Following an eventful fortnight in Melbourne that saw Caroline Wozniacki claim a first Grand Slam title and Roger Federer capture a 20th, here are others who stood out at the Australian Open – not all for the right reasons.
Simona Halep bt Angelique Kerber 6-3, 4-6, 9-7
This will probably end up taking ‘Match of the Year’ awards at the end of the season because it was just that good. The pair combined for a total of 83 winners, and both players saved match points in what was a true edge-of-your-seat, can’t-breathe, I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-to-happen semi-final thriller. Halep broke the fear barrier, Kerber exorcised her 2017 demons, and we were all left with dropped jaws and goosebumps. More of the same please!
FLOPS OF THE TOURNAMENT
Juan Martin del Potro/Johanna Konta
The 12th-seeded Del Potro could not muster a set against Tomas Berdych in their third round, despite showing promising form earlier this month, reaching the final in Auckland, and taking out two tough opponents in his opening two rounds in Melbourne in Frances Tiafoe and Karen Khachanov. Meanwhile, Konta, the No. 9 seed, lost to lucky loser world No. 123 Bernarda Pera in straight sets in the second round.
HEROES OF THE TOURNAMENT
Simona Halep/Kyle Edmund
Halep may have lost a third Grand Slam final but considering she hurt her ankle in her first match, and went through that marathon against Lauren Davis, winning 15-13 in the third, then producing that epic against Kerber in the semis, saving match points in both those clashes, the Romanian can walk away with her head held high and lots of confidence in her fighting abilities. She was treated for dehydration the night after her final against Wozniacki and spent four hours in the hospital. She left everything out there and earned the respect of the tennis world over.
Meanwhile, Edmund backed up every upset he pulled off with another, before finally running out of steam against Marin Cilic. He played 24 sets over six matches – won five-setters against 11th-seeded Kevin Anderson and Nikoloz Basilashvili and four-setters against third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov and Andreas Seppi – to claim a maiden semi-final berth at a Grand Slam. Today he is ranked No. 26 in the world.
Caroline Wozniacki v Jana Fett
Down 3-6, 1-5, Wozniacki rallied to defeat Jana Fett in the second round, saving two match points along the way. She was untouchable from then on, and her reward was a first major trophy.
TEEN TO WATCH
The Ukrainian 15-year-old has moved up nearly 300 spots in the rankings thanks to her heroics in Melbourne, winning five matches from qualifying to the third round, becoming the youngest player in 21 years to make it that far at a Grand Slam.
The 21-year-old South Korean gave us some serious Novak Djokovic flashbacks as he conquered one opponent after the other on his way to a first Grand Slam semi-final. Three months ago, Chung was winning the Next Gen ATP Finals tournament. Today he is officially Now Gen. Special shout-outs to Kyle Edmund and Elise Mertens as well for their semi-final breakthroughs.
VILLAIN OF THE TOURNAMENT
While you would want to keep things strictly about tennis, in this age of social media, it’s hard to ignore someone’s publicly offensive views. Sandgren came under fire for his alt-right-leaning tweets (among other things), then deleted all his posts on Twitter, played the victim by blaming the media in a statement read during his press conference, then slowly started sending out apology tweets (that included excuses) a few days later. Note to Sandgren: The internet never forgets!
The American legend’s prowess in conducting on-court interviews keeps getting better and better. A perfect balance between keeping things light and hitting the key topics.
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