Saturday, January 30, 2010 Updated: February 1, 3:48 PM ET
The best and worst from the Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The first Grand Slam of 2010 is over, sadly.
Serena Williams continued to prove she's one of the greatest women's players of all time by landing a 12th major, while more and more will suggest Roger Federer is the greatest of all time after he cruised past Andy Murray in the final.
Here's a look back at the best and worst of the Australian Open.
Most valuable men's player: Roger Federer
Coming off a loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the U.S. Open final, more than a few thought Federer had little chance of winning in Melbourne. Case in point: None of the six ESPN.com tennis "experts" picked Federer to win. (What do we know?)
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Federer used a combination of his enormous talent and court intellect to collect a 16th major, getting past tricky encounters in the first round and quarterfinals, pretty much cruising the rest of the way.
If this is any evidence, the 28-year-old has plenty left in the tank.
"There's no secret behind it," Federer told reporters. "I'm definitely a very talented player. I always knew I had something special, but I didn't know it was like, that crazy."
It's big-time loco, Roger.
Most valuable women's player: Serena Williams
Those who think Williams should have been suspended for her antics at the U.S. Open won't be won over. Williams herself, though, put the ordeal behind her by showing her trademark resolve to win a 12th Grand Slam title.
Williams gutted it out from the quarterfinals onward, beginning with that comeback versus Victoria Azarenka, and pulled it together when she really needed to in the final against a tenacious Justine Henin.
This while battling injuries to most of her body.
A healthy Williams over the next few years collects more majors -- a lot more.
Most disappointing men's player: Novak Djokovic
Djokovic won't get a better chance to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. Champion at the Australian Open in 2008, Djokovic faced Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Marco Chiudinelli, Denis Istomin and Lukasz Kubot in the first four rounds. Pretty tame.
OK, so maybe he couldn't do much about the vomiting and diarrhea that affected him against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, but the Serb should have wrapped up the match before he really started to feel bad. The wait for Grand Slam No. 2 continues.
Chet Baker's jazz track "Everything Happens To Me" seems apropos for Djokovic. Have a listen, Novak.
Most disappointing women's player: Kim Clijsters
Who saw this one coming? Clijsters, fresh off her U.S. Open title, had to be one of the two favorites in the women's draw alongside Serena, the eventual winner. The Belgian, however, put in the worst performance of her Grand Slam career in the third round, exiting to streaky Russian Nadia Petrova 6-0, 6-1 in under an hour. Ugly.
"I'm sure it's happened before that I felt like I really couldn't hit the ball, that I wasn't feeling well out there," Clijsters told reporters. "But obviously not in the last few years. I don't think so."
Clijsters had no pressure in New York. That wasn't the case in Melbourne.
Biggest breakthrough: Marin Cilic
Cilic was born in tiny Medjugorje, where six children claim to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary beginning in 1981. The Croatian's opponents saw plenty of big serves and backhands Down Under.
Cilic, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the U.S. Open in 2009, went one better. Furthermore, he battled, rallying to down Aussie wild card Bernard Tomic in five sets, eliminating U.S. Open champion del Potro in five and going the distance in overcoming Andy Roddick.
The 6-foot-6 slugger, without much left in the tank, still stretched Murray to four in the semis.
"It was an amazing experience and amazing result," said Cilic, a titlist in Chennai, India, before the Australian Open. "I think it's one big step forward for myself."
The calm 21-year-old is a Grand Slam winner down the road.
Biggest surprise: The Chinese women
Overheard in the media work room when Zheng Jie and Li Na reached the semifinals: "Who's gonna care if they reach the final?" Following a pause, and with a laugh, "About a billion people," came the reply.
Never before had two Chinese women reached the quarterfinals at a Slam, much less the semis.
Li, ravaged by injuries throughout her career, gave Williams a hard time in their semifinal encounter, losing in a pair of tiebreakers.
Now it's time for the Chinese men to surface. Not one is ranked inside the top 300.
Where are they?
"They're still asleep," Li told reporters. "One day they will wake up."
Imagine when they do.
Most worrying development: Rafael Nadal's kneesLleyton Hewitt called a press conference Saturday. On crutches, the gutsy 28-year-old Aussie announced he'll be out of the game about four months after a second bout of hip surgery. A Spanish journalist nearby quipped, "That's gonna be Rafa in a few years."
It's hard to argue.
Nadal said he was in tip-top shape this tournament, but in his quarterfinal loss to Murray, the Spaniard suddenly felt pain in his right knee, the same sort of pain he experienced in a troublesome 2009. He's had knee problems throughout his career.
Nadal, 23, is gone for about four weeks -- this time.
Most worrying development, Part II
All the other injuries. Almost everyone was struggling, and we're only in the first month of the season.
Henin struggled with a thigh problem, and the other walking wounded included Del Potro (wrist), Tsonga (wrist), Roddick (shoulder), Murray (back), Robin Soderling (elbow) and Dinara Safina (back).
Most entertaining player: Nikolay Davydenko
Davydenko is the flavor of the month, and he loves it.
His press conferences in Melbourne were neverending. The Russian said he can't handle his drink, his wife could be his coach, and he wants to make plenty of money in business after he retires.
Davydenko blew it against Federer, dropping 13 straight games from a set and 3-1 up.
What went through his mind as he slumped?
"Pissed off," he said with a grin. "What else? I'm pissed off with my serve. It's like everything was s---."
So much for his victories in London and Doha over Fed.
Worst call: Lynn Welch
We all know umps have a hard job. And Welch deserves credit for overruling a call in this day and age of Hawk-Eye.
She was way off the mark, though, when Henin met Yanina Wickmayer in the fourth round. At a key stage of the first set, Henin hit a serve on the deuce side called long. Welch overruled, Wickmayer challenged and Hawk-Eye indicated the ball was way, way long.
Wickmayer, impressively, didn't make a fuss.
Biggest fashion statement: Venus Williams
An all-Williams semifinal failed to materialize when Venus blew a huge lead to Li in the quarterfinals, making it nine years and counting for a major outside Wimbledon.
Williams raised eyebrows with her attire, sporting undershorts the same color as her skin "so it gives the slits in my dress the full effect."
By the way, Williams looked stunning in a black dress Saturday, rooting for Serena from the stands.