Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Australian Open 2010 Day 11 Open Thread

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27:  Andy Murray of Great Britain signs autographs for fans after a practice session during day ten of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.
Getty

Andy Murray
of Great Britain signs autographs for fans after a practice session during day ten of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.

::

Some call her the Fierce Stomping Diva. I call her Serena the Great. Whatever you call her, there's no question that she's the queen of comebacks Down Under. Last night, when ESPN flashed a graphic listing all of Serena's great come-from-behind wins at the Australian Open, I saw in one shot why I fell for the never-say-die champion.

After falling behind a set and 4-0 to Victoria Azarenka, I didn't believe she had another one in her. But she clicked in, Azarenka blinked, and that was all she wrote.

One of Serena's most irrational Internet critics once called Serena pure evil. He holds an interesting theory that she plans such comebacks on purpose in order to crush the spirit of the opponent and to maintain a mental advantage over said opponent moving forward.

Even I don't give Serena that much credit. I mean, really. If Serena is that calculating, if she has that much confidence in her abilities to execute such a calculation, then she's a badder bitch than I could have ever imagined falling for.

Here's hoping she won't need to pull off any more great escapes at this event. Once advancing past the quarterfinals in Melbourne, she has always won the event. I'm picking her over Li Na in straight sets.

As much as I'm happy to see two Chinese players in the final four of a Slam for the first time, and at the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific, no less, I'm going to give Zheng Jie a 10% chance to overcome the cheating Justine Henin, who'll blast returns by Zheng and advance in straight sets.

As for the men, I'm thinking Marin Cilic is finally going to make Andy Murray play more than three sets Down Under. And I think the cerebral giant is going to win and advance to his first Grand Slam final.

Mad Professah's picks are here and here.

Who you got?

Order Of Play For Thursday, 28 January 2010

Rod Laver Arena 11:00 Start Time

1. Men's Doubles - Semifinals
Ivo Karlovic(CRO)/Dusan Vemic(SRB) v. Daniel Nestor(CAN)[2]/Nenad Zimonjic(SRB)[2]


Not Before:13:30*

2. Women's Singles - Semifinals
Serena Williams (USA)[1] v. Na Li (CHN)[16]
3. Women's Singles - Semifinals
Justine Henin (BEL) v. Jie Zheng (CHN)

Rod Laver Arena 19:30 Start Time

1. Men's Singles - Semifinals
Marin Cilic (CRO)[14] v. Andy Murray (GBR)[5]


::

*(Before folks go off on the order of the women's semifinals, Serena has a doubles match to play later in the day, so she has to play first. Even with the shorter turnaround, it's the right schedule.)

108 comments:

Pamela said...

I'm happy that more people are starting to call out what has been obvious to fans (and those same commentators/analysts) for years. The ladies of the WTA don't just play her, they play her and her coach.

That aside, I think she will take out Zheng but probably not as easily as we think. Zheng has such compact strokes - she's as sturdy as they come. (Not sure about mentally)

Serena's biggest obstacle will be her health I believe. Long doubles match the day before yesterday, long singles match and playing again today in both singles and doubles.

I'm guessing the final will be an American and a Belgian.

Oh, and Serena falling behind on purpose to mentally dominate? Wow.

lilac said...

I just don't know if Serena can recover; sadly. Jheng could pull a Bartoli, but I doubt it. Looks like Henin and her coach are taking the title. And her enshrining by the establishment will be unbearable. I picked Venus, and she had the form to take the AO, but she got over anxious yesterday. I thought that's what happened, and she admitted she was over eager and beat herself.

Karen said...

it still sucks :)
that is a bold prediction regarding Murray/Cilic. Somehow I am thinking that this Grand Slam is Murray's to lose. I think if he plays Cilic the way he played Nadal and if he gets to the final and he brings it like he did against Nadal, he can do it.

Craig said...

Karen, I've been making a few bold predictions that haven't panned out (Baghdatis, anyone?), but so be it.

Murray won't be able to play Cilic like he played Rafa. It's a completely different matchup, mentally and tennis-wise.

Murray may also have a let down. Lest we forget, he's not toughest cat out there.

