2011 Australian Open – Day 8 Notes and Observations
Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych
- First set: The relentless groundstrokes of Djokovic are as good as anyone on Tour or in the past. Throw in his well-placed serve with movement and a well-balanced foundation and it all makes it difficult to beat him.
- Berdych is known to win many of his points on a huge serve with several aces or bouncing in defensive returns. Many of his strengths broke down and Djokovic won the first set with no trouble.
- Second set: This set was a little different going to a tiebreaker, but the very tentative play of Berdych at key points of the match, especially when he could have played very aggressively, he elected to hit his shots to the center of the court.
- Djokovic serves aces and well-placed balls when hitting groundies especially when hitting behind Berdych.
- Nick’s Note: Berdych has been known to breakdown mentally but he has controlled himself up this point.
- Third set: Djokovic mixed his groundstrokes with hitting spin balls, drop shots, and big first serves with a little less power because Berdych likes power. At the beginning of the set, Cliff Drysdale said (and I agreed) that both players get their power from a well balanced foundation for any stance, including when on the move, compact backswings that are the result of a very good shoulder turn, not having too big of a backswing, both players keep their wrists laid back just before they start the forward motion of their swing, having the wrists laid back accelerates just before contacting the ball, and finally a very deliberate follow through with the of the hitting hand turned out with the palm away from them.
- Nick’s Note: You would find this almost impossible to do with the classical Old Eastern or neutral grip.
- Djokovic played brilliantly and made sure he took Berdych out of his comfort zone by throwing in change of pace balls. Note: At times, Djokovic had trouble seeing because his lenses got a little dirty. Let’s not put aside that Berdych did not stop trying and showed the world why he is definitely a top player.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Francesca Schiavone
- I could write volumes and volumes of material about the 30 year-old fighter, warrior, and full of life Schiavone but it was not quite enough to beat Woznicki.
- Schiavone won the first set and was up 4-1 in the 2nd, but Wozniacki never threw in the towel. Right at this point, I said to myself this young girl is beginning to get more and more respect from the tennis world, including me! She is by far the best mover on Tour both across the baseline and even better when moving forward.
- We must keep in mind that Schiavone played the second longest match in the history of women’s tennis the pervious match that lasted 4 hours and 44 minutes. Wozniacki came back and won the 2nd set bit in Schiavone’s mind she still had a chance to win.
- The tennis fans cheered for both players at this point, but you sort of had the feeling a few more were for Schiavone.
- As the third set moved along, the crowed showed more of their feelings for Wozniacki because she had earned it by not just waving the white towel. Wozniacki finally won, but I can say without hesitation both those players are winners.
- As a matter of fact, I heard a great quote from legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi that reminds me of Schiavone. Granted he said it about a man, but I think it is greatly applied to her: “I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline…I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – this greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear—is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.”
- Conclusion: Age is no barrier for Schiavone because she believes age is only numbers. It’s what you have inside you that determines who you are. Also, Wozniacki is definitely showing the world she is more than just a flash in the pan.