Upsets have stolen the headlines over the past several days at the Australian Open, and that continued on Day 10, as the lower seed prevailed in three out of the four men's and women's singles matches that were played.
Calling Roger Federer an underdog always feels bizarre due to his long track record of success, but the No. 6 seed took out No. 4 Andy Murray in convincing fashion. Also, Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova defeated higher seeds to book a date against each other in the semifinals.
Rafael Nadal was the lone favorite to come away with a win on Day 10, but even the No. 1 men's player had some nervous moments against the up-and-coming Grigor Dimitrov.
Along with the scorelines for every Day 10 singles match, here is some further analysis regarding the stories that have people talking Down Under.
|Rafael Nadal (1) def. Grigor Dimitrov (22)||3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2|
|Roger Federer (6) def. Andy Murray (4)||6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3|
|Dominika Cibulkova (20) def. Simona Halep (11)||6-3, 6-0|
|Agnieszka Radwanska (5) def. Victoria Azarenka (2)||6-1, 5-7, 6-0|
Federer Upends Murray in Quarters
With 17 Grand Slam singles titles to his credit, Roger Federer is unquestionably one of the greatest tennis players ever. Despite that, many have sold Fed short recently due to the 32-year-old Swiss star's struggles in 2013. Federer was bounced from big tournaments by the likes of Sergiy Stakhovsky and Tommy Robredo, but he proved on Day 10 at the Australian Open that he is back in form.
Federer took care of Andy Murray in a fairly routine four-set victory that allowed him to reach his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal, according to SportsCenter on Twitter:
The Greatest! Roger Federer takes down Andy Murray to advance to his 11th consecutive #AusOpen semifinal. He'll face Rafa Nadal.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2014
Most probably expected a long, grueling match between Federer and Murray, but there was no question throughout that Federer was the better player. He came out firing in the first and second sets, and he wasn't met with any true resistance until the third.
Federer had a golden opportunity to close out the match in straight sets after breaking Murray, but the determined Brit was able to break back, according to the Australian Open on Twitter.
Murray ultimately won the third set 7-6, and the tide seemed to be turning in his favor. Ever the professional, Fed didn't let the third set rattle him. He bounced back to win the fourth in dominant fashion, and he proved that he is still among the elite players in tennis.
It wasn't long ago that Murray underwent back surgery, so simply recovering in time to play in Melbourne was an accomplishment in many ways.
Following the loss to Federer, Murray reflected on all the hard work he put in to get ready for the Australian Open.
Not surprisingly, Federer's focus will now shift toward his semifinal opponent, which just so happens to be longtime rival Rafael Nadal.
Nadal has an impeccable record against the other top players, and Federer is no exception, as Rafa has dominated him on hard courts especially, according to SportsNet New York's Adam Zagoria.
Although Federer will play Nadal for a chance to reach the Australian Open final, most fans will likely view it as a de facto final. The winner will still have to get past either Stanislas Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych, but there is no question that they'll love their chances if they get to that point.
Radwanska Shocks Azarenka with Virtuoso Performance
Who will win the 2014 Australian Open women's title?
With the likes of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova among the best players in the women's game currently, there is constantly an emphasis on power. No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska proved on Day 10 that there are others ways to win, however, as she ousted Azarenka in one of the most intelligently and strategically played matches in quite some time.
With Williams and Sharapova getting bounced from the tournament, Azarenka became the clear favorite. Azarenka had won the previous two Australian Opens, and most probably figured that a third was all but assured. Radwanska ran Azarenka ragged, though, and was able to take care of her in three sets.
Azarenka is used to blowing the opposition out of the water with her power, but Aga was able to neutralize it thanks to her savvy play, variety and incredible court instincts. Radwanska constantly anticipated where Azarenka was going to hit the ball, and she was right more often that not.
As seen in this montage, there was almost no shot that Radwanska couldn't get to and do something with:
The fact that Radwanska jumped all over Azarenka early and won the first set 6-1 was shocking, but closing Azarenka out 6-0 in the third was even more surprising considering the fact that Azarenka battled back to take the second set.
Radwanska certainly could have folded and allowed Azarenka to dictate things, but that simply wasn't the case. The crafty Pole plays a throwback game featuring plenty of slices, angles, lobs and the like, and it makes observers such as Neil Harman of The Times long for more players to play that way.
When tennis is played the way @ARadwanska plays it, it's real tennis. The way it ought to be played. Am I making sense?— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) January 22, 2014
Radwanska has even garnered some attention from the men's side as ousted Andy Murray is supportive of Radwanska in her quest for her first Grand Slam title, according to tennis journalist Alexandra Willis.
Andy Murray backs Agnieszka Radwanska to win the women's title. "If I could pick someone, I would like her to win." #ausopen— Alexandra Willis (@alex_willis) January 22, 2014
Although Radwanska will have to defeat Dominika Cibulkova as well as the winner of Li Na vs. Eugenie Bouchard to reign supreme in Melbourne, this is unquestionably the best chance yet for the 24-year-old to win a Grand Slam.
Nadal Shakes off Slow Start to Defeat Dimitrov
With so many top seeds going down in recent days, No. 1 Rafael Nadal had to be feeling the heat on Day 10. The Spanish star had a tricky match against an impressive youngster in No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov, and it was a struggle from the very start.
Nadal stumbled out of the gates, while Dimitrov was clearly locked in and ready to play. Rafa's serve was off, and he seemed to be lacking confidence, which allowed Dimitrov to race out to an early lead in dominant fashion.
Who will win the 2014 Australian Open men's title?
Nadal seemed to understand the gravity of the situation after falling behind a set, and he elevated his game from that point forward. Nadal battled his way through the second set despite the fact that he was making some uncharacteristic mistakes, but he displayed the heart of a champion by winning the tiebreak.
Dimitrov had a ton of momentum throughout the first two sets, and a large Bulgarian contingent in the crowd was loud and raucous in his favor. Nadal isn't used to the crowd being against him, so he took every opportunity to pump himself up and whip the crowd into a frenzy in an effort to turn the tide.
It certainly seemed to work, as Nadal won another tiebreak in the third before finishing Dimitrov off for good in the fourth. It's impossible not to marvel at Nadal, especially when he plays at a high level despite battling through a gnarly blister, as seen in this photo courtesy of The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg.
Nadal acknowledged after the match that he didn't play his best, but he certainly seemed relieved to move on to the next round.
"I served slower, I served bad & I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent" @RafaelNadal on his serve during the match— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2014
Nadal winning may be the big story, but Dimitrov's effort shouldn't be dismissed. He is affectionately known as "Baby Fed" thanks in large part to his one-handed backhand, and he has a very bright future. Even so, Dimitrov couldn't help but shed a tear after his efforts fell a bit short:
With Novak Djokovic out of the tournament, Nadal now bears the burden of being the unquestioned favorite. Rafa can't afford to look ahead to the final, though, since he is in store for a hard-fought battle against Federer in the semis.
As great as it was to see Nadal will his way to victory against Dimitrov, he'll have to be much better to beat his rival next time out.
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