It’s possible you’re still reeling from the Australian Open men’s final. Sure, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal may have been the ones playing a physically grueling, nearly six hour final, but never underestimate how exhausting it is for the fans. For many fans the Australian Open means two weeks of sleepless nights and struggling to stay awake through normal daily activities. Dedicated fans of Nadal, Djokovic, and TENNIS, spent those six hours frazzling away in a sleep deprived delirium that will undoubtedly take weeks to recover from. It may be hard to look past Sunday’s events but there are many interesting take aways from the season’s first major.
Novak Djokovic can back up his 2011 results. It’s too early to tell if 2012 will yield the same amazing results as 2011 did for the world No. 1. It’s tough to think of many ways that 2012 could beat 2011 for the Serb. He won his second major title, and third, and fourth… He broke through to become the No. 1 player in the world and amassed an impressive 70-6 record for the year. A breakthrough year like that usually comes with an inevitable let down, yet Novak Djokovic certainly did not disappoint at the Australian Open. He did not sail through the draw as he did last year, but fought his way to a third title in Melbourne. This bodes well for his chances of maintaining his results this season.
Things are looking up for Andy Murray. It’s odd to say that Andy Murray’s performance in Melbourne was better than last year. He lost in the semifinals this year, while he made it through to the finals for the past two years. However, his level of play against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals was promising. He came into that match looking for the win and even when he was down in the fifth set, he kept his cool and came back to level the match. Win or lose, these days extending a match against Novak Djokovic to five sets is an accomplishment. Had things gone the slightest bit differently in that fifth set, it would have changed the outcome of the tournament.
Victoria Azarenka issued a statement to the WTA. How many times over the past year or two have you looked at the women’s draw at a Slam and seen that one top player has a clear run straight to the finals, only to watch them lose to some 18 year old you’ve never heard of in the second round? That is the inconsistency of the WTA these days. Azarenka took full advantage of the draw she was given. She didn’t hesitate. Perhaps most impressively, she kept her cool in her first major final, against a more experienced opponent, with the No. 1 ranking on the line.
Lleyton Hewitt’s not quite done yet. The two time grand slam champion hasn’t played much tennis over the last year due to injuries. Nearing his 31st birthday, many players would be considering retirement if they were in Hewitt’s shoes, but Hewitt has remained adamant that he will continue to play. He backed up his decision with an exciting four set, fourth round showdown on Rod Laver Arena with eventual champion Novak Djokovic. He may not be the slam favorite he was ten years ago, but Hewitt’s fighting spirit still makes for some very exciting tennis matches.
Maria Sharapova still has what it takes to win a major. The final was a blowout. There’s no denying it, but the way Sharapova played leading up to the final was very telling. She was confident even though she was presented with a draw including Gisela Dulko, Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, and Petra Kvitova. Now No. 3 in the world, it looks like Sharapova could add another trophy to her collection under the right circumstances.