2010, Australian Open
Australian Open, Melbourne
January 18-31, 2010; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Hard
It was Roger Federer’s ultimate magnificent tournament during his fantastic years that stretched between 2004 & 2010 when he reached the last four (being beaten just three times in the semifinals) in 21 consecutive Grand Slam events! The US Open ’09 champion – Juan Martin del Potro – seemed a player who would overthrow the ‘Fedal’ hegemony in 2010. At the Aussie Open ’10 he played four matches with injured right wrist – the injury worsened because of that, and the Argentine actually lost the entire ’10 season after surgery. Fabrice Santoro played a farewell match (no-one lost as many matches as Santoro – 444).
Final: Joe Drape
How can you make breaking records look so easy? Ask Roger Federer. He did it Sunday night, winning his 16th Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory over Andy Murray and re-establishing his grip on tennis supremacy. With Federer adding to his record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles, there is little doubt his place in the history books is secure. By winning his fourth Australian Open, Federer may have his best opportunity to join Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962, ’69) in taking down the sport’s holy grail: a Grand Slam, a sweep of the four major tournaments in the same year. Three times, Federer has won three out of four but was unable to conquer the clay surfaces of the French Open. Two of those times, in 2006 and 2007, he made it to the final in Paris only to be dashed by his great rival and a wizard of Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal, a four-time French Open champion. But Federer finally won his first French Open last year, when Nadal lost in the fourth round. Now Nadal is out for at least a month tending to a tear in his right knee that contributed to his retiring in the quarterfinals against Murray. There is no guarantee Nadal will return to top form for Roland Garros in May after a year battling tendinitis in his knees and other nagging injuries. He has not beaten a top-10 player since November. “I mean, it’s something if it happens, it does, it’s great; but it’s not something that’s like my No. 1 goal,” said Federer, who has made eight consecutive Grand Slam finals dating to the 2008 French Open, winning four of them. “It’s the same as I haven’t put a number on how many Grand Slams I want to try to win. Whatever happens, happens. You know, I really want to try to enjoy, you know, my end to my career, because I’ve reached already so many goals I thought were never possible.“ But Federer’s 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11) dusting of Murray at Melbourne Park should make the upstarts on the tour insecure. They have said for months that Federer, 28, was distracted, aging and vulnerable and that 8 to 10 of them were ready to knock him off his throne. The 22-year-old Murray, who was seeded fifth, seemed in position to do it. He had beaten Federer in 6 of their 10 previous meetings. He was playing phenomenal tennis here, dominating Nadal before he retired and losing only one set before the final. But Murray was reduced to tears after being outclassed by the top-ranked Federer. Murray again carried the hopes of British fans who have been waiting 74 years, since Fred Perry captured the 1936 United States Championships, for a countryman to win a Grand Slam event. “I congratulate Roger on all of his accomplishments, and to keep doing it year after year is incredible, and tonight, he was a lot better than me,” Murray said, choking on his words at the trophy presentation. “I can cry like Roger; it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.” Last year, Federer lost a five-set clash with Nadal here and was so crushed by the defeat that he cried at the trophy ceremony. There was no crying for him Sunday. “I’m over the moon winning this thing,” he said. “I’ve played some of the best tennis of my life over the last two weeks.” Federer has made 18 of the last 19 Grand Slam finals and 22 over all, another record. Some tour veterans have examined Federer’s game and found the talk that it is wanting ridiculous. Lleyton Hewitt, a former No. 1, has played him 24 times and lost the last 15, including a straight-sets defeat here in the fourth round. He says he does not understand the doubts about Federer. “He’s the limit at the moment,” Hewitt said. “He’s the No. 1 player in the world. Everyone says it wasn’t an absolutely great year for him, and he still won two Grand Slams and lost in two finals in five sets in the other two.” This was Murray’s second Grand Slam final; he lost to Federer in straight sets at the 2008 United States Open. Struggling with his serve, Murray got off to a slow start Sunday, playing his best tennis in the 3rd set in which he led 5:2. But serving for the set at 5:3, he was broken. With another chance to force a fourth set in a marathon tie breaker, Murray blew five set points (6:4*, 7:6, 9:8, 11:10) with mis-hit shots and poorly timed gambles. As badly as he wanted to win his first major, Murray conceded he had a long way to go to narrow the gap with Federer. “I think his level is a lot more consistent in the Slams,” Murray said. “Maybe, you know, in the other tournaments, he tries a few more things out. But, you know, the shots that he hits great all year round, they’re still great. He just makes fewer unforced errors, I think, than he does the rest of the year.” Just as Federer is not putting a number on how many more major tournaments he could win, he also is not putting a timetable on retirement. He acknowledged that he had a special talent, remained highly motivated and had no plans on going anywhere. “I always knew I had it in my hand,” said Federer, who won his first Grand Slam title since becoming a father of twin girls last summer. “The question is, do I have it in my mind and in my legs, you know. That’s something I had to work extremely hard at. Now I feel like obviously I’m being pushed a great deal by the new generation coming up. I always feel sort of tennis changes sort of every five years. When I came on tour, matches were played very differently. It was more of a bluff game, guys serving well, but there was always a weakness you could go to. Today, that doesn’t exist anymore. I think that’s also thanks to guys like Murray. They’ve made me a better player, because I think this has been one of my finest performances, you know, in a long time, or maybe forever.” Federer’s 62nd title. Stats of the final.
