2014/09/02

Djokovic Defends his Australian Open Title in Test of Endurance

Novak Djokovic at Desert Smash

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 27, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Novak Djokovic created history on Sunday when he became the first male tennis player in the Open Era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles, overcoming a defiant Andy Murray 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 in three hours and 40 minutes.

 

“Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special. So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible.” Djokovic said of the record. “It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now.”

 

The Australian Open is Djokovic’s most successful Grand Slam, with four out of his six major titles coming at Melbourne Park. He joins Agassi and Federer as the only players in the Open Era to have won four Australian Open Championships. Agassi was on hand for the trophy ceremony and presented Djokovic with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

 

“He had so much success. He won everything: Gold medal, Olympic Games, Grand Slam, everything. Also he made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style. He was I think one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour. Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley. That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.” Djokovic said of Agassi’s footprint on tennis. “So it was obviously a big pleasure and honor for me to receive the trophy from him.”

 

The gladiatorial battle was a trial of stamina as the two baseline defenders exchanged extended rallies throughout the duration of the match. Set one and two lasted over an hour each and with neither player willing to step up and be the aggressor, the first two sets went to a tie-break without a single break of serve occurring. A break didn’t come until the 32nd game in the match when Djokovic managed to break Murray and close out the third set without requiring a tie-break. Djokovic seemed to gain a mental edge after winning the third set and stepped up to play more aggressively, pouncing on any Murray second serves. He hit faster and deeper and applied more pressure in the fourth set to close out the match.

 

Murray had declared prior to the final that he was ready to feel the pain against Djokovic, knowing that if that was the case he knew it’d be a great match. He certainly experienced pain during the encounter, though not how he would have expected, requiring medical attention for blisters on his right foot at the end of the second set.

 

It was the third time that Murray and Djokovic had met at the Australian Open, the first in the 2011 final where Djokovic obliterated Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 and last year in a tough five set semifinal in which Djokovic prevailed and went on to win the title. By midway into the second set on Sunday, Murray had already surpassed the total number of games he won in the 2011 demolition.

 

“I mean, the last few months have been the best tennis of my life. I mean, I made Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the US Open. You know, I was close here as well. It was close,” Murray said of the defeat. “So, you know, I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction. This is the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a slam over five sets.”

 

Murray won an intense first set in the tie-break 7-6(2) in 68 minutes. It was a test of endurance as the two exchanged lengthy rallies peppered with incredible shotmaking. Djokovic had five break point opportunities during the set but a steely Murray stepped up to save all of them. Djokovic served incredibly well in the set, at one stage with a first serve percentage of 80%, and Murray didn’t get one look at a break point opportunity throughout the set.

 

He did in the second set however, Djokovic going down 0-40 in his first service game but saving all break point opportunities with some gritty tennis. The same physical battle endured throughout the set and neither player faced another opportunity to break. After 24 held games in the match the second set ended in another tie-break which Djokovic closed out 7-6(3).

 

The third set began in the same fashion as the first two until finally after 31 consecutive held service games Djokovic won the first break in the match to lead 5-3. He then held to love with some superb first serves to close out the third set 6-3 and lead the match two sets to one.

 

At 1-1 in the fourth set Djokovic again had break point opportunities thanks to a sloppy game from Murray in which he served his fourth double fault for the match. Prior to the final, Murray had served just two double faults for the entire tournament. After a 26 point rally Murray hit a backhand unforced error to gift the Serbian the lead 2-1. Djokovic then consolidated the break before claiming another advantage in the next game as Murray served his fifth double fault down break point. From there Djokovic was full of momentum and confidently served out the match, Murray netting a backhand on Championship point.

 

“I knew that it’s going to be physically very demanding, a lot of long rallies, so I needed to hang in there. I’ve done that. There was a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was Love-40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed have that crucial hold.” Djokovic said of the difficulty level in the match. “After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I’ve done in the first hour or so.”

 

“Yeah, I tried to be more aggressive. So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often.  I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me. I needed to be the one who dictates the play, and I’m really glad that I’ve played my best.”

 

Djokovic was asked what motivated him to fight for more Grand Slam titles, particularly following some tough losses against the top four in the final three majors of 2012.

