Australian Open, Melbourne January 13-26, 2014; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Hard
* Compilation of various articles (except the final which is mine) with my blue notes.
Final: (8)Stanislas Wawrinka d. (1)Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 [2:21 h]
A 0-12 record in H2H matches is bad, but appears much more worse when it’s 0-26 in sets… Not many people believed Wawrinka would overcome something like that against a 12-time Grand Slam winner. Former major champions (Goran Ivanisevic, Mats Wilander) predicted right before the match the Swiss player would win one set. Who knows, maybe it was exactly what Wawrinka could achieve playing against a 100% fit opponent? The unexpected triumph of the 28-year-old player from Lausanne shouldn’t be underrated though – in the 1st set Nadal didn’t show any signs of physical discomfort. Nevertheless he perhaps anticipated something disadvantageous from the beginning, because in the 4th game he tried a dropshot directly behind Wawrinka’s return (Rafa doesn’t play this way) executing poorly, then at 15/30 played a backhand volley below his standards, and it actually cost him the set. Wawrinka serving to win it found himself at 0/40, but went to ‘deuce’ after Nadal’s three consecutive return errors off Wawrinka’s second serves. The underdog converted the first set point with an ace out-wide. In those 26 consecutive sets lost to Nadal, Wawrinka squandered nine set points in total (in three sets of three different matches). He began the 2nd set with a comfortable break. Nadal grabbed his lower back and called for a trainer at the change of ends. He left the court for five minutes, Wawrinka was upset because chair-umpire Carlos Ramos couldn’t explain him what preceisly bothered the Spaniard. “The physio tried to relax my back a little bit,” said Nadal, of his time off the court. “The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. I hate to do that, especially in a final.” Nadal was booed by the crowd when he came back on court! It must have been quite devastating for him because he wasn’t really able to play on the required level, his back was stiff & the 1st serve speed drastically dropped. The best player in the world looked so helpless that barely third retirement in the entire history of male Grand Slam finals, seemed a possible outcome for the spectators. Apparently Wawrinka saw himself as a champion too early, he didn’t convert a double set point at 5:1 (Nadal saved the first one with a serve-and-volley action behind his 2nd serve!) and since that moment, his rock-solid tennis scattered. He wasted a 40/15 lead on Nadal’s serve once again at the beginning of the 3rd set, and lost his serve to ’30’ in the following game, despite he had held 38 in a row. It allowed somehow Nadal to get back emotionally to the match, his serve & movement were slightly improved. Wawrinka started to show signs of impatience; he wasted a double break point in the last game of the 3rd set, as well as in Nadal’s first service game of the set No. 4. Wawrinka’s baseline game-plan evaporated, thankfully for him and his fans, the serve was still functioning well, maybe even better than in the initial phase of the final. In the 5th game he finally broke Nadal leading 40/15, but lost his serve immediately (to ‘love’). After the change of ends “Stanimal” (new nickname) regained his composure winning 8 out of 9 points. In the last game of the championships, he quickly obtained a triple match point with service winners and a forehand winner sealed the biggest success in his long career. Wawrinka captured his 6th title in 36th Grand Slam appearance (only Ivanisevic needed more – 48 – when triumphed at Wimbledon ’01). “For me [the Australian Open] is the best Grand Slam ever,” said Wawrinka. “Last year I had a crazy match, lost it and was crying a lot after the match. In one year a lot happened. Right now I still don’t know if I’m dreaming or not, but we’ll see tomorrow morning. It’s quite crazy what’s happening right now. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. I never dreamed about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guy.” He becomes the first man to defeat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at a Grand Slam since Sergi Bruguera at Roland Garros ’93. Wawrinka’s current mentor, Magnus Norman, coached Robin Soderling‘s when the Swede stunned Federer in the Roland Garros 2010 quarterfinal, beginning that encounter with a 0-12 record, so 0-12 having Norman in the box seems to be a good omen. Wawrinka jumps from No. 8 to No. 3 in the ATP ranking. “At the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt it, during a serve in a bad movement, it was very stiff, very bad,” lamented Nadal. “This is not the moment to talk about that. It is the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title. I am very happy for him.” Stats of the final
2nd semifinal: (1)Rafael Nadal d. (6)Roger Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 [2:24 h]
Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras were courtside to witness the Spaniard produce a ruthless performance, punctuated with remarkable passing shots, to which Federer had no answer. “I played well tonight,” said Nadal. “I think I played probably my best match of the tournament. So I am very, very, very happy for this great news that I played my best match in that semi-final against Roger. He arrived to that match winning two great matches. I am really very happy the way I played tonight, and it is a very special moment to have the chance to be in another final.” Nadal recorded his fifth win in a row over Federer to advance to his 19th Grand Slam championship match. Playing in 19 major finals ties Nadal in second place with Ivan Lendl. Federer tops the all-time list with 24 final appearances. Federer was left to rue 24 unforced errors in the 1st set as he fell behind in the pair’s 33rd meeting. He had saved two break points in the 7th game and a third in the 9th game to force a tie-break, but Nadal dictated from the baseline to surge into a 5:1 lead. Federer fought back to 5:4, but Nadal earned two set points with a big forehand into the corner and converted his first as Federer went long on a backhand. No matter what Federer threw at Nadal in the 2nd set, it came back at him with interest. The Spaniard had treatment on the blister on his left hand after the first game, but was seemingly unaffected. Nadal engineered a 15/40 lead in the 6th game with a remarkable forehand pass, played from behind him after Federer had seemingly salvaged the point with a deep forehand volley. This time there would be no escape for Federer. Nadal gained his first break of the match with a forehand winner into the corner. The Spaniard trailed 0/30 as he served for the set, with Federer attacking relentlessly, but reeled off four straight points to take the set. Federer was in trouble early in the 3rd set as he netted a backhand volley to lose his serve in the 3rd game. But the Swiss immediately worked his way back into the match, getting his first break points of the match after two hours of play when Nadal missed a forehand wide to go down 15/40. Federer came out on top in the following baseline exchange to draw level at 2-all, to the delight of the crowd on Rod Laver Arena. Federer staved off another Nadal threat as he served in the 5th game, holding from 15/40 down, but Nadal regained his lead in the 7th game as a Federer forehand clipped the top of the net and landed long. From there, Nadal made no mistake, breaking Federer again in the 9th game to triumph. Stats of the match
