Highlights from the tenth day of Australian Open 2013 at Melbourne Park...
Sloane Stephens d. Serena Williams. So many people had pencilled in Serena for the title, that although they talked a good game on Sloane Stephens, no one truly expected the 19-year-old to be the one advancing to the semi-finals instead of her older more experienced compatriot. But lo and behold, that is what happened, Serena surrendering an early advantage, and a break in the final set, to lose in three, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6 in two hours and 17 minutes. The 15-time major champion, who had not lost a match since Cincinnati last August, did not execute as she can, of that there is no doubt. She was also restricted severely by ongoing ankle trouble and a newly developed injury, a tweak to her back. But Stephens did not advance because Serena lost this match. She won it fair and square, tearing around the court after every ball, and equalling Williams’ 23 winners and hitting less errors (39 to 48). Not only was it only Serena’s third loss since last spring, it was also the first time she has lost to a younger compatriot. But she’ll be back. For now, it’s all about the Sloane show.
A first for Federer
There are few firsts left for Roger Federer, but he achieved one this evening, winning a five-set match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the first time, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals. The Swiss was pushed all the way by Tsonga, who recreated the ebullient form that saw him beat Federer in their only other five-setter in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2011. But he could not repeat the feat this evening, Federer too strong, ultimately.
Murray on the march
Andy Murray celebrated reaching his 12th Grand Slam semi-final with an ice bath after a perfunctory dismissal of Jeremy Chardy, winning 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 51 minutes. It will be Murray’s fourth Melbourne semi in a row, and, although he admits he might not have been truly tested, yet, he has faith in bringing his best tennis when he needs to. He will need to against Federer. It is the first time the pair will meet in a Grand Slam before the final, Federer leading their head to head in majors 3-0.
Victoria Azarenka was expected to have her hands full against Svetlana Kuznetsova, the resurgent world No.75 who had knocked out Caroline Wozniacki. But, although Kuznetsova lead by 4-1 in the first set, as she put it, her lack of consistency ‘killed her,’ and Azarenka was able to take back the momentum with successive breaks. Upping the ante in the second, she breezed to a 5-1 lead, and served her way into the semi-finals.
With Sloane Stephens, not Serena, her opponent to be, Azarenka must see herself into the final, but she will need to up her level again to stave off the American youngster’s efforts.
The passage of the Bryan brothers into the semi-finals, with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Daniele Bracciali and Lukas Dlouhy. The other day’s quarter-final was won by Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, who beat Colombian duo Cabal and Farah 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The follow up
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci didn’t waste the hard yards put in to beat the Williams sisters, seeing off Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the fourth seeds, 6-2, 6-4.
In the mixed doubles, Yaroslava Shvedova and Denis Istomin triumphed over Spaniards Llagostera Vives and Marrero to reach the last four, as did Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski, beating Su-Wei Hsieh and Rohan Bopanna.
The juniors is into the quarter-final stages now, with Nikola Milojevic (1), Gianluigi Quinzi (2), Nick Kyrgios (3) and Wayne Montgomery (7) the ones to watch out for in the boys, and Katerina Siniakova (2), Ana Konjuh (3), Antonia Lottner (4) and Elise Mertens (8) the top four left in the girls.
The wheelchair events began with wins for top seeds Stephane Houdet (men’s), David Wagner (quad) and Aniek Van Koot (women’s).
They said it
“I think I’ll put up a poster of myself now”
Sloane Stephens on the Serena Williams poster she used to have on her wall
Coming up on Thursday
Rod Laver Arena
Men’s doubles semi-finals
11am Bob & Mike Bryan (1) v Simone Bolelli & Fabio Fognini
Women’s singles semi-finals
NB 1.30pm Li Na (6) v Maria Sharapova (2)
FB Victoria Azarenka (1) v Sloane Stephens
Men’s singles semi-finals
7.30pm Novak Djokovic (1) v David Ferrer (4)
Margaret Court Arena
Men’s doubles semi-finals
12pm Marcel Granollers & Marc Lopez (3) v Robin Haase & Igor Sisjling
Mixed doubles quarter-finals
FB Sania Mirza & Bob Bryan (3) v Lucie Hradecka & Frantisek Cermak
FB Nadia Petrova & Mahesh Bhupathi (5) v Jarmila Gajdosova & Matthew Edben (WC)
For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website