Sunday, January 22, 2017

What's Up Down Under? Seriously. What Is Going On Down There?

Truth time: I have been out of commission for the better part of this week with a doozy of a cold. ASIDE (I don't like to align ailments with current events, but I felt really bad on Friday, but better on Saturday, when I had to go exercise my First Amendment rights. By the way, if you're reading this in another part of the world and did the same thing, thank you. Also, just to let you know, most of us had nothing to do with this. Honestly.) END OF ASIDE. The only thing that's kept me from coughing are cold meds and cold meds have me in la-la-land before 11 p.m. This is really not ideal if you're watching the Australian Open in the U.S.
I'm feeling better. Thank you for asking! But I thought for a second that the meds were messing with me. So I thought I'd run these draws by you to see if I'm crazy or not:

OK. It's 2017 and Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have a legitimate chance of playing in the Australian Open final. The same is true of Venus and Serena Williams.
There is so much here that I don't know where to start. Like I said, I haven't seen a good chunk of these matches, so I literally have no earthly idea how most of this happened, but I will be catching up! Let's start with what I woke up with this morning. Angelique Kerber lost to Coco Vandeweghe. THE SCORE WAS 6-2, 6-3. I just want to point out that Coco barely beat Genie Bouchard in the second round. So can someone explain this to me. It's almost as if young Americans are trying to be a presence in pro tennis again!
OK! Moving on. We got Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. I picked her to go that far. But barely, because of Simona Halep, who did not make it out of the first round. I'm not even going there right now, because if she had come that far, it wouldn't have made a difference. I have seen a couple of Venus' matches, and she is lighting it up! She is playing the best tennis she has ever played. That's up for debate, but you'd have to bring me some indisputable evidence.
Let's move to the red-stained bottom half of the women's draw, populated by unknowns (American Jennifer Brady), up-and-comers (Johanna Konta) and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Yes. The same Mirjana Lucic who upset Monica Seles at Wimbledon. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. This is like Back to the Future XIII, or whichever one they're up to now. Here, in 2017, she's beating Agz Radwanska, the third-best player in the world.
And then there's Serena Williams, who had a nasty-looking draw ahead of her. Had. Because she's in the quarterfinals against Barbora Strycova now, who holds a doctorate at the University of Tennis With Attitude. She is definitely not intimidated by Serena. I'm not saying she won't get her butt kicked. I'm just saying she's doesn't really care who Serena is.
I got to see the tail end of Dominika Cibulkova and Ekaterina Makarova and I had to chuckle at the idea that two people who usually mess with top seeds in early rounds had to play each other. And of course, the lower seed won. Maybe it's just me who finds that funny.
Now the men. Like what the actual hell. This is what I wrote last week about the most probable final:

Novak Djokovic? Lost to Denis Istomin. See what I'm saying about Back to the Future?
Andy Murray lost to the lesser-regarded Zverev brother, Mischa in the fourth round. (Oh. We'll get to the higher-regarded one in a minute.) So yeah. Not so destined to rumble all the time.
Meanwhile, Federer is gliding through the draw like it's five years ago, beating the fifth- and tenth-seeded players with relative ease. People have been asking Federer about retiring the last year or so. Roger, your thoughts?


Now that we've gotten that straight, let's move on Federer's good friend, Nadal. He has recently begun receiving AARP mailers as well. But then I woke up yesterday with this match still looking at me, a few hours after I had dozed off watching Nadal getting his butt kicked. Because Nadal is also not really ready for retirement. He's got some schooling of Zverev boys to do. It hurt me last week to pick Alexandr Zverev over him when I was filling out my draw, but I just didn't see how Nadal, riddled with injury, could mount a real challenge to anyone in form right now. Guess it's time to get the crystal ball back into the shop.
And then there's Gael Monfils and Jo-Jo Tsonga, who are apparently still not receiving the memos that their time as Grand Slam threats are over. Also Andreas Seppi. Like, what is happening here? Have I taken too many meds? Am I actually in the 2007 Australian Open? Next, you'll be telling me that Grigor Dimitrov has advanced further into this tournament than Djokovic and beat a wily veteran to do it.

OK. I am going to sleep now.

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