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Australian Open 2019

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Post by MrInvisible Thu 10 Jan 2019, 1:36 pm

First topic message reminder :

Thought it was time to set up a dedicated thread for the Australian Open.  Federer is in same half as Nadal and Cilic whilst Djokovic has Zverev in his half and could face Tsonga in 2nd round, Shapovalov in 3rd round and Medvedev in 4th round, so will get some decent early tests.  

Some real tough draws for the Brits, with Murray up against Bautista Agut and Edmund's reward for his progress up the rankings is a 1st round encounter with Berdych.  Konta will play an opponent who beat her in Brisbane last week, though Norrie will play Fritz who he beat this week in Sydney.  

Raonic v Kyrgios looks like one of the picks of the 1st round, with Thiem also in same quarter, and fingers crossed for Dan Evans, still going strong in the qualifiers currently.

Out of the young guns I'm expecting Coric to go the furthest - he's got quite a nice draw.


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Post by sirfredperry Sun 27 Jan 2019, 12:09 pm

Shivfan - Still can't quite get over what a hammering this was for Rafa today. As has been pointed out it was his worst GS final defeat. Heaven knows, he's handed out enough annihilations himself (think merely of Rog in the 2008 French!).

But I think a number of us were expecting a long, possibly-epic match. Almost an anti-climactic feeling now.


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Post by lags72 Sun 27 Jan 2019, 12:12 pm

No name Bertie wrote:All good points lags72 except it is in the slams that everyone especially the all time greats step up (I remember Federer's warning to Murray upon reaching I think an AO final against him).  But it seems it is Tsitsipas that has shown himself to be potentially vying for grand slams in the not too distant future.

.... the all-time greats step up .... ?? Of course they do ! Federer has “stepped up” countless times in his career. But even with his unique talents, he cannot do so forever. Federer is still competing at least - and at an age several years beyond that at which virtually all previous ATG’s had long since called it a day.

Federer’s personal tennis legacy, and place in the sport, is more than secure - regardless of what achievements others may yet accrue in comparison to his own.

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Post by laverfan Sun 27 Jan 2019, 12:39 pm

Djokovic played a nice, clean match and did not allow Nadal to play comfortably. Congratulations to Djokovic on AO #7.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 27 Jan 2019, 1:40 pm

Just how long will Djoko stay at number one? Later on he'll have to defend his Wimbledon and USO titles. But he had a very poor run in the first half of last year, so will have few points to defend.

His nearest challenger is Rafa, who has to match his, usual, vast haul of clay-court match points. It's conceivable that Djoko will eventually pass Fed's total-weeks-at-number-one record of 310 weeks.

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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 27 Jan 2019, 1:44 pm

Phenomenal from Djokovic. If I had to venture a guess I'd imagine this wasn't quite a 100 percent Nadal, given his layoff, the fact it was on a hard court and his age - but I'd say he was probably not far off the best level he could hope to achieve under those circumstances, yet he was swatted with absolute contempt. Nothing more Nadal could have done against this version of Djokovic in any case, mind you; aside from fleeting moments in the summers of 2010 and 2013, Novak has pretty much always had the advantage on hard.

Absolutely crazy to think that Federer, on TWENTY (!) Slams, still might not be safe, and even crazier that his mark is under threat from two of his contemporaries. I've almost given up trying to predict who, out of three, will end up with the Slam record, because it's ebbed and flowed so much over the past decade: at times Roger's looked safe (2009-10, perhaps 2012, and certainly 2017-18); now and then Rafa has looked as if he has the potential to gallop past whatever total Federer sets (2010, 2013-14); while in 2016 and again now it looks as if Djokovic could outdo the pair of them. For all we know, that particular dynamic could change again, although I don't expect Federer to win any more Slams.

But if Djokovic were to go on to win Roland Garros in June, and if he did this by beating Nadal in the final, thus completing a second Grand Slam (the fact that it wasn't done within a calendar year doesn't take any shine off, for me), I think I'd have to put him top of the pile and say that he's the greatest men's singles player of all time, even if Rafa and Roger were still ahead of him in the overall Slam stakes as things stood.

