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Djokovic? Federer? The Odds-On Favorites to Win the 2012 Australian Open 52

Posted on January 12, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer won his last Australian Open title in 2010.

It is that time of the year when the snow is blowing while ice drips off your nose in the Midwest. Meanwhile, tennis moves “down under” to the warmth of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The official draw unfolded on Friday. That is when we saw whether the No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic would face Roger Federer or Andy Murray in the semifinals, assuming all the usual suspects make it that far.

Last year during the Australian Open Federer faced Djokovic in the semifinals, losing in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 while Nadal, suffering from injury, folded early in the quarterfinals to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

At the 2011 French Open, Djokovic suffered his first defeat of the season during the semifinals when Roger Federer upset him 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Nadal, on the other hand, breezed past Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.  In the final, Federer, who has never defeated Nadal at Stade Roland Garros, failed once again—losing 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1.

When the tour moved on to Wimbledon, Djokovic and Federer were once again drawn into the same half.  But this time, Federer did not meet Djokovic. He lost in the quarterfinals to an on-fire Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France—even after winning the first two sets, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal, once again, took care of Murray in the semifinals while Djokovic dismissed Tsonga.  In the final, Djokovic prevailed with surprising ease over the now world No. 2 Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

The 2011 US Open would prove to be the piece de resistance for Djokovic and a major blow for Federer. The Big Four made it to the semifinals where, once again, Djokovic faced Federer while Nadal manhandled Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  The other US Open semifinal should have gone to Federer who took the first two sets.  But even after serving for the match in the fifth set, Federer remained unable to close it out and Djokovic came back to win  6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.  In the final, Nadal was once again unable to dominate the Serb. Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1—claiming his third major title of 2011 and the No. 1 ranking.

After suffering a slump at the end of the year, pundits are once again pondering—can Djokovic do it again?  Only time will tell.  Right now, he must defend his title at the Australian Open.  Odds are in his favor at the moment.

Who will win the Aussie Open men’s title in 2012?  For a change of pace, Djokovic has been drawn into the same half as the No. 4 seed, Andy Murray while world No. 2 Nadal is scheduled to face Federer in the semifinals, should both make it that far.

Here are the top ten odds-on favorites to win the 2012 Australian Open.

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Andrea Petkovic Pulls Out of the Australian Open 50

Posted on January 12, 2012 by Pete South

Andrea Petkovic will be unable to compete in the Australian Open due to a stress fracture to her lower back.

With the first round of the Australian Open proper now just days away from getting underway the last thing the women’s draw needed was the withdrawal of another popular, highly ranked player.

Unfortunately for the Australian tennis fans preparing to hit Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the new season, that’s exactly what has happened, with world number 10 and great German tennis hope Andrea Petkovic forced to pull out of the event after suffering a stress fracture to her lower back. Anyone Betting on Australian Open Tennis can remove her from the equation.

The news will come as a devastating blow to a woman just starting to make her mark in women’s tennis after a run of Grand Slam quarter-final appearances last year. Petkovic ended 2011 as the first woman of German nationality to finish a season in the top 10 since Steffi Graf dominated the tennis scene back in the late 1990s and was optimistic that the fading fortunes of the likes of Venus and Serena Williams would allow her and another few young talents on the WTA circuit to break into the big time. Those following the online tennis betting should remember this.

The player stated after the news broke that she is “really disappointed” because she loves Australia, but is already “looking forward to coming back to Australia” in 2013.

Should Petkovic use the next six to eight weeks of rest and recovery back home in Germany to refocus and come back even stronger both mentally and physically, 2012 could still turn out to be a great year for the 24-year-old, but there’s no doubt that her quest for her maiden Grand Slam title has now been made that little bit more difficult.

Alexandr Dolgopolov: Rising Star in Men’s Tennis? 5

Posted on February 26, 2011 by Rob York

Robin Soderling at the 2011 Australian Open.

Robin Soderling is one of the biggest men in pro tennis, at 6’4” and nearly 200 pounds.

He has ridden one of the most overpowering serve-and-forehand combinations in the game’s history to a ranking of No. 4 in the world, scoring wins over the game’s biggest names.

And his personality, while less prone to controversy than it was just two years ago, could hardly be described as “warm.” I say all of this as a way of illustrating that the big Swede has rarely, if ever, been one to elicit sympathy.

Yet in the fourth set of his fourth-round Australian Open match, I couldn’t help but feel for the guy a little. Having battered his way past his first three opponents, he had won the first set easily, was up a break in the second and looked headed for a showdown with fellow Slam contender Andy Murray.

