Djokovic, Sharapova Win Australian Open Tennis
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova are the winners of the Australian Open, the first major tennis titles of the 2008 season. But the big story is the man who did not win. Top-ranked Roger Federer's streak of 10 straight major championships ended when he faced Djokovic in the semifinals.
Commentator John Feinstein joins us now.
Good morning, John.
JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: I have to say, I'm relieved this happened, because in major after major, you've had to come on here and tell us basically the same thing - Roger Federer's best effort. Now, you can tell us something else.
FEINSTEIN: Well, Roger Federer may still be the best ever, but he wasn't this week. Novak Djokovic was. He beat him soundly in the semifinals in straight sets. Forgive my voice, I've got the winter cold everybody had.
INSKEEP: You're telling me.
FEINSTEIN: But Djokovic - who had been in four straight semifinals in major tournaments, so this wasn't a fluke. He didn't come out of nowhere. He was the third seed. He's only 20 years old. He is a rising star. And he dominated Federer, ended, as you said, a streak of 10 straight finals in Grand Slam, stopped him from getting his 13th championship overall and then dominated another up-and-coming player, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, in the final.
INSKEEP: Now, when you say Djokovic wasn't a fluke, does that mean he could be one of the greats as time goes by?
FEINSTEIN:Well, I don't know if he'd go to one of the greats after one Grand Slam title. But what we can say is he may be, along with Rafael Nadal, a challenger for Federer.
Nadal has only been able to beat Federer on clay. Djokovic just beat him on a hard court, which is the most neutral of the three surfaces - grass being the fastest; clay being the slowest. So that indicates, to me, that Djokovic can challenge Federer on all three surfaces, which should be very good for the game of tennis.
INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about the women's side. Maria Sharapova was the winner, obviously, someone who can do a lot more than do commercials.
FEINSTEIN: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think when she won Wimbledon at the age of 17 and when on this Glamour tour - doing every commercial possible, sort of like Peyton Manning in football - people forgot that she is a very good player. In fact, for a while, she forgot that she was a very good player.
But now, she's won a U.S. Open. She wins the Australian. The only major title she doesn't have is the French. She's still only 20 years old and she seems to really want to play tennis now, as opposed to do those commercials. And as long as she does that, she can challenge Justine Henin for number one in the world, I believe.
INSKEEP: Seems like she's been around for years and she's only 20 years old.
FEINSTEIN: I know. That's the way it is with the women. They first come on the scene when they're 14 or 15. And by the time they're 25, you're saying, why aren't you retiring?
INSKEEP: Well, let's move over to golf very briefly, because Tiger Woods was playing yesterday. I flipped on the television and it seemed, once again, like he was playing a different tournament than everybody else.
FEINSTEIN: Yeah, exactly. There seems to be a Tiger flight and a B flight in most tournaments these days. First tournament of the year, he'd laid off for about a month, hadn't played a real event since late October. And he comes out and he wins by eight shots. That's got to be discouraging if you're the other guys, especially since where they were playing yesterday, Torrey Pines in San Diego, is the site of this year's U.S. Open. Tiger's now won that tournament four years in a row, should give him just a little bit of confidence going into the Open.
INSKEEP: Had terrible - had a terrible back nine and still won by eight. He's up by 11 at one point.
FEINSTEIN: Yeah. He had three bogeys in a row on the back nine. Nobody could remember the last time they'd seen him do that, and yet, he still won going away. He had an 11-shot lead at one point. That's sort of like leading by 50 yards in a 60-yard race.
INSKEEP: John, take care of your voice.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve. You too.
INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein. His latest book is "Cover-up: Mystery at the Super Bowl."