Roger Federer is through to his 22nd Grand Slam final after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in a near-flawless display Friday at the Australian Open. Federer, seeking his fourth Australian title, hopes to reverse his tear-filled exit from last year’s final when he was beaten by Nadal, the left-handed Spaniard’s first hard-court title. This time, the man between Federer and another title here Sunday will be Andy Murray, whose motivation has been fueled by a 74-year drought for British men in Grand Slam singles. Murray beat Marin Cilic in the semifinals after ousting Nadal in the quarterfinals. Now, hopes are high in the United Kingdom that he could be the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a major singles title. “I know he’d like to win the first for British tennis since what is it, 150,000 years?” Federer joked to the crowd amid much laughter. “The poor guy who has to go through those moments over and over again… “ If Federer plays Sunday the way he did Friday against Tsonga, the drought could continue for at least another Grand Slam. “Don’t mess with Roger,” one fan wrote on a sign at Rod Laver Arena. And the shell-shocked Tsonga didn’t. Federer reached his 18th final in the last 19 Grand Slam events by overpowering the 2008 Australian Open finalist – his semifinal loss here to Novak Djokovic in 2008 being the only break in the finals sequence. Federer did not face a break point against Tsonga. “It’s nice going through a match like that,” Federer said. “I think against top players, it’s always positive if you can win the first set.” “Maybe mentally he was more fatigued than physically,” added Federer. “That’s unfortunate for him.” Tsonga hit a backhand into the net on break point to give Federer a 2:1 lead in the 3rd set, and the match was all but over. The 24-year-old Frenchman double-faulted on break point to give Federer a 4:1 lead later on, and Federer clinched it on his serve in 88 minutes when Tsonga hit a forehand wide. Murray, who could move up to No. 2 in the world when the new rankings are released next week, dropped the first set against the talented Cilic on Day 11 here before rebounding for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory at Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena. Murray is the first British man to reach the Aussie final since John Lloyd in 1977 and the first Brit to reach two major finals in the Open Era (since 1968). Murray avenged a bad loss against Cilic at last year’s U.S. Open by dismissing Cilic in just over 3 hours, with the help of five service breaks, compared to three for the loser. Cilic also tallied 25 more unforced errors (54-29) than the Dunblane native on Thursday. “This is the best I’ve played at a Slam,” Murray said. “Obviously the match against Rafa was great. Tonight, the majority of the match was great, as well. Physically I’m going to be fresh for the final. You know, [it] just comes down to who plays the better tennis on the day. It’s my job to do that.” Cilic, playing in his first major semifinal, owned the 1st set by striking 12 winners in 51 minutes, but Murray was able to turn things around in the second. Murray broke for a 3:2 lead in the 2nd when the Scot chased down a lob, spun around and struck a forehand winner down the line, which proved to be the spark he needed to come out with a win. A determined Murray went on to claim the set, and would control play from the baseline in the 3rd. The Brit got a key break for a 4:3 lead and went on to claim the stanza in 45 minutes. Cilic, who played three five-setters in his first five matches at this fortnight, began to tire in the 4th, which was dominated by Murray. A fresh and fit Murray break Cilic twice in the 4th set leaving the Croat standing in the middle of the court. The Scot held for a 5:1 advantage and then held again to close out the semifinal match two games later. “I started going for my shots a little bit more, he was playing right close to the baseline,” Murray said after overcoming Cilic. “I’m really looking forward to the final now, I’m feeling good.” Cilic was the first Croat ever to play in the semis here. At the end of the Murray-Cilic bout, a fan wearing a Croatian football jersey walked onto the court and shook Cilic’s hand before being escorted out by security. “In the end I’m, of course, a little bit sad because of the final result,” said a disappointed Cilic. “But overall I played beginning of the match very good, and with that part I was really pleased. I was standing on the court really good. I was playing some unbelievable points there. I think later when he got back into the game in the second set when he broke me, I think he got a little bit of the momentum going and wasn’t easy after to get back into it.”