Alexandr Dolgopolov came alive in his match with Soderling at the 2011 Aussie Open.

Then suddenly his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, caught fire, winning five of the last six games of set two and routing the Swede 6-1 in set three.

Suddenly, I was rooting for Soderling to win the fourth, if not the match, in the hopes of that he could leave the court having restored some respectability.

He did capture set four, forcing his streakier, less experienced opponent to play a fifth. That was a challenge Dolgopolov was up to, however, winning the final set 6-2.

As big a ball as Soderling hits – and its as big as anyone today – players such as he are always vulnerable to evolutions in the sport, as a player who relies almost entirely on serving and baseline power has little answer when another player learns how to hit bigger than he does.

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The 2011 Australian Open and Rafael Nadal’s Legacy 4

Posted on February 12, 2011 by Rob York

Rafael Nadal completed his career grand slam by winning the U.S. Open in 2010.

Rafael Nadal missed a chance at history when he fell short at the Australian Open, one short of having won four Grand Slams in a row.

He’s in good company, though; in the 42 years since Rod Laver’s 1969 season, a long list of greats from Jimmy Connors in 1974 to Roger Federer in 2006-07 had fallen short of that same designation.

It’s hard to imagine Nadal playing any better than he has in last 12 months, just as it’s difficult to see the 29 and a half year old Federer regaining his form from 4-5 years ago.

It is, therefore, unlikely for us to see anyone knocking on that door again anytime soon.

Does missing out on that bit of history, however, make a significant difference in how the Spaniard will be viewed in the record books? Not in my view, unless the injury he sustained is much more serious than indicated.

Natal has already done so much of historical import that missing out on the Rafa Slam is just a loss of increments. The record books already show that, from 2005-07, the most (if not only) dramatic time of the tennis season was the May-July period, when a young Nadal and some soft surfaces were the only things making Federer look somewhat less than invincible.

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Is Novak Djokovic the Next Pete Sampras? 1

Posted on February 08, 2011 by Rob York

Can Novak Djokovic emerge from the shadows of Federer and Nadal to become a consistent winner?

Precise time frames escape me, but at some point in the past 18 months my good friend Rajat Jain compared Novak Djokovic to Pete Sampras.

Both men had won their first majors at a very young age (Sampras was 19, Djokovic 20) and spoke frankly of wanting to be No. 1. However, both of them soon found that Grand Slam glory brings a new weight of expectations, and both soon found themselves beset with struggles relating to their conditioning, their on-court tactics, and even their technical skills.

At the time, I couldn’t quite buy into the comparison. Sampras, for one thing, was a far bigger surprise when he won the 1990 US Open than Djokovic was at the 2008 Australian Open. Sampras had one just one title and a pair of 4th round appearances in majors going into that event. In 2007 Djokovic had won two Master’s Shields, beaten both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and reached the final of the ’07 US Open.

Furthermore, Djokovic was a much more developed product than Sampras, who possessed an attacking game early on but not the best net coverage or the best instincts regarding when to go in. Pete Sampras circa 1991-92 had clear room for improvement that the Novak Djokovic of 2009-10 apparently did not. Read the rest of this entry →

Tennis Power Rankings: Kim Clijsters Holds the Aussie Trophy and the Top Spot 3

Posted on February 01, 2011 by JA Allen

Kim Clijsters of Belgium won the 2011 Australian Open title defeating Ni La of China.The 2011 Australian Open’s evolving storyline for the ladies never ceased as one drama after another unfolded both on and off court.

First and foremost, Serena Williams, defending champion, still injured, decided to withdraw before the tournament Down Under got underway.

Sister Venus Williams hobbled briefly into Melbourne, eliminated when she could no longer move. At that point, the elder Williams retired in the third round against up-and-comer German Andrea Petkovic.

Svetlana Kuznetsova entertained all with the most thrilling matches of the tournament. The newly svelte Russian held on to defeat Justine Henin in the third round 6-4, 7-6.

Subsequently, Henin announced her second permanent retirement from professional tennis.

But the best match of the tournament followed in the fourth round as Kuznetsova met the feisty Italian Francesca Schiavone.  The two veterans battled for four hours and 44 minutes making it the longest women’s match ever.

It ended with Schiavone winning 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.

The Italian, however, had nothing left when she met the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.

The tournament ended with the crowning of Aussie Kim—her first championship in Melbourne.

The seasoned professionals, for the most part continued to give way to a new wave of hard-hitting ball-strikers working their way up the ranking.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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