What could the 2016 Australian Open results mean for the rest of the year?
The 2016 Australian Open gave viewers an insight into what to expect from the sport. Here are some key takeaways.
Thrills and spills, shocks and surprises – the 2016 Australian Open had it in copious amounts. While the eventual champion on the men’s side was the tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, nobody envisaged Angelique Kerber to be the women’s champion. There were many other players who stood out during the fortnight.
If you missed out on any of the action, you need not worry! You can easily relive all the matches of the tournament on the Sony LIV website and App. You can find all the highlights, winning shots, key moments, interviews, and much more.
What can these results and performances indicate for the rest of the year? Here is an in-depth analysis:
The underdogs can dream
Angelique Kerber’s massive upset of Serena Williams is a momentous feat as it shows that the WTA is not ruled by just the World No. 1. For the sport’s perennial underdogs, her title win is a harbinger of hope and they can now look up to her as an inspiration.
The German’s journey from a self-doubting player to a Grand Slam champion is a lesson to learn for everybody. It will be interesting to see how she reacts to the tremendous expectations now and if anyone else is able to emulate Kerber’s outstanding achievement.
Serena’s 22 should be coming this year
Serena Williams might have faltered at the final hurdle, but she was clearly the most dominant player for the previous six rounds. The 21-time Major champion had pulled out of the Hopman Cup right before the Australian Open due to a knee inflammation. But she put to rest any doubt about her form by blasting through the next five rounds after a tough straight-set opener against Camila Giorgi at Melbourne.
It only took Kerber’s unshakeable self-belief and some sensational shotmaking to knock the American off her perch in the final. After ending up as the vanquished, Serena would be extra careful in the next three Slams.
Great Britain and Australia have a new hero
Move on Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt, Great Britain and Australia can now look up to their new heroes on the women’s side. Johanna Konta and Daria Gavrilova thrilled fans at Melbourne with their fabulous performances and reached the semi-finals and the fourth round respectively. Both Konta and Gavrilova had been rising fast last year and had some major scalps that included Halep and Sharapova. But this is the first time they advanced this far at a Major and would be keen to build on this.
Azarenka is slowly getting there
Granted she could not summon her best tennis against the eventual champion Kerber in the quarter-finals, but Victoria Azarenka did provide enough glimpses of her fiery competitive spirit throughout the Australian summer. Her title win at Brisbane – her first title since Cincinnati in August, 2013 – should be proof enough that the former World No. 1 is once again ready to reclaim her position inside the top 10.
At Melbourne Park, the two-time champion stormed through her first four rounds, dropping just 11 games. Despite crashing out, the signs have been encouraging and the Belarusian admitted later on: “I’ve shown good quality, way more consistent, physically much better. I need to assess a little bit what I can improve and keep moving direction forward.”
Radwanska has been able to back up her WTA Finals win
Mounting expectations after the biggest title win can prove to be a stumbling block for many players but not for Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole continued from where she left last year after her memorable triumph at the WTA Finals.
She brought that stellar form into the new year and ended the month of January with the Shenzen title and a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open. Since the 2015 US Open, the World No. 4 has amassed four titles and would like to carry on in the same vein.
Brighter days ahead for Bouchard
After enduring the worst of sophomore slumps last year, Eugenie Bouchard finally showed sparks of the player that she was in 2014. Armed with Thomas Hogstedt, the Canadian once again is looking aggressive and is not afraid to take her chances.
She has posted seven wins in total in January that includes a final appearance at Hobart. Unfortunately for Bouchard, she came up against the in-form Radwanska in the second round of the Australian Open where her run ended. The rest of the year definitely looks brighter for the 21-year-old.
Sharapova’s improved serve could be a weapon
Maria Sharapova had left her legion of fans worried after her withdrawal from the season-opener in Brisbane due to an arm injury. But the Russian obliterated all those anxieties by putting up a breathtaking serving display. She unleashed a WTA-leading 54 aces (tied with Serena) in her five matches at the Melbourne Park. Sharapova’s revamped serve could emerge a weapon for the rest of the season.
A ‘Santina Slam’ in sight
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are unstoppable! The Indo-Swiss juggernaut rolled on to their 36th victory in a row and their 12th title together since joining forces last March. That is an astonishing record!
Their exploits included conquering the Wimbledon and the US Open titles last year and with their third straight Major title at the Melbourne Park, they now stand just a French Open title away from completing a much-coveted Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam. Surely, they have already set their sights on it!
Big Four move on, there is only Big One
Novak Djokovic is currently the epitome of dominance. Not only that, he is consistently widening the gap between himself and the rest of the pack. Roger Federer was the only Big Four member who managed to compete well with him, but just for a set during his four-set subjugation to the World No. 1.
The only player throughout the tournament who was able to stretch the Serb to the fifth set was the 14th seed Gilles Simon in the fourth round. But that was partly because the top seed committed as many as 100 unforced errors which allowed Simon to come back.
There was no such stutter anymore as he made his progress in the second week. Clearly, Djokovic knows when to raise his level and that will definitely be his biggest strength as he pursues the Calendar Year Grand Slam this year.
Federer’s schedule goes for a toss after surgery
Roger Federer and injuries are rare! But unfortunately, the Swiss tore his meniscus a day after his semi-final loss and underwent an arthroscopic surgery on his knee after returning home. It would render him inactive for some time and he had to pull out of ATP Rotterdam and ATP Dubai, scheduled to take place this month. Federer hasn’t announced exactly when he will be back and his countless fans will be eager to see how he responds after the surgery.
Rafa has a lot to ponder
If a resurgent Rafael Nadal at the end of 2015 brought a lot of optimism to his fans, then his massive first-round exit at the Australian Open crushed all those hopes. The Spaniard began the season well, reaching the final at Doha and losing to Djokovic. Former semi-finalist and now 47th ranked Fernando Verdasco, with his sagging confidence, wasn’t expected to send Rafa out in the first round.
But that is exactly what the 14-time Major champion allowed as he let his compatriot back into the encounter after going 2 sets to one up. What unfolded in the fifth set was absolutely shocking for all the Rafa admirers as he lost six consecutive games after going 2-0 up. That should be a wake-up call for the Spaniard and make him understand that he does need some extra help.
Milos Raonic could be a force
Milos Raonic’s refurbished aggressive game could be a force for the rest of the year. His surprising commitment to the net paid rich dividends especially in his fourth-round upset of Stan Wawrinka. He served and volleyed 57 times in that match and his relentless charges threw the two-time Grand Slam champion completely off balance.
The Canadian’s effort at revamping his game is praiseworthy and his semi-final finish stands testimony to what a brilliant player he can be if he can remain fit. For the 25-year-old, his biggest challenge now is his fitness that played a big part in his five-set semi-final loss to Murray and robbed him of a chance to create history. Tennis enthusiasts would hope that the Brisbane winner can indeed play to his full potential for the remainder of the year.
Murray is consistent but doesn’t have enough firepower to win Slams
Andy Murray stayed the eternal bridesmaid at the Australian Open, ending up on the losing side as many as five times. Once again, the Scot’s inability to accelerate his shots and his lack of firepower at the crucial junctures plagued him as he slumped to his seventh loss in a Major final.
That is an area of concern if the Scot wants to add to his tally of two Slams. Nevertheless, Murray is good at combating the rest of the Tour as he showed in Australia. His patient returns in the face of an inspired opponent like Raonic in the semi-finals helped him claw his way back for a berth in the final. That is something he should definitely be proud of.
Catching up on Tennis action will not be difficult for fans this year. Sony LIV is the destination for LIVE Tennis as they plan to stream not only Australian Open but also majority of the ATP tournaments.