Friday, January 28, 2011

New World Order: Dissecting the Semis

Li Na's husband snoring? Murray forgetting the scoring? What a wacky foursome of semifinal matches they were.
We are down to two men and two women, but before we go and get ourselves all invested in their fates in a few hours, let's take a look back at ten things that made the Australian Open semifinals worth the lingering PTTD (post traumatic tennis disorder) issues that it inevitably caused.

1. Li Na and the presence of love -- how cute are Li Na and her husband? I say adorable. And I think it's great how she calls him out on all the annoying things he does and he stands there with a big smile on his face and takes one for the team. I think he's pretty secure in his role, and deep down they appear to be very much in love. It adds a human element to her matches, when you can picture her husband scouting her opponents than falling asleep to snore in the wee hours of the night. And it's hilarious.

2. Heavy Duty Lightweight -- David Ferrer did everything in his power to take out Andy Murray last night, but things just didn't go his way. Still, he was by far the best player pound-for-pound in the draw, and he gave the tennis world a chance to see a his mind-boggling intensity and desire on a massive stage. He was one point away from having Murray in a two set hole, and even after he lost the second and third sets, he was gritty, resilient, and positively brilliant to nearly swipe the fourth in a tiebreaker.

3. Match Point Madness -- Caroline Wozniacki suffered a major setback when she couldn't convert her match point in the second set against Li Na. But things really unraveled when she netted three returns in the ensuing game. She was never the same after that, but given the heart and passion of the 20-year-old, it's pretty obvious that she won't let this keep her down for long.

4. Too Good -- It's weird to say this, but Novak Djokovic was simply too good for Roger Federer in their semifinal match. Federer played a pretty clean match, but Novak was there with him every step of the way, and when he needed a little extra something, he always seemed to find it -- just like Federer always used to do.

5. Poor Vera -- Their is something tragic about Vera Zvonareva. She's truly come into her own in the last year, and yet she still runs into a buzzsaw at the end of each tournament. Is she becoming the new Elena Dementieva? I guess the good news is that this week's lopsided straight-sets loss was better than the lopsided straight-sets loss she suffered to Aussie Kim at last year's U.S. Open finals.

6. Murray's Memory -- Andy Murray claimed in a post-match interview to Jim Courier that he didn't feel the pressure when facing a set point to go down two sets to David Ferrer because -- get this -- he thought the score was 4-3. And I was so ready to praise him for serving big when he absolutely had to. Wow.

7. 40-shot-rallies -- Did anyone see the long rallies that Ferrer and Murray took part in, particularly in the first set yesterday? They were just brutal. Kudos to Murray for being able to take a few punches and still stay on his feet. He was seriously gassed at the end of set 1.

8. The best match of the Four singles semis -- Once again the women take the cake. Li-Wozniacki started like a funeral procession, but ended like a Chinese New Year's parade. From the middle of the second set until the bitter end, the tension was so thick that you could pick it up with chopsticks.

9. Serve it up, Novak -- Did Djokovic get some serving advice from Rafa? He topped out at 129 in his match against Federer, and he's getting it done under pressure as well. It bodes well for him in the final.

10. Quote of the semis -- Novak Djokovic, on his 2008 Australian Open title. "I was a 20-year-old kid hitting as hard as he can with closed eyes and everything was going in back then. It was great."


  1. A comment and a gripe:

    1) Did you catch Federer's absurd description post-Wawrinka match explaining the point where he hit the tweener? Paraphrasing: "We played before in Stockholm and he lobbed me, then I hit a tweener, but he really crowded the net and cut off all the angles. So before I hit the tweener I thought 'I've got to hit a lob.' " All that went through his head in that brief instant? Astonishing.

    2) Why does ESPN (Fowler in particular) have to play the unimaginative angles "Huge upset by Djokovic!" and "Federer is done!"? Novak has beaten Fed before in big matches (including their last meeting in a major), and Fed won the ATP Final late last year convincingly. I wish they would let Drysdale call these matches with his more nuanced viewpoint.

  2. I did see that Federer interview, but I kind of believed that he didn't want to cause Stan any more humiliation, and that was the real reason he didn't go for a 2nd tweener. Still astonishing though.

    I think Fowler is good. He's probably trying to cater to the mainstream American fan base when he goes with those things. But I do agree, Cliff is awesome, and Novak over Fed is not an upset -- not anymore. The Djoker is hitting a new level here. I think it's amazing!


Leave your two cents here!