© Ella Ling

Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park

Notes from Melbourne - day nine


Our highlights reel of all the action from the ninth day of the 2012 Australian Open

Match of the day
Rafael Nadal v Tomas Berdych
A four hours and 16 minute-brute fest, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych kept the Rod Laver Arena spectators on the edge of their seats for every forehand and backhand, right to the moment the last Nadal ball was struck just before midnight.

Berdych, the subject of attention this week for the wrong reasons, came out fire-bombing, hitting the ball big and flat as he does best. With a bit of hullabaloo as the set went into a tie-break, Nadal wanting to challenge but taking too long, and Berdych firing an ace to take it.

But the next three sets were all about what Rafa does best. Grinding, scrambling, sliding, gritting, and ultimately fist-pumping, he came through 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The result is the first grand slam semi-final meeting between Roger and Rafa since the 2005 French Open semi-final, Nadal’s 19th birthday. Miss it, and you’ll regret it.

The upset
Kim Clijsters d. Caroline Wozniacki
An upset in ranking terms rather than in form and experience, Kim made the impossible possible again, dethroning the world number one in a repeat result of the 2009 US Open final. Looking remarkably lithe despite her bad left ankle, Clijsters took the first set 6-3 after a series of breaks in the hottest part of the day.

Going up a break in the second, Wozniacki restored the balance again and again to force a tie-break, Kim going through one passage of 10 minutes where she lost her way entirely. But, finishing with three winners to take the tie-break 7-4, the defending champion clutched her way into a semi-final against Victoria Azarenka.

Battle between friends
Speaking of Azarenka, still seeking a first grand slam final, let alone title, it looked like that level of destiny might elude her when Agnieszka Radwanska, Aggie to the Aussies, took the first set of their topsy turvy match. But Azarenka rallied, screaming through the second set, and surviving more hot potato breaks to make her way into her second grand slam semi-final. Cometh the hour, Vika. Kim Clijsters is next.

Professionally done
Roger Federer’s win over Juan Martin Del Potro, in a non-repeat of their infamous 2009 US Open final, when the upstart Argentine hit one shot, his forehand, to steal Federer’s thunder. Quite literally. But Federer could not have been more different today. Hardly putting a toe wrong in his 1,000th match, Federer won his 2000th, 2001st and 2002nd sets to win his 31st straight grand slam quarter-final and reach the semis. He might have been saying, ‘your move, Rafa.’

Controversy of the day
Time between challenges. Another night, another hawkeye controversy. Late in their opening set tie-break, Rafael Nadal saw Tomas Berdych’s ball fly long, thought the linesman had called it out, realised he hadn’t, and then asked Carlos Bernades if he could challenge. Bernardes said no, Nadal had taken too long. Berdych served out the set, even though his ball had been well long.

Perhaps there needs to be some very clear reaffirmation of the rules in this instance. There is a time limit on when you can challenge. But should the umpires not make a discretion for when something like this happens, as it did with Khader Nouni the other day? Or are the rules the rules. Thoughts on a postcard.

Junior watch
It was a hot, hot day out there for the stars of the future, playing in conditions most would be not at all used to. Whether it was the heat or just a bad day at the office, boys’ number three seed Liam Broady departed far earlier than he would have liked, as did Luke Bambridge. There were wins for the other two Brits though, Kyle Edmund and Josh Ward-Hibbert making it into the third round.

Non-Brits, top seeds Luke Saville in the boys and Irina Khromacheva in the girls are both still going strong.

Point of the day
Rafa Nadal’s running forehand down the line at 6-5 in the second set against Berdych. YouTube it.

Talking about…the Whoo-meter
Yesterday it was Wow Wow, today it was Whoo Whoo. ESPN, how clever they are, came up with a way of measuring Victoria Azarenka’s Whoo’s, recording them at 96 decibels, the same level as Maria Sharapova’s shrieking.

And of course, it came up in pressers again. Grunting. Old news, surely.

Quote of the day
“It’s a big milestone, I agree. Either I’ve been around for a long time or I’m extremely fit. You decide.”
Roger Federer on playing 1,000 matches.

Tweet of the day
“It’s 1 degree in downtown Dunblane today. My drive is a sheet of ice. And all my anti wrinkle devices r in my lost baggage. Bad day.”
Poor Judy Murray, whose baggage got lost by B.A. Bad B.A.

Stat of the day
The number of points Agnieszka Radwanksa won during her second set bagel against Victoria Azarenka.

Weeks Caroline Wozniacki lasted at world number one, far more than Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, her fellow slamless number ones.

Come back tomorrow for
Sara Errani v Petra Kvitova, first on Rod Laver Arena

Ekaterina Makarova v Maria Sharapova, second on Rod Laver Arena

Andy Murray v Kei Nishikori, third on Rod Laver Arena

Novak Djokovic v David Ferrer, first night match on Rod Laver Arena

Sania Mirza/Mahesh Bhupathi v Liezel Huber/Colin Fleming , second night match on Rod Laver Arena