Rafael Nadal’s reaction to the rain falling midway through the fourth set of the final. Waving at umpire Pascal Maria as if he wasn’t aware that Rafa was even there, in a sort of windscreen wiper fashion, and saying ‘hallo….it’s raining!’
Laura Robson’s press conference after qualifying. Talk about elephants in a cake shop. Too many journalists, and definitely not enough room.
Serena and the ‘bugs’. Her displeasure at playing the second night match had nothing to do with the late hour, or having to wait around, but the bugs were the final straw. “I hate bugs more than you can imagine. I hate bugs. Like, they kept jumping on me. I just, Yuck!”
Lleyton Hewitt. If ever there was a man who simply defied every single sinew screaming at him to stop playing tennis, it’s Hewitt. The Australian should never have made it through the first round, let alone all the way to the fourth. It was some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play.
Maria Sharapova. From her press conference quips (“Why do you ask the most ridiculous questions?”) to the most gracious, well-thought losing
speech I’ve ever heard, Sharapova was superb. Too bad her tennis in the final wasn’t.
Luke Saville’s acceptance speech. Hilarious.
The ball boy’s Ricky Ponting-esque catch during the Federer-Nadal match. Show-stealer.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands casually strolling out of Rod Laver Arena to catch a flight half an hour after becoming mixed doubles champion.
Nadal and Djokovic’s yoga and stretch class during the trophy ceremony last night. Both hunched over, feeling their knees, Djokovic starting limbering from side to side, while Rafa quietly stepped back and sat down on the net.
Djokovic’s cameo appearance at the Australian Open staff party. Dropping in a bit of ‘highway to hell’ karaoke, he even did a little jig. Flying.
Janko Tipsarevic’s video diaries.
Andy Murray’s face when a Chinese journalist asked him if he ever thought he would win after coming within five points of beating Novak Djokovic.
Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion, watching her 17-year-old boyfriend Adam Pavlasek in the juniors, completely untroubled and uninterrupted.
The fact that Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva won the women’s doubles, despite missing the sign-up deadline.
After two weeks of great tennis, choosing my favourite moments was incredibly tough. From Marcos Baghdatis’s random racket-smashing to Janko Tipsarevic’s brilliant video blogs to Laura Robson’s rainbow hair-band stance against the bigotry of Margaret Court, there was an awful lot to pick from. But in the end it all came down to two things.
The reaction on Novak Djokovic’s face late in the fifth set of his epic semi-final against Andy Murray. (the first epic, of course, before the even bigger epic in the final). At 5-5, 15-15, at the end of yet another long rally, Murray slapped a fabulous forehand winner down the line to move ahead in the game. It was a stunning shot and pushed Murray closer to that crucial break, which in the end didn’t come. But while Murray pumped his fist, Djokovic just smiled. He smiled. After more than four and a half hours of brutal battle, he was actually enjoying himself, even though he was staring a potentially match-losing break of serve in the face.
It just made me think: this man is unbeatable. Most mere mortals would have panicked, smashed their racket or gone on to drop serve because they couldn’t cope with the situation but here was the world number one showing why he is the world number one. It encapsulated his state of mind and you all know the rest. He is at the absolute peak of his powers.
A close second: Rafael Nadal’s fighting spirit and then his reaction to losing one of the best matches in the history of the game. The Spaniard has got used to losing to Novak Djokovic lately and mentally, this must have been another bruising defeat to take.
But there was Nadal, making the most gracious runner-up’s speech and later in press, he was class itself. The way he fought from 3-4, 0-40 on his serve in the fourth set, stringing together an insanely good five points in a row to hold, and then winning the tiebreak from 5-3 down was absolutely remarkable. I don’t think there was anyone else in the world who would have been capable of that. The backhand miss at 4-2, 30-15 may haunt him for a while but he said, “I was 3-4, 0-40 in the fourth so I did well to even get to that point.” Remarkable attitude. Remarkable fighter. Remarkable man.
The regulation backhand which Rafael Nadal missed when leading 4-2 in the fifth set against Novak Djokovic. Of all the moments that made up a match lasting five hours and 53 minutes – it was the longest grand slam final in history – this was the split-second decision which Nadal will surely play over and over again in his head. Had he made the shot, and he had plenty of court to aim for, he would in all likelihood have held serve and won the match, and we would now be discussing the return of Rafa, how he came from two sets to one down to end his sequence of defeats against Djokovic (now at seven).
The final will rightly be remembered for the extraordinary tennis that these two played, though anyone suggesting that this was the greatest of match of all time may want to reflect and reconsider (in my mind, the 2008 Wimbledon final is still top). But there is no getting away from the fact that, as Nadal took his racket back to hit that shot, he was in control.
Andy Murray’s transformationFirst, there was the joke, with teetotal Murray suggesting after his third-round win over Frenchman Michael Llodra that he was planning to get “hammered”. Then there was the reaction from the crowd on Rod Laver Arena when Murray levelled at 5-5 in the fifth set of his semi-final with Novak Djokovic. Only two people stayed seated – the umpire and ‘Mr Lendl’.
Those two moments showed the changing public perception of Murray. There was proof that Murray does not take himself too seriously, that he can laugh at himself. The standing ovation during the match with Djokovic was the moment when the Australian tennis public first truly appreciated that Murray is a force at the slams, someone serious. Never mind that he has played in two Australian Open finals before, that was the moment. So that was Murray’s tournament, a jokey and serious triumph (of sorts).