Archive for the '2011 Australian Open' Category

30
Jan
11

Novak Djokovic destroys Murray to prove he’s the best hard court player on tour.

Andy Murray’s Grand Slam final misery continued as the British number one was comprehensively beaten by Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. Murray looked out of sorts from the off and was second best throughout a one-sided encounter as Djokovic followed up his 2008 success in Melbourne with a 6-4 6-2 6-3 triumph in two hours and 39 minutes. Murray has now appeared in three Grand Slam finals and is yet to win a set – a record in the open era – with this latest setback likely to be the hardest to stomach.

The first two defeats, at the US Open in 2008 and here 12 months ago, saw him lose to an overwhelming favourite in Roger Federer but he came into this contest seemingly on a par with Djokovic. But what transpired will haunt Murray for some time. His first-serve percentage was a lowly 51 per cent, his groundstrokes continually missed their target, his body language was negative while his movement, so often his strength, proved another weakness with his footwork frequently bordering on the amateurish. Murray’s travails should not detract from Djokovic’s achievement, however. He has been knocking on the door ever since his win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga here three years ago but often saw his quest for a second major flounder against either Federer or Rafael Nadal – arguably the two greatest players of all time. But his greater desire ensured he was not to be denied this time. Murray at least competed in the first set as the two men probed for a weakness in a nervy opening.

The 23-year-old from Dunblane had to overcome an awful start, losing the first six points, before saving a break point to make it 1-1. The match remained on serve until 4-5 at which point it started to go wrong for Murray. The alarm bells were ringing at 15-30 on the Scot’s serve and the situation became even more dangerous when a fantastic 38-shot rally, which saw both players take and lose the initiative, went the way of Djokovic as he brought up two set points. And Murray was unable to come through, a long forehand proving to be out after a challenge. With the first set in the bag, Djokovic was starting to cut loose and, after holding serve easily, two booming groundstrokes, one off each side, handed him a break point and the chance to further strengthen his grip on the match.

Murray saved it with a big first serve but a netted backhand presented Djokovic with a second opportunity which, having used Hawk-Eye to prove an ace was out, he took by easily chasing down a poor drop-shot before ripping a cross-court winner. Another comfortable hold from Djokovic quickly saw him establish a 3-0 lead and extend his run of consecutive games won to five. Murray was starting to implode and the Scot handed Djokovic a double break and a 4-0 advantage with an awful game which contained three unforced errors, two off the forehand side.

Djokovic was in no mood to let up and he made it 5-0 before Murray finally got on the board courtesy of a big ace out wide. Belatedly, Murray got his first break of the match to pull it back to 5-2 but it proved to be brief respite as a stunning forehand on the run gave Djokovic a set point which he converted when the Briton netted a forehand. Murray desperately needed a good start to the third set if he was salvage anything from what was starting to become a chastening experience. And he got precisely that as, after Djokovic missed a makeable drive volley on game point, he set up a break point and took it with a fantastic forehand down the line. But the hangdog expression was quick to return as he promptly threw away his advantage when, from 30-30, Murray looped a terrible forehand wide and then hammered a smash out of court. A swift hold from Djokovic was followed by a break as the Serb, on the seventh opportunity, cracked a magnificent backhand pass down the line to move 3-1 up.

Perhaps sensing he was running out of time, Murray started going for a little more and he broke back to get the set back on serve when Djokovic dumped a drop-shot into the net. He had to save a break point to level for 3-3 and he found himself taken to deuce once more in his next service game. And this time Murray was unable to escape the danger as he hit a running forehand into the middle of the net. Serving for the championship, Djokovic displayed a few nerves but managed to get over the line when Murray netted another forehand.

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29
Jan
11

Bryan Bros win their 5th Aussie title for a total of 10 Grand Slam victories.

Bob and Mike Bryan spoiled the reunion party for Indian veterans Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi to claim their fifth Australian Open men’s doubles title in six years. The 32-year-old Bryans, the world’s top-ranked pairing, downed 36-year-old Bhupathi and 37-year-old Paes 6-3 6-4 to make it three straight titles at Melbourne Park, having also claimed the event in 2006 and 2007. Their five Australian Open crowns give them 10 grand slam titles as a combination overall, including at least one of each of the majors. They already held the record for the most tournament titles of any men’s pairing in the Open era, which they stretched to 68, seven clear of retired Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. They are also closing in on the Woodies’ collection of 11 grand slam trophies, and are within two of the Open era record of 12, held by another Australian pairing of John Newcombe and Tony Roche.

