The two men's singles semifinals at the Australian Open couldn't have been more different, except that the victors both played at the tops of their games. Novak Djokovic was almost flawless as he overwhelmed David Ferrer, one of the most tenacious competitors on the tour, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday. Andy Murray played equally close to his best, but he had a much tougher task defeating Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 on Friday.
The latter match was the more interesting, as Roger managed to stretch Andy to five sets despite being outplayed on almost every count. Andy's serve has improved remarkably over the last year, as evidenced by his 21 aces, and his return, which has always been a strength, held Roger to only 5 aces. Andy's second serve used to be his biggest weakness, but he defended 63% of his second-serve points against Roger, while Roger defended only 42% of his. Andy finished with a positive balance of 62 winners and 47 unforced errors, whereas Roger was underwater with 43 winners and 60 unforced errors. Those tallies resulted in part from Andy's playing much more aggressively than he did before the last year, but also from his defending better than Roger, with more quickness and stamina, perhaps due to his comparative youth and Roger having played a tough five sets against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round.