Things We Learned on Day 11 of the Australian Open

In case you missed it, here is what we learned on Day OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay SevenDay Eight, Day Nine, and Day 10.


1. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a hostile presser transcript than the one from after Victoria Azarenka’s semifinal match against Sloane Stephens. Murder suspects have probably been interrogated less harshly in court than she was after her medical timeout. A little perspective, please. She’s not the first, and she won’t be the last. Let’s not pretend she is.

At the end of the day, it may not be a popular sentiment, but in a situation like this one, it’s still on the opponent to play their best, even after a 10 minute timeout. Part of tennis is dealing with gamesmanship. There are many forms of it, this is only one. It’s the tennis equivalent of “icing the kicker” in American football. The kicker needs to make the field goal, regardless.

This will add fuel to the fire for Azarenka’s critics, since she’s had similar incidents in the past. That’s deserved, but the reaction still feels overblown. We didn’t learn anything new about Azarenka in this match. At least I didn’t.

2. I’m amazed at the way Li Na played against Maria Sharapova. That was an incredible performance from start to finish. It’s rare to see Li play such a comprehensive, focused match against a top opponent, even when she wins. I hope she brings the same composure to the Australian Open final.

3. Novak Djokovic put on quite a display in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over David Ferrer, and looks very well poised to defend his Australian Open title. But Ferrer needs to buy some self-confidence. I’m rather tired of him putting himself down on a regular basis.

Juan Jose:

1. Even though I apparently “learned” that the “Year of Li Na” is upon us, I still picked against Carlos Rodríguez’ pupil in her semifinal against Maria Sharapova. What’s the point of learning if I can’t apply my newfound knowledge? I only caught the end of Li Na’s masterclass today, and it was quite a thing to behold. I find it amazing that the face of Chinese tennis is in the final of the Australian Open, with a real chance to add to her French Open title, just months after looking so thoroughly mediocre at the WTA Championships.

2. Hearing Patrick McEnroe pontificate over what is or isn’t “a travesty” on live TV has to be one of my least favorite things to do on this Earth. Thank the heavens for the mute button.

3. It’s possible for one of the three best returners in the ATP to win only seven points in 11 service games of his opponent. The returner was David Ferrer, and the server was Novak Djokovic. It still baffles the mind how Djokovic managed to win 86% of all the points played on his serve. It’s not like he turned into Sampras or anything – he only had six aces. But the World No. 1 was extremely aggressive once the ball was in play, and that was fairly evident whenever Ferrer managed to get a return in play during their brief semifinal.

4. Speaking of Novak Djokovic, he apparently has a license to practice medicine:

Dr. Djoko is in da house!


1. I agree completely with Amy. As I wrote in my Liveblog, I felt that a lot of the vitriol directed at Azarenka came from pre-written narratives. Sloane was the newbie, the innocent one, the media darling, the damsel in distress. And Azarenka was the top-dog bully with a history of bending the rules. Things got out of control so quickly when Azarenka took that medical timeout that I had a hard time keeping my cool. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the MTO then — honestly I never am a fan of taking a MTO before your opponent serves late in the set — but it’s in the rules, and Azarenka felt like she needed it.

Sloane, meanwhile, only held serve once the entire match, so it’s not like it was a surprise that she got broken. Plus, she got to game point, so she didn’t come out cold or stiff.

I think that Sloane and Vika both handled it well in their post-match pressers. I think there needs to be clarity in the rules. I think that Vika was still so rattled by the whole thing in her post-match on-court interview that she made the whole thing a billion times worse, and I think that Benito is earning his paycheck today.

The only part I don’t like is that in her presser she said that she never questions when her opponents get MTOs, when just this tournament she questioned the validity of Jamie Hampton’s. Vika does not always have a way with words.

2. The year of Li Na! Do you guys believe me now? But seriously, I don’t even think I believed myself this much (hence the fact that I didn’t pick her to win). But she played out-of-her-mind tennis against Maria Sharapova, and I think we are set up for a fantastic final. It’s nice that there’s a surprise.

3. I am still shocked that Sharapova went so tamely though after being so dominant all week. She’ll be okay though.

4. I really wish that David Ferrer would start believing in himself against the Big Four. It’s pretty frustrating to watch a player who is that talented be content with where he is, especially against a guy like Djokovic who he’s beaten five times! Honestly, I’d take the Bernard Tomic/Ryan Harrison I-can-beat-anyone bravado over Ferrer’s often defeatist attitude any day.

