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.
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:
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) January 24, 2013
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.