I didn’t go into this thinking Serena would necessarily win the Aussie but I am not going to say I’m not a little disappointed in the aftermath. As is always the case. We got off to a good start here, exactly what was needed, missed a chance to get a double break in the first set though and found ourselves chasing the rest of the match. It was poor by Rena’s standard and she said as much herself after. There were just far too many errors. I have always rated the Aussie as her third-best chance of another slam for the last few years but it certainly hasn’t been out of the question. Against other players past and present she doesn’t always have to bring her A-Game to get the win but that is never going to be true against Naomi Osaka. Both players were off their games last night I would say but Osaka played better and more consistently. The wave to the crowd at the end from Serena was certainly different to normal and it didn’t need a commentator to tell us that, there could be many different reasons for it. Judging by the reaction in the press conference I would assume this could potentially be her last outing in Melbourne, yes. I wouldn’t blame her if that is the case. She has nothing to prove. It was always about getting ahead of Graf’s tally of 22 Grand Slams….until she got there and then everyone moved the goalposts. In terms of the remainder of the year, the level she has shown against Sabalenka and Halep has given her something to go and build on. That has to be a short term positive to drive us on. We can worry about the rest later.
Jennifer Brady won a nervy semi-final against Karolina Muchova. There was a different pressure on Brady here than when she played Osaka in the last four of New York. She was favourite this time and said in her on-court interview that “I can’t feel my legs. My legs are shaking, my heart is racing, I don’t have words”. One thing is for sure she will have to serve a lot better in the final than she did against Muchova. A 50% first service will mean she will be lucky to get closer than Serena did to the 2019 Champion. With the pressure off a little now she might be able to relax a bit more but that won’t be as easy as it sounds. A year ago she was 52 in the rakings, she is already up to 13 now at the very least. When you consider the COVID break, that is a very quick rise.
Nole has looked much improved the last few rounds and you didn’t really feel like Aslan Karatsev had much of a squeak. I saw that he had played most of his matches in the day with the faster conditions. This was an even bigger obstacle in the slower night conditions and that’s how it proved. The serving was pretty useful when it mattered most for the Serb and that only bodes well for the final. Would he prefer Dannil or Stefanos? Nole wouldn’t say it but he would probably rather Tsitsipas. His record is 4-3 v Daniil and 4-2 against Stefanos, but you feel that if Tsitsipas was to make his first final, there is more of a chance he could show a few nerves in that environment. Not always the case though. Medvedev will also be the fresher of the two, which could be massive.
Andy Del Potro