Still a way to go until Roland Garros, though, and Nadal still has to be the favourite as of right now. Unless his pre-Paris clay season features some very surprising losses, I don't think that will change.
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Post by sirfredperry Sun 27 Jan 2019, 3:55 pm

Just seen highlights of the final. Djoko was tremendous, firing off winners from all over the court. Rafa looked a little flat, but if he had taken that BP in the third set and taken it to a fourth, who knows what might have happened.

As it was, he was totally outplayed in a way that he has never been in a GS final. You could say that Rafa exceeded expectations by getting to the final following a lay off since last autumn. But this was a crushing defeat. But be sure he'll bounce back during the clay-court season.

As for Djoko, surely more triumphs await. Still to early to say who is going to end up as the GOAT.

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Post by Atila Sun 27 Jan 2019, 7:36 pm

Well done Djoko. Congratulations on your win.

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Post by MrInvisible Sun 27 Jan 2019, 10:53 pm

So, the 1st slam of the year is over and for us tennis fans, we now have that tough long break without any slam tennis over the next few months. On the whole its been an enjoyable tournament. Good performances from Dan Evans and Katie Boulter aside, not a great start for British tennis fans, with the early loss for Edmund and the sad realisation that the end of Murray's career is nigh.

For me, the highlights of this year's Aus Open included the 1st week heroics of Nishikori and Bautista Agut, the whole women's tournament, which has managed that happy combination of unpredictability, and quality, culminating in a v enjoyable demonstration of no-nonsense power-hitting in the final, the thrilling breakthrough of Tsitsipas and the levels that Djokovic and Nadal both played at en-route to the final (though sadly not at same time in the final itself!).

A few conclusions for me:

1. The womens' game has been v open for some time now, but Osaka has the game, and temperament to dominate at the top. Whilst I'd still put Halep and a couple of others ahead of her at Roland Garros, elsewhere with that serve and the consistent power on those groundstrokes she looks like picking up a few more slams.

2. Related to the above, Serena's path to beating Margaret Court's all time slam record looks that bit more difficult. The game has moved on and its no longer the case that Serena can turn up and expect to breeze her way through the draw like previous years.

3. Away from the clay, Nadal clearly has both a match-up and mental issue with playing Djokovic. The drubbing in the final does remind me of 2008 in Roland Garros, which did play a part in how that year's legendary Wimbledon final played out. Nadal of course remains favourite for French Open this year, but if he was to play Djokovic in final, the way today's final panned out could play a part on the big points. This year's French Open does look more interesting in prospect. With Djokovic and Nadal being top 2 seeds, whose half Thiem ends up in could play a big part in what happens.

4. Realistically, Wimbledon now looks the only chance of further slam success for Federer, and even that looks an increasingly long shot. I still think he'll soldier on into 2020 so he can play Olympics, which means a big deal to him and where he still feels he has unfinished business to try and get Gold medal in singles.

5. Agree that if Djokovic goes on to win Roland Garros this year it is quite significant for being 'GOAT contender' and if he went on to win Wimbledon as well this year you would have to put him above Nadal.

6. Still a lot of work for Lendl to do with Zverev. Zverev has improved on the physical side and now looks far stronger for the 5 set matches but his temperament is still suspect and he can look a bit one-dimensional. Still, got plenty of time on his side and if he can stick with Lendl I think the partnership will start to pay off - don't see him winning a slam this year though.

7. Tsitsipas has the tools to get to the very top, though the match with Nadal made him aware of how far there is still to go.

8. With the demise of Murray and Wawrinka from the 'top 5' and Federer finally looking to be in the twilight of his career, there are clearly opportunities for other 'Next Generation' players to follow the lead of Tsitsipas and reach the latter stages of a slam. Will be interesting to see who can step up next.


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Post by Henman Bill Mon 28 Jan 2019, 1:01 am

Turned on the TV just over 3 hours after the start. To my surprise, the match had already finished. I thought I was on the wrong channel for a minute. Then, went to the recording - didn't work. Oh well.