Quarterfinals: (ESPN, NYT)
Top-seeded Roger Federer overcame an awkward start to win 13 straight games and beat Nikolay Davydenko 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 to reach the semifinals for a 23rd straight Grand Slam. Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals here two years ago en route to the title, was beaten by the man he defeated that year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, in a later quarterfinal. Tsonga beat Djokovic 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in a near four-hour match and will play Federer in a semifinal Friday. Djokovic appeared to be affected by breathing difficulties and stomach problems during part of the match and took a medical timeout trailing 2:0 in the 4th set. Tsonga saved a set point on return at 3:5 in the 1st set and another one at *6:7 in the tie-break. Djokovic said he had an upset stomach before the match, probably as a result of something he ate. “I had to go to the toilet otherwise I would have thrown up on court,” Djokovic said. “When you lose a lot of fluids, your engines stop working and that’s how I felt.” Tsonga said he wasn’t sure how much the illness affected Djokovic. “He had a little bit of a stomach problem,” Tsonga said. “It’s strange because sometimes he doesn’t play the point, and when it starts to become important he plays.” Last year, Djokovic retired in the fourth set of his quarterfinal against Andy Roddick with a heat-related illness, but the weather conditions Wednesday night were cool and breezy. Federer is impressed with his Grand Slam semifinal streak. “It’s incredible, looking back on how many years that is now, I’m able to deliver at Grand Slam play,” Federer said. “For some reason I was just a bit worried I was not going to make it this time in the semis. Now obviously that it’s safe again and I’ve been able to add one. Definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my résumé.” Federer’s victory snapped a 13-match Davydenko winning streak after the Russian won the season-ending ATP World Finals in November at London and his 20th career title in Doha earlier this month. “I’ve played him many times before, and I know he goes through… some rock-solid phases at times,” Federer said. “I just tried to stay positive.” Davydenko, who thumped his first three opponents before grinding a five-set victory over Verdasco, was immaculate early, breaking Federer three times to wrap up the 1st set and race to a 3:1* (40/15) lead in the 2nd. Having declared the top 10 players were “scared” of him after winning the season-ending ATP Tour Finals in London, Davydenko appeared determined to live up to his self-proclaimed reputation, dictating the play and thumping winners from all angles. The bravado disappeared quickly, however, when given four chances to take a two-break lead, the Russian blew them all, following a double fault with three consecutive unforced errors. Federer, sensing the momentum shift, pounced. At the end of a breathtaking half-hour of near faultless shot-making, the Swiss master emerged a set up with a 2:0 lead in the 4th, while Davydenko was left reeling. As both players struggled to deal with the dipping sun that left one side of the court plunged in darkness and the other brightly lit, Davydenko rallied, led 4:3* (40/0), firing three crisply hit winners in a row to save match point and break back to 5-all. “I was like asking ‘why now?’ He could have played those at another time when it wasn’t important,” said Federer, who was beaten in last year’s final by Nadal. The 15-time Grand Slam champion bided his time, however, to take the break back, then dispatched the Russian with a thumping serve after setting up match point with an ace. “Pissed off? What else,” Davydenko replied when asked how he felt about his play during Federer’s run of successive games. “But what else [could I do]? Bad luck. [I’ll] go home tomorrow [and] relax.” What had been a very good week of tennis here for Andy Roddick – raising the hopes of his faithful fans that a second Grand Slam was in reach – ended abruptly when 14th-seeded Marin Cilic beat him in a back-and-forth five-set match, 7-6(4), 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. Early Tuesday, Rafael Nadal pulled up lame with a knee injury, as Andy Murray was putting a beating on Rafa, as the world’s second-rated tennis player is known to fans, in their quarterfinal match of the Australian Open. Murray, the scrambling Scotsman, had Nadal zigging when he should have been zagging. When Nadal withdrew in the third set, trailing by 3-6, 6-7(2), 0-3, a changing of the guard perhaps was in motion. Murray said he would have liked to make his dominating performance an unquestioned victory. But his play demonstrated that, sore knee or no, Nadal was not in the same league with him. “I’m obviously disappointed that the match couldn’t have finished as I would have liked,” Murray said. “But with the position I was in, you know, I feel like I would have had a chance of going on to finish the match.” Murray could not help but feel robbed when Nadal took his racket and went home. “Unfortunately, that happens sometimes in sport,” he said. “You know, a win’s a win. Yeah, I obviously would have liked to have finished it off the right way.” Roddick, seeded seventh, said he was battling a nerve problem in his shoulder. It was another impressive performance by Cilic, who bounced the United States Open champion, Del Potro, in the fourth round. Roddick dropped the first two sets (had set point in the 1st set) as he battled back the pain. He endured, however, to win the next two sets. Roddick forced a triple break point in the 1st game of the final set and a fan yelled “Come on Andy, you’ve got him now”. Cilic saved three break points though, then broke what had been Roddick’s forte, a money serve, Cilic went on to to hold his next four service games and capture his third five-set match of the tournament to make his first semifinal at a major. Roddick does not know the genesis of his injury, but said it had been bothering him for a few days. “I felt it a little bit the other night, the cold weather, trying to hit through those for a little while,” he said. “I didn’t hit yesterday, and felt pretty good today in warm-up and the first couple games, then I think I aggravated something.” Roddick had a trainer look at it but said the pain persisted. “By the end of the first set, I was pretty numb in the bottom two fingers,” he said. “ I could still hit it pretty hard. I started kind of almost going sidearm for a little bit, or at least what it felt like. That was working for a while, I think until he realized I was having trouble.” The Croatian player said: “It wasn’t easy, but I’ve got experience during the week here. I had a few extra gears.”
