Thursday, 23 January 2014

Men's Semi 1 - Berdych v Wawrinka

The first men's semi final was the one few had picked - 7th seed Tomas Berdych against  8th seed Stanislas Wawrinka.  They had both performed well to reach here, with all the plaudits naturally going to Stan for arranging the departure of tournament favourite Novak Djokovic.
They both serve well so it might be the return of serve that is crucial.  Either way the winner would be in his first Aus Open Final.  For Stan a win would see him in his first final at GS level.

The opening two games were a bit of a shambles with unforced errors dominating proceedings, but Stan managed to play two forcing shots and hold serve before breaking the Berdych delivery.  Tomas won his serve with an ace after Stan contributed most of the points.  Games were 1-1
Winners off both sides helped Stan to 40-0 before he was dragged back to deuce because of some poor execution.  He steadied and aced Tomas to lead 2-1
More Wawrinka winners were insufficient to prevent Tomas from holding to level at 2-2 as the standard began ramping up.
3-3 arrived quickly but not before Stan had delivered three more outright winners and Tomas two more aces.
The seventh game saw Tomas experiment with a forehand winner and Stan seal the game with an ace.  They both were excellent on serve and the support shots did not lack for class either.
Out of the blue, Berdych found himself down two break points thanks to his three unforced forehand mistakes.  He also attempted two forehand smashes in the game, one to give him a point, the other which failed and presented the break of serve to a grateful Wawrinka, who led 5-3 and would now serve for the set.
It was 30-0 without any work from Stan, just more incompetence from Tomas, but somehow Stan let it slip and stood at 30-30.  He delivered a service winner in time though and only required the one set point to win it 6-3

The second set began with a backhand volley winner from Wawrinka but ended with two aces from Berdych for him to lead 1-0.
Wawrinka was taken to deuce but never seemed in trouble, winning the game with an ace, and throwing in the obligatory couple of forehand winners to impress.
Tomas double faulted on his first point but that was just a blind as he won the game with two aces and a forehand winner for good value. Tomas up 2-1
The tennis over the following two games was superb with clean winners off slick rallies, aces where no rallies were desired and volleys at the net if ever the two decided to journey there.  Service was not under threat and games were 3-2 to Tomas.
Wawrinka drew level after a game with only the one point decided by a winner.  Then Tomas held after the longest game on his serve for awhile now.
From 40-30 Stan hit two forehand winners to set up the first break point of the set only to see Tomas reply with a service winner and forehand volley winner.  4-3 Berdych.
Over the next three games we saw Tomas hitting winning backhands and Stan serve five aces, three in succession at the start of the tenth game, the end of which gave us 5-5.
The tie break was a near certainty, and was required after Tomas reached six games thanks in part to a forehand volley and ace, then Stan made his half dozen, shaking off 30-30 with a serve forcing the error then an ace for 6-6
After hitting a forehand winner and tying up the tiebreak at 1-1, Stan failed to win another point, confounding everyone with a display so at odds with what he had dished up for the bulk of the match.
Berdych levelled the match winning the set 7-6 (7-1 in the breaker)
The two players were strong on serve, failing to break each other in the second set, and for the first four games of the third set likewise.  The match trend was no different lots of winners from Stan, especially the forehand side, and plenty of aces and unplayable serves from Tomas.  The rallies were often breathtaking in their content, and amazing for how the two could move with such precision.
The fifth game was at 40-0 before Stan had it brought back to 40-30 with a double fault and some careless play.  A forehand winner put it beyond doubt.
Only one point - a double fault - went against serve over the next three games and the score was 4-4.
The tie break beckoned, and nothing happened of any additional interest to stop it.
The standard was still maintained with winners more than mistakes deciding ends of rallies.  6-6
The tie break was initially close, and only when Tomas contributed a double fault to trail 2-4 did it start to go awry.  At 6 points to 3, Stan hit a service winner to win the set 7-6 and lead 2 sets to 1

To win the first game of set four, Tomas had to go to six deuces and survive two break points.  We could be here very late if this became a habit.
Wawrinka had few problems levelling, and Tomas next time at the line won in a matter of just five points.  Berdych ahead 2-1
Two forehand winners and an ace had Stan make it 2-2, and Tomas went one ahead again with two aces and two forehand winners.
Another tie break was likely, now that everyone was back to normal after the first game of the set.
Three games each on serve and we were at 5-6 with Stan to serve.  When Tomas hit
A backhand winner for 30-30, a brief moment of doubt entered the stadium.
A forehand winner put paid to that and soon we were in the third straight tie break of the match.

Berdych lost the first three points of the tie break (one on his serve) with forced backhand errors.  A double fault from the Czech racquet gave Wawrinka 4-1 with two points against the Berdych serve.  At 5-3 Wawrinka won the point with a Berdych unforced error, before double faulting dramatically on the first match point.
No problems on the second as Wawrinka forced a final error from the racquet of Berdych to win his way into the 2014 Australian Open final:
6-3 6-7 7-6 7-6

1 comment:

  1. Christine says you omitted a crucial feature of the game - what was that rugby jumper Berdych was playing in! Who is his fashion coach? Clearly a major contributing factor to his loss!