 

“What more motivation you need than from this trophy?” He asked. “Just seeing it and reading the names of the winners in last 50, 100 years, it’s incredible. To be also mentioned in the history aspect, you know, and winning three in a row, it’s a huge achievement. So I’m always motivated in every match that I play on. But of course Grand Slam finals are always bringing something new, something special to every player, and that’s where you want to perform your best.”

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Gajdosova and Ebden win Australian Open Mixed Doubles Title

 

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 27, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Aussies Jarmila Gajdosova and Matt Ebden have been crowned Australian Open Mixed Doubles champions after defeating the Czech pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak 6-3 7-5 on Sunday.

 

The Australians were playing together for the first time and entered the event on a wildcard.

 

“You know, it feels amazing. I guess extremely exciting to be given the chance to play a Grand Slam final, first of all, and then to win it,” Ebden said. “You never know how many chances you’ll get to play a Grand Slam final. So to come out with a win in our first final and get a title straightaway and to become Grand Slam champions is an amazing feeling and something we’ll always have.”

 

Gajdosova described what it felt like to become a Grand Slam champion.

 

“I think it’s something that every person, every girl or guy are dreaming when they are little. I know it’s mixed, but it’s still a Grand Slam title. To get that far, you have something that you can talk about for a very long time. You can tell your kids, Oh, I won a Grand Slam and I won in Australia, especially, which is very special.”

 

The teams swapped breaks midway through the first set but the Aussies were able to break again in the eighth game with Hradecka serving and Gajdasova then consolidated in the next game to win the first set 6-3.

 

The second set was a similar story with a break from either team early on. Locked at 5-5 the Australians were able to break with Hradecka serving and it was again up to Gajdosova to serve it out. She created three championship point opportunities, the Czech’s saving the first two but the Australians winning on the third after Cermak sent his forehand long.

 

Gajdosova described her feelings while serving for the championship.

 

“It was a bit nerve-wracking, I’m not going to lie. But I thought I served most of the matches pretty well. I knew that he’s on the net, so as long as I hit a pretty decent serve, I think we had pretty good chance of winning it.”

 

Ebden said he believes his partner has one of the best serves in the women’s game and was not worried that she would have trouble serving it out.

 

“We’re just happy we did the right things. We stuck to winning tactics and patterns that have been working for us. I guess under pressure, if you can do that, stick to a winning game plan,” He said.

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Bryan Brothers Flawless in Capturing Australian Open Crown

Bryan Brothers china open 3

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Bob and Mike Bryan won a record 13th Men’s Doubles crown at the Australian Open on Saturday night, destroying their opponents Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4 in just 53 minutes.

 

The Bryans become the most successful doubles team in history after the win, surpassing the 12 title haul of Australian legends’ John Newcombe and Tony Roche.

 

The twins said the statistic was not on their minds while they were playing.

 

“We weren’t thinking about it much out there, but now that we have it, it’s going to be fun to look back on our career and say we have the most Grand Slams. It’s a big record, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mike Bryan explained.

 

When asked what other big achievements were left for them to strive for Bob Bryan said: “As far as records, there’s not much. But like we’ve told you before, we’re competitors. We hate to lose. We want to finish No. 1.”

 

“That’s just the way we are. We set goals to get better, to improve, and to play well at these big tournaments. That’s why we’ll be out here for the next few, three, four more years.”

 

The win is also the top seeds’ sixth Australian Open title out of nine final appearances. Mike Bryan explained why he believes the Australian Open has been their most successful major.

 

“Hard court. I think we’re basically hard court guys. I mean, we grew up in California. We’ve won six of these, four of the Open, only three at Wimbledon and the French. We always say we’re clay court guys.”

 

Bob Bryan added “Yeah. I also think it’s coming down here fresh, spending the off-season together, training hard, feeling like we put in the work, having a clean outlook, always wanting to start the year on top, kind of show the other guys that we’re still here, you know.”

 

Next on the Agenda for the brothers will be the Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bryans have not lost a Davis Cup doubles rubber since losing to the French pairing of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the World Group quarterfinals in 2008.

 

“It would be nice to win another Davis Cup, to have a couple of those once we retire. You know, we’re really focusing on that,” Mike Bryan said. “Yeah, we’re really excited about Davis Cup. We have a great draw this year.”

