Sunday, 29 January 2017

Federer wins his 18th Grand Slam title

The final match of Aus Open 2017 was upon us - the Men's Singles Final.  Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer to do battle yet another time at the highest level, and Australians had the honour and pleasure of hosting it.

A packed Rod Laver Arena on a perfect Sunday night was in readiness to cheer every winner and sigh at every missed shot from their favourite.
Federer attempting to win his first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012, Nadal his first since Roland Garros 2014.
Both recovering from five set semi final victories.

Nadal served first.  A love game and 1-0, four Federer errors, two forced.  First long rally resulted in Federer backhand error. 15-15.  Swiss forehand winner and two game points.  Game won with the second of those. 1-1.
Federer forehand winner and Nadal double fault 30-30.  Lucky net cord and serve held 2-1 Nadal.

Two good serves set up winners for Federer and he levelled at 2-2.  Forcing shots from both wings by Nadal on the back of solid serves contributed to Federer mistakes and another love game. 3-2.  Forehand winner and an ace included in a love game from Federer and 3-3.  Two break points after a barrage of Federer ground strokes including winners and forced Nadal errors.  A Nadal shot wide for the break.  4-3 Federer.

Four quality first serves and Federer consolidated the break with a love game. 5-3.
An ace and a couple of Nadal forehand winners at least stopped the Federer run, although he still would be serving for the set at 5-4.
Nadal hit a great backhand winner but Federer continued serving well and won the set with an ace 6-4.

Nadal began the second set serving and it was 30-15 after a Nadal volley winner and Federer error.  Roger found the net and two game points to Rafa.  Ace for 1-0.
Double fault and a Nadal backhand in the corner drawing a Federer error, then a spectacular Nadal winner for break point.  Saved with a good serve. A second break point with Nadal at the net.  Broken following another Federer appointment with the net.  2-0 Nadal.

Three poor shots in succession by Nadal and break back chance for Federer.  Bad  forehand by Roger and deuce.  Another the same and game point for Nadal.  Deuce after netted Nadal shot.  Break chance number two after overhead winner from Federer.  Saved after searching rally ended in Federer miss. Coo under pressure, Nadal held for 3-0.

0-30 after poor forehand wide from Federer.  Killer return winner from Nadal and three break chances.  Two lost.  Another one wide from Federer and a second break.  4-0 Nadal.  Forehand winner from Federer and Nadal finding net 0-30.  Federer also hit the net - twice.  Another winner - off forehand - and break point. The break came with the forehand and it was 1-4 Federer with serve to come.

Federer held after double faulting at 40-15 and trailed 2-4.  Three Federer mistakes made it easy for Nadal.  A fourth gave him a 5-2 lead.  Deep return forced a mistake 0-15.  Good Federer serve and 15-15.  Another nice serve set up the backhand winner and the game was won with another winner 3-5.

Nadal served for the set.  15-0, Federer and the net meeting.  30-0, Nadal forehand winner.  Three set points,  Federer finding net again.  Federer long and Nadal 6-3.  A set each.

Set three opened with Federer at the line.  He found some first serves to race to 40-0. Nadal decided to participate and hit a winner down the line, then won the next two points for deuce.  A woeful Federer miss into the net gave Nadal break point, but an ace brought deuce back.  That shot into the net again.  Ace saved it again.  Volley into the net.  Third break chance.  Ace saved it again.  Finally serve held 1-0
Two Swiss forehand winners and 0-30.  Another one for break point.  Nadal forehand error and the break.  2-0 Federer.

A love game from Federer for 3-0.  Two more break points with Nadal too much on the defensive, allowing Federer the freedom to go for his winners, and he wasn't missing.  Two good serves and deuce.  A third break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner. Ace saved that one.  Ultimately Nadal held 1-3.  4-1 Federer in about a minute without loss of a point.
Bad miss long from Nadal and 30-30.  Miss wide and break point.  Double break and Federer 5-1 serving for set.

Double fault and break point.  Saved with forehand winner.  Set point.  Saved with silly Federer drop shot attempt.  Second break point saved.  Set point again.  Won 6-1.
Nadal would need to go five to win.

Set four and Nadal served the first game.  A Federer return winner squeezed between two Nadal points.  30-15.  Clutch serving and 1-0 Nadal.
Federer tied it at 1-1, a backhand winner the final shot.  Nadal mixed his serve up well, one aimed at the body setting up a clean winner. 2-1 Spain.

Two Federer errors and a Nadal forehand winner set up three break points.  One saved, but not the next, Nadal forcing Federer to hit the net.  3-1 Nadal.  
40-15 became deuce after Federer winner and Nadal error.  Nadal held serve with a wonderful forehand winner from what was just about point of the match. 4-1

Roger drew a pair of aces from his pack of cards before Rafa hit a backhand winner and Roger hit one out of Melbourne Park.  A Swiss forehand error and break point.  Saved with a third ace.  A fourth ace win the game. 2-4.
Fine serving for the ninth seed, finished with an ace, to take him to 5-2.

A Nadal backhand return winner and Federer error 30-30.  Ace for game point.  Another miss wide by Federer and deuce.  Game to the seventeenth seed and Nadal serving for the set 5-3.
Two free points and 30-0.  Service winner and three set points.  Set to Nadal 6-3

A fifth set required.  Federer serving first.
0-30 following Nadal winner and Federer error.  Federer winner and 15-30.  Break points with another Nadal winner.  Federer forehand saved one.  Federer pushed one wide and Nadal broke for 1-0.  15-30 after bad Nadal miss and Federer winner.  Two break pointe following Federer backhand.  One saved with netted backhand.  Second gone with Nadal forehand winner.  Lucky net cord and another break point.  Saved with a genuine winner.  Another in the same place.  Game to Nadal.  And a strong service hold 2-0.

Federer to 40-0 with some sweet ground strokes for winners.  Held for 1-2.  Spanish double fault and 30-15.  Swiss backhand winner and 30-30.  Federer put another into the net.  Deuce after Nadal hit one out of court.  Break back point with a backhand winner.  Saved with a Nadal backhand.  Another vital hold 3-1 Nadal.

30-15 with Federer forehand winner.  A repeat and two game points.  Just one needed and 2-3.  0-30 with Federer backhand winner and Nadal error.  Two excellent points from Nadal and 30-30. Break point after one hit long by Nadal.  Great serve and follow up winner to save it.  Swiss backhand and another break point.  Break back and 3-3.

Love game and Federer led 4-3.  0-30 with two errors from Nadal.  Double fault and that could be the match.  Three break points.  One saved.  And the second.  Deuce after a Federer shocker.  Break point with a Federer forehand winner.  That was the point of the match.  Saved with a magic serve.  Another break point.  The break came and Federer would be serving for the match at 5-3.

Return winner 0-15.  Federer missed 0-30.  Ace for 15-30.  Rafa wins with volley at the net. Two break points.  Ace and 30-40.  Deuce with forehand winner.  Match point.
Saved.  Ace and second match point.  Forehand winner for the match.

Roger Federer won the 2017 Australian Open in five sets 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3.

He now has 18 Grand Slam titles.

Roger v Rafa - who wins ?