Wawrinka is through to his first Grand Slam final after edging Berdych on Thursday night. “I feel great. It’s amazing,” said Wawrinka. “I didn’t expect to make a final in a Grand Slam in my career. Tonight it’s happening, so I’m really happy. I’ve been working really hard for many years, trying to improve my game, trying to get some big matches in big stadiums. Now I’m in my first final in a Grand Slam, so I can be only really happy.” Wawrinka could face Federer in the first all-Swiss Grand Slam final, should Federer overcome Nadal in Friday night’s semi-final. “To play a Swiss final would be amazing, first for Switzerland, for the country,” said Wawrinka. “He is the best player ever. For me it’s my first final. To imagine to play against Roger would be amazing.” The 28-year-old Wawrinka is building on a career-best 2013 season, which saw him reach his first major semi-final at the US Open and qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Working with coach Magnus Norman, the right-hander is unbeaten in 2014, opening his campaign by winning his fifth ATP title at the Aircel Chennai Open. He advanced to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park by dethroning three-time defending champion Djokovic in five sets. “Already last year I had the feeling that I was playing better, but I was dealing better with the pressure also,” said Wawrinka. “I’m more mature. I’m 28 now. I’ve been on the tour for 10 years. Now I feel that it’s my time to play my best tennis. I’m enjoying more what I’m doing, when I’m winning, and also maybe I know more how to deal with all the pressure around.” “He’s the player who made the biggest improvement of his game in the last year,” said Berdych of Wawrinka. “Since he started to work with Magnus his tennis is really, really a different level. You can see it in the results. Really there is no question about it.”There was just one break in the entire match – it happened with Berdych serving at 3:4 in the 1st set when he missed an overhead from a position he usually wins points. He stayed close to Wawrinka in the 2nd set, saving the only break point of the set in the 7th game to force a tie-break. The Czech upped his winner count to 20 in response to Wawrinka’s aggression from the first set and was rewarded closing the set in 56 minutes. Neither player was able to make a breakthrough in the 3rd set, though Berdych earned his first & only break point of the contest at 4-all – Wawrinka saved it with a service winner and screamed loudly – Berdych sarcastically smiled. Mini-breaks were exchanged in the early stages of the second tie-break before a double fault from Berdych proved costly. Wawrinka suffered no such letdown on serve and two big deliveries gave him a 6:3 lead. The Swiss then benefitted from another double fault from Berdych to clinch the breaker and inch ahead. Berdych saved a break point in a 16-minute first game of the 4th set as again the players were inseparable on serve. In the subsequent tie-break, another costly double fault from Berdych saw him go 1:4 down, while an ace from Wawrinka took him to a 5:2 lead. The Swiss blinked, just once, as he double faulted on his first match point at 6:3. He made no mistake on the second, prevailing with an unreturned serve – that serve separated them in the amount of total points won.Stats of the match
Federer overcame a gutsy Murray on Wednesday night to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the 11th consecutive year! “It’s really a big pleasure for me being back in the semi-finals,” said Federer. “This one feels different because of the tougher times I’ve had in slams, Wimbledon, at the US Open. It’s nice to be back in the semis and defend my points from last year.” Looking to avenge the five-set defeat he suffered to Murray in last year’s Australian Open semi-finals, Federer made a fast start, breaking the Scot in the fourth game for a 3:1 lead. Showcasing a greater tendency to attack the net, Federer dominated on serve, surrendering just five of 25 points as he wrapped up the opener in 31 minutes. Federer was relentless in the 2nd set. He broke Murray again in the 5th game as he powered into a two-set lead. Murray was unable to engineer a break point as Federer came to the net 13 times and closed out the set in 48 minutes. Federer looked set for a straight-sets win as he broke Murray for a 5:4 lead in the 3rd set. However, serving for the match, the Swiss went down 15/40, offering Murray his first (and only) break points of the match. Murray converted his second, attacking with a backhand down the line to force the error from Federer. In the ensuing tie-break, Federer opened up a 6:4 lead. He was again thwarted, though. First a forehand error and then a backhand mistake saw his match points vanish and Murray pounced. The Scot painted the line with a forehand winner to earn a set point and converted to force a 4th set. Federer was always in control in that set. The Swiss was denied on six break points in an 18-minute 2nd game, but always had Murray under pressure and the ailing Scot succumbed in the 8th game. Federer broke for a 5:3 lead before serving out victory at the second time of asking, there was 0/30 and Federer won the next four points finishing the contest with an ace out-wide. The 26-year-old Murray is a three-time runner-up at the Australian Open and was looking to reach the semi-finals Down Under for the fifth year in a row. The Dunblane native underwent back surgery in September, three months after winning his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. He returned to the courts at the start of 2014 in Doha. “I gave him the break at the end of the match. That was disappointing,” reflected Murray. “In the first two sets I thought he played great tennis. When he was serving for the match I felt like I raised my level because I had to basically, and obviously prolonged the match a bit further. I just wasn’t able to get ahead in the fourth set. I was proud of the way I fought. That’s the highest level I’ve played at in a long time. I hung in well. I pushed through it. Almost got myself back in the match.”Stats of the match
3rd quarterfinal: (1)Rafael Nadal d. (22)Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(7), 6-2 [3:37 h]
