AO 12.5 - Has Anyone Seen The Radwanska?
Well, it's less than twenty-four hours until the women's final. So far, there have been no repercussions as a result of me essentially saying that this AO is now immune to being upset any further by The Radwanska.
And, no, Roger Federer losing to Andy Murray doesn't count as a Rad-influenced result. Truthfully, it's not that big of a surprise at the moment. Really, no player is more of a poster child in tennis right now for the benefits of a coaching change and increased workout regimen than the totally-rebuilt-from-the-ground-up Murray. Well, that is, unless Li Na wins the women's title tomorrow. Then SHE'D be in that discussion, as well. But Li's not likely to be in contention for the #1 ranking in 2013. If he wins this AO, which would be his second straight major title (both preceded by Olympic Gold, as well) Murray just might be.
Boy, did I NEVER think I'd be saying something like that at this time last year.
The Scot surely looked all the bit like a TWO-time slam champ on Friday night (of course, Novak Djokovic looked like a four-time AO winner vs. David Ferrer, too, the other night) in dispatching Federer in sometimes-dominant form, though the match ultimately went five sets -- and four hours -- after Federer won a pair of tie-break sets. Murray was in command most of the night on the strength of a magnificent serve and an aggressive (yes, from Murray) offensive brand of tennis, save for unwisely going for an overhead smash at 5-5 in the 2nd set tie-break on a Federer ball that was going to go long (and then not putting the ball away and seeing the Swiss hit a backhand passing shot to get to his own set point), and then wavering just enough in the 4th set to let Federer back in the match and force a 5th. But Murray, a totally different tennis monster on the big stage than he was twelve months ago, dominated the deciding set, physically overpowering Federer and not melting mentally in any way, shape or form.
Yes, after weathering a slow start and having a little faith in the process, having Ivan Lendl in your corner CAN make a huge difference. Li, who had immediate success last summer with Carlos Rodriguez on her side, surely can attest to the transformation that new coaching can bring when it comes to changing/resurrecting a player's hopes, as well.
Tis a pity players born in Denmark, especially those who not that long ago were being compared to Murray in terms of game style and grand slam futility, don't have similar proclivities, don't you think? Oh, well.
=DAY 12 NOTES=
...the first champions of this AO have been crowned, and they are Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci. The top-seeded Italian pair took out Aussie Cinderellas Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua in three sets on Friday in the Women's Doubles final. They've now won three-quarters of a Career Slam over the past eight months, having picked up titles at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open last season.
The Aussie woman still have one player alive in this tournament, though, as Jarmila Gajdosova & Matthew Edben advanced to the Mixed Doubles final. They'll face Lucie Hradecka & Frantisek Cermak.
...in junior play, Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl champ Ana Konjuh (CRO), the #3 seed, took out unseeded Hordette Elizaveta Kulichkova in the Girls semifinals on Day 12. In the other semi, Czech Katerina Siniakova (#2) defeated #10 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.
Konjuh defeated Siniakova, in the semifinals and final, en route to both her Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl titles late last year.
Konjuh has the chance to match Taylor Townsend's sweep of the Girls singles and doubles titles last year in Melbourne, as she and Canada's Carol Zhou defeated Okeksandra Korashvili (UKR) & Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) to claim the Girls Doubles today.
In Boys play, Aussies Jay Andrijic & Bradley Mousley took the doubles crown, and a pair of Australians -- Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis -- will face off in the singles final, too.
...in Wheelchair play, #1 seed Aniek van Koot, the Dutch woman favored to "fill in" as champion for absent-from-Melbourne countrywoman Esther Vergeer in the women's WC competition, has fulfilled half that expectation so far. Today, she and fellow Dutch player Jiske Griffioen took the doubles title. van Koot will next face #2-seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany in the singles final.
...DAY 12 "LIKE":
-- that -- glory be! -- I'm really starting to like Murray. And all it took was for him to want it as much as he SHOULD. Imagine that.
...DAY 12 "PREDICTABLY TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT":
-- ESPN's ads for the women's final are mostly focusing on the "controversy" generated by Vika Azarenka's medical timeout -- or "freak-out avoiding time out," if you like -- rather than the fact that the #1-ranked player in the world will be playing to hold onto her ranking AND defend her maiden slam crown. The ad even goes so far as to include Patrick McEnroe's "bush league" comment in the voiceover.
Tonight, McEnroe continued on with another of his dog-that-won't-let-go-of-a-bone jaunts by managing to gripe about Azarenka leaving the court in the middle of a set rather than after it DURING THE FEDERER/MURRAY MATCH in between the 4th and 5th sets. Yeah, NO PLAYER has EVER gone off court in the middle of a set before Vika did it. Sloane Stephens knows that, noting about Vika's break, "It's happened before. I mean, I've had it in the last match, the match before, medical breaks, go to the bathroom, the whole showdown." Maybe she should talk to P-Mac.
Well, whatever gins up interest, I guess. If it bleeds, it leads.
On the bright side, at least McEnroe has something to bleat on about now other than the sounds Azarenka makes on the court. Although, I'm sure he'll manage to slip that into his commentary tomorrow, as well.
...and, finally, quite naturally, I'm still alive in all of my Australian Open champion picks... except for the only one that really "matters" here, the women's singles (at least Carla still has Li alive in the final -- and I'm still not sure why Carl didn't go with Azarenka, considering he DID correctly pick Vika to win in Melbourne last year).
