2011 Australian Open – Day 5 Notes and Observations
Here are some notes and observations from Day 5 of the Australian Open…
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Justine Henin
- Kuznetsova played very close to the baseline. She hits flat and hard at all times and moves well from side to side but not as well when coming forward.
- She has been working hard to improve her physical conditioning and it has paid off.
- She also possesses a very consistent serve, a very comfortable volley, and her biggest weapon is hitting the ball early on the rise.
- Henin also plays close to the baseline and has an excellent one handed backhand. She has a huge flat forehand and likes to come into the court and make contact at shoulder height or even above the shoulder.
- She too has a very good serve and can attack the serve as well while also being a prolific volleyer. Her movement on the court ranks among the best in the game.
- The first set of this match was definitely in favor of Kuznetsova, who controlled the majority of all baseline rallies. Henin had trouble tonight with her lack of racket head speed when hitting the forehand. She hit with her arm tight as a drum.
- As the match went on Henin began hitting from the baseline which then helped Kuznetsova. No matter how hard Justine could hit the ball Svetlana would return until Henin began trying to over-hit the ball from behind the baseline. Kuznetsova ended up winning the first set playing some decent tennis.
- As the second set rolled on Kuznetsova had several chances to win not only the set, but also the match. The set then went to a tiebreaker.
- The tiebreak included many faults and unforced errors but finally ended with Kuznetsova winning for only the 3rd time against Henin in their 19 battles.
- Nick’s Tip: Kuznetsova could not have won this match if she did not work so hard to be in such great shape. Henin should have not tried continuously hit with Kuznetsova but should have moved her from side to side and pull her in with short slices, hit angles, drop shots, some heavy top spin, groundstrokes, etc.
Andy Roddick vs. Robin Haase
- The first set was all Haase. He not only had huge serves, but backed it up off the wall groundstrokes.
- The seconds set went to a tiebreak, and you guessed it, the bottom fell out, which included double faults.
- After the tiebreaker Roddick went on a roll with everything going his way.
- Conclusion: Roddick will not give up no matter what, but let’s also mention Roddick pulled the plug and really hit huge forehands, slices, and then a few strong backhands.
- During the interview, Roddick said he can always count on his serve. With that being true, that alone will win a lot of matches for you.
- Keep in mind Haase rolled his ankle in the second game of the second set and at this point everyone thought it was over. Haase showed heart and took Roddick to the tiebreak but that is when the bottom began to fall out with faults and errors. After that is was all Roddick.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Dominika Cibulkova
- The first set went to Wozniacki 6-4. The games went this way and that way, but she moved back behind the baseline 6 to 8 feet and kept the ball in play, but very deep. This caused several unforced errors for Cibulkova because she went for too many winners and did not work for more of a defensive shot for Wozniacki.
- The second set: Cibulkova can hit winners when the balls are above her shoulder because she is very strong and has plenty of racket speed but this could result in errors.
- Wozniacki must also learn how to run forward, especially for short balls on her forehand side by not going into a crunched over position which slows her down.
- Wozniacki is a heck of player. To be No. 1 in the world is one thing, but to stay as the No. 1 she must continue to use her tools well. Watch out for her killer forehand, backhand down the line and a heck of second kicker serve.
- If you review the big time No.1 past or present champion most of the experts will talk about their weapons. Cibulkova can hit big forehands and darn good backhands, but when running wide her backswings are a little too big.
- It would be very interesting to see Cibulkova cut down on unforced errors and still be able to hit very offensive shots. Her forehand is either a winner or an error. Her coach needs to remind her to not hit for winners but just to play within her comfort zone.
Roger Federer vs. Xavier Malisse
- Federer has a huge flat forehand with very little spin, but he has control of his shots because of his movement and he is always balanced when striking the ball. With his one handed backhand he can hit over the ball or slice. He makes a little change with his grip when hitting his regular backhand and then moves to an Eastern grip when hitting his slice and drop shot.
- His movement couldn’t be any better and same goes for his net play. His serve is not a supersonic serve but is still one of the best on the Tour. He is a fierce competitor who is always in control of his mind and body, and physically he is in great shape.
- Malisse’s best weapon is his forehand. He can drive the ball and also add spin. His movement is also fantastic and can come forward and hit solid volleys. At times, he can lack in the mental approach to the game.
- This match had several exciting rallies, but Malisse only had a few chances to really be in the match. Xavier has been at the IMG Bollettieri Academy since he was 17 years of age. Off the court he is one of the nicest people in the world!
- Let me point out how creative Roger is with his game. Watch carefully when players attack the net. He has the ability to wait until his opponent makes their move at the net and then hits his forehand. Only a few players can do that but he can accelerate his racket head at just the right time.
Viktor Troicki vs. Novak Djokovic
- Not easy for two friends from the same country and members of the 2010 Davis Cup team to play against each other.
- Early in the match Troicki turned his ankle and had to retire down 6-2. Novak has a complete game but the question is, can he win a Grand Slam? Keep in mind how good you have to be to win a Grand Slam when Nadal and Federer are in the draw and don’t forget Murray, Berdych and others too!
Maria Sharapova vs. Julia Goerges
- Goerges is a bigger girl, 6’1” to be exact, but moves quite well for her size. She has excellent groundstrokes that are hit quite flat and also has an unorthodox swing motion but still gets plenty of racket head speed. Julia likes to control play when on the court and prefers to use her forehand. Her take back on the forehand is something like I have rarely seen, and I wouldn’t advise it.
- Sharapova has powerful groundstrokes that she hits flat and early. Not too much variety on the groundies except for a few drop shots mixed in. She doesn’t use any slices or top spin but she is a fierce competitor and is in great shape coming back from an injury and surgery.
- The first set went back and forth with breaks of serves but the final break came at 5-4 giving Goerges the first set. There was not too much variety except for a few drop shots for Goerges. When Maria does not control baseline play and can’t get defensive shots from her big serve it is not that easy for Maria to beat another good baseliner. Georges won 6-4.
- The second set Maria began to get her rhythm and increasing her serving percentage especially towards the end of the match. Goerges gets a little feisty on the court and this is not a good thing when you are playing someone like Sharapova. Maria’s game is quite simple: When the serve is on she steps into the court and goes for a big winner with very little spin. Maria wins 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
- Let me end this breakdown about Maria Sharapova and what makes her so special and such a major asset for tennis. It makes no difference what the scene is, what the weather is, how she feels, etc. Maria will fight to the bitter end and never complain. Why do you think she is in the highest paid female athlete in the world? Go Maria!
- What a loss to the Australian Open when both Williams’s sisters are out. Believe me, this opens the door for all of the remaining players.
- Venus received treatment all day on her upper thigh but it just did not operate in a manner that enabled Venus to move so fluently when playing. Get well soon, Venus!
Tomas Berdych vs. Richard Gasquet
- For so many years Berdych was always in the elite group of young ones coming up along with Gulbis, Gasquet, Del Potro, and a few others. No one ever doubted his athletic skills, movement, technique, and his three weapons: forehand, backhand, and his serve.
- As my good friend Dick Vitale says, “You can have all the talent in the world, but you must control your emotions and play the game.” Tomas ran through Gasquet even though the 2nd set went to a tiebreaker.
- Berdych is on a roll and is capable of beating anyone in the draw.
- Gasquet’s backhand is pretty impressive, but against deep penetrating groundies and a big serve, he was always on the defense.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Gael Monfils
- There has never been doubt of Wawrinka’s ability to winning the big ones as long he understands that one’s mind can destroy what you can do, so he must be careful.
- Gael Monfils had trouble handling the constant pressure of Stanislas’ power.