World No. 1 Nadal held off an enthralling challenge from Dimitrov on Wednesday to advance to the Aussie Open semi-finals for the fourth time. The Spaniard’s challenge was in doubt at times as Dimitrov’s shot-making had Nadal on the ropes in the third set. “I served slower. I served bad,” said Nadal, referring to his blistered left palm.“I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great. And because of these victories, sometimes it happens that the next day you are able to play much better, and these victories at the end of the year are more important than the days that you are playing great.”Nadal lost first three games of the match and hadn’t a break point in the 1st set. He went up *2:0 in the 2nd set, but committed three double faults in the next game to concede the advantage. After winning the second set tie-break, Nadal once again opened up a break lead in the 3rd set, only to double fault on Dimitrov’s break point in the 8th game. The Spaniard made another error, mis-hitting a forehand swinging volley to bring up set point for Dimitrov in the 12th game, but delivered a service winner & reeled off the next three points to set up another tie-break. Dimitrov had a prime opportunity to clinch the set at 6:5 (was 3:5) with a forehand down the line, only to send it just wide. He committed the same error on Nadal’s first set point opportunity (the Bulgarian wasted three set points in total in that set). Nadal quickly capitalised on his momentum in the 4th set as Dimitrov’s challenge began to slip away. The Spaniard broke for a 3:0 lead and afforded Dimitrov no opportunity to fight back. In the 8th game, Dimitrov saved three match points before succumbing. “[It was] very important to win the third set,” said Nadal. “You are coming back after the first set and winning the next two in both tie-breaks, is a tough moment mentally for the opponent. After that, if I am ready to stay strong at the beginning of the fourth, I know I’m going to have my chances. But it was an important moment. Finally it was decisive. If that ball, that forehand from him, had gone in and he had won the third, I was going to keep fighting, because I felt that I was ready for the fight. I was tired, but I think that he was tired, too. I will keep fighting until the end.” An emotional Dimitrov in his press conference said: “I’m a bit shattered. It’s tough losing that match, my first quarter-final. I came out expecting nothing less than to win. All the credit to Rafa. He’s been a tremendous competitor, great guy off the court.“
The Swiss reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open last year, but was beaten in five sets by Djokovic. He had also fallen to the Serb 12-10 in the fifth set of their Australian Open fourth-round clash 12 months ago. But Wawrinka overturned a 2-15 Head-2-Head record against Djokovic, breaking the Serb in the final game to clinch victory in four hours. “I’m really happy. I’m excited,” said Wawrinka. “It was more or less the same feeling as during the match last year. The beginning was not that easy, but then I started to play really well. It was important to stay with me. After losing two times against him in Grand Slam in five sets, I’m really happy to take that one. It’s great for me.” The 26-year-old Djokovic was contesting his 19th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and saw his 25-match winning streak at Melbourne Park come to an end. After winning his first Grand Slam championship in Melbourne in 2008, the Belgrade native had won three successive titles from 2011-13. “He served extremely well from the beginning to the end,” said Djokovic. “Every time he was in trouble, he was coming up with big serves. He took his opportunities. He deserved this win today. I congratulate him absolutely. There is nothing I can say. I gave it my best. I gave it all. I tried to come out as the winner. I tried to fight till the last point as I did in a very similar match we did last year fourth round, same court. But it wasn’t to be this time.” Wawrinka halted Djokovic’s run of games as he reeled off four straight points from down 0/30 on serve in the 2nd game of the 2nd set, and nearly broke Djokovic in the next game, thwarted on a triple break point. The Swiss took his chance at the second time of asking, though, breaking Djokovic for a 4:3 lead before holding on to level the match. Building on his momentum, Wawrinka broke for a 2:1 lead in the 3rd set and would win five games in a row. After a tentative start, his backhand was finding its mark and Djokovic’s attempts to mix up the play were proving futile as Wawrinka clinched the set. Djokovic stayed in touch in the 4th set and upped his intensity as the set developed. He was rewarded with a clutch service break in the eighth game (Wawrinka led 40/0 and lost five straight points). He then saved two break points before sending the match into a 5th set. Djokovic had the early advantage in the decider as he broke for a 2:1 lead. But his lead was short-lived as Wawrinka immediately levelled, taking advantage of tight play on the forehand by Djokovic. Wawrinka saved break points to hold for 3:2 (Djokovic’s FH error after the longest rally of the match – 31 strokes) & 4:3 (an ace 203 kph followed by another ace – 219 kph – the fastest one in that contest) before more drama as play was briefly interrupted by light rain, with Wawrinka serving at 5-all, 40/15. Four minutes later the players were back on court and a Wawrinka ace closed out the game. Djokovic was the first to blink, and there was no reprieve. Serving at 7:8, 30/15, the Serb made a forehand error, then chased down a short ball, in response to Wawrinka’s accidental return, but placed his forehand wide, trying a diagonal dropshot – actually the same shot gave him the first set. Down match point, he came in behind his serve (just for the second time in the match!), but skewed the forehand volley wide. Stats of the match
After quarter-final exits the past three years, Berdych finally broke through to reach the final four at the Australian Open. The 28-year-old Czech defeated World No. 3 Tuesday afternoon to complete his set of Grand Slam semi-final appearances. “That was definitely the thing [on] my agenda,” said Berdych on court following the match, before revealing an extra piece of motivation given to him by coach Tomas Krupa. “He just reminded me quickly, this is the only court that you haven’t [won] a match yet. So this is my first win on Rod Laver. It’s really a great feeling,” said Berdych in his press conference. “There were some special moments which went well together in this match, making it for the first time here in the Aussie Open to the semis, winning my first match on Rod Laver after all those years. That’s been a very special match to me. I’m extremely happy to go through.” Berdych had spent three hours less on court than the 31-year-old Ferrer through the first four rounds, and continued his impressive form to start the quarter-final encounter, racing through the opening set in 30 minutes. He looked on his way to a straight-sets win after earning three break point chances early in the 3rd set (at 2-all), but could not take advantage. Ferrer fought back and broke the Czech twice (until that moment Bedrych held 72 consecutive games) to extend his Australian Open campaign. In the 4th set, the tables turned with Ferrer unable to capitalize on his five opportunities to break serve, including one in the final game. Berdych seized his first opportunity to take a 3:2 lead and held on for the victory. “It was extremely tough, and physically very tough and hard match with David always,” said Berdych, who now trails the Spaniard 5-7 in the Head-2-Head. The key to the match were two long games that lasted 11 minutes each, both won by the Czech player (to break Ferrer for a 4:3 lead in the 2nd set and to hold for a 4:2 lead in the 4th set). Berdych is the 23rd man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals at all four majors and the second Czech after Ivan Lendl. He equals the record for most Australian Open appearances before reaching the semi-finals, joining Colin Dibley and Mark Woodforde, who also accomplished the feat on their 11th visit.