 

 

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Azarenka Defends Australian Open Title in Topsy Turvy Final

Victoria Azarenka Miami Players Party

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Victoria Azarenka successfully defended her Australian Open title on Saturday at Melbourne Park after triumphing over Li Na in a drama filled final 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 40 minutes.

 

In a bizarre display of ankle rolls, near concussions, fireworks delays, 85 unforced errors, 16 breaks of serve and some scintillating tennis, it was Azarenka who remained focused and determined in claiming the championship and in doing so will also hold on to her number one ranking come Monday. Azarenka also becomes the eighth different women’s champion to successfully defend the title in the Open Era.

 

Azarenka received a lukewarm reception from the crowd on the back of her controversial semifinal clash against Sloane Stephens in which she has been widely accused of gamesmanship after taking a questionable Medical Timeout in the critical stages of the second set. With the crowd firmly in the favor of the Chinese, it was a subdued Azarenka who dropped her racquet upon winning the match, shook hands with Li at the net and subsequently broke down into her towel with relief. There were no big celebrations and Azarenka avoided the aforementioned topic in her acceptance speech, choosing to play it safe and thank her team, the tournament organizers and Li.

 

“I feel really happy right now. It’s been a long match. It’s been a tough match. Li Na was absolutely playing great tennis. Unfortunate things that happened to her, you know, but that’s sport,” Azarenka said. “But, yeah, I’m just happy that everything I went through, you know, I still could manage to give my best and really come out there and try to focus on my game and play tennis that I can produce. And that’s the thing that I love to do, is to compete.”

 

When asked about the impact the last 48 hours had on her ability to play she said: “It isn’t easy, that’s for sure, but I knew what I had to do. I had to stay calm. I had to stay positive. I just had to deal with the things that came onto me.”

 

“I was actually really happy that I went through so many things knowing that I can still produce the tennis that I can and keep the focus that I can. It just motivates me to be a better player.”

 

The two displayed some magnificent winners in the match, especially in the critical moments at the end of the first and second sets, creating acute angles and using full power to outmaneuver the other. The telling statistic for Azarenka was her ability to hold a high first serve percentage and for Li it was her unforced error count of 57 which far outweighed her winner count of 36.

 

The first and last points in the opening set were a double fault. A nervy Li served first and was immediately broken to start a topsy turvy set of service breaks between the two.

 

Li edged ahead at the pointy end of the set 5-3 and failed when she attempted to serve it out, going down 0-40 and managing to save one break point with an excellent backhand crosscourt winner but losing the second after netting the ball. She was able to close it out though in the next game when Azarenka double faulted on set point down to gift the 30-year-old the set 6-4.

 

The Belarusian turned the tables in the second set by breaking Li in the first game and consolidating in the next. She really upped her power and put pressure on her opponent, running Li around the court to force her into making an error.

 

Serving at 1-3, 30-30 in the second Li rolled over on her ankle and was helped back to her chair by the trainer. She received a Medical Timeout to have the ankle strapped before going back on court and holding serve to trail Azarenka 2-3 in the second set. After some more breaks of serve Azarenka got ahead 5-4 and served out the set 6-4 to force a decider.

 

The finalists swapped breaks to open the final set and as Li held serve for 2-1 a nine minute delay arrived for the Australia Day fireworks. At the resumption of play Li rolled over on her ankle for a second time and hit her head on the ground. She received a second Medical Timeout to check for concussion but she appeared to be fine and continued to play.

 

Azarenka then applied the pressure to run the battered Li around the court and force a break of serve in the fifth game to lead 3-2. She again broke while leading 5-3 after Li sent her forehand long on championship point down.

 

Azarenka was very emotional after the match and was asked if defending the title was more special than winning it for the first time.

 

“I don’t know. It’s a completely different mix of feelings. This one is way more emotional. It’s gonna be extra special for me, for sure. I never compare my wins or losses ever in any tournaments. It’s just a matter of the feeling that you get, things you’ve been through, because you’re the only one who knows what you’ve been going through these two weeks.”

 

With the win Azarenka becomes just the fifth active player to win multiple Grand Slam titles along with Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Murray Victorious in Thriller Against Federer, Meets Djokovic in Final

Andy_Murray

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 25, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Andy Murray ended the title hopes of Roger Federer on Friday night as he outplayed the Swiss champion in a high quality four hour five set semifinal 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.