Bhupathi and Paes had been hoping to complete a remarkable comeback story. They were formerly a formidable combination, but their most recent previous grand slam tournament together was in 2002. The Indians had been seeking a career grand slam, each having won the French Open, US Open and Wimbledon either together, or with other partners during their long tennis estrangement.

The identical and identically-dressed Bryans – right-hander Mike is two minutes older than left-hander Bob – celebrated their victory with their familiar chest bump.

29
Jan
11

The pressure is firmly on Andy Murray in Sunday’s Australian Open final.

“It’s a tough situation for him to face this pressure from the media being a British player,” said Djokovic. “Everyone expects him to win Wimbledon because he is coming from a great country of tennis with a great history. “Wimbledon, as we all know, is the most prestigious tournament in our sport. “And he has faced that all of his career and managed to become one of the best players in the world so you have got to give him credit for that. “On one hand I would like to be in his shoes because he gets a lot of support because of the country he comes from but, on the other, I wouldn’t like it because of the media attention he faces.”

Unlike Murray, Djokovic has already broken his grand slam duck, winning here in 2008 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray has reached two finals, in Melbourne 12 months ago and in New York in 2008, and lost to Roger Federer both times. “We both know how difficult it is to make that final step and win a title, especially if you have Nadal or Federer across the net,” added Djokovic, who was an impressive winner over the Swiss in the semi-finals. “In 2008, I had Tsonga. He had played a great tournament but still it was both of us trying to fight for a first title. “It was big pressure, you feel the expectations.

“You feel that you are right there and just need to take that final step. “But I feel that I am more experienced now. “Definitely winning a grand slam title here three years ago gives me a little bit of a mental advantage for the final.”

Djokovic had a shorter off-season than most after helping Serbia win the Davis Cup at the start of December and he openly admits that success over France, coupled with his defeat of Federer in the 2010 US Open semi-finals when he had to save two match points, has seen his confidence rocket heading into 2011. “That Federer match has played a role in the confidence I have carried into the new season,” he said. “But I think it has had more to do with the Davis Cup win which has given me the wind on my back. “From that moment on I felt very eager to come back to the court and play more matches because I felt that I could play my best tennis. “And it has proved to be correct and I am very satisfied to begin my season in a grand slam final.”

If he is to claim his second major title, Djokovic will have to get the better of someone he has long considered a friend after he and Murray came through the junior ranks together. And the 23-year-old from Belgrade admits it will be strange to be on the opposite side of the net in such a big occasion. “I don’t think we were planning to meet each other in a grand slam final when we were juniors,” he said. “But we were certainly dreaming of being in a final. “You could feel when we were 12, 13, 14 that we both had a great talent and the motivation to succeed. “I knew back then when I watched him play that he was going to become a top-five player.” The pair practised together in Perth around the Hopman Cup before coming to Melbourne but Djokovic is happy to put their friendship to one side, for a few hours at least.

“I sent him a text message after his semi-final win saying ‘it is the Perth final’ because we had practised there together. “We had fun. We played football there…he won, unfortunately. “It was a fun couple of weeks and I think we have reconnected with our friendship over the last 12 months. “But we have to forget about all of the that when we step out on to the court. “It’s business and I am sure he is going to be very eager to win a first grand slam title.”

29
Jan
11

Clijsters claims the Aussie Open crown in close nail(li na)-biter 3 setter.

Li Na had made history by becoming China’s first Grand Slam singles finalist and made a strong start, but Clijsters powered back to win 3-6 6-3 6-3. It is the first time that three-time US Open champion Clijsters has won a major title outside of New York. The 27-year-old has now won back-to-back Grand Slam titles and will rise to second in the world rankings. She made a typically fast start to Sunday’s final, reeling off the opening nine points in a row to grab an early break of serve as Li looked nervous in her first major final. But the Chinese ninth seed had repeatedly shown her fighting qualities over the past fortnight and headed into the final with an 11-0 record in 2011, and having beaten Clijsters to win the Sydney title on the eve of the tournament. She quickly settled into the rhythm of heavy hitting off both sides that had seen off world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals and began to dominate again. Three games in a row gave Li the first set, which she sealed with a rasping forehand winner past a stranded Clijsters, and the Belgian looked momentarily lost for answers. A double fault from Li gave Clijsters a much-needed break at the start of the second set and it prompted a run of four successive breaks as the momentum swung from side to side, with both women under huge pressure on serve. This time it was Clijsters who took the initiative with a run of five straight games as Li struggled to keep the error count down, but the Chinese player stopped the rot by breaking back with a blistering return to trail 2-1 in the decider. A nail-biting final set appeared to be unfolding but it was Li who buckled under the pressure, giving up another break of serve with a double fault and a wayward backhand in game four, and Clijsters pumped her fist as she closed in on victory.

