By Bob Greene
Men’s Singles: Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-2
Women’s Singles: Victoria Azarenka beat Li Na 4-6 6-4 6-3
Men’s Doubles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-4
Women’s Doubles: Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci beat Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2 3-6 6-2
Mixed Doubles: Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden beat Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak 6-3 7-5
Boys’ Singles: Nick Kyrgios beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (4) 6-3
Girls’ Singles: Ana Konjuh beat Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4
Boys’ Doubles: Jay Andrijic and Bradley Mousley beat Maximilian Marterer and Lucas Miedler 6-3 7-6 (3)
Girls’ Doubles: Ana Konjuh and Carol Zhao beat Oleksandra Korashvili and Barbora Krejcikova 5-7 6-4 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Men’s Wheelchair Singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet 6-2 6-0
Women’s Wheelchair Singles: Aniek Van Koot beat Sabine Ellerbrock 6-1 1-6 7-5
Men’s Wheelchair Doubles: Michael Jeremiasz and Shingo Kunieda beat Stefan Olsson and Adam Kellerman 6-0 6-1
Women’s Wheelchair Doubles: Jiske Griffioen and Aniek Van Koot beat Lucy Shuker and Marjolein Buis 6-4 6-3
Quad Wheelchair Singles: David Wagner beat Andrew Lapthorne 2-6 6-1 6-4
Quad Wheelchair Doubles: David Wagner and Nicholas Taylor beat Andrew Lapthorne and Anders Hard 6-2 6-3
Michael Berrer beat Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 6-3 to win the Heilbronn Open in Heilbronn, Germany
“I love this court.” – Novak Djokovic, after winning his third straight and fourth career Australian Open men’s singles title.
“I didn’t expect an easy match. You never get the Grand Slam trophy in an easy way. You have to earn it.” – Novak Djokovic.
“The past few months have been the best tennis of my life. I made the Wimbledon final, won the (London) Olympics and won the US Open. I was close here as well.” – Andy Murray, who lost the men’s singles final to Novak Djokovic.
“There were a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was love-40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed to have that crucial hold. After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I had done in the first hour or so.” – Novak Djokovic, after becoming the first person to win three consecutive men’s singles titles in the Open Era.
“It isn’t easy, that’s for sure, but I knew what I had to do. I had to stay calm. I had to stay positive. I just had to deal with the things that came onto me.” – Victoria Azarenka, following her second straight Australian Open victory.
“I think I was a little bit worried when I was falling. Because two seconds I couldn’t really see anything. It was totally black. So when the physio come, she was like, ‘Focus on my finger.’ I was laughing. I was thinking, ‘This is tennis court, not like hospital.’” – Li Na, discussing what happened when she fell and hit her head during the women’s final.
“It was tough tennis. I enjoy that. I think Andy was a bit better than I was tonight. He beat me fair and square tonight. No regrets from me.” – Roger Federer, following his semifinal loss to Andy Murray.
“Are you kidding me? I mean, I thought about it like for a nanosecond. It’s a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam. I have to (be) taken off in a wheeler before I retire.” – Serena Williams, when asked if she considered retiring from her match against Sloane Stephens when she hurt her back.
“Whoa, it wasn’t as hard as I thought.” – Sloane Stephens, when asked about reaching her first Grand Slam tournament semifinal.
“We’re competitors. We hate to lose. We want to finish (world) number one. We set goals to get better, to improve, and to play well at these big tournaments. That’s why we’ll be out here for the next few, three, four more years.” – Bob Bryan, after he and his twin brother Mike Bryan won their sixth Australian Open men’s doubles title.
“I think we’re so successful at this tournament because we spent the off season mainly in the same spot working toward the new year. We come into these tournaments with momentum. Most teams, they fly off to different countries. But we’re always pretty much thinking, eating, breathing doubles. We’ve just always had the drive to keep improving over time.” – Mike Bryan.