Fourth round: (ATP)
Three-time former champion Roger Federer produced a sublime display of attacking tennis to beat No. 22 seed and 2005 runner-up Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open Monday for a place in his 23rd straight Grand Slam quarter-final. “[I] hardly made any unforced errors,” said Federer. “If there were some, they were at moments I can live with. I was really able to press on the offensive, [I] served well when I had to, and I moved well as well. Overall I’m extremely happy. I’m very pleased with my performance tonight.” Federer improved his H2H record at Slams versus former No. 1 to 8-0, second win in Australia. In a battle lasting three minutes short of 4 hours, sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko outlasted 2009 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco, 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach the last eight for the fourth time (also 2005-07). Both players struggled with their form throughout most of the match, with Verdasco committing 81 unforced errors, and Davydenko 51. “In the fifth set I was fighting my serve, just winning my serve,” Davydenko said. “It was also not so easy beginning [of the] fifth set, but it’s good fighting for me. It was four hours, and some good points in the fifth set.” After losing the 1st set in 43 minutes, Verdasco led 2:0 in the 2nd, only to drop serve immediately. Davydenko held off an improving Verdasco to take a two-set lead after 93 minutes as the No. 9-seeded Spaniard continued to fight himself as well as his Russian opponent. But with a quarter-final berth in sight Davydenko took the foot off the pedal as Verdasco grew in confidence, taking the 3rd set and recovering from 3:5 in the 4th-set tie-break to force a decider (Davydenko had won 8 in a row, having a 17-1 record in tie-breaks starting in Hamburg ’09!) “I think that the beginning of the fifth set I could have my chance to maybe break him and take the advantage in the fifth set,” Verdasco said. “Maybe he start to make more mistakes but he really stayed there in the fifth set, even though he was looking more tired than usual and making more mistakes.” Third seed Novak Djokovic eased to another routine win at the Australian Open to reach the quarter-finals. The 2008 winner needed less than two hours to claim a 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win over the world number 86 Lukasz Kubot. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga playing his 53 main-level event, finally played a five-set match and won it defeating Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(6), 9-7. In the decisive set, the Frenchman saved two mini-match points at 6-all. Former No. 1 Andy Roddick overcame 2007 Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday, surviving to earn a berth in the Australian Open’s quarterfinals. “I got a little lucky tonight, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” said Roddick, who is hoping to end a Grand Slam title drought that dates back to the 2003 U.S. Open. Gonzalez saved four set points in the 10th game of the 4th set before Roddick finally prevailed in the 12th game on a contentious call. A line umpire initially ruled that the ball had gone out, and Gonzalez claimed he had stopped when he heard the call. Roddick asked for a video replay. It showed the ball hit the line, giving Roddick the point and the set. Roddick said the knee problem that sidelined him at the end of last season was bothering him a bit, but it didn’t affect the game. “When Fernando gets hot, you know that a lot of the match is out of your control,” Roddick said. “I think the thing that helped me was being able to serve through.” Defending champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray held off two of the tallest men and biggest servers in tennis on Sunday to set up a quarterfinal meeting. Nadal had a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, the tallest man on the tour. In the previous match at Rod Laver Arena, No. 5 Murray overcame 6-foot-9 American John Isner 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-2. Murray hasn’t dropped a set in four matches. Marin Cilic unexpectedly beat U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 (Cilic, on return, was two points away from winning sets 1 & 4, in turn Del Potro was serving at 5:4, 30/15 in the mid-set). Del Potro struggled most of the way through the 4-hour, 38-minute match against Cilic, who exacted a measure of revenge with the victory. The 21-year-old Croat lost to Del Potro in the fourth round here last year and in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Del Potro had been bothered by right wrist pain that forced him out of a warm-up tournament and was undoubtedly weary from a five-set, second round win over Blake – the longest of the tournament in terms of total games at 62. He said the wrist and the foot were only part of the problem. What hurt? “The whole body.” The increased expectations on him weren’t a bother, he said. “No, I really enjoyed that pressure. The crowd is unbelievable with me. They support me every match, every point,” said the Argentinian, who plans to go home and recover. The recovery lasted longer than he initially expected – DelPo underwent right-wrist surgery on May 4 in Minnesota and didn’t play another match until Bangkok ’10 (eight-month break). When Del Potro hit his last backhand long, Cilic sank to both knees, arms in the air. He volleyed the ball high into the stands, where his most vocal supporters were madly cheering. “Today was my best so far,” said Cilic, who converted 4 of his 16 break-point chances. “Physically I think he was tired and struggled, but I was feeling really good… and I had some crazy fans.”