 

The win gives Murray a third tilt at the Australian Open crown when he meets world number one Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.

 

Coming into the match Murray had never beaten Federer in a major before, even though he held a 10-9 lead in their head-to-head.

 

The match was a contest of grit, determination and shotmaking brilliance. Murray played out of his skin for much of the encounter, stepping into the court and taking the balls early. Federer was on the back foot for the majority of the match but summoned all of his mettle to push Murray and go the distance. A stunning display of winners flew from both racquets as the match wore on but it was Murray who executed more with 62 winners overall and produced 13 less unforced errors than the 17-time major winner.

 

In the first set Murray managed an early break in the third game by forcing a Federer forehand error and it was all he needed to close out the set on serve 6-4.

 

In the second set Federer put a lot of effort into holding his serve but was not able to make an impact on his opponent’s. He tried to change the pace of the ball and bring Murray into the net more to take him off guard.

 

The set went to a tie-break as neither player was able to set up a break point opportunity the entire second set. Federer lead the tie-break early but Murray came back a few points later. Federer then upped the ante on the eleventh point with a scintillating backhand pass to gain another advantage and then sent down a superb serve that Murray could do nothing with to claim the set 7-6(5) and level the match.

 

Halfway through the third set Murray started to swing freely and really brought the pressure to Federer. He played very aggressive and took advantage of Federer’s second serve by pouncing on it early and shutting away winners. He claimed a break in the sixth game and then served out the set 6-3 with an ace.

 

Federer continued to feel the pressure on his serve in the fourth set but managed to hold his first game. In the fourth game Federer set up 3 break point opportunities, Murray saving two with strong serves but he couldn’t save the third, gifting Federer the break after sending a forehand wide. The Swiss then consolidated the break and lead the fourth set 4-1 before Murray fought back and broke Federer back in his next service game with a stunning forehand winner.

 

At this stage of the set Federer was just feeding the ball to his opponent rather than looking for holes to pounce on and allowed Murray another break to lead 6-5 and attempt to close out the match. Murray clammed up while trying to serve it out and gifted the break back to Federer to force another tie-break. Federer produced some glimpses of brilliance and sent the match to a fifth and deciding set 7-6(2) with a superb serve.

 

Federer shanked a backhand in his first service game on break point down to give Murray the lead in the final set 2-0. He looked as though he’d spent all of his energy getting to the fifth and was left with little to continue his push in the match. Murray maintained a high intensity for the remainder and lost just 3 points from 19 on serve on his way to victory.

 

“Obviously I was happy. It was a tough match. A lot of ups and downs,” Murray said in his post match news conference. “So it was good to come back after the way I lost the fourth set.”

 

“I think I did all the things I needed to do. I did them well. Even, like I say, after the second and fourth sets, which were tough to lose, because, you know, I wasn’t comfortable, but I was in, you know, good positions in both sets.”

 

“To lose them was tough. I was just happy with the way I responded after both those sets.”

 

Federer was making no excuses as to why he lost.

 

“I think overall he probably created more chances than I did. I had difficulties finding — you know, getting into his service games time and time again like I, you know, usually do against him,” Federer explained. “I think he started off serving well, and then, I mean, fifth set, obviously he did well. I think he played a bit more aggressive because he did create more opportunities over and over again.”

 

Djokovic leads the head-to-head against Murray 10-7 but Murray achieved a momentous win over the world number one at the US Open last September, defeating him in a thrilling five set final for his first Grand Slam title. When asked whether having won that title against Djokovic will help him mentally for Sunday, Murray said: “I would hope so. The task isn’t any easier. I’m obviously playing Novak again on this court. I mean, this has been his best court for sure. So I’m aware of how tough it will be to win the match and what have you.”

 

Federer says he thinks Djokovic will come up trumps on Sunday.

 

“He’s done really well again this tournament, digging himself out of the hole against Stan, coming and playing good tennis against Berdych and Ferrer. So obviously a tough match again, and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days.”

 

The final will take place on Sunday evening after the Mixed Doubles final.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Top Seeds Errani and Vinci Claim Australian Open Women’s Doubles Title

ErraniVinci

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 25, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK,  Australia – Top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci took out the Australian Open Women’s Doubles title on Friday, overcoming a spirited fightback from the local team of Casey Dellacqua and 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in one hour and 42 minutes.

