Hi folks. I’m finally done with my English teaching course and thankfully everything went well. It was an intensive two weeks which means I couldn’t blog about the Australian Open or hardly watch tennis. I did however catch some tennis here and there. I saw some of Roger’s matches against Murray and Nadal. Roger’s wins over Tsonga and Murray was particularly impressive. When the draw first came out I said Roger had a favorable draw because both Tsonga and Murray had been struggling with injuries and were not back to their best yet. Some people got on my case about it. Some people also got on my case for saying Roger won’t pass the semis. In the end I was well pleased with Roger’s result. Going into Melbourne I was quite negative about Roger’s chances after he lost to Hewitt in the final of Brisbane.
But when the Australian Open began I sensed a change in Roger. He seemed more calm and confident, and I attribute that to the presence of Edberg. Roger was mentally very good in Melbourne with the exception of the match against Nadal. But that was predictable. I said before the tournament Roger won’t beat Nadal and when he lost the first set I got up and left the match. I knew he would struggle to win a set from there on. For Roger to beat Nadal he has to win the first two sets and be a break up in the 3rd set, and even then it is not a given that he will win. It is what it is. But I said semis would be a good result so I am well pleased he did it. The loss to Nadal didn’t bother me because I expected it. I was very impressed with how Roger shut Tsonga out in straight sets. He was almost his old self.
Beating Murray in 4 sets was once again very impressive, even though Murray is not yet back to his best. I think the changes Roger made has been making paid off. The new coach, the new racquet, and even playing Brisbane I think paid off. The loss in the final of Brisbane was discouraging to me so it was great to see a different Roger show up in Melbourne. My belief that 2014 will be another good year for Roger is now restored. Even a slam title is not out of the question. Even though I was OK with Roger’s loss to Nadal, I was still dissatisfied because as far as I was concerned Nadal was the overwhelming favorite to win the title now. Not good! In fact I was so convinced that Nadal would win the title that I didn’t bother watching the final, even though I had some time off. I accidentally strolled into a restaurant that day and saw that Stan was 2 sets up.
Can you imagine my surprise?! So I started watching the match from the beginning of the 3rd set, and I saw that Nadal was just rolling his first serve in. He was also getting treatment for his back. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Stan couldn’t either because he started cracking mentally in the 3rd set with his first slam title in sight. He choked the 3rd set away but that is totally excusable given all the drama that was going on and what was at stake. I think he did very well to gather himself in the 4th set and cause the big upset. Nadal’s serve speed was starting to increase again and he is very difficult to put away even when injured, so Stan showed some big balls there. Of course Stan also beat Djokovic 9-7 in the 5th set in the quarters which was really the key win for him I thought.
It meant that no one can put an asterisk next to this slam title as he beat the favorite and 4-time Australian Open champ. It really was a sensational run from Stan and he is now well and truly out of the shadow of Roger. He is now one of the big players himself that can contend for more slam titles. So in the end the 2014 Australian Open ended up being a satisfactory slam for me personally. Roger is back as far as I’m concerned and I’m happy for Stan as well. But the most important thing is probably that Nadal did not win the title and a second career slam in the process. Had he done so he was on his way to surpassing Roger in no time. In fact there would have been people who already claimed he is the GOAT. Now there is no guarantee he will win a second career slam. The one thing about Nadal’s resume that can be criticized is that it is unbalanced towards clay court results.
If he wins a second career slam, something not even Roger could do, that imbalance goes out of the window. So this loss was a big blow to him. It’s always hard to predict with Nadal but I wouldn’t be surprised if from here on he slumps again, while at the same time Roger keeps rising. That’s the way it usually works anyway. If Roger could win one more slam this year while Nadal slumps it could do wonders for him in the GOAT debate. In the end the Fedal GOAT debate will probably be very close anyway. It’s like Roger said when they once asked who is better between him and Nadal. He said we will probably never know. Roger usually get these kind of things right but it’s fun to follow this race to GOATness anyway. There is a long way to go still!