Ah, the Aussie Open. It's been a fun two weeks of tennis with some really great matches. But here we are at the end of all things, and only 1 of 4 finals went the way I wanted it to go. Sometimes that's how the tennis ball bounces. Let's review:
WOMEN'S SINGLES FINAL - AZARENKA d. LI - 4-6. 6-4, 6-3. Blerg. Lotsa folks (including me) were hoping for a Serena-Sharapova face off, but Sloane Stephens and Li Na thought otherwise in the quarters and semis respectively. That's all fair. Can't hate on that. But then in the Aza-v-Stephens semi, Azarenka pulled some bullshit, stopping the match in the second when Stephens had momentum for a "panic attack" or some kind of rib cage issue and fans in the stadium, the commentators and the press were all pissed about it. That created a kind of "Anyone but Azarenka" vibe to the Final Match. Unfortunately, Li couldn't come through. After winning the first set, she suffered some bad errors and two bad tumbles in the second and third set, while Vika stayed consistent. It's not that I hate Vika or anything, but it wasn't a victory you could really cheer unreservedly and it made me miss Serena-v-Sharapova even more so.
WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL - The only bummer about this one is that it just wasn't featuring the Williams Sisters. I always want them to win. Instead, top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy beat the Australian pair of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 for the title. Man, the Aussie's were so close to a title win on home soil! If you want to know how little anyone cares about women's doubles when Venus and Serena aren't involved, both tennis.com and australianopen.com didn't have any direct links to articles about the match. I had to google "women's doubles final to find an article about it. Thankfully The Hindu wrote up a blurb so I knew who was playing!
MEN'S SINGLES FINAL - Djokovic d. Murray - 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2. So close those first two sets! And then not so close. UGH! So Novak three-peats in OZ. Well, good on him. Still not a huge fan, but you cannot deny that he really brings his best to Melbourne and that nobody can pull out 5-set wins in matches he should lose in the most dramatic fashion. The best match of the tournament was definitely Novak-vs.-Stan Wawrinka in the 4th round. You were so close, Stan! Keep up the great work! Now that OZ is over we get to wonder again about the oft-delayed, still-more-likely-than-a-Broadway-production-of-Rebecca return of Our Hero, Rafael Nadal. What will the Spring look like? Will Rafa dominate on the clay? Will he even show up at the US hard court tourneys? What's it gonna be?? I really hope it's back up and running to a full set of the Big Four. Even if you're not the biggest Rafa fan (then why are you reading my blog???) you have to admit that the energy of the tour is simply not the same without him.
MEN'S DOUBLES FINAL - BRYAN/BRYAN d. HAASE/SIJSLING 6-3, 6-4
Finally! One I'm super excited about! Wonder Twins Bob and Mike won their 13th major title becoming the winningest team in Grand Slam history. The Bryans already had a career Grand Slam, but like Djokovic in singles, they have had the most success Down Under. They've now got six Aussie trophies, 4 U.S. Open's, 2 Wimby wins and one French. They've also been ranked No. 1 in doubles for 8 of the past 10 years, won at least one Slam title for a record 9 consecutive years and won a record 84 career titles. And of course last year they won the gold medal at the London Olympics. When they eventually do retire, they'll have left pretty much no stone unturned, and set an impossibly high bar for any men's doubles teams after them. Plus it's great that they seem like such nice guys and with US men's singles struggling to keep a presence at the top of the sport, it's great to have the consistency of the Bryan Brothers on the doubles side. Let's go for the calendar slam this year, fellas! You can do it!!
My next tournament to watch is the VTR OPEN starting on Feb. 4 in Vina del Mar, Chile. The clay court tourney will be the return of Rafa to the ATP tour. VAMOS!!!