January 23, 2013 by Parveer Mann
In North America, there are very few tennis rituals over the course of the year. The final weekend at Wimbledon is known as “Breakfast at Wimbledon” and the last Saturday at the US Open is commonly known as “Super Saturday”. I’d like to highlight another rite of passage for a tennis fan in North America, staying up late into the night and watching the Australian Open.
As many matches begin as late as 3:30 am local time, I think it is appropriate to say that it can be a challenge for any tennis fan to stay awake and engaged into the wee hours. To paraphrase, a popular pledge in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series and HBO series Game of Thrones:
I am the viewer in the darkness,
The watcher of the matches,
I pledge my time and lack of sleep to the Night’s watch,
For this night and all nights till the finals have come.
I count myself among those who share this ritual for the final weekend of the Australian Open. I’m also positive that many others have equally demanding quirks and rituals for the events or activities that they are interested in.
Final Four Preview
(2) Maria Sharapova vs. (6) Li Na: Sharapova has been the most dominant force in Melbourne this week and has had a relatively easy path to the semifinals. In Li Na, she faces a player who has had great success at the Australian Open (Semi-finalist in 3 of the last 4 years) and someone who has looked equally sharp. I anticipate Maria Sharapova will advance in three hard fought sets.
(1) Victoria Azarenka vs. (29) Sloane Stephens: Sloane Stephens has been the surprise star at this 2013 Australian Open after a breakthrough win over Serena Williams to reach the semis. It will be hard for her to duplicate the same highs and consistency she showed against the defending champion. Stephens will have future chances to impress but I see Azarenka winning in straight sets.
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (4) David Ferrer: After facing a huge scare in the fourth round, Novak Djokovic was very impressive in his quarterfinal win over Tomas Berdych. He seems to play his best in Melbourne and is poised to take the next step toward three titles in a row. David Ferrer is a competitor and I expect him to put on a fight but Djokovic will prevail in straight sets.
(2) Roger Federer vs. (3) Andy Murray: These two have found each other again after a summer where they seemingly contested for every significant championship. Both have been consistent thus far and only Roger Federer faced significant opposition in his previous match. I feel Andy Murray after his breakthrough at the Olympics and the US Open is the stronger hard-court player at this stage of his career and will send the all-time champion Federer to a loss in four sets.