Thursday, January 6, 2011

The First Awesome Thing To Happen in Australian Sport This Year

I've been focusing on Hopman Cup all week, but let's talk a little about Brisbane. In particular, let's yell out F%^& YEAH MATT EBDEN YOU ARE AWESOME.

Ebden is ranked at about #172, and he took out Denis Istomin, ranked over 130 places higher, at the Brisbane International. He did this by simply playing awesome tennis. Sure, he had a double break in each set and could have won by even more than he did, but at the end of the day, HE WON, and that is an absolutely outstanding achievement.

Ebden is probably my favourite of the young Australians we have hanging around. I really enjoy his game, and although at 23 he might be classified as a late bloomer, it is very obvious that he has talent. If he continues to play like he did against Istomin, then I see no reason why he can't break into the top hundred this year.

He has absolutely nothing to lose against Robin Soderling in his match, so I hope he comes out swinging. I don't think he's quite up to beating-a-member-of-the-top-five level, but I'd really like to see him make a good account of himself. He certainly has the ability to do so!

Over at the Hopman Cup, the Ivanovic/Henin match is one of the best women's matches I have seen in a long time. The commentators have been talking like Ivanovic is 'back' - I think she still has a ways to go before we can say that, but playing in a match like this certainly didn't hurt. But this isn't the Ivanovic story, even though she did play a good match which must be hope-inspiring for her.

It's all about Henin. And if she keeps playing like this... hello, leading contender for the Australian Open.

There is absolutely no reason why Henin cannot win the Open, particularly in the absence of Serena. I know she's been fairly pessimistic about her chances what with coming back after such a long lay off, but if she continues as she has begun at the Hopman Cup, then she has every chance in the world. She wasn't misfiring off any wing, and while her backhand is often lauded as a thing of art, I was in awe of her volleys. Seriously, she has MAD SKILLZ at the net.

Belgium are out of the Hopman Cup after Bemelmans lost to Djokovic (AO organisers, if you find another wildcard under your sofa after you give one to Nicolas Mahut, you could do worse than give it to Ruben Bemelmans), but Henin went undefeated all week and played - well, I can't overstate how impressed I was. Watch out for JuJu in Australia. She could do something incredible.

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