|Serena at the summit and a Federer fairytale – what a start to 2017|
The Australian Open 2017 will be remembered as the major that time warped a captivated world back to the previous generation. No-one would have ever expected the final match-ups in Melbourne, and it is unlikely to be seen again.
In a first week full of shocks in both competitions – including exit’s of both world number one’s and defending champions as well as a host of other fancied favourites, the business end of things was the stuff of fairy-tale.
Serena Williams beat Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4
An all-Williams final was never going to happen again surely? As Venus had said herself more often than not they would be thrown together in the same half of the draw nowadays anyway. Venus has been a revelation here this fortnight, yes it was a kind-ish draw in the end, but at the age of 36 and with the much documented health battles, this was nothing short of incredible.
Had it not been her little sister on the other side of the net yesterday, Venus would have rightfully been the favourite; such has been her brand of power and accuracy all fortnight. Yet, Serena it was, so often Venus’ conqueror over recent meetings, and the 35 year old had looked dominant all tournament – not dropping a set throughout, and so it continued come the final hurdle.
In an unspectacular yet emotionally charged final, Serena was in control largely throughout, with Venus – willed on by the majority of the crowd – playing catch up and enjoying the odd flourish and comeback rally.
It is now major number 23 for Serena – an open-era record and one away from Margaret Court’s all-time number. Serena is much-fancied to eclipse that number too and further stake her claim as the greatest of all time.
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
For some, the Williams-final failed to live up to the hype, perhaps such now is the gulf between the two. Perhaps that is unfair, but at the very least – the score-line was pretty much as expected.
It couldn’t have been more different for this legendary encounter echoing a bygone era. Roger vs Rafa: two titans now very much representing a different period in tennis history, ghosts from a decade ago who, through injury and increasing years had been written off by all when it came to discussing the biggest spoils.
Since Wimbledon last year the landscape was very much Murray vs Djokovic with the likes of Wawrinka, Raonic, Nishikori, Thiem, and yes, perhaps even Dimitrov again there or thereabouts to make things interesting now and then.
Anyone that would’ve predicted a Nadal or Federer triumph at a major again would have been royally ridiculed.
Yet, one by one the great rivals dismissed their younger, more fancied opponents en route to a salivating final.
Berdych, Zverev, Nishikori, Raonic, Wawrinka and Dimitrov – all downed by this forgotten duo both benefitting from the early exits of Murray and Djokovic it must be said.
The final itself was a true classic, perhaps not in quality such is their advancing years and Federer’s game-plan of do-or-die shortening most points. But in drama, emotion and small pockets of unbelievable shot-making, combined with all that the match represented and the records that stood to be broken with victory for either man.
Amongst a host of glorious points, I’ll just leave this here:
What now for these two? Well apart from my fairly accurate QF guesswork, my predicitons aren’t renowned for their accuracy, but I fancy both men to taste a major final once more; at the very least they can be mentioned in that list above with conviction once again.
Oz Open Heroes
Oz Open Zeroes
Images and video courtesy of the excellent Australian Open official site