By Daniel Harris
This year’s Australian Open produced a wonderful display of tennis as new champions were born, an old legend reaffirmed his greatness, and multiple upsets breathed fresh life into the world of international tennis. To start, both the men’s and women’s draw ended with the crowning of two new champions. Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) won his very first major final and will jump to a career high ranking of three as a result. Li Na (China) won her first title at Australia’s premiere tournament to go along with her previous French Open triumph.
However, one cannot look past the major upsets which paved the way to victory for these new champions. The women’s draw saw the most surprising of upsets as Ana Ivanovic (Serbia), a former holder of the world number one title, bested Serena Williams (USA), the current title holder. Williams is regarded as one of the best women’s tennis players of all time and is a favorite in every tournament she enters. In addition, last year’s champion and world number two, Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) was upset by Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) in the quarterfinals, to the surprise of many.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic (Serbia), ranked number two in the world standings, saw his bid to win his fourth consecutive and fifth overall Australian Open title come to an early conclusion. The Australian Open has been by far Djokovic’s best tournament and his loss in the quarterfinals was initially seen as a significant upset. Arguably, Djokovic’s loss should not be as shocking given that the man who beat him, Stanislas Wawrinka, went on to win the title. Wawrinka played incredibly throughout the tournament and surprisingly beat Rafael Nadal (Spain), world number one, in the finals. Though Nadal injured his back early in the final, Wawrinka truly deserved his victory and will certainly be a player to watch for the rest of the season.
In addition to new champions, the Australian Open shed light on one the rising stars of the game, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. Bouchard beat Ivanovic on her way to the semifinals, her first in a major, before losing to eventual champion Li Na. At the young age of 19, Bouchard is now ranked 19th and indicates this is only the beginning for the next star of the women’s game.
Roger Federer (Switzerland), by his standards, had an abysmal 2013 as he failed to reach a major final. To date, Federer holds the most major titles of any male player, the most weeks ranked at number one, as well as a list of other records which could fill another article. By many, he is considered to be the greatest ever. Last year, at the age of 32, his performance indicated that he was in a sharp decline. However Federer added a new coach prior to the start of the 2013 Austalian Open who seems to have greatly improve his play. Even though he lost to his old nemesis, Rafael Nadal, Federer’s impressive performances over Jo Wilfried Tsonga (France) and Andy Murray (GBR) indicate that he may be on the rise again.
In conclusion, this year’s open set the tone for the 2014 tennis season by creating many mouth watering questions. Will Wawrinka prove that his lone major title was not a fluke? Will Roger Federer continue to move back towards the top and have we witnessed the emergence of the next great women’s player? Only time will tell. However, it appears that this 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best yet