Cilic's serve isn't unbreakable, by any means, but he tends to break himself more than his opponents do. He will hold serve more comfortably than Rafa and he'll play a whole lot better than Isner did. And while many were surprised when Cilic dispatched Murray at the US Open, it really wasn't that surprising. What Andy Roddick said of Cilic's game after their match is spot on. He's calm and measured and tactical, he won't retreat from the baseline, he moves great for a big guy, and his mere presence on the court is tough to handle. I'm not sure he'll have the guts to pass the test, but that's why they play the matches.

We'll see.

bambam said...

All hail Queen Serena. Love that woman!

b said...

I do have a problem w- the schedule anyway. Why are both women's semis today - instead of one tomorrow? and why are both during the day? the other women's match could be at night..... I hate the way the men are always billed as the main attraction with the women as the sideshow.... and no, ratings don't justify it..... the most watched matches have been women's matches.... despite the men's being best of 5 (and thus usually lasting longer and allowing more people to tune in)

Craig said...

The women's final is played during the day. If I were a player, I'd want the conditions of my semifinal and final to be played in the same conditions.

I actually think the men's scheduling is worse. One semifinal is played the day before the other, which means one winner gets more rest and/or is more out of rhythm for the final than the other and both semifinals are played at night while the final is played during the day.

Add to that the potential length of a best-of-five encounter, and well....

As far as I'm aware, there's always a point in the draw where the women in one half of the draw have to play on back-to-back days. That's what a best-of-three vs. best-of-five format dictates.

Aziz said...

Serena in straight.

Zheng in three.

lilac said...

Craig, I just don't think Serena The Great will hold up physically. *sniff* *sniff*

Craig said...

Edit: the women's final is actually played at night. I got my Slams mixed up.

Dapxin said...

ye yo ppl. morning.

Dapxin said...

Na Li must be kept on a tight leech.

morning all.

Craig said...

Serena's keeping points short. Not putting in a whole lot of effort on return games when she falls behind in the score.

Smart.

Craig said...

Yo, Dap. Serena's focused. If she stays that way, she wins. If not, she loses.

Dapxin said...

by the way craig, did you make that stuff up ? that evil Serenacomebackbitchnism theory ?

Its kinda out of this word. disbelief painted...

Craig said...

She's getting tight here.

Craig said...

No, Dap. I didn't make it up.

I'm sure a lurker or two here could chime in with confirmation if they so chose.

::

Serena, HIT your serve.

lilac said...

Serena's hurting. She cannot move.

Craig said...

She had chances for insurance breaks. She had set points. And now she's fighting again to close out a set.

Karen said...

She wants it too much and she is tired.

Craig said...

Serena's tighter than a drum.

Dapxin said...

this is sad.

Craig said...

I really can't give Serena excuses for being tired, y'all. She chose her schedule. She chose to play doubles. If she feels as though she can defend both titles wrapped up like a mummy, than that's what she feels.

But wanting it too much and tightening up seem far more reasonable for this mini-breakdown.

Li Na is a pitbull and Serena let her back in.

Now she has to fight.

Dapxin said...

no! tiredness is bullox.

you stand out. you play.

Karen said...

If she loses the first set, if she wants it enough she either steps it u in set 2 or she succumbs

lilac said...

She realizes now she can't conserve. She has to go for it. Li Na is confident as hell right now...

lilac said...

Venus is one beautiful woman. Cheekbones for days...

Dapxin said...

Na Li is seriously not that good.

Is she?

Karen said...

oh yeah there is no doubt that she wants this -second serve ace - serving from the sunny side

b said...

what a topsy turvy set & tie-break

glad serena hung in there

Dapxin said...

talk of wobblying thru....

Pamela said...

I applaud the effort. It can't be easy to do what she's doing, whether she chose to participate in two events and try to defend those titles from last year or not. It took a bit longer than I would (and I'm sure her too) would have liked, but she got through it.

Hope the 2nd is smoother and much quicker.

Michael said...

She knows how to make a move. I wish I could just turn on the gas in a tiebreak like she does.

b said...

