Sunday, January 31, 2010

The 2010 AO - A Look Back and a Glance Forward

by Savannah

There is little doubt who the dominant female tennis player of the current generation is. I'm sure people will argue about Belgians but when all is said and done there is one woman who stands head and shoulders above them all. If you count the wrap on her right thigh and the other one on her calf Serena Williams won the 2010 Australian Open on one leg and sheer willpower. Should I even mention she played doubles with her sister on her off days? When Richard Williams said ages ago that his younger daughter would be The One people laughed. I don't hear too much laughter now. Serena got down on herself after failing to break in the second set and with massive help from Carlos Rodriguez Justine Henin raced ahead and won the second set. Serena mentally kicked herself and pounded Justine into the pavement taking the third set easily.
Not much was made of it at the time but Henin, when faced with the prospect of meeting Serena in one of the warm up events withdrew from the tournament. To me it said she didn't want to face Serena. During this match it was obvious why. I think it's safe to say that this match was the best of the tournament.

I watched the mens final on the Tennis Channel replay. I couldn't stand to hear anymore "Baryshnikov in sneakers" quips. Jim McAtee does seem to be a card carrying member of the Monogram fan club but Martina Navratilova, while giving into the mania every now and then still stuck to her "boring" way of letting non pros understand the match. It's because of her that it was perfectly clear why Murray lost. The Monogram has said that Murray beat him when he wasn't at his best. Keep in mind I'm not a fan of either man but Andy Murray lost that match between his ears. His shot selection and decision making at critical junctures was questionable to say the least.
After being up 5-2 and with a seeming lock on the third set Murray went back to the tentative play that cost him the first two sets. In the blink of an eye he was in a tiebreak. He had several set points and lost each one leadng to his losing the match. He has no one to blame but himself and he'll have nightmares about that final for a long time.

As I mentioned above on her off days Serena joined her sister Venus Williams in playing doubles. It was a struggle at the end but they managed to win the Doubles crown. The Sisters are criticized for focusing on doubles play at majors but if it works for them why shouldn't they?

Twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the Men's Doubles Championship defeating the team of Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor.

Leander Paes and Cara Black triumphed in Mixed Doubles play.

Tiago Ferandes of Brazil won the Junior Boys Championship defeating the much talked about French junior Gianni Mina along the way.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic won the Junior Girls Championship.

End Notes

The WTA

The most significant thing about the semi finals was the absence of Russian women. Elena Dementieva, perhaps the most talented woman not to have won a Slam was sent packing early. No one seriously expected Dinara Safina to go far and she didn't. Veteran Nadia Petrova made the best showing of all the Russians. Alyssa Kleybanova again showed promise but if she wants to be taken seriously she has to work on her conditioning. Maria Sharapova's game seems not to have progressed at all and while she is still being sold as the face of the WTA there has to be concern at the top levels of the WTA and in her camp.
I have to say it was wonderful watching Serena and Justine play. It wasn't hit hard and harder tennis to the corners but a beautifully played thinking on court (and in the stands) match by both players. Rodriguez calls a good game. There was no screaming or histrionics by either woman just good solid play. It was welcome.
It's too much to ask the tennis establishment in the United States to change it's attitude towards the Williams sisters so I'm sure we'll be hearing all about the next big thing this coming year. The lines have been clearly drawn though. Women's tennis in the United States exists because of Venus and Serena Wiilliams.
By the way Caroline Wozniacki is now number three in the world.

The ATP

Novak Djokovic is now ranked number two in the world. That would be the same Djokovic who faded physically against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter finals of the AO after having the easiest draw of any top player. Andy Murray is now number three. That would be the same Andy Murray who came apart at the seams during the Australian Open final. With players like this holding down top positions you have to wonder what the future holds for the men's tour.

Juniors

There were only two American juniors in Australia. Three if you count the kid who played the Men's draw as an Aussie and the Junior draw as an American. I'm not sure why that was but it took me totally by surprise. I never heard of either kid who won until this tournament.

Asia

I suppose I should say China. Chinese tennis officials have to be pleased with both Li Na and Zheng Jie making the semifinals. For the second time I watched Zheng fall apart in a semi final match playing tentative tennis instead of the aggressive style that got her to the semi's. Li Na played well but lost to the superior player. Li is now in the top ten. Let's see how she handles it.

Final Thoughts

I have to admit it was hard for me to stay interested in this Slam. Those of you who read this space regularly know why. But in the final analysis I'm a tennishead and I watched much more than I thought I would.
Ironically (or maybe not) I got interested in the women's matches more than the men's since I knew how it was going to turn out on the men's side.
The thing that bothered me the most was the commentary. I'm not going to rehash all the stuff I posted before but anytime I sleep through live coverage so that I can see taped and edited matches just to avoid Carillo and Crew something is wrong. I know that there is no chance of the team changing but I wonder if they pointed out Murray's mental blunders during the Men's Final? I mean if they could talk through Djokovic dry heaving on the sidelines I doubt they'd notice something like that.

The women are playing Fed Cup and the South American clay swing starts this week as well. Venus won Acapulco last year. I wonder if she'll show up this year? I hope so.

3 comments:

lynney62 said...

Love your tournament summary. It all turned out pretty much how I thought it would after Rafa was gone.....he had been my great hope to at least make the SF. But onward and upward now.....and just have to say,,, loved watching the MD match.....Leander Paes smile could melt an iceberg!

Yolita said...

Do you actually watch tennis?

Savannah said...

Yes I do Yolita. What's your point?