by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer returned to professional tennis on Monday in Melbourne as he defeated qualifier Jurgen Melzer in four sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
The 17-time major champion played the last match on Rod Laver Arena on day one and gave the fans a little scare in the first two sets, but was able to settle down and find his rhythm in the end to get the win.
“I’m happy I was made to work today. It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn’t so simple, Federer said.
Federer, who last played at Wimbledon in July of 2016, was forced to miss the second half of the season due to a back injury. The Suisse wanted to take the rest of the year to rehab and regroup in an attempt to make a run at another major in 2017, and possibly even getting back into the Top 3 or 4 spots of the ATP rankings.
“It was a long road but I’ve made it. I’m in the draw and it’s a beautiful thing. Any match is a good match. Even if I’d lost today, because I’m back on the court,” Federer said.
Melzer is no easy opponent, despite his current ranking of No. 300. The Austrian reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2010 and reached a career high ranking of No. 8 in April of 2011. After a bout with injuries over the last couple years, though, he had seen his ranking drop to outside the Top 500 just last summer.
“To play Jurgen was cool. We know each other since we were 16. We go way back,” Federer said. The two are now both 35-years old.
In Melbourne, Melzer had looked solid as he won three qualifying matches comfortably to earn his spot in the main draw, but was unlucky in getting matched up with Federer, the player who many will say is the greatest of all time.
It was a good battle for two sets as Melzer was actually the first player to make a move, breaking Federer for a 4-2 lead in the first set. The Suisse would break right back for 4-3, though, before going on to break again four games later to go up 6-5 and serve out the set at love.
Despite the disappointment of dropping the first set after being up a break, Melzer refused to go away in the second set. He was even broken in the first game of the second set, but he battled back to break Federer in his last two service games of the set to steal it and level up the match at one set each.
“I thought my serve was on and off in the beginning, which surprised me a little bit, because in practice it’s been going pretty well,” Federer said.
After dropping the second set in shocking fashion, Federer, who hit 19 aces in the match, went back to work and gave Melzer little hope of taking another set. He would break Melzer four times in the last two sets without being broken to ease his way to the four set win and into the second round.
Federer will now take on another qualifier in the second round, and this time it will be young American Noah Rubin. He’s made the second round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row. In 2016, he received a wild card and defeated Benoit Paire in straight sets. This year, he made it through qualifying and then knocked out fellow American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo to reach the second round.
Federer, who hit 46 winners in the match and converted on seven of his nine break points against Melzer, admitted he knows little of his next opponent, but did state that the match will be on his racquet. He’ll take on Rubin on Wednesday in Melbourne.
by Michael Lemont
Five questions in tennis for 2017.
1- Murray/Djokovic : Who’s gonna take over the leadership?
Ranked No. 1 for almost three years, Novak Djokovic has lost his throne a couple of weeks before the end of the season. After a perfect first half of the year with a sixth win at the Australian Open, another double Indian Wells/Miami, the Serb finally won the French Open, the last major missing to his trophies, achieving a Grand Slam astride two seasons. He probably needed to release some pressure afterwards and during the second half of the season, he just won one title (Toronto) while Andy Murray became almost invincible with eight titles including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, 78 wins in total and 24 in a row to finish the season. And no doubt that his success over Djokovic in the Masters Cup final at home in London was the best conclusion for him, knowing that he lost 13 of their last 15 meetings before that ultimate one. So what’s gonna be Novak’s reaction in 2017? Will he be able to come back to the top? Can Murray stay number one for a little while?
2- Federer/Nadal : Can the Big Four be reunited?
The Big Four fell apart this year. After two semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Roger Federer withdrew for the rest of the season due to his back injury. He also had to retire from the French Open earlier one, first time since 1999 that he missed a major. And for the first time since 2002, he finished a season out of the Top 10 (16th). Rafael Nadal was not luckier in 2016. He was victim of a wrist injury in spring and he had to retire from Roland Garros, for the first time, after the second round. He came back for the Olympics (gold in double, semi in single) but it was too premature and after a disappointing US Open, he withdrew for the rest of the season. Ranked No. 9, it is his worst ranking since 2005. It’s also the first time that none of them is in the Top 4 since 2003. However, they both claimed that they will come back stronger for the opening season. They will turn 36 and 31 years old in 2017. Will they reach the top 4 again? Will they be able to be consistent enough all over the season?
