David Ferrer Shocks Rafael Nadal

Australian Open 2011
By Hiland Doolittle, January 26th, 2011

The world’s top ranked player, Rafael Nadal, gutted out a run to the finish in his quarterfinal battle with friend and countryman David Ferrer.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Unfortunately for the Number One, he came in second place to a determined number seven seed.

In the two hour twenty-five minute straight set loss, Rafael Nadal blasted just 19 winners against 34 unforced errors. In the unlikely win, Ferrer posted 44 winners against 32 unforced errors. What was most noticeable was Ferrer’s ability to handle Nadal’sserve. He ended Rafael Nadal’s dream of holding all four major titles at once by breaking his usually flawless opponent seven times. Nadal only landed 66 percent of his first serves and converted only 55 percent of those serves into winners.

Ferrer was humble in victory and Rafael Nadal was gracious in defeat as the respect between the two players was obvious. To Ferrer’s credit, he did not get distracted by Nadal’s woes. In a match where other players might have retired, Nadal marched ahead. He received a standing ovation at the match’s conclusion.

Andy Murray Chills Alexandr Dolgopolov

Unseeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov became the first player to win a set from Great Britain’s Andy Murray and after a third set win, seemed to have some momentum against the fifth seeded Scotsman. Murray went through a period of discouragement before raising his game in the fourth set of a 7-5 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 victory.

Alexandr brought a high-risk offense to the Rod Laver Arena and he paid the price. In his quest to upset the fifth seed after toppling the fourth seeded Robin Soderling, Dolgopolov committed an astonishing 77 unforced errors.

His intense play resulted in 57 outright winners, including 16 aces. Murray used his multi-dimensional talents and very quick feet to vary the pace and work Alexandr’s backhand at every opportunity. Murray was particularly sharp with his return of serve and despite losing the fourth set tiebreaker seemed more poised than last year. This was a match Murray expected to win, entered with a good game plan and held it together when the challenger applied pressure.

Men’s Semifinal Predictions

Murray (5) vs. Ferrer (7)

Nadal’s bracket now becomes Murray’s opportunity to reach his second consecutive Australian Open final. In their five previous matches, Ferrer has won three times.

Both players return well and serve equally but Murray has an advantage in foot speed and his ability to mix his deliveries. On the other hand, Ferrer has the heart of a long distance runner and will battle to the end, whereas Murray sometimes disappears when the sledding gets tough.

The 2011 version of Murray may be improved over the 2010 version. His conditioning is excellent and he has more balance on the court. Look for the Scot to win in five.

Federer (2) vs. Djokovic (3)

With Nadal’s unexpected exit, both these players see a clear path to the title. To win his 17th Grand Slam title, Federer need not cross paths with his nemesis. Yet, a well-groomed three seed, Novak Djokovic is an imposing obstacle for Federer, whom has not been as sharp as usual.

At the U.S. Open, Djokovic has all the answers against the Swiss and cut him off in the semifinals. Federer has advanced despite losing his serve nine times on the way to this match.

Djokovic has had an easier run than Federer. He is playing inspired tennis and will upset the second seed in his quest for a second Australian Open title.


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