Last night, I fell asleep while watching the late coverage of the Australian Open. Daniela Hantuchova, playing the best tennis of her life, was leading Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 2-0 as my eyes grew heavy. Just before drifting off, I had two assumptions: Hantuchova was on her way to her first Grand Slam final and, later that night, second-ranked Rafael Nadal would end the run of surprise semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Yet while I was dreaming, seems like Hantuchova and Nadal were having nightmares.
Ivanovic came back to bounce Hantuchova 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. The score line isn't so unusual. Plenty of people recover from losing a set at love. But considering the lights out, in-the-zone tennis that Hantuchova was producing during the first eight games of the semifinal contest, it's a shocking result. I physically did a double take when I read the score line! Ivanovic, who will ascend to No. 2 when the WTA rankings are released on Monday, earns a shot at the championship against Maria Sharapova, who has stormed through earlier rounds but looked somewhat shaky in her semifinal win over Jelena Jankovic.
In the men's semifinal, Tsonga continued his improbable run with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 drubbing of Nadal. Sure, Tsonga came into the match playing well, but so did Nadal. That Rafa couldn't so much as take a set from the young Frenchman is astonishing. It will be extremely interesting to see if Tsonga can hold his nerves together and continue to play the brand of overwhelming power tennis that has carried him to the final against either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.
Ivanovic and Tsonga should make sure that no one pinches them between now and their respective finals, just to be on the safe side.--Wyman Meers