Looking at some of the media reaction I think everyone is jumping onto the Djokovic will reach 20 slams bandwagon rather carelessly. I think people are guilty of short term thinking. Let's see if he can catch Nadal first and then if he catches Rafa see if Federer is still on 20 when he does.

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Post by theslosty Mon 28 Jan 2019, 2:35 am

Australian Open is always my favourite slam.

For those who watched closely yesterday morning, how high does the match by Novak rank against his all time slam performances?

I'm not sure Rafa has ever been subdued quite like that before.
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Post by No name Bertie Mon 28 Jan 2019, 2:43 am

Although useful in generating ideas I think GOAT debates are all rather simplistic.  I think we can all be a bit more nuanced in our approach - that would for example raise Andy Murray much higher up the rankings than his 3 grand slams titles alone would imply.

There are some things that can be said straight off?  Surely Rafael Nadal is the GOAT of mens clay court tennis (11 Roland Garros titles and counting)?  I think Bjorn Borg in an earlier era also has a shout but he lacked the motivation to keep going.

With regard GOAT of male grass court tennis - surely Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg are up for consideration.  However in this calcalus we have to recognise that grass court tennis has changed with time - with evolution of the grass surface as well as racket technology have transformed the game in stages ... an evolution into serve and volley (Sampras) then later into a baseline + all round tennis (Federer).  Bjorn Borg also had a baseline + all round tennis game in an era that was favouring serve & volley.

Then there is the GOAT of hard courts - which are a more recent development.  Here we have Federer, Sampras and Djokovic as contenders - but with the recognition that hard courts also seemed to have evolved - the surface, the impact of racket technology ...  

The Australian Open in past times was generally skipped because of the difficulty in travel plus it occurred early in the year when most tennis players outside of Australia were still on their season break.  There does seem to be a difference in how the current US Open & Australian Open play out - but we also have to note they occur at opposite ends of the season - and that may be the biggest difference (I don't know).

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Post by No name Bertie Mon 28 Jan 2019, 2:54 am

With regard Nadal he said injury plus his ankle operation have kept him from training for about four months and that although delighted with the manner in which he got to the final, in the final where he had to step up his game and energy levels - he wasn't able to do it. He hopes he can now get in to training and playing that will allow him to be in top condition by the time Roland Garros swings by.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 28 Jan 2019, 8:56 am

MrI - Very good summing up of the AO. I would still make Rafa favourite for the French but it would be great to see a close final between him and Djoko.

A second four-in-a-row Slam effort from Djoko would be an amazing achievement. He's miles ahead at the top and likely to remain so for some months.

Interesting to see if Tsitsipas can keep it up and can Zverev actually put in a deep GS run? A delpo return will be welcome. How will Fed can get on on clay? At least he'll have no points to defend.

The women's game is intriguing in that you have loads of GS winners and loads of former number ones. After a run of eight different Slam winners, Osaka has taken two in a row. Apart from her meltdown at the end of the second set, Osaka's final performance was impressive.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 28 Jan 2019, 9:10 am

No name Bertie wrote:With regard Nadal he said injury plus his ankle operation have kept him from training for about four months and that although delighted with the manner in which he got to the final, in the final where he had to step up his game and energy levels - he wasn't able to do it.  He hopes he can now get in to training and playing that will allow him to be in top condition by the time Roland Garros swings by.

Perhaps. But Djoko also beat him the last 7 times on hard court without losing a set, so Rafa's comment that even at 100% he might not have won is almost certainly true. Whenever a top player loses they need to justify to themselves in order to maintain the belief that they can win next time - sounds like this is what Rafa is doing, and it's perfectly understandable. But the truth is that Djoko at his best beats Rafa on hard court every time.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 28 Jan 2019, 9:17 am

No name Bertie wrote:Although useful in generating ideas I think GOAT debates are all rather simplistic.  I think we can all be a bit more nuanced in our approach - that would for example raise Andy Murray much higher up the rankings than his 3 grand slams titles alone would imply.