Third round: James Fish
Giant American John Isner blasted 26 aces past Gael Monfils, the 12th seed, in their third-round match as the American edged out his French opponent 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) on Margaret Court Arena. Isner maxed out with a fastest serve of 223 km/h that ended the summer-long battle with a shoulder injury for Monfils, who did not hit the heights at Melbourne Park. Fourth seed and US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro overcame a tough challenge from Florian Mayer to win in four sets. The 21-year-old served 11 aces but was also guilty of making 46 unforced errors in an inconsistent display. Mayer took all three of his break point chances to win the second set to love in only 28 minutes. Del Potro was forced to save two break points in the final game but sent down an unreturnable serve to win 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5. World No. 7 Andy Roddick fixed up a meeting with Gonzalez after edging out Feliciano Lopez in four tight sets 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3). Lopez took a set off the American for just the second time in six meetings when he won the opener on a tie-break. However, the Spaniard was undermined by a high number of unforced errors of 60 including 21 in the final set. Lopez produced a string of forehand errors in the 4th set tie-break to bring up five match points and although he saved two, Roddick went through after his opponent put a return into the net. His next opponent Fernando Gonzalez was on court for 3 hours and 22 minutes as he edged out Evgeny Korolev 6-7(5), 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. After levelling the match at two sets all, Gonzalez claimed the vital break to edge out his opponent who is the first Kazakh man to reach the third round of a Grand Slam. Charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga eliminated Germany’s Tommy Haas from the Australian Open with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 third-round win. Haas, a three-time Open semi-finalist, wearied by a tough five-setter in his previous match, took the fight to Muhammad Ali look-alike Tsonga, but could not quite go the distance. The big-serving and freakishly talented Tsonga came from *1:4 (2 BPs) & 2:5 in the 4th set, reeling off the final five games to win. Haas, who at 31 was the oldest seeded player in the tournament, needed a medical time-out to receive a lower back massage after taking the 2nd set. It looked as though 10th seed Tsonga, a finalist in Melbourne two years ago and fresh from straight sets wins in the first two rounds, would take full toll as he raced through the 3rd set. But Haas showed grit to push ahead early in the fourth and looked ready to take it to a decider. However, the athletic Tsonga produced a run of brilliant tennis to level the set and then run away with the match in a surge of confidence. The highlight was the shot he produced to break back from 5:3 down, chasing down a Haas drop-volley to hit a stunning forehand crosscourt winner. Once he levelled at 5-all, Tsonga broke Haas’ serve again, this time to love, then served the match out to love, before breaking out his now familiar jumping two-handed gesture of celebration. Roger Federer produced an efficient display on serve to comfortably progress to the fourth round with a straight sets win over Spain’s Albert Montanes. The world No. 1 broke Montanes once in each set and did not allow the 31st seed a single break point en route to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Federer will now face Lleyton Hewitt for a place in the quarter-finals. Hewitt was leading Marcos Baghdatis 6-0, 4-2 in their night match on the Rod Laver Arena when the 2006 finalist was forced to retire because of a shoulder injury. Federer has beaten Hewitt the last 14 times they have played each other and the Swiss believes he is exactly where he wants to be heading into the second week: “I feel good, I feel confident. I feel like I’m obviously fresh and ready to take on the bigger names.” The roars erupt over in the Hisense Arena as Ivo Karlovic sends another seed packing with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) 3-hour victory over Croatian countryman and 24th seed Ivan Ljubicic. Karlovic edged also in aces: 33-15. he Croats met just for the second and last time as professionals. Karlovic’s reward is a match-up with Rafael Nadal and that should prove a fascinating contest – the big man with the massive serve against the 23 cm shorter Mallorcan with the massive left arm and completely different game-style. Defending champion Nadal advanced to the Round of Sixteen in the Australian Open, but he didn’t look good doing so. Nadal took three-and-a-half hours to defeat 27-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, a player Nadal had beaten with relative ease in their three prior meetings. Despite rigorous pre-season preparation, Nadal simply wasn’t on form for this match. “I made mistakes in the first game, when I served, in the 3rd set,” Nadal explained. “Those are the important games because if you stay ahead in the first games especially when you are winning two sets to love, the normal thing is you will have half a chance to win the match.” Novak Djokovic earned the Ironman title on the ATP Tour in 2009 by playing 97 matches, and the Serb world number three admits it annoyed him. “I’ve played almost hundred matches last year, and I got fed up, to be honest, with tournaments and