January 28, 2015
NOVAK’S MASTER CLASS
Novak Djokovic delivered another master-class in how to dismantle a big server just when it matters.
And he only seemed truly troubled when his coach Boris Becker went missing at the start of the final set.
Novak gestured towards his box urgently, as though the temporary absence of Becker, who must occasionally answer a call of nature just like the rest of us, could prove catastrophic.
It didn’t. Djokovic soon broke his opponent and won the match 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6- 2 to underline his sheer class and stunning agility.
The first set had been close enough until the tie-break. Then Novak took a 6-3 lead, only for Milos Raonic to save two set points. The Canadian was holding his own in the vital rally until he fired a loose forehand well wide.
That was the key moment – and Djokovic exerted increasing control during the second and third sets.
It won’t be so easy against his semi-final opponent, Stan Wawrinka. That one should be a cracker.
Djokovic said later:’This was a great performance, I returned very well. Some games I had to let go and then wait for the opportunities. Bad luck for Milos but he is one of the rising stars. As for me, I’ve only dropped one serve all tournament so I feel like Boris Becker. The crowd is expecting a marathon against Stan Wawrinka. I’m looking forward to it.
‘Let me think how I’m going to answer this question about Boris leaving. Like everyone he has a need to go to the toilet but not at the start of the third set Boris, please!’
Madison Keys defeated Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a match the older woman really should have won.
Venus was 3-1 and 4-3 up in the third set with a break in the bag. To make matters worse, the 19-year-old Keys had already required a medical time-out for her troublesome left thigh to be heavily strapped.
Somehow Williams, 34, ran out of steam while a resurgent Keys forgot all about her injury and raised her game once more.
A delighted Madison said later: ‘It was kind of an overwhelming moment when I won. As for the injury, I have had some problems with that part of my leg. It was kind of scary but luckily I was able to catch it before I did any real damage to it.’
Must have been some bandage. Give that medic a bonus!
Now Madison will play Serena Williams, who brushed aside Domi Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 with consummate ease. Although naturally sorry for her sister, Serena was quickly able to look on the bright side. ‘Regardless there’s going to be an American in the final, so that’s great,’ she said.
HUMBLE STAN IS STILL THE MAN
He is the player no one seems to highlight. But the fact remains that Stan Wawrinka is defending champion and he is through to the semi-finals yet again, simply because he is playing fantastic tennis. You don’t get to beat the excellent Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) unless you are doing something – no, everything – very well indeed.
True, the Japanese superstar ruined his tie-break chances with an over-ambitious drop-shot at 6-6, having clawed his way back from 1-5 down. But the feisty Wawrink’a explosive power had put him in that winning position in the first place.
Afterwards Stan admitted: ‘I’m still nervous even after the end of the tie-break, there’s no easy match even from the first round. I’m playing well and I’m happy to be back playing in the semi-final.’
Now he faces Novak Djokovic for the right to return to the Aussie Open final. If you’re nervous now, Stan, how will you feel against the world number one?
1/ If you’re injured and you can still reach a Slam semi-final…carry on being injured.
2/ If you’re nervous and you can still reach a Slam semi-final…carry on being nervous.
3/ If you raise your game when your coach disappears…carry on letting him go!