When it was required, the former world number one showed her mettle with two quickfire holds of serve to stand on the brink of the title, before closing it out to love and dissolving into tears as the achievement began to sink in. “I’m a little shaky still,” said Clijsters, a beaten Melbourne finalist in 2004. “Li Na was definitely a very tough competitor. She really brought it to me at the start of the rallies. I was on the back foot and leaning back – I don’t like that. “The first set, I thought ‘Wow! This is going to fast for me!’ It was tough. I felt in the second set she was getting a bit nervous. I was just happy I was able to pull it off in the end.”

28
Jan
11

After watching Murray’s performance Novak must be feeling very confident.

Unfortuneately for Murray there are only three great tennis players on the ATP tour, and Murray is not one of them. At the top by himself is Nadal, (when he is healthy), followed by the aging Federer and the rising Djokovic. Murray is in the pack snipping at the heels of these three elite players, along with all the other wannabees.

In the first of the two semifinals played at Melbourne Park we saw a high quality intense confrontation between two mature contestants. The serving, the ground strokes, the shot making and the point construction was displayed at its highest level. By contrast today’s match between Murray and Ferrer was at best mediocre. David Ferrer is a great competitor but the only similarity he has with Federer is in the first two letters of his name. Yet Murray had difficulty in finding a consistent way to defeat him. His game was riddled with errors, compounded by poor shot choices. He was slow off the mark and seemed to employ more energy in his facial expressions than he did in retrieving the Ferrer shots. Unless he can take a giant leap forward and produce the quality of tennis he played twelve months ago, Sunday’s final will be a very one-sided affair.

 Murray needed all his fighting spirit as he toiled to a four-set win over David Ferrer to reach a second successive Australian Open final. The Briton, seeded fifth, won 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 7-6 (7-2) to set up a final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Murray produced an error-strewn performance in the face of Spaniard Ferrer’s class and relentless energy. But he battled back from the brink of a two-set deficit and is now one win away from a first Grand Slam title.

28
Jan
11

Pennetta & Dulko capture 2011 Aussie Open doubles title.

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta survived match points to beat Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko to win the Australian Open women’s doubles title. The top ranked pair, 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalists, struggled in the first set and trailed 5-4 in the second. But Argentine Dulko and her Italian partner powered back, and after a break at 3-1 in the decider, came through 2-6 7-5 6-1 in 131 minutes. The duo won seven titles last year but this was their first Grand Slam crown. “Last year was a great year, this year we are starting really good,” said Pennetta, who lost to the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova in the fourth round of the singles.

Dulko and Pennetta were blown away in the opening set against Russia’s Kirilenko and Azarenka of Belarus and then had to face match points at 5-4 in the second set. With Azaranka wasting chances for glory when serving for the match, the top seeds broke back and then won three games in a row to level the match at one set each. Dulko and Pennetta broke early in the decider and swiftly wrapped up the victory when Azarenka, a fourth-round loser to China’s Na Li in the singles, hit a backhand into the net.

The win means Dulko remains the world’s top-ranked doubles player while Pennetta stays second.

27
Jan
11

The Australian Open Junior semi-final match-ups were decided at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

World No 1 Jiri Vesely will take on Orange Bowl winner George Morgan while Luke Saville flies the flag for Australia against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the boys’ event. Second seed An-Sophie Mestach faces Caroline Garcia of France and Monica Puig takes on Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the girls’ singles. Vesely continued his smooth progress through the draw with a 62 62 win over American Mitchell Krueger but can expect a tougher match against Britain’s Morgan, who ground out a 57 62 63 victory over Jeson Patrombon of the Philippines. On probably the hottest day of the junior competition to date, Morgan needed all of his battling qualities to fend off a strong rally by Patrombon, who recovered from 40 in the third set to get back to 43. Morgan, kitted out in a black shirt, was looking tired after going to 108 in his previous match against Mate Delic but held his nerve to clinch victory with a fine forehand pass. “It was my only clean shirt,” Morgan said, “but I am definitely going to wear white tomorrow.” “It was probably one of my worst matches but I thought it’s probably the best I’ve fought this tournament, so it’s mostly my fight that won me the match. I was obviously getting a bit nervous towards the end and just wanted to make balls. It wasn’t the best standard but I was pleased the way I fought. It was a nice shot to finish.” “I’ve never had two such close matches (back-to-back) and fought through them like that so I am learning quite a lot and improving mentally.”

