Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams take home Australian Open titles

The past two weeks yielded nothing but excitement for Melbourne, as the Australian Open, the first annual tournament of the grand slam series, just concluded. The hardcourt tournament took a toll on many players due to the intense heat wave and long matches, which led to many retires from even top players like Novak Djokovic. With over 100° weather and even hotter conditions on the court, this tournament was not only a test of mental skill but also a test of physical endurance.

On the men’s side, Spain native Rafael Nadal took home the trophy with a win over his biggest rival, Swiss-born Roger Federer, in four hours and five long sets, 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(3), 3–6, 6–2. This is Nadal’s first Australian Open win, and his fifth time defeating Federer in a grand slam final. With this win, Nadal keeps his number one ranking in the world standings.

The men’s semifinals brought the only surviving American, ninth ranked Andy Roddick, against second-in-the-world ranked Federer. Federer easily breezed past Roddick in straight sets, 6–2, 7–5, 7–5, bringing his record against Roddick to 16–2.

In the other half, Nadal faced fellow Spaniard seventh seeded Fernando Verdasco. The two Spaniards ground out five sets, each refusing to give in, resulting in a five-hour-and-15-minute match. Nadal finally triumphed when Verdasco double faulted on match point.

The women’s final last Friday was not nearly as long, but just as exciting, as the United States’ second-seeded Serena Williams crushed third-seed Russia’s Dinara Safina 6–0, 6–3 in a mere 59 minutes. This is Williams’ fourth Australian Open win and 10th grand slam title.
In the first women’s semi-final match, Safina faced off against fellow Russian, seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva, eventually winning 6–3, 7–6(4). For the second semi-final, fourth seeded Russian Elena Dementieva faced Williams but fell in straight sets, 6–3, 6–4.

In the bottom half of the draw of the quarterfinals, Williams faced eighth seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 5–7, 7–5, 6–1. After being down 5–4 in the second set, Williams pulled herself together to win 7–5, and gained enough momentum to crush Kuznetsova in the third set in thirty minutes.

The doubles portion of the open led to an all-sibling teams’ wins. For the men’s doubles tournament, second-seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan took home the trophy with a win over India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Bahamas’ Mark Knowles, 2–6, 7–5, 6–0. Venus Williams and sister Serena took home a decisive win 6–3, 6–3 over Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova and Japan’s Ai Sugiyama.

The next grand slam tournament will be the French Open held in Paris, France on clay courts.