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2021 Australian Open

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Post by MrInvisible Sat 06 Feb 2021, 7:45 pm

First topic message reminder :

So, the draw has been made, with Thiem in Djokovic's side of the draw.  Can Thiem capitalise on his US Open success and go a step further than last year?  Is Nadal physically fit enough to last the distance?  Can some of the players who broke through last year like Sinner make a big impression?

On the womens' I'll probably go for Osaka, but we've had so many players breaking through in last few years it wouldn't be a surprise to get a new champion.

Notable 1st round matches include:

Dimitrov v Cilic
Shapovalov v Sinner
Anderson v Berretini
Evans v Norrie

Anyone up for a go at the Tennis Dream Team - http://tffdreamteam.com/ausopen/ - I have created a Mini-League - name is 606 and password is a59144bff611ab28b92b1b07a3a57835

I've decided to splash out on the princely sum of 99p for Eurosport streaming coverage, so for a change will be watching legitimately rather than those virus-ridden dodgy streaming sites I normally use!

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Post by Oioi Sun 21 Feb 2021, 10:52 am

Wow, people booing the mention of the vaccine in the speech. Morons.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 21 Feb 2021, 11:05 am

Well, that didn't last long. Djoko is now almost as hard to beat in Melbourne as Rafa is in Paris.

While you have to reckon that Rafa will win further French Opens, Djoko now seems likely to win the most Slams. The Serb can practically rely on the AO and will be able to have a good crack at Wimbledon.

The USO is less of a certainty for Djoko but he could still add to his tally in New York.

I know some will argue that merely counting the number of Slams is not a measure of the GOAT but it's certainly a good yardstick.

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Post by slashermcguirk Sun 21 Feb 2021, 11:31 am

I think it’s interesting that a lot of the top next gen players really like Djokovic. Medvedev, Thiem, Zverev all seem to call him out as being the nicest of top 3 off the court. Murray and Wawrinka always very complimentary of Novak off the court too. I thought Medvedev speech really showed that, Djokovic spending time with him when ranked about 500 in the world. It’s those things that say a lot about someone

While the public have a love hate relationship with Novak a lot of his fellow players talk very well of him. I think he is very misunderstood and I would be inclined to go with players who know the other players behind the scenes.

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Post by Soul Requiem Sun 21 Feb 2021, 12:55 pm

NJ talking sense for a change. It's a simple equation really, he's either faking these injuries or something else.

I await his fanboy sticking up for his cheating.

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Post by slashermcguirk Sun 21 Feb 2021, 1:21 pm

To the Djokovic haters on here, having a great laugh laughing

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Post by No name Bertie Sun 21 Feb 2021, 2:03 pm

Congratulations to Djokovic on winning this sporting tournament.  Will Wimbledon be played this year?  I hope so.

Is Federer de facto retired now or does he want to continue playing? He will be turning 40 this year.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sun 21 Feb 2021, 2:21 pm

No name Bertie wrote:Congratulations to Djokovic on winning this sporting tournament.  Will Wimbledon be played this year?  I hope so.

Is Federer de facto retired now or does he want to continue playing?  He will be turning 40 this year.

He has always craved Olympic Gold and think he'll carry on so he can have one last crack at that. He has not announced his retirement yet.
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Post by sirfredperry Sun 21 Feb 2021, 4:00 pm

Federer has said he's playing Doha and Dubai, hopes to play some of the clay court, will play Halle and Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Until the Big Three retire, you have to think that three of the four Slams are pretty much wrapped up.

If you add Murray to the mix, no one outside the Big Four has won Wimbledon since....2002.

Although Stan the Man has managed to nip in with an AO and a French, the rest of the time no one outside Rog, Rafa, or Djoko has won in Paris or Melbourne since 2005.

Which just leaves the USO as a Slam where there is a realistic chance of something different happening. Delpo, Cilic and, most recently, Thiem, have all triumphed in New York as have Stan and Murray.

I know there were a number of people who thought Medvedev would or could win today. I thought he could, but I didn't think he would.

Djoko was right to say ahead of the final that although the younger players were challenging they weren't exactly gobbling up the Slams.


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Post by Atila Sun 21 Feb 2021, 7:50 pm

sirfredperry wrote:Well, that didn't last long. Djoko is now almost as hard to beat in Melbourne as Rafa is in Paris.

While you have to reckon that Rafa will win further French Opens, Djoko now seems likely to win the most Slams. The Serb can practically rely on the AO and will be able to have a good crack at Wimbledon.

The USO is less of a certainty for Djoko but he could still add to his tally in New York.

I know some will argue that merely counting the number of Slams is not a measure of the GOAT but it's certainly a good yardstick.
I think that if there was a banquet for all the tennis players, having the most majors should get you a spot at the top table, but I don't feel that it should necessarily make you the GOAT. For instance on the woman's side, Steffi Graf has 22 majors while Serena Williams has 23. Both me and a coworker of mine who coaches kids at tennis, believe that Steffi was better than Serena but from reading and hearing from many commentators, Serena is supposedly the GOAT because  she has managed to win one more major, even though she has played so far, 10 more years. I wonder how many more majors Graf could have won if she had played 10 more years until she was 39 like Serena, 25 to 30?

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Post by JuliusHMarx Sun 21 Feb 2021, 8:18 pm

I wonder how many less majors Graf might have won if Seles hadn't been stabbed.

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Post by Soul Requiem Sun 21 Feb 2021, 8:30 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:I wonder how many less majors Graf might have won if Seles hadn't been stabbed.

Or William's if Henin and Clijsters hadn't retired or if Hingis hadn't chucked her career away.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 21 Feb 2021, 9:20 pm

The interesting thing about Serena's Slam count is the number she got at an advanced age. I make it that she won 10 Slams after the age of 30.