@craig

"Edit: the women's final is actually played at night. I got my Slams mixed up."

Well that's what I remember..... and isn't the women's final usually saturday night and the men's sunday? When's the women's doubles final Friday or saturday? The scheduling could be a lot better - how about women's doubles final sunday to complement the men's final?

And why is cara black playing her semi on show court 2 while the boring slow ugly old fogies (ahem legends) are playing after the men on rod laver tonight

Craig said...

Pamela, you know I applaud the effort. And I understand she's lacking energy for many reasons, but she's on the court and she's got to fight through it all, keep her focus, and close this out in two.

But the pit bull isn't going to make it easy.

Dap, I think Li Na is better than she appears at first glance. Her talent is deceiving. Always has been because she's not flashy, but she moves well, hits a clean ball, and fights. If she had a serve, and could stay healthy (injuries have derailed her quite a lit in her career) she'd be a perennial fixture in the Top 10.

oddman said...

Re: Craig's comments about posters saying Serena does this kind of thing on purpose (let an opponent get a lead, then crush their spirit, to paraphrase) - don't know about that, but I have read posters say similar things about Rafa - that he deliberately lets Fed get ahead in some of their claycourt matches, then comes up with the goods to 'crush his spirit'. I can't see either of them doing this kind of thing on purpose. The sooner you can win a match and dominate your opponent, the better it is for you, no?

Karen said...

She is pressing too much on Na's service games and making too many UFEs. If she continues to hold serve, then all she has to do is put pressure on Na

b said...

@ craig cont.

Clearly the contemporaries of the aforementioned boring slow ugly old fogies are the ones setting the schedules and their minds are clearly still yearning for the "good ole days" when, among other things, women played only on the outer courts and didn't get prize money....

They are not in tune at all to what interests their contemporary audience, both tv and stadium

Pamela said...

Craig, I know what you're saying. I was just expressing my pride at her desire driving her to fight through all of her issues. I think she's trying.

I really wish this was over. No need to let Na Li continue to hang on giving her confidence to make this far more difficult than it has to be.

Craig said...

One blink in this service game and Serena is facing break point.

That's how good Li is, Dap. She'll hurt you if you let her.

b said...

Is that man in the Federeresque warmup (minus RF logo) Na Li's coach? I thought she was coached by hubby and that's not him.....

Seems he might be letting her know when to challenge....

Regardless seems match is heating up now

What do S&V have against making use of the challenge system?

Dapxin said...

surreptitiousLi then ?

b said...

up 5-4 C'MON SERENA!!!!!!

She should close this out but I know Li does not want to let this match go

Dapxin said...

Just br8 her now. break china :)

plz girl.

Craig said...

Serena, hit a winner. She's not going to give it to you.

She's already saved match points in this event.

Craig said...

Serena is choking again. That forehand return was for the birds.

Craig said...

So was that backhand return.

Dapxin said...

I was cringing all the time. spits!

Craig said...

Serena is actually taking this pitbull for granted.

b said...

Li saved 3 match points!

Dapxin said...

disgrace.
ffs! she got no biz playing any more tennis. jeeeeeesus!

Craig said...

Hats off to Li Na. She's fighting like a champion. A lot of players would have double faulted on one of those match points.

Craig said...

Serena needs to hit the ball more up the middle of the court and stay away from the backhand.

10 games in women's tennis without a break of serve.

I can't remember the last time I typed that.

Craig said...

Venus played not to lose yesterday and lost anyway.

Serena, beware.

Dapxin said...

the longer this grows.
the nearerevil beckons.
NaLi-vil.

Craig said...

Serena is waiting for an error on match point.

Craig said...

Serena looks like she's about to die out there.

b said...

what's up w- serena's breathing?

Dapxin said...

tip of d hat to miss Li.

she wants it. too. badly

Michael said...

Yet somehow, she's stayed in that 6-5 game in the second set for a long time! Tiebreak #2... can she lift her game at the right time again?

Dapxin said...

Na Li looks like a freed criminal from prison 10.

Dapxin said...

I wish I could do everyone's blood pressure - serena's fans, that is.

I am sure its a notch up-ped..

Michael said...

I have my answer. An emphatic 7-1 yes indeed. Serena to the finals!

Dapxin said...

NaLi's deconstructed herself subconsciously.

Serena's done.

halleluyah

Karen said...

She would not be denied. Not denied. She is intent on equalling BJK, her idol. No wonder BJK is in Melbourne this year. Fantastic effort by Li. She has nothing to be ashamed of. She played very well.

Pamela said...

Wooooooooooooooooooo!! She did it. I'm so happy for my girl.

Yay!!!!

I hope Zheng keeps Henin on court for 3 sets for like 5 hours until Carillo and Enberg can't talk anymore. Yes, I'm evil - I know. :)

b said...

wow - that was dramatic! great match...... the funny part is that even though she lost it seemed as if Li Na was bossing serena for most of the 2nd set

was seriously concerned for serena's health at the end - didn't know if it was nerves, an asthma attack, low blood sugar or heat exhaustion

Dapxin said...

no.

Na Li's head should be up.
==========
From the BBC:

TV stats from China of this game. 1Billion+.

Serena's not gonna be loved much down there. sadly :)

lilac said...

@Dap, funny -- "break china."
No breaking the china. Serena's a good girl.

Pamela said...

On another note: I'm extremely proud of Na Li. She's always been one of my favorites and people always ask me why. Some fans think you can only be players of winners or big match winners, but there's a great deal beneath the surface of Na Li - she's awesome. Read her pressers sometimes .. not just the slams. She's very outspoken and I love that. Anyway, she did me proud as well.

I hope she remains healthy this year.

Dapxin said...

1Billion+ chineese are cursing her or something down there in China.

Thats not breaking. that's messing...LOL.

I am so glad. Now lets do either Belgium or China in the finals.

this was a great game afterall. 9nite all.

Craig said...

That might have been the best match of the year on the women's side.

Two sets. Two breaks of serve. No breaks for an entire set.

And some intense, intense points in the second set.

Michael said...

The match stats show Li with a 204 KMH fastest serve, far above Serena's 188 KMH. This seems fishy. Serena's average first serve was higher (171 to 155).

Li's fastest against Venus was 168KHM and Venus's was 201.

Matt said...

Zheng's secret weapon: tube of Zovirax!

lilac said...

I'm with you, Pam. I've always liked Li. I was glad to see this. I hope she keeps it up.

b said...

Interesting interview w- amanda coetzer

I enjoyed it......

Unlike most, I don't think henin is playing anywhere near the best seen previously and Zheng will have plenty chances.... i past she hasn't seemed given to intimidation, but we'll see

lilac said...

Love the bow in Jheng's hair! Old school! Love it.

Craig said...

"Here's a lesson in cultural diplomacy.

"Zheng Jie, a native of earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province in China, is the first Chinese tennis player to make a Grand Slam semifinal, and the most successful wild card competitor in Wimbledon's history. She's a towering figure in Chinese sports, and yet Western broadcasters can't even say her name properly. In fact, sometimes, they are inadvertently calling her a prostitute or a chicken.

"I've been squirming on my couch for a few days listening to ESPN and NBC butcher the 24-year-old's name every 10 minutes. I don't expect your average American to get it right off the bat, but 2008 is the year of the Beijing Olympics, and the networks need to be on their game when it comes to China. Some Wimbledon commentators claim they've been to Beijing to prepare for the games. Yet even the Wimbledon court announcer said her name properly while the commentators -- who clearly need to attend remedial Chinese name pronunciation school -- stammered.

"It would take an hour at most to grasp the pronunciation system, and then we could avoid reducing a language with thousands of years of history and more than a billion speakers to a bunch of garbled, quasi-French "j" sounds. Her name isn't Je je or Jeng jee. It's Jung ji-eh (with a hard "j" like "jump"). Jee or "ji" can mean "chicken," "prostitute," or even, ironically, "difficult to pronounce."

