We are in week one of the first major of the year. The defending men’s champion is out, removed from the draw (and the country) by Australia’s Immigration Minister. The defending women’s champion is out, knocked out by a reborn 20-year-old American. Rafa Nadal is 12 sets away from becoming the all-time major singles winner. Ash Barty is eight sets away from becoming the first Australian since the 1970s to win the singles title. We’ve got a serve-and-volley dervish, an American male standout, a resurgent Simona Halep and a second-seeded who may lead the field in double faults but still win. Tennis goes to tennis.
Below are our Australian Open 2022 mid-term qualifications:
Amanda Anisimova: A Week Two player in Melbourne three years ago at 17, she retired after a family tragedy. She has come back in the best way, knocking out Naomi Osaka, hitting the ball, serving better than ever, looking like a future Grand Slam champion… and smiling.
Rafael Nadal: There is an outrageously hidden story here: a player is 12 sets away from becoming the all-time winner in the men’s division. And French is next. How the plot twists; how the plot thickens
Ash Barty: It has been over 40 years since an Australian has won. If the top seed continues at this level, it will end on Saturday. As of this writing, he has played 57 games without breaking serve and has dropped eight games in his first three assignments.
Max Cressy: He just keeps going.
Men’s Favorites: Daniil Medvedev (previous major winner) and Alexander Zverev are yet to be touched.
Madison arrived: Keys is sailing into the fourth round. Australian wild card (Maddison – two Ds) Inglis made it to the third round. Delaware’s Brengle won the craziest game of the year.
Taylor Fritz: Establishing himself as the well-defined American man.
WTA: There’s been a lot of bad news for tennis lately – the Djokovic debacle, the American TV coverage debacle – but thanks to Malcolm Gladwell for reminding the world about is. And by the way: #WhereIsPengShuai?
Sam Stosur: He closed out a race, a singles race, anyway, with a good win and a spirited loss. Next stop: the International Tennis Hall of Fame?
Nick Kyrgios / Thanasi Kokkinakis: The Australian teammates eliminated top-seeded doubles Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
Chris Evert: The expression “Never meet your heroes”? She chips that. As cool and nice and normal as you suspect him to be. Wish him the best.
Netflix project: Another story overshadowed by L’Affaire Djokovic. If the WTA and ATP are not merging per se, they are working together like never before, realizing that a sport where men and women play simultaneously and seek the same foundation is a true asset.
Emma Raducanu: He fell in the second round to Danka Kovinic, a loss largely attributable to a blister on his hand. But she beat another former US champion in the first round in Sloane Stephens and leaves in a better place than she came in.
Naomi Osaka: The last time he lost in a major, he was terribly unhappy. This time, she bravely competed and came out full of perspective and self-control.
AndyMurray: He eliminated a top seed in the first round (Nikoloz Basilashvili) but came out meekly against under-100 Taro Daniel in his next match.
Thanasi Kokkinakis in singles: Already a candidate for story of the year, the beloved and often injured Australian win his first title in Adelaide… and then, 36 hours later and out of reserves, he loses in the first round to a qualifier.
Teresa Martincova: He fell in the second round. but if there is a Best Tennis Body Art Division, we have a winner.
Nick Kyrgios in singles: The embodiment of the sports cliché “it is what it is”. He is undeniably talented and entertaining. But until/unless he commits more fully, he’s unable to make a dent as an unseeded player in a best-of-five event.
Novak Djokovic: Lots of thresholds to blame for this mess, but it starts with him and ends with him. One wonders, indeed, if he has any idea how he is perceived in general terms. Or if you’re so surrounded by lackeys, loyalists, and social media bots that you think you’re still a fair seeker. Here’s some pep talk: Get the damn vaccine and get back to the business of winning Majors. You are too good, and have done too well, to is.
Garbiñe Muguruza: The winner of two majors and the 2021 WTA Finals barely put up a fight – that is, she didn’t reach a single break point – in a disconcertingly vacant loss to Alize Cornet.
Dayana Yastremska: She lost her first match to Madison Brengle 6-1, 0-6, 5-0. Sorry, I have to finish that.
TV coverage in the US: The definition of an unforced error. And this is mainly in Tennis Australia for the cash capture. One can only hope this is corrected in 2022. There is no better way to end a sport than to make it difficult, if not impossible, for fans to find.
Here’s a statement from ESPN about the coverage that has frustrated many of you:
Latest [Wednesday] night, a combination of factors made certain games unavailable on ESPN+. One of those matches, Fritz vs. Tiafoe, should have been covered live in its entirety on one of our platforms. We have addressed the issue and our plan is to ensure that all matches are available live in the future. The combination of ESPN+ and our networks, including ESPN3, increases our ability to offer comprehensive coverage of Major League Tennis and bring more tennis to fans.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.