 1-5) against Federer
-3-7 (30%, 1-2) against Nadal
-2-7 (22%, 0-3) against Djokovic
-1-5 (17%, 0-1) contre Murray

Berdych:
-5-11 (31%, 2-4) against Federer
-3-12 (20%, 0-3) against Nadal
-1-12 (8%, 1-2) against Djokovic
-4-4 (50%, 1-1) against Murray

Some of his last results were:

*4-6 7-6 6-1 7-6 against Murray AO sf 2011
*6-7 7-6 6-4 7-6 (3h57) against Murray, Wimbledon 2012
*2-6 6-1 6-4 6-2 against Djokovic USO

I think he is the only one that won TWICE against a Top4 in a GS in the last 2 years.

So, his results are not that worse than the results of the others. Today, it was rather a question of fatigue, match-up, and Novak played an excellent match.


jane Says:

Great stats mat4, thanks!


jane Says:

grendel, mat4 posted a very interesting analysis about the Berd vs Nole match and he criticized Berd for rarely changing his tactics against Nole and for never trying to pressure Nole’s serve – he was very low on the return game stats (in the 20% range). So that writer concluded Berd’s main weakness is lack of tactical acumen – not having a good plan A and not adjusting with a plan B. I didn’t see that match so can’t comment beyond what I read. But the analysis itself was a great read.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I shamelessly copied them from another site…

Just hope that Novak will play at the same level in the final. I managed to rewatch most of his matches, and I have the impression that he rose his level from one match to another. He seems to have more power and more “easy” depth.

I remember his match against Ferrer last year in IW, when he simply couldn’t deliver the final blow in a rally against an opponent who was running every ball. That time, it looked so different.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

The site is “The changeover”, and I believe it is the best blog about tennis around.

Jose wrote a live analysis of the Nole-Ferru match too.

Basically, I don’t agree with him, nor with Wilander’s opinion that Berdych should have rushed to the net more often in the third set.

Yes, Berdych sliced his BH return on Novak’s second serve most of the time, but when you see that Ferrer doesn’t do much on that second serve, nor did Harrison, and Wawrinka sliced it too, there has to be something. It wasn’t only Berdych.

Then, from the third set, Novak played with great depth, controlling most of the rallies and it was really difficult to prepare a rush to the net.


mat4 Says:

Finally, the story about plans A, B, C, D is mostly BS. It simply doesn’t work against players like Djokovic, Federer, Nadal. Sometimes they need a few games to adjust, but they usually react quite well to a change.

And then, a player has his style, and a plan “B” very often is a double edged way of playing, because you don’t play your game, within yourself.

Two examples:

When Novak changed his racquet, he couldn’t flatten his FH and simply couldn’t hit through Murray any more, so he tried to rush to the net, in IW, if I remember well. It backfired. Murray tried the same thing in the third set of their final two years ago – he was broken three times and lost the match, although he has a better volley.


Wog boy Says:

“it is the best blog about tennis around” you meant Tennis-x, didn’t you?


mat4 Says:

@WB:

No, WB. “The Changeover”. Tennis-x has “only” the best posters..

Especially Nole’s fans..


Wog boy Says:

Aaaaaaa … I see..


tennis coach Says:

Hey guys, nothing against your opinions, just the fact that you are playing same song every time Nole makes into another round. We heard it once, no need to hear it again. Thanks.


mat4 Says:

hey, tennis coach, nothing your opinion, quite the contrary: we don’t care about it.


mat4 Says:

Oops… sorry, I fogot: Thanks.


tennis coach Says:

@ mat4: not funny butt-kisser!!!


tennis coach Says:

@ Brando and Skeezer: Hey guys, nothing against your opinions, just the fact that you are playing same song every time Nole makes into another round. We heard it once, no need to hear it again. Thanks.


Margot Says:

Would Andy and Nole dropped a set against Davydenko, Tomic and Raonic? Probably not.
The quarters were different and I for one was glad Berdych was elswhere. However but just possibly when they met at USOpen, Andy has more tricks in his magic box than B. and thus was able to conquer the wind.
Also re B, coming forwards, that’s the movement he finds most difficult and also, he just can’t bend his knees and unless volley is relatively straight forward, fluffs it.
Not Andy’s fault Delpotro/Cilic didn’t make it, though would not have been especially worried if either had, as it was certainly not Rafa’s that Andy didn’t make it that time at the USOpen.
Lol draws pan out as they do and who’d a thought it that Stan would’ve been so trixy and David SO easy.
Interesting stats Matt4, copied or not…;)


jane Says:

^ All good points Margot.


MMT Says:

Grendel: To you question about the inability of modern players to play an effective net game, I agree that it’s a joke.

It makes me wonder what the hell ALL the “coaches” are doing at training if they’re not teaching fundamentals and expanding the games of their players – collecting balls and whispering sweet nothing in their ears? What a waste of money – they could all be just a monolithic and without a coach, so why pay 10% of their earnings for THAT?

Speaking of which, like all things that make no sense in sports, I think the problem comes from the money in the game. You’re a young player with a chance to go pro and make a lot of money very soon, so you do what you do best, and ONLY what you do best, to make it. Then you get on tour, and you have something to lose, so why take the risk of losing SOME matches you should win while developing your game, when you can keep doing what you’ve been doing and win NONE of the matches you shouldn’t – meanwhile everyone around you can keep on leeching off of you with no regrets whilst adding no value at all, along the way?

