2021 Tennis Highlights: Djokovic, Raducanu & Return of Murray

Photo Credit: hansmarkutt from Pixabay

2021 has been a great year for the sport of tennis. The action kicked off in January in Melbourne, when the Australian Open was held between the 8th and 21st of February.

In the men’s tournament, Novak Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in the final, easing to a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory. This marked Djokovic’s third consecutive victory at the Australian Open, and his ninth title overall in Melbourne. In the women’s tournament, Naomi Osaka was victorious against Jennifer Brady, winning the final 6-4, 6-3. It was Osaka’s second Australian Open title, and her fourth major slam overall.

The next big competition was the French Open, a tournament played on clay courts. Again, Djokovic won the final, this time beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling match that went to five sets.

The Serbian lost the first two sets, before rallying to win the third, fourth and fifth, and lifted the second French Open title of his career. The women’s French Open was won by Barbora Krejcikova, who made it past Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, to claim her second title at Roland Garros.

Wimbledon is the most-watched tennis tournament in the world, and it was able to go ahead this year after being postponed in 2020. Even better was that crowds were welcomed back in, as the English government used the tournament as a test event for social distancing protocols.

The Australian player Ashleigh Barty won the women’s final, beating Karolina Hrdlickova in three sets, to win her first major slam. Over in the men’s game, it was no surprise to see Djokovic win once again, this time beating the Italian Matteo Berrettini in four sets. This meant that Djokovic was now on for the Grand Slam, winning all four major events in the same calendar year.

This is a feat few have achieved, and something even his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafal Nadal hadn’t managed.

Predictably, Djokovic made it to the final of the U.S. Open and was the favourite to beat Medvedev. The crowd were behind him and seemed to really take against his Russian opponent.

If fans were watching at home, all their apps would have suggested the sports betting odds were firmly in Djokovic’s favour. However, in what was a huge upset, Medvedev won the game in straight sets, and Djokovic’s dreams of the Grand Slam was over.

Most remarkable performance in history?

In any other year, this would have been the main talking point and top news in the world of tennis. However, what happened in the women’s game was even more extraordinary.

18-year-old Emma Radacanu was ranked so low that she only made it to the first round having gone through the preliminary qualifiers. From there, she kept on winning, and made it all the way to the final, to face the Canadian player Leylah Fernandez.

Raducanu won in straight sets and achieved victory without dropping a single set in the whole tournament. She became the first player to win a major slam having gone through the qualifiers in the Open era, which began in 1968. It was truly amazing to watch.

While there are no more major tournaments this year, 2021 still has plenty of other interesting tournaments to come, and in the last few days alone we have seen several news stories come out of the world of tennis.

Murray getting back to his best

Scottish player Andy Murray was at one stage the world #1 ranked player, ahead of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. He won the U.S. Open in 2012, then was the first British man to win Wimbledon in almost 80 years. He won the competition twice, first in 2013 and then in 2016.

At that point, it seemed obvious he would go on to win many more majors, but he has had persistent injury problems, that have forced him to miss a lot of tennis.

Despite numerous setbacks, Murray persevered and made a comeback at the 2021 U.S. Open, where he made it to the second round before being knocked out. While it wasn’t a great performance, he certainly seemed to be moving around the court again, relatively pain-free.

He has recently been taking part in the Indian Wells Masters, held in California. He made it to the fourth round, before losing to the U.S. Champion Medvedev.

Raducanu falls at the first hurdle

Given her stunning performance at Flushing Meadows, all eyes were on Raducanu in her first match back after the stunning final. She was ranked as the 17th seed and took on Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Indian Wells. She could not capture the same magic that made her a star, and was convincingly beaten 6-2, 6-4.

Given the pressure she was under, it should come as no surprise that she struggled so badly here. In a few months, once the focus has moved away from her, we predict Raducanu to find form again and perform strongly at another top tennis tournament.

About Suneer Chowdhary 937 Articles
Suneer is a Mumbai-based freelance sports journalist with a special affinity towards cricket and tennis. He has also covered six ICC tournaments including Cricket World Cups and Champions Trophy.