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Australian Open report card: top marks for Novak Djokovic, Sloane Stephens

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Novak Djokovic wins Australian Open

Novak Djokovic will (again) go for the career Grand Slam at the French Open. (David Callow/SI)

Novak Djokovic: A. Craig Tiley might as well hand the keys to Melbourne Park to Djokovic, who completed his Australian Open three-peat with equal parts dominance, grit, belief and just plain quality. He survived a fourth-round scare from Stanislas Wawrinka (12-10 in the fifth), embarrassed No. 4 David Ferrer (6-2, 6-2, 6-1) in the semifinals and refused to be moved against Andy Murray (6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2) in the final. Djokovic is the perfect mascot for this tournament that has gone from the red-headed stepchild of the Grand Slams to equal footing, putting pressure on the rest to step up. That sounds a lot like Djokovic, too.

Victoria Azarenka: B+. If Djokovic is the Iron Man, Azarenka may be the female counterpart. Nothing can prepare you for stepping onto a stage where most of a crowd of 15,000 (and millions watching around the globe) hope you fail. Her ability to defend her title under those conditions with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Li Na solidified her as the best competitor on the WTA. Sorry, Maria. Apologies, Serena. But it’s true.

The win came at a price. Time will tell whether the medical timeout criticized around the world defines Azarenka rather than her steely performance in the final. People still remember “The Hand Incident” at the 2003 French Open between Justine Henin and Serena Williams. Henin went on to win that tournament as well, but her reputation for winning at all costs — in the media, among fans and within the locker room — followed her. Azarenka said her takeaway from last week was to be better about explaining herself. That’s fine, but here’s hoping she also learned not to put herself in that position in the first place.

The Bryan brothers: A. With their 13th major, Bob and Mike Bryan are the most decorated doubles team in Grand Slam history. So how come the Aussie Open couldn’t give them a bigger trophy?

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci: A. I get a sick pleasure at yelling “Grande! Grande!” to no one in particular when the pint-sized Italian duo wins. The size differential was comical when they shook hands with the Williams sisters after ousting them in three sets in the quarterfinals, and they went on to win the title. Want to talk about a deserved No. 1 team? In a doubles game built for upsets and surprises, Errani and Vinci have won three of the last four Slams.

WERTHEIM: 50 parting thoughts from Melbourne

Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden: A. The Aussie duo gave the home team something to cheer about, taking the mixed doubles title.

Roger Federer: B+. He put the kids (Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic) in place in the first week and used his veteran wiles to steal a match from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and physically cripple Murray for the final. Stop the hand-wringing. The GOAT is not done. #humble

Andy Murray: A. It’s hard to criticize Murray for anything over the last two weeks. He didn’t drop a set heading into the semifinals, where he played one of the best matches of his career to beat Federer, and he had his chances against Djokovic in the final until the four hours on court against Federer caught up to his legs (and blistered foot). One could argue he shouldn’t have let Federer force five sets, but Federer’s taking two tiebreakers was more a testament to his fight than Murray’s failure.

Li Na: A-. The overwhelming crowd favorite in the final, Li rolled her ankle after taking a one-set lead. Then, after taking a break lead in the third, she blacked out for a few seconds, smashing her head on the court after another fall. Li still could have beaten Azarenka but converted only seven of 18 break points. Nevertheless, Li walked away from Melbourne a winner. With Kim Clijsters’ retirement, Li may be Melbourne’s new favorite adopted daughter.

Sloane Stephens: A. The 19-year-old was a class act on and off the court en route to her first Slam semifinal, but what impressed me most was her ability to win matches she was supposed to win. Stephens benefited from a soft early draw — she didn’t face a seed until Serena Williams in the quarterfinals — and kept her focus. She has been known for mid-match lapses when she’s playing on outer courts, but her straight-set win over Laura Robson with a crowd against her showed great maturity. A strong player on hard courts and clay, a top-10 ranking at the end of the year isn’t far-fetched.

