In the Land Down Under, the world number one cruises to his 16th Grand Slam - taking down Andy Murray in the final. It was a relatively painless path, with a near hiccup in the first round against Igor Andreev. Andreev, with his powerful forehand, took it to Roger in the first set, breaking him and then holding on to win the set 6-4. The Swiss, however, would regain his composure and go up an early break, and finally two - in the second set to win it 6-2. The third set was a tight battle, with the Federer Express tightening his grip on the match by taking the tiebreaker 7-6. This took the steam out of Andreev's sales, who got bagled in the fourth and final set.
In a highly anticipated fourth round match against Leyton Hewitt, the crowd never had much of a chance to get behind their countryman as Federer went on cruise control to take the match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
It was in the quarterfinal against Nikolay Davydenko that many believed Roger would meet his first real challenge. Having come off the heels of victory at the tour ending ATP World Tour Final in 2009, where he got the better of Federer, Davydenko, fresh with confidence, came out blasting in the Land Down Under. He took the first set 6-2, and was up a break in the second, 3-1, when things began to fall apart. As soon as they did, Roger pounced. Davydenko, reeling from the blow, would never quite recover, and would go on to lose the second set 6-3, get gabled in the third 6-0, and after a last stand in the third, would fall to the grand master, 7-5.
The last stretch of the tournament was relatively routine for Federer. He took down last year's tour de force, the frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga (who lost to Novak Djokovic in the final in 2009) in a seemingly effortless straight set victory, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. And then went on to roll all over British hopeful Andy Murray in the finals, who had just come off a solid four set victory against the young Croat Marin Cilic. Federer took the Championship in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6.
You could feel the disappointment of Murray, who has been feeling the weight of British tennis hopes on his back following decades of Grand Slam drought. At the same time, Roger, in his usual Swiss class, gave a good speech and later went on to proclaim that the final victory was one of the finest of his career. It was his high level of play that may have underscored Murray's seemingly overwhelming loss.
Or the hopefuls, depending on how you look at it. For the past couple years, the women's game has been all over the place - with the number one spot up for grabs on a monthly basis, and two of the seemingly most powerful women players of all time - Justin Henin, and Kim Clijsters, out of the game. Fortunately for the tennis world, these two would make a comeback. Kim, in her first big tournament back on Tour since giving birth to her child, would take the U.S. Open trophy in a compelling victory, following a battle with Serena (and a controversial outburst by the younger Williams sister) in the semis. And Justine Henin, having proclaimed herself retired from the sport just under two years ago, is back for action. Unlike Kim, however, Justine had virtually no match experience coming into the Australian Open 2010. Her expectations, unlike those of her fans, were therefore not as high.
Literally. Kim Clijsters was on a role in the first two rounds, rolling over her opponents in straight sets. In the third round, she faced her first formidable opponent of the tournament, in the #19 seed Nadia Petrova. Nadia swept the court with Kim, taking her down and almost double bagling her, 6-0, 6-1. This would be the worst loss in Kim's career, at a most unlikely time. It was painful to watch - almost like Clijsters forgot how to play the game. Not to take away anything from Petrova, who played a strong, offensive match - but Kim had played much stronger in the rounds and tournaments leading up to the 2010 Australian Open.
Petrova would go on to face Justine Henin in the quarterfinals, where Justine would make short work of her in a tighter-than-it-looks match, 7-6, 7-5. Henin would blow through Chinese hopeful Zheng Jie in the semis (who's compatriot, Li Na, would oust Venus Williams in the quarterfinal, and then go on to almost unseat the defending champion, Serena Williams, in the other semifinal). All in all, a great effort for Chinese tennis.
Serena was down a set and 1-4 against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, and rallied in the last minute to recover and pull off an almost impossible victory. Without it, the final scenario would have been entirely different for Justine and her comeback run.
This set the stage for a final showdown between two veterans of the game - Justine Henin and Serena Williams. The two had met many times before, with Serena leading their head to head by a slim 7-6 margin going into the final. And what a final it was! A tight three set match that Serena pulled out in the third, winning the 2010 Australian Open Championship 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, and advancing her head to head vs. Henin 8-6.