Fourth round: ATP
A year after playing an instant classic at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka will once again go toe-to-toe in Melbourne after both impressed to reach the quarter-finals on Sunday. The three-time defending champion Djokovic turned in a performance representative of his stature in Australian Open lore, hammering 15th-seed Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-0 6-2 in 94 minutes. Djokovic advanced to his 19th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final with the win, extending his winning streak at the Australian Open to 25 matches. The World No. 2 dominated nearly all baseline exchanges and turned in an impenetrable serving performance, claiming the first 13 points on his serve and not facing a break point. “I’ve felt from the start of this tournament that I’ve been elevating my game as the tournament is going on,” said Djokovic. Djokovic joins Federer, Edberg and Lendl as the only men to reach at least seven consecutive quarter-finals at the Australian Open in the Open Era. Wawrinka won the final match of the day, defeating No. 17 seed Tommy Robredo 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(5). The eighth-seeded Wawrinka entered the match with just one victory in seven meetings with the Spaniard but won 55 of his 61 first serve points to move through to the last eight for the second time (2011). “I watched him a little bit today. He’s really, really tough to beat,” said Wawrinka. “I had five sets against him last year here. Five sets in the US Open. But I didn’t win. I didn’t find the solution to beat him. So it’s going to be really difficult.” World No. 3 David Ferrer produced a strong finish to defeat Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-7(5) 7-5 6-2 6-1 in the fourth round. Ferrer has reached the quarter-finals in nine successive major tournaments. “I am proud for that,” said Ferrer. “The last four or five years, I’ve played very good in the Grand Slams. I maintain[ed] a Top 10-[ranking]. So I’m very happy for that.” The Spaniard is through to the last eight at Melbourne Park for the fourth year in a row, but it was not without a fight against the 37th-ranked Mayer. Ferrer recovered from a break down in the opener, only to surrender the first set in the ensuing tie-break. He then let a 4:0* (deuce) lead in the 2nd set slip away, saw Mayer break back as he served at 5:4, before breaking the German again and closing out the set at the second time of asking to level the match. The 31-year-old Ferrer was met with less resistance in the third and fourth sets, dropping just three more games as he claimed victory in under 3 hours. The win saw him improve to a 5-3 FedEx ATP Head-2-Head record over Mayer. “In the second set, I played better,” Ferrer said. “I started really good. It was not easy in one side of the court because it was windy.” Ferrer has reached the semi-finals in Melbourne in two of the past three years, losing to Murray in 2011 and Djokovic last year. The right-hander reached his first Grand Slam final at last year’s Roland Garros, finishing runner-up to Nadal. For a place in the semi-finals, Ferrer will challenge seventh seed Tomas Berdych. Berdych continued his dominance over No. 19 seed Kevin Anderson, outclassing the South African 6-2 6-2 6-3 in just under 2 hours en route to a fourth consecutive Australian Open quarter-final. The victory was the third year in a row for Berdych over Anderson in Melbourne – the third and fourth rounds respectively – and marked a perfect ten wins from as many matches in the pair’s series. Berdych’s form gave little hope of reprieve for Anderson, who was unable to earn a break point against the Czech. The straight-sets win ensured Berdych is yet to drop a set this tournament, he also wasn’t broken in four matches. Grigor Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian man to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final (and the first man from Bulgaria to reach the Top 20) after defeating Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-4 on Monday afternoon. The 22nd-seeded Dimitrov clinched the victory after 2 hours and 24 minutes with his fourth break of serve. Bautista-Agut had also created five break point opportunities, but only capitalized once. “I’m really happy to be in the quarter-finals,” said Dimitrov. “I’ve been working really hard in the past year, especially in the off-season. So it’s nice to see this result.” Top seed Rafael Nadal passed his first big test of the Australian Open, overcoming Japan’s Kei Nishikori 7-6(3) 7-5 7-6(3) on Monday afternoon to earn his place in the quarter-finals. The match lasted 3 hours 16 minutes, and the Japanese had some chances to win every set he lost: Nadal was serving twice to stay in the 1st set (held easily), Nishikori led 4:2* in the 2nd set, and *5:4 (30/15) coming back from 1:4 (30-all) in the 3rd.“He played a fantastic match, in my opinion,” said Nadal. “Just a few mistakes in some moments that were tough ones. But for the rest of the match he played very aggressively and he went for his shots. He came on court with the determination to take the ball very early and go for winners.” Nadal is now tied with Wayne Ferreira in seventh place for number of victories in Melbourne (39). Fourth seed Andy Murray advanced to his fifth straight quarter-final at the Australian Open with his 6-1 6-2 6-7(6) 6-2 defeat of Frenchman Stephane Robert. Murray hit 48 winners and served at 62 per cent during the fourth-round encounter. “I dominated 95% of the match, and for 15 minutes didn’t close the match out,” Murry said of being pushed to four sets. “But I still created chances, even when I wasn’t playing so well at the end of that third set. The fourth set was fairly comfortable… So it was pretty good for the most part.” The Scot led 5:3 in the 3rd set, he wasted two match points in the following game on serve and another two at 6:4 in the tie-break, in which was 0:3 after Robert’s three brilliant points.Roger Federer has set a quarter-final showdown with Murray after a straight-sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Melbourne Park. Generating additional power with his larger racquet, Federer’s aggressive game plan took him to a 6-3 7-5 6-4 win. In a vintage performance the 17-time Grand Slam champion clipped 21 winners in the 2nd set alone, closing it out with an ace. Federer, who improved to 10-4 in career Head-2-Head meetings with Tsonga, faced (and saved) just one break point in the match (at 4:3 in the 3rd set). “I thought I played really well tonight,” Federer said in his on-court interview. “Against Jo-Willie you’ve gotta bring your best game because he dictates play a lot. I thought I did a good job myself dictating a lot of the play tonight. It helped that I played well in the first three matches to come in and play a solid match tonight.” Federer, who won 34 of 41 net approaches, said that his game plan was to be aggressive and come in. “Jo makes you play an aggressive game yourself because if you don’t he will come in and it’s tough to pass time and time again. I thought the tactics worked well tonight.” Tsonga, who lost to Federer for the third time on Rod Laver Arena (2010 & 2013) stated: “He was playing unbelievable. I was not good enough to destabilise him.”
