by Craig Hickman
The Uluru/Ayers Rock Award
For the player who emerged almost out of nowhere and glowed red at sunset
Nicolas Almagro for his late-match, red-hot surge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round.
The Red Kangaroo Award
For the player who made the biggest leap
Marin Cilic finally jumped over Juan Martín del Potro at a Slam and landed in his first major semifinal. Too bad all his five-setters caught up with him after winning the first set against Andy Murray.
The Twelve Apostles Award
For the player who rose up to produce the most rock solid game amidst the imminent threat of being washed away
Serena Williams for yet another ledge-end-ary comeback Down Under against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals.
The Koala Award
For the player you just wanted to pick up and hug
Zheng Jie after being stampeded by her idol in the semifinals.
The Great Barrier Reef Award
For the player who created the largest tectonic uplift in the draw
Nadia Petrova for severely eroding Kim Clijsters in the third round.
The Aboriginal Award
For the veteran player who achieved the most success with his native talents
Roger Federer's movement throughout this fortnight was surprisingly efficient. Wasn't that long ago I thought he'd lost a step. If his training regimen doesn't include some combination of ballet, tango/mambo, waltz, tap or Tai Chi, I'd be shocked.
The Tasmanian Devil Award
For the player who delivered the best nocturnal performance
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against Tommy Haas in the third round.
The Outback Award
For the wildest match of the fortnight
Li Na def. Venus Williams 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, Quarterfinals
Venus opened as though she'd run through the match like a river. But the last set and a half was one exhausting expanse of barren terrain. How many times did you think it might never end? Arguably the ugliest televised match of the fortnight, it becomes an early frontrunner for worst match of the year.
The Three Dingoes Award
For the players who fell prey to their own hunting
Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko for their gigantic chokes against Roger Federer in the first round and quarterfinals, respectively, and Alisa Kleybanova for her total collapse against Justine Henin.
And for a few of our more traditional awards:
Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur, Australia
Best WTA Match
Serena Williams def. Justine Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, Final
I didn't realize how riveting was this tug of war between two of the tour's most decorated champions till watching it a second time.
Best ATP Match (Tie)
Juan Martín del Potro def. James Blake 6-4, 6-7(3), 5-7 6-3 10-8, Second Round
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Nicolas Almagro, 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-7(6) 9-7, Round of 16
Both featured one tiebreak and went into overtime in the fifth set. Both featured surprisingly exquisite performances from the losing warriors. Both could have continued for another hour. The electrifying tennis sticks in my memory like good preaching.
Speaking of preaching.
I need a day of rest.
See you when I see you.