The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the 2023 tennis season, closed the curtain, leaving behind some brand-new and familiar stories.
Tennis is a sport that never stops. The tournament calendar, which ended at the end of 2022, continues from where it left off with 2023. But things are a little different when it comes to Grand Slam tournaments. The slam season, which started in January with the Australian Open; The French Open continues in the second half of May, Wimbledon at the end of June and the beginning of July, and the US Open in September. In particular, the first major of the year, the Australian Open, is positioned a bit far from its counterparts in terms of its position on the calendar. This causes the audience, who is yearning to watch Grand Slam tennis, to feel a different excitement. Two weeks ago, we went to the screen with these feelings. The Australian Open, known as the “Happy Slam,” also gave us what we wanted again. It’s time to recall what happened in the five items.
This Time Blues
About a year ago, we witnessed one of the strangest matches in tennis history. Rafael Nadal, who fell back 2-0 in the final match that lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes, and who almost broke the service in the third set, clinging to the fight; he was signing the most impossible victory of his struggling career. 2022 Wimbledon was a breaking point for the legend, who scored his 21st slam victory in Melbourne and then his 22nd in Paris. For Rafa, who struggled with injuries in the second half of the year and became a father for the first time in the fall, tennis was inevitably secondary. Although the former world number 1 started the Australian Open with a Jack Draper win, where he won only two of his last seven games, he threw the towel in front of Mackenzie McDonald in the second round. Of course, the hip injury that he experienced during the match and that would keep him away from the courts for a while also played a role.
While the 2019 Australian Open was in progress, we had a fear that Andy Murray, who had been struggling with injuries for a while, was now coming to the end of his career. Because the British racket stated in a press conference that it might be his last Australian Open for the last time. The hip injury he had suffered since 2017 was serious. So much so that he could even tear Murray out of tennis, whose tennis largely depends on his mobility on the court. The three-time slam champion refused this seemingly inevitable situation and found a way to return to the courts after his surgeries. The most iconic moments of his return journey were in Melbourne, where he lost five times in the final. Murray, who won the matches of Matteo Berrettini, which was close to five hours, and Thanasi Kokkinakis, which took over five hours; he told the world in his own language that there is no such thing as impossible. Maybe Roberto Bautista was going to say goodbye in front of Agut, but he was in the hearts again.
An American Dream?
US men’s tennis has not seen a Grand Slam champion since Andy Roddick did it in 2003. The depressive period that this school went through, which produced legendary names such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, is the subject of another article. But the stride of three U.S. rackets into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open has created excitement that the sleeping giant may have woken up. Performances by Sebastian Korda, Tommy Paul, and Ben Shelton had plenty of light. For example, Korda’s sharp start to the season and the Australian Open performance behind it were impressive. Or the four matches that Shelton, who played only the second slam main draw, managed to win -albeit with some help from the luck of the draw-… The least notable of them all, Tommy Paul’s semi-final against Novak Djokovic, is the Melbourne school looking for its old days. It was its peak. There is no harm in their hopes for the future.
The Days of Days
It is obvious that not every talented tennis player wins big tournaments. It is not easy to deal with the pressure created by expectation, especially. We can show many examples of this situation in both men’s and women’s tennis, and we can talk about many racquets that haven’t done their best yet. Aryna Sabalenka, a member of this group so far, broke the devil’s leg at the 2023 Australian Open. Known for her mental fragility despite her formidable strength, Sabalenka, the tennis player who made the most double mistakes in the tour for a while, underlined that he left the past behind by playing a perfect tournament from start to finish. Her opponent, Elena Rybakina, whom she defeated in the final, put her signature under a performance that shows that last year’s Wimbledon championship was not a coincidence. Given the presence of Iga Swiatek, it’s hard not to be excited about the competitive potential in women’s tennis.
Novak Djokovic’s relationship with the Australian Open was excellent until last year. However, their future has been a matter of curiosity since last year when he was deported because he did not receive the Covid vaccine for 12 months. We have seen in the last two weeks that nothing has changed on the Djokovic front. The performance of the Serbian star, who came to the tournament with a hamstring injury in his left leg, despite losing only one set in seven matches, was close to perfect. He made a show of strength especially in the matches of Alex De Minaur, Andrey Rublev, Tommy Paul and lastly Stefanos Tsitsipas, which he played in the second week. Djokovic, who captured Rafael Nadal in this field by signing his 22nd Grand Slam victory, equalized the situation in the race, where he often stated that he wanted to finish at the top. Next is Rafa’s home, Paris. What will happen at the beginning of summer and the future of the historical rivalry are a matter of great curiosity.