 

Dellacqua and Barty were surprise finalists and were the first Australian pairing to reach the final since Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Helen Gourlay won the title in 1977.

 

In an exciting battle on Rod Laver Arena watched over by tennis legend Margaret Court the Italian top seeds raced to a commanding lead in the match, claiming the first set 6-2 in just 29 minutes.

 

The Australian pair dug deep in the second set to break the top seeds in the eighth game with Vinci serving and closed out the set 6-3 to give themselves a chance in the decider.

 

Errani and Vinci took control in the final set, claiming breaks in the sixth game and on championship point to become the first Italian pairing to win the Australian Open title. Italian Flavia Pennetta won with Argentine Gisela Dulko in 2011.

 

“In the third set we started to get nervous,” Vinci said post match. “However, today we’ve proven we’re a really strong doubles team.

 

“Our strength is that we always play together. We went out there today with lots of grit, and we really wanted to win.”

 

In the mixed doubles competition, the Australian team of Jarmila Gajdosova and Matt Ebden progressed through to the final after defeating the Kazakh and Uzbekh pairing of Yaroslava Shvedova and Denis Istomin in two tough sets 7-5, 7-6(5).

 

The Australians will play Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak in the final on Sunday after the pair overcame Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski in a super tiebreak 10-7.

 

The men’s doubles final will be contested on Saturday after the women’s singles final with top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan squaring off against the Dutch duo of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

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Li Na Ousts Sharapova to Advance to Second Australian Open Final

 

10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 24, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Li Na won through to her second Australian Open final after impressively defeating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 33 minutes.

 

“Beginning of the match I was nervous, ” Li Na said. “I was happy I come back to semis again, but for some reason I really want to win the match. I don’t know what happened today. Just come to the court, feeling like, Okay, just do it,”

 

She played focused and used all her power to wipe Sharapova off the court. Li produced an uncharacteristically low number of unforced errors at just 18 and created 21 winners in the match.

 

The 2008 champion got off to a terrible start by serving down two consecutive double faults. She was put under pressure from Li and netted a forehand on break point to give the Chinese the lead 1-0.

 

Li continued to keep the pressure on the Russian, speeding up the balls and forcing Sharapova to make the errors. She lead at one stage in the set by two breaks before Sharapova managed to get one back to trail Li 2-4. Li then put her foot down again and reclaimed the break to serve out the set 6-2 with a superb forehand winner.

 

Sharapova had dropped just nine games on her way to the semifinal clash and was suddenly down a set. She had yet to experience a challenge in any of her five matches and did not play any matches coming into the open after withdrawing from Brisbane. Li on the other hand was more prepared for the hot conditions at Melbourne Park on Thursday on the back of a lot of match play coming into the Open. She won in Shenzhen for the first week of the 2013 season and played to the semifinals during a Sydney heatwave.

 

The second set began on serve for the first four games before Li pulled ahead to 3-2 with a break. She then secured another break in the seventh game and closed out the match 6-2 6-2 to book her spot in the final of the Australian Open for the second time in her career.

 

Li made the Australian Open final in 2011 and lost to Kim Clijsters in three sets. She looks back on that experience and says she is better prepared the second time around.

 

“I mean, 2011, first time to the Grand Slam final, I was a little bit shocked because I didn’t know what I should do. Also no one tell me what I should do on the court. But this time I got more experience, so I think should be better.”

 

“I really hungry about title, yeah. It’s really – how you say – first time I was feeling I really near or close to the title. So, yeah, I think this time should be, I don’t know, maybe different story or maybe same story. But I will try.”

 

Li Na said she has a different mindset on the court now. She no longer worries as much as she used to.

 

“I was working so hard in winter training. I think now is everything just back to me. So I come to the court, take the racquet, enjoy the tennis, yeah.”

 

Li Na will meet defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the final on Saturday. Azarenka leads their head-to-head record 5-4 and has beaten Li in their last four encounters. Li has won their two encounters at Grand Slam level in straight sets at the 2011 Australian Open and the 2011 French Open which she went on to win.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Federer Survives Resurgent Tsonga to Advance to Semifinals

Toger Federer Courtesy of Wilson Racquets

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 23, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Melbourne -Roger Federer progressed through to his 33rd career Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a thrilling five set encounter 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4,) 3-6, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night.

