Andrea’s Top Five…of the 2011 Australian Open

Written By: achangeofends - Feb• 02•11

Best Matches

5. Marin Cilic def. John Isner 4-6 6-2 6-7 7-6 9-7: You can basically make any joke you want when John Isner is involved in long matches nowadays. I think we should seriously consider limiting him to five tiebreak sets, but I’ll leave that up to the powers that be. While this match wasn’t nearly as epic as Isner/Mahut (i.e. it finished in 1 day,) it was still some pretty good tennis. Cilic had semifinal points to defend from 2010, so an early exit at the 2011 Australian Open would mean a substantial drop in ranking. Isner was one of only two American men left in the draw. While Isner may have experience with long matches, it didn’t appear to help him with this one. Unfortunately, Cilic lost to Rafa Nadal in the 4th Round, unable to avoid the inevitable ranking drop.

4. Roger Federer def. Gilles Simon 6-2 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3: You rarely see a top player crash out in the 2nd round of a major, but when his second round opponent is a former world No. 6, on his way back up the rankings, the dynamic shifts a little. The last time Roger Federer lost before the 3rd round at a Grand Slam, it was 2003 and his total Grand Slam tally was 0. However, something about Gilles Simon’s game puzzles Federer. In fact, the two men had met only twice before and Simon had been victorious both times. By the looks of the first two sets, the match was going to be a blowout. But then something happened and Simon really picked up his level of play, snagging the next two sets and showing us all why he used to be a Top 10 player.

3. David Nalbandian def. Lleyton Hewitt 3-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 9-7: It’s a real sign of the times when the best men’s match of the tournament happens in the 1st Round. Nine years ago, Lleyton Hewitt was No. 1 in the world and David Nalbandian was No. 32. They met in the final of Wimbledon 2002 and Lleyton Hewitt took home his second Grand Slam title. Now, Hewitt has fallen all the way to No. 68 and Nalbandian has battled back to No. 19 and these two are meeting in the first round of Grand Slams instead of the finals. Add a tense history between the two and a night time battle on Rod Laver Arena in Hewitt’s homeland, you’re pretty much guaranteed drama. These two definitely brought the drama, playing late into the night.

2. Li Na def. Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 7-5 6-3: Australia is a magical place where players believe they can do extraordinary things. Li Na was a semifinalist at last year’s Australian Open, but this year she did one better, and she did it against the world No. 1, down a set and a break. Li pretty much clawed her way back into this match, and while Wozniacki clearly wasn’t playing her very best tennis, Li Na won the match, Caro didn’t lose it.

1. Francesca Schiavone def. Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 1-6 16-14: I could write a whole article just about this match. Oh wait, I did. So, if you want my take on this awesomeness, you may want to read this. If you don’t feel like reading the long version, I’ll put it this way, Frannie and Sveta are both ridiculous and they played for nearly 5 hours.

Surprising Moments

5. Kangaroo-gate: Caroline Wozniacki told the press that the cut on her leg was really a kangaroo scratch. First of all, who did not realize that this was a joke? Numerous papers printed kangaroo headlines, forcing Wozniacki to call a second press conference to dispel the kangaroo rumors and give everyone the real story. True Story: she ran into the treadmill, nowhere near as exciting as a kangaroo encounter.

4. Kim Clijsters Embarrasses Todd Woodbridge on International Television: This was actually one of my favorite sound-bytes from this year’s Australian Open. Poor Todd Woodbridge should really know better than to speculate on whether or not a woman is pregnant, even in a text message to an old friend. It can only end badly. If you don’t know what happened, Todd sent Rennae Stubbs a text message from Sydney after watching one of Kim’s matches. He said he thought she was pregnant because, “she looks really grumpy and her boobs are bigger.” Even if she was pregnant, this text message would be offensive. Unlucky for Todd, Rennae showed Kim the text and Kim opted to out him on international television. Kim took it better than most women would have and Woodbridge looked pretty embarrassed. Overall, great television.

