With all the uncertainty leading to the Australian Open and whether it would held as per schedule, or held at all (given the bushfire situation), not only did we have a complete grand slam, but we had one that left us with memories to cherish for a while to come. As we look back at the first major of the decade, it leaves us with many highlights and ‘WOW’ moments. TWL attempts to look at some winners and losers in the men’s and section over this last fortnight.
The ATP Winners
It was another successful start to the season for the now ’17-time’ Grand Slam winner , who also returns to being world number one. Djokovic looked in prime form through the month of January, leading Serbia to an inaugural ATP cup victory, and then winning his record extending 8th Australian Open mens’ singles title
Djokovic played 13 singles matches across the ATP Cup and the Australian Open, remaining undefeated
The Serb was down 2 sets to 1, putting himself in an unprecedented position in a slam final Down Under against Austrian Dominic Thiem, but recovered to win in five sets, further evidencing his greatness.
Branded as a clay court specialist, the Austrian has proven his abilities on the hard court increasingly with wins at Indian Wells and Beijing last year, followed by being runner-up at the Tour Finals and now an Australian Open finalist
After an indifferent ATP Cup and being pushed to five sets by little known Aussie Alex Bolt in the second round, Thiem recorded wins against Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev before falling short of the title in a five-set finale against Djokovic
Being up 2 sets to 1 against Djokovic at the Rod Laver Arena is not something that most have tasted, and although he was unable to secure a win, Thiem is among the top three players in the world today and very close to securing his first major now
Earmarked as the obvious successor to the ‘Big Three’ in 2017, Zverev got off to a strong start with three Masters 1000s and winning the Tour Finals in 2018.
However, the German has been a no-show in majors, and had a challenging 2019 where he won only one tournament (ATP 250) amidst a season plagued by on and off court issues, disappointing form and early losses.
Zverev made a good comeback at the Tour Finals in London and after a dismal ATP Cup, looked clinical in Melbourne with a first ever semi-final appearance at a major with a valiant loss to Dominic Thiem.
The ATP Losers
After his semi-final run in Melbourne last year defeating Roger Federer on the way, much was expected from the ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas
Being in the same quarter of the draw as Djokovic, he was tipped to be the biggest threat to the Serb
However, after a second round bye, it was a humiliating loss in the third round to big serving Raonic that put an end to the Greek’s run at Melbourne Park.
The young Canadian broke onto the scene in 2017 at the Rogers Cup in Canada
What followed though was a season and a half of looking strong but being unable to convert the results.
With Mikhail Youzhny on his coaching team, Shapovalov turned around his career winning his first tournament last Fall in Stockholm, was a finalist at the Paris Masters, had a strong Davis Cup and ATP Cup and moved up to world number 13
Coming in with a lot of expectation at the Australian Open, it was disappointing to see a first round exit against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
Medvedev started at the tournament as the favorite behind the top two players in the world, i.e. Nadal and Djokovic
After a stellar run in the second half of 2019, and an impressive US Open final and ATP Cup right before the Australian Open, one wondered if we may well see a new slam winner Down Under
After being up 2 sets to 1 in his fourth round encounter against veteran Stan Wawrinka, it was a disappointing loss for the young Russian who is now 0-6 in fifth sets.
Once ranked number three in the world, it was a disappointing last season and a half for Milos Raonic with injuries, withdrawals, poor form, and upsets
Raonic was sidelined by upcoming Canadian stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime by their achievements on the tour, and involvement in the Davis Cup and ATP Cup for Canada
The Canadian put up a stellar performance in Melbourne, being a quarter-finalist defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Milos Raonic among others en route, without dropping serve or a set before he was defeated by ultimate champion Novak Djokovic
Bodes well for Raonic who one hopes has a good season ahead of him now.