My solution – get rid of your entourage, and get a coach who has your interests at hear to work with you for a SHORT period of time, say in the off-season or between the Australian Open and the Indian Wells, or between Miami and the French Open, or after the US Open.

But the key is for the coaching to be limited, and then go out on the tour, use your BRAIN for a change, and apply the things you’ve worked on in training. It may cost you some points here and there, but eventually you’ll understand what you have to do, and your game will improve, giving you a CHANCE to win big titles.


MMT Says:

By the way, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more discussion of Azarenka’s injury time-out here. First of all, kudos to Patrick McEnroe for calling it like it was – there was no injury at all – she was just choking and wanted to regroup, pure and simple.

He’s also right that the rule is absurd. In my opinion, there should be ONE injury time out per tournament and it can only occur BETWEEN sets. And if you can’t play without medical treatment, then concede the set. Then we’ll see who’s REALLY injured, and who’s a drama queen.

If they can call the trainer any time they want, and then use injury time outs whenever they come up with the right “symptoms” then the rule will ALWAYS be abused. And I would disagree with one thing he said – I DO blame the players. They have input into the rules, but more importantly, they’re the ones abusing them, not the officials.


MMT Says:

AMEN Andrea @5:48!


Ben Pronin Says:

MMT, Grendel, do either of you follow basketball by any chance?

I had a discussion with my friend along the lines of this “no one knows how to volley” thing. So in basketball, you’d think that being able to shoot something like a free throw should apply to everyone. I mean what’s the first thing you learn when you start playing basketball? One would assume that make a regular jump shot is pretty basic. And yet you have guys like Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, and Shaq, 3 incredible centers, incredible defenders, incredible post players, who can’t shoot for crap. There’s a youtube video of Griffin shooting BACK-TO-BACK air balls when attempting free throws! I don’t even know what to compare that to. Whiffing back-to-back forehands maybe?

But basketball is obviously different from tennis in that it’s a team sport. And that simple difference is why guys like Shaq and Howard can be regarded as absolutely great players despite this horrendous flaw. They’re simply not supposed to be great free throw shooters (although Howard has become flat out awful to unacceptable standards recently). It’s not a part of their position. Which, I think, is kind of weird. But that’s how it is.

But in tennis, even in doubles, in fact, ESPECIALLY in doubles, you have to know how to volley. But, sometimes you can forgo a ground stroke. Crappy forehand? Stay on the backhand side. Crappy backhand? Stay on the forehand side. But in singles, there’s no one there to fill in a void. If you have a bad ground stroke, it’ll get exposed. And if you have a bad volley? Guys like Murray and Federer, who have great slices, will expose that, too. So the great players, Djokovic and Nadal, who aren’t naturally good volleyers, have worked hard to improve. To, at least, be able to put the point away if need be. And yet you have pretty much the rest of the field basically unwilling to budge. It’s a mystery.

In case it’s not clear, I agree with you both wholeheartedly. It’s a joke, absolutely pathetic. I just like the comparison.


MMT Says:

mat4 – The games of the top players are not monolithic – they win different ways against different players on different days.

They do the same things when the force of their “natural” game (or plan A as it has been referred to) are sufficient. Of course they do, why change what works? And there is no doubt that their natural game is superior to the majority of their opponents.

But there are days when some players who, either because they sun happened to shine on their arse that morning or because they happen to have a pretty good natural game themselves, force the even the best players to exit their comfort zone and do something different to win.

That is PRECISELY what makes them great.


MMT Says:

Actually Ben, your comparison with basketball is astute – it seems to me that some of the same countries that have “suddenly” become “great” in tennis happen to also be the same countries that are producing these well rounded, highly skilled, and very effective basketball players, that have now “infiltrated” the NBA.

There have been two stories on “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel, that have addressed this precise phenomenon – one in tennis and one in basketball. The bottom line is that the training in the fundamentals and the preparation of kids to compete at the highest levels are far superior in these countries than in the US.

But in tennis around the world, just like in basketball in the US, there are a lot of coaches doing absolutely NOTHING to merit the money they make teaching kids. They ignore technical flaws and for selfish reasons of expedience encourage players to focus on those things they do well to win now and bring them one day closer to “making it” in the pros.

In the end the player loses and the coach moves on to their next victim.


Ben Pronin Says:

Yeah but Berdych is Czech. And considering Stepanek is one of the best few volleyers that’s still on tour, it makes it even more mind boggling that Berdych doesn’t do more at the net.

Yeah, not even gonna bother adding more criticism to American tennis, but the missing volley exists every where.

From my experience and observation, it’s like the “factories” that produce athletes in other countries make sure each part is in place whereas in the US it’s like in a cartoon where you have an assembly that starts moving faster and faster and the guy isn’t able to put all the parts in place and just lets it go. Except nothing is really moving faster but the parts are definitely being left out.

Honestly, a big part of that is the whole “as long as you participate you’re great” bs. It’s the biggest bs if I’ve ever seen bs.


MMT Says:

Yeah, I don’t think that was a good connection that I made, but my point is that the comparison with basketball is astute because the solution to getting ahead in any sport, either individually or collectively, is technical and in the fundamentals. I didn’t mean to make it a discussion about American tennis, because the problem in tennis is indeed global.

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