The first Grand Slam of the tennis season is well underway in Melbourne, and in case you haven’t been waking up 3 a.m. to watch tennis, we’ve distilled the first 10 days of play into one quick guide.
2. Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic have been unstoppable juggernauts of doom.
Sharapova came into the Open with a nagging ankle injury, but she’s steamrolled through the first five rounds without dropping a set, losing just nine total games (an all-time women’s record through the quarterfinals). Sharapova’s serve, the one fickle part of her game, has been solid, with just 15 double faults through five matches, and she’s winning 79% of her first serve points. Sharapova’s draw is favorable — she beat her upcoming semifinal opponent, Li Na, in each of the three matches the two played last year. And she’s inspired the coolest photography of the tournament.
Meanwhile, by dispatching Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, Novak Djokovic won his 19th consecutive match at the Australian. Djokovic was pushed to 22-game fifth set in the fourth round by Stanislas Wawrinka, but recovered well enough to beat Berdych in a routine 2.5 hours. As the No. 1 seed, Djokovic avoids Andy Murray or Roger Federer until the final (Rafael Nadal is out of the picture, having pulled out of the tournament after catching a virus while rehabbing his knee). Djokovic plays David Ferrer, whom he eliminated from two Grand Slams last year, in the semis.
7. Everyone’s rooting for a Federer vs. Murray re-rematch.
Federer and Murray delivered one of the iconic moments of the 2012 tennis season when Federer won his record 17th Grand Slam at Wimbledon and Murray gave a teary speech to a heartbroken crowd of compatriots. Then they met again in the London Olympics, with Murray triumphant. Both Federer (now in the quarterfinals for a 35th consecutive Grand Slam) and Murray have breezed through the early rounds, and while Federer still needs to get past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a colossal meeting between the two in the semifinals seems inevitable.
9. And Serena Williams has been a hot — but highly effective — mess.
Here’s a brief, blow-by-blow recap of Serena Williams’s tournament thus far:
Williams started the tournament by blowing out Edina Gallovits 6-0, 6-0 despite rolling her ankle and writhing on the court in pain.
In the second round, she won 6-2, 6-0 despite smashing her racket off her face.
She leads all players in aces (30) and serve speed. After her fastest serve of the tournament, Serena took to Twitter: “That was 207km yes 128mph serve! Wha wha whatttt chu say??!!!! Whoop whoop!”
Serena’s lost only eight games in her first four matches. She faces young American Sloane Stephens in the quarters and will likely face No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka, last year’s champion, in the semifinals. But if Serena can avoid battering other body parts, she’s got a great chance to win her 16th Grand Slam singles title.