3. Aga Radwanska Loses Her (Racket) Head: I’m sure you’ve seen this video by now, and if you haven’t you should watch it. I keep trying to post the link but Tennis Australia keeps removing it. Anyway, in her first round match against Kimiko Date Krumm, Radwanska was a little frustrated and threw her racket. It didn’t break, so she kept playing with it. What she didn’t realize was that it had cracked just the tiniest bit, and on the next return of serve, Aga’s racket head flew off after making contact with the ball. Her reaction was absolutely priceless.

2. The Dead Spot: I swear this defies the laws of physics. I know there are all sorts of videos explaining it, and scientifically, I understand what happened, but if you watch the video you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Belgium’s Justine Henin reacts to losing a point to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova at their third round match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on 21 January 2011. EPA/JOE CASTRO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT fotoglif922646

1. Justine Henin Retires: Maybe this was a surprise, maybe it wasn’t. Justine abruptly retired in 2008, but came back at the beginning of last year for a chance at winning a few more Grand Slams. Unfortunately, she injured herself at Wimbledon and was unable compete for the rest of the year. When she announced she’d be back in time for the Australian Open and she planned to play Fed Cup, I think we all assumed she stood a pretty good chance of winning the title. What made Justine’s retirement even more surprising was the fact that she announced it in the middle of the tournament. A lot of people were critical of her choice, saying that she was stealing the thunder of those still left in the tournament. If you want my take on Justine’s retirement, you can check it out here.

Upsets

5. Kim Clijsters def. Dinara Safina 6-0 6-0 (1st Round): I didn’t really know whether I should bother including this on the upsets list. We all knew Kim would win, but a double bagel? Really, Dinara? Safina is a former world No. 1 and has been in the Melbourne final before. Kim’s on a real hot streak, but Dinara has really fallen far. With this loss, she dropped out of the Top 100. Hopefully, she can regroup and come back strong.

4. Florian Mayer def. Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 4-6 7-6 6-4 (1st Round): I don’t even think I watched this match, but Davydenko is a reasonably consistent player and it’s a little odd that he lost to Mayer in the 1st Round. Could he possibly still be feeling the effects of his broken wrist?

3. Ekaterina Makarova def. Ana Ivanovic 3-6 6-4 10-8 (1st Round): Even though Ivanovic, a former No. 1 and Grand Slam champion, lost in the 1st Round, it was still a competitive match and Ana’s starting to show signs of her old brilliance. What’s odd about Ana’s story is that she went from being No. 1 in the world to winning almost nothing for the better part of last year, but she wasn’t injured. Ivanovic’s fighting spirit seems to be resurfacing, but it would’ve been nice to see her win this one.

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Justine Henin 6-4 7-6 (3rd Round): This result became a lot less surprising when Justine announced she was retiring because of her injury, but Kuznetsova has always played the Roddick to Justine’s Federer. Somehow Sveta has never really seemed to have Henin’s number and they’ve played an awful lot. This was a great match between two multiple Slam winners and Kuznetsova was so excited when she won. Plus, this had to make it on some list because it was Henin’s last professional match…ever.

Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine jubilates after defeating Robin Soderling of Sweden during their Men’s Singles fourth round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2011. Dolgopolov beats Soderling. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN fotoglif933679

1. Alexandr Dolgopolov def. Robin Soderling 1-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-2 (4th Round): I honestly believe Robin Soderling will win a Grand Slam. Maybe I’m crazy. Anyway, I thought Robin was well on his way to reaching his 3rd major final, and first outside of the French Open. He was looking ridiculously fit and striking the ball as hard as ever. He beat Andy Roddick to win the title in Brisbane and had been undefeated in 2011 to this point. I know that Dolgopolov has popped up the radar before as a real up and comer, but I really thought he was going to be crushed by Sod, and for the first set, that appeared to be true. The youngster impressed everyone by defeating Robin in a gritty five set match. A lot of young players would have faltered under the pressure of a fifth set against the world No. 4, but he handled it quite well and was able to close it out.