Third round: ATP
No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych reached the fourth round of the 2014 Australian Open with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win over Damir Dzumhur on Friday. Berdych hit 13 aces and 32 winners against his opponent ranked 188th. “I think we might see him here for another couple of years,” said Berdych. “He’s very hungry. I think he’s very talented.” Dzumhur is the first player representing Bosnia to play in the main draw of a major after advancing through the qualifying rounds. “It was really tough,” said Dzumhur. “Berdych is one of the best players in the world. When he is playing good, he can beat anybody. Also, I was a bit stiff, such a big crowd in a big stadium. I’ve never played in that before, so it was a big opportun/strongity for me and I hope I used it.” For the second time in a week, Kevin Anderson came back from two sets down to advance at the Australian Open. The South African saved one match point as he battled back from the brink to defeat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6 4-6 6-3 7-6(5) 7-5 in just under four hours on Margaret Court Arena. “I’m really pleased with the way I’ve just kept my mental fortitude and given myself a chance to get back in these matches,” said Anderson. He had rallied from a 0-2 deficit for the first time in his career in the first round against Jiri Vesely and came close to defeat twice against Roger-Vasselin. After dropping the first two sets, he found himself 0:4* down in the fourth-set tie-break, before fighting back to force a decider. Roger-Vasselin went up an early break in the 5th set and had a match point at 30/40 on Anderson’s serve in the ninth game. The Frenchman failed to convert with a forehand unforced error, though, and then was broken to 15 as he attempted to serve for the match. Anderson won the final two games of the match, clinching his second match point after 3 hours and 54 minutes. “It was a lot of emotions at the end,” said Anderson. “Just a lot of excitement. A little bit of disbelief as well. The match changed so much just in the last 15 minutes. Sitting down there at 5:4, going out to return serve, knowing sort of it’s your one last shot. Just tried to play a solid game and somehow managed to get a break.” World No. 2 Novak Djokovic extended his unbeaten run to 27 matches on Friday night as he reached the fourth round with a 6-3 6-3 7-5 victory over Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic was nigh on flawless until the closing stages, faltering as he served for the match at 5:4 in the 3rd set. The Belgrade native righted the ship immediately, though, with another break. At the second time of asking, he served out the match to 30. Following Del Potro’s exit on Thursday night, Spaniard Tommy Robredo caused another late-night upset at the Australian Open as he ousted ninth seed Richard Gasquet 2-6 7-5 6-4 7-6(6) in 3 hours and 19 minutes. Robredo was in a close position to lose every set he won: *4:5 in 2nd, *1:4 in 3rd & two set points down in the 4th (also 1:4 in the tie-break).Roger Federer is yet to put a foot wrong at the Australian Open, advancing to the fourth round in Melbourne without dropping a set. On Saturday, the sixth seed defeated Temuraz Gabashvili 6-2 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 41 minutes. “I’m happy that from my side I’m winning my matches in straight sets,” said Federer. Andy Murray improved his H2H record over No. 26 seed Feliciano Lopez to 8-0 with a 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2 victory in just over two hours in their third-round match on Saturday, not facing a break point after the first game of the match. “Today was a big step up for me,” said Murray. “Feliciano is a Top 30 player. He’s a tricky opponent to play. I know I have a good record against him, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s not an easy guy to play against. Very different type of opponent to what you normally face. So it was a good test for me, and I did well.” In a contest between two lucky losers (first match of this type in majors since Wimbledon ’73), World No. 119 Stephane Robert defeated Martin Klizan 6-0 7-6(2) 6-4 to achieve his best Grand Slam result. Robert was beaten 4-6 3-6 by Michael Berrer in the third round of the qualies. No “lucky loser” before Robert advanced to the fourth round in Melbourne (Glenn Layendecker played 3R in 1991). The 33-year-old has only dropped one set in the main draw to reach the Round of 16. Robert has a 1-5 record against Top 10 opponents, with his lone win coming over No. 6 Berdych at Roland Garros in 2011. “It’s good to see,” said Murray. “He’s obviously 33 years old. Could be easy to stop playing if you’re not in the Top 100 or necessarily making a great living. But it does show if you stick at it, you’re professional, when your chance comes, you take it, you can do great things. Great for him. Good for tennis as well.”Rafael Nadal beat Gael Monfils 6-1 6-2 6-3 to reach the Australian Open fourth round. The Spaniard had also beaten Monfils two weeks ago in the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Monfils showed flashes of brilliance, but could not match Nadal consistently in the 2-hour, 4-minute contest. Nadal saved all six break points he faced and converted 6 of his 12 opportunities. The left-hander benefited from 57 unforced errors from Monfils, while limiting his own error count to 18. “Tonight I think I played a great match,” said Nadal. “I’m very happy with the way that I played against a very tough opponent like Gaël. So that makes the level that I played tonight better because it was against a tough opponent. That’s it. Just one very good day. That makes me feel confident, but I am in the fourth round. That’s all.”Kei Nishikori won 17 of the last 18 games to beat Donald Young 7-5 6-1 6-0. The Japanese No. 1 had trailed *2:5 in the 1st set before taking control of the match to prevail in 1 hour and 47 minutes. The 24-year-old Nishikori reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Melbourne Park two years ago, losing to Murray. The right-hander is working this year with former No. 2 Michael Chang. “He’s giving me a lot of good advice,” said Nishikori. “He knows a lot of players. He gives me good tips for the tactics and stuff. I think we’ve been working, doing well. He’s giving me confidence, too. So I think it’s going well.”Grigor Dimitrov won a gripping tie-break with Milos Raonic on Saturday to reach his first Grand Slam fourth round at the Australian Open. In a battle between two of the ATP World Tour’s young guns, Dimitrov edged the 11th-seeded Raonic 6-3 3-6 6-4 7-6(10) in a raucous atmosphere on Margaret Court Arena. “I’m definitely satisfied that I have gone through that match,” said Dimitrov. “I think it’s a great stepping stone for me to get into that second week that I keep talking about. But I have practised a lot. I have done a lot of homework. So, to me, in a way it’s a bit expected. So I feel really good coming into the second week and I just take it one match at a time.” Dimitrov saved two set points before converting his fifth match point in the fourth-set tie-break, claiming victory in 2 hours and 36 minutes as Raonic netted a forehand. The Bulgarian improved to a 2-1 record over Raonic. “Milos is one of the biggest servers out there and I just had to have a lot of patience and use every momentum I had in the match,” said Dimitrov. “There was some tight rallies here and there, but I guess that’s in the game. At the same time, I was really happy to play on that court. It was full house, and that brought an extra good feeling in the end.”Dimitrov played long tie-breaks in three consecutive matches: 7/9 vs. Klahn 13/11 vs. Yen-Hsun & 12/10 vs Raonic.
