Age no barrier for seed’s
Action began at Melbourne Park with Karolina Pliskova of Czech losing to Croatian Mirjana Lucic Baroni in three tight sets 4-6,6-3,4-6. Mirjana was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 1999 as an 18-year-old who had just started playing professional tennis. This is the best showing in her last eight visits to the Australian Open. She had lost 7 times in the first round and managed to reach the second round only once in 1998. With no clothing contract and guarantees, life has been a big struggle for this 34-year old Czech. Battling an abusive father, financial ruins, seeking asylum in the United States and having nothing to show for career titles, Mirjana has seen it all. This victory has once again reinforced the fact that players in mid-30’s are ruling the roost.
Serena accompanied elder sister Venus to the semi-finals of the Australian Open and stay on course for her 23rd grand slam title, winning in straight sets against Johana Konta of Britain. The second seeded Serena was tested by Konta in the second set when the British player broke her to go up 2-1. But Williams broke back at love to level the score at 3-all and saved another break point in her next service game before closing out the match. Serena finished with 10 aces and is second on the list with 41 aces in this tournament. She is now the third player after Mirjana and Venus in the over 30-category to reach the semis and ensuring that there would be at-least one player of over 30 years in the finals.
The men’s quarterfinal match between David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov was a straight set affair with the Bulgarian winning hands down. This is his first grand slam semis after the 2014 Wimbledon. Goffin’s deft mix of court craft and speed were expected to trouble Dimitrov, but the Belgian’s serve let him down and coupled with a high unforced error stats of 46, he couldn’t stem the free-flowing tennis of Dimitrov. Goffin saved two match points in the penultimate game of the match, but it only delayed the inevitable, Dimitrov serving it out to love with a huge backhand winner down the line.
The last quarter final match turned out to be damp affair as Nadal beat Canadian giant Milos Raonic in straight sets 6-4,7-6,6-4 to reach his fifth Australian Open semi-final and face Dimitrov. The Spaniard was in control from the word go and broke in the seventh game with two passing shots winners to go ahead 4-3. He produced a wide range of shots; serves; returns, forehand down the line, backhand pass; to go one up in the set. The second set was closely fought with Raonic threatening to break Nadal’s serve in the second game. After a short medical time-out, Raonic served much better and took the set to a tie break. Nadal bounced back in the tie break to regain control and won the set to take a two set to love lead. The third set was all Nadal’s as he belted an inside out winner to lead 4-3. Nadal broke as Raonic was serving to stay in the match. Three unforced errors by the Canadian gave Nadal a passage to the semi-finals.