Serena Williams: C+. Serena was dealt a cruel hand in Melbourne. There’s no denying that. An ankle sprain in her first match compounded by a back injury during a doubles loss damaged her title hopes, which were so high before the tournament. That said, she should have beaten Stephens in the quarterfinals but couldn’t move past her own panic. She had a break point on Stephens’ serve that would have given her a chance to serve out the match in the second set. She was broken easily for the match in the third after hitting four listless errors.

Maria Sharapova: C+: After sailing through her first five matches, Sharapova was once again exposed for lack of a B-game by Li, losing 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Juan Martin del Potro: C-. Are we sure Del Potro was in Melbourne? My draw sheet says he lost to unseeded Jeremy Chardy in the third round, but that can’t possibly be right.

Stanislas Wawrinka: A+. The Swiss No. 2 has never been known for his fight. But he came out on fire in the fourth round, blitzing Djokovic 6-1 in the first set. Wawrinka not only made you believe that he could beat Djokovic, but that he should. Four and a half hours later, Djokovic was shredding his shirt and Wawrinka walked off the court to an ovation he’d never received, losing 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 12-10. It was the performance of the tournament and, for my money, the best tennis match I’ve seen since the 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Melbourne weather: B+: A couple of steamy days aside, you couldn’t have asked for better conditions over the fortnight. Not bad considering the extreme temperatures that hit the country the week before.

Mouratoglou Academy: B+. They say winning begets winning, so maybe Serena’s presence at the Paris academy paid off. Its No. 1 guy, Chardy, made his first Slam quarterfinal; two young teenagers in Yulia Putintseva and Daria Gavrilova — both coached by Martina Hingis, by the way — scored their first Slam wins; and Serena made the quarterfinals despite a horror show of bad luck. The only blemish: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian had a great lead-up, making the Brisbane final, but crashed out in the first round to a qualifier.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: B. Tsonga outplayed Federer for four sets in the quarterfinals, but he couldn’t hold his nerve in the tiebreakers and finally ran out of steam. Then he went into the press room and made bigger headlines. So if women have hormone issues, what’s Tsonga’s excuse for his up-and-down play?

Venus Williams at Australian Open

Venus Williams hasn’t gotten past the fourth round of a major since 2010. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Icon SMI)

Venus Williams: C-. In most of her bad losses in 2012, Venus looked like a woman dealing with Sjogren’s syndrome. That was understandable. But in her loss to Sharapova and in doubles, Venus didn’t look ill. She looked old.

David Ferrer: B. In five Slam semifinals, Ferrer has won two sets. And for all the talk about equal prize money, Ferrer went down to Djokovic in three sets faster than Sharapova or Stephens lost in two. Ferrer is a very good player and has earned his new No. 4 ranking, but his presence deep at a Slam isn’t going to shift the tennis landscape.

French men: D. Tsonga’s successful run aside, the rest of the French Fleet was headache-inducing, if not cruelly entertaining. We talked up Benoit Paire’s first-round match against Federer, only to see Paire make a mockery of the term “professional.” Gael Monfils played a thoroughly entertaining first-round match against Alexandr Dolgopolov that he won in four sets, only to play an infurating match against Gilles Simon in the third round, where a hobbled Simon, with the aid of a chocolate bar, somehow beat him 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6. That’s not even mentioning Monfils’ second-round win against Rendy Lu; Monfils hit 23 double faults, four of which came on match points in the fifth set. And then there’s Richard Gasquet, who extended his disastrous record in the round of 16 to 1-14 at Slams. Even Victor Hugo is shaking his head.

Bernard Tomic: A. For all his talk, which I would describe as “aloof” rather than “brash,” Tomic brought the goods. I don’t think Tomic could have hit the ball any better against Federer in the third round. He played with a focus and intensity that made me wonder how that “Tomic the Tank Engine” thing got started in the first place.

WTA teenagers: A. Generation Sloane finally had its breakout Slam. The teenagers dominated the first-week headlines. Stephens, Robson and Madison Keys all justified their hype, while Putintseva, Gavrilova, Donna Vekic and Garbine Muguruza got their first main-draw wins at a Slam.

ESPN: B. It was a solid two weeks, thorough in both live coverage and replays. By all accounts, fans loved being able to see different courts online. Darren Cahill continues to be the best analyst in the game, and Chris Evert, in her fourth Slam with the network, showed a better grasp of the modern game and familiarity with the current crop of players. Her unabashed Federer fandom is still wholly inappropriate and not as charming as producers might think.

The network deserves heat for its treatment of the Azarenka fiasco. It was awkward listening to Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez act as the lead critiques of Azarenka’s controversial win over American darling Stephens when McEnroe is the head of USTA Player Development and Fernandez is the U.S. Fed Cup captain. With the slew of analysts at ESPN’s disposal, those two didn’t need to be the ones expressing their opinions.

Finally, please ESPN, do away with these two uncomfortable narratives: stop trying to draw parallels or connections between Serena and Stephens. The mentor-protege story doesn’t actually hold water, and the racial undertones reek. Similarly, stop implying (or explicitly stating, as it did in one video clip) that Li is different from a typical Chinese woman because she has a sense of humor. Let’s not even go there.

Jerzy Janowicz: B. Apart from giving us the viral video of the first week — don’t tell me you didn’t yell, “HOW MANY TIMES???” just to amuse yourself at some point during the tournament — Janowicz gave us reason to believe that his run to the Paris Masters final wasn’t a fluke. With the big serve and feathery touch, he’ll be one to watch this year.

Kimiko Date-Krumm: A. No story brought a bigger smile than that of Date-Krumm, who at 42 made the third round of the Australian Open for the first time since 1995. Need a frame of reference? Madison Keys wasn’t alive.

Kevin Spacey: B. He flew all the way to Melbourne to cheer on Murray and then palled around with Djokovic and partied with Azarenka. Is there no loyalty anymore? Sean Connery would never.

Brian Baker: B-. Tennis’ resident Job was struck down. Again. And we’re all left wondering why. Again. After winning his first career match at the Australian Open, Baker went a set up on Sam Querrey before tearing the meniscus in his knee and getting wheeled off the court.

Redfoo: B. The No. 1′s No. 1 fan was everywhere. You couldn’t miss him if you tried. If the guy gets more people who wouldn’t otherwise care about tennis to tune in, then he can keep shufflin’ away. I’m already looking forward to his arrival at the All England Club. Wimbledon does a lot of things. Party rock, it does not.

The 2013 Australian Open: B. Aside from the Djokovic-Wawrinka match, this tournament won’t be remembered for the tennis, which wasn’t great overall. The women’s tournament was marred by controversy and injuries, while the men’s final, the crown jewel of every Slam in recent years, won’t be getting a rewatch anytime soon. Sure, a few breakout performances by the younger generation added excitement in the first week, but when the champagne settled we didn’t learn anything new. The Australian Open is still “The Happy Wacky Slam.” Winning a Slam involves just as much luck as skill and hard work. And Djokovic and Azarenka are still the most reliable bets on hard courts.

Watch List: Djokovic to Davis Cup; WTA to Paris

  • Published On Jan 28, 2013
  • 25 comments
    kitster12
    kitster12

    People give no sympathy for Vika. If it was Sharapova or Serena, no one would have really cared. It's not even like she is the first person to do something like this. Great players like Djokovic and Federer have pulled this tactic before. Did anyone care then? If it wasn't an American player on the end of the court, then no one would have cared. I feel really bad for Vika. She is like the best player in the world and no one likes her. The only time I heard people cheering for her was at her opening match at Indian Wells vs Hantuchova. Hopefully both Vika and ESPN will learn something from this. I really think PM and MJ should apologize to Vika

    stewnwt
    stewnwt

    Nice roundup. It's still shocking that Serena and Maria, after looking like they were unstoppable on route to a collision in the final, were dismissed unceremoniously from the tourney in shock losses.

     

    Agree 100% about PMac and MJ and their hachet job on Azarenka. Poor girl got virtually no applause when she erupted to dominate the game last year and having everyone turn on her the moment something goes wrong has to hurt.

    jonnypeso
    jonnypeso

    Thank you thank you thank you Courtney, for calling ESPN and especially P-Mac and Mary Jo on their handling of the Azareka story.  I was watching with my jaw on the floor as they both continually indicted her for her actions before even having heard Azarenka's side of the story which came out in her post match interview, and from the physio who treated her.  This was a gross abuse of their power, as they set the story for the public watching on the issue before having all the facts.  It was also an abuse of their power since it's also clearly a sign of both announcers massive bias towards American players.  Horrible form, and not the first time I might add that Baby-Mac has been in the middle of a storm of controversy for how he's handled American players/their matches on air.

    brodney199
    brodney199

    So nowadays Serena loses due to "panic" not injury & Azarenka wins due faking both PANIC & INJURY? and Sloane is the new mentally tough teenager with a huge game who will take the world by storm, huh? ...hmmmm

     

    Sloane has all the makings of a Chandra Rubin career, mark my words ;)))

    Michael9
    Michael9

    Djokovic and Murray got an 'A' for passing a simpler test while Federer got a 'B+' for failing a harder test.

     

    In the big picture it's Federer who deserves an A, while Djokovic A- and Murray a B+. Answer this question honestly: had Murray, Djokovic or Nadal played the draw Federer got, would they have reached the final or won the title? It's unlikely that they could have done it: that's because in the past 10 years (at least), only one player has been able to win a title after facing a draw of such higher-ranked players with the average ranking of No. 25 (Federer at 2010 Australian Open). Players such as Djokovic, Murray and Nadal have always failed to survive such a tough draw.

     

    Djokovic does not deserve more than A-. All the cards fell for the Serb in this tournament -- yet he should have lost to the unheralded Wawrinka, whose best results in 32 Slams were just two quarterfinals. For the second consecutive Slam without Nadal, Djokovic lucked out: Federer and Murray were drawn on the other half. Djokovic was left with a relatively easy draw -- the only dangerman (Berdych) had become Djokovic's whipping boy in recent years and his form had been mediocre this year. In the final Djokovic always had a huge advantage in odds regardless if he faced Murray (no first-time Slam winner had won next Slam) or Federer (only one player won a Slam in the last 10 years after playing such a tough draw of first six opponents). It's likely the other Big Four players would have also won the title if they had Djokovic's relatively easy draw.

     

    Murray does not deserve more than B+. Murray in his prime squandered his energies save by a cupcake draw (first five rounds) to get embroiled in a five setter with 31-year old Federer. Then he collapsed like a wimp against Djokovic in a four-set final. Before the final both Murray and the British press emphasized how tough Murray had become (Murray: "I hope it's a painful match because that will mean it's a good one") and yet after the match his apologists were making wimpy excuses for his loss.

     

    - Unabashed Murray fandom is plaguing tennis writers making desperate, fictional excuses for Murray's failure. It's ludicrous to portray that 31-year old Federer "physically cripple Murray for the final". "Blistered foot"? Murray said nothing in his post-match interview after the final (see link) to support such desperate, wimpy excuses for his loss that have been cooked up by pro-Murray writers trying to twist Murray's loss to elevate his status in the Big Four. Murray said his playing and running were not affected by his left hamstring or toe blister (pause: Lleyton Hewitt was heard laughing at Murray's blister -- 90% of players play with blisters). The "crippled" Murray did admit to fatigue. But he added that such things are just part and parcel of playing this era's physical game in big events against the best players.

    http://tinyurl.com/be3mbvf

     