“Today we’ve proven we’re a really strong doubles team. Our strength is that we always play together. We went out there today with lots of grit, and we really wanted to win.” – Roberta Vinci, after teaming with Sara Errani to win the women’s doubles.
“It felt like we were really close in that match, a lot closer than the score suggested. A point here and there, and I think that third set could have really turned.” – Ashleigh Barty, after she and Casey Dellacqua lost in the women’s doubles final.
“I’ve been in this position before and I’ve come through it. I’m tough. I’m not afraid to go out and keep working, work as hard as I can to be quicker, better, improve in these situations, and when I have another chance, take it.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing her semifinal match against Li Na.
“Do you mind if I memorialize this for posterity?” – Andre Agassi, using his cell phone to take a photo of the reporters attending his news conference.
When he needed it most, Novak Djokovic came up with his best tennis. And because he did, he became the first man in the Open Era to win three straight Australian Open singles titles. Roy Emerson won five straight, but his last came in 1967, one year before the game was open to all, including professionals. The victory over Andy Murray was Djokovic’s fourth Aussie Open crown, tying him with Roger Federer and Andre Agassi. Fittingly, it was Agassi on hand to hand the winner’s trophy to the top-ranked Serb. “What a joy, it’s an incredible feeling to win this trophy again,” Djokovic said. “This is definitely my favorite Grand Slam. I love this tournament. I love this court.” Born seven days apart in 1987, the two battled for nearly three hours before the first break of serve. The match lasted only 49 minutes longer as Murray lost in the Australian Open final for the third time in four years. “At this level it can come down to just a few points here or there,” said Murray, who was hampered by a badly blistered toe. “Probably my biggest chance was at the beginning of the second set, I didn’t quite get it. When Novak had his chance at the end of the third, he got his.” It was Djokovic’s sixth Grand Slam tournament singles title as he improved his career record to 11-7 over Murray. The Serb avenged the five-set defeat he suffered to the Scott in last year’s US Open final.
STAYS NUMBER ONE
It wasn’t easy, and she wasn’t the crowd favorite. But Victoria Azarenka prevailed to successfully defend her Australian Open women’s singles title and outlast her Chinese opponent, Li Na. “This one is way more emotional,” Azarenka said. “It’s gonna be extra special for me, for sure … you’re the only one who knows what you’ve been going through these two weeks. So it’s definitely an emotional one and it’s going to be special.” The victory also meant Azarenka would remain number one in the WTA world rankings. The crowd was strongly in Li’s corner, but that was probably due to Azarenka’s semifinal win over Sloane Stephens. The 19-year-old American was giving Azarenka all she could handle when the Belarusian called for a controversial medical timeout immediately after blowing five match points. That left Azarenka fending off allegations of gamesmanship. But in the title match, it was Li who twice needed treatment after falling heavily, the second time blacking out momentarily after banging her head on the court. “Listen, it was a real injury,” Li said in her post-match conference. “Maybe if I hadn’t fallen down, it would have been another story. You never know. But the reality is I fell down, so nothing can change.” It was Li’s second loss in an Australian Open final in three years.
STILL GOING STRONG
Twins Bob and Mike Bryan just continue to rewrite the record books. They became the most successful men’s pair in Grand Slam tournament history when they won their 13th doubles title, beating the Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling in the Australian Open final. The 34-year-old Americans snapped the record of 12 Grand Slam doubles titles they had shared with Australians John Newcombe and Tony Roche. The Bryans were contesting their ninth Australian Open doubles final in the past 10 years and were playing in an Open Era record 23rd Grand Slam championship match. It also was the brothers’ 84th career title and their second consecutive grand-slam triumph, after their win at the US Open in September. “To be a part of history is pretty special,” Mike Bryan said. “We weren’t thinking about it much out there, but now that we have it it’s going to be fun to look back on our career and say we have the most Grand Slams. It’s a big record, so we’re pretty excited about it.”
