By Claude England, Maryland Match Point
At first I thought it must have been the strong capuccino I had enjoyed after ou last dinner in Melbourne that was keeping me so wide awake, but as the minutes continued to tick by, I came to realize it as the sheer excitement of the past five days at the Australian Open that was still tingling through my body.
So many talented players, great matches, and the magnificent state-of-the-art Australian Open facility. Where to begin?
Mark Philippoussis opened up the center court action with a straight victory over Nicolas Kiefer, who would have, at that time, thought he would go on to upset Pete Sampras in straight sets, only to be thrashed in the following round by fellow Australian Mark Woodforde.
Next it was defending champion Andre Agassi who basically limped onto center court after having the misfortune of hurting a tendon in his knee during a fall on his apartment steps. Andre, wearing a pathetic bandage, somehow won this match against Argentine qualifier Gaston Etlis, who at one point was serving for the match, and at another time was within two points of perhaps the upset of the decade. It was a sad sight from both ends of the court. Etlis played brilliant tennis, showing no mercy for Andre’s inability to move around the court, hitting precision drop shots that the defending champion, instead of racing towards, could only stand and watch. But when it came to winning those final points, Etlis became even more creative in finding ways not to win, and Andre hobbled to a 6-3 in the fifth victory.
First off, I would like to wish you all an Happy New Year! I wish you all the best for 2011.
And now, a few tennis news:
After Dementieva, Moya, Hrbaty and Dent, Nicolas Kiefer announced his retirement.
A gifted player, Kiefer -like Haas- was expected to be the next Boris Becker, and even though he reached the semifinals at the 2006 Australian Open and the top 4 ranking in 2000, he never was a major threat. Turned pro in 1995, he captured 6 singles titles, the last one ten years ago in Hong Kong, beating Mark Philippoussis in final.
He played for Germany in the Davis Cup and teamed with Rainer Schuettler for a doubles silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics (lost to Gonzalez/Massu).
Honestly, I won’t miss this player but I wish him good luck for his new life.
Speaking of Dementieva, she was named Vice-President of the Russian Tennis Federation, after retiring from playing two months ago.
Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition, and Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Well, I must say that I don’t get why players can’t stop complaining about the length of the season, and then keep playing those stupid exhibitions. Would it not be better to rest a bit or spend some time with the family?
That being said, here’s a nice pic of Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki .
Tournaments to follow this week:
– the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, Aircel Chennai Open in Chennai, Brisbane International (ATP)
– the Brisbane International and ASB Classic in Hobart (WTA)
You can find the complete 2011 calendar here.
And to begin this new year in style, Tennis Buzz will feature Tennis Buzz Marathon. From Monday til Friday, I will watch and comment a match from the past:
– on Monday: Graf-Hingis, Roland Garros, 1999
– on Tuesday: Laver-Newcombe, Wimbledon, 1969
– on Wednesday: Borg-Nastase, Wimbledon, 1976
– on Thursday: Nadal-Gonzalez, Olympic Games, 2008
– on Friday: Edberg-Courier, US Open, 1991
Have a good tennis week on Tennis Buzz!
7 – Toronto 2004: Marat the hippo
6 – Hopman Cup 2009: Marat kisses the net cord lady
5 – Australian Open 2002: Marat and the Safinettes
4 – Davis Cup 2002: Davis Cup hero
3 – French Open 2004: the pants
2 – Australian Open 2005: the relief
1 – US Open 2000: the future of tennis?
Note: it’s not a ranking of Marat’s achievements, these are just 15 moments of Marat’s career which reflect “Marat being Marat”.