Australian Open 2014 Day 10: Federer, Nadal in but Azarenka out


by Alexandra Willis at Melbourne Park’s highlights from the tenth day of play at the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne
Big win
Rafael Nadal d. Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(7), 6-2
If the ferocious blisters on Rafael Nadal’s left hand are hurting him, that’s nothing to what Grigor Dimitrov would have been feeling at the conclusion of their four-set thriller, a guttural performance in which neither played astoundingly well, Nadal especially, but which was memorable for the heart and guts shown by both players. Dimitrov, playing in his first Grand Slam quarter-final, pushed Nadal hard, creating just as much bounce and spin on his shots, and taking the match quite literally out of his hands. Nadal meanwhile was off, missing off forehands, struggling on serve, quite clearly affected by his ripped up hand. But still he competed. Lucky to get through two tie-breaks as Dimitrov errors, two forehands in particular – one on set point for him, one on set point against him – cost him dearly, by the time the third came around the Bulgarian was simply exhausted.
“There’s a lot of mixed feelings right now,” Dimitrov said. “I’m a bit shattered. I came out expecting nothing less than to win. Of course I’m deeply disappointed. But in the end I have to take the positives and the negatives out of the match and move on.
“I’m really excited to get back on the court in the upcoming weeks and start working and come up to the same stage and try to do it again.
The upset
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Victoria Azarenka, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0
We learned last night that good things come to those who wait. Today, we learned it again. Radwanska, Azarenka, Wozniacki, Kvitova – they all broke through at similar times, the generation next to take on Serena and Venus. But for their last seven meetings, Azarenka has crushed Radwanska, all the way back to Tokyo 2011. Not today. The Pole played unnerving, astonishing tennis that had the press centre applauding, dethroning the two-time defending champion in three sets.
Winning the third set 6-0 was a twist of the knife as Radwanska’s easy talent sent Azarenka boiling over. ‘Deal with it,’ her t-shirt said afterwards, even if she said “It’s just a shirt.”
“She played well, she didn’t make me angry,” Azarenka said. “There was just too many mistakes and too many easy mistakes on important moments. I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate.
“She was aggressive. She was making everything. I was playing a little bit too predictive.”
Radwanska meanwhile was naturally over the moon.
“I really have nothing to lose. She was defending the title, not me. I was really trying to pay my best tennis, go for every shot I could. This is for sure one of the greatest matches at the slam. Especially the third set was unbelievable. I really cannot complain about anything.
“I was really trying to mix up everything, just make her run. This is my game, and it was working really well today.
Hanging tough
Roger Federer d. Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3
It wasn’t the five-set firecracker of last year, but Roger Federer and Andy Murray pushed each other hard for three hours and 20 minutes in the cool night of Rod Laver Arena, Federer coming out on top for the first time since London 2012, and narrowing their head to head to 11-10 in Murray’s favour. Federer served and executed especially well, and for two and a bit sets, it was hard to see how Murray could stay with him. But when the sixth seed stepped up to serve for it up two sets and 5-4, he blinked. And Murray didn’t miss. Breaking Federer back at the death, the two then went to a tie-break. Murray saved two match points. And got out of dodge.
The second game of the fourth set took 19 minutes, Murray forced to save six break points in a 26-point game. He clung on, but there was a sense that it was sapping the energy out of him. A loose service game
No messing about
Dominika Cibulkova’s path to her first Grand Slam semi-final in Australia was perfunctory to say the least. The 20th seed smashed past the 11th 6-3, 6-0 in exactly an hour.
Did you see that?
Nadal’s triple squat, triple fist pump as he won the second set tie-break to level things up against Dimitrov.
US Open champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek were upset by Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 7-6(4), and will play Lukas Kubot and Robert Lindstedt, the fourth seeds, in the semis.
In the women’s, top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci bulldozed Kveta Peschke and Katerina Srebotnik 6-1, 6-4 to make the final, where they will face all-Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who took three sets to beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
Tweet of the day
When you don’t need any words.
Stat of the day
1997, Roland Garros
The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam in the Open Era when 1996 champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf lost in the last eight.
Quote of the day
“It should hurt. And it does hurt, so…”
Grigor Dimitrov in defeat
In juniors
British interest in the singles is sadly over, as Isabelle Wallace and Katie Boulter both departed the girls’ singles draws. But Boulter is still alive in the doubles, and plays alongside partner Jorovic in the semis against Bains and Tjandramulia. Try saying that one quickly.
What to watch on Thursday
11am – Eric Butorac & Raven Klaasen v Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic (8)
NB 1.30pm – Eugenie Bouchard (30) v Li Na (4)
FB Dominika Cibulkova (20) v Agnieszka Radwanska (5)
7.30pm – Tomas Berdych (7) v Stanislas Wawrinka (8)

Il racconto di un demone e dei suoi demoni

NB 12.30pm – Lukasz Kubot & Robert Lindstedt (14) v Michael Llodra & Nicolas Mahut (13)
FB – Sania Mirza & Horia Tecau (6) v Julia Goerges & Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi