I may seem weird in saying this, but I think the best sporting events occur down under. Australia has hosted some world class sport for a good few years now. From the Australian GP in Formula One, to the Big Bash League in Cricket. But for the last couple of weeks the focus has been on the first Grand Slam of the tennis season, the Australian Open, and the quality as I mentioned before hasn’t hindered at all.
It’s tough to write about something I have only seen glimpses of. Due to the time difference between the UK and Australia- It has been challenging to see a lot of the tennis, with other things such as College and work also proving obstacles to observe and admire the spectacle. But here is what I have managed to pick out as some of my highlights of the tournament.
MELTING POINT: It truly is the summer season down under. The first week of the tournament saw temperatures reach a staggering 40 degrees, and it affected many of the players out on court. Officials deemed the first couple of days playable and players complained that the heat was just unbearable. Water bottles were even seen melting due to the intensity of the sun. Eventually the officials gave in, and the players were allowed breaks to cool down. I personally have neither seen anything quite like that and it made the tournament more exciting to watch.
EARLY EXITS: Every Grand Slam sees a potential winner get knocked out early in the competition. This year was no exception. Women’s number one Serena Williams was knocked out in round four by Ana Ivanovic, a result which produced a huge shockwave in the women’s game, as Serena was seen as an unbeatable machine after a dominant 2013 campaign. Victoria Azarenka- two time champion of this tournament- was beaten in the quarter-finals by Agnieszka Radwanska. In the men’s draw, a tough half of the draw saw many of the top players face each other early. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga was knocked out in round four by Roger Federer. The biggest surprise from the men’s draw was defending champion Novak Djockovic being knocked out by Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. The Serbian and world number two played out a gruelling match with the Swiss Wawrinka and it was the latter who took the spoils.
A RESURGENT FEDERER: We saw it with Andy Murray and Evan Lendl, and now we are seeing a similar effect with Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg. The legendary Swiss has been revitalised and is playing world class tennis just like the Federer of a few years ago. He has outplayed all his opponents so far, including Andy Murray in the quarter finals. It seems like the old Roger is back and this will bring back a certain nervousness and fear to any of his opponents.
GOOD TOURNAMENT FOR ANDY MURRAY: If you told me beforehand that Andy would make the last 8 of the Australian Open I would have laughed. This was a comeback tournament for the scot and reigning Wimbledon Champion. He has played rather well since returning from his back operation and I feared the third round match against Lopez would have been the one which he struggled in. Murray can build from this and fans can believe he will be in serious contention to win Wimbledon again this summer and hopefully good performances in the French and US Opens respectively.
A NEW CHAMPION: The sport has been dominated by the so called ‘big 4’ in Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray. Only Del Potro in 2008 managed to break into the field of Grand Slam winners when he won the US Open. But this year saw a new man lift a grand slam trophy as Stanislas Wawrinka came of age and became only the six player to win one of the four Tennis Majors since 2006. On his way to glory he dispatched Novak Djokovic, the three-time and defending champion in the Quarter-Finals and then defeated Rafa Nadal in four sets in today’s final.
Australia has produced another blockbuster tournament and I can’t wait for the next big event in March, with the return of the Formula One in Melbourne. For you Tennis fans, it is a few months until the next Grand Slam in Paris, and hopefully it will live up to the hype of this one.
What was your favourite moment from this year’s Australian Open? Do you agree that Australia hosts the best sporting events? What do you make of Andy Murrays’ chances in the rest of this year’s Grand Slams?
HAVE YOUR SAY by commenting below, Tweeting me at @leeham1996 or Facebook at Liam ‘leeham’ Richner.