Australian Open diary: Days 5-7
Engrossing, captivating, enthralling are words that come to mind after watching the Tomic Dolgopolov match on day five.
Many more experienced tennis commentators went for incredible and brilliant tennis as the adjectives in their tweets after Bernard Tomic accounted for Alexandre Dolgopolov in five sets last night.
For me, the final between Federer and Nadal here a few years ago was incredible. As was Novak Djokovic’s tennis for most of last year.
The match was like watching grand masters playing chess. Both plotting and trying to pre-empt the next move of their opponent. At times the match resembled squash with so much slice and little dinks trying to catch the opponent out.
If this is to be the way of new tennis after the era of Nadal and Federer then bring it on. The changes in pace combined with the placement of the shot all done to setup hopefully a killer blow was intriguing.
The only downside of this type of tennis is that there appear to be fewer winners and more errors, both forced and unforced.
Rafael Nadal continues on his merry way with another comfortable win this time over Slovak Lucas Lacko. I can’t remember a year in recent time where the top two men’s players have yet to appear in the night session on Centre Court.
With Tomic and Hewitt taking up the prime time slots on all nights except for the opening evening when Roger Federer started his tournament.
Ana Ivanovic, not having dropped a set, is finding her way in the tournament nicely. Defeating Vania King today and setting up a tantalising fourth round match with second seed Petra Kvitova.
Kvitova who is many people’s favourite for the tournament this fortnight had an easier path in her round three match leading 6-0, 1-0, Kvitova didn’t need the extra five games to progress as her opponent Maria Kirlenko withdrew with an injury.
The exciting part of the women’s draw is that we are unsure where the winner will come from. With the way the ladies rankings system works we have a number of former number one’s and previous winners in the field. Then there is the anticipation of whether the current number one Caroline Wozniacki can win her first Grand Slam.
Because of the depth of options in women’s draw we have seen a lot of lopsided matches in the early part of the week. This all changes now as many of the favourites will come up against each other earlier than they would like.
What can you say about Hewitt? He is struggling to be on court with the injuries he has had, but aren’t we glad he is. Whilst the Australian public salute the rise of a new star in the making one night we are able to reminisce and say thank you to a former champion on the alternate night.
Lleyton Hewitt continues to fight another day after defeating Canada’s answer to our own rising star, Milos Raonic in four sets. A meeting with the defending champion Novak Djokovic waits.
It probably wasn’t the best day to wander around with a ground pass given the temperature but it did allow me to have more than a cursory glance as a few doubles matches being played on the show courts.
Watching doubles if you haven’t looked at it in a while is interesting for the first set or so. Then you realise how slow the match progresses.
Tactical chats are necessary during the match and between points if need be but is there a need to give each a high five between every point? Particularly when you have lost the point?
Doubles appeals because the element of team takes over. All of a sudden as a player you are not 100% in control of the outcome and you are dependent on your partner.
Despite the pace of the play being slow, the points are generally a lot quicker with more volleys and points being finished at the net.
Coming from the Tomic – Dolgopolov match where rallies regularly were in double figures to short sharp exchanges is completely different tennis. The crowd obviously feels the same with the level of noise after each point directly proportional with the length of the rally.
Tomic’s run ended tonight in almost predictable circumstances. Tomic had played eight more sets of tennis than Federer and he admitted himself that there would be an extra step up in class.
All hopes of Tomic maybe pinching a set were extinguished when Federer went on a run of breaking five of Tomic’s last six service games from midway through the second set to the start of the third.
However the match of the day was the Kim Clijsters Li Na replay of last year’s final. By virtue of the woman’s world ranking system Clijsters last year’s champion was strangely seeded only 11th this year. What a rematch we go.
Li had 4 match points in the second set tie break and couldn’t convert any of them. Clijsters rattled of the next six points to claim the set and then broke twice early in the third set to take a commanding lead.
Despite a few jitters when trying to serve out the match the double break allowed her enough breathing space to secure victory in her second attempt at serving for the match.
Li will be disappointed as will many who had her pencilled in to add the Australian crown to her French title last year.
Finally a word on Thomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro and the boos that echoed around Hisense Arena at the conclusion of the match.
Almagro played a shot that hit Berdych, apologised countless times without an acknowledgement from the Czech and still ended up losing both that game and the match.
When game, set and match was announced by the chair umpire, the petulant Berdych refused to shake hands with Almagro in a pathetic display or poor sportsmanship.
The beautiful part was that the crowd caught on to this and proceeded to jeer and boo Berdych for what seemed an eternity.
The boos continued right through his post match on court interview and it was brilliant.
Mr Berdych, we like winners in Australia and we don’t like sore losers which is a given, but you can also add that we don’t like cantankerous spoilt brats that are also sore winners.