It was not the start to the 2013 season Serena Williams was looking for. By the time she was upset by 19-year-old Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Serena’s ankle had swollen to the size of a balloon and she had back spasms. She also hit herself in the face with her racquet during the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. “I’m almost relieved that it’s over because there’s only so much I felt I could do,” Serena said after her 3-6 7-5 6-4 loss to a fellow American. “Oh, my gosh, it’s been a little difficult. I’ve been thrown a lot of balls these two weeks. I’ve had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day. And my back, which started hurting. A lot of stuff.” Although ranked sixth in the world, Williams was favored to win her sixth Australian Open and 16th Grand Slam tournament singles crown. She had won the last two majors – Wimbledon and the US Open – as well as the London Olympic gold medal. She turned her ankle in her first-round match, and then hit herself in the head with her racquet in the second round. Against Stephens, the 31-year-old Williams raced to the net for a drop shot and a “tight back” that had been affecting her for a few days immediately flared. “It just locked up on me,” Serena said. “I couldn’t really rotate after that, which I guess is normal.” The injury affected her serve and backhand.
When Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden captured the mixed doubles, they became the first Australians to win a main draw Australian Open title in eight years. The Australians, both aged 25, beat Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak for the title. Both Gajdosova and Ebden were first-round losers in singles and were playing together for the first time. They gained entry to the field as wild cards. Scott Draper and Samantha Stosur were the last Australians to win a title at the year’s first Grand Slam event when they captured the mixed doubles in 2005.
SLOANE BREAKS THROUGH
Sloane Stephens came away from this year’s Australian Open as a winner, even in defeat. The 19-year-old American reached the semifinal where she finally succumbed to the world’s top-ranked player – and even that in a controversial finish – falling to eventual winner Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-4. Stephens shocked her idol, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals, putting on display some of the promise that had been predicted of her. In the ninth game of the second set against Azarenka, Stephens fought off five match points. “I just didn’t want to give it to her basically and just kind of worked for every point,” she said. But Azarenka called for a contentious injury timeout that she maintains was to treat a rib blockage that was causing her to experience breathing problems. “I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t swing,” said Azarenka, who spent 10 minutes off court with the medical staff. Stephens refused to blame Azarenka. “It’s (medical timeouts) happened before,” she said. “I mean, I’ve had in the last match, the match before, medical breaks, go to the bathroom, the whole showdown. It was just something else, but it didn’t affect anything, I don’t think.”
Croatia’s Ana Konjuh won two titles and Australian Nick Kyrgios captured the boys title at the Australian Open. Konjuh, only 15 years old, defeated second-seeded Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-3 6-4 to win the girls’ singles. She teamed with Carol Zhao to win the girls’ doubles. “It feels really great,” said Konjuh, who also beat Siniakova in the final of the Orange Bowl in December. “I won doubles and singles in my first time here. Just the feeling is incredible.” Krygios beat fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was the first time two Australians had been in the final since 1994. On the eve of the final, the 16-year-old Kokkinakis had an MRI which showed he has a stress fracture in his back. “I was pretty shattered, to be honest,” Kokkinakis said. … I actually did a little bit better than I thought I would. I didn’t think I’d make it through a set. It held up and didn’t really get that much worse during the play. But it just hurt when I tried to push off.”
A back injury is forcing Venus Williams to miss the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France, as well as a Fed Cup match against Italy. The 32-year-old American has been struggling to regain her best form since suffering a serious autoimmune disease in 2011. She said she was looking forward to Paris and also playing for the United States in its first-round battle against Italy. “This event was really important to me and to continue climbing up in the rankings,” Williams, who is ranked 26th in the world, said in a statement. “Unfortunately I’ve suffered a back pain which has forced me to rest and miss both the Paris event and the Fed Cup the following week.”
In his semifinal victory, Andy Murray even stripped away Roger Federer’s cool. Rarely does Federer appear ruffled. Not this time. At one point BBC commentator Andrew Castle apologized because of an F-word tirade by Federer. And when Murray served for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, Federer uttered some choice words in his direction. Not long after, Murray drilled a forehand directly at the body of Federer. “Stuff like that happens daily in tennis matches,” Murray said. “The stuff that people say on football pitches and in basketball and all sorts of sports, I mean, it was very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports. It’s just one of those things.”
