Just eight men and eight women remain in contention for the coveted singles trophies at the Australian Open. Before looking ahead to the second week. I want to look back at week one. Here are 4 major storylines that will impact the rest of the season.
- Age finally catching up to Federer?-My pick to win the men’s title is the only one of the top 8 seeds to not reach the quarterfinals. He lost to Italian veteran unseededAndreas Seppi in the 3rd round. Every tennis fan admires the beauty with which Roger Federer plays this game. However, he is 33 now, and father time is undefeated. Seppi played a fantastic match, but the story was/is Federer. That is the first time I can ever remember thinking that he looked old and slow on a tennis court. It would be foolish to write him off completely, but I can’t see him adding to his record 17 majors anywhere outside of the lightning quick grass courts at Wimbledon. He has started coming to net more, which will lengthen his career a bit. Unfortunately, the sad reality is we should all enjoy watching him play while we can, because he is on about the 17th or 18th hole of his illustrious career.
- The Azarenka rebuild won’t take as long as most think-Victoria Azarenka won the Aussie Open in 2012 and 2013. Yet, she came into this event unseeded after a year of injuries and bad losses. Her return has always been rock solid. However, it was her good movement and serving that helped her notch wins over Slone Stephens and 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki. These have been question marks for the Belarusian these last 12 months. She fell in the round of 16 to the small but mighty 11 seed Dominika Cibulkova. Great players are never happy to lose, but her performance down under is certainly something for her to build on.
- Generation Next is finally here- We have had a few young guns pop up and challenge the old guard at majors over the last few years. Genie Bouchard reached the final weekend of 3 out of 4 majors last year and Marin Cilic came from nowhere to win the U.S. Open on the men’s side last year. However, the young guns had yet to hijack a single event and wreck the draw. One man and one woman are doing just that In Melbourne. American Madison Keys has used her massive serve and booming groundstrokes to upset 2 seeds in the ladies draw, including my projected finalist, 3 seed Petra Kvitova. Keys has a real shot in the QFs against a resurgent Venus Williams tomorrow. Now being coached by Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport. It is a question of “when” not “if” for this young American. On the men’s side, home crowd favorite Aussie Nick Kyrgios has electrified the men’s draw with his big serve and somewhat cocky attitude. He was the main beneficiary of Federer’s misfortune. His run will likely end tonight vs. Andy Murray, but this kid is the real deal.
- Looking ahead- On the women’s side, Serena and Maria Sharapova are the only ones getting talked about. They cannot meet until the final. However, Serena’s big sister Venus, Madison Keys, Maria’s opponent tonight Genie Bouchard (the discount version of Maria), and maybe even unassuming Romanian Simona Halep all have something to say about that. If they do play, I give Sharapova a real shot to knockoff Serena for the first time in 11 years. I picked Maria before the event, why change now? The men are tougher to handicap. With 7 of the top 8 seeds through to the QFs, There is no clear favorite. I am shocked at how little defending champion Stan Wawrinka is being talked about. There’s always the trio of Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray, I really like the way Murray is playing,
Thanks for reading as always. With school back in full swing, I cannot promise anything. However, my goal is to preview both the semis and finals on both sides, as well as the Super Bowl later this week.