Remember when attacking the net, lobs, the occasional precise angle and chipping and charging were common on hard courts? If you look hard enough, you can still find pockets of that style of play at the 2012 Australian Open.
Monica Niculescu exhibited all sorts of odd angles and spins during her third-round loss to No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki. And both No. 13 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic turned back the clock in their third-round match with chips and slices. Tomic pulled that one out in five sets.
Fans packed Court 3 for the Bryan brothers' second-round match against Peter Luczak and former world No. 1 singles player Lleyton Hewitt on Friday, Jan. 20, and they were treated to an outstanding variety of tennis.
The second point of the second set tiebreak was a good example.
Bob (the lefty, and better server of the twins) hit a big serve into the body of Hewitt, who hit a backhand return at Bob's feet as he approached the net. Bob pushed a shot in Luczak's direction and Luczak attempted a lob over Bob's head. Bob hit a skyhook back to Luczak and Luczak didn't do much with the volley, allowing Bob to get the upper hand. He hit a cross-court forehand at Hewitt, who was at the net, and Hewitt's return dropped right into Bob's wheelhouse allowing him to hit a screaming forehand that split Luczak and Hewitt for a winner.
So we were treated to a body serve, a strategically placed backhand that stayed low, a lob, a skyhook, and a perfectly placed winner-all in one point.
It was a tennis lover's dream.
The Bryan brothers, predictably, overcame the experimental pairing of Luczak/Hewitt, 6-3 7-6 (7-5), but it was still fun to watch Hewitt playing doubles at the end of his career. Who knows how many more Australian Opens he has left in him.
Throw in the interesting fact that Luczak recently retired from the game and is now Hewitt's hitting partner/second coach and tennis fans had plenty of reasons to watch as ESPN2 broadcast the final few games of the match.
The Bryan brothers, who have won the Australian Open the last three years, are chasing history; they are trying to win their 12th grand slam doubles title. They are tied with Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for the all-time lead with 11 majors.
Lee Warren is a sportswriter from Omaha, Nebraska who has written hundreds of articles for various newspapers, magazines and websites. He played high school tennis and has been a fan of the game since he was young. You can follow him on Twitter @leewarren, where he'll be Tweeting about the Australian Open through the end of January.