Winner of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, Thelma Coyne Long of Australia has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the Master Player Category. Eighteen of her titles were earned at the Australian Championships. She still holds several Australian Open records, including the oldest Singles champion at the age of 35 years, eight months when she won in 1954. She won 12 Australian doubles titles, the most by any player, man or woman. In 1952, Coyne Long completed the Australian triple, winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Now 94 years old, Coyne Long now lives in the Sydney, Australia, area. She is the first of the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2013 enshrines to be announced. Others will be announced on March 4 as part of World Tennis Day. They all will be enshrined in ceremonies July 13 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Alicia Molik is the new Fed Cup captain for Australia, replacing Davis Taylor, who is stepping down after seven years to focus on his role as coach of Samantha Stosur. Molik played 22 Fed Cup ties for Australia between 1999 and 2010, compiling an 18-21 total win-loss record. Australia will play its first round tie against two-time defending champions Czech Republic in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on February 9-10. The 31-year-old Molik won the singles bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and is a two-time Grand Slam tournament women’s doubles champion, winning the 2005 Australian Open and 2007 Roland Garros.
Former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez will take over from Arantxa Sanchez Vicario as captain of Spain’s Fed Cup team. “Conchita is a Spanish tennis legend and it is fitting that those who have given a lot to our sport have a chance to continue helping the team,” Jose Luis Escanuela, president of the Spanish tennis federation (RFET) said. Now 40 years old, Martinez beat Martina Navratilova in the 1994 Wimbledon final. She reached the finals of the Australian Open in 1998 and the French Open two years later, rising to number two in the world rankings. As a player, she helped Spain win five Fed Cup titles. Sanchez Vicario stepped down after Spain lost their World Group first-round tie to Russia in last year’s Fed Cup. They play their World Group II match at home to Ukraine February 9-10.
Four-time winner Roger Federer and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka will defend their titles at the BNP Paribas Open in March. Also in the men’s singles will be Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Battling for the women’s title will be Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens. The tournament runs March 4-17 in Indian Wells, California, USA.
SHARING THE SPOILS
The Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci proved the seeding committee was right. The two needed three sets before capturing the Australian Open women’s doubles by stopping the unseeded Australian pair of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua. “In the third set we started to get nervous,” Vinci said. “However, today we’ve proven we’re a really strong doubles team. Our strength is that we always play together. We went out there today with lots of grit, and we really wanted to win.”
SOUTH AMERICAN SWING
The men will be playing a new ATP World Tour 500 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this year. The 2014 calendar shows a total of 61 tournaments will be played in 31 countries across six continents, including a four-week South American swing in February. Other changes to the calendar include a change of surface in Acapulco, Mexico, from clay to hard court. Listening to complaints from players, there will be a one-week break between the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHoF) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have presented the 2013 Golden Achievement Award to Geoff Pollard, past president and chairman of Tennis Australia and a current vice president of the ITF. The Golden Achievement Award is given annual to an individual who has made important contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion or education, and who has devoted long and outstanding service to the sport. Past recipients of the Golden Achievement Award are Shamil Tarpischev of Russia (2012); Tim Phillips of the United Kingdom (2011); Heinz Grimm of Switzerland (2010); Peachy Kellmeyer of the United States (2009); Juan Maria Tintore of Spain (2008); Nancy P. Jeffett of the United States (2007); James R. Cochrane of Great Britain (2006); Eiichi Kawatei of Japan (2005); John Curry of Great Britain (2004); J. Howard “Bumpy” Frazer of the United States (2003); Enrique Morea of Argentina (2002); Pablo Llorens Renaga of Spain (2001); Gil de Kermadec of France (2000), and Brian Tobin of Australia (1999).
A former president of the United States Tennis Association, Hunter Delatour, is dead at the age of 95. Delatour served as USTA president from 1983-84, was president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame from 1986-87, and on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board of Directors from 1983-87, during which time he served as ITF vice president.