The Men's Singles Final at the 2017 Australian Open sees a replay of the 2009 final between Switzerland's 17th seed Roger Federer and Spain's 9th seed Rafa Nadal.  The unexpected but highly popular showdown will be the 35th meeting between the two, with Rafa currently ahead 23-11.  It will be the 12th meeting at Grand Slam level, with Rafa leading at the moment 9-2 (6-2 in finals).  Rafa has beaten Roger each of the three times they have met in a match at the Australian Open, the last being the 2014 semi final.

For all of that, the prospects for both coming into the 2017 title match have to be rated fairly even.  Past records are based on past capacities and there can be no denying that both are playing at levels below their record breaking best.  Innate talent and determination still allow them to deliver output consistently above that of most of the current crop, especially when confronted with the special pressures and demands of a Grand Slam tournament.

Based on what I've seen throughout the tournament,  Nadal has had to deal with the fiercest opposition, both in terms of quality and numbers.  He dealt with the big serving of Alexander Zverev in a high standard contest, then later dispatched a real contender in another big server Milos Raonic, proving again that his return of serve still poses concerns to rivals.  And the most in form player of the summer, Grigor Dimitrov, gave Nadal a five set preview of some of what to expect in the final.  Nadal had resources to draw on to quell Dimitrov in a terrific match.

Federer was always beating Nishikori, but teased him into a fifth set, and the real quarter final against Murray never eventuated.  Berdych and Mischa Zverev were mismatches.
The win against Wawrinka was his best, but he wouldn't want to let Nadal back if two sets up.  The key to the win over Stan was the fight, because it appeared that Wawrinka had the momentum and the shot making to go on and take the match.
Rafa should win based on form, but that doesn't always work, and either way the win will create more history.

Spears and Cabal capture Mixed Title

Second seeds Ivan Dodig (Croatia) and Sania Mirza (India) earned the right to contest the 2017 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Final against unseeded Juan Sebastian Cabal (Colombia) and Abigail Spears (USA).
Dodig and Mirza defeated Groth and Stosur in their semi final, while Cabal and Spears knocked out Guccione and Svitolina.

Mirza has won three Mixed Grand Slam titles, but none with Dodig.  None of the other three have tasted mixed success at GS level.

Cabal/Spears won the toss and elected to receive.  Dodig served first and was greeted with a Cabal return winner.  A Cabal volley won the next point but a Mirza overhead put her team on the board.  30-30 with a service winner.  Break point came with an unfortunate double fault. (Aren't they all ?) Serve was broken 1-0 Cabal/Spears.

A mishit Mirza return began the Cabal service game.  Cabal stuffed one in the net before his partner twice put her volley to good use.  A sharp exchange between the teams ended with serve held and 2-0.  Mirza went to 30-0 with a Dodig volley but a Spears vicious angle and then her good return made it 30-30.   Break point with a Cabal drop shot.  Broken with a Spears return winner.
3-0 and a lightning start from the unseeded pair.

Return errors gifted Spears 30-0.  A Cabal volley winner and another return failing to do anything ensured 0-4 for the second seeds.  Dodig  served his team to 30-15 and a service winner gave it two game points, one of which vanished due to a wide forehand.  An overhead from Dodig won his team its first game. 1-4.

A Dodig return winner only delayed the inevitable Cabal service hold and it was 5-1.  Mirza won her way to 30-15 with strong forehands, and another helped her to game point.  Set point arrived though.  Saved with a smart Dodig backhand at the net. 2-5.
Spears to serve for the set.  0-15 after Spears made the difficult volley and missed the simpler version.  A sizzling winner from the second seeds and 0-30.  Two return errors and 30-30.  Dodig's forehand winner brought up break point.  Cabal won at the net and it was deuce.  Set point.  Mirza sent one wide and set one was secured by Cabal/Spears 6-2.

Dodig served first in set two and Spears won the first point.  30-15 after Dodig almost put a hole in the Cabal racquet.  Break point once Dodig found the net.  Ace and deuce.  Serve held and 1-0 to Dodig/Mirza.  Ace from Cabal replied with two great forehands from Dodig.  A Spears volley winner and 30-30.  A second ace for the game followed by a double fault.  Deuce.  The break resulted and Dodig/Mirza led 2-0 to be back in the contest.

Mirza serving well and Dodig finishing nicely at the net sent the team quickly to 40-0.  A capable Spears overhead was the only highlight for the opposition in a game which took the second seeds to 3-0.  Spears held easily but the team still trailed 1-3, down a break.

Good defense from Cabal and Spears won the first point on the Dodig delivery before his serve dominated and extended the advantage to 4-1.  Cabal reduced the deficit to 2-4.  A return winner by Cabal left Mirza 0-15.  A Mirza backhand pass was the response.  A double fault and 15-40.  Spears put away a backhand volley to effect the break.  4-3 Dodig/Mirza but back on serve.

Spears continued to hold serve with confidence, although a Mirza return winner dampened it slightly.  30-15.  A double fault even more.  Serve held and 4-4.  Spears the only player yet to be broken in the match.
Double fault from Dodig.  Awesome high backhand volley from Mirza.  Another double fault and danger.  Break points after a Dodig shot drifted long.  One saved with a timely winner.  Double fault and 4-5.

Cabal serving for the match.  15-15.  30-15 after Cabal volley straight at the body of Dodig.  Match points after Spears left one to float out.  Appropriately an Abigail Spears volley winner sealed the match.

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Abigail Spears deservedly won the 2017 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Championship 6-2 6-4.  

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Peers and Kontinen Doubles Champions

The Men's Doubles final at the 2017 Australian Open featured the third seeds Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) against fourth seeds John Peers (Australia) and Henri Kontinen (Finland).
The Bryans had defeated Carreno Busta and Garcia-Lopez in the semis and Peers and Kontinen prevailed over Whittington and Polmans.
The Bryans had won six previous titles at Melbourne Park among their total of 16 GS men's doubles crowns.  They had been finalists another thirteen times.

Peers had been a finalist three times and Kontinen once, never having achieved ultimate success.  Together now, though, they are the in form doubles combination, losing only once in their last sixteen matches, including taking out the ATP Finals trophy at the end of 2016.

Kontinen/Peers won the toss and served,  Peers first.  Kontinen winner at the net and heavy serving comprised a love game 1-0.
Bob Bryan served next.  Quick hands from Mike but good return by Peers and winning volley from Kontinen brought up two break points.  One saved with volley winner.  Not the second and break for 2-0.

Kontinen serving.  Break point and double fault not what was wanted.  1-2 with Mike Bryan next to deliver.  Good intercept by Bob and 40-15.  Easy hold 2-2.
Ace from Peers.  Then another.  Good return forced error from Peers and 30-30.  A third ace for the game plus some sound volleying and ahead 3-2.

Peers moved smartly across to cut off the Bryans shot for 0-15, but good serving and reliable overhead from Bob squared things at 3-3.  Quick hands at the net twice from Peers and Kontinen held for 4-3.

Return winner from Kontinen, but missed volley chance by Peers at 15-15.  Mike Bryan held for 4-4.  30-0 Peers after a strange shot accidentally found a spot on the court no one was guarding.  An ace sealed a 5-4 lead for the team.
Service winner from Bob and 30-0.  Return winner from Kontinen.  Another one from Peers.  Big chance missed with a poor forehand from Kontinen.  5-5.