"Zheng lost to Serena Williams today, meaning that the Williams sisters will go at it on Saturday in the final and I'll be spared -- for the time being -- hearing her name butchered. The Chinese star plans to donate much of her Wimbledon prize money to victims of the Sichuan earthquake, as she did with her French Open third-round proceeds. According to the Boston Herald, the rest of the money will go toward the Chinese Tennis Association."

Source

lilac said...

This match is over.

Karen said...

Anyone watching the Henin match. I just went and had my bedtime shower and have switched the channel to Hallmark to watch Golden Girls so I am not watching it. Go Zheng. Need to get an early night tonight.

Craig said...

Pamela, I second your thoughts on Li Na.

Craig said...

Just read this on twitter. Serena was asked if doubles was too much for her:

"If I wasn't up for the challenge, I shouldn't have entered, so I'm ready for the challenge!"

lilac said...

Jheng's balls are landing deeper than Henin's.

Karen said...

Craig, she said it during her interview with Pam. I dont know if anyone else has noticed it but Serena this tournament has been very professional with the interviews that she has been giving to the media. Usually she is girly, flirty, promoting something or other, but this time around her answers are brief, she looks them straight in the eye and there is a certain amount of sarcasm attached to her answers as with tonight's response about doubles, as well as her comments to Mary Jo that she has been playing tennis for a long time so she should have an idea how to serve. Anyway, going to bed as poor Jie looks like she is going to get her heinie handed to her. I hope that Serena recovers well tomorrow and comes out of the blocks Saturday night ready to play.

Matt said...

What scorelibe did Bartoli come back from at Wimbledon?

Matt said...

I'm inside Rod Laver Arena watching the game live and a certain coach coach is giving hand signals like you wouldn't believe!!! I've been observing for the last 20 mins. This is a disgrace!

lilac said...

Really, Matt? So if Serena plays her tomorrow, he'll be coaching Henin through. Despicable.

Craig said...

Matt, Bartoli recovered from a set and 5-2 down if memory serves.

Pamela said...

How unfortunate.

Oh well, I hope Serena is rested and takes some treatment to try to recover for at least 24 hours before tackling the duo that just returned to tennis.

Default doubles! (probably won't but I'd be happy if they did)

b said...

If anyone needs a stream for the doubles check atdhe
http://atdhe.net/7635/watch-australian-open-raymond--stubbs-vs-williams-williams

b said...

oh my gosh they are struggling to close the doubles - from up 5-3 they are now 5-5..... yes, with match points lost

Craig said...

Anyone watching the men?

Karen said...

Morning Craig, just woke up and saw that Cilic had the first set and that they are going to the third now. Murray just took the second set. There was a very long deuce game at 4/2 on Cilic's serve but he held on. Murray not my cup of tea but this Cilic guy has cojones.

Craig said...

Cilic is running on fumes now and Murray is about to advance if he wins this service game.

I'll be rooting for the top half of the draw to win the title now.

Craig said...

Matt I'm almost certain they gave Li Na the service speed for one of Serena's serves. I saw a 204 register on Serena's serve and I was surprised when the commentators didn't say it was the fastest serve of the event.

Karen said...

So did anyone happen to watch Henin put the beatddown on poor Jie. Man, I watched about 5 minutes of it and all I could say was, damn, what a little rest and an opponent with no weapons can do to your confidence. Somehow I think that Kirilenko would have put up a bigger fight as she has a bigger serve. Jie was just out of her element last night and seemed only too happy to be in the semis of a major. The Sisters made it through to the final. I hope they retain that trophy. Somehow I think Serena will be motivated.

Karen said...

Has there ever been so much anticipation for a women's match. Not since Williams v. Williams 2001 has there been so much interest in women's tennis. LOL. Serena responded when asked about defending her title, says that she does not enter tournaments to defend titles, but to win them. She sounds very calm in her interviews. Justine does not want to be asked about Miami 2008. She said "dont ask me about that". Somehow I think there wont be a lot of butterflies and birds floating around this championship match. Whoever wins the other is going to be absolutely pissed.

irene said...

go serena
you are the best

oddman said...

What about Miami 2008?

I'm sorry, I don't much follow women's tennis - did something happen there?

Karen said...