    - "It’s hard to criticize Murray for anything over the last two weeks", only if you have selective memory. Murray was the freshest of the top four seeds coming into his semifinal match against the 'crippled' Federer, yet Murray with his career-best serving was forced into a five setter by his tired opponent serving subpar. In the end those 333 points against Tsonga and five rounds of higher-ranked opponents caught up to Federer's 31-year old legs and body (anything could have happened in the fifth set if Federer had more legs at the end of his back-to-back five setter). Murray was fresh because had a dream first five rounds of weak or exhausted opponents -- most top 10 players probably would not have dropped a set against Haase, Sousa, Berankis, tired Simon, Chardy. Del Potro's unexpected loss left Murray with a cake walk of opponents ranked on average No. 63 (he had two no-name opponents ranked in the 100s) -- and in every round he faced a worse-ranked opponent compared to Federer. And Gilles Simon was too exhausted to put up a fight against Murray .

     

    - Before the Federer-Murray match, Federer had to battle the toughest pack of five higher-ranked, tough and hungry opponents (average ranking No. 30 -- none worse than No. 46) and none of Fed's opponents were ranked worse than No. 46. All of Federer's opponents were hot and dangerous: Brisbane-winner Tomic had beaten Djokovic in straight sets just two weeks earlier; former No. 3 , World Tour Finals champion and Doha finalist Davydenko has a winning record over Nadal; Raonic has the best serve on tour; and Benoit Paire was a semifinalist at Chennai. In the quarterfinals, the 31-year old Federer and Tsonga played a 333-point five setter in 214 minutes (Tsonga plays faster between serves than Murray does). The 31-year old 'crippled' Federer then played the completely fresh Murray in a 328-point five setter in 240 minutes. Yes, Federer played more points against Tsonga than he did against Murray, and that's why the older Federer was crippled against Murray.

     

    Federer "used his veteran wiles to steal a match from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga"? Nope, the facts show Federer didn't steal the match. The scoreline may seem to be in Tsonga's favor in the first four sets -- but to a tennis grand master like Federer, he always had more than enough margin to work with than Tsonga did (especially since Federer was always ahead in sets). Federer created 18 breakpoints, Tsonga only 9 (Federer was ahead or even in breakpoints in every set except the second set, where Tsonga had only one breakpoint). Federer forced Tsonga to serve 175 times (Federer served only 158 times), even though Tsonga had a 6% higher first serve percentage. Every set Federer won he had a points advantage, including the tiebreaks -- Federer is the king of tiebreaks in entire tennis history (both in terms of percentage of tiebreaks won as well as total number of tiebreaks won). Indeed, Federer had more breakpoints created (18), winners (49), less errors (47) in his 333 points against Tsonga than Djokovic had breakpoints (11), winners (47) and errors (61) in his 265 points against Murray. So Federer didn't steal the match; his problem was he allowed Tsonga to linger around with his subpar serving day as well as over-conservative, controlled play instead of putting the Frenchman away. Unfortunately for Federer, his Tsonga match had consequences for Federer's next match and tournament: Tsonga physically crippled 31-year old Federer for the semifinal.

     

    In the big picture, given the context, it's Federer who deserves a higher rating than Djokovic and Murray.

     

    ****

     

    On anther issue: Other than in ranking points, the Australian Open is not on an equal footing with the prestige and history of Wimbledon and perhaps US Open. Djokovic winning the event four times does not elevate the event any more than Roy Emerson winning the AO six times did. In any case, let's not forget that the Australian Open uses slower balls and a slightly slower surface that benefit players such as Djokovic, Murray and Nadal. Of course we can expect Djokovic to win in conditions favorable to his game.

     

    MichaelC
    MichaelC

    Typical Bleacher Report-type garbage to generate clicks. Courtney, you're better than this.

    MichelleFreeman
    MichelleFreeman

    Also, giving the French guys a D is garbage as well.  Why not give the American men an F for failing to even showing up and giving their best (with the exception of poor Brian Baker and the awesome Bryan brothers).  They are the ones who deserve a collective bad grade not the French.  Also, Li Na deserves an A and miss Cheatarenka, Victoria herself deserves no higher than a B+.  Her damn injury timeout, her damn shrieking after she heats the ball is just plain cheating.  Can't stand her at all.  