Australian Saville beat Lucas Pouille of France 75 75 while sixth seed Carballes Baena took out American Mac Styslinger 63 62. No 2 seed Mestach saw off Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 62 63 while eighth seed Garcia of France was too strong for fourth seed Irina Khromacheva, winning through 61 63. The remaining semi-final will be between fifth seed Puig, a 75 62 winner over American Christina Makarova, and No 14 Bouchard, who continued to storm through the draw by beating Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 62 63. Until Thursday, Bouchard had dropped no more than three games in any match but though she let slip a couple more against Schmiedlova, she was in complete control and could be the favourite to win the title. The 16-year-old Canadian trained with Andre Agassi’s former fitness trainer, Gil Reyes, and his old coach Darren Cahill, before Christmas as part of the Adidas Development Programme. And the hard works seems to be reaping rewards. “Every day, I did about two hours in the gym with Gil,” she said. “I did a lot of stretching and strengthening work. He is a really good motivator and I learned a lot about other things like how to eat well and look after myself. I did weights, squats and footwork drills and then I’d play tennis after. I was really sore every day but it’s paid off. I feel stronger and I can hit the ball harder.” When she first visited Las Vegas last March, Bouchard even had the pleasure of meeting Andre Agassi and hitting with his wife, the former world No 1 Steffi Graf. Not surprisingly, she hopes she gets the chance to go back. “I hit with Steffi for like half an hour, which was a great experience,” she said. “She blew me off the court, it was so tough. She is still hitting the ball amazingly well.” And Bouchard revealed that the German had given her a few tips. “I was training with Darren Cahill on the court and working out next to Fernando Verdasco. But Steffi said to work hard – she is the strict German type – so she just told me to work hard and keep believing you can do it.”

27
Jan
11

With both Nadal and Federer gone Murray’s chance for a Slam title has never been better….but he can’t afford to look ahead!

Andy Murray will attempt to reach a second consecutive Australian Open final and close on a first major title when he faces David Ferrer on Friday. The British number one will be appearing in his fifth Grand Slam semi-final, with a repeat of last year’s final against Roger Federer the prize. Murray must first overcome the Spanish seventh seed, who accounted for top seed Rafael Nadal in the last eight. And Ferrer goes into the semi-final with a 3-2 record against Murray. However, all three Ferrer victories have come on clay and the 28-year-old has never taken a set off Murray on hard courts, with the Briton winning their last encounter 6-2 6-2 at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last November. I need to receive really good because Andy has a very good first serve. It’s very important for me return very good in the match. “He’s a great player. He’s been around a long time at the top of the game. He’s very, very consistent, in great shape, moves very well, does everything well, so it’s a very, very tough game to call.”

Murray has been in good form in Melbourne, dropping his first set of the tournament in a four-set win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals, but the Scot knows that the real test starts now. And, as ever, he carries the added weight of expectation from a nation still waiting for a successor to Fred Perry, Britain’s last male Grand Slam singles champion back in 1936. “I think there’s pressure,” said the 23-year-old from Dunblane. “I’m sure the next match might be a bit different [to the quarter-final], the pressure, but I obviously want to try and reach the final and, if I get there, go on to win the tournament.

27
Jan
11

Li Na said: ‘I am so happy to be the first Chinese player to be in a final – I didn’t sleep very well last night, my husband Shan Jiang was snoring and I was waking up every hour.’

Li Na beat world No 1 and top seed Caroline Wozniacki to become the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. I’m in the final: China’s Li Na celebrates after beating world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Li rallied to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, saving match point when Wozniacki was serving at 5-4 in the second set. Wozniacki, playing at a major for the first time as world No 1, had match point at 5-4 and 40-30 in the second set before Li rallied. Another 66 minutes later, Li served and won on her first match point.

Li lost to Serena Williams in two tiebreak sets in the semifinals here last year in her previous best run at a major. Her trip to the final is just another first for Li, who was the first Chinese player to win a tour-level title and the first to enter the top 10. She is also the first player from Asia to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Asked what motivated her comeback, she deadpanned: ‘Prize money.’

