Sunday, January 20, 2008

Halfway There: The Best Slam (Ever)?

Are we halfway done with the best grand slam in recent history? Ever?

It may seem so.

On the women's side, 37 of the completed 120 matches have gone to three sets (30.83%). Of those 37 three-setters, six of them have gone extra innings, including Jelena Jankovic's gripping 12-10 first round win over Tamira Paszek.

A quick glance at those matches that have gone the distance:
1. Su-Wei Hsieh def. Klara Zakopalova 2-6 6-4 8-6 (First round) 225 total points.
2. Jelena Jankovic (3) def. Tamira Paszek 2-6 6-2 12-10 (First round) 261 total points.
3. Casey Dellacqua def. Karin Knapp 4-6 6-3 8-6 (First round) 221 total points.
4. Katarina Srebotnik def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino 4-6 6-0 9-7 (First round) 212 total points.
5. Alisa Kleybanova def. Peng Shuai 7-5 4-6 9-7 (First round) 234 total points.
6. Casey Dellacqua def. Patty Schnyder (8) 4-6 7-5 8-6 (Second round) 221 total points.

While those were all thrilling encounters, upsets haven't riddled this year's AO like they have in the past. Six of the top eight women are through to the quarterfinals with 23 grand slam titles among them.

Phenomenal quarterfinal match ups include Justine Henin versus Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic taking on Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic squaring off with her nemesis, Venus Williams.

This tournament has also been the home of a resurgent mother in Lindsay Davenport, who won her first grand slam match in over a year before falling to an on-fire Maria Sharapova in the second round.

Davenport hasn't been the only fairy tale of this fortnight. Australian Casey Dellacqua scored wins over Schnyder and Amelie Mauresmo on her way to the fourth round, her first appearance past the opening two days in six tries. Dellacqua, 22, will surge inside the top 50 when rankings come out in two weeks.

But while the women's tournament has been entertaining, the men's has been downright scintillating.

With just over 100 matches complete, the men have treated us to 19 five-setters, including four that have gone the distance.

Those matches were:
1. Juan Monaco (21) def. Amer Delic 6-3 7-6(6) 5-7 6-7(8) 8-6 (First round) 387 points.
2. Paul-Henri Mathieu (23) def. Stefan Koubek 4-6 7-6(4) 2-6 7-5 8-6 (Third round) 366 total points.
3. Philipp Kohlschrieber (29) def. Andy Roddick (6) 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) 6-7 (3) 8-6 (Third round)
4. Roger Federer (1) def. Janko Tipsarevic 6-7(5) 7-6(1) 5-7 6-1 10-8 (Third round) 375 total points.

Those last two matches, featuring Roddick and Federer, have been much of the talk in the last few days. Roddick's inability to overcome an impressive challenge from Kohlschrieber and Federer's triumph over Tipsarevic shows just how different of paths the two have taken since they both won their first grand slams in 2003.

Lleyton Hewitt has become somewhat of a local hero again, vaulting himself into the fourth round after a couple of difficult victories. Most notable is his five-set win over Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 finalist. Hewitt won that match just before 5 a.m. a couple of days ago, and finds his path only more difficult with a fourth-round encounter with Novak Djokovic.

Roddick hasn't been the only upset of the tournament. The other Andy, England's Andy Murray crashed out in the first round after making a quick start to the year by winning Doha. Murray found success here last year, making the quarterfinals and co=authoring a masterpiece of a match with Rafael Nadal.

So if the second seven days are anything like the first, we're in for quite the end to the 2008 Australian Open. And by then we'll figured out just how good this slam has been this year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

England's Andy Murray - who's he?

I've heard of Scotland's Andy Murray.