3- Del Potro : Can he come back to the top again ?
After 4 wrist surgery and few years off-court since his first and last success in a major (US Open 2009), Juan Martin del Potro is trying another come back. Ranked No. 1,042 in February, he finished the season No. 38. With some astonishing wins this year over some top players (Wawrinka in Wimbledon, Djokovic and Nadal at the Olympics, Murray in the Davis Cup), he proved himself that without any injuries he will be able to reach the Top 10 again and much more. Beside the Big Four, he is the only player with Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to have won a Grand Slam in the last 12 years. Silver medalist in Rio, he just led the Argentina team to his first Davis Cup trophy, becoming a hero in his country. No doubt that he will be one the players to follow during the upcoming season.
4- The “teen generation” … What’s next?
Because the tennis becomes more and more powerful and physical, it is hard today for the players to break through at an early age. The last teenagers to be part of the Top 10 were Rafael Nadal in 2005 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2000. Players play longer and reach their best level later than before. The top 100 and top 10 had never been so old in the last few years. But after the 85-86 generation, the 95-96 one is now ready to reverse the trend. For the first time since 2008, the Top 10 is getting younger again (mostly because Roger Federer left it in 2016). The leader of that new generation is Nick Kyrgios, 21 years old and already ranked No. 13 at the ATP. He is one of the only six players that has beaten at least six Top 10 players during the season. He might need to become more mature and professional in order to claim big victories in a very close future. Alexander Zverev (19yo, 24th, one title in St-Petersburg), Borna Coric (20yo, 48th, 2 finals in Chennai and Marrakech) and Taylor Fritz (19yo, 77th, one final in Memphis) are at least as promising. Around the Top 100, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hyeon Chung, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev are other names to focus on and to follow for the next seasons.
5 – What about the others?
With three wins in three different majors in the last three years, Stanislas Wawrinka will be one of the most serious contenders to the Big Four once again. However, his lack of consistency will not make him a pretender to the No. 1 status. Alongside him, the old generation will still be there with Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Marin Cilic and the Frenchmen. Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet will try to become the first french players to win a Major since Yannick Noah in 1983. In the meantime the middle generation never seemed to be that strong. Milos Raonic (3rd), Key Nishikori (5th), Dominic Thiem (8th) and David Goffin (11th) looked mature enough to compete with the Big Four. Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic and Lucas Pouille can also have ambitious goals for 2017.
Hopefully all those players are gonna make this upcoming season a great one, full of records, emotions and suspense.
Medical Negligence – A worry even for amateur players
Injuries are top of the news in tennis at the moment, with Rafael Nadal withdrawing from Wimbledon through injury, and Roger Federer out of the rest of the year. Injury is a part of sport. Not a pleasant part, but at times unavoidable. In most cases an injury will be sorted by medical cover, and after some recovery period you will be back fighting fit. This, unfortunately, is not always the way it goes.
Medical negligence is defined as any mistake made by a medical professional, either private or part of the NHS, during a medical procedure, diagnosis or treatment, as a result of their negligent actions. So you can make a claim for medical negligence whether you have undergone surgery or treatment as a result of your injury, or if you have reason to be leave your injury was incorrectly diagnosed, leading to an extended recovery time, or even limited or no recovery. So even if your injury was, in the grand scheme of things, somewhat minor, if you think that your doctor was in some way negligent, you could have a case for a medical negligence claim.
Medical Negligence Solicitors
The media is overwhelmed with advertising by companies offering you a chance to make a ‘no win, no fee’ claim in relation to your medical negligence. However, these may not be the best approach to take. While the prospect of avoiding all solicitors’ fees until you know you are going to see justice may be appealing, it is important to consider the type of representation they are likely to offer. You want a solicitor that specialises in medical negligence claims, and that will have your best interests at heart, rather than just seeing the potential fee they could gain from winning the case. While it might seem like the easiest option to go for one of these heavily advertised companies, it might pay off to look a little further to find yourself the best possible medical negligence solicitor.
