Australian Open 2013: Grading Top Superstars' Performances in Melbourne
The 2013 Australian Open produced both surprising and memorable results. While Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka both successfully defended their titles, aging legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams came up short.
For the most part, though, the sport's most recognizable faces went deep and threatened for the title, but there can only be two champions.
Here we'll grade the top superstars' overall performances in Australia.
Serena Williams came into Melbourne on fire, having won the last two Grand Slams and nearly every one of her singles matches since the 2012 French Open, but her early dominance would be all for naught in the end.
The 15-time singles Slam champion came unraveled against American teenager Sloane Stephens in the women's quarterfinals, losing in three sets to bow out far earlier than anyone could have expected.
You have to respect Maria Sharapova for making another deep run at the year's first Slam, but the way it came to an end in the semis was disappointing to say the least.
After firing on all cylinders and destroying opponents early, the Russian superstar won just four games in total in her semifinal defeat to Li Na. The underwhelming performance left a bitter taste in the mouths of many.
Will Li Na ever win a second career Grand Slam?
Few expected 30-year-old Li Na to make a run to the women's final in Melbourne this year.
The Chinese star was brilliant, winning her first six matches in impressive fashion, and even ousting No. 2 seed Sharapova in the semis. Sharapova had looked superhuman up until that point, but Li dominated her in straight sets.
Li gave Azarenka a tremendous match in the final, but ultimately came up short against her much younger opponent.
Victoria Azarenka proved that her 2012 Aussie Open win wasn't a fluke and that she's deserving of the world No. 1 ranking after becoming a multiple Grand Slam winner in Melbourne.
The 23-year-old had her bad moments in Australia this January, taking a lengthy and controversial timeout in her semifinal win over Sloane Stephens, but in the end she played the best and most consistent tennis of any other female competitor.
Azarenka is now just a 2014 Australian Open win away from tying the record for most consecutive women's titles Down Under in the Open era.
The greatest of all time, Roger Federer played well in Melbourne despite battling mostly younger opponents. At age 31, it's no longer realistic for us to expect Fed to cruise into every Slam final.
He did play well against Andy Murray in the semis, but he faded in the fifth and final set. Considering his resume and the fact that it was only half a year ago that he won Wimbledon in dominant fashion, Fed could have done better to contend for the crown.
He has now been bounced in the Aussie Open semis three straight years.
Which player is the world No. 2 in your eyes?
Andy Murray's expectations increased significantly after he won the 2012 U.S. Open, claiming his first career Grand Slam. But he fell short this January, not only losing the Aussie Open men's final, but fading quickly, surrendering the match in four sets.
The three-time Australian Open runner-up played well against Roger Federer in the semis, but he failed to put up much of a fight in his biggest match against Novak Djokovic. He played lackluster service games and showed a lack of confidence over the course of the final two sets.
Winning the Australian Open is a supreme accomplishment, but winning it for a third consecutive time with the target on your back is an entirely different challenge.
Djokovic didn't just win in Melbourne, he made history there.
His play was stellar from start to finish, and he left zero doubts as to who's the best men's player on the planet. Djokovic gets an A+ for his dominant effort Down Under this January.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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