With a few turns and turns, the draw for the men’s tennis semifinals is over. And I am quite happy to say that most of my predictions have been correct.
I think the player I really didn’t expect to go so far was Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. The quarter-finals match produced some unexpected results. But what mattered was the show that loomed between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the final. Will fate allow them to follow the script every tennis fan expects? Let’s wait and see.
Nadal outlasts Verdasco in Australian Open epic
Andy Roddick was the first to reach the semi when he actually beat defending champion Novak Djokovic who retired 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1. It was a bittersweet way to end his title defense for Djokovic who was clearly suffering under the scorching heat. Adding to Djokovic’s woes was the fact that he played in the previous night’s match against Marco Baghdatis and the match finished at 02.20am. He clearly had a hard time moving around in the fourth set before he threw in the towel and retired. Roddick is a good sport, as he holds his emotions under scrutiny and doesn’t appear to be joking once Djokovic makes his decision. To Roddick’s credit, he looked set to be playing better tennis than ever before, his progress to the quarter-finals was overshadowed by the hype surrounding Nadal and Federer. With his strong and better serve around the game, I guess Djokovic didn’t really stand a chance against Roddick to fight back.
An epic semifinal
Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro in the evening in a rather convincing manner, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. After the previous game in which he was almost knocked out, Federer came back and didn’t really give del Potro a chance to win any points. It was Federer’s most devastating win, as he seemed to send a message to everyone that he was not finished and still aims to break Pete Sampras’ record of most of the Men’s Singles Grand Slam titles won. The win reminded Federer’s supporters years ago, when in the zone, it was so hard to beat. His win landed him in a very interesting semi-final against old rivals Roddick. Next to the Nadal-Federer match, the Federer-Roddick match will surely prove to be a treat for tennis fans who haven’t seen the two men play each other in major tournaments since Wimbledon’s final years are back.
Verdasco proved to be a giant killer this year when he knocked out Andy Murray in the fourth round then followed up with a win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France under the covered roof of the Rod Laver Arena. Score 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. From the start of the match, Verdasco appeared to be a more energetic and spritely player. He copied pages from Nadal’s shooting repertoire as he tried to hit the game’s winner into the corners of the pitch. Tsonga looked like a different player as he struggled to place his first serve.
Nadal faced France’s Gilles Simon in the evening and the Frenchman was the only player to have given Spain’s top rankings some terrifying moments when he faced Nadal in the second and third sets before losing 6-2, 7-5, 7-5. Simon really pushes the game over to Nadal, dictating the flow of play and pace that throws Nadal out of his comfort zone. Simon led Nadal to 24 unforced errors and only 29 winners.