Heilbronn: Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klaasen beat Jordan Kerr and Andreas Siljestrom 6-3 0-6 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
Viña del Mar: www.vtropen.cl
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$690,000 Open GDF Suez, Paris, France, hard
$235,000 PTT Pattaya Open, Pattaya, Thailand, hard
Canada vs. Spain at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, hard
Italy vs. Croatia at Turin, Italy, clay
Belgium vs. Serbia at Charleroi, Belgium, clay
United States vs. Brazil at Jacksonville, Florida, USA, hard
France vs. Israel at Rouen, France, hard
Argentina vs. Germany at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
Kazakhstan vs. Austria at Astana, Kazakhstan, clay
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic at Geneva, Switzerland, hard
Americas Zone: Uruguay vs. Dominican Republic at Montevideo, Uruguay, clay
Asia/Oceania Zone: Chinese Taipei vs. Australia at Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Uzbekistan vs. China at Namangan, Uzbekistan, clay; India vs. South Korea at New Delhi, India, hard; Japan vs. Indonesia at Tokyo, Japan, hard
Europe/Africa Zone: Poland vs. Slovenia at Wroclaw, Poland, hard; Romania vs. Denmark at Cluj Napoca, Romania, hard; Ukraine vs. Slovak Republic at Kremenchug, Ukraine, hard
Americas Zone: Puerto Rico vs. Mexico at Humacao, Puerto Rico, hard; El Salvador vs. Barbados at Santa Tecla, El Salvador, clay; Venezuela vs. Guatemala at Caracas, Venezuela, hard; Peru vs. Haiti at Lima, Peru, clay
Asia/Oceania Zone: New Zealand vs. Lebanon at Auckland, New Zealand, hard; Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan at Colombo, Sri Lanka, clay; Kuwait vs. Thailand at Meshref, Kuwait, hard; Philippines vs. Syria at Lapu-Lapu, Philippines, clay
Europe/Africa Zone: Bulgaria vs. Finland at Sofia, Bulgaria, hard; Ireland vs. Estonia at Dublin, Ireland, hard; Tunisia vs. Latvia at El Menzah, Tunisia, hard; Monaco vs. Belarus at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Monaco, clay; Moldova vs. Hungary at Chisinau, Moldova, hard; Bosnia/Herzegovina vs. Luxembourg at Sarajevo, Bosnia/Herzegovina, hard; Lithuania vs. Cyprus at Siauliai, Lithuania, hard; Portugal vs. Benin at Lisbon, Portugal, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$551,879 Open Sud de France, Montpellier, France, hard
$551,879 PBZ Zagreb Indoors, Zagreb, Croatia, hard
$551,879 VTR Open, Viña del Mar, Chile, clay
$100,000 Challenger of Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, hard
$100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic, Midland, Michigan, USA, hard
Czech Republic vs. Australia at Ostrava, Czech Republic, hard
Italy vs. United States at Rimini, Italy, clay
Russia vs. Japan at Moscow, Russia, hard
Serbia vs. Slovak Republic at Nis, Serbia, hard
World Group II
Switzerland vs. Belgium at Bern, Switzerland, clay; Argentina vs. Sweden at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay; Spain vs. Ukraine at Alicante, Spain, clay; France vs. Germany at Limoges, France, clay
Zone Group I
Europe/Africa at Eilat, Israel, hard: Pool A: Belarus, Austria, Croatia, Georgia; Pool B: Great Britain, Portugal, Hungary, Bosnia/Herzegovina; Pool C: Poland, Romania, Israel, Turkey; Pool D: Slovenia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Luxembourg
Americas at Medellín, Colombia, clay: Pool A: Colombia, Canada, Peru, Venezuela; Pool B: Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Mexico
Asia/Oceania at Astana, Kazakhstan, hard: Pool A: Kazakhstan, India, Thailand; Pool B: China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Uzbekistan