    MichelleFreeman
    MichelleFreeman

    Most of these grades are garbage.  Courtney, you do not show yourself to really know what you are talking about.  By the way, Serena deserves an A for just showing up for the quarters against Sloan after re-injuring her ankle and her back during the doubles competition the day before.  Clearly, you don't think much of Serena.  As for Sloan, when she WINS a tournament, ANY tournament then maybe we can start hyping her but putting her on a pedestal for beating an INJURED Serena is just foolish.  She is still a teenager and let her hone her skills and prove that she can WIN tournaments and matches before you hype her.  If she was so good, she should have brought the goods the next day to beat Azarenka (who is a BIG Cheat, don't like her at all) but no, she folded like a cheap tent.  

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

    I've lost a ton of respect for Patrick MacEnroe since the US Open fiasco with Taylor Townsend. He wields all this power behind the scenes then uses his open mic at ESPN to pontificate without full disclosure. He used to be the even keeled, logical and reasoned voice in the booth. Now I don't really trust where his opinions are coming from. Sounds less and less like a place of truth.

     

    Darren Cahill is great about keeping the lines straight. Brad Gilbert's act has been stale for a long time. I'd like to see what kind of trouble Andy Roddick could get himself into in the booth. But please keep Cliff Drysdale. He has fun, knows his stuff, and lets the tennis talk more than his mic.

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

    I have yet to understand Courtney's grading curve.

     

    Yes Serena played tight tennis from the first ball in the quarterfinal. She also still almost won despite the nerves and injuries. Many people question her interest level and passion for the game. She fought for that match in every (legal) way she could. The Kirilenko win was spooky for it's controlled power and purposeful movement on nearly every point. No lower than a B to me.

     

    As for the French men, yeah some strange things happened. Not a surprise. But the story of middle weekend was theirs on the men's side. If they get a D, what would the US men score? Your grade aside, I'm sure many national federations would love to have that group to frustrate them.

     

    And to the person/people who have the voodoo doll of Brian Baker, you get an F. Leave the poor guy alone.

    ReymondoLeon
    ReymondoLeon

    Djokovic has become a class act and worthy No.1.

    He's entertaining, lively, incredibly athletic, generous with his time outside the matches, and a great all-round ambassador for the sport. I hope he remains at the top for some time to come. 

    --------------------------------------------------------------

     

    Now, can anybody explain to me why Federer misses so many regulation shots these days?

    Not shots at full stretch, but shots which he's in a position to make.

    1. Because the top players make him miss?

    2. Because he's a touch slower?

    3. Because he's more mentally fragile?

    4. All of the above, because of his age?

    5. Because he's not interested in making significant changes to his game,    and therefore loses ground against players like Murray who's game

        shows marked improvement?

     

    When I watch him play, it seems that its mental and about decision-making.

    If he made different choices at key moments he still has the game to be

    dominating the top 10 even more, and having more success against Murray and Djokovic.

    • Seems to wait for the big guys to make mistakes that they just don't make these days.

    • He plays a lot of safe approach shots and then gets passed at the net with relative ease.

    • He sprays a lot of balls wide or into the net.

    • His serve which is normally a laser-guided points-scoring machine, goes missing in a lot of big matches.

     

    I really thought his last wimbledon victory would completely free him up mentally

    to go for broke against the top 3 and have some of those days when he's untouchable.

    Sometimes when the Australian Open cameras showed him in slow motion I actually got tears

    in my eyes because it's as if a God of Tennis had descended to show the world

    the absolute purity of shot making. Just wish he'd dial it up against the big boys.

     

    Thus ends my ill-informed and amateur rant about the greatest player I've ever seen.