Injuries and bereavement meant she had periods when she missed Slams. I always thought she was good enough to win 30 Slams and that's not going to happen now. It's still an impressive haul.

There are always the "if onlys" and "what might have beens" in sport. Graf's total, incidentally, includes two little pocket records of her own - 1. Winning all the Slams at least four times. 2. The Golden Slam of 1988 when she won all four GS plus Olympic Gold.

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Post by No name Bertie Sun 21 Feb 2021, 11:11 pm

I think Seles has a shout at GOAT like status - she seemed to be the woman's version of Nadal when Nadal looked like he was going to transfer his French dominance to all surfaces (Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open).  With Serena Williams although she has maybe an unpleasant on court character there was a period of time when she treated tennis as a hobby and doing other ventures.  She was so powerful, it was her power that overwhelmed her opponents.  She wasn't built like many female tennis players - androgynous, flat chested, narrow hipped. Venus Williams seemed to have the best build for a female tennis player but lacked the power and will power of Serena.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 22 Feb 2021, 10:36 am

The final was a disappointment in that Djoko was not really pushed. He emerges yet again as Melbourne champ and I'm already making him favourite for the 2022 AO.

I guess the match of the tournament was Nadal-Tsitsipas. Difficult to say whether Nadal's loss was down to anno domini or lack of match practice.

Rafa did go into the French last autumn with very little match-play sharpness and still played brilliantly to beat Djoko. But then we are talking about Nadal and Paris clay.

Although she was not at her best in the final, Osaka proved a worthy champ and now pushes ahead of a number of male and female players as the holder of four Slam titles.

I was interested to see Osaka was the first player to win their FOURTH slam since 2012, which shows the dominance of the Big 3 in the men and the remarkable recent run of women winning one, two or three slams but no more.

The next few weeks will see Murray and Federer return to the main tour. Murray at least got five matches in in Biele, Italy, earlier this month.

With Fed - who knows? He made a sensational return four years ago by winning the AO. But he's much older now and has been out for a year. It's bound to be tough for him but he has so much natural ability that he may still prove a match for most.

If he doesn't make much of a fist of it you reckon this will be his final year, with an emotional farewell as Basel in October. But given even reasonable results he may want to play on.

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Post by dummy_half Mon 22 Feb 2021, 1:11 pm

I had the ladies final on on Saturday morning. This exchange happened with my 8 year old daughter:
D: 'Why aren't these ladies screaming'
Me: 'Because they don't need to'
D: 'Good'.

More power and success to Osaka in particular, proving that there is no reason to shriek when you hit a tennis ball (Best joke on the subject was the suggestion that Monica Seles faked her first serve).

As for Djokovic and the AO, it seems, like Rafa and RG, that this is the perfect court for him - as a slowish hard court, quick enough to get full value for his shots, but slow enough (especially in the evening sessions) that he is very difficult to hit through, and with good consistency of bounce. It does though raise the question of why Rafa doesn't have more success in the AO (and the answer isn't solely Djokovic, unlike if you reverse the question about RG).

I admit I wanted Medvedev (or Tsitsipas) to win, not particularly from a dislike of Djokovic but just because it really is about time the next gen players started taking over at the very top of the game from guys in their mid 30s.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Mon 22 Feb 2021, 2:48 pm

dummy_half wrote:I had the ladies final on on Saturday morning. This exchange happened with my 8 year old daughter:


I admit I wanted Medvedev (or Tsitsipas) to win, not particularly from a dislike of Djokovic but just because it really is about time the next gen players started taking over at the very top of the game from guys in their mid 30s.

They will take over when they earn it not because other players have reached a certain age. A time will come when age afflicts Nadal and Djokovic so much that they will get toppled in slam finals or semis by the likes of Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev regularly. A more interesting question (to me) will be how dominant they can bewcome before the next big players come to town.
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Post by sirfredperry Mon 22 Feb 2021, 3:21 pm

The Big 3 have been/are so good that they have taken age out of the equation.

I make it they have won SIXTEEN of their Slam titles after reaching their 30th birthdays. It's not that the following pack aren't any good. It's just that the timeless trio are so exceptional.

The younger players won't be helped, either by the temporary Covid-covering ranking system which will enable the old uns to cherry-pick their tournaments and stay fresh and healthy.

You have to think that the likes of Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev will be around to start cleaning up once the Big 3 ride off into the sunset. Thiem might miss out, although at least he's on the GS scoreboard.

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Post by Soul Requiem Mon 22 Feb 2021, 3:49 pm

sirfredperry wrote:The Big 3 have been/are so good that they have taken age out of the equation.

I make it they have won SIXTEEN of their Slam titles after reaching their 30th birthdays. It's not that the following pack aren't any good. It's just that the timeless trio are so exceptional.

The younger players won't be helped, either by the temporary Covid-covering ranking system which will enable the old uns to cherry-pick their tournaments and stay fresh and healthy.

You have to think that the likes of Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev will be around to start cleaning up once the Big 3 ride off into the sunset. Thiem might miss out, although at least he's on the GS scoreboard.

I think it's a combination of the big three being that and the newer generation not being quite up to the required standard personally.

It's worth noting when evaluating the three of them that Federer once he reached 30 had Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka to deal with compared to the current crop.

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Post by No name Bertie Mon 22 Feb 2021, 6:02 pm

Andy Murray was better than Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Zerev and Thiem. He only has three grand slams but was set to dominate tennis for a period but then his hip gave way. Pushing the third rate British Davis Cup team into the top tier level and then winning the Davis Cup was one of his biggest achievements.

Maybe once Federer, Nadal and Djokovic retire interest in tennis will fall. In the US interest has fallen for some time - replaced by other sports and