Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grit and combacks at the Australian Open 2009

Probably the first time this week, I have been able to enjoy the Australian Open tennis championships all day long on TV. Of course, today being a Sunday, it helped. Roger Federer played Tomas Berdych in a classic 5-setter. I did not expect Berdych to play this well, especially the way he opened the match and rushed through the first two sets. Berdych is a talented player and has good groundstrokes and a big serve. I watched him play a very good match against Dimitry Tursunov in the finals of the first edition of Kingfisher Open (Mumbai) in 2006. Whilst Tursunov had very narrowly won that match, Berdych showed a lot of promise. He has won four tournaments till date and remains one of the few active players to have won a title on all three main surfaces, clay, grass, hard-court and one even on carpet. Experts say that his lack of self confidence has prevented him from doing great in the Grand Slams. Out of 21 appearances in Grand Slams, he has gone past the Round 3 just nine times. His best showing in a Grand Slam remains a Quarter Final show in 2007 Wimbledon. 

But he played magnificent tennis today against Federer in Round 4 at the Australian Open 2009. It's not an easy task to go up two sets to love against Federer, but he matched groundstrokes to groundstrokes against Federer. In the first set Berdych's serve was the key as his first serve percentage was 72 % as against Fed's 57%. And more surprising was Federer's massive comeback as he clawed back from two sets to love down. I do not really associate Federer as someone who would have such tenacity to come back from two sets to love down in a grand slam, but you gotta give it to the guy for fighting for his life out there today. But then again, Berdych is not the toughest mental guy out there. If Federer wants to have a decent chance to win the title, he'll have to do much more. 

The story of the tournament so far has been Jelena Dokic. What a match that was. Jelena Dokic beat Alisa Kleybanova, 7-5, 5-7, 8-6. Kleybanova played very well and did almost everything to beat Dokic, but still Dokic came out trumps at the end, despite being injured. The crowd was all behind cheering Dokic -and reasonably so -but it took a lot out of Dokic to get the better of Kleybanova. To borrow a quote from Andy Roddick, Kleybanova threw kitchen sink at Dokic, but Dokic went inside and got the bathtub. Could Dokic surprise the world by going all the way, just the way Jenifer Capriati did in 2001 (she won the Australian Open beating the then-world No1 Martina Hingis, after having gone without a single win for five years in a grand slam prior to that)? You never know...

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