Fashion Dos

5. Vera Zvonareva: It was simple but elegant. Vera’s outfit may not have been flashy and exciting, but she looked like she was out there to play tennis, and isn’t that kind of the point. I thought the kit fit well. I loved the eggplant color of the top and the criss-cross back detail. Best of all, it’s a very wearable outfit for your average club player. The whole point of endorsements is to sell things. No one’s going out to buy Nadia Petrova’s monstrosity of a dress, but I’m sure K Swiss has already sold tons of of those white skirts and purple tops.

4. Andy Roddick: You may disagree with me because Andy Roddick consistently decides to wear shirts that are about 8 sizes too large for his body, but I kind of count that as part of his charm. This outfit probably wouldn’t have made my list in past years, but it was classic and simple and way better than most of the other outfits out there. This year’s Australian Open provided at least twice as many awful outfits as good ones. Like Vera, Andy looked like he was ready to play some tennis, and unlike Robin Soderling or David Ferrer, he didn’t look like he was the ball. Plus, Andy’s night outfit was all black and I love pretty much any outfit that’s all black.

3. Andy Murray: For some reason Adidas insisted on dressing the majority of their players as watermelons this year. Lucky for Andy Murray, they stuck with just green for his kit, rather than adding all that pink. I like bright colors, but they have to be executed correctly, and this was the way to do it. Some brands would’ve had Andy decked out in green from head to toe, but instead, Andy limited the bright color to the majority of his shirt and stuck to simple black shorts. It worked.

Maria Sharapova of Russia jubilates after defeating Julia Goerges of Germany during their Women’s Singles third round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 21 January 2011. Sharapova beats Goerges. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT fotoglif922961

2. Maria Sharapova: Is there ever a time that Maria Sharapova doesn’t make the best dressed list? First of all, she could basically wear anything (with the possible exception of Venus’ basket weave number) and look like a super model rather than a tennis player. Second, Nike does an amazing job of dressing her in really attractive outfits. I was skeptical of the grey and peach combination, but they actually worked quite well together. Like many of my other fashion dos, the dress was simple but elegant. Depending on how your shape compares to Maria’s, I may or may not recommend buying this particular dress. It fit Maria spectacularly, but was quite tight. If you’re a little curvier, you may want to try her warm up number which is a skirt and top of the same color scheme and style.

1. Li Na: There was nothing flashy about Li’s Nike kit. I’m sure Nike would’ve decked her out in something a little fancier if they thought she was going to make the final. However, this kit was perfect for her. It fit well. The skirt was super cute and I loved the boat neck top, which featured her rose tattoo quite nicely. What’s so great about this skirt/top combo is that really anyone can wear it.

Fashion Don’ts

5. Caroline Wozniacki: Why does Stella McCartney hate Caroline Wozniacki? It’s almost hard to make a cute, young, tall, blonde look bad, and yet somehow Stella McCartney manages to do it time and again. I think this outfit was supposed to be ballerina inspired, but it fell way flat. The skirt sat way too high on the waist, making Caroline look a little short and squat. I’m guessing the sheer top and bright orange bra was supposed to be cutting edge, but it just looked weird. I did like the bright shorts under the white dress though.

4. Fernando Verdasco and the Watermelon Squad: I’ve already mentioned this several times, but for some reason Adidas saw fit to dress most of its athletes in watermelon color clothes. For the record, I actually like green and pink together, but in moderation. Adidas took it to the extreme with kits like Fernando Verdasco’s.

3. Novak Djokovic: I guess this was better than the dragon, but not by much. The blue and white number was absolutely fine, but for several matches, Nole opted to wear a black and orange kit that could only be reminiscent of Halloween. He was about 10 months too early. Better yet, I think he must’ve been jealous of Roger and Rafa having their own symbols, which prompted him to have ‘Nole’ printed on the very bottom of the back of his shirt. It’s like the clothing version of a tramp stamp.

Nadia Petrova of Russia hits a return to Ksenia Pervak of Russia during their match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (AUSTRALIA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

2. Nadia Petrova: If there was an award for outfit that most resembled cotton candy, Nadia would be shoe in. I don’t know who dresses her, but they should be imprisoned, seriously. After her nightmarish lollipop outfit from the US Open, this actually looked pretty good, but so would trash bag. Anyway, I didn’t really object to the ruffles. I like ruffles, but the fact that the midsection was blue, sandwiched between two purple sections, only drew attention to a place most women would rather hide than show off.

1. Venus Williams: Do I really even have to write anything about this? When I first composed this list, Venus actually occupied spots 1-3, but I decided to consolidate all three awful outfits into one spot on the list to make room for all the other mistakes. The pictures speak for themselves. Round 1. Round 2. Round 3.

Players Who Reminded Me Why I Love Them

5. Francesca Schiavone: Not only did she fight off six match points to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the longest match in women’s Grand Slam history, but she also came back a little over a day later and nearly blitzed the world No. 1 player. I’m not sure there’s another player on the women’s tour who fights quite as hard as Frannie does for each and every point. She’s 30 years old and last year won her very first Grand Slam. How cool is that? Plus, she always has some great quotes.

4. Tommy Robredo: I don’t really think that I ever forgot how much I love Tommy, but I’m sure you guys did. After losing in the 1st Round of the first three majors last year, Tommy made the 4th Round of both the US Open and the Australian Open. He even managed to take a set off Roger Federer in his 4th Round match. I don’t think he’ll be back in the Top 5 anytime soon, but he’s a better player than his ranking and I’ll love to see him bring it up this year so he can score some better draws.

3. Caroline Wozniacki: Her press conference was epic. I kind of love it when the players fight back at the media. Oftentimes the media (I’m really not sure I can give myself that distinction) seems to forget that the players are real people and end up making petty generalizations that, if I were a player, would really piss me off. Apparently Caroline was tired of the press calling her boring and definitely won that battle after delivering a long monologue at her press conference. She said the media claimed she was boring because she always gave the same answers to questions, but she made a great point, telling them that they always asked her the same questions. I don’t think journalists will be calling her boring for at least a little while. Although, I don’t think she’ll be able to avoid the slamless No. 1 debate.

2. Novak Djokovic: The guy’s hilarious and I think we sometimes forget that he’s also a damn good tennis player. Djokovic has had the unfortunate position of playing third fiddle to Federer and Nadal for several years now. So, people kind of write him off. He never really appears to be the favorite to win a major. But, this year, much like 2008, Nole blasted past stiff competition to take the title. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Nole in 2011. I won’t go so far to say he’ll win another major, but we should at least discuss it. Plus, he’s less than 100 points away from stealing the No. 2 spot from Roger Federer.

China’s Li Na faces the media after losing her women’s final match to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Clijsters won the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. EPA/DAVID CROSLING AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT fotoglif955146

1. Li Na: She’s definitely not new to the tennis circuit, but Li Na isn’t exactly the most mainstream tennis player. I’m so glad she made it to the final in Melbourne this year because she finally got as much press as she deserves. Na provided almost all of the best pressers this tournament. My personal favorite moment was the look on her face after her semifinal win when the interviewer told her it was her fifth wedding anniversary. She gave up another gem when she told the interviewer she was up every hour the night before because her husband was snoring too loud. She was also the only player to acknowledge the fact that Serena’s absence opened up doors for players who usually wouldn’t believe they could win a major tournament. I didn’t think she was really going to pull off another upset in the final against Kim Clijsters, but I was definitely on board the Li Na train after she took the first set. As much as I like Kim, it would’ve been great to see Na win. Hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of her.

Players Who Reminded Me Why I Don’t

I know it’s a Top 5 list, but I suppose it’s good news that there were only two people who made this particular list.

2. Jelena Jankovic: It’s not that actually don’t like Jelena Jankovic, I just don’t understand what’s going on with her. She was No. 1 in the world and somehow manages to hang around the Top 10, even though she really doesn’t seem to win anything anymore. Currently she’s ranked No. 8, mostly due to some rather miraculous runs to the title at Indian Wells and the semis at the French Open. Come June, she’ll likely see a big fall in her ranking unless she has some good luck in the clay season. My expectations are pretty low, but the beginning of 2011 has been pretty awful. She lost to Rezai in the 1st Round of Sydney and followed it up with a lame 2nd Round performance at the Australian Open, losing to Peng Shuai.

1. Stanislas Wawrinka: So according to most reports, Stan thinks he’s got five good years left to devote himself to tennis and he wants to maximize his success. It’s a respectable goal. But, he also kind of abandoned his family in the pursuit of his renewed career. I don’t want to presume that I actually know what happened between Stan and his wife, but he’s definitely come off as the villain in the media’s eye and he hasn’t done anything to prove otherwise. There’s one strike. He actually played pretty well and in the 4th Round, he beat out Andy Roddick for a spot in the quarterfinals. I’m calling that strike two, but I know most of you wouldn’t agree with me. In general this would’ve been a pretty respectable performance, but the real let down was his quarterfinal match against Roger Federer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more boring tennis match. There’s certainly no shame in losing to Roger Federer, but Stan didn’t even try. That match was a foregone conclusion from the first point.

“Newbies” I Adore

5. Simona Halep: At just 19, competing in her first Australian Open, Halep managed to make it all the way to the 3rd Round, beating 24th seed Alisa Kleybanova. She may have lost to 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, but I think we might be seeing more success from Simona in the future. She already has 6 ITF titles and a career high ranking of No. 63, it’s only a matter of time before she breaks through to the Top 50.

4. Richard Berankis: Last year, the 20 year old Lithuanian won two ATP challenger titles. He followed up his challenger success by making it to the 3rd Round of this year’s Australian Open, absolutely crushing David Nalbandian before losing to eventual semifinalist David Ferrer. After the Australian Open, he achieved a career high ranking of No. 73 and will likely progress through the rankings quickly if he can make it into the main draw of some of the larger events.

3. Anastasija Sevastova: In the 1st Round of the Australian Open this year, Sevastova upset the 21st seed, Yanina Wickmayer. The young Latvian made it all the way to the 4th Round before losing to world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Sevastova has actually qualified for a number of Grand Slams even though she is only 20 years old, but this is the first time she has progressed past the 2nd Round. She won her first WTA title last May in Estoril and already has 7 ITF tournaments to her name. At a career high No. 36, I think we may be seeing Anastasija in the Top 20 any day now.

2. Bojana Jovanovski: There’s been a lot of talk about Bojana. The Serbian just celebrated her 19th birthday in December and she’s already No. 54 in the world. The week before the Australian Open, Jovanovski qualified for the Sydney tournament and made it all the way to the semifinals before falling to eventual champion and Australian Open finalist Li Na. She may have lost in the 2nd Round of the Australian Open, but this girl is going places. She easily took the first set from Vera Zvonareva and it looked like we were about to get our first real upset of the tournament. Vera amped up her game to win the match, but Jovanovski played some great tennis.

Milos Raonic of Canada plays a shot to David Ferrer of Spain during their match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2011. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (AUSTRALIA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

1. Milos Raonic: Raonic really stole the show when it came to young players at the Australian Open. He just turned 20 and he’s already on track to be the best Canadian tennis player ever. By making it to the 4th Round of the Australian Open, Milos made it into the Top 100 for the first time, at No. 94 in the rankings. At 6’5″, he has a ridiculous serve and strong ground strokes. He is originally from Yugoslavia (now Montenegro), but moved to Canada as a small child. Raonic has confirmed that he will continue to play for Canada, even though both of his siblings have since moved back to Montenegro. Canadians are super excited about this kid’s prospects.

That’s it for my Top 5 list and my coverage of the 2011 Australian Open. Feel free to weigh in with anything you think should’ve been on the list or disagree with my choices.

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2 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chalk Flew Up, Andrea Lubinsky. Andrea Lubinsky said: Andrea's Top Five…of the 2011 Australian Open http://achangeofends.com/?p=359 […]

  2. Jonathan says:

    Good recap here. I basically agree with everything save condoning Andy Murray’s attire. I dig adidas in general, but that bright green shirt was just too much on a pasty man like him.

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