Aussie Open Wrapup

Well, this was a really good tournament.  On the mens side, I’m always pleased with a Federer win.  Last year, he seemed to be weighted down with the effort to match Sampras’ slam record.  Running into an inspired performance by Nadal, his serve broke down in the crucial fifth set.  This year, he seemed very relaxed and held off a strong challenge from Murray in the third set.  Some will say that the win did not come against Nadal, however, the hyper-physical style of play that lead to much of Nadal’s success has now come back to haunt him.  At  that level of physical intensity, the window of time to play at one’s absolute peak is very small.

Speaking of wear and tear, it seems like the grind of the tour has really caught up to Roddick.  I had higher hopes for him coming off the prior tournament win, but the two-week format of a major championship does not bode well for injuries, especially to your playing arm.

Also on the US mens side, I had hoped for slightly more depth from John Isner, but he ran headfirst into a strong performance from Murray, who seems well on his way to becoming the first Brit since Fred Perry to win a slam.  If Murray continues to improve at his current pace and remains fit, it’s truly only a matter of time.  I do believe he needs to learn how to adjust to a more aggressive level of play.  Had he come into the net more, it might have been a different final.  Federer was playing lights-out from the baseline, although he did not appear to be hitting passing shots all that well.  Murray was winning a very high percentage of points at the net when he did come in throughout the entire tournament.  When pressed, he seems to revert to his more comfortable role as a baseline counter-puncher.  Get beyond that and we should see several majors from Murray.

Congrats to the Bryan brothers on regaining the doubles championship.  Interesting move by their coach to switch court coverage for the brothers.  Seemed to work well, though, and the result speaks for itself.

Speaking of results, how about those Williams sisters!  When Serena serves the way she’s capable of, it’s pretty much a question of whether or not she will beat herself, not whether her opponent will beat her (unless someone on the women’s side every matches that serve).  Great performance by Venus to put the singles loss behind her and take the lead in an impressive doubles championship.

Great tournament to start a new year.

Sony Ericcson Wrapup

Well, once again I proved why I’m not making a living forecasting the outcome of sporting events.  Like most, I favored Nadal to win the Sony Ericcson, having proven his superior mental focus in windy environments at Indian Wells.  Not to mention his general propensity for appearing invulnerable (except, I suppose for that huge topspin bouncing up into the much taller Del Potro’s strike zone).  My top hopes for the final were (in order),

Nadal v. Federer

Federer v. Murray

Nadal v. Murray

Murray proved why his third title this year is well-deserved, coming from down a break in the second to win 2 and 5. I might be wrong, but am going out on a limb saying this is the first Brit to win the SE Open?  With Roddick still unable to make a serious move, perhaps we Americans should just start rooting for Murray?

I was really impressed at his performance at the US Open last year and he looks to be on course for a fantastic 2009.  Best of luck to him!  Now that the tour is headed to Europe for the clay season, he’s going to need it on Nadal’s turf.

My Apology to Murray

I was watching the Nadal-Murray match over the last two days, always rooting for the underdog.  It seemed like Murray was dialed in yesterday, but got a bad break with the rain delay.  It’s really hard to play with the same intensity and shotmaking two days in a row, especially against a machine like Nadal.

After Murray lost break point after break point in the second game of the fourth, it really seemed like he would play down to his level of experience.  Kind of in disappointment, I joked on twitter that he would be watching the final tomorrow on TV.

Andy – I owe you an apology and hearty congratualations for shaking off the poor early performance and your well-deserved spot in the final.

Although I’ll be rooting for Rodger, he should not think he received any type of break today.  Although he does not have to face Nadal in yet another final (to whom he has a losing record this year), he also has a losing record against Murray.

If Murray can slay one giant, there is no reason he can’t do it again.  Mr. Federer should bring his A+ game to the court 🙂