This year, the Australian Open took place from January 20 to February 2. Amidst the fires that raged throughout the country, the popular Grand Slam prevailed with exciting upsets and close matches that entertained tennis fans around the globe.
The men’s championships saw favorite Novak Djokovic secure a tight 5 set victory over 26-year-old Dominic Thiem with a score of 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic’s victory came after a string of 3 set victories against some famous adversaries, including Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic, and world No. 3 Roger Federer, who Djokovic defeated in the semifinals. Thiem similarly faced many worthy opponents such as Gael Monfils, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal who he beat in the quarterfinals, and his close friend Alexander Zverev of Germany. As Djokovic’s 8th Australian Open Title and 17th Grand Slam, this win makes tennis fans wonder if the world No. 1 can catch up to friendly rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have 19 and 20 slams respectively.
The women’s singles bracket saw even more action as upsets were pulled all throughout the tournament. World No 1. Ashleigh Barty was knocked out of the semifinals on her home courts by the 21-year-old American prodigy Sofia Kenin in an unexpectedly tough two sets. Kenin won against the rising teen American star Coco Gauff 6-7 6-3 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. Serena Williams, a favorite for this year’s championship, was ousted by Wang Qiang of China in a close 6-4 6-7 7-5 match, putting Wang in the fourth round. Simona Halep of Romania, No. 4 in the world, was also expected to make it to the finals, but she was unseated by former No. 1 Garbiñe Muguruza, a constant contender in Grand Slams and a winner of two Slams so far. Muguruza and Kenin went a full three sets in the championship round, and although she narrowly won the first set 6-4, Muguruza lost the second two sets to Kenin 2-6, 2-6, giving Kenin her first-ever Grand Slam tournament title.
Due to the ongoing fires in Australia, top tennis players gathered to play exhibition matches at the Rod Laver Arena as part of the Australian Open Rally for Relief with the money from tickets donated to the bushfire relief cause. Among these athletes were native Australian Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, John Millman, and Samantha Stosur, as well as global players like Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, and more. Tennis Australia, the governing organization for tennis in the country, committed to donating $1 million for tennis facilities and courts destroyed by the fires. They worked with players and decided to donate hundreds of dollars for every ace served during their time in Australia while everyday tennis fans could donate through an online site for their own aces as well. With the world watching both the action happening on the courts and in the Australian wilderness, this year’s Australian Open surely meets expectations of a dramatic and thrilling start to the year’s tennis tournaments.
By Jessica Jiang