We’re done and dusted Down Under, and as expected the tournament didn’t suffer one iota from the absence of Novak Djokovic, instead we had alot of feel-good stories and some telling indicators of what the 2022 season could have in store.
Rafa reigns alone with 21 after inhuman effort
Okay, so this received several re-writes over the course of the morning. I had all but finished a much longer, much more committed summary already today, such was the look and feel of the match after 2 sets. Of that now you are spared.
That second set being oh so critical, it seemed after a fortnight of Nadal wilting come the third that he would be without an answer today either. But this is no ordinary human being, this is the now most successful male player of all time in the majors. And it is performances like his today that we should remember and savour again and again.
Collins fails to gatecrash the inevitable Barty Party
I say inevitable in the sub-title here, because in Ash Barty we have potentially the first player since the Williams’ and the Belgian’s who could dominate things for a while. Simona and certainly Osaka have threatened to do the same, but neither have captured a major on all three of the hallowed surfaces. The likeable Australian – still only 25 – has joined Serena now as the only other active player on tour to have done exactly that.
All tournament Barty had swept aside her opponents, including those with genuine pedigree and/or significant purple-patch form this year so far: I’m thinking Anisimova and Keys here, both dismissed with little fuss. Despite her trademark grit and obvious game, Danielle Collins – the 27th seed here – was not expected to disrupt that narrative. And yet had she found her signature flame and flair sooner, things may well have been different; so easy to forget that Barty was down 5-1 in that second set.
It was to be short lived however, Collins did all that she could and did not disgrace herself at all in her first major final. Barty just got herself together, regained her own wandering fire, and showed us just why she could cement a long-overdue large chapter for Australian tennis once again.
Special K: Cereal Jokesters to become Serial Winners?
A small note here for another very relevant story in this Australian Open and for Aussie tennis overall. After Ash’s success there was to be guaranteed homegrown happiness again in the men’s doubles final, but one team shone the brightest, and the loudest all week.
I count myself as a tennis purist, a lover of the traditions and standards of the sport from yesteryear. Some similarly-minded pundits have bemoaned Kokkinakis and Kyrgios’ almost ardent attempts to upset this with every chest bump and bromancy exchange and interview. But i think this all fits rather nicely, both in what the modern tennis player should reflect sometimes, and especially in the most informal of the majors, beer and boomerangs over champagne and strawberries any day Down Under.
Kyrgios especially is increasingly maligned amongst the authorities and experts, so proven again yesterday in the Eurosport ‘Cube’ where Henman, Wilander and Babs Schett were asked a little clumsily if this Doubles success will now springboard Kyrgios to shine in Singles. The answers were either a resounding, dismissve ‘no’ or – worse – an almost indifferent shrug of the shoulders. Kokkinakis, younger and plagued by injury was offered a more charitable future at least.
Anyway, whether this does prove to be a short-lived highlight of two prodigious underachievers, they will forever be remembered for their significant victory, with it having to fall on the same court on the same day as Barty’s own heroics.
Images from The Telegraph and Guardian websites