Djokovic Ousts Federer, Li and Clijsters in Final

Australian Open 2011
By Hiland Doolittle, January 27th, 2011

Is the world turned upside down? Either Nadal or Federer won every Grand Slam title last year and at least one of them has reached the finals of every major ad infinitum.

Novak Djokovic swept Roger Federer for his second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal win over the Swiss.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Roger Federer at Australian Open 2011 Semifinals.

The Serb is now in the finals against either Andy Murray or David Ferrer, who go at it tonight. Djokovic’s convincing 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 three-hour triumph exposed the ageless Federer’s weaknesses as no other opponent has done for years.

Time after time, Novak Djokovic gained confidence by attacking Roger’s one-handed backhand, a stroke that could not hold up under Djokovic’s crushing power. Meanwhile, the Serb’s service pressured Federer into attempting high-risk shots that were designed to shorten points.

The most stunning turn of events came with the determined Serb trailing 2-5 in the second set. Novak  Djokovic seemed frustrated, out of sorts and ready to crumble. Surprisingly, it did not happen. Instead, the Swiss went into a defensive shell that enabled Novak Djokovic to gather momentum and confidence. Suddenly, Federer went from what seemed an easy fight into a dogfight.

Federer seemed bothered by everything. The Serb’s box chided him, Djokovic bounces the ball 14 times before each serve and Roger was out of patience and running out of game. The more frustrated Federer became, the better Djokovic played.

Novak Djokovic struck 6 fewer winners but made 9 fewer unforced errors. The key was the Serb’s greatly improved conditioning and his ability to attack Roger’s serve. The winner converted 5 of 14 break point opportunities while Roger converted 3 of 10. In many ways, Roger was statistically superior but in real time, Djokovic was able to put streaks of winners together.

The three seed will now await the winner of tonight’s semifinal. Djokovic has won 4 of 7 matches against Murray and 5 of 9 against Ferrer. He looks a heavy favorite to take his second Australian Open.

Na Li Turns Back Wozniacki

The 9th seeded Na Li entered the tournament on the wake of an upset over third ranked Kim Clijsters when she rallied from a 5-0 hole. Na Li’s fate will now be tested again as her Australian Open finish will depend upon her ability to overcome the tournament favorite Clijsters yet again.

Na Li

Na Li celebrates her victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the Semifinal at Australian Open 2011 Tennis Championship.

Melbourne’s new media darling knew what she was up against with Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed from Denmark. The Dane has fashioned her young career around her ability to play strong defense. She always commits fewer errors than her opponent. Why not? She has won 129 matches in the last two years.

Na Li also is regarded as a defensive player with only a mediocre serve. However, Li is an expert at using the opponent’s pace to create her own. This uncanny ability helps provide more offense than Wozniacki has. In particular, Li’s forehand drive is a heavy ball with unerring accuracy.

Yet, Wozniacki is not chopped liver. Caroline seized early control of the match and cruised through the first set. She captured a key break in the second set and had the match on her racquet serving at 5-4. Li clawed her way back from seemingly countless unforced errors and notched the 7-5 second set win and followed with a 6-3 thrashing of the number one.

The deflated Dane lost her confidence as The People Republic of China’s top player found her range. Putting aside her 51 unforced errors compared to just 24 by Wozniacki, Li posted 42 outright winners compared to Caroline’s 10.

Yet, the tale was really sealed by Wozniacki’s ability to only win 57 percent of her first serves and 45 percent of her second serves. No matter how you slice the cake, those are big numbers and Li cannot beat the likes of Clijsters with those stats. If she hands Clijsters 51 errors, the finals will end in less than an hour.

Kim Clijsters Sweeps Vera Zvonareva

As the bookmakers suspected, this one was never in doubt. The third-seeded Kim Clijsters swept the tour’s most improved player with ease in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters

Vera Zvonareva has played exquisitely in this tournament. She has shown a solid serve, control of her emotions and excellent shotmaking abilities. The Russian is a winner definitely the second best player on the tour.

Unfortunately for Vera, she once again came up against the tour’s best tennis player, Kim Clijsters. In all her previous matches, Vera was the stalker, the woman who set the pace, worked her way into favorable court position and then sealed the point. Against Kim Clijsters, Vera was relegated to chasing down steaming shots from left to right.

Despite Kim’s dominance and aggressive stance, Vera was in the first set and on serve at 3-4. After a brilliant drive to Clijsters’ backhand, the Belgian barely mustered a feeble lob. Vera missed the sure winner and the match turned downhill very quickly.

The seventy-four minute match marked Vera’s first match in which she committed more unforced errors and fewer winners than he opponent. Kim  Clijsters will now hold the number two ranking and will implement the same strategy against Na Li.

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