5. That being said, Novak Djokovic is very, very good at tennis.

6. It’s so great to see the Bryans back into the final here. They have a chance to clinch history against the surprise finalist team of Sijsling and Haase, and it will be fun to see them go for No. 13. We are lucky to have them around.

6 Responses

  1. marron
    marron January 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |

    I agree, David’s selfdeprecating talk is getting old. I like that he’s modest, but too much so! You are good, David. Believe………

    JJ, loved your PMac ‘travesty’ comment. I still throw up in my mouth a little when I watch AO ’09 and his near-sobbing commentary after Rafa’s win. Had to get my gallbladder out after that one, LOL!!!! (just kidding)

    Since then, I find PMac so annoying… almost as much as Chrissy. Someone please invent a ‘commentary mute’ so’s I can still hear the action but not the yak?

  2. Master Ace
    Master Ace January 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |

    (a) Agree with Amy and Lindsey on Azarenka MTO. IMO, I thought it was legal as Azarenka did come up limping after playing a point earlier in the 2nd set. Reason I think it became an issue was the timing of it after Stephens survived 5 MPs to break Azarenka and having a chance to even the set. Indeed, Stephens has became the media darling especially after the crowd got behind her against S Williams and Azarenka in consecutive days. Most people do not remember that she used her athleticism to counterpunch hoping to force errors(S Williams had 48 and I believe Azarenka had over 30) and went for winners when she knew that her opponent had no chance to get the ball.

    (b)Indeed, good to see if the Bryans can win their 6th title in Melbourne after getting stopped by Paes and Stepanek, who got eliminated in the first round, in the 2012 final. Also, on doubles, Errani and Vinci are trying to win their 3rd Slam in the last 4 Slams played against another surprise team in Barty and Dellacqua.

    (c) By the way, I correctly pick the WTA final b/w Azarenka and Li. For evidence, go to and check out my post in Tignor’s WTA preview thread before Melbourne start. Can not brag on the ATP as my bottom half finalist got eliminated earlier than expected.

  3. Ophelia
    Ophelia January 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

    To be fair, of the 5 times Ferrer beat Djokovic, 3 of them were on clay and the other 2 were during the year-end championships in 2007 and 2011 when Djokovic was clearly burned out (he didn’t win a single set at the 2007 Masters Cup and was fatigued from winning everything in the first nine months by the 2011 WTF). It’s sometimes hard to tell if a player failed to beat a top player because of a lack of belief, or more because the other player was THAT much better than them; Ferrer seems to have less of a mental block against Murray compared to the other Big Four members, and yet the only times he’s beaten Murray have been on clay and once at the 2011 WTF when Murray had a bad back.

  4. Fernando
    Fernando January 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm |

    Fernando agrees with Pmac that vika’s “medical time out.” was an abomination to the sport. And this is not hyperbole. The ability to handle pressure is a component of any competition. Taking a time out because the pressure of the moment is getting to you makes a mockery of the sport. This is beyond gamesmanship.

    Somebody please reconcile for Fernando how you are prohibited from taking a medical time out for cramping but you allowed to take one if you get nervous?

    I am Fernando @vivafernando

    1. Jewell
      Jewell January 25, 2013 at 2:35 am |

      Maybe you should read Azarenka’s presser, and what Craig Tiley and Donna Kelso had to say about what treatment Azarenka received?

  5. Jewell
    Jewell January 25, 2013 at 2:33 am |

    I completely agree that the vitriol and hostility directed at Azarenka was over-the-top, and thought, apart from her own mistakes in the post-match interview, that both gender and nationality were playing a part in it, and the way the controversy was discussed, the wordings used.

    I learned that a player will get less of a press grilling over links to Dr. del Moral and the TennisVal acadmey that they will for taking an MTO. Seems like an interesting order of priority.

    I also learned that Greg Couch thinks “panic attack” is interchangeable with “choking”. An interesting view. I wonder if it’s supported by medical evidence.

    I learned that Neil Harman things these things didn’t happen in the good old days, and that Federer, Murray and Nadal have never taken MTOs. An interesting juxtaposition of “good old days” nonsense and selective perception.

    I learned that people would prefer to see a player potentially collapse on court rather than take an MTO, and that an awful lot of tennis commentators simply don’t understand the MTO rules or how the system works – or don’t want to.

    I learned that an awful lot of people still haven’t seen Tiley’s interview or seen the things he said in it. And I learned to be even more grateful for Christopher Clarey & Steve Tignor, who stayed even-handed and balanced, yet managed to question where questioning was justified.

    And I learned that the rush to react on Twitter is something to be VERY wary of – for myself as well as others. Maybe it’s not such a fun medium, after all.

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