matches,” Djokovic said after he trounced Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday. “I didn’t have a lot of time really to recover and just to relax like most of the top players.” The 2008 Australian Open champion still managed to win five titles and make five other finals last year, but his decision to retool his schedule for 2010 meant he decided not to play any ranking tournaments before the year’s first Grand Slam. “Tennis-wise I wasn’t ready for those tournaments, so I didn’t want to go there to play one or two matches [as] it didn’t make any sense. So I just decided to come here earlier, 10 days before the Australian Open starts, and put in some intensive work. That’s what I did.” Djokovic instead played the invitational Kooyong Classic, where he beat Germany’s Haas but lost to Verdasco and Australian teenager Tomic. While his first and second round matches provided him with good workouts as he eased into the tournament, Djokovic said the match against Istomin had been relatively easy. “I don’t think my opponent played on the level that he could. He was helping me out with a lot of unforced errors, and basically we didn’t have a lot have long rallies,” he said. “So I just needed to be consistent and try… to maintain the focus and get it over with as soon as possible. Djokovic will meet Lukasz Kubot in the fourth round after the Polish player received a walkover following Mikhail Youzhny‘s withdrawal with a wrist injury. Kubot became the first Pole in the last 16 of a Grand Slam event since 1982 (Wojtek Fibak at Roland Garros). The Serb played Kubot in the final last year in Belgrade and he expected a tough encounter on Monday. “I think he’s playing the best tennis of his life in the last year or so,” he said. “So it’s for him, going to the R4, even though he got a walkover today, it’s still a great result. He’s a quality player. I had a tough match against him in finals, actually. He’s very aggressive and I know his style of the game. I’m gonna do everything to prepare well.” Marin Cilic advanced to the fourth round in Melbourne for the third year in a row after a comprehensive 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Stanislas Wawrinka, in 3 hours 20 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
Second round: (BBC)
Roger Federer, having faltered ever so briefly against Andreev in the first round, made tennis look easy again in dismissing the Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 today to assert his authority on the Australian Open. He hit 52 winners and made just 17 unforced errors against the clay-court specialist. The aura lingers. While he was rarely under pressure in the 99 minutes it lasted, it was masterful stuff. The Spaniard Alberto Montanes will be readying himself already for a serious examination of his resolve on Saturday. “He’s a good player,” Federer said of Hanescu, “maybe a bit more accustomed to clay. He was playing on the baseline which [is why] I was able to hit a lot of winners today.” Back on the court where he won his only Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic overcame an early struggle against a journeyman Swiss player before advancing to the third round of the Australian Open. The third-ranked Djokovic had 9 double-faults and 52 unforced errors in his 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win today over Marco Chiudinelli, the 28-year-old Swiss player who was playing in his first Australian Open. “I was well aware of his quality, and he played extremely well, especially in the first set and the start of the second,” Djokovic said. “I was very lucky to get two sets to one up.” 🙂 Djokovic will next play Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who beat Michael Berrer of Germany 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who rarely gets onto the center court at this stage of a Grand Slam, had a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win over Ukraine qualifier Illya Marchenko in the low-key manner which has typified an 11-match winning streak. Britain’s Andy Murray advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 victory over France’s Marc Gicquel in Melbourne. The fifth seed needed just 24 minutes to win the 1st set and an early break was enough to win the 3nd, despite a slight loss of focus. Murray was broken for the first time in the 3rd set, but the Scot broke back twice to secure a comfortable win. “The first set was good and then it was tough after that,” said the 22-year-old Murray, who hit 38 winners and 10 aces. “I came through a couple of tough moments early in the second set, I was 0/40 on my serve and managed to hold there.” In the third round Murray plays Florent Serra , who came from match point down to beat Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-5. Nieminen led 5:2* in the 4th set, had two match points later on(at 5:3 and 6:5), also several break points at 5:5 in the 5th. “He has been around the 50 mark [in the world rankings] for quite a long time,” said Murray of Serra, who beat Jurgen Melzer in five sets in the first round. “He’s a solid player. He’s had two very long matches so far and saved a couple of match points today. So you know he’s going to go for it and I have to make sure I’m on my game.” Rafael Nadal crushed Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. And seventh seed Andy Roddick beat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. At one stage of the match, the umpire gave the point to Bellucci, but Roddick felt he could