Good serving and sharp volleying 40-0 on the Kontinen serve.  6-5.  
Two set points arrived with great net play, and Kontinen continued to outvolley the Americans and break them to win the opening set for the fourth seeds 7-5.

1-1 in set two after comfortable holds by Peers and Bob Bryan.  The exchanges were some of the most exciting of the match.  Kontinen moved the score to 2-1 with solid serving in the face of attacking winners from the twins. 

A reflex volley winner off the Kontinen racquet was unable to dent the Mike Bryan serve. 2-2.  Two aces and another point winning delivery gave Peers easy passage to 3-2.

A stunning return winner from Kontinen had the predictable response from the Bryans who upped the ante to win four straight points.  3-3.  Great serving and slick volleying from Kontinen and 4-3.

Bob Bryan was volleying almost before the returns had been struck and this helped his brother hold easily 4-4
Peers took his team to within a game of the title with a serving clinic. 5-4.

Bob made sure the match continued with a love game 5-5.  Kontinen had 30-15 after a good serve ended up with the volley winner.  A slight wobble was steadied thanks to a couple of good serves and it was 6-5.

15-30 on Mike's serve. Two match points after a Kontinen winner.  One gone.  A lob winner from Peers won it. 

The Australian Open Men's Doubles Champions for 2017 John Peers (Australia) and Henri Kontinen (Finland) 7-5 7-5.

Aus Open No. 7 for Serena !

Williams Night had arrived at the 2017 Australian Open and it coincided with the Women's Singles Final for the first time since 2003.  Of course way back then the final was played in the daytime - now it deservedly is a prime time event on the Melbourne sporting calendar.

Second seed Serena Williams makes a habit of booking one of the spots in Grand Slam singles finals, but winning them has become less frequent of late, a "mere" Wimbledon trophy her spoils from 2016.
For thirteenth seed Venus this final is particularly special, for at 36 the achievement realistically was slipping away as a possibility.  

A Serena win would be her 23rd major, surpassing Steffi Graf;  a Venus success would be number 8 and her first Aus Open.

Venus defeated unseeded Coco Vandeweghe in a tough three set semi - Serena had it far easier in eliminating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni for the loss of only 3 games.

Venus won the toss and served.  Two wide Venus backhands then an ace.  A backhand return winner and two break points.  A brilliant forehand passing shot from Serena for the break. 1-0.   Serena continued forcing the pace and two more Venus errors resulted.  A double fault made it 30-15.  A great Venus backhand drew a Serena mistake before an ace gave her game point.  Saved after some brutal backhands were exchanged.  Break point with a Serena shot wide.  A long forehand and the break back 1-1.

Venus saved one break point with a deep approach finished with a volley at the net, she saved a second with a slashing backhand down the line, but the net prevented the saving of a third. Serena broke again for 2-1 as well as destroying her first racquet for the evening.  Serena then threw away a chance to hold serve with three double faults after having game point. 2-2.

Serena was in a bad patch missing regularly, mostly long, and Venus was collecting the trash.  She held, simply by keeping the ball in court, leading 3-2.  
At 0-30 Serena was well down but an ace seemed to click her into action.  She proceeded to hold serve, and then a marvellous drop shot and backhand winner broke the Venus serve and Serena had a 4-3 advantage.

Serena escaped from 0-30 again, the ace and forehand her reliable saviours. 5-3.
A Venus backhand and two service winners won her the next game from a precarious 15-30, and forced her sister to serve for the set.

Forehand down the line 15-0.  Venus backhand wide 30-0.  Ace and three set points.  Another ace and the set 6-4.  That was the complete Serena - until now it had only been glimpses on display, mostly due to the pressure exerted by her older sister.

Set two began with Venus serving again.  Confident game including an ace and backhand winner 1-0.  Serena responded as expected with big deliveries 1-1.
Double fault on top of a Serena forehand winner and three break points.  Two good serves saved two and a forehand put away the third.  2-1 Venus and that was a terrific critical game to save.

A double fault didn't prevent Serena holding for 2-2.  Venus started with a winner and ended with an ace for 3-2.  Scores became tied after a pretty nondescript game where Serena served enough balls that went into play.

15-30 after a backhand return winner.  A Venus ace the perfect reply.  The point of the match ended with a Venus forehand flying wide and break point.  A backhand return from Serena found the net but her next forehand return was a winner and a second break point arose.  Saved with a good serve.  A third break chance was taken when Serena pulled out a killer backhand return winner off a Venus second serve.
4-3 Williams the younger.

Service winner, ace, service winner, netted return.  5-3 in just a flash.
Venus had to hit several more shots than appeared initially necessary to reach 15-0 but she did with a volley winner.  Serena hit a winner just to annoy her.  Quality serving reaped the dividend of two break points before an extended rally concluded with Serena's mistake and the game to Venus, but the second seed in a position to serve for the match.

A Venus backhand winner crosscourt 0-15.  Return netted 15-15.  Serena netted a forehand after an exciting and long rally. 15-30.  Venus put a forehand into the net and 30-30.  Another one went the same way and match point.  Venus sent one wide and the title was her sister's.

Serena Williams won her seventh Australian Open 6-4 6-4 and her 23rd Grand Slam singles title overall.  Venus battled hard and forced Serena to lift her game in order to achieve the result.

Nadal in final after match of the Open

Ninth seed Rafa Nadal from Spain and fifteenth seed Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria were the two combatants in the second men's semi final of the 2017 Aus Open to be played on the second Friday night.
Nadal had, in my opinion, displayed consistently the best tennis of the tournament to this point.  Milos Raonic was unable to raise his game once Rafa changed up a gear or two in their quarter final.  Alexander Zverev was unlucky to have had Nadal in his section of the draw because the level of tennis he exhibited was sufficient to have won against most others.

However, there is no doubt that Grigor Dimitrov presented a real danger.  Undefeated since setting foot on our shores, beating top credentialed opponents on the way to the Brisbane title, then knocking over five more here including Goffin and Gasquet in ruthless displays.

The two had played eight times with Nadal winning seven, but the last time was in Beijing in 2016 with Dimitrov successful in two sets.

Nadal served first.  Two early warm up errors from Rafa and 0-30.  Surprise speed on the forehand caused Dimitrov problems but the fifteenth seed unloaded on a backhand next to give himself two break points.  Both were saved.  Attacking the Dimitrov backhand was clearly a tactic and errors came towards the end of a long game.  Nadal 1-0.

A Grigor ace for 40-0 and another for 1-1.  Rafa enjoyed two off forehand winners which took him to 30-15 and was relieved when a Dimitrov passing shot ,issued the court.  A third off forehand crosscourt with more pace was deemed enough practice for that shot and the game was stopped. The Spaniard ahead 2-1.

A whipped backhand winner from Nadal upset Dimitrov and he contributed another error in response.  Two break points, and one saved.  Broken on the second and Rafa up 3-1.
Regular appointments with the net were proving expensive for Dimitrov and that coupled with aces from his opponent made it difficult for any concerted attack on the Spanish serve, which was held to love again. 4-1

Better news for Grigor with two forehand winners, one down each side.  A third forehand was the best of the three and 40-0 the result. A backhand to hold serve and 2-4.  A Nadal backhand forced an error again.  A great serve to the backhand and 40-0.  A third love game and 5-2.  

