THE SANTA CLARA
January 26, 2017
If I’d written this column a week ago, it’d have been entirely off the mark. Since the Australian Open began on Jan. 16 in Melbourne, the two safest bets for men’s singles champion have been knocked out. Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan bested Novak Djokovic in the second round of the tournament and the German Mischa Zverev forced the world No. 1 Andy Murray to go five sets before crushing his dreams of an Australian Open victory.
With Murray and Djokovic out of the picture, the crown could easily find itself on anyone’s head. The top-ranked contenders are familiar faces: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss athletes (Federer and Wawrinka) will face off in the semifinals on Thursday, Jan 26.
Nadal’s toughest obstacle to his fourth Australian Open final was Canadian Milos Raonic, who Rafa faced in the quarter-final. But Nadal cruised past Raonic in straight sets, so he should have little trouble with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
It seems too good to be true, but expect another showdown between Nadal and Federer. Nadal has dominated the rivalry, winning 23 of the 35 matches. The stakes of this matchup could not be higher in the land down under. A Federer win all but cements himself as the greatest tennis player of all time. A Nadal victory puts him just two Grand Slams behind Federer’s record and furthers his command over the rivalry.
But this is Roger’s time to shine.
There’s no denying that Federer’s getting up there—he’s 35, the oldest man onto the semis since Arthur Ashe in 1978—yet still playing some of the best tennis of his career. He’s amazed us all time and again and has at least one more major left in him.
And we all deserve to hear one more Federer victory speech saturated with gratitude and camera-ducking before he retires for good.
Upsets were not limited to the men’s field. World No. 1 Angelique Kerber fell to the American Coco Vandeweghe and Caroline Wozniacki suffered defeat at the hands of the Brit Johanna Konta. Venus Williams took down Vandeweghe in three sets in the semi-finals and her sister, Serena, beat Mirjana Lucic Baroni of Croatia in the other semi-final match. At age 36, it’s incredible that Venus has reached her 15th Grand Slam final. But like everybody else, she won’t keep up with the speed and power of Serena Williams.
Serena will continue to pad her legacy as the best of all time. She racked up 22 Grand Slam singles titles (not to mention 14 doubles championships) and has shown no signs of slowing down. Barring injury, she should be the favorite for every match she plays in the near future.
Serena’s indomitable will, general air of confidence and sass tend to deflate her opponents and push her to the podium. It’s hard to beat someone who believes they have won before they even step on the asphalt. It’ll take her all three sets, but Serena will emerge victorious, like she always does. Due to print deadlines, we were unable to cover matches past Jan. 25.
Claire McLoughlin is a senior English major.