For any Tennis fan, winter means only one thing: the Australian Open. We end up waiting from September for this tournament and then change our entire work schedules to watch matches.
The Australian Open began last week and there have already been enough upsets, shocks and thrillers for the tennis fan to be reduced to a nail-biting, heartbroken wretch.
Look at the results of the last week. Ana Ivanovic? Lost. Gael Monfils? Out. Marcos Baghdatis? Out. Caroline Wozniacki? Out. And the biggest one of them all: Roger Federer. Defeated in the 3rd round.
THE FEDERER FAN’S DILEMMA:
It is at this point that I’d like to add that the first Grand Slam I remember following vividly was Wimbledon 2003. Needless to say, I have been a Roger Federer fan since then and the 3rd and 4th round defeats, getting more and more frequent everyday, hurt more than I want to express. Federer lost this time in the 3rd round to Andreas Seppi in 4 sets.
He’d been playing pretty decently towards the end of last year, when he reached the finals of the ATP World Tour, but had to withdraw from the finals, due to a back injury. Against Seppi too, he actually won more points than his opponent, but also hit 9 double faults and more than 50 unforced errors, which, if you’re used to Federer playing, is gasping-for-breath shocking. It’s too early in the year to predict his clay and grass court performances but I’m hardening my heart and my emotions and preparing myself for the outcome of this year, even though the fan in me refuses to give up hope.
(Federer, with Seppi, after the match)
Going back to the Open, at the time of writing, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Sharapova and Serena are all still in the running for the Championship, balancing the scale in the favour of the seeded and the expected candidates. (Dmitrov did lose to Murray though, a little while back, just as I had finally decided on who to support after Federer crashed, so the all-important question is currently answerless. Again.)
The tournament is not without its fair share of controversies and drama, with the schedule being criticised by the players themselves. From the media questions, fitness of top players is becoming less of a worry as Nadal who is recovering from injury has reached the Quarters and Murray, after defeating Dmitrov in the epic battle, declared that he had improved physically and that this was the best form he has been in, since his back surgery in 2013.
THE INDIAN ANGLE:
In a bad week for the Indians, Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna all crashed out of the Women’s and Men’s, respectively, doubles championship, while Mahesh Bhupathi had lost much earlier. Sania, along with her partner Bruno Soares of Brazil, is still in the mixed doubles draw, as is Paes who is partnering Martina Hingis, keeping alive Indian hopes of some sort in an otherwise terrible Indian sporting summer in Australia, and not just for the tennis players.
(Mirza and Soares at the Australian Open)
THE YOUNG AND THE EXCITING:
At this point, we’re halfway through the Open and as pulse rates and heartbeats shoot up for the final stages, we’d like to recommend some players to watch out for.
1. Eugenie Bouchard, from Canada, who takes on Maria Sharapova tomorrow, in their Quarter final match: known for her aggressive spirit and never-say-die attitude, Bouchard is often seen as the “next Sharapova” in the circuit. Her 4th round match against Irina-Camelia Begu, which went on for 3 sets, ending 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, remains one of the highlights of the tournament so far, with Bouchard coming out on top after losing 5 games straight in the 2nd set.
(Bouchard, at her post-match conference after winning her 3rd round match)
2. In the men’s draw, Nick Krygios, faces Andy Murray in the Quarters. The only male Australian in the draw, Krygios, played some amazing tennis the other day against Andreas Seppi, whom he defeated in a 5-set thriller.
(Krygios at a match in the Australian Open)
I’m not going to play fortune-teller and start predicting champions for the Finals this weekend but I will say that the Australian Open promises to be exciting, challenging, and a lot of fun. There’s a bunch of super-talented youngsters in the business- let’s wait for a surprise victory, for it’s always exhilarating to see the rise of a champion.
All eyes on Australia for the next week, okay, next 2 months, guys (Cricket World Cup is coming)! Get those alarm clocks and the coffee mugs ready. We’re promised sports like never before!
By Shreemayee Das