The first week of Australian Open 2023 has gone already half way and it has been another seed-being-tossed-out-early year. Not limited to WTA but ATP has also been disastrous.
Hard core fans do not care about stuff like “lack of stars power” but for general fans, the lack of competitiveness will haunt the rest of the tournament. Tennis is always about match-up. One side can be the genius ground stroke big hitter but if the other side of the net is the greatest counter puncher of all time, you won’t necessary hit through. Mentally, technically, physically, there are so many factors that can make a good tennis match great. But the status of both WTA and ATP is that not many players can consistently deliver such.
Here’s a few that I genuinely enjoy so far.
Andy Murray the GOAT
Andy Murray version 2.0 (a.k.a. the metal hip era) has absolutely NO luck in draw at all. Sometimes you have to wonder if the draw is rigged. He always get a bad draw and that has really stalled his ranking even though it’s been up steadily, if you have to face a top 10 every first round, it sucks. The 1st round clash of Andy Murray and Mattel Berrittini (13) was deemed to be tough.
Remember the haunted moments of Australian Open throwing a retirement party for Andy Murray in 2019 and he went on to get the metal hip and evolved to a version 2.0 that is still in the making. He is limping at times but whenever he runs on the court to save some acute shots, he shouts inspiring tennis from head to toe.
Everyone loves a great come back story but the way Andy Murray 2.0 outshine is that it’s been so difficult. He could play one exceptionally good match then subsequently destroyed by the physicality in the next. Like a good movie, you can’t help but to cheer for.
The scene when he won Antwerp 2019 is unforgettable. The circumstance being his first title playing with a metal hip, from that high profile being retired scene at Australian Open, made that come back rare.
5hr45mins of highest quality tennis: Andy Murray vs Thanasi Kokkinakis
It was a battle between two exceptional athletes who both suffered from almost career ending injuries. Kokkinakis’ forehand, serve were at such an insane level that he truly deserved to advance. But when one great meets another, madness happens. They produced a show that lasted almost 6 hours (finishing at Melbourne Local time 4am which is absurd).
None of them gave in. They raised their levels again and again so it was a fascinated contest with both playing well at the same time for most of the course of the match.
How can they still be running with such agile footwork going into the n-th hour of the match? It is unfathomable. This crazy point by Sir Andy at 3rd set 0-2 down on Kokkinakis serve at break point showcases what the greats are being made of. It’s resilience. He is really shouting “I got this metal hip and trained crazily hard for this moment”. If you love something, all of the hardship are worth it.
Symbolically, Sir Andy’s 3rd round opponent will be Bautista Agut, who he lost to 4 years ago at the Australian Open 2019 before that horrific retirement “ceremony”.
Nishioka into 4th round of a slam for the 1st time
西岡良仁 Nishioka Yoshihito has quietly risen as the Japan no.1 as Nishikori seems to be postponing his come back from all sorts of horrible injury. 2022 probably marked his most monumental rise - reaching to the final to Citi Open (ATP 500) by beating Brooksby, de Minaur, Khachanov, Evans, Rublev(!) but eventually losing to Kyrgios 🥲. Then he went into a slump BUT then he picked Seoul (250) by beating Shapovalov, Evans(again) and Ruud along the way. The heavy spin, and acute angles he could work with are golds, but his mobility is what makes a match difficult against him. You can’t hit pass him, and as the court speed is generally getting slower - he gets more chances to eat aggressive player up.
Going to face Khachanov in the 4th! 🤞🏻
Seeds bowing out including Medvedev 🥲
Apparently the Netflix curse is real. None of them except one - Felix, managed to move into 2nd week. But this is just a urban myth. ATP side is the worst in recent years. Before the tournament, Alcaraz (world number 1) withdrew due to injury.
So by seed:
Nadal 🥲 lost to McDonald (2nd round) - Injured
Ruud: out to Brooksby (2nd round)
Tsitsipas: still in
Djokovic: still in
Rublev: still in
Auger-Aliassime: still in
Medvedev: out to Korda 3rd round
Fritz: out to Popyrin 2nd round (An absolutely inspiring match)
was fingercrossing on the line-up of the men semi match ticket we bought would feature Medvedev 🥲 well…next time maybe.