The 2011 Australian Open saw everything from media stunts – by the players – to crushing upsets and historic wins. Relive the best from Melbourne as FOXSports.com's Brian Webber counts down the biggest moments from Down Under.
The 2011 Australian Open featured some bizarre interactions between the players and the press. Caroline Wozniacki joked with the media about being attacked by a kangaroo and later had to apologize when some gullible reporters thought the story was factual. Kim Clijsters created a 'pregnant pause' in a post-match interview with Todd Woodbridge after her second-round victory. Clijsters gave the Hall of Famer a hard time about a text message he sent to another pro, Rennae Stubbs, suggesting that Clijsters was expecting her second child. The crowd roared when the former world No. 1 exclaimed 'You thought I was pregnant!' When she informed Woodbridge that the stork had not paid her home a visit, the doubles great replied: 'That’s the end of my TV career, so thank you very much.'
Agnieska Radwanska had a fine showing in Melbourne, losing to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals. Radwanska produced a moment that became a YouTube sensation earlier during the fortnight when she faced ageless wonder Kimiko Date-Krumm in the opening round. Date-Krumm came up with a serve that was completely unreturnable for an unexpected reason: The head of Radwanska's racket broke off as she attempted to counter the service-winner. The Polish star was left with nothing but the grip of the racket and a bemused look on her face.
Venus scores style points
Venus Williams did not last long at the Australian Open, retiring in the third round because of a hip injury. It marked the first time in her stellar career that Williams was unable to complete a match at a major tournament. But the American made a major fashion statement on the court in a yellow criss-cross outfit that left very little to the imagination. Williams told reporters that the ensemble was inspired by 'Alice In Wonderland' saying, 'It's kind of about a surprise, because when Alice goes down the hole, the rabbit hole, she finds all these things that are so surprising.' After her infamous 'can-can' dress last year at Roland Garros, fashionistas already are buzzing about what Venus might unveil this Spring at the French Open.
Mike and Bob Bryan added to their hall of fame resumé by winning their fifth Australian Open championship, defeating the Indian tandem of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the final. The sizzling siblings have been dominant in recent years in Melbourne and captured their third consecutive title Down Under. The brothers have won 10 Grand Slam titles and could own another piece of tennis history by the end of the year. They are within striking distance of the open-era record for most majors won by a doubles pair – John Newcombe and Tony Roche won a dozen as a team.
A match for the ages
Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova met in a fourth-round match that produced some more notable fours: it lasted for 4 hours and 44 minutes, becoming the longest women's match ever played at a Grand Slam event. The reigning French Open champion edged Kuznetsova 16-14 in the third set. Despite being an elder stateswoman of the WTA Tour at age 30, Schiavone's outstanding conditioning paid dividends in this marathon encounter. While it did not match the drama of the epic match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut last year at Wimbledon, it was just the latest reminder there are often major surprises at major tournaments.
Goodbye ... again
Expectations were high for Justine Henin heading into 2011 as she came back from the elbow injury that wiped out the second half of last year. The Belgian came out of retirement in 2010 and reached the championship match of the Australian Open last January, losing to Serena Williams. But Henin was unable to duplicate that magic when she was knocked out by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round of the Aussie Open this year. The former world No. 1 contemplated her future for a few days and then announced her second retirement because of lingering elbow pain. Henin walks away from the sport at age 28 with seven Grand Slam singles titles – only missing a Wimbledon championship to complete the career Grand Slam.
Dazzling Down Under
Alexandr Dolgopolov made a major splash at the Australian Open. The 22-year-old Ukrainian served notice he was ready to handle Grand Slam intensity when he upset fourth-seeded Robin Soderling in the Round of 16. Dolgopolov should be comfortable between the lines – he started playing when he was 3 years old growing up in the sport with his father Oleksandr, a former pro. While Dolgopolov committed 77 unforced errors while falling to Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, his 'risk/reward' brand of tennis won him legions of fans in Melbourne as his ranking jumped from No. 46 to No. 34 in the world.
Rafael Nadal came to Melbourne hoping to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously. The world No. 1 did not drop a set in his first four matches and was a heavy favorite when he faced close friend and countryman David Ferrer in the quarterfinals. But Nadal struggled with his mobility because of a leg injury and fell to Ferrer in straight sets. While Nadal refused to use the injury as an excuse after the match, it was obvious that he was physically unable to play anything close to his best tennis. It was the first loss for Nadal in a Slam since he was forced to retire in the quarterfinals of the Aussie Open last year against Andy Murray.
Kim Clijsters has made the most of her comeback. The Belgian beat Li Na to win her third Grand Slam title since coming out of retirement in summer 2009 and the fourth major championship of her career. Clijsters had endured some heartbreak at the Australian Open in the past, losing the 2004 final and falling four times in the semifinals. This time, Clijsters revealed her tenacity by rallying from a set down to take the title. The former world No. 1 has said this could be her last year on the WTA Tour. There's a strong possibility she might collect a few more majors before she says goodbye.
He's no joke
Novak Djokovic dismantled Andy Murray in straight sets to win the Australian Open for the second time in his career. Djokovic's play in the championship match was just as impressive as his electrifying performance against Roger Federer in the semifinals. The Serbian's victory demonstrated that Federer and Rafael Nadal might not have a stranglehold on the Slams in the coming months. Murray lost his third Grand Slam final, meaning the wait continues for British tennis fans. Fred Perry remains the last man from the U.K. to win a major singles title – in 1936.