     

     

    dami1bourd1
    dami1bourd1

    French men: D hahaha!  How would you rate other nations then? After one week of competition everybody was reporting the great job they already did and the only thing you came with is a D?.. (Not to mention the B that was given to Nadal a few days ago, he must have done a tremendous tournament I guess!!!!)

    Continue like this, you're so biaised and out of target it's funny! :D

    anushasez
    anushasez

    I actually don't mind Evert's Federer fandom -- I find it charming that someone who's seen so much tennis can be a fan. At least she admits to it, and doesn't call his matches.  There are plenty of others who have their favorites and still portray themselves as neutral. 

    IdaAnnaTaylor
    IdaAnnaTaylor

    So, Murray's 5-set match with Fed cost him the final, yet Fed's 5-set match with Tsonga didn't cost him the semis? Yeah, right. 

    Party_Gator
    Party_Gator

    ESPN gets an F from me for the simple fact they ran the match results in the crawl while I was watching the 9am East Coast replay of the Azarenka / Li Na final.

     

    I bet they lost a lot of viewers when they did that.

    stewnwt
    stewnwt

     @Michael9 Australian Open >>>>>> than the US Open..

     

    Murray was amazing, but you are right he should have beaten Federer in 4 or fewer sets.

     

    Djokovic DESERVES a good draw once in awhile after being on Federer's side 14/16 Slams prior to the 2012 US Open. And he still had to beat down an expectedly brilliant Wawrinka.

    stewnwt
    stewnwt

     @badgernation74 agree about PMac. Cahill and Drysdale are awesome, how you are not crazy about BH I dunno, Gilbert was on his game and very entertaining throughout the whole tourney

    stewnwt
    stewnwt

     @badgernation74 C+ does seem harsh for Serena. Kirilenko is a quality player - no huge weapons but she does everything well, and has a big serve for a girl her size, but Serena made her look utterly impotent.

    IdaAnnaTaylor
    IdaAnnaTaylor

     @ReymondoLeon

     I get that alot people think that when you accomplish alot, it should allow you to play freer since you have nothing left to prove.  After Fed won the FO and surpassed Pete's major tally, he should always play with no pressure right?  After he got back to #1 and won Wimbledon last year, he should never feel pressure anymore right?  Doesn't work that way.  When you get older, you realize how much it means.  You don't know how many more times you'll be in a position to win, so you feel more pressure to capitalize on those opportunities.

    deanthology
    deanthology

     @IdaAnnaTaylor

     Djoker did back to back 5-setters in last year's AO with only one day between semi's and finals

    deanthology
    deanthology

     @IdaAnnaTaylor  @ReymondoLeon

     To me the game is changing again during Federer's last few years. His shot making abilities are not having the same effect as they used to with the way Djoker and Murray can first defend like no other and then transition to offense so quickly afterwards. Also, while Fed was racking up 3 majors a year the next best players at that time were Nadal on clay only at the time and Roddick.  The competitiion is much better.

    ramrog128
    ramrog128

     @brodney199  @martinstake Yes, she was under pressure but she wasn't an overwhelming favorite to win Wimby and USO. In fact, it was thought that Azarenka or Sharapova would win one or both. Yes, even given the fact that Serena has creamed both of them so many times before. The pundits put much too much emphasis of ranking.

    The pressure that Serena felt going into the French after having had a stellar summer was just too much. A great deal of it she put on herself. Razzano was an unknown commodity and she played a great, gutsy match. Same type pressure happened in AO. Too much hype that she couldn't lose was just too much pressure. It's much easier to win when you are not expected to. And you are much more relaxed when you don't add extra pressure to yourself by thinking, "I gotta win this!"

    ReymondoLeon
    ReymondoLeon

     @deanthology  @IdaAnnaTaylor  @ReymondoLeon At least he can take some solace in the knowledge that he forced them to lift the game.

    @IdaAnnaTaylor  -  You're probably right but I still find it odd that someone who could retire tomorrow as the GOAT is feeling the nerves after so many titles, records and matches.