Week Two of the Australian Open: Maria Sharapova's Conquest, Shuffling Feet, and a Classy Breakout Player

Allan WexlerCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2008

Week Two of the Aussie Open was just as exciting as the first.  Now we anxiously await the finals, sure to prove unpredictable.

I can't believe Maria Sharapova can be beaten, given this week’s performance.  Don't get me wrong—Ana Ivanovic is a masterful player and ready for the finals.  But Sharapova has been awe inspiring, particularly with her demolition of Justine Henin in the quarters.

Jelena Jankovic did not fare so well against Sharapova, and one can only dream of what might have been if the Williams sisters hadn't lost as early as they did.

By the way, is this the first time a Williams sister has lost without blaming it on some injury?

And Daniela Hantuchova's insistence that Ivanovic’s shuffling feet prior to the serve caused a disruption to her game: PAHLEEEEEZ.  Give me a break.  Hantuchova hasn’t defeated any player of consequence in getting this far in the tourney and should thank the Aussies for a very generous draw.  If she could focus more on her game and less on the shuffling of feet, she might regain some of the promise she showed as a 16 year old.

At any rate, I say Sharapova over Ivanovic in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.

The men's side has been tremendous.

Novak Djokovic has not been challenged once during this tournament and for those who think his defeat of Roger Federer was a fluke, let me remind you that he had the Fed beaten at the U.S. Open, only to throw away the match—and he did beat him in Montreal a year ago.

Novak is the real thing, a far more formidable opponent than Rafael Nadal on a hard surface, and his talent should raise him to the No. 2 spot this year.

The story of this tournament has been Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a very gifted Frenchman who has never accomplished so much as he has in the past two weeks.  The Australian Open has a history of players who did very well here, and then disappeared for the balance of their careers to be middle of the road pros—and Tsonga could fall into that role.

I loved his reaction to beating Nadal.  Rather than falling to the ground and kissing the court or jumping up and down like an idiot, he showed class and respect for his opponent by simply approaching the net and congratulating Rafael.  He did his customary jumping, etc., after Nadal had left the court and I wish more "pros" would take a lesson from his behavior.

I hope Tsonga plays well against Djokovic.  It's a great story.

But, I say Novak in three relatively easy sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Enjoy the finals!