Australian Open recap
By Jack Davies
The first grand slam of the year has finished, and the winners of the singles tournaments are unlikely to surprise anyone, with both Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic winning in straight sets.
This marks Osaka’s 4th Grand Slam and she showed impressive form all week, dropping only one set throughout the entire competition in a close fourth round match against Garbiñe Muguruza. Osaka faced tricky opposition in two of the most unpredictable players on the tour Ons Jabeur and Hsieh Su-wei, yet came through unscathed to face Serena Williams in the semi-finals before beating Jennifer Brady in the final.
Novak Djokovic had a slightly rockier road on the to his final. He was pushed to five sets by Taylor Fritz in the third round, and Frances Tiafoe, Alexander Zverev and Milos Raonic each got a set off him in their respective matches. Djokovic accelerated to another level once reaching the semis, where he beat qualifier Aslan Karatsev (who is the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals in a grand slam debut) in straight sets. Even Daniil Medvedev was no match for Djokovic this week, and the Serbian scored his 18th grand slam trophy.
Cameron Norrie was the most successful British singles player at this AO. He beat compatriot Dan Evans in the first round but was eventually knocked out by Rafael Nadal in the third. Heather Watson made it to the second round before losing to Anett Kontaveit, while Johanna Konta retired injured from her first-round match and Katie Boulter also lost in the first to Daria Kasatkina.
British players saw more success in the doubles. Surrey’s own Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram fell just short of defending their AO title after losing to Filip Polášek and Ivan Dodig in the final. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares joined forces once again after playing with different partners for the past year and a half, their AO ended in the semi-finals in a battle of the Brits against Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram.
On a personal level, this year’s Australian Open was more significant than ever before. As a viewer from the UK, coverage of the AO showed me a glimpse of what life was like pre-Covid 19, and what life could be like again. Apart from the mid-tournament lockdown in the state of Victoria, it was played in front of a live audience.
Though a reduced capacity surely feels different for players and spectators alike, the sight of people enjoying professional tennis on a summer evening will stay with me far longer than the matches. With the news that outdoor tennis can return from March 29th 2021, I hope that life can soon get back on track, and we can have our own tennis filled evenings later in the year.
By Jack Davies for Surrey Tennis