There are some things that can be said straight off?  Surely Rafael Nadal is the GOAT of mens clay court tennis (11 Roland Garros titles and counting)?  I think Bjorn Borg in an earlier era also has a shout but he lacked the motivation to keep going.

With regard GOAT of male grass court tennis - surely Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg are up for consideration.  However in this calcalus we have to recognise that grass court tennis has changed with time - with evolution of the grass surface as well as racket technology have transformed the game in stages ... an evolution into serve and volley (Sampras) then later into a baseline + all round tennis (Federer).  Bjorn Borg also had a baseline + all round tennis game in an era that was favouring serve & volley.

Then there is the GOAT of hard courts - which are a more recent development.  Here we have Federer, Sampras and Djokovic as contenders - but with the recognition that hard courts also seemed to have evolved - the surface, the impact of racket technology ...  

The Australian Open in past times was generally skipped because of the difficulty in travel plus it occurred early in the year when most tennis players outside of Australia were still on their season break.  There does seem to be a difference in how the current US Open & Australian Open play out - but we also have to note they occur at opposite ends of the season - and that may be the biggest difference (I don't know).

Let's not forget how racket, but especially string technology has changed, affecting clay tennis especially, by imparting way more spin on the ball - reference Keurten's famous quote on Luxilon strings. We can't say tennis has transformed except on clay - that's just not the case.


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Post by laverfan Mon 28 Jan 2019, 9:26 am

Regarding Nadal's injury 'woes', I think it was unnecessary to mention them in the final speech on the podium. Mentioning such in the 7th match of a slam is a bit irrelevant, when there are previous six matches to consider.

The better player won on the day at AO2019, and perhaps RG2019 will also see the better player win.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 28 Jan 2019, 11:54 am

Fascinating to see how the Big Four have all gained inspiration, improvement and motivation from each other. Fed had to cope with the emergence of, first, Rafa and then the young Djoko and Murray.

Rafa's dominance was challenged in spectacular fashion by Djoko in 2011, while Murray had to battle all of them to finally emerge as a GS winner and, ultimately, number one.

Fed, Rafa and Djoko have now all made incredible returns from injury to triumph once more. There may not be that long left for Fed, and Murray may have played his last match. But the Rafa-Djoko rivalry is set to continue, with each pushing each other to new heights.

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Post by No name Bertie Mon 28 Jan 2019, 1:24 pm

With regard Nadal's post match explanation I think it was fair and truthful.

Surely he felt it necessary to give an explanation in response to what he must have felt were disappointed spectators that had paid top dollar to see a hard fought match - rather than the one sided spectacle that it turned out to be. Nadal explained that despite not losing a set in navigating 6 rounds up to the final - in the final he needed a significant step up in performance when facing the beast of a Djokovic in a final. He wasn't able to perform to that level and suffered his worst ever defeat in a slam final. He did say it was unlikely he would have won even if he had have been at his best - but the inference being he would have put up more of a fight - rather than a straight sets loss in 2 hours and 4 minutes.

As pointed out by the fan of Shiv - the woman's final latest longer (2 hours 27 min) and had more games in it.

From my own viewpoint - I was worried Djokovic would break down - but it seems he is truly back and quite a remarkable turnaround given he had surgery on his elbow just a year ago to save his career. Tennis elbow is potentially a career ending condition.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_elbow#Prognosis

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Post by Henman Bill Mon 28 Jan 2019, 2:36 pm

I think Djokovic is now in the top 10 of all time men's singles players, and that's even assuming he retires tomorrow. I think there are 5 players who I still have in my mind clearly above him and that's Gonzalez, Rosewall, Federer, Tilden and Laver.

I would probably have Rafa above Djokovic as well on slam count, so that leaves Djokovic at perhaps 7th or 8th (see below).