Solicitors Guru is a website that allows you to search for a solicitor that specialises in the area you require, and is local to you. It will then show you all the contact details for the solicitor, and where possible, their website. This allows you to quickly search for, and find, a solicitor that can help you to build a successful case, treating you personally and sensitively throughout. The fact that Solicitors Guru will allow you to find a solicitor local to you can help you to ensure that you are able to meet with them, to ensure they understand your situation exactly, and to help you build a more personal relationship, avoiding simply becoming someone faceless on the end of an email or phone line.
By searching using Solicitors Guru you can find yourself the perfect solicitor, while minimizing the amount of time and effort spent searching and phoning around. Whether you play tennis competitively, or just casually with friends, finding yourself a good medical negligence solicitor can make sure you get the best possible result in your case, and using Solicitors Guru can help make finding the best solicitor for your situation as simple and easy as possible.
by Kevin Craig
Milos Raonic earned a spot in his first major final as he pulled off an impressive comeback win on Friday over 17-time major champion Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s an incredible comeback for me…it’s a great feeling,” said Raonic, who became the first Canadian to reach a major singles final. “I showed a lot of emotion out there, always positive, and I think that’s what got me through. Mentally, I had one of my best matches in my history and my career.”
The Canadian, who tallied 75 winners in the match, including 23 aces, got off to a quick start against Federer, breaking the seven-time Wimbledon champ in just his second service game of the match for a 3-1 lead. A few more straightforward games on serve concluded the set and the No. 6 seed was able to take the first step forward to the final.
Each player impressed on serve in the second set as the majority of the games saw the returners struggling to win even just one point. In a crucial tenth game, though, Federer opened up a 0-40 lead on Raonic’s serve at 5-4, but the Canadian was up to the task and used his big serves and ground strokes to save those three set points, plus a fourth a few points later, displaying that he might actually be able to pull this off.
Federer, who hit just 14 unforced errors in the match, didn’t let the disappointment of missing out on those four set points, though, as the set went to a tiebreak. From 3-3, the Suisse was able to reel off four points in a row to level the match at one-set all, putting a minor dent in that confidence that Raonic had boosted up.
The former No. 1 player in the world kept his level up and looked to have taken complete control of the match in the third set as he was able to break Raonic in the latter stages for a 4-3 lead. Two holds at love for Federer closed out the set and allowed him to come within one set of his 11th Wimbledon final.
“I was struggling there through the third and fourth sets. He was playing some really good tennis,” said Raonic.
Federer, who beat Raonic in the 2014 Wimbledon semifinals, looked like he would pounce first in the fourth set, as well, as he had a look at two break chances at 2-2. Once again, though, the 6’5” Canadian was up to the task and saved both of them, plus one more in the 4-4 game. The confidence boost received from escaping those big moments allowed Raonic to bounce back from a 40-0 hole on Federer’s service game at 5-6, as he eventually won a 14-point game and converted his third break chance to steal the fourth set and force a decider.
The Canadian carried that momentum into the fifth set, breaking Federer in his second service game for a 3-1 lead, before having two more break chances in Federer’s next service game for a double break lead. He was unable to convert but he didn’t need that extra cushion as there was no way back for the Suisse. Raonic’s big serve, which reached speeds of 144mph and averaged 129mph on the day, proved to be too hot to handle for Federer as Raonic lost just five points on serve in the set, including a hold at love to seal the deal.
“I sort of persevered. I was sort of plugging away…He gave me a little opening towards the end of the fourth. I made the most of it,” said Raonic.
The Canadian now awaits the home favorite Andy Murray in the final after the Brit defeated Tomas Berdych comfortably in straights, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Raonic and Murray just played three weeks ago in the final at Queen’s Club with Murray winning, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.
“Am I worried about recovering? No…my matches tend to be quite quick,” said Raonic. “I feel pretty good after. I know I’ll feel much better in 48 hours…It’s a slam final. A lot of adrenaline. All this kind of stuff takes over and you keep fighting through.”
