After two weeks of top-level tennis in extreme conditions, the first Grand Slam of the year is done and dusted with Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin reigning supreme in Melbourne.
Djokovic continued his dominance at the down under with an unprecedented eighth Australian Open title. At the same time, for Sofia Kenin, she became the youngest Australian Open winner on the WTA tour since Maria Sharapova won it in 2008.
However, their victories are not the only thing we learned from the tournament, so here’s Freshsports talking points from Australian Open.
Ageing Federer: He may have produced miraculous comebacks in games against John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, but age is finally catching up on Federer, and it showed in the Semi-final loss against Novak Djokovic.
After going through a five sets thriller against Tenny Sandgren, the Swiss legend picked up a groin injury which led to speculations he may pull out of the semi-final clash against Djokovic.
Although he managed to turn up, the manner of the defeat showed that the five sets took a toll on his body, and age is finally catching up with the great.
At the age of 38 years, it’s time for tennis fans to embrace the reality that 2020 may be the last year on tour for the Swiss maestro.
Djokovic Reigns Supreme: Before the tournament kicked off, the Serbian was the obvious favourite for the title, and he showed that as he won his eighth title at the Oz.
Djokovic’s recent win reinstate his status as the king of hard court tennis. The Serbian was in danger of losing his crown after going down two sets to one in the final against Thiem.
However, as he has always done in his career, the 32-year showed great resilience to win the last two sets. The win puts him just two grand slam shy of Nadal, and three of record-holder, Roger Federer.
And with his two rivals approaching the twilight of their careers, the Serbian looks well on course to hold the record for most grand slam wins.
Kenin’s Win Shows The Level Of WTA: While this is not to downplay Kenin’s achievement, but her win suggests the level of Women’s tennis is at its lowest. Her victory means the WTA have had 25 different singles champions at Grand Slams.
Number of different men's singles champions at the Grand Slams since start of 2006: 7
Number of different women's singles champions at the Grand Slams since start of 2006: 25
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 1, 2020
In contrast, there’ve been just seven different Grand Slam champions on the ATP tour. Although some will say it’s a good thing there are different winners on the WTA tour, it only shows the quality is poor on the WTA.
Aside from Serena Williams and Simona Halep, WTA players do not show the level of consistency associated with their male counterparts.
Unlucky Thiem: The Austrian was playing in his third grand slam final which shows he’s a level above his Next Gen peers. However, Thiem came up short against, and once again it’s against a member of the ‘Big Three’.
In his first two finals which came at Roland Garros, he had to battle against the greatest clay court player of all time in the person of Rafael Nadal.
I think he's so unlucky he's had to take out 2 of the big 3 twice to win a major no one has ever won a major beating 2 of the big 3, you need someone to take out one of them for u https://t.co/fo1e3AHLbA
— Arteta's Masterclass ⚽ (@Karev999) February 2, 2020
This time, he came up against the greatest hard court player of all time, and once again, he came up short. Thiem played brilliant tennis that knocked out Rafael Nadal, but beating two of the big three in a Grand Slam is one of the difficult things to do in this sport.
Only Stanislas Wawrinka has managed the feat en route to this three grand slam titles. While Thiem is likely to win the elusive Grand Slam title, he may need a little bit of luck to achieve it.
Next-Gen Edging Closer: The Big three have dominated for almost two decades with many questioning the mentality of the Next Generation players.
However, the last two slams showed that these new players are finally getting close to knocking the big three off their perch. Medvedev and Thiem’s performance at the US Open and Australian Open show that the Next Gen may finally crack the Grand Slam puzzle this year.