The other players in my top 10 would include Sampras and Borg. I think there is a good case to be had for Sarmpras ahead of Djokovic, on the basis that he dominated more in his time and had to cope with less homegenous surfaces. But I think a closer analysis of his results and opponents and the fields he faced would tend to favour Djokovic slightly, and Djokovic's French Open win, as well as generally much superior performance on clay with other finals at the FO and various masters series titles, puts him ahead.

Borg and Djokovic are about on a par for now or too hard to argue one way or the other.

I'm not sure who else is filling out this top 10 - perhaps Connors, Mcenroe, Lendl or Agassi or some player from days gone by. All of those seem to have been surpassed by Djokovic.

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Post by Henman Bill Mon 28 Jan 2019, 2:46 pm

An interesting stat is that the big three (Djok, Nadal, Fed) have won the last 9 slams.

However it's also worth noting that prior to this one there was a streak of 7 in a row where the losing finalist was not one of the big three (or four). 2017 FO - 2018 US inclusive. Del Potro, Anderson, Thiem, Cilic, Anderson, Cilic, Wawrinka.

From 2011 to 2017, the big four not only won most of the slams, they were also most of the losing finalists.

22 out of 25 losing finalists (Ferrer, Nishikori, Raonic) from the start of 2011 to 2017 AO open were big four, prior to the streak of 7 in a row above.

I just counted the stats from here myself:
http://www.espn.com/tennis/history
so sorry if they are a bit off.

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Post by Henman Bill Mon 28 Jan 2019, 3:04 pm

theslosty wrote:Australian Open is always my favourite slam.

For those who watched closely yesterday morning, how high does the match by Novak rank against his all time slam performances?

I'm not sure Rafa has ever been subdued quite like that before.

I didn't watch, apart from some highlights, but I do wonder whether the Winners/UE stat of 34-9 could be bettered by any other slam final involving Djokovic against Nadal, or against Federer for that matter.

I've certainly seen the top players get such stats against each other in masters series, or in finals against players outside the big 3, but against each other it is usually not possible to get that kind of stat.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 29 Jan 2019, 8:04 am

HBill - Always difficult to weight the merits of one player from one era with another from another. But I think you are right to say that you would put Djoko above Sampras in the pecking order of greats.

Pete never won the French and the faster courts then favoured his style of play. Although he was up against some terrific opponents in the likes of Agassi, Becker, Edberg and Courier, these rivals were not quite in the same class as Rafa and Rog.

Borg hardly ever played the Australian and never won the USO, although he certainly made up for that with his sensational RG and SW19 performances. Still think I'd put Djoko ahead of the Swede, though.

I suppose a case could be made out that Djoko has been even more successful than Federer, despite trailing by five GS. Not saying I go along with that, but it could be argued that Djoko's run of 14 slams from 2011 to 2019 during a time when the Big Four were at their peak presents strong evidence.

Also, Djoko is the only one since Laver to win four Slams in a row - a feat he could repeat at RG this year.


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Post by JuliusHMarx Tue 29 Jan 2019, 8:14 am

sirfredperry wrote:...Djoko's run of 14 slams from 2011 to 2019 during a time when the Big Four were at their peak...

Murray was at his peak in 2017 - 2019?!

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 29 Jan 2019, 10:05 am

JuliusHMarx wrote:
sirfredperry wrote:...Djoko's run of 14 slams from 2011 to 2019 during a time when the Big Four were at their peak...

Murray was at his peak in 2017 - 2019?!

Yeah, should have qualified my remarks. Does give me the chance, though, to say that news has come thru that Murray has had a hip operation in London and posted a picture of his smiling self in his hospital bed.

This means a long period of recuperation which should at least allow him to be pain free in his life. Whether he will return to the courts competitively remains to be seen.

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Post by Born Slippy Tue 29 Jan 2019, 12:10 pm

Fuller on the BBC Radio 5 seemed to be suggesting that he might be back for a swansong at Wimbledon. That sounds very unlikely to me. I thought the Wimbledon idea was if he struggled on with the hip until then. As it stands, I’m guessing it’s either the end or he’ll be back to have a further crack at it in 2020.

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