have played the ball and that the point should have been replayed. Roddick continued haranguing the umpire even after clinching the win on his second match point, and later apologized via Twitter to anyone who had been offended by his outburst, which included several audible obscenities. “Apologies for the language today folks hopefully most kids were asleep by the time I went off… my bad,” read his Twitter post. At his post-match press conference, Roddick admitted: “To be fair, I was more wrong than I thought I was out on court.” In a gripping night match, 14th seed Marin Cilic twice came from a set down to see off 17-year-old Australian ‘wildcard’ Bernard Tomic 6-7(6), 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. The match lasted 3 hours and 48 minutes and finished at gone 2 a.m. in Melbourne (Tomic saved set point in the tie-break and led 3:1* in the 2nd set; in the deciding set, Cilic withstood three mini match-points at *3:4). There were two matches between top players: Juan Martin del Potro progressed to the third round of the Australian Open after a marathon five-set victory over American James Blake while Marcos Baghdatis recovered from two sets down and painful cramp to advance to the third round of the Australian Open with a victory over 17th seed David Ferrer on Thursday. Baghdatis, the beaten finalist at Melbourne Park in 2006, looked to be on his way out of the tournament at 3:4* in the 3rd set, before producing another of his customary fight-backs to run out a 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-1 winner. Roared on by large groups of ex-patriot Greek and Cypriot fans, the unseeded Baghdatis was slow to start before he finally found his range at the end of the third set. The Cypriot, who won the Sydney International title last week and is a dangerous floater in the draw, then ran away with the fourth and final sets, sealing the win on his second match point when his Spanish opponent put a forehand wide. The US Open champion Del Potro broke Blake in the 17th game of the fifth set before holding serve to win 6-4, 6-7(3), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in a little over 4 hours. The 30-year-old Blake, who twice had treatment on his right knee and needed it strapped during the match, had held a *2:0 advantage in the decider, but Del Potro managed to fight back to put the match back on serve. The Argentinian had the opportunity to serve for victory in the 12th game only to be denied by Blake, before he finally took the advantage again at 8:8 and sealed it with a big serve that Blake was unable to return in the next game. Del Potro said he was still experiencing discomfort from a wrist injury that forced him out of last week’s Kooyong Classic warm-up tournament, but that he was confident he would be fit for his third-round match against German Florian Mayer. “Yes, I have a little bit of pain, but I can play. I think I have many good things right for the next match. Blake was fast. He played very strong with his forehand. He never missed easy points, easy forehands. It’s very difficult to keep trying, keep going. You have to be focused every point, every time, and try to take your chance. I had my chance in the last set.” said Del Potro, for whom it was the last win in 2010.
First round: (ATP)
In the most entertaining match of the tournament, Russian No. 20 seed Mikhail Youzhny won arguably the best match and comeback of the day when he fought to defeat Richard Gasquet 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena in 4 hours and 52 minutes (the fifth longest match in tournament’s history at the time). The 27-year-old Youzhny, closing on 300 career match wins (297-226 record), saved 10 break points, hit 12 aces and 78 winners in the pair’s fourth meeting. Gasquet, 23, dropped to 4-10 lifetime in five-set matches losing second consecutive duel against Youzhny after a marathon five-setter (previously in Davis Cup ’07). Youzhny squandered three set points in the tie-break: 6:4*, 7:6, then found himself in a near position to lose all three sets he won (!): five points away at *0:3 in the 4th set, saved match points at *5:6 (15/40) and *2:4 in the 5th. Roger Federer’s famed mental strength rescued the top seed from potential danger as the world number one began his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday with a turnaround 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-0 defeat of Russian Igor Andreev having saved three set points on Andreev’s serve at 5:6 in the 3rd set. The Swiss said he was glad he was playing on the Grand Slam stage with its longer, more demanding match format. “I just think in the best of five, the mental strength comes into it a lot more.” Federer was unruffled after fighting past the Russian, against whom he now stands 3-0, “I think I played well even in the first set even if I lost it. I was hoping to hang in, hoping he got tired and started making errors.” Russian sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko, who sprinted back to prominence in the closing months of last season, started with an easy passage, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 over German Dieter Kindlmann. “Now I feel like I can beat everyone,” said the winner of the London year-end title in November. “Something is different. I knew before that I could win but I was losing easily against these guys – now I can beat everyone. It’s a good feeling.” It was a disastrous day for eight seed Robin Soderling as the Swede lost a huge early