 

“It’s always special everytime you go into a fifth or every time you can play at night.”

 

It was a fired up and feisty Federer who won through to the semifinals after he came under pressure from a rejuvenated and in form Tsonga. Federer lost the first two sets of his tournament and did not look happy on court. He was uncharacteristically animated and vocal when he was able to get ahead on the tough points or close out a tight set.

 

The win extends Federer’s record for consecutive Australian Open semifinal appearances to ten. If he is successful on Friday night and wins his 18th Grand Slam title on Sunday he will equal Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in 4th place for the most major singles titles of all time for both men and women.

 

Federer pulled out all of his weaponry at the beginning of the match and secured himself a break in the opening game. It went bad from there as he struggled on serve, managing just 55% of first serves in for the first and was broken back by Tsonga in the sixth game. The set remained on serve and ended in a tie-breaker, Federer getting the mini break early on and sealing the set 7-6(4).

 

In the second set Tsonga’s play was reminiscent of his 2008 run to the Australian Open final where he lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets. He got ahead with a break in the seventh game and closed out the set 6-4 to level at one set a piece.

 

The Federer flair resurfaced in the third set as he managed to break Tsonga in his first service game to lead 2-0. The Frenchman then broke back immediately and won a long service battle in the next game to hold. The set went the same way as the first, ending in a tiebreaker with Federer winning it 7-6(4).

 

In the fourth set Tsonga looked in control again, dictating play from the baseline and claiming a break in the sixth game to lead 4-2. Federer broke back for 3-4 with a deep backhand winner but was then broken again by Tsonga to go down 3-5. Tsonga consolidated the break and claimed the set 6-3 with an ace to send the match to a decider.

 

Federer served first in the final set and got the first break to lead 3-1. He roared out loud on break point and began fist pumping through his next game to consolidate the lead 4-1. Federer started to move forward and take charge in the match and it was clear he didn’t want to stay out any longer, putting his foot down to race to victory.

 

“It was a tough close for sure. But the whole match was tough you know, any set could have gone either way and obviously it’s tough. You never know what Jo’s going to come up with.”

 

“I served three great serves at 205/210(kph) almost and every time he got it back. It’s just what he can do you know. That’s why he remains dangerous throughout a match, throughout a tournament, throughout a season.”

 

Federer said it was a much improved Tsonga that took to the court against him on Wednesday night.

 

“He played extremely aggressive. He stood into the court especially on the return. We know how good he can serve and how athletic he is. He always has a tendency to come to the net and he did that really well tonight. I think he returned much better than he has in the past which is going to make him unfortunately really hard to beat in the future.”

 

Federer goes on to meet Andy Murray in the semifinals. The two have had some tough battles in the past and Murray edges their head-to-head 10-9.

Federer was asked whether or not playing Murray in both the Wimbledon and Olympic finals matter in terms of the Australian Open: “I think those two, but the World Tour Finals and Shanghai, so those last four matches, that’s what I’ll probably be looking at with my coaches and sort of go from there.
“Obviously then the two Wimbledon matches are different.  It’s grass and you play different.
“But, yeah, then the Olympics was playing much faster.  So was Shanghai.  This is a bit different here, but obviously I’ve played Andy now sometimes in the last sort of six months or a year since he’s, you know, won the gold, won the US Open.

 

“So I know what to expect, ” Federer said in terms of playing Murray. “Whereas it would be different if I hadn’t played him.  Because he has changed his game around a bit.  He’s playing more defensive.  I’m looking forward to it.  Obviously a great player, and I was very happy for him when he won his first Grand Slam and the gold.
So I’m expecting a tough match, of course.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Ferrer Digs Deep to Overcome Almagro

 

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By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 22, 2013) David Ferrer fought back from two sets to love down to overcome compatriot Nicolas Almagro in five sets 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4,) 6-3 and progress through to his second Australian Open semifinal.

 

Ferrer is just the second Spaniard behind Rafael Nadal to reach multiple semifinals at the Australian Open and the third Spaniard to reach five or more Grand Slam semifinals in the Open Era. The win also signaled his 500th career win.

