Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aussie Open Day 10: Serena Keeps on Fighting, Federer's Rally Call, Tsonga, Li Reach the Final 4

If it wasn't conspicuous enough already, it became a widely known fact on Tuesday that Serena Williams will NEVER give up. The top seed was up against Victoria Azarenka, who has had her way with Williams before. The Belarusian came out playing the tennis of her life, breaking Serena in the opening game, taking the 1st set 6-4 and quickly grabbing a 4-0 lead in the 2nd. Just when it seemed like the American was down and out, classic Serena showed her superior grit in reeling off 5 straight games, and winning the 2nd set tiebreak 7-4. In the 3rd set, Williams lifted her game to a level rarely seen in tennis. Hitting 18 winners compared to just 3 errors in the decider, Williams moved onto the semifinals (with a heartbeat).

Here's a snippet of Serena's presser:

Q. You weren’t feeling physically good or mentally, what?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, physically, but I was able to push through it. You know, I think that’s fine. Like I said, I don’t make any excuses. Win, lose are or draw, I’m here and I have a heartbeat, and that’s more than a lot of people have.

Roger Federer also barely kept his heart beating. Nikolay Davydenko came into their quarterfinal match with loads of confidence, having beating the Swiss in their last 2 meetings. But, of course, Grand Slams are a whole different animal, and an animal that Mr. Federer knows all too well how to tame. Davydenko began the match playing with the same tenacity and pounding groundstrokes that won him the title at the WTF's in November as The Russian jumped out to a 6-2, 3-1 lead. Then, Federer took a quick bathroom break, probably to change one of the twins diapers, and worked his magic, winning the next 13 GAMES to win the 2nd and 3rd set. Kolya got back on the board by the 4th set, but his opponent was rolling at that point, as the world number 1 moved on to his 23rd consecutive major semifinal with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win. "I knew I wasn’t looking very good." said Fed. "That’s the beauty of best of fives sets. I wasn’t panicking."
And Davy's hilarious press conference deserves a shoutout:

Q. What was going through your mind as you were losing all those games (in the third set)?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Pissed off. (Laughter.) What else? Yeah. Like say I’m pissed off of my serve. Pissed off. I didn’t realize this point, I didn’t realize this point. It’s like everything was shit (laughter.)

But what else? Bad luck. Go home tomorrow, relax.

Q. It’s good you can laugh about it now. Many players would be pissed off after the match. You’re laughing now.

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yeah, with you guys, what I need to do?

Sticking with the theme of day 10, Li Na dropped the first set, only to stage a comeback and join her countrywoman Jie Zheng as the 1st Chinese women to ever reach the Aussie Open semifinals. Venus Williams lead Li 6-2, 5-3, and served for the match at 5-4, but threw in a hand full of double faults and careless errors, giving the 16th seed an opportunity to work her way into the match. Li won the 2nd set tiebreak 7-4, and after 9 service breaks and an extremely sloppy match, eventually won the match 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Venus summarized her failures quite simply, saying, "In tennis you have to close it out. It’s not like there’s a clock ticking and then suddenly it’s over. You just have to close it out. I didn’t do that today.”

In the night match, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put on an energetic display of acrobatic tennis as the Frenchman avenged his 2008 final loss down under to Novak Djokovic, defeating the world number 3 7-6 (8), 6-7 (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Nole was effected by injuries and exhaustion, but it was no excuse, as the 10th seeded Tsonga out-aced the Serb 19-2 and hit 54 winners.

Djoko gave us a little TMI afterwards:

"It was unfortunate that I couldn't perform on the level that I wanted to in the fourth and fifth set. I don't want to find excuses for my loss, but, you know, I went to vomit and I had diarrhea before the match. Just a terrible feeling."

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