February 2, 2010-The world’s number one ranked man and woman tennis players won the Australian Open. So maybe that was not so surprising, but along the way there were some other stories that were not expected and some were just as projected.
Roger Federer was the favorite to take the first Gran Slam of 2010, but many felt there were going to be some struggles along the way. Surprisingly one challenge that Federer faced was the very first set of the tournament. The Swiss champion lost that set 6-4 to Russian Igor Andreev, but Federer took the next three sets 6-2, 7-6 and 6-0. The only other set that Federer lost in the tournament was in the quarter finals against Nikolay Davydenko who had beaten Federer the last two matches they played.
As for the rising players ready to move in when the number one slipped, Federer controlled Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) to win his 16th Grand Slam singles championship. And the other contenders all fell victim to persisting injuries from Andy Roddick's sore shoulder to Juan Martin Del Potro with a bad wrist. Most notably was number two Rafael Nadal and his ailing knees that continue to plague him.
Serena Williams’ path to the crown was more of a test as she had a real scare in her quarterfinal contest against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals. Down 6-4 and 4-0, Serena held serve after being broken five times in the match. Williams went on to victory with a 6-4, 7-6, and 6-2 score.
Her win in Australia was her 12th Grand Slam victory, tying her with Billie Jean King. With her sister Venus in doubles, Serena has a 141-19 career record, 11 Grand Slam titles and even two gold medal in the 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games.
Williams’ challengers are fewer and far behind. Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic are fading fast into the pack. Martina Sharapova has still not recovered from recent shoulder surgery. Serena’s only possibility of a threat might be her own sister Venus, but the older Williams’ sister seems to be losing steam.
Justine Henin had a nice run to the Australian Open final after being out of tennis for 20 months, but was it really surprising? Considering the state of the top women and Kim Clijsters recent U.S. Open crown, Henin even taking a set from Williams was a slight surprise but not shocking. It remains to be seen if the Belgians are a real threat. Hopefully this will bring some additional suspense to the women’s’ tennis tour for 2010
Although they have vastly different styles, both Federer and Williams show a common trait that keeps them above the rest. Both show a lack of interest in minor tournaments and in those circumstances are open to losses, they also know how to turn it up in the Grand Slams. This pattern also seems the best way to stay relatively injury free in a much debated and extremely long tennis season.
At ages 28 and 27 respectively, Federer and Williams don’t seem ready to step aside and let the youngsters take over. Unfortunately history does not show much relief for Murray and others for the near future.
Rod Laver was 31 years old when he won his second Grand Slam in 1969. Pete Sampras ended with a U.S. Open title (2002) at 31. John McEnroe made the semifinals of the 1992 Wimbledon at 33. Andre Agassi reached the U.S. Open final at 35.
On the women's side, the 1988 Wimbledon had Martina Navratilova 31 and Chris Evert 33. Margaret Court won three majors in 1973 when she turned 31. Virginia Wade was almost 32 when she gained her Wimbledon victory in 1977, and 38-year-old Billie Jean King played all four majors -- reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1982.
Besides history in the making, the 2010 Australian Open shows that the Roger Federer and Serena Williams show will continue for at least a few more years. This is a show that is worth watching not just for the thrills along the way, but for the possible incredible finish.