Stars surprise us at the Aussie

Both the men's and women's events were won by the top seeds in the end, but the Australian Open didn't exactly unfold as envisaged. Here's how the big names defied expectations along the way.


Novak Djokovic: He looked beatable. Even though Djokovic won the tournament, as widely expected, his armor got a little dented along the way. He had the easiest-looking draw of the top three but turned out to be the first one to be seriously threatened, seeming almost helpless against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round at times. And despite having the easier semifinal and two days' rest, Djokovic was the one who looked tired and error-prone during the first set of the final against Andy Murray.

Roger Federer: He was sharp early and then let down in a big match. Federer was expected to be rusty coming in after playing no warm-up events but navigated a tricky first four rounds with ease and fended off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets to reach the semifinals. Losing to Murray can't be seen as a big surprise, but getting outserved and hitting fewer forehand winners in the process? That was.

Andy Murray: He powered through. Remember the old Murray, with his first-week drama and Grand Slam final nerves? This time, Murray took charge and spent less time than either Djokovic or Federer in the early going, and reported that he felt much calmer in the final than he has before. What a difference a Slam makes. The match against Djokovic slipped through his fingers -- not to mention his sore legs -- but in his first major since finally winning one, Murray looked like he fully belongs.

Rafael Nadal: He never showed up. After a long buildup, Nadal postponed his return a couple of weeks before the tournament. But look out for him at the upcoming clay tournament at Vina del Mar.

David Ferrer: He looked shaky. Ferrer is usually a rock, and he managed to fill in for injured compatriot Nadal and make the semifinals -- but only just. Though famously dogged, he looked inconsistent and nervy in his five-set quarterfinal against Nicolas Almagro, who had never beaten him in a dozen tries. And then he looked a little tired for the semifinal against Djokovic.

Juan Martin del Potro: He fizzled out. The Argentine was supposed to be the biggest threat to the top three, especially after looking formidable in his first two rounds, but got upset himself against Jeremy Chardy and sustained an injury in the process.

Tomas Berdych: He didn't scare anyone. Berdych has usually been better at taking out the top guys than being consistent, but this time it was more like the other way around. He doubted his form coming into the event, only to play strongly and get to Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Once there, however, he was lackluster and didn't take advantage of the Serb's five-setter in the previous round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: He was reliable. Tsonga showed no sign of the injury he carried in from a warm-up event, and upped his level in the later rounds. Despite losing a five-set thriller against Federer in the quarterfinals, the sometimes erratic Frenchman was pleased with his "solid" tournament.


Victoria Azarenka: She finally got people's attention. Regularly ignored by the media despite being No. 1, Azarenka was finally thrust into the headlines after her controversial medical timeout in the semifinals. It's not the way she would have wanted, but at least when she won the dramatic women's final and took her second major, people noticed.

Maria Sharapova: She showed signs of her pre-surgery form. Even though Sharapova has battled back and won a Grand Slam after shoulder surgery, her game hasn't flowed the way it did when she won this tournament in 2008. But there were times during the past two weeks she looked reminiscent of that period. Now if only she knew what to do when it's not working like that, as against Li Na in the semifinals.

Serena Williams: She, well … lost. After winning the past two Grand Slams and 35 of 36 matches coming in, Williams was finally stopped in her tracks. But it took a bad ankle, hurt back and Sloane Stephens put together to do it.

Agnieszka Radwanska: She hasn't learned that Slam contenders don't play two straight weeks coming in. Radwanska did win both those events and was clearly in great form, but it meant she wasn't at her freshest when she came up against tough foe Li in the quarterfinals. The result was the opposite of their meeting in Sydney two weeks earlier.

Li Na: She might still be getting better. Two years after winning her first Grand Slam as a veteran, Li showed that at 30 she's serious about staying a contender even if she doesn't take herself that seriously. Two ankle turns derailed her in the final, but she's back in the Grand Slam hunt.

Petra Kvitova: She lost ugly. Kvitova has been struggling so while an early exit wasn't a big surprise, there were some bad signs in her second-round loss to Laura Robson. First, she lost at night, when her breathing problems should have been less of an issue. Secondly, the match ended at 11-9 in the third set, by which time it had become less about tennis and more about nerves. Losing to a teen at that stage betrays how much confidence Kvitova has lost.

Caroline Wozniacki: She didn't garner much scrutiny. Whether it was for being No. 1, the precipitous fall that followed, her relationship with Rory McIlroy or another kangaroo stunt, there's been plenty of attention on Wozniacki the past couple of years. Now she's No. 10, played well but lost to a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round and left without either a lot of praise or criticism. Which was how it should be.

Teenagers: They made themselves relevant again. Sloane Stephens, 19, Laura Robson, 19, and Madison Keys, 17, showed there are a few teens capable of mixing it up with the big guns.