Dominic Thiem on cusp of first Grand Slam title and other talking points from Australian Open

Pranav Vishwamitra 14:43 04/02/2020
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  • Novak Djokovic claimed his eighth Australian Open crown while Sofia Kenin picked up her maiden win at the Grand Slam.

    Here, we take a look at the key talking points from Melbourne.

    1) All in due course

    Dominic Thiem looked on course to win his maiden Grand Slam, but a ruthless Novak Djokovic clawed his way back to win fourth and fifth sets, to clinch his eighth Australian Open title.

    The Austrian has come up twice against opponents that are the best on their respective courts – Nadal on clay and Djokovic on hardcourt.

    With his sheer firepower, he has elevated his game having beaten Djokovic in four of their last six meetings, and Nadal in two of the last three.

    He is on the cusp of a Grand Slam title, however, winning it with the Big Three still around would be the highlight of his career.

    2) Millmania rocks Melbourne!

    John Millman’s matchup against Roger Federer was nothing short of exciting.

    Exhilarating tennis and drama kept the crowd on its feet well past midnight.

    The Australian exploited Federer’s forehand throughout the game, and it seemed the demons of the 2018 US Open defeat was lingering in the Swiss maestro’s memory.
    Although the 20-time grand slam champion struck a staggering 82 unforced errors, he was able to banish the memories of 18 months ago.

    The game was talked about, not just for its quality, but for a certain tactic Millman employed during the match. The Brisbane man was accused of rubbing the balls on his shirt before serving. That exploits the body’s moisture and transfers it to the ball, causing a change in its general condition.

    Considering himself as “one of the people”, Millman has huge support in Australia and loves having fun with the public.

    This is probably the reason why one would see #Millmania trending on Twitter in January.

    3) Fresh faces of American tennis

    The women’s event continues to dish out plenty of surprises.

    While Serena Williams dominates the list of recent winners, there is little shock when a young, bright talent like Sofia Kenin breaks through to clinch the title.

    Seeded 14th, the 21-year-old was not a favorite heading into the tournament, but an emphatic victory against home favorite Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals surely gave her a serious boost. She then went on to claim her first Grand Slam title by beating Garbine Muguruza 6-4 2-6 2-6.

    The tournament also saw Cocomania make waves in Melbourne, as 15-year-old Coco Gauff entered the tournament as the youngest player in the women’s singles category.

    She produced some quality tennis, causing one of the biggest upsets by taking out defending champion Naomi Osaka.

    Her run came to an end eventually, as she was defeated by Sofia Kenin 7-6 6-3 6-0 in the fourth round.

    There are few at her age that can maintain their composure and place their shots perfectly while playing in one of tennis’s biggest tournaments.

    4) In the test of times

    The tennis family united during one of Australia’s worst cases of forest fires.

    “Obviously there are more important things in life,” Djokovic said while receiving the men’s championship trophy.

    The issues referred to by the champion were that of the forest fires in the country, the passing away of Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and other conflicts.
    It is often said that leaders are judged by how they lead in times of crisis.

    Nick Kyrgios stepped up and led the tennis community, starting the Aces for Bushfire Relief initiative, which raised thousands of dollars, inspiring fundraising efforts across different sporting communities as well.

    Often criticised for his temperamental behavior, the fans saw a different side to Kyrgios.

    Rafael Nadal said: “I like the Nick Kyrgios during this whole tournament.” as he edged Kyrgios in the fourth round.

    5) Should Raonic be considered in the mix?

    The question persists as the 29-year-old made his way back from a long break.

    His run in the tournament was impressive, to say the least, delivering a knock-out blow to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round, and booked his place in the quarter-finals after beating Marin Cilic.

    Not many would have seen the upset against Tsitsipas coming, but the Greek simply had no answer to the serve and forehand of Raonic in a 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat.

    However, his run came to an end against a ruthless Djokovic in straight sets.