Upsets have come a plenty in this year’s Australian Open men’s singles tournament as most of the top seeds have been shown the showers, leaving one man to fight for the reputation of top-level tennis.
Roger Federer may be one of the oldest men in the game, but his quarterfinal battle against Tomas Berdych will prove, one more time, why he is surely the best the game has seen, perhaps ever.
Yesterday saw an exit by world number 1, Rafael Nadal, at the hands of 6th seed Marin Cilic on the Rod Laver arena and while the Spaniard was forced to retire due to an injury in the fifth set, Cilic’s big base-line game and pure aggression was enough to hold Rafa’ back quite decisively.
Similarly, world number 3, Grigor Dimitrov, fell 3 sets to 1 against a top 50s player; relative newcomer, Kyle Edmund. In what was a sure-fire show of ambition and power, Edmund emphasised his big ground strokes pushing Dimitrov further and further back until it became a question of time.
However, perhaps the biggest upset in this year’s edition came with the elimination of former number 1 Novak Djokovic, in straight sets at the hands of 58th seed, Chung Hyeon.
The common thread is that all the victors are below 30 years of age.
Yet, before harking the coming of a new age of players, as I’m sure will be the case at some point, it is important to note that all these players have similar styles. Call it complacency or blame the heat, the above three matches were all one by whoever was hungriest for the win.
A reason which could play quite well into Federer’s title ambitions.
The 36-year-old’s recent run has seen him win various master’s tournaments, but his last grand-slam title was Wimbledon. No small feat, but this is Federer we’re talking about. It’s been a good six-months or so since that monstrous one-hand backhand has blasted its way to the final and then up onto the top of the podium.
It could well be he’s out to taste that title victory again.
In his recent interviews, while others have complained about the conditions of this year’s tournament – the hottest its been in the last few years – Rog’ has coolly focused on the game ahead, stating he didn’t think the younger guys would mind, so he wouldn’t make too much of it either.
With 4 straight set victories so far and a strong return of his serve, following a shoulder injury late last year, Federer could well be headed to his umpteenth Australian open.
Cementing the notion that all athletes age, but some are Roger Federer and some just aren’t