Hi all. Sorry for the lack of posts over the championship weekend – FreakyFry decided to change up her sleep schedule which meant my fingers couldn’t get near a keyboard until now (and I’m still on edge – is she going to break out of that swaddle for the third time tonight? She’s got guns like Sam Stosur!) Let’s see what I can do.
First, let’s hail the champions, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, two worthy No. 1s. Nole, obviously, has achieved “legends” status, with a record making 3 consecutive AO’s in the Open Era, and six majors total. He’s also ensconced himself at the top of the game, that number one jacket now resting on his shoulders with the same ease that it once enveloped Roger and Rafa. Things could have been different, I suppose, if Andy Murray hadn’t played that five setter versus Roger Federer in the semis. Murray certainly proved in those first two tiebreaks that he’s capable of beating the best. But Nole, who brushed off his own epic five setter versus Stan Wawrinka in the round of 16 like it was a practice session with a promising junior - continues be at the top of his or anyone else’s game.
I think this quote from Nole sets the tone for the rest of the year (via msnbc.com):
His goal for the year is a big one, he said, when asked if he would choose a Roland Garros title over his No. 1-ranking.
“I’ll take everything,” the 25-year-old Djokovic said. “I have no reason not to be confident in myself.”
I’m still calling Victoria Azarneka the Novak Djokovic of the women’s side – if you remember the Nole of 2008: a bit brash, a bit misunderstood, a bit defensive. She showed all of these characteristics – along with her competitiveness and solid game – this final weekend Down Under. I find it hard to feel passionately about Vika one way or the other. We overreacted about her “gameswomanship” vs. Sloane Stephens in the semifinal, probably because we just don’t like her that much. But one of the things I do admire about her is that, press conferences aside, she doesn’t really care what we think. She competes, she grunts, she celebrates matches with cocky fingers in the air and if we have a problem with that, well, she’s the one holding the trophy in the end.
I thought Steve Tignor captured Vika’s tournament and temperament perfectly in this piece at Tennis.com
I was expecting Serena and/or Maria to be taking part in the final, but enjoyed the “novelty” of Li Na, who came into the tournament a bit under the radar despite being a Major champ and a former finalist in Melbourne. I hope her performance this tournament is a sign of continued improvement and perhaps continued dominance. I hope never to overlook her again!
Here are some odds and ends that I’m still thinking about now that the party’s over.
1. Roger’s still up there. He’s still great. He’s still capable. He’s still competing. And, most important, he’s still into it:
The New York Times reports at least three different instances of Roger being audibly upset, shall we say, during the match, and the BBC even had to apologize to the viewing public for his outbursts. (Apparently he yelled “you fucking stopped!” at Murray during the above exchange.) I liked Murray’s take on it, afterwards:
“It didn’t rattle me,” said Murray. “I think he raised his game, you know, and that’s what happens. Sometimes guys need to get, you know, emotion into the match. He definitely raised his level and played in that game. I think he hit two balls onto the line and was extremely aggressive after that.”
2. Ah, Jo, I will forgive you your unfortunate remark about ladies and our crazy-making, destabilizing hormones, simply because I imagine you said it with one of those killer smiles of yours and that cute French accent – and yes, what a silly Frenchman thing to say. (I guess my objectification of Jo-Dubs means I let his own sexism slide.) However, if men are so stable, how does he explain this:
To Jerzy’s credit, he did eventually steady himself enough to win the match. And he did admit to losing it mentally, saying:
“You can’t control your emotions all the time. Actually, I went nuts. I calmed down a little bit later on. Sometimes I have problem to control by emotions, but I’m trying to work on this.”
Talk to Jo, Jerzy. And maybe Roger should, too.
3. Something else I’m wondering about: Will any man not in the top three (or four, if we assume Rafa will be returning to form soon) ever win a major again? I was convinced that Juan Martin Del Portro was a contender, and then he rolled over to Jeremy Chardy. Jo-Wilfried fizzled in five to Roger Federer (phew!), and both Berdych and Ferrer were nothing more than collateral damage during Nole’s campaign of world domination. What do you think, guys? Do any of these men have a chance at a major (or in DelPo’s case, another major?)
4a. Things are a bit different on the ladies’ side, as Serena’s fall to Sloane Stephens in the quarters shows that talent and a bit of luck can still get you far. The story of the women’s event, at least here in the States, was the rise of the young stars, with Sloane Stephens leading the charge.
4b. Poor Venus. I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for someone so fab, but that was a tough loss to Maria Sharapova. And a tough loss in doubles to the Italian team of Vinci/Errani, though there’s some comfort in the fact that the Italians won the title.
4c. Ah, these are the best of times and the worst of times: The American men, the few that there were, barely dinged the surface of this tournament.
4d. Oh, except for these American men:
5. Big congrats to the Bryan Brothers for winning their record 13th Major doubles title, breaking the record they shared with John Newcombe and Tony Roche. Well done!
6. And a quick note of thanks to all of you, our GTT homies, for all of your great comments throughout these past two weeks and for being so patient with us as we incorporate FreakyFry into our universe. You guys are the best!
So, what are you still thinking about after these two weeks Down Under, besides looking forward to a decent night’s sleep? (I’m jealous!)