As the summer draws to a close so did the first tennis grand slam of the year – the Australian Open. What a tournament it was!
The weather in Melbourne was magnificent; thousands of tennis mongers flocked Melbourne Park to watch what was set to be another very exciting Aussie open.
The men’s rankings proved to be true with the top four seeds all progressing to the semifinals without much trouble. Aussies’ high hopes in teen sensation, Bernard Tomic, saw him progress into the fourth round only to be knocked out by third-seed Roger Federer.
The men’s semifinals were a spectacle to behold. Absolutely amazing tennis played in the first semi which saw Rafael Nadal defeating longtime rival Roger Federer in four exhilarating sets.
As if this match did not need more heat, this year’s Nadal-Federer match was spiced up by comments by Nadal of Federer outside of the court.
Longtime critic of the overcrowded tennis calendar, Nadal was critical of Federer’s silence on the subject and was quoted saying: “For [Federer] it’s good to say nothing. Everything positive. ‘It’s all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,’ and the rest can burn themselves. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions.”
Federer’s defeat meant that he has not beaten Nadal in a major semifinal for five years and a career record against Rafa now at 9-18. The Fed Express cannot seem to deliver a victory against Nadal.
In the second semifinal, longtime friends Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic faced off in what promised to be an exciting match. The first set proved to be less than exciting after the Djoker won it 6-3 in a haphazard manner. Both players did not seem to be in their groove. Then a dramatic turnaround in the second set, what seemed to be a boring straight sets match became another classic battle between these two players as Djokovic took the match in a nearly-five hour, five set match.
This set the final of the 2012 Australian Open to be between the top two players in the world. Surely, with Djokovic having just played a five setter, Nadal would be able to close this with relative ease, right? Wrong! Djokovic came out playing some absolutely amazing tennis, moving the Spaniard left and right, point after point. With almost everyone in the stadium – apart from Novak’s box – cheering for Nadal, Djokovic showed real tenacity and spirit. After narrowly dropping the first set, he won the next two in spectacular fashion.
Nadal would not be written off so easily and like a Spanish toro came back fighting in the fourth set. Fending off three break points at 4-4 Nadal had all the momentum. Even after a short rain delay, he fought to close off the set and bring the match to a deciding fifth set.
The Serbian, however, was not finished. After exchanging breaks and gruelling rallies (up to 31 shots and an average of 5.3 shots per point), Djokovic closed out the set and match 7-5, falling on his back and shouting up at the skies. These two warriors made history with the longest ever Australian Open final, clocking in at 5 hours and 53 minutes. Final score: 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5.
“It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies,” Djokovic said. “We made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners.”
What a way to wrap up a record-breaking Australian Open. With more fans flooding through the gates this year than ever before, the start of Asia-Pacific’s Grand Slam version 2013 couldn’t come soon enough.