Turning back the clocks

The march of the oldies continues in what is turning out to be an extraordinary Australian Open as a batch of 30-year-olds progress into the last four in Melbourne.

Even when I was winning a lot I had doubts, you can imagine I had more when I had injuries

At the start of the year it was prophesied that the next generation would be taking over this season but that doesnŠ—Èt seem to be the case at the opening major of the season.

In the womenŠ—Ès draw the 35-year-old Serena Williams, the second seed, eased past Jo Konta 6-2 6-3 and will take on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the Croatian 34-year-old for a place in the final, where there is a chance that 36-year-old Venus Williams could feature having made the last four as well,

That is also reflected in the menŠ—Ès draw where Rafa Nadal, (30), continues to recapture that form that took him to the top and should he progress past his next opponent, could find himself facing the 35-year-old Roger Federer should he also progress in his All-Swiss semi.

It would be incredible if both singles finals were to be contested by players who fans will have watched regularly playing for grand slam titles virtually a decade ago!

Meanwhile Grigor Dimitrov (25), the 15th seed and one of the players many have high hopes over the next few years, reached his first semi since Wimbledon 2014, by dismantling David Goffin, the eighth seed, 6-3 6-2 6-4.

"In the first set it was absolutely nerve racking," a happy Dimitrov said. "I felt that I could play well but I was not striking the ball as well as I could and I was a bit passive.

"With each game I was feeling a bit better and I was finding my groove. I’m just happy now."

Dimitrov took an early lead and never really looked threatened though he failed to convert two match points on Goffin’s serve at 5-3 but raced through his next service game to seal the win with a backhand winner down the line after two hours, 12 minutes.

He will now face Rafa Nadal for a place in the championship match, the Spaniard having dispatched Milos Raonic, the third and highest seed remaining in the tournament, 6-4 7-6(7) 6-4 after 2 hours and 44-minutes in what was his first quarter-final in 18 months.

Nadal was quick off the mark and countered the power of his Canadian opponent with his own, especially on serve.

Š—“If I am not playing aggressive, then I am dead, because he plays aggressive,Š— the world No9 said before the match, and he implemented that to the full.

The outcome hinged around the second set when Raonic took a medical time out which Nadal fought off three set points successfully, and then a 13-minute tie-break where the Spaniard staved off another three set points before capturing it 9-7.

That took the wind out of the Canadian and though he fought hard throughout the third holding his own on serve, NadalŠ—Ès desire proved the stronger. Serving at 4-5, he failed to win a point handing the match to his veteran opponent who sank to his knees and then leapt into the air in a dance of joy at having turned the clock back so well.

Š—“Even when I was winning a lot I had doubts, you can imagine I had more when I had injuries,Š— Nadal said later. Š—“I think I had a great career, but at the same time I had a lot of tough moments. That makes me enjoy even more the good moments IŠ—Èm having today.Š—

Disbelief at reaching the semis

Image © Getty Images

Another player who found her victory a very emotional moment was Mirjana Lucic-Baroni who defeated one of the title favourites, the fifth ranked Karolina Pliskova, the Brisbane champion, 6-4 3-6 6-4.

She fell to her knees where she buried her hands and cried no doubt reflecting on the years she had lost for various reason, including injuries and abuse from her father.

Her only previous appearance at this stage at this level, was in 1999 when she lost to Steffi Graf having previously beaten Monica Seles!

"I really knew deep down in my soul that I have these results in me," Lucic-Baroni, ranked 79, said when she recovered her composure. Š—“To now be here

How the Croat will fare against Serena Williams will be interesting for while they may have been contemporaries in the last nineties, the American looks in fine form.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.