2011 Australian Open: Rounding Up Our Final Thoughts
I have to say that this year, the Australian Open did not really excite me as much as previous years.
There were not enough great matches throughout the tournament that caused great excitement. To add to this, the men's final, just like last year, was pretty disappointing.
Overall I believe that the woman's tournament was more enticing. Even though the quality of some of the matches were not so good, there was more to look forward to.
In this slide show I selected a few things, in no particular order, that I think stood out from this tournament.
She was amazed as everybody else when her racket broke out of the blue.
Bad publicity for her endorser. It was something that I had never seen before, and something that I suspect could be very dangerous.
She is 30 years old and with age she brings an entertaining aggressive game to the fore, something that is missing from today’s young WTA stars.
Her 16-14 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova was probably the best match of the whole men’s and women’s tournaments. It is one of those matches that you sit back, absorb until the end and then say, “that match had it all.”
My only complaint would be her grunting. It is like a two part grunt with two distinct sounds which can get very irritating.
Credit to her on the way she came back a set and a break down to conquer Wozniacki. It was a great achievement, and even more so that she made it to her nation's first Grand Slam final.
On the court she was fiery and fierce. She smacked forehands down the line and also came to the net to hit a few volleys, something that was very refreshing.
Off the court she was a humble, happy go lucky gal with great comments and a fun attitude. The things she said about her husband where hilarious.
She has been a breath of fresh air since her comeback.
Her commanding strokes from the back of the court are so punishing. Most WTA players cannot handle her pace, eventually getting them flustered and frustrated.
In the final, Li Na was the one commanding however, causing Kim to rethink her strategy.
What was with Clijsters dress though? The sweat showing through her green outfit was not fitting for such a great champion. Fila should have the problem resolved immediately.
The Woman’s Final
Overall the WTA brought us quite a few good matches this year at the Aussie Open, culminating in a great finale.
Li Na and Clijsters lived up to their billing and provided us with an exciting final full of running and incredible shot making. I enjoyed the fact that both women were also willing to come to the net.
It was also nice to see how Clijsters was changing her tactics as the game continued on. It was a fascinating sight to behold.
At first her high looped forehands looked like a very strange shot-selection, however she proved us all wrong when the tide of the match was slowly but surely moving towards her corner.
No Grunt Womens Final
Finally our ears had a rest from all the screaming that goes on when most WTA players play their game.
However, since 2009 most men have started to grunt too, some of them a lot louder than before (Djokovic, Murray, Davydenko, Ferrer).
Australian Open Feel
Everything seems so relaxed. There seem to be more smiles from the tennis players, and the crowds seem to be free to have a laugh in between points, but then show respect when the players are doing their thing.
This also helps for the viewer who is watching from TV. The vibe is transferred making us also feel relaxed.
Another point that helps in the great feel of the first slam of the year, is the fact that each nation is represented with at least a dozen fans. In which other tournament can you find such diversity?
The Berdych Army
Excellent set of blokes who multiplied after every match.
They were a perfect example of the feel of the Aussie Open; vociferous and mad, yet calm and collective.
Plus their chants were pretty funny too!
The Czech had a very good appearance down under. He showed why he was the No. 6 seed by powering himself into the quarterfinals.
Even though he was totally outplayed by Djokovic, he should feel confident about his form and carry it through to the rest of the season.
I believed that he would have a problem against Dolgopolov, but at times Robin did not look at all as a top-10 player.
He was lumbering around missing a lot of shots that he would usually pound for winners. Dogopolov really did outplay him; however the Swede should be proud with his performance and push on.
He is still the No. 4 seed and his results are defending it pretty well.
It seems that his time has passed, but he never ceases to provide us with some nail-biting tennis.
His first-round clash with Nalbandian was a great contest. It also provided us with some great rallies (which were then comprehensively passed by the Ferrer/Murray match).
He did not leave the tournament early though, as he was a commentator for Channel 7 in Australia.
Showman or tennis player?
He floats around the top-10 yet still insists in running all over the court pointlessly and hitting shots at the wrong time.
Played fantastic against Federer and was a real shame that he did not win the match.
The Frenchman always brings his level up at the same time his opponent does which always creates a great match.
Many people commented on how Federer let him back in the match. I disagree, Gilles just relaxed and went for his shots.
The quality in his tennis was apparent towards the end of the second set onwards.
Positive Jim Courier
Nice and refreshing interviews after the matches were over.
The players seemed to be more themselves when they talked to Courier on court.
However, after the players went into the press conference it was back to their corporate selves, with their monotonic and boring answers.