Oddman, she lost 2 and 0 to Serena in Miami in the quarter finals. In that match Serena sliced, volleyed, outhit, outrun, lobbed and basically showed all court tennis on that day which left poor Jo Durie who was doing commentary for Eurosport absolutely stunned. I think that match more than the Sharapova beatdown or the Dinara whipping in Warsaw on clay finally drove Justine from the game in 2008. Clearly, if it was still not affecting her she would have addressed it. Serena on the other hand has acknoweldged that she was beaten even though in one of her interviews she was acting all coy as if she could not remember how many times they met that year in GS play. It will be interesting to see the mindset of both players when they come out, during the match as well as after the match. My goodness I cannot watch. This is going to be even more nerve wracking than watching Federer/Nadal

Craig said...

If Serena lets Justine in her head, she will lose the match.

I hate this rivalry.

Karen said...

Craig me and you both. I just cannot explain why Justine affects Serena so much. Is it the talent, the fact that they are so evenly matched that makes her nervous? Is it the facct that even though Serena plays fair she just cannot deal with the fact that her opponent may not play fair? I dont think she is afraid of her or her game, but there is some mental thing there between both of them. They each applauded the other for making them better players. As a matter of fact I was a bit surprised to read in one of Justine's interviews where she said that because of Serena she had to be better. She said that what Serena has done for women's tennis is just amazing. I think this is the first time I have ever heard a player actually commend Serena's game as having a beneficial effect on the women's tour. I dont know who will win tomorrow night and like you I am just crazy nervous right now. I had a dream, a vision really, that at the end of the match they both met at the net shared a handshake and kissed at the net. They are both holding trophies but when Serena was giving her speech, she said "Welcome back to tennis Justine". There was clapping and shouting from all corners of RLA at the end of the match. It was not revealed to me who won.

Dapxin said...

:hail, Karen Jo. :_)

Mad Professah said...

Really, Craig? Will you root for Federer to win the title over Murray? :)

I don't see how the Serena-Li Na match could be the ebst match of the year when Serena couldn't FREAKING MOVE!! She spent a significant portion of the match parked on the baseline, in the center and would take one or two steps.

She did run for a drop shot, but it really didn't look like that she could do that repeatedly.

HOw much you wanna bet Henin/Rodrigues drop shot Serena mercilessly on Saturday? It would make a good drinking game! Take a shot every time Henin does a drop shot!

lilac said...

Whoa. Before Yetunde's death and Venus and Serena's various injuries, they both owned Henin. Only two of Henin's slams (maybe three) had Venus and Serena in the field. They took about a year to grieve. Remember, people? When they returned, they were losing -- not quite back on track.
Serena lost to Henin in that pre-Yetunde passing FO after leading by a break and 30-love in the third set -- then the crowd and the hand happened. She was not playing her best, was playing on her worst surface and was still beating Henin.
The following Wimbledon, Henin only won 5 games off of Serena.
Following that, the tragedies happened in their lives, and Henin ruled the tour.
Upon the sisters' return, it took Henin three sets at Wimbledon to beat a very injured Serena. The following US Open? Craig knoiws Serena and I shared a hair stylist -- Serena was injured (her thumb). I know this.
Henin is not in Serena's head. She (and Venus) know they can beat her. Serena knows Henin got her on a downstroke. I'm surprised you guys don't remember.
Serena is going to cream Rodriguez and Henin tomorrow.

Karen said...

I just had a thought. You know the Williams Family has always emphasised family over everything else. I see a lot of people calling for Serena to pull out of the doubles in order to give herself a chance in the singles championships and yet here she is about to play doubles. Clearly, family is so much more important to her than Grand Slam singles titles.

lilac said...

Karen, I like that she's playing this final. She's on the big stage; trophy at stake; fighting to win. She won't be the one with nerves tomorrow -- and if she wasn't playing doubles, she'd be practicing. This is better practice for a final. Henin's less ready for the final. And if they win the doubles, Serena will be in a winning mindset. C. Drisdale, surprisingly, also thinks it's good for her. The only danger is injury -- and I don't see that.

vw said...

If Fed wins, much as I don't care for him, I want him to stop Murray.