New York: It took mere seconds after the final point of Roger Federer’s loss in the Australian Open semifinals Thursday for the idea to grab hold that an era had ended. No, Federer didn’t announce his retirement after the match, but his defeat, coming only a day after Rafael Nadal was bounced from the tournament, seemed ominous. After all, having Federer or Nadal in a Grand Slam final was always so dependable. They were like the furniture. It’s never normal when you wake up to find your couch missing.
But that’s what the past two days have wrought, inviting the instant analysis that the balance of power in tennis is shifting, as Ravi Ubha argues on ESPN.com. Sure, there are easy ways to poke holes in this. An injury led to Nadal’s loss to David Ferrer and it’s not like Novak Djokovic is some up-and-comer who knocked Federer off his perch; he has been whacking away at him for years. Still, it didn’t keep Courtney Walsh of The Australian from proclaiming the dynasty is over, no matter how snippily Federer reacted to that idea.
On the women’s side, the revelation was not that No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki could lose — she is No. 1 without ever having won anything major — but that China’s Li Na could ascend to the final while charming everyone in Melbourne with a hilarious postmatch interview in which she blamed her snoring husband for her lack of sleep, among other humorous anecdotes. That spawned the idea that Li could be the crossover star in tennis that Yao Ming was in basketball, but Greg Couch writes on Fanhouse.com that he doesn’t believe she can capture enough attention in the United States. She will get attention in China, however, where tennis was once so obscure Li had to explain the sport to her mother when she decided to play it.
Basketball needs no explaining just about anywhere you go, which is why Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette has become such a phenomenon. It seemed like the entire sport paused — and posted hosannas on Twitter — after Fredette scored 43 points on previously undefeated San Diego State on Wednesday night. Kelli Anderson of SI.com was on hand to describe the mania that surrounded that game and Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com explains how he has turned into basketball’s rock star. Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune says he does need more than a modicum of help from the Jimmerettes, who make up the rest of his team, in order for Fredette to take them deep into the N.C.A.A. tournament again.
Not everyone, though, is getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about college basketball these days. That includes the estimable Oscar Robertson, who is joining the class action suit against the N.C.A.A. because it is still marketing his image as a college player. He is 72 years old.
The story that may make you feel worse about college sports is emanating from Iowa, where 13 football players remain hospitalized after some apparently brutal workouts. The university wasn’t providing many answers on Wednesday and The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Mike Hlas found it disturbing that neither the Iowa athletic director nor Coach Kirk Ferentz would appear at the school’s sketchy news conference.
In much warmer climates and in a much calmer sport, golf opened its arms (or wallets) for the start of Tiger Woods’s season. He spoke before the start of his first tournament of the year at Torrey Pines, and explained how he expected to ascend back to his spot atop the sport, writes Robert Lusetich on Foxsports.com. Whichever way he goes, writes Mick Elliott on Fanhouse.com, it should be interesting to watch. Woods has clearly changed, as evidenced by his mildly interesting presence on Twitter, but he did fail to join in the fun when some fellow players — including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter — tried to have some tweeting fun with him.
Fun? How could he possibly have fun when dynasties were toppling all over.