Negative Jim Courier
When Stanislas Wawrinka won against Roddick, all but one of Couriers questions was about Federer.
Give the guy some credit he just played an unbelievable match!
The same with David Ferrer. Courier's questions were all in relation to Nadal and his injury.
Eurosport commentators were too biased: Nadal and Federer could do no wrong; the match always seemed to be on their racket, in the commentator’s opinion.
There was a point when Wilander said something like:
“If Federer can pick up his game he can beat Djokovic, 'cause Djokovic is playing at his best now.”
This was something that I found very derogatory and also contradicting, because an hour later Wilander then said, “Djokovic has really picked up his game now.”
I love the fact that a tennis match has to stop in order for the fireworks to go off on Australia day.
The authorities do not bow down to the cooperate machine and keep their tradition going; it reminds me of Wimbledon who do not allow any play to commence on the middle Sunday.
There is not much to say about the Spaniard in his first Grand Slam of the year. Ferrer came out all guns blazing and beat Nadal fair and square.
Nadal did not have to play Doha where he was sick, thus leading to his injury against Ferrer.
Something has to be done with him and his management team because allowing anyone to work, if you can call playing tennis work, while having a virus or fever is just ludicrous.
The biggest pressure that Federer now faces when he steps on the court is not of his opponent. As a matter of fact, all the pressure that the Swiss now comprises is from himself.
When he is in the lead, he is known to be able to dispatch his opponents ruthlessly; when a lower ranked player faces him, he is known to steamroll over him. This is no longer the case.
Roger is carrying the weight of his past success. He has to live up to his and his fans' expectations. Anything less sparks a sense of worry.
In his match with both Simon and Djokovic the nervousness was visible, and it spread to the fans. In both matches he took unnecessary risks that we do not usually see from one of the calmest men in tennis history.
Against Simon the risks helped, against Djokovic who was truly on fire, nothing could have helped the 16-time Grand Slam Champion.
Excellent performance down under from the Spaniard. He was relentless in his attacking play with both Nadal and Murray.
I liked this version of Ferrer. The more aggressive version who hits his inside-out backhand with more regularity.
Throughout the tournament he made his opponents move from left to right with his pinpoint accuracy forehand. This is what Ferrer usually does, however he did not always wait for his opponent to make a mistake this time.
The more aggressive Ferrer went for winners as well, creating a more enticing game.
Overall he had a great tournament.
He showed what he was really capable of against Melzer. He was absolutely astounding in that match. Whatever shot he attempted turned into a winner or an un-returnable.
He also showed his full array of shots and what his repertoire consists of. In this match he showed how he can come to the net and finish off the points. Nevertheless against Ferrer and Djokovic it seemed that he totally forgot how to do such a thing.
Another point I would like to make is that although there might have been some astonishing rallies when the Scot was playing Ferrer, there were a few that did not have to take place.
During these long and grueling rallies both players had chances to finish the points at the net, however none dared to take the chance.
The player of the tournament, by far. He was the best player in 2008 too, but better in every department.
What really got my attention though was his forehand. I have never seen him be so brutal with this "weapon." Cross-court, down the line, topspin, flat, the options were all there. As soon as he took control with his forehand the point was almost always over.
Against Berdych was this ever so present. Instead of the big Czech doing all the damage it was Djokovic, piercing the former's defense with venom.
To add to this, his movement was paramount in claiming his second Aussie Slam.
He was everywhere on the court, both in attack and defense, but mostly in defense. How many times did he scramble to get to a ball against Murray, only to send the ball back with authority?
And when he did not do this, he would just give height to the ball that would constantly land close to the baseline. No one had an answer to the world number three’s onslaught, and that is why he won the title.
The Men's Final
What a dud.
I had high hopes for Murray, but yet again he came up short. He is now 0-3 in Grand Slam finals and 0-9 in sets won.
Although he may have looked tired, nervous and frustrated, a bit more passion would've been good to see.
As mentioned earlier he was totally outplayed by the Serbian in the final, however the Scot contributed to his own downfall. There were quite a few times when the Scot had Djokovic scrambling and doing the splits, however Murray would not approach the net.
This just makes no sense to me. When you are in the position to gain a serious advantage and finish a point, why not go for it?
Murray let his opponent do whatever he pleased without enough pressure.
Now do not get me wrong, the trophy was going to be Djokovic’s no matter what, but you can always sense that this could have been a special final if Murray did not choke; because choke is what he did.
And at this rate he might just bear the name of the biggest choker in tennis history.