April 2, 2009

It's Been a While...

...Since Novak Djokovic triumphed over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

In fact, it's been nearly fourteen months. Sure it was a big win -- 2008's Australian Open final, Nole's first, and so far only, Grand Slam win. But since then Tsonga has put together four consecutive victories over the world #3, most recently in the Marseille semifinals on his way to the title. It made some -- okay, me -- wonder if Djokovic really deserved his major.

But in the quarters in Miami, Novak got redemption. It wasn't easy, but in straight sets and over two hours he took the match, 6-3, 6-4. Neither player served well, each making about one out of every two first serves, but the Serb converted where it counted and broke Tsonga twice for his right to advance.

...Since Andy Roddick was at the top of his game.

Sure, he's consistently been in the top ten for more than six year -- save a short blip in 2006 -- but he's taken new form in 2009. He won the title in Memphis and made the finals in Doha.

And on Wednesday he got the late-night (well, sort-of-late-night -- this is Miami, after all!) crowd behind him as he tried to notch his second consective win over former #1 Roger Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open. He rallied from a one-set deficit and saved three straight break points in one game to break Roger and take the second. Amazingly Andy didn't concede a single point on his first three service games in the last set.

Ultimately though, Roger prevailed. He took advantage of the only break opportunity in the set and scored his seventeenth win in nineteen tries over the top American player. But it wasn't a total disappointment for Roddick. The twenty-six year old has the best record on the tour this year, 26-5, and is playing much better than his self-admittedly low #6 ranking. I don't think -- at least I hope it won't be long before he reclaims his spot among the uber-elite.

...Since Serena and Venus have clashed in a big match.

Okay, that's not really true. Over the past eleven years they've matched up twenty times, most recently at the 2008 Tour Championships in Doha and in Dubai in February -- both times Venus won.

But it has been a while since both players held such high rankings during their battle -- Serena at #1 and Venus at #5. The last time things were so close was when they were one and two at the 2003 Australian Open finals.

Today the two will meet in the second women's semifinal in Miami, and there's quite a lot at stake. The last five times the sisters fought, the victor also won the tournament, and with $700K on the line, you can be sure that both will go all-out tonight. The winner would face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Victoria Azarenka in the finals -- both of whom, you may remember, gave Serena quite a scare in Melbourne this year.

But shouldn't any victory be well-earned? And with such top talent in action, you can be sure that it will be.

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