 

The first two and a half sets were dominated by the tenth seeded Almagro as he shocked the crowd by taking an aggressive two sets to love lead 6-4, 6-4 by serving powerfully and smashing winners from all over the court.

 

He continued the form into the third set as he broke Ferrer with the set level at 3-3 and had a chance to serve out the match at 5-4. Ferrer dug deep however and created three break point opportunities with Almagro serving for the match, the first saved with an ace and the second with a forehand volley winner for deuce. On his third opportunity Ferrer hit a superb forehand winner to break back and level the match at 5-5. With Almagro rattled, Ferrer won his next service game and broke Almagro in the next game to love to win the set 7-5.

 

The Spaniards traded breaks throughout the fourth set and with his nose ahead at 5-4 Almagro had another opportunity to close out the match. He squandered the game again to allow Ferrer back in the set at 5-5. By this stage his failure to serve out the match on two occasions appeared to play heavily on Almagro’s mind. He had a third opportunity to serve out the match after breaking Ferrer for 6-5 but again failed to do so and sent the set to a tie-break. Ferrer got ahead in the tie-break and won the set 7-6(4) to level at 2 sets all and sent the match to a decider.

 

In the fifth set Almagro began to struggle physically and had issues with his abductor while Ferrer was running on momentum and had full control on the match. He got the first break in the fifth game and a second in the seventh game and served out the match with a forehand winner.

 

Ferrer increased his head-to-head lead over Almagro to 13-0. He was asked what was going through his mind when he was down two sets and a break with Almagro serving for the match.

 

“I try to fight every point, every game. I know all the players in important moments we are nervous. I know that. I try to do my best. Today I was close to lost, sure. But finally I come back, no?”

 

“I think he played better than me in the first set. There was a break. I play bad in myself in one break. In the second, I didn’t play good, no? In the third, I feel better with my game. I can play more aggressive.”

 

“And in the fifth, he was cramping, problems with his leg, so it was easier for me.”

 

On a potential semifinal clash with  Novak Djokovic, should he defeat Tomas Berdych on Tuesday night, Ferrer said, “Amazing player. Of course, Novak, he’s the No. 1 of the world. He’s the favorite for to win the Australian Open. I will see the match tonight. Anyway, I will have to play better than today for to win after tomorrow, sure.”

 

“You know, every day is different: the weather, the conditions, everything is different. I don’t know what is going to be tonight with Tomas Berdych, but I hope it will be a long match, no (smiling)?”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

 

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Li Na Reaches Australian Open Semifinal After Defeating Radwanska

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By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 22, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Li Na became the first player through to the Australian Open semifinals on Tuesday at Melbourne Park after she overcame fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3.

 

The first set was a grueling 66 minute encounter in which the women exchanged seven breaks of serve between them. Li claimed the seventh break on set point to lead the encounter 7-5.

 

Li immediately went down a break in the second and Radwanska consolidated with a love game to lead 2-0. She fought back however, winning the next 5 games to lead 5-2 and closed out the match 7-5 6-3.

 

Prior to the match Radwanska had won 13 straight matches to start her 2013 season, including a straight sets win over Li in the semifinals of Sydney. Losing the first set of her quarterfinal seemed to rattle Radwanska and she was unable to stay in the first in the second set.

 

With the win Li returns to the top five in the WTA rankings. Her highest ranking has been a number four.

 

Li said it was a difficult match against a difficult opponent.

 

“You know, she’s a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall, you know. She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. I was feeling just very tough. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If you hit like slow or like short one, she’ll attack.”

 

Li spoke about her tough off season training schedule with Justine Henin’s former coach Carlos Rodriguez who she has been working with since after Wimbledon last year.

 

“I was with Carlos for two and a half or three weeks in Beijing.  Totally different program, you know.”

 

“He was not – how you say – like every day five, six hours, but not only for tennis. Tennis like maybe two, three hours, but fitness for two, three hours as well.”

 

“So, like, when first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying. Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing. I call him and say, Carlos is crazy. He was like, Why? I was say the program to him. He was like, Don’t make the joke. I say, Hey, listen, I’m not joke. I really doing this in the morning.”

 

On a potential semifinal clash with Maria Sharapova on Thursday Li said “She’s more aggressive player on the court. Also she’s tough. She’s fighting a lot. Should be tough match. So we can see Thursday, yeah.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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