Dimitrov, just to stay alive in the set.   A sweet Dimitrov backhand winner and 40-0.  A backhand volley disaster thankfully came with three game points and the service hold was comfortable. 3-5.  Rafa served for the set.

A backhand out of court from Nadal and 0-15.  First point lost on his serve for the night.  Volley put away after pushing Dimitrov into the western suburbs.
Two set points after a return error.  Neat stop volley winner and the set was done 6-3.

Already an unforced forehand error in set two by Grigor and he was 0-15.  A high backhand volley was immeasurably better and the two forehand down the line winners a class even above that.  Dimitrov 1-0
A fantastic rally with Dimitrov running everywhere and retrieving everything before finally relenting with a mistake.  30-15.  Double fault from Nadal and 40-30.  Ultimately 1-1.

Grigor more purposeful on serve, working Nadal harder and forcing errors.  40-0 was brought back to a single game point before a textbook serve volley won the game and 2-1 Dimitrov.
A superb backhand from Grigor won the opening point on Nadal's next serve, and then a forehand forced a mistake from the Spanish racquet.  Three break points with another one wide.  A forehand wide and Nadal broken to love.  Grigor leading 3-1.

A beautiful lob/drop shot combo from Nadal and 15-15.  Dimitrov sent a backhand wide but served the next two well, an ace for 40-30.  The hold for 4-1.
The error count for Nadal had built steadily, but he managed to steer past that problem with a couple of aces and hold to keep within shouting distance of a happier Bulgarian 2-4.

Double fault was less than ideal for Grigor but the blistering off forehand  crosscourt winner made up for the disappointment.  Another forehand down the line was equally sweet but the net prevented a repeat of the shot.  30-30.  Break point thanks to a Nadal backhand crosscourt causing the Dimitrov error.  Saved with a forehand winner off a good serve.  A second break point due to a brilliant backhand pass.  Double fault and Dimitrov's heart sank. 3-4 Nadal back on serve.

A good switch up by Dimitrov coming in behind a deep backhand and putting away the volley. 30-15 Nadal.  Two unexpected errors from Nadal and deuce.  Another and break point.  Double fault and 5-3 Dimitrov serving for the set.  Amazing turn of events.

A pair of errors exchanged and 15-15.  Nadal stepped up the pace on the forehand and drilled a few at Dimitrov, finally drawing a mistake 15-30.  Dimitrov's out of court backhand donated two break points to Nadal.  Into the net and a third successive break.  4-5 Nadal, whose sigh of relief could be heard back in Mallorca.

The quality of tennis had dipped appreciably in recent times and the win or loss of this set was vital.  Set point for Dimitrov after an attacking backhand to Nadal approaching the net was too good and the ninth seed could only find the bottom of said net.
Saved with a glorious forehand winner from kilometres behind the baseline.  The tennis had picked up in standard just in this game.
A second set point after a backhand winner from Dimitrov.  A mishit Bulgarian backhand and deuce again.  A long rally finished with Rafa's backhand and the net together again.  A third set point was then saved.  An ace saved a fourth.  Nadal survived by the proverbial skin and games were 5-5.

A poor forehand into the net by Dimitrov and 30-30.  An ace helped.  Another good serve and the fifteenth seed had 6-5, at worst a tie break.
A Nadal forehand wide and 15-15.  A mishit forehand and 15-30.  Dimitrov covered the net wonderfully and earned two more set points with the winning volley.  Nadal sent the backhand long and Dimitrov had the set 7-5.

Dimitrov began set three from the line.  A winning forehand and 30-0.  Another crosscourt for three game points.  A love game to start the set 1-0.
A backhand winner from Nadal and errors from Dimitrov comprised a love game for Nadal also and 1-1.
A double fault and two break points against Dimitrov.  Both saved with good serves.  He led 2-1

A Grigor forehand winner and 15-15. Rafa's response was a forehand winner and then a forehand volley winner.  A Dimitrov backhand down the line and 40-30.  The serve was held. 2-2.
15-30 after two Dimitrov errors.  Sharp forehand volley winner from Dimitrov and 30-30, but break point with a forehand pushed wide.  The break with a backhand floating long. Nadal 3-2.

Two break points after a series of unforced Nadal errors.  One saved with an errant Dimitrov backhand.  The second with a volley winner after a forehand set up.  A third chance for Dimitrov following an uncharacteristic Nadal mistake.  Saved with a serve volley point.  A Dimitrov forehand earned a fourth chance.  The break came with another Nadal error.  3-3.
40-0 Dimitrov following an ace.  A Nadal forehand winner didn't stop the hold of serve, coming with another ace.  4-3 Dimitrov 

A quick hold from Nadal and 4-4.  Similarly from Dimitrov and 5-4, winners on either side coming easily.  Rafa had to hold to avoid falling behind two sets to one.
5-5, just a single point lost to serve.  Dimitrov's netted forehand gave Nadal hope at 15-30.  However the ninth seed hit one long and 30-30.  Another Rafa mistake wide was equalled by Dimitrov and deuce.  The game had degenerated and two successive Nadal errors gave Dimitrov the game in spite of himself.  6-5 Dimitrov.

40-0 Nadal after a forehand winner at the net.  6-6 tiebreak.
Both the first two points went against serve thanks to unforced errors.  Rafa won the third with a forehand.  He then forced a Dimitrov error to lead 3-1.  4-2 Nadal at change of ends.  Nadal found the net and it was back on serve 3-4 Dimitrov.
A backhand hit long by Dimitrov and 3-5.  An ace and Nadal would serve at 5-4.
Nadal put an awful forehand into the net. 5-5.  Dimitrov missed wide with a forehand and Nadal had a set point at 6-5.  A slashing backhand drew the error, won the tiebreak 7-5 and the set 7-6.

Nadal led 6-3 5-7 7-6 (5).

The fourth set began with Rafa serving.  Not much to shout about until the last point where some decent shots were played, especially the final winning forehand by Nadal. He led 1-0.
A netted volley from Dimitrov and 30-30.  Good time for an ace.  A service winner and 1-1.  Confident serving from Nadal and 40-0. A loose shot gave up a point but he held for 2-1.

A Grigor backhand winner helped him to 30-15, but he hit wide next point.  Game point after a forehand winner.  Rafa made it deuce with a winning overhead from back in the court.  Two big serves and 2-2.
A Grigor backhand winner and an overhead gave him 15-30 on the Nadal serve.  Rafa hit a majestic backhand up the line on the way to holding for 3-2.

15-15 following Dimitrov's netted shot.  He was 30-30 for the second serve in a row.  An ace relieved some anxiety.  A defensive lob helped him to 3-3.
Nadal missed a forehand and it was 15-30.  Excellently structured point finished off with a Nadal smash and 30-30.  He won the game with a backhand. 4-3.

An ordinary pair of shots by Nadal and the pressure on Dimitrov was relieved.  40-15.  Serve held 4-4.  A brilliant drop shot from Nadal and 30-0.  40-15 after a Dimitrov winner.  Nadal held for 5-4 after a Bulgarian mishit.
Grigor would be serving to stay in the match.

30-0 after some aggressive tennis from Dimitrov.  Three game points after an ace.  Another ace and 5-5.  Nadal 30-30 following a point controlled by Dimitrov.  Nadal held for 6-5.  40-0 quickly for Dimitrov.  A double fault unwelcome but a winning forehand sent the set to a tiebreak.

A great backhand from Dimitrov and 2-1 on serve.  A Nadal error and Dimitrov had the mini break at 3-2.  4-2 at the change of ends.  2-5 Nadal with serves to come.  Dimitrov 6-3 with volley winner and three set points, two on his own serve.  One saved with a Nadal pass, but a big serve clinched the tie break 7-4 and the set. 7-6.  This semi final would also go to a fifth set.

Dimitrov served first in the decider.  An ace at 0-30 but two break points when he found the net.  A sensational winner saved the first.  The second also left. A third break chance came and went. Dimitrov held 1-0.
Nadal down 0-30.  A wrong footing winner for 30-30.  A stunning backhand from Dimitrov and break point.  Saved through a Dimitrov mishit.  Serve held 1-1.

Great tennis from Dimitrov with two winners from nowhere. He held for 2-1.  
Nadal levelled for 2-2.  Two Dimitrov errors and 30-30.  Another one forced, and break point.  Saved and Dimitrov escaped 3-2.

Nadal skated to 40-0 and a big serve took him to 3-3.  Dimitrov began with yet another ace but Nadal kept him honest and 30-30 once again.  4-3 Dimitrov, arriving there via deuce.  Nadal at 0-30 in trouble.  Dimitrov generously gave a point up but not the next which he won with an overhead.  Two break points faced by Nadal.  One saved with a slashing backhand.  The next saved with a forehand volley.  Another point won at the net with a forehand volley.  Serve held and 4-4.  

Forehand winner from Nadal and 0-15.  Double fault and 0-30.  Nadal forehands hit long and wide and 30-30.  Break point with Dimitrov forehand error.  The break came with a winner down the line.  5-4 Nadal.

Serving for the match.  30-0 after two Dimitrov errors.  30-30, Dimitrov running to hit a backhand winner.  Match point after an ace.  Saved with a great overhead.  Wonderful serve drew the error.  Second match point.  Also saved with a Dimitrov winner.  Third match point.  Backhand long and the match over.

Rafa Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 5-7 7-6 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-4

Now the final against Roger Federer, the two having met in the Aus Open final once before in 2009, Nadal having won that battle, coincidentally after winning a five plus hours semi final.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Mattek-Sands and Safarova Doubles Champions

Women's Doubles Final time and the second seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) and Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) matched up against twelfth seeds Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic) and Shuai Peng (China).
Hlavackova and Peng upset the top seeds Garcia and Mladenovic in the semi final in straight sets, whereas unseeded Hozumi and Kato were the number two seeds' semi final victims.

Safarova served first and Peng volleyed well to win the opening point.  Three break points  after a Hlavackova return winner.  One saved.  A missed Mattek-Sands volley and the break came 1-0 Hlavackova and Peng.

Peng served next.  Hlavackova volleyed two winners and 30-0.  A Peng forehand winner and 40-0.  The love game made it 2-0.
Mattek-Sands served and hit a winner for 15-0.  30-15 after a return winner from Hlavackova.  Serve was held 1-2.

Hlavackova served and another love game for 3-1.  Safarova was better second time around and the lead was reduced to 3-2.
40-0 on the Peng delivery and still the team had not lost a point on serve.  That changed with an off forehand pushed wide.  Hlavackova won the game, splitting the pair across the net with a sharp volley.  4-2.

The third point of the next Mattek-Sands serve was terrific, with Peng finishing it off with the volley winner for 30-15.  It was 30-30 with another Peng winner, this time a backhand crosscourt volley.  Safarova stopped the rot with two wins at the net and it was 3-4.

Mattek-Sands and Safarova attacked in turn, Lucie directly at the body of Shuai Peng, and it was 0-30 on the Hlavackova serve.  A double fault brought up three break points.  Another double confirmed the break back and 4-4.
A Safarova ace for 30-0 and a service winner for three game points.  Serve held and the lead 5-4 to Bethanie and Lucie.

Shuai Peng served to stay in the set.  Return winner from Safarova and volley error from Hlavackova for 0-30.  Out of position Mattek-Sands and volley error resulted.  Good serve and 30-30.  Ace for game point.  Safarova winner and deuce.  Serve eventually held 5-5.

6-5 Mattek-Sands and Safarova after Bethanie held comfortably.  
Hlavackova served to stay in the set.  Safarova volley winner 15-15.  Strong serving and two game points.  One lost at the net by Peng.  Serve held and a tiebreak needed.

Points on serve for the first three.  Mattek-Sands put a backhand in the net and the team was down 1-3.  4-2 still with the mini break.  5-2 after a second return in succession found the net.  A clean return winner from Hlavackova off the Safarova serve and three set points.  A winning forehand over the top from Mattek-Sands saved one.  A volley from Hlavackova won the tie break 7-4 and the set 7-6.

Three break points in the opening game of set two on the Peng serve.  Two saved, the second with a smart Hlavackova volley.  Deuce after Peng went for the head of Safarova.  Another break point following a Mattek-Sands volley.  A moment of American magic clinched the break and the team led 1-0.
0-15 on the Safarova serve.  Drop shot winner from Bethanie and 30-15.  Fine tennis at the net from Peng and break point.  Saved with an overhead by Mattek-Sands.  Serve held for 2-0.

A fine volley by Mattek-Sands and 0-30 on the Hlavackova serve.  Three break points after a missed Peng volley.  Safarova split them to earn the break and a 3-0 lead.  A Hlavackova volley had a Safarova reply and 15-15 on the Mattek-Sands serve.  Double fault and break point.  A poor American forehand and the break 3-1.

Peng served and a slashing Safarova return had 15-30.  Game point after some good tennis. 2-3. An untidy game next, but effective for Safarova who held for 4-2.
Hlavackova immediately worried at 0-30.  Safarova aimed one at Peng who successfully defended herself but lost the point and three break points faced Hlavackova.  An ace saved one and a Peng volley another.  Safarova sealed the break with one down the line.  5-2 and Bethanie to serve for the set.

A fine Peng return and 15-15.  Break point after a Safarova net error.  Saved via an error. Second break chance.  Taken and the lead now 5-3.
Peng was 0-40 and three set points down.  One saved with a Hlavackova volley winner, but the set was won with a Safarova forehand winner 6-3.

Safarova served first in the decider and held to lead 1-0.  Peng served and Hlavackova played a great net point for 15-0.  A long rally ended with a Safarova error and 30-15.  Serve held 1-1.
Safarova played a terrific game at the net to assist her partner hold serve and maintain a lead 2-1.  A quick move by Mattek-Sands to hit the winning volley and then a netted forehand by Hlavackova created break point on the Czech serve.  Saved by a Peng volley.  A second break point introduced itself and a double fault arrived straight after to hand a 3-1 lead to Mattek-Sands/Safarova.

A magical crosscourt backhand, hit from several rows into the crowd by Peng, won a point off the Safarova serve and an overhead winner by the same player created break point.  Saved with a service winner.  Peng intercepted and another break point came.  It went.  Bethanie moved too soon and left a gap for the Hlavackova winner.  The third break chance was squashed by a Bethanie volley.
Serve was held and the scoreboard showed 4-1.

Peng served and Mattek-Sands opened with a volley winner.  Hlavackova hit a volley long and 0-30.  Peng hit wide and three break points.  One saved with a Hlavackova volley into Bethanie's legs.  30-40 with a Safarova shot out of court.  Deuce with a Hlavackova volley winner.  A repeat and game point.  Three in a row from Hlavackova for the service hold 2-4.

Bethanie serving and 15-15 following an error from her.  40-15 was brought back to deuce as the nerves kicked in, but the American steadied and held for 5-2.  
A winning backhand from Hlavackova and 30-0.  An ace for a love game and her team was 3-5.
Safarova to serve for the title.

Hlavackova hit wide 15-0.  A slick volley from Mattek-Sands for 30-0.  Another of the same for 40-15 and two championship points.  A third volley winner did it for the game set and title.

Two sets to one 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3.

This is the fourth Grand Slam Women's Doubles title for the pair, and the second Australian Open following their 2015 success. 

Dodig and Mirza in Mixed Final

Semi final time in mixed doubles and unseeded Aussie pair Sam Groth and Samantha Stosur played second seeds Ivan Dodig (Croatia) and Sania Mirza (India).

Groth served three double faults in succession to lose the opening game.  Unforced errors from his team cost Dodig his opening serve and games were 1-1.
Stosur and Mirza redeemed their teams' reputations by holding serve and 2-2.

Groth managed to avoid the double faults and held for 3-2 and then the Australians through a Groth backhand return winner, a Stosur volley, a Groth backhand winner, and a double fault, broke Dodig a second time for 4-2.

Stosur served for the consolidating hold but she mishit a forehand and trailed 0-30.  Dodig won the next point at the net before Groth saved one of the break points with a volley.  An ace saved the second but a wide Groth backhand confirmed a break back and the Aussie's led 4-3.

Three return errors on the Mirza serve gave Mirza three game points.  They all disappeared but a great second serve saw Stosur hit long and games were 4-4.
Groth started with an ace but a missed Stosur overhead had the team at 15-30.  A Groth double fault and two break points.  One saved with an ace.  Another double fault and the break.
Dodig to serve for the set, and he had yet to hold serve in the match.  

Good volleying from Mirza and 30-15.  Two set points arrived and one left with a Dodig double fault.  The next serve was an ace and that sealed the set 6-4 for the second seeds.

Groth served first in set two and raced to three game points but another double fault delayed the hold by one point.  A winning Stosur volley put the pair up 1-0.
A good overhead from Mirza began the Dodig service game well.  Another Mirza volley forced the Stosur error and 1-1.

Groth mishit a simple volley and put Stosur in trouble on serve.  He did better on the next point and eventually Stosur held for 2-1.  Stosur hit a great return and 30-30 on the Mirza serve.  She created a break point with smart net play.  A double fault and the break. 3-1 the Australians.

Double fault for Groth and 30-15.  Brilliant point from Mirza, winning with her forehand, and 30-30.  4-1 after Stosur won the final point at the net.
Dodig needed to hold for his team to remain a single break down.  He did, to love, finishing with a backhand winner and it was 2-4.

Stosur served and did well after losing the first point.  5-2.  Down 0-40 and set points on the Mirza serve, two were saved.  An ace saved the third.  A double fault handed the set to the Australians, and a super tiebreak would decide the match.

First to 10 points with a two point break.  A Groth return winner put his team ahead 2-1.  The mini break was returned when Dodig forced Stosur to hit the net. On serve at 3-2 to the Aussies.  Mirza held both her serves for 4-3.  A double fault just at the wrong time for Groth.  Brilliant volleying from Dodig and a second point against the Groth serve.  6-3 Dodig/Mirza.  An ace and an errant Groth return off a Dodig serve.  8-3.

Stosur won the first of her serves but Mirza put a forehand past Groth and won the next for 9-4 and five match points.

9-5 after a Mirza backhand floated long.  A Dodig volley forced the error and the match was over, Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig winning 6-4 2-6 10-5 and a place in the final on Sunday.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Federer in the final

The Swiss semi final between improving youngster Roger Federer and fellow up-and-comer Stan Wawrinka, promised to deliver another match lacking in double fisted backhands. 
17th seed Federer had embarrassed Mischa Zverev in their fourth round match and 4th seed Wawrinka proved too much for Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in their's.

The two had met 20 times before tonight with Federer leading 17-3 but they hadn't played each other since 2015 when they had four contests, including the quarter final at Roland Garros where Stan won en route to winning the title and the semi final at the US Open where Roger won on the way to losing the final.
Stan had only ever beaten Roger on clay.

Federer served first.  Four errors decided the first points and Roger had two game points.  He held for 1-0.  Stan hit an ace to move to 40-15 and his signature backhand won him the game 1-1

A clutch volley dug out for a winner probably saved Roger in the third game and he held on for 2-1. Some good serves helped mask a few errors.

Having to generate his own pace on ground strokes worried Stan into hitting long and mistiming.  At 0-40 his serve assisted him to deuce.  An ace gave him game point. That was lost and a lovely forehand presented another chance, also wasted.  Third time lucky and it was 2-2.

A Stan forehand forced a Roger error and a net cord flew long.  0-30. A mishit created two break points and a good serve saved one.  The second was saved through a well structured point.  Stan set Roger up with deep forehands to return to deuce but eventually serve was held 3-2

Stan levelled despite a nifty drop shot from Roger.  15-30 on the Roger serve after a poor approach.  A better  pair of points saw Stan finish in the net and a backhand winner pushed Roger to 4-3.  

A net cord made an easy winner for Roger but he failed to follow up and Stan went to 40-15.  A big serve won the final point for 4-4.  Roger was quickly to 5-4.

Serving to stay in the set, Stan reached 40-15 with the help of errors from Roger. Not so helpful was the forehand winner from Roger but Stan had a better one himself which clinched the game and 5-5.

Roger dumped one into the net but an overhead winner countered it.  Another mistake wide left him vulnerable at 15-30.  And at 30-40 Stan had break point.  Saved through Stan being too defensive. Serve was held and 6-5 Roger.

A long rally decided with a passing shot from Roger was bettered with a backhand dazzler from Stan.  Then Stan missed one wide.  A good serve for 30-30.  Set point with another shot wide.  The set was over once Stan found the net. 7-5 Roger.

Set two and Roger double faulted but a volley winner and ace helped him over the line and 1-0.  Stan joined him at 1-1 with the service game he'd have enjoyed at 5-6 in the first. 

Again poor choices by Stan when having Roger 15-30 cost him chances of a break 2-1 Roger.  Stan had 40-0 and two poor shots long dragged the game out before he squared it at 2-2.

3-2 in a flash.  And then the break - a poor game from Stan and he assaulted his racquet.  The racquet holder should have borne much of the responsibility for the hole in which he now lay. 
Roger held for 5-2.

Stan chucked away another 40-0 lead but thankfully held in the end to make Roger serve out the set at 5-3.

Three set points as Stan was temporarily elsewhere.  Roger led 7-5 6-3.

Stan started set three and immediately found strife at 15-30.  Roger and the net met and it was 30-30.  A decent forehand produced an error from Roger and Stan led 1-0.
Relaxed Roger served a love game for 1-1.
Stan played an off forehand winner but Roger replied with a winner of his own for 30-30. Stan's backhand brought up game point and Roger pulled one out of court.
Stan led 2-1.

Two Roger errors gave Stan 0-30 and a second netted shot created three break points.  One saved thanks to a long shot from Stan but his winning backhand achieved what he had desperately wanted. 3-1 Stan.  A quick consolidation with the serve being somewhat reliable stretched the lead to 4-1.

The Stan backhand forced Roger into error but two good serves made it 30-15.  A careless shot from Roger and a winner from Stan and suddenly another break chance. It arrived courtesy of an out of court miss from Roger. 5-1 Stan and serving for the set.

Three set points and this had happened in a rush.  Stan had the third set 6-1.

Roger served the first game of set four.  Double fault and unforced errors and break point.  Backhand return winner from Stan for 1-0.  Break back point after a mistimed backhand from Stan.  Saved when Roger missed long.  Double fault.  The break back happened with Stan's shot going long. 1-1.
A much easier game for Roger on serve and he led 2-1.

Stan held quickly too for 2-2.  Roger to 3-2, the final winning shot down the line noteworthy.  3-3 and no one for the moment wanting to threaten serve.

4-3 easily for Roger and 4-4 for Stan far from easily.
0-30 following a sweet forehand from Stan.  Three break points after a forehand return winner.  One saved with a good serve.  Good second serve saved the second.  Forehand pass for the break and Stan led 5-4 and would serve for the set.

Three brilliant first serves and three set points.  A love game and the match was tied at two sets apiece.  7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 to Roger who had lost the momentum, but this would be treated now as a one set sprint, and the players had both taken a break.

Roger held serve in the first game of the decider.  1-1 just as simply by Stan.
Break point with Stan playing some delightful backhands.  Saved by Stan missing wide.  
Roger led 2-1.  
Twice not clearing the net Stan was down 0-30.  A big serve and 15-30.  A mishit from Roger 30-30.  A return way long and game point.  A forehand winner set up by the previous backhand and Stan levelled at 2-2.

Break point after a searching rally but it was saved and Roger led 3-2.  Many good shots but as many nervous errors in that game.  Two break points on Stan's serve and a double fault could have cost him the match.  4-2 Roger.

An easy hold and 5-2 Roger.
Stan held and at least forced Roger to serve it out.
Three match points.  Roger Federer won in five sets 7-5 6-3 1-6 6-4 6-3

He will play in the final on Sunday.

Serena books an all Williams final

The second semi final was between second seed and six time champ Serena Williams from the USA and unseeded Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.  Serena had torn British hopes apart as she left the pieces of Johanna Konta scattered across Rod Laver Arena after their quarter final.  Mirjana did a similar thing to Karolina Pliskova although it took three sets to break her Czech heart.

Lucic-Baroni served first and hit an off forehand winner for 30-15.  She held for 1-0.  Serena was 15-15 after a Mirjana return forced an error.  A backhand Croatian pass took it to 30-30 but Serena's serving fixed things for 1-1.
Serena broke serve at her first opportunity, a forehand smash winner having set up the break point, and led 2-1.

A double fault from Serena and it was 30-30 on her serve.  Not a concern and she consolidated the break for 3-1.
A double fault from Mirjana and 30-15.  A forehand pushed wide and 30-30.  A wild Serena return gave Mirjana game point but she failed to use it.  Serena, however, did convert a break point when given the chance and she led 4-1.

5-1 swiftly, for the cost of a single point and this looked like a much quicker semi.
A winning backhand gave Mirjana 30-15 but she had an argument with the net and 30-30 was the result.  Two good serves gave Mirjana a game and some confidence.  5-2 Serena.

Three set points in an instant.  Set to Serena in 25 minutes 6-2.

A forehand winner to begin set two for Mirjana.  However the story of her match had been her unforced errors and she threw in one for 15-15.  Two aces for two game points.  Then a double fault.  A service hold and 1-0 Mirjana.
Aces assisted Serena to 40-0 and she held for 1-1

A backhand return winner was Serena's reply to Mirjana's service winner.  However, the Croatian serve had too many answers and it was soon 40-15.  A double fault complicated things and deuce eventually arrived.  As did a break point courtesy of the net.  A forehand return winner from Serena was all it required and the second seed led 2-1.

Despite a couple of careless mistakes Serena did enough to increase her advantage to 3-1.  
A deep return caused a Mirjana error and eventually she faced three break points.  On the second one a double fault signalled the finish line approaching.quickly.  Serena in front a set and 4-1.  
Serena reached 30-30 and not happily thanks to her double fault, so she put some venom into the next two points and won them for a 5-1 advantage.

Serving to stay alive in the match, Mirjana was passed on the first point for 0-15, but recovered to be 30-15, forcing Serena into error.  No stopping Serena on the fourth point though and she improved to 30-30.  Match point followed.  Over when Mirjana hit the net a final time.

Serena into the final winning 6-2 6-1 in 50 minutes.  To play her older sister.

Venus in a final again !

The first Women's Singles Semi Final between 13th seed Venus Williams and unseeded Coco Vandeweghe was certainly not the predicted matchup before the tournament, after the draw was published, and even as the tournament progressed.  However, the two Americans proved to be the best performed in the top half of the draw and deserved their places in the final four.

Venus defeated Anastasia Pavlychenkova in the quarter final and Coco had dominant victories over Garbine Muguruza in the quarter final and Angie Kerber in the round before that. Those two players currently hold three of the four grand slam titles between them and Coco made them look second rate. 

Coco and Venus have played each other just the once - in Rome last year on the clay where Venus was successful in straight sets.

Coco won the toss and chose to receive.  Forehand winner from Coco set up break point.  Saved as was a second.  Third chance with a double fault.  Saved with a shot out of court by Coco.  Fourth chance taken as net found by Venus.
Venus broke back after a thrilling game with many long exchanges and lots of winners by both players.
2-1 Williams after a love game including two winners, the backhand down the line for 30-0 especially tasty.

Both held next serves, Venus to love and with more purpose, but Coco looked as though she could let loose at any time.
Venus hit the shot of the match to this point - a running forehand crosscourt with vicious angle but Coco held serve, as did Venus in the following game to lead 4-3.

Coco served one of her best games to level at 5-5.
Venus quickly was 30-0 with a Coco return long.  Two netted shots from Venus and it was poised delicately at 30-30.
Big serve and game point.  Ace for the game after two lets and Coco needed to hold for a tiebreak.

An ace and three Coco winners ensured the tiebreak.  

3-2 with all points against serve.  The first three with clean winners.  
Four set points after a Coco winner.  One saved on a Venus serve.  Not the next as a Venus return went long.  Set one to Coco 7-6 (3).

Set two started with comfortable service games from both but Coco was down 0-15 in the third and a stunning return from Venus forced the error for 0-30.  A wild forehand from Coco found the net and three break points.  A repeat  and a break for 2-1 Venus.

Venus saved two break points, the first with a forehand winner, the second with an ace, and she held for 3-1.  A double fault gave Venus two break points in the next Coco service game and a second double completed a second break.  Venus now a strong 4-1.

Venus shook off a concerted effort from Coco to retrieve one of the breaks and saved a few break points in doing so.  She was stoic and took a 5-1 grip on the set.
Coco zipped through her next game and asked Venus to serve for the set at 5-2.

Two aces a perfect start but a Coco forehand a great stopper.  30-30 with Venus pushing one wide.  Break point with a Venus misjudgement.  Saved and then a set point, both thanks to long Coco shots.  Deuce with a Coco winner.  Ace and another set point.  Ace and a set each.

Coco faced two break points in the opening game of the decider and failed to save the second.  Venus had the upper hand 1-0
Then it was the turn of Venus to face danger, serving two double faults in succession and needing to deal with two more break points.  She did, as she had done for all of the match, bar just the one.  2-0 and looking solid.  Well for the moment at least.

Coco served much better, to love in fact, and only trailed 1-2.  Anything was still possible.   A Williams volley completed a well set up point for 30-15 and she proceeded to hold for 3-1.  Coco came back from 0-30 to hold and trail 2-3.

Venus had 40-15 but a Coco hit a winner to halt the progress.  She couldn't stop the ace though and Venus led 4-2.  Rushing the net Venus put away a volley for 0-15 on Coco's next serve.  A double fault made it difficult.  A backhand winner and service winner plus an ace brought her back to game point.  A second ace won the game and it was 3-4.  

A double fault didn't stop the Williams run as she still used the net to shorten points where she could.  Coco made it 30-30 with an outright winner but an ace created game point.  A netted return took Venus to 5-3.

A double fault from Coco and 15-30.  Coco Into the net and two match points.  An ace and one saved.  Venus netted a backhand and deuce.  One more match point.  Saved again thanks to that net.  Double fault and fourth match point.  Done !

Venus Williams in the final after a three set battle 6-7 (3) 6-2 6-3.

Bryans in 10th Aus Open Final

Plenty of Stars and Stripes on Australia Day aka Women's Singles Semi Final Day at Aus Open 2017 which began with an appetiser in the form of a men's doubles semi final.  Later of course three of the four women featured come from the USA.
In the doubles encounter, unseeded Spanish pair Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez faced legendary Americans and third seeds the Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob.

The Bryans defeated ninth seeded Dodig and Granollers in their quarter final, while the victims of the Spanish pair were another unseeded combination Bolt and Mousley.  Each of those matches went the three set distance, and hopefully this match was going to have a similar fate.
The skies were cloudy and rain was not out of the question.

The Americans served first, Bob at the line.  Mike's overhead took them to 30-0 and his severe volley to three game points.  One was saved with a slashing Guillermo return winner, but an ace put paid to any come back plans.

Great volleying exchanging by the twins and 0-15.  A Pablo pass steadied his team.
Sharp volley from Guillermo and 40-15.  Ace for the game. 1-1
Awesome returning of the Mike Bryan serve by the Spaniards created three break points but spectacular volleying and a safe overhead from Mike saved two.  Pablo passed the Americans for the break and a 2-1 early advantage.

A Pablo smash off a fine Guillermo serve and then a volley splitting the Americans took the Spaniards to 30-0.  Pablo was on fire and another top volley winner set up three game points and he sealed a 3-1 lead with a third.

Bob didn't mess around, a love game keeping the twins in touch at 2-3.  Mike put away an overhead to begin the assault on Pablo's serve, then at the net proved impassable, sending another smash into open court.  A double fault created two break chances for the Bryans and a long shot from Pablo was fatal. 3-3.

Mike lost the opening point of game seven to a Spanish winner, but redeemed himself with a clever volley.  Big serving kept the others out of contention for the remainder of the game, an ace giving the lead to America 4-3.  Two returns out of court and a perfectly weighted Pablo lob were enough to see scores reach 4-4.

The Americans won out in a furious net exchange, setting the tone for another excellent Bob Bryan service game, interrupted only by an exquisite Guillermo passing shot. 4-5 and Pablo under pressure to hold for the set to continue.
Great interception by Guillermo and 15-0.  After an ace the Bryans swarmed the net and intimidated the Spanish pair into the loss of two points.  However Pablo stayed strong, and served out the final two points for 5-5.

Brilliant doubles by both teams saw the Spanish pair take the honours and move closer at 15-30.  Smart work by Guillermo set up a Pablo forehand winner but the Bryans steadied and a sharp stop volley from Bob won the game for 6-5.
Textbook serve volley stuff for the first two points, then a Guillermo ace and just a point from the tie break.  Mike's forehand and Bob's effort kept them them there.  A fortunate net cord won the game and the tie break resulted.

Bob won his point on serve as expected.  Pablo double faulted disappointingly.  Mike volleyed to the body of Guillermo and the Bryans were 3-0 to the good.  The Spaniards were unable to handle a smash and when Pablo pushed one wide a massive 5-0 lead had been established.  Six set points arrived with a winning volley from Mike. Guillermo finally put a score on the board with an overhead, but an easy volley won the set 7-6 (1) for the Americans.  That was how to play a tiebreak.

Guillermo began serving in the second set with an uphill battle ahead.  A double fault was unhelpful and 15-30 was a concern.  Not for long as it turned into 40-30.  A friendly net cord set up a winner for the Americans and then an error from Guillermo created a break point.  He saved it.  And a second.  More deuces in this game than we'd seen all match and when Pablo was nearly assaulted by an American bullet, another break point was created.  The third was saved.  Break point number four came as the game descended further into farce and light rain fell again.

"Oh maybe we should have had the roof closed after all", thought the tournament organisers, once again proving that their qualifications don't extend to meteorology.  Come to think of it many of their scheduling decisions have also left a little to be desired so a lesson or two in that area wouldn't go astray either.

Players back on court as the roof almost reached its shut position, the Spanish team down a set and break point in the first game of set two.  Deuce for the hundredth time. Break point five.  Pablo saved it with a forehand overhead.  An ace from Guillermo and 1-0.
Bob Bryan served first for the twins in set two and although taken to 15-30, suffered not for it, then Guillermo with three volleys made life easy for Pablo on serve and the Spaniards led 2-1
2-2 soon after.

Break point once more on the Guillermo serve.  Double fault and the Americans had a 3-2 lead.
Two Guillermo return winners made it 30-30 but Bob Bryan served out the game and 4-2.  

Probably the net point of the match ended with Spain winning to go to 15-15 on Pablo's serve.  However the net press of the Bryans forced errors and a precarious 15-30.  Pablo eased it with a winner and two aces.  3-4.
A love game from Mike Bryan put him and his brother a game away from another Grand Slam tournament final.

An overhead winner gave match point to the Bryan brothers and they won with the next, in two sets 7-6 (1) 6-3.  Into their 10th Aus Open Men's Doubles final.