Let's see, I had Murray to win the Men's. In the juniors, I picked Siniakova to take out Konjuh in the Girls final (so far, so good), and I had Kyrgios winning the title for the Boys.
But I'm fine with either Vika or Li winning the women's crown. So while The Radwanska might THINK It has laughed best at this AO, It won't be laughing last. Ha!
(Shhhh... hopefully, The Rad in already en route to Its next battlefield and didn't hear any of that.)
*WOMEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#1 Victoria Azarenka/BLR vs. #6 Li Na/CHN
*MEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #3 Andy Murray/GBR
*WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#1 Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) def. Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) 6-2/3-6/6-2
*MEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#1 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) vs. Haase/Sijsling (NED/NED)
*MIXED DOUBLES FINAL*
Hradecka/Cermak (CZE/CZE) vs. Gajdosova/Ebden (AUS/AUS)
*GIRLS SINGLES FINAL*
#3 Ana Konjuh/CRO vs. #2 Katerina Siniakova/CZE
*BOYS SINGLES FINAL*
#3 Nick Kyrgios/AUS vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis/AUS
*GIRLS DOUBLES FINAL*
#1 Konjuh/Zhao (CRO/CAN) def. #6 Korashvili/Krejcikova (UKR/CZE) 5-7/6-4/10-7
*BOYS DOUBLES FINAL*
Andrijic/Mousley (AUS/AUS) def. Marterer/Mielder (GER/AUT) 6-3/7-6
*WOMEN's WC FINAL*
#1 Aniek van Koot/NED vs. #2 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
*MEN's WC FINAL*
#1 Stephane Houdet/FRA vs. #2 Shingo Kunieda/JPN
*WOMEN's WC DOUBLES FINAL*
#1 Griffioen/van Koot (NED/NED) def. #2 Shuker/Buis (GBR/NED) 6-4/6-3
*MEN's WC DOUBLES FINAL*
#2 Jeremiasz/Kunieda (FRA/JPN) def. Olsson/Kellerman (SWE/AUS) 6-0/6-1
*SLAM TITLES AT AGE 30+*
3...Martina Navratilova (2 at 30, 1 at 33)
3...Margaret Court (2 at 30, 1 at 31)
2...Billie Jean King (30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert (30 & 31)
2...Serena Williams (30)
1...Virginia Wade (31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones (30)
NOTE: Li Na is 30
**AUSTRALIAN OPEN GIRLS FINALS - since 2000**
2000 Aniko Kapros/HUN def. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez/ESP
2001 Jelena Jankovic/SRB def. Sofia Arvidsson/SWE
2002 Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE def. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2003 Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE def. Victoriya Kutuzova/UKR
2004 Shahar Peer/ISR def. Nicole Vaidisova/CZE
2005 Victoria Azarenka/BLR def. Agnes Szavay/HUN
2006 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
2007 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Madison Brengle/USA
2008 Arantxa Rus/NED def. Jessica Moore/AUS
2009 Ksenia Pervak/RUS def. Laura Robson/GBR
2010 Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Laura Robson/GBR
2011 An-Sophie Mestach/BEL def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Taylor Townsend/USA def. Yulia Putintseva/RUS
2013 Katerina Siniakova/CZE vs. Ana Konjuh/CRO
**AO DOUBLES CHAMPIONS - since 2000**
2000 Lisa Raymond & Rennae Stubbs
2001 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2002 Martina Hingis & Anna Kournikova
2003 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2004 Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suarez
2005 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Alicia Molik
2006 Yan Zi & Zheng Jie
2007 Cara Black & Liezel Huber
2008 Alona Bondarenko & Kateryna Bondarenko
2009 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2010 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2011 Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
2012 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Vera Zvonareva
2013 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
TOP QUALIFIER: #1q Lesia Tsurenko/UKR
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Cagla Buykakcay/TUR d. Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA 4-6/6-2/10-8
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - Laura Robson/GBR d. #8 Petra Kvitova/CZE 2-6/6-3/11-9
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - #29 Sloane Stephens/USA d. #3 Serena Williams/USA 3-6/7-5/6-4
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): xx
TOP LAVER NIGHT MATCH: 2nd Rd. - Laura Robson/GBR d. #8 Petra Kvitova/CZE 2-6/6-3/11-9
FIRST VICTORY: #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS (def. O.Puchkova/RUS)
FIRST SEED OUT: #32 Mona Barthel/GER (lost to K.Pervak/KAZ in 1st Rd.)
UPSET QUEENS: Russia
REVELATION LADIES: United States
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Australia (1-6 in 1st Rd.; 1-7 overall)
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Lesia Tsurenko/UKR & Valeria Savinykh/RUS (3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Madison Keys/USA (3rd Rd.)
LAST AUSSIE STANDING: #9 Samantha Stosur (2nd Rd.)
Ms. OPPORTUNITY: #29 Sloane Stephens/USA
IT (Fortysomething): Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN (at 42, oldest AO MD match winner)
COMEBACK PLAYER: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
CRASH & BURN: #9 Samantha Stosur/AUS (lost to J.Zheng in 2nd Round; led 5-2 in 3rd and served for match at 5-2 and 5-4)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #10 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN (down 3-0 in the 3rd set vs. Lisicki in 1st Rd.; had lost back-to-back 1st Rd. slam matches)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Laura Robson/GBR (def. Kvitova in 2nd Rd.; third win over former slam winner at last two slams)
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Errani/Vinci, J.Gajdosova
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Nominees: A.Konjuh, K.Siniakova
All for Day 12. More tomorrow.