Australian Open 2012 (2)

Quarterfinal time at the Aus Open and unsurprisingly the Big 4 have come through with ease. Murray and Djokovic are on track to face each other in the semis, I don’t see Kei Nishikori or David Ferrer challenging those two in their respective matches. Much more interesting will be Federer and Nadal’s matches.

Federer faces the resurgent Juan Martin del Potro, who is in ominous form this tournament after a decent comeback year in 2011. Meanwhile Nadal comes up against Thomas Berdych, a big-hitting Czech with nothing to lose and a much more confident mindset, a belief that he can beat the top players in the game. My pessimistic self sees a potential vulnerability for Federer while Nadal should be able to blunt Berdych’s attack and come through.

Also I’d like to give another shout-out, this time to Lleyton Hewitt. I still remember him in his prime in the early 2000s, back when I was in high school. He was loud, bratty and tempestuous. The worst exemplification of Aussie boorishness. I didn’t like him at all. However, over the years he seems to have mellowed and so has my attitude towards him. Hewitt is renowned for his fighting spirit. While I dismissed that as a load of fill-good tripe early on, I can finally appreciate him for it.Despite his (lack of) game, despite his physical pain, Hewitt consistently punches above his weight and his never-say-die attitude is certainly something to behold.

Nobody expected him to beat the talented Milos Raonic in the third round. Indeed, in the opening set there were ominous signs as it became clear Raonic served much better and hit much harder. However, through sheer force of will and experience Hewitt clawed in front. Nobody expected him withstand Djokovic, who had dropped 10 games in 3 matches prior to their meeting. He took 14 games, including a set, off the seemingly invulnerable Serb. That’s a bloody good effort. So Hewitt, here’s to you — a great champion not just for the trophies but for the inspiring way you play.

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