Day 11

Williams day out

Venus and Serena booked themselves a career ninth meeting in grand slams when the sisters won their respective semi-final matches against CoCo Vandeweghe and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni respectively. While Venus spent 3 tiring sets to over-power her much younger opponent, Serena took a mere 50 minutes to swat the challenge of the 34-year old Czech. Mirjana has taken a pounding on her body as she has played ten matches (singles and doubles) in eleven days and had a heavy strapping on her left leg. But Serena showed no mercy for her great survivor and eased through to a 6-2.6-1 victory. Venus, on the other hand, spent much longer time on court (146 minutes) as CoCo indulged in some hefty hitting of the ball and won the first set on a tie break. Venus had to bring all her experience to the fore and converted 5 of 9 break points against the big-serving Vandeweghe while Vandeweghe could convert just one of 13. Venus went on to clinch the next two sets 6-2,6-3 and through to the finals.

The rivalry between the sisters is nineteen years old and after 27 meetings, Serena leads 16-11. Their ninth grand slam final meeting feat is only eclipsed by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who have met in 14 grand slam finals. As Serena rightly said in her post match review that Venus is her toughest opponent and none have beaten her more that her big sister.  Whoever wins the title on Saturday, each would have achieved a milestone. If Serena wins her 23rd grand slam title, she will go one better than Steffi Graf (22) and one short of Margaret Court (24). Or Venus will earn the reward that her determination deserves. Apart from being one of the oldest players on tour at 36, she also suffers from Sjogren’s Syndrome, an incurable auto-immune disease. Let us wait and watch Saturday’s action.

The Swiss bandwagon continues to roll as senior pro Roger Federer raced to his 28th grand slam final and a shot for an 18th grand slam title and a fifth Australian Open crown. It would also mark his 100th Australian Open match on Sunday. In a five-set epic, which lasted three hours and five minutes, Federer came out winner 7-5,6-3,1-6,4-6,6-3 with some fine hitting on both flanks of the court. What makes this final more-sweeter for the Swiss magician is the combination of being in the twilight of his career and not having played competitive tennis since his Wimbledon semi-final exit last year.

The first set lasted 50 minutes as both men traded heavy blows, with Federer finally managing to break Wawrinks’s serve in the 12 game to win the set 7-5. Federer broke the 2014 Australian Open winner’s serve early in the second set and closed the set 6-3. Wawrinka was clearly frustrated with his game and cracked his racquet in two over his left knee and after the loss of the set went for a long medical break with his trainer. Regrouping himself and with Federer losing his focus, Stan the Man found a chink in Federer’s armoury and broke twice to run away with the third set 6-1. Federer was finding his rhythm not going as desired and while serving to stay alive in the fourth set lost his serve as well as the set 6-4. It was now the turn of Federer to take a long medical break and on his return to court found his bearing to break Wawrinka in the sixth game to go up 4-2. There was no let up later as Federer completed a stunning victory, much to the delight of a record crowd. Federer awaits the winner of the other semi-final between Rafael Nadal and the man whom they call “Baby Federer”, Grigor Dimitrov.

Stay tuned until tomorrow.

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