Second round: BBC
Defending champion Novak Djokovic made light of the intense Melbourne heat to ease into the third round of the Australian Open. The Serb overcame an early fall and a temperature of 41.5C to beat Leonardo Mayer 6-0 6-4 6-4. Secoemnd seed Djokovic, watched by coach Boris Becker, extended his winning streak to 26 matches but only after an early scare when he turned over on his left ankle at 3:0 in the 1st set. He fell to the ground but did not call for the trainer and recovered to take the opening set in 22 minutes, allowing Mayer to win just eight points. “It was just I slipped a little bit,” said Djokovic, who only needed 107 minutes to complete victory. “It was an instant discomfort, but it was OK after.” 20th-seeded Jerzy Janowicz overcame dropping the opening set to beat Pablo Andujar 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5) 6-3. The Pole trailed *1:3 (deuce) in 2nd set; saved a set point at *5:6 in 3rd set with a tricky 180 kph first-serve winner. World No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka reached the Australian Open third round for the sixth year in a row on Wednesday night as he held off Alejandro Falla for a 6-3 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4 victory. The Swiss prevailed in 2 hours and 47 minutes as he converted six of his 17 break points and hit 61 winners to just 26 from Falla. “I was expecting a tough match,” said Wawrinka. “I was focused on myself, trying to be more relaxed, trying to be more positive with myself. At the end the most important thing is to win it. I’m quite happy about that. I’m now looking forward to the next one.” Wawrinka goes on to face Canadian No. 28 seed Vasek Pospisil, who advanced to the third round of a major for the first time when he defeated home favourite Matthew Ebden 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(9) 6-1 in the Rod Laver Arena night session. The Canadian saved one set point in both winning tie-breaks.“I’ll have my hands full, for sure,” said Pospisil of facing Wawrinka. “He’s playing great tennis right now. I played him a couple weeks ago and he was playing really well. I have to recover quickly obviously. I’m going to go for my shots. This is the only chance I’ll have if I really go for my shots and play well and serve well.” South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, the No. 19 seed, cruised past Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 47 minutes. The 27-year-old will look to reach the fourth round for the second year in a row at Melbourne Park when he takes on Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Friday. “I was pleased with the way I played today,” said Anderson. “I thought I played really solid, definitely taking care of my service games throughout the match and then I was able to get a break in each set. I took my chances when they came and I’m happy to get through to the next round. From where I was 10 days ago, I’m feeling much, much better.” The third-seeded David Ferrer and the seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych both dismissed Frenchmen on Hisense Arena. Ferrer beat Adrian Mannarino 7-6(2) 5-7 6-0 6-3 after Berdych topped Kenny De Schepper 6-4 6-1 6-3. Ferrer will face another Frenchman in Jeremy Chardy in the third round after the 29th-seeded Chardy downed Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 7-6(5). The match lasted 3 hours 35 minutes, Chardy was serving to stay in the 1st set (held to ‘love’), saved a set point at *4:5 in the 2nd set and overcame a 3:5 deficit in the 4th set tie-break. Chardy edged also in aces: 22-15. Berdych’s next opponent will be Damir Dzumhur , who moved on after Croat Ivan Dodig retired. Dzumhur fought back from two sets down and was leading 4:1 in the 4th set when the 32nd-seeded Dodig called it quits. The unknown qualifier of Bosnia & Herzegovina hadn’t played a main-level match prior to the Australian Open 2014…Roger Federer, who won the last of his four Australian Open titles in 2010, raced through the first two sets against Blaz Kavcic but had to battle back from 3:0 down in a third-set tie-break to go through, 6-2 6-1 7-6(4). The 32-year-old Swiss belted 17 winners to take the opening set in 26 minutes and won 13 of the final 16 points of the second set to clinch that in 28 minutes. Benoit Paire beat Nick Kyrgios 6-7(5) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-2 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena. Australian teenager Kyrgios, 18, took the first two sets (saved set points in both of them) off number 27 seed Paire to delight a partisan crowd that stayed until 01:40 local time to watch the conclusion of the match. However, he tired and was hit by cramp in the closing stages as the Frenchman booked his place in the third round of the Australian Open for the first time. Andy Murray, with troubles in the 3rd set, defeated Vincent Millot 6-2 6-2 7-5. British number one Murray cruised through the opening two sets but almost came unstuck in the third. But from *5:1 (40/30) down, he won 23 consecutive points and six games to ease into round three. Murray third time in his career won a set from a 1:5 deficit (Starace RG ’09, Cilic UO ’12). Roberto Bautista-Agut shocked fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in five sets. The match lasted 3 hours and 35 minutes, finishing at 01:20 local time with the Spaniard winning 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5 in almost 4-hour struggle. Del Potro, who won last week’s Sydney International warm-up tournament, sent down 28 aces and had 18 fewer unforced errors than his Spanish opponent but his tally of 53 winners was 19 adrift of Bautista. “It’s tough when someone plays at a very high level for four hours, tough to beat the opponent,” said Argentina’s top-ranked player. “I was close. But at every moment that I had a chance, he played an unbelievable shot.” The Spaniard saved two mini-match points at 3:4 in the 4th set, and was two points away from defeat serving in the 10th game of the final set. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal ended home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis’ run on Thursday, defeating the 17-year -old 6-2 6-4 6-2. World No. 570 Kokkinakis had recorded his first Grand Slam victory when he beat Igor Sijsling in the first round and showed glimpses of his potential on Rod Laver Arena against 2009 Melbourne champion Nadal. “He will have the chance to be a great player,” said Nadal, after hitting 39 winners and breaking serve five times. “That’s my feeling. He has everything to do it. He played two junior finals at Grand Slams last year, so he has a great future. He has the right level to try to be on the tour very soon. So just keep working and that will happen.” Two of the ATP World Tour’s young guns will face off in the third round after Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov both recorded straight-sets wins. Both matches were suspended until 6 p.m. due to the Extreme Heat Policy, and then interrupted by a thunderstorm, before Raonic defeated Victor Hanescu 7-6(9) 6-4 6-4 and Dimitrov beat Yen-Hsun Lu 6-3 6-3 7-6(11). “It was a day with a lot of different adversities,” said Raonic. “It was okay. It wasn’t too difficult of a day. I’m just happy I got through it as efficiently as I did.” Big things were once predicted for Donald Young, the former tennis prodigy who turned pro at 14, had a Nike contract at 15 and played in his first U.S. Open at 16. Young’s star, however, has never really taken off. And though there have certainly been more lows than highs for him over the years, none could have been more devastating than the streak. A week before hitting his career-high ranking of 38 in February 2012, Young lost a match to John Isner in San Jose… Young didn’t win again until August, a streak of 17 consecutive losses that sent his ranking – and confidence – plummeting. But in a sign of a possible turnaround for the 24-year-old American, Young reached the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-4 7-5 win over 24th-seeded Andreas Seppi. He now has won more ATP-level matches so far this year than he did in all of 2013. ”I happen to be back playing well and hopefully I can keep improving and stay here at this level,’‘ he said. ”This is where I want to be.” Gilles Simon survived another 4-hour-five-setter as he defeated Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 6-1 6-2. In this bizarre encounter, Simon came back from *3:5 in the 2nd set saving three set points, and *0:5 in the 3rd, only to waste a set point on serve at 6:5!
First round: ESPN
The tournament kicked off with the oldest average age in its history: 27 years, 126 days and two former champions/great rivals – Stefan Edberg (champion 1985-87) & Boris Becker (champ 1991) – in their new roles – coaches of other Aussie Open champions: Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic… Federer kept his cool on a scorching hot second day at the Australian Open, starting his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a straight-sets victory in his first competitive match in front of new coach Edberg, who held this record in 1996 (54) – eight years later it was overcome byWayne Ferreira. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced to the second round when opponent Bernard Tomic, bothered from the start by a left leg injury, retired from their match after losing the first set 6-4. Some in the capacity crowd of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena booed lustily when Tomic indicated he could not continue. He will be out of action for up to 12 weeks when he undergoes hip surgery. Federer played the second match at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, and the temperature topped 106 degrees (42 Celsius) during his 6-4 6-4 6-2 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth. He kept the points as short as possible and gave No. 133-ranked Duckworth only one look at a break point in the 1-hour, 46-minute match. Asked how he handled the heat, the 32-year-old Federer said: “I’m here. I’m speaking. Actually, it’s not crazy. I’m feeling OK right now.” “It was very dry, just hot, stinging sort of sun,” he added later. “Depending on where you come from, it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat. So it’s very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing – you just can’t accept that it’s hot.” Federer now owns the record for playing the most consecutive Grand Slam events, another milestone in a career that has already resulted in 17 major titles for the Swiss star. He said it was “great fun” to finally play in front of childhood hero Edberg, whom he hired on a part-time basis last month. “I used to watch his matches and get inspired,” Federer said, then added: “He warmed me up… I won!” Nadal said he felt for Tomic, who called a medical timeout after three games and twice more before he quit. “I know how tough is this situation, I had the same a few years ago at this tournament,” he said. “Since the beginning, I saw a little bit he had some problems on the leg.” Wimbledon champion Andy Murray showed little evidence of a three-month layoff due to a back injury while beating Go Soeda of Japan 6-1 6-1 6-3. He did not face a break point on his serve and took advantage of six of his 13 break-point opportunities. No. 4-ranked Murray has played only two official matches since minor back surgery in September and said he needs to work his way into the tournament. He has reached three Australian Open finals but has yet to win the season’s first major. Since hiring Ivan Lendl as coach, though, he has made his Grand Slam breakthroughs with titles at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, ending droughts stretching to the 1930s for British men at the majors. “I’m obviously more confident than I was a few years ago but I’m just lacking match practice,” Murray said. “I’m desperate to try and win here. I’ve had a lot of near misses, I’ve played some of the best tennis of my career here, but it hasn’t been good enough yet.”Novak Djokovic began the defence of his Australian Open crown in front of new coach Boris Becker with a 25th straight victory. Djokovic’s first-round clash with Slovakian Lukas Lacko was his first competitive match since hiring Becker as his head coach last month. There were no alarms for the Serbian, who is bidding to become the second man after Roy Emerson to win four straight titles here, in a 6-3 7-6(2) 6-1 victory. He was certainly not at his sharpest, though, on a stage he has made his own. Having broken 96th-ranked Lacko to lead 4:1, Djokovic’s normally ultra solid backhand broke down and he handed the advantage back. However, Lacko could not hold his own serve and it was Djokovic who took the opening set. The 2nd set was a real tussle lasting 57 minutes, and the Rod Laver Arena crowd really appreciated the efforts of Lacko in keeping his illustrious opponent at bay. There were still too many errors from the second seed – 30 in all – but he s./atepped it up during the tie-break and then raced through the deciding set. It was a 22nd straight win in Melbourne for Djokovic, who meets Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the second round. Fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro recovered from a slow start to defeat U.S. qualifier Rhyne Williams 6-7(1) 6-3 6-4 6-4 (Williams saved a match point in qualifying round vs. Thiemo de Bakker). Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, made several unforced errors in dropping the first-set tiebreaker but cleaned up his game in the 2nd set and controlled the rest of the three-hour match. The Argentine player is coming off a victory at the Sydney International tournament last week, his 18th career title. He hadn’t lost to a player ranked as low as No. 130-ranked Williams since Tokyo in 2009, when he fell to No. 189 Edouard Roger-Vasselin. No. 24 Andreas Seppi ended local favorite Lleyton Hewitt‘s 18th appearance at the Australian Open with a 7-6(4) 6-3 5-7 5-7 7-5 win in the 4-hour, 18-minute match. Hewitt was 0-2 down after first two sets, then came back from a break down in three consecutive sets (!) and held a match point at 5:4 in the 5th set – Seppi fired an ace and the momentum instantly shifted onto his side – the Italian won 13 out of the 17 pointems to beat Hewitt for the third time being a match point down (previously in Sydney ’06 & Rotterdam ’08) – I believe it’s the first time in the Open era happened something like this. Hewitt couldn’t hide his disappointment. “Every grand slam loss is tough. There’s no easy ones,” he said. “Obviously if you come close to winning, even though it’s a first round match, it’s still frustrating.” Meanwhile, rising Australian teenage star Nick Kyrgios  has marched into the second round with an impressive victory over experienced German Benjamin Becker . The reigning Australian Open junior champion continued his seamless graduation to senior ranks, defying the searing heat and a shoulder problem to win 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(2). Kyrgios claimed his maiden Grand Slam match victory at last year’s French Open against Radek Stepanek and took just as much out of Tuesday’s win. “The one at the French was in straight sets, whereas this one I had to dig deeper,” he said. “Obviously today it started a bit tough for both of us. The temperature got up to 43 degrees or something and we were both struggling physically in the conditions. But this is my home and I came out and defended my home.” Kyrgios had treatment on his right shoulder early in the 4th set. “I’m obviously going to be feeling it a bit, but it’s good enough for me to play,” he said. The young Australian served 34 aces (four consecutive in the pivotal tie-break). Tempe 3-6 4-6 6-3 7-6(5) 7-5 in just under four hours on Margaret Court Arena. A hot, gusty breeze swirled across the venue all day, making conditions more challenging instead of cooler. Some players struggled. Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he blacked out during a 7-6(12) 6-4 6-3 loss to No. 27 Benoit Paire of France. Dancevic (squandered three set points in the tie-break) had treatment in the 2nd set but continued. “I think it’s definitely hazardous to be out there,” Dancevic said. “It’s dangerous.” Tim Wood, the chief medical officer at the Australian Open, conceded players experienced “heat-related illness or discomfort,” but added: “None required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match.” Tournament director Craig Tiley endorsed those sentiments. A ball girl was treated for heat stress during a morning match, and the tournament shortened rotations for the ball kids to 45-minute shifts and added extra precautions. Players draped bags of ice over their necks and shoulders and sat under cover during the changeovers across Melbourne Park. They retreated into the shade at the back Defending champion of the courts between points. A ball kid was treated for heat stress during a morning match. Meanwhile, spectators on outside courts covered their heads and shoulders with damp towels to cool off and queued up to stand in front of large electric fans blasting water at their , bothered from the start by a left leg injury, retired from their match after losing the first set 6-4. Some in the capacity crowd of 15,000 at Rod Laver faces. The crowd for the day session was 35,571, down almost 12,000 from Day 1. As well as the heat, there were injuries and retirements. No. 13 John Isner, the only seeded American man in the draw, retired after losing the first two sets 6-2, 7-6(6) against Martin Klizan. Isner blew a 4:0 lead in the tie-break. He called for the trainer after the tiebreaker, tapped his racket on the ground three times while deliberating whether to go back out and played for only a few minutes in the third set. Isner attributed it to the same right ankle problem that bothered him last week on the way to the title in Auckland, New Zealand. Czech veteran Radek Stepanek retired with a sore neck in the fourth set against Blaz Kavcic. Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany didn’t make it onto the court, withdrawing before his first-round match due to a strained left hamstring. The No. 21-seeded Kohlschreiber * was replaced in the draw by Frenchman Stephane Robert, who beat Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 7-6(3) 6-3 6-0. There were two astonishing thrillers: Gilles Simon defeated Daniel Brands 6-7(4) 6-4 3-6 6-3 16-14 in 4 hours 35 minutes (41-32 in aces for Brands) while Tommy Robredo struggled past Lukas Rosol 6-1 6-7(7) 3-6 7-6(5) 8-6 in 3 hours 37 minutes. Simon saved five match points at *9:10, and another two at 13:14 (he was 15/40 twice!). Robredo escaped from a hopeless situation in two sets: 1:5 in the 4th set tie-break and 3:5 (15/40) in the final set, Rosol had another match point in that game! Robredo improved his 5-set record to impressive 14-4 (.777). Also a five-set win notched Jerzy Janowicz, who was pathetically playing two and a half sets against Jordan Thompson  for whom it was first main-level match. Janowicz saved a break point at 2-all with an overhead and the things turned around into his favor to give him a 1-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 6-1 victory on Hisense Arena.
* Besides Kohlschreiber, among notable names, the tournament also skipped: Almagro, Tipsarevic & Melzer