Saturday, 24 January 2009

2Hander's Take: First Week (OK minus 1 day but I couldn't wait!)

Although there has been a lot of exciting tennis in this much-awaited Aussie Open, there have not been many surprises - which in many ways is a good for me because things are going the way people have been predicting...thusfar!

The biggest upset so far has to be the departure of Venus Williams after being outplayed by an inspired Carla Suarez-Navarro. I wasn't really expecting much from David 'Nally The Elephant' Nalbandian and nor from Ivanovic! Btw, WHAT is she doing in the Top 10?!?! You may think I'm being harsh but apart from a sometimes decent forehand, what is there to her game?! She clenches her first, throws her leg up and swings around at going 15-0 up (meaning at trivial points) as though she has just won the final round of hopscotch before the lunchtime break bell goes at a school playground!!

I would go as far as to say that if it wasn't for her looks, there would be nowhere near the media hype that currently surrounds her. OK, she's done a bit more than Kournikova in that she has actually won a tournament (and a Slam at that!)!! It must be said that Sharapova has actually delivered at the highest level, but even she has started to fade into the background - although mainly due to injury.

It has also been nice seeing Dokic re-emerge back onto the scene. I still remember the (then) feisty 16 year-old qualifier thrashing Hingis in the first round of Wimby '99. I am sure that the home support is also going a long way in helping her.

So far, the match I have most enjoyed was Safin-Federer. Although the big Russian was a shadow of himself four years ago, there was still some of the old Marat Magic that warmed the hearts of the Wimby crowd last year. I didn't expect Safin to test Fed that much, like take sets off him. In fact, the match reminded me a lot of their Wimby 2007 encounter where Marat only decided to play properly in the third set! Once again, the first two sets had a lot of Marat losing the will to live by throwing his arms up in the air after almost every other point.

In 2005, it was the sheer consistency and intensity of every single point that led him to beat an 'at his peak' Federer. Yesterday, there were only flashes of brilliance here and there in the first two sets. That said, the scoreline looks worse than it actually was. I also took the time out to watch some of Safin destroying Sampras (OK, not at his peak, but certainly not down and out!) at the 2000 US Open final. I would like to see Safin beat an in-form Nadal and perhaps Murray (cos he actually can), like he has done so with Fed and Nole. He hasn't even fulfilled half his potential I feel. Ah well...Alas! Quite scary when you think he's only a year older than Ye Olde Fed!

On a positive, I think the Fed could be back to his near-best! Forehand was almost flawless (OK, a few went into the net, but hey), backhand was looking good as well, very good serving. However, he still NEEDS to get his volleying back up to scratch if he's to win a few Slams this year!! In addition, our resident Muhammad Ali lookalike, Jo-Wifried Tsonga, has also not been as lethal at the net compared to last year. In fact, he's hardly coming in...what gives, Jo?! Still, his forehand is fantastic, his backhand slightly less so and his serving has been lightning quick. However, Sela was not such a pushover - he has some nice strokes and great touch at the net. Top, take note of his single backhand!

I haven't seen any of the Gonzo-Gasket match (damned work!!!)! However, it seems as though it was a classic - one of those Aussie Open epics that go into the wee hours of the morning. There's always at least one every year without fail. It seems as though Monsieur Reesharr may well be turning out to be quite the resident choker (what's the French for that?!?!). Sorry Rich, not much sympathy for you here...

And I wonder if Gonzo can beat Nadal once more, that should be a cracker - in fact, the 4th round should have SO many crackers, people might think it's Bonfire Night!!! See for yourselves:

Anyway, hopefully more ramblings in the days to come...ENJOY!!! ;)

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