lead to fall to Spaniard Marcel Granollers 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The Swede led *3:1 (30/15) in the 4th set. “I started terrible and finished terrible,” said the disgusted French Open finalist. “I didn’t feel good at all. I don’t know what happened I just didn’t play well.” Spain’s ninth seed Fernando Verdasco staged a comeback over Australian Carsten Ball 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 7-5, 6-2 – for Verdasco it was similar match to his win over Kristof Vliegen at Wimbledon ’09 where the Spaniard had also played three tigh sets against much lower ranked opponent before winning the fourth easier. French seeds advanced as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Gael Monfils showed that last week’s healing time for a shoulder injury was sufficient by beating Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Croatian Marin Cilic ended the career of Frenchman Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. The 38-year-old Frenchman  officially ended his career in Paris ’09, but decided to book a flight to Melbourne for the 18th time becoming the first man in the Open era to take part at majors in four different decades (Roland Garros ’89 – debut)! “The Magicien” finished career having played 442 main-level tournaments (70 Grand Slams). Andy Murray secured a routine 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 first-round win over qualifier Kevin Anderson to begin his campaign at the Australian Open. British number one ran his 6’8 South Africa opponent ragged as he mixed his game up from the back of the court with a sprinkling of serve-and-volley under the Rod Laver Arena roof in the first round of the Australian Open. It was a dominant display, albeit against the world’s 148th-ranked player, as 22-year-old Murray broke Anderson in six of his opening eight service games. It was enough to drain any pre-match optimism South Africa’s top-ranked player may have retained after coming through qualifying, where his serve was not broken once, to reach the main draw. The Scot did not drop a service game of his own despite only managing to get a paltry 35 per cent of his first serves in play. “It was a little bit weird playing under the roof here but I enjoyed it,” Murray said afterwards. “It was a good atmosphere. “Kevin did not drop his serve all the way through qualifying and, with his height, it is obviously a weapon.” Nicolas Almagro  won one of the longest tie-breaks in the Australian Open history, and battled past Xavier Malisse 7-6(12), 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 8-6 in 3-hour 36-minute struggle: each player gathered 178 points, the Belgian  could hypothetically win all five sets. The Spaniard saved thee set points in the tie-break (6:7, 8:9, 11:12*), trailed *1:3 in the 2nd set and saved mini-match point at 6:6 in the 5th set. Almagro decided to participate in the tournament despite broken left wrist which was aggravating at ball-toss and he couldn’t serve more than 200 kph (225 kph personal best). Third seed Novak Djokovic, one of eight Grand Slam champions in the Australian Open field, safely progressed to the second round on Tuesday with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain. Djokovic, the 2008 titlist, is appearing at Melbourne Park for the sixth consecutive year. The 22-year-old Djokovic, cheered on by vociferous Serbian support, improved to 15-4 lifetime at the Australian Open with victory over Gimeno-Traver in just over 2 hours. “It [was] the first match of the year so I was a little bit slow start,” confessed Djokovic. “But I think that I had across the net an opponent who played exceptionally well today. I was struggling in the 1st set (3:5). In the end I picked it up, and I was really happy overall with how I handled things.” Defending champion and second seed Rafael Nadal wore down Australian Peter Luczak to begin his Australian Open campaign with a straight sets victory on Monday. The Spanish world number two, bidding for his seventh Grand Slam title, overcame the 78th-ranked ranked Luczak 7-6(0), 6-1, 6-4 in 2 hours 34 minutes. Nadal, who is working his way back to full fitness after injuries blighted his last season, encountered a spirited opening from Luczak, cheered on him by his home crowd in Rod Laver Arena, and lost his service in the 8th game (the Australian born in Poland led 5:3) before breaking straight back in the next game. The opening set went to a tiebreaker but Nadal stormed through without dropping a point to seize the initiative. Luczak appeared to lose steam after the loss of the 1st set and Nadal broke him twice to wrap up the 2nd set in 33 minutes and broke him again in the opening game of the 3rd to control the match. Nadal dominated the points, hitting 35 winners to Luczak’s 29 and broke the Australian’s service a total of four times to dropping his own serve just once in the first set. Juan Carlos Ferrero  suffered a shock exit being defeated by Croatian qualifier  Ivan Dodig – he’s playing just fourth main-level tournament: 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 1-6 in three hours. The Croat served 19 aces and won just one point more (133/132) in the biggest victory of his life at the time. The almost 30-year-old Ferrero notched sixth defeat in a row (his worst streak) and it seemed his retirement would occur in 2010; the Spaniard regained very good form during the Gold Swing though, winning 14 consecutive matches and prolonged his career more than two years.