Li looked down and out after the first set, when she made 17 unforced errors and struggled for consistency. She finished with 51 unforced errors, but that was a reflection of her pushing Wozniacki to the extremes. She said it was important for the development of tennis in China, and joked that it could give the sport some profile for more than a month. ‘Good for my tennis career. Good for me; good for my team. Maybe good for China tennis,’ she said. ‘Of course this is good experience for my whole life, because many player, they play long time, but they never come to the final for a Grand Slam. ‘Today I get it, so feeling I can do well in next two days.’ Wozniacki could have ended the match in 1 hour, 29 minutes but Li hit a forehand down the line, forcing an error and saving match point. It sparked a revival. She broke in that game to make it 5-5, held at love and then broke her Danish rival’s serve again – after Wozniacki three times had game points to force a tiebreaker – to make it even at one set apiece. They traded breaks twice in the third set before Li held her nerve to finish it off when Wozniacki miscued a forehand.

The 20-year-old Wozniacki was under pressure from her opening match in Australia, with critics questioning the legitimacy of the No 1 ranking she gained last October despite her never having won a major. Wozniacki ensured she’ll retain top spot ranking by reaching the semi-finals but lamented: ‘I had a match point and I didn’t take it. Sometimes in tennis it’s one ball that can change everything. ‘I didn’t get my match point. From then on, well, she was just better at the most important points – she won the most important one, which was the last one. ‘It’s quite difficult to get through this one … Hopefully I’ll get many more chances in the future.’

27
Jan
11

Novak defeats Federer in straight sets to take his place in the 2011 final.

Novak Djokovic claimed his second successive Grand Slam semi-final win over reigning champion Roger Federer to reach the final of the Australian Open. The Serb, who beat Federer at the US Open in September, saw off the 16-time Grand Slam champion 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 6-4 in the first semi-final in Melbourne. And for the first time since Australia in 2008, a Grand Slam final will not feature Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. That was the year that Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win his only major title to date, and then too he had ended Federer’s hopes in the semi-finals.

This latest defeat ends a run of superb form from Federer that followed his five-set loss to Djokovic in New York four months ago, and included victory at the Tour Finals in London and in Doha at the start of this year. Djokovic made a nervous start to Thursday’s match, double-faulting twice as he offered up a break point in the opening game only to gather himself and see it off with a fine forehand. The next 45 minutes saw precious little to choose between either man as both dominated on serve in a high-quality battle that had the packed night-time crowd enthralled on Rod Laver Arena. It was Djokovic who made the initial breakthrough as he took command in the tie-break, grabbing the first mini-break at 2-1 and consolidating it with another after a heavy forehand into the corner for 5-2. The third seed netted a backhand on his first set point but Federer returned the compliment on the following point, and Djokovic headed to the chair to the sound of the large Serb contingent celebrating noisily. If the first set had been an exhibition of serving dominance, the second would be the complete opposite. Djokovic let out a huge roar when he converted his first break point of the match at 1-1, successive backhand errors letting Federer down, and the Swiss appeared rattled as he muttered to umpire Enric Molina at the changeover about the Serb’s team coaching him from the stands . Now a set and a break down, the four-time Australian Open champion needed to find a way back into the match but, in the event, Djokovic handed it to him with a sloppy game that gave the break straight back for 2-2. And the momentum shifted, seemingly definitively, in Federer’s favour when he played a superb defensive point to break once again for a 4-2 lead, before seeing off two more break points in the following game – the second with the bravest of lob volleys that left Djokovic sprawled on the court. But the 29-year-old Swiss failed to serve out the set two games later after Djokovic chased down a poor drop shot and guided a forehand down the line to break back, and incredibly he then regained his earlier advantage by breaking for the third time when Federer sliced a backhand into the bottom of the net.

There was to be no wavering when Djokovic served for the set and he sealed it with a blistering backhand winner down the line, prompting Federer to head disconsolately off court, presumably as much to clear his head as take advantage of a bathroom break. It apparently had some effect as the world number two returned to launch another assault on the Djokovic serve, but the Serb staved off three break points with some heavy serving and then set about finishing the job. Again it was the Federer backhand that let him down when successive errors on that side gave Djokovic a potentially decisive break at 2-1, but the Swiss grabbed a lifeline to level at 4-4 when a net cord sat up for him to steer away a forehand winner. The serving superiority of the first set was long forgotten by now, though, and Djokovic’s breathless movement behind the baseline earned him three more break points at 0-40 in the next game, with Federer netting a backhand on the third. After nearly three hours, Djokovic arrived at the moment of truth as he served for the match, overcoming a nervous double-fault at the start and two missed opportunities on match points to convert his third with a service winner.




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