AFTER 14 Australian Open days, here are 16 final thoughts…
1.) Where was Jim Courier? Wouldn’t it have been absorbing had Courier interviewed Roger Federer and Andy Murray during the awarding? Because if you saw his interview with Roger after beating Tsonga (a must-see in YouTube), you’d have claimed that to be the best ever.
2.) Serena Williams? Amazing. Bandaged in the legs and looking bulky (well, she’s always looked more like a female NFL linebacker than an agile tennis player), she’s astonishing. Her secret? “My mental game is really strong,” she said. “My dad always said that tennis is 70 percent mental, and I believe that mentally I’m probably one of the toughest on the tour.”
3.) Funny: When Serena and Venus Williams won the doubles crown, Venus didn’t know it. After winning that championship point, Venus thought they still had one game left. Can you believe that? She wasn’t paying attention to the score and, the next thing she knew, Serena was jumping… they were Grand Slam champions.
4.) I pitied Murray during the awarding. And did his shedding a tear thwart Federer from doing the same, as it appeared that the Swiss was teary-eyed prior to Andy’s speech? Quote of the tournament: “I can cry like Roger; it’s a shame I can’t play like him.”
5.) Federer has cried multiple times during these awarding ceremonies. Murray just did. And Pete Sampras, during the Hall of Fame presentation in 2007, also poured his emotions. Isn’t this admirable to see, some of the world’s most high-profile and toughest of sportsmen, not afraid to cry?
6.) Murray was too passive. Well, had he played his aggressive style when he clobbered Rafael Nadal and humbled Marin Cilic, he’d have stood a chance against Roger The Great. But Murray, in those first two sets, was tentative. He poorly floated the yellow ball in mid-court and was content with Roger dictating play. No way can you win against RF by being timid and hoping for him to make mistakes. Roger is Roger. He’s The Great. To beat him, you need to be domineering.
7.) The Oz Open was Murray’s 17th major event… the same 17 number when Federer won his first major title. But sorry, it wasn’t to be.
8.) The 3rd set tiebreak? Wow. What a delight. Could the climax have been any more thrilling than that? Five set points wasted? Two missed championship points? At one point, after hitting a drop-shot, Roger let go of a scramble by Andy that he could have hit... imagine if he lost that set and, ultimately, the match?
9.) Too much Roger? We see his face up-close during the match and then, come TV commercial break, guess who’s face we see again in the multiple Rolex ads?
10.) Incredible stats: Once Federer wins the first set at a major, he’s 172-5. Up two sets, never mind: he’s 156-0.
11.) That “156-0” record, doesn’t that remind us of Tiger Woods, who, once he’s leading in the final day, is unbeatable? Yes and no. Yes, he’s like the dominant Tiger; but, no, Fed fans protest, don’t compare him to Tiger!
12.) Roger quote: “My game is not as taxing as other players’ games. I also think I have a very relaxed mind when it comes to the game of tennis.”
13.) Ouch! To Rafa devotees, that’s painful. The reason: RN is out for four weeks due to the knee injury. Worse, he’s down to world no. 4 (first time since 2005), below Djokovic and Murray.
14.) Still, there’s nothing like R & R. Watching last Sunday, I miss the duel between the lefty Spaniard and the Swiss right-hander. There’s still no contest like it. The reason? Mentally, Rafa “owns” Roger. Of Roger’s six losses in Grand Slam finals, five he surrendered to Rafa.
15.) Blue overdose: the sky was blue, the outer court was blue, the inner rectangle was a different shade of blue, Roger wore the same color and so did Murray. Even the ballkids wore blue.
16.) Justine Henin is bewildering. For a body so small (5’6”, 126 lbs.), she wallops her groundstrokes (that backhand!) as hard as anyone. Says Billie Jean King: “Pound for pound, Henin is the best tennis player of her generation.”
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