“I’ve by no means done what I want to be here to do,” said Raonic, who hopes to become the first Canadian to win a major singles title. “The impact of being Canada’s first-ever finalist will be bigger if I can win the title. I have to focus on that, put all my energy into that.”
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer added to his legacy with one of the most entertaining and astounding wins of his career on Wednesday at Wimbledon as he came back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic, 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3.
“Today was epic,” said the former No. 1 player in the world.
Federer, who is in search of a record eighth Wimbledon title and first major title since 2012, not only was down two sets, but also down 0-40 midway through the third set, as well as being down three match points at various times throughout the fourth set.
“I fought. I tried. I believed…At the end I got it done,” said Federer, who turns 35 in just over a month. “For me the dream continues. I couldn’t be happier.”
The 17-time major champion made it sound simple, but the comeback was one for the history books as he earned his 10th win from a two set deficit.
A straightforward first set that saw no breaks and just two break points, both on Cilic’s serve, required a tiebreak to separate the two. It was the 2014 US Open champion who capitalized, racing out to a 5-0 lead on Centre Court before eventually taking it 7-4.
The second set was slightly less straightforward, as Cilic, who had been 52-0 in matches where he was able to take a two sets lead, was able to earn the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead before fighting off a break point in the next game to consolidate. There were no issues from there for the Croat as he lost just two points in his next three service games to close out the set and put himself just one set away from the Wimbledon semifinals.
Once again, the servers dominated in the third set as only five points went against serve in the first six games of the set. It was in that always crucial seventh game, though, that Cilic looked to be just a few points away from the finish line. At 3-3, the No. 9 seed earned a 0-40 lead on Federer’s serve before the Suisse, who hit 27 aces and zero double faults in the match, somehow worked out of that hole and used the momentum to break in the next game for a 5-3 lead. A comfortable hold in the next game signaled to Cilic and the tennis world that Federer wouldn’t go down that easily.
“That switched the momentum,” said Cilic, discussing his missed opportunities at 3-3.
The fourth set, like the first, saw no breaks, but there was a multitude of chances for both players throughout. Each had to fight out of a 15-40 hole early in the set to hold before Cilic had a 30-40 lead in consecutive Federer service games, one at 5-4 and one at 6-5, meaning both opportunities were match points. The Croat again was unable to convert on the big points, leaving the door open for Federer to stage an epic comeback.
The tiebreak was full of breathtaking and tense moments as the players were never separated by more than two points and it required 20 points to be decided. After fending off another match point at 6-7 in the tiebreak, Federer rattled off four of the next six points to shock the Croat and force a deciding fifth set.
After an early challenge in the decider from Cilic, Federer settled in and looked like the potential greatest player of all time that so many have grown to love over the course of his career. After pressuring Cilic’s serve to no avail at 3-2, he repeated the act at 4-3 and was successful this time, setting up an opportunity to serve for the match. No mistakes were made as Federer held to 15, thanks to two aces, for the win and set up a date with Milos Raonic in the semifinals.
“To be out there again fighting, being in a physical battle and winning it is an unbelievable feeling…it was an emotional win,” said Federer, who is hoping to become the oldest major title winner since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open at the age of 37 in 1972.
“It’s great winning matches like these, coming back from two sets to love. It’s rare. When it happens, you really enjoy them.”
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer ended the Cinderella run of Marcus Willis on Wednesday at Wimbledon as the No. 3 player in the world defeated the No. 772 player in the world, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
Willis, the Brit who was extremely close to pulling the plug on his professional tennis career, decided to make a run at his dream one more time and was successful, winning a wild card tournament to earn entry into the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon, where he was able to beat three top-quality players, one of which was ranked inside the Top 100, to earn a spot in the main draw.
“This story is gold. I hope the press respects his situation. It’s easy now to use it, chew it up, and then throw it all away. He’s got a life and career after this,” said Federer of Willis’ story.
