Australian Open: Another Day of Quarterfinal Action

Quarterfinal play later tonight (Wednesday Melbourne time): Petra Kvitova vs. Italian Sara Errani and Ekaterina Makarova (who just beat Serena Williams) vs. Maria Sharapova. For the guys, it’s Andy Murray vs. Kei Nishikori in the late afternoon match on Laver, while Djokovic headlines the night match vs. David Ferrer. We’re into some serious tennis now, boys and girls…

Today, ‘WHOO!’ Victoria Azarenka defeated Agnieszka Radwanska to advance to the semifinals. Radwanska won the first set in the tie-break, but Vica bagelled her in the second, then went on to win the third (6-2). Kim Clijsters had no problems with the ankle, and zero trouble with human backboard Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6 (4)…and Caroline was left answering the now stale question of whether or not she really deserves the World #1 ranking when she can’t seem to get over the hump of winning a Slam. Yawn.

On the Men’s Side – Federer (going for his 17th Grand Slam Title) went to work and had no trouble eliminating Juan Martin del Potro in three-sets (so much for refecting on that 2009 U.S. Open Title), and Rafael Nadal dropped the first set to Tomas Berdych in a tie-break, only to go and win the next tie-break set and finish-off the Czech 6-4, 6-3. So it’s Federer vs. Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open Semifinals; a match that will undoubtedly be the “most watched” of the tournament.

The Bryans continue their pursuit of a 12th Grand Slam Doubles Title, beating the solid Polish pairing of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski (Runners-up at the 2011 U.S. Open). Bob and Mike won the first and third sets 6-4, but dropped the second-set in a tie-break.

A shocker in Women’s Doubles Play! The beyond-talented pairing of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond lost their quarterfinal match to Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina 3-6, 7-5, 6-7 (6). The match lasted over 3-hours on Margaret Court Arena, and Huber and Raymond saved four match points in the tie-breaker to fight back to 6-6, before losing the next two points…and the match. The final set alone lasted 93-minutes. Tonight, it’s a rematch for Liezel in the Mixed Doubles Quarterfinals – she’s teamed up with Great Britain’s Colin Fleming, and they’re playing Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi after the Djokovic vs. Ferrer match on Rod Laver Arena.

This year in Melbourne, during the night matches, the biggest challenge for the players hasn’t necessarily been their opponent or mental toughness…it’s been the “Angry Birds” feeding on the locusts! It affected Djokovic’s match with Lleyton Hewitt and Rafa’s match with Berdych.

Another challenge for some of the players…and it’s obviously a legitimate issue now with the WTA: “WTA exploring how to reduce grunting.” Aside from notable grunter Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka (soon to be in Worcester for the Fed Cup Tie between Team USA and Team Belarus!) is one of the biggest targets of fellow players, fans and the media in Melbourne. Here’s my favorite line from Chelsea Cheese of the Associated Press: “During Azarenka’s matches in Melbourne, some people in the crowd have been mimicking the unusual sound she makes. Host broadcaster Channel 7 has what it calls a “Whoo! Meter,” which registered the sound at 91.4 decibels on Tuesday.”