No one thought it was possible, but yes Federer, the hitherto undefeated player lost in the semi-finals in just three sets. The recently concluded Australian open was one of epic five setters, and of major upsets, with the unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga making it to the finals and the number one players in both the men’s and women’s draw making straight set exits.
Roger Federer, who has been number one for no else than 208 consecutive weeks, has been hearing time and again that his crown is threatened but this time, it was for real, Djokovic prevailed. Federer withdrew from the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament due to a stomach illness but claimed to be fully fit. He was pushed to a five set in the third round against the world number 49 Tipsarevic which he won 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/1) 5-7 6-1 10-8 but came crashing down in the semi-finals to Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(5), thus ending his record of ten consecutive grand slam final appearances and 37-match winning streak in best of five set matches on hard-courts. Novak went on to win the championship in four thrilling sets 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 against Tsonga. The final was fast paced, fierce and closely fought till the very end.
Roger Federer, who has been number one for no else than 208 consecutive weeks, has been hearing time and again that his crown is threatened but this time, it was for real, Djokovic prevailed.
Rafael Nadal, the number 2 player in the world also lost in semi-finals to the unstoppable Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in under two hours, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 despite having not lost a set in his previous 5 matches.
Marcos Baghdatis put away two former champions, Thomas Johanssonand Marat Safin to reach the third round where he battled it out with the home favourite Leyton Hewitt, in a match lasting 282 minutes, beginning at 11:52pm and finishing at 4:34am Melbourne time. In the fourth set Hewitt squandered a match-point, and fighting against all odds, Baghdatis made a courageous comeback from 1-5 down to eventually win the set. After losing 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4),3-6, the mentally and physically exhausted Cypriot wiped away tears and got a standing ovation.
The 6th seeded American Andy Roddick, made an unfortunate third round exit losing to the 29th seed Philipp Kohlschreiberfrom Germany in 5 sets: 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-8. Despite losing, Roddick served a career high of 42 aces.
The women’s draw saw both the William sisters failing to impress. Serena Williams entered the 2008 Australian Open as the defending champion and the seventh seed but lost in the quarterfinals to Jelena JankoviÄ‡ 6-3, 6-4. Venus Willaims was defeated by Ana Ivanovic 7-6, 6-4.
An interesting side story though was the match being called ‘Shriek vs. Squeak’ as Maria is infamous for her high decibel shrieks while returning the ball and Ana for her squeaking feet when the other player is serving.
The women’s final had two of the most glamorous and well know players, pin up girl Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic contesting the final. An interesting side story though was the match being called ‘Shriek vs. Squeak’ as Maria is infamous for her high decibel shrieks while returning the ball and Ana for her squeaking feet when the other player is serving. Sharapova won the title, beating Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3 in the final, thus becoming the first Russian woman to take the title. It is the first time she had won a Grand Slam without dropping a set, and has now won three of the four Grand Slams. She proved her fitness from the very start by putting away Lindsay Davenport
(who’s back from retirement after having a baby) and Elena Dementieva en route. She stopped world number one Justine Henin’s 32-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-0 victory as well.
Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza just missed getting a Grand Slam title by losing in the mixed doubles final to Tian Tian Sun and Nenad Zimonjic 6-7, 4-6. The match was close and exciting, but Sania had a tightly bandaged thigh and was possibly tired from two weeks of heavy duty tennis as she had an exhausting match in the women’s singles draw against Venus Williams, losing in the third round 6-7, 4-6 and also the women’s doubles event which she teamed up with Australia’s Alicia Molik losing in the third round again 5-7. 3-6.
The biggest winner though was the tennis fan, because the quality was excellent and every match raised the bar a little bit higher. It was a pure delight to watch with the Safin-Baghdatis, Hewitt-Baghdatis and Fedrer-Tipsraveic and Tsonga-Djokovic matches which are surely going down in record books.
By Anaita Sabhikhi
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