A match with Federer on Centre Court inspired Willis to confidently breeze through his first round match in straight sets, but the 17-time major champion was able to quickly stomp out any possibility of Willis’ run continuing, racing out to a quick one set advantage in less than half an hour.
Willis provided the crowd with something to cheer for early in the second set as he got on the scoreboard for the first time to get to 1-1. The 25-year old played Federer tight throughout the set, but was unable to create any chances on the serve of the Suisse, winning just four points in four return games. Because of the inability to create chances on the return, one poor service game from Willis at 2-3 was the turning point in the set, as Federer converted on his third break point of the game to grab a 4-2 lead, before eventually closing out the set.
The British crowd continued their massive support of Willis in the third set, and he did not disappoint. The Brit looked like he belonged on the biggest stage in tennis as he battled toe-to-toe with arguably the greatest player of all time, serving confidently and beginning to create chances on return. Willis saw just his second break point of the match at 3-2 in the third set, but it was staved off by the veteran, propelling him to break at love just three games later before closing out the straight sets win.
“It’s not easy for him to come out there and play a decent match. There’s a lot of pressure on him as well. I thought he handled it great,” said Federer, complimenting Willis’ performance.
Sure, Willis didn’t win the match, but he earned something so much more important than that. He won the respect of millions of tennis fans around the world, especially those in his own country, who surely hope that he will change his plans and continue his professional tennis career.
“It was all just a blur. It was amazing…I love every bit of it,” said Willis. “The whole experience was incredible.”
After the match had ended, Federer stayed by his chair, allowing Willis to be the one who walked out to the middle of the court to acknowledge the applauding fans giving him a standing ovation, something he may never be able to do on that big of a stage again.
“It was his moment. I wanted him to have a great time,” said Federer.
Federer will take on the winner of Dan Evans, another Brit, or Alex Dolgopolov in the third round.
by Kevin Craig
Marcus Willis, the No. 772-ranked player in the world, put on an astounding performance on Monday at Wimbledon, continuing his improbable run that began even before the qualifying event last week.
Willis beat Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in straight sets by a score line of 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 thanks, in large part, to the massive crowd support he had on Court 17.
Berankis, a player who has shown spurts of great talent on the ATP World Tour level, was simply unable to crack through the spirited performance from Willis, winning only one of 20 break points that he saw and was simply unable to ever get a foothold in the match.
Early breaks in each set allowed the Brit to play confidently throughout the match as he put on display his great touch around the net and his “unorthodox” game that has the ability to frustrate any opponent.
The confident display never wavered from Willis, and an unreturned serve on match point gave him the biggest win of his career over the 53rd ranked Berankis and a spot in the second round.
The 25-year old had absolutely no intentions of playing in Wimbledon this year, and was close to even calling quits on his professional tennis career. Having only played one event since September of 2015, Willis found himself looking for tennis teaching jobs around the world. After an inspiring conversation with his girlfriend and a bit of luck, though, Willis found himself back on court looking to fulfill one of his biggest dreams.
Willis, in order to fulfill that dream, had to play in a pre-qualifying event just to earn his spot in the main qualifying event for Wimbledon, and his entry into the pre-qualifying event only came when a player had travel issues and was unable to make it to the tournament site in time.
Some impressive performances in the pre-qualifying earned Willis a wild card into the qualifying event, where he was able to dispatch three very talented players, one of which is currently inside the Top 100, to continue his magical run into the main draw of Wimbledon.
“I’ve always wanted to play at Wimbledon. I just never thought it would happen,” said Willis.
He is getting his opportunity to play at Wimbledon now and is taking full advantage of it. His prize for reaching the second round? £50,000 and a match against seven-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer.
“I think it’s one of the best stories in a long time in our sport,” said Federer of Willis’ run.
“I’m not sure he can play on grass, that’s good,” said Willis jokingly. “I get to play on a stadium court. This is what I dreamed of when I was younger.”
When Willis was younger, he was one of the highly touted juniors coming up through Great Britain with a lot of promise.
“When I was a junior, yeah, I was talented…Then I got dropped in the real world,” said Willis. “I lost a lot of confidence, made some bad decisions, went out too much, lifestyle wasn’t good…I didn’t have the drive.”
Thankfully, though, for Willis, he has regained that drive and will now get to play on arguably the biggest stage in tennis on Wednesday; Center Court at Wimbledon.
“Two, three, four years ago, [playing at Wimbledon] was looking very unlikely. Now I’m here. I’m going to enjoy every minute,” said Willis.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic was able to beat Roger Federer in the semifinals at the Australian Open on Thursday, 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, setting up a match-up in the final with either Andy Murray or Milos Raonic. Djokovic’s level was extraordinarily high for the first two sets, but Federer didn’t go down without a fight as he clawed out a set to make things interesting. In the end, Djokovic was able to take the lead in their head-to-head battles at 23-22, and make it to his 17th consecutive final.
It’s difficult to put into words how well Djokovic played in the first two sets. Djokovic was playing arguably the best tennis a human possibly could, as he was ripping winners from anywhere on the court and acting like a wall behind the baseline, leaving the 17-time grand slam champion frustrated and having no clue what to do.
Djokovic quickly broke Federer in his first service game of the match and raced out to a 3-0 lead in what appeared to be the blink of an eye. Federer did get a hold at love in his second service game, but that is all Djokovic would allow him to have has he turned the knob back up and won three straight games to close out the 22-minute set with a double break advantage. The second set was more of the same as Djokovic again raced out to a quick lead, finding himself up 4-1 in a very short period of time. Djokovic gave Federer more trouble in his last service game of the set before he was able to hold, possibly foreshadowing what he was about to do in the third set. Nevertheless, Djokovic held at love and once again closed out the set with a double break lead.
The third set was very tight throughout as Federer’s level began to rise and Djokovic’s began to drop slightly. Federer was the one who began hitting winners from almost anywhere on the court and playing tremendous defense as Djokovic would drag him from corner to corner. After four easy holds to get the set to 2-2, Djokovic had a look at a break point before Federer would save it and wind up getting the hold. In the next game, though, Federer and Djokovic fought for over 10 minutes in a 16 point game that saw Federer have four break points. As the game was being played, it almost felt as if Federer had to get that break if he wanted to prolong the match at all, or else Djokovic would relax and get the break in the next game and cruise to the win. The former is what happened, though, as Federer got the break on his fourth chance and went on to close out the set.
The match continued to be tight into the fourth set, as neither player gave the other any opportunities on their serve. Neither returner was able to get past 30, until Federer served at 3-4 and got down 30-40. Djokovic, disappointed with the fact he let the match get to this point and aware what Federer could do if the match was taken to a fifth set, had no issue converting the only break point of the set to go up 5-3, and served out the match at love to book his place in the final.
Djokovic put on an absolute masterclass display of tennis in the first two sets as he won both in an under an hour combined, losing only three games and making six unforced errors along the way. Many viewers were even being reminded of the 2008 French Open final when Rafael Nadal defeated Federer in the final, only losing four games in three sets. Djokovic stated himself that the “first two sets have been probably the best two sets [he’s] played against [Federer] overall.” All Federer could rely on was the hope that Djokovic’s level would drop at some point, and it did, allowing the Suisse to give the fans some of what they wanted as he took the match to a fourth set and competed until the last point. In the end, Djokovic was too good and proved again why he is the No. 1 player in the world.
Djokovic awaits his opponent in the final as Murray and Raonic will battle on Friday night in Melbourne. Both Murray and Raonic earned their spots in the semifinals with four set wins, Murray beating David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, and Raonic defeating Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Murray is hoping to make his fifth appearance in the final of the Australian Open and create a repeat of last year’s final, while Raonic is in his second grand slam semifinal after making it to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014 and looks to make his first final at a slam.
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cruised through their Australian Open quarterfinal matches on Tuesday to set up a classic semifinal matchup. The current head-to-head record between Federer and Djokovic is even at 22, and each player will look to take the advantage in that record as well as earn a spot in the Australian Open final.
Federer was able to defeat Tomas Berdych in the last match of the of the day session on Rod Laver Arena with a 7-6, 6-2 6-4 score line. Berdych started off strong as he was able to break Federer early in the set, but was unable to consolidate the advantage as Federer broke straight back. The two played a lot of hard hitting extended rallies throughout the entire first set, but just a couple poor points for Berdych handed the first set to Federer in the tiebreak.
Berdych appeared to lose all the confidence he had in the first set as he was quickly broken in the first game of the second set. Federer lost only five points on serve in that set and went on to get another break late to close it out with a double break advantage.
Berdych appeared as if he was going to turn things around in the third set as he grabbed an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Federer would have none of that, though, as he quickly broke right back and controlled his serve throughout the rest of the set. Just like in the second, Federer grabbed a break late and was able to easily serve it out for the straight sets win.
Djokovic looked to join Federer in the semifinals as he had to play Kei Nishikori in the night session. The No. 1 player in the world was able to bounce back from his poor, 100-unforced error performance against Gilles Simon in the fourth round to beat Nishikori handily, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Djokovic started off the match in a dominant manner, having little trouble on his serve and applying pressure on Nishikori’s service games. A break to go up 4-2 was all Djokovic needed as he would lose only two points in his next two service games to close out the set.
Nishikori began to make Djokovic work a lot harder on serve in the second set, but just was not able to defend his own serve and win the big points. Despite winning the same number of return points as Djokovic in the second set, Nishikori played two poor service games, allowing the defending Australian Open champion to pounce on the opportunity. The two service games combined with a 0-5 conversion rate on break points led to an easy two sets lead for Djokovic.
The level of play dropped drastically in the third set from both players as there were four breaks in a row early on. After breaking to get back on serve for the second time in the set, Djokovic settled down and broke Nishikori for the third straight time to take a 4-3 lead. Once again, the Serb cruised in his last two service games to close out the set and win the match.
Both Djokovic and Federer played clean tennis in their easy quarterfinal wins. The two combined to hit only 53 unforced errors and get broken only four times as they both cruised to the matchup that many fans around the world have been waiting for.
With a win in the semifinal, either player would take the 23-22 lead in their head-to-head record, but each player has a little more to play for than that. This match is coming down to a battle of legacies. Federer is hoping to get one more grand slam title and separate himself that much more from Djokovic, who is quickly approaching many of Federer’s records. Another win at the Australian Open for Djokovic would be his 11th slam title with a few years still left in his prime, only six away from what Federer currently has. Federer will be well aware of this when they take the court on Friday night in Melbourne, and the warriors will be ready to provide a match for the ages.
by Kevin Craig
- Roger Federer became the first player to win 300 grand slam matches with his third round win over Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open. Compatriot Stan Wawrinka also had a milestone win in Melbourne as he won his 400th career ATP match with his third round win over Lukas Rosol.
- Kristyna Pliskova set the record for most aces in a women’s match by hitting 31 in her second round loss to Monica Puig at the Australian Open.
- Novak Djokovic hit 100 unforced errors in his five set win over Gilles Simon in the fourth round, after only hitting 78 unforced errors in his first three matches combined. The win sent Djokovic to the quarterfinals for his 27th consecutive quarterfinal appearance at a grand slam event.
- Victoria Azarenka is still undefeated in 2016 with a 9-0 record that sees her in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Azarenka has only lost three or more games in a set four times, only once being taken to 6-4.
- John Isner exited the Australian Open in the fourth round, but not before hitting 119 aces, an average of just under 30 per match. Isner also made 75 percent of his first serves throughout the tournament. The second best first serve percentage of a player that made it to the fourth round was Bernard Tomic at 66 percent.
- Gilles Muller and Fabio Fognini played the first all tiebreak four set match at the Australian Open since 2000 when Max Mirnyi beat Antony Dupuis in four tiebreak sets. Muller was the winner with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 score line.
- Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille of France have teamed up to make the men’s doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open without losing a set. Before the tournament, the two had a combined 10-42 doubles record for their careers.
- 38 year old Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo made the semifinals of the challenger in Rio de Janeiro this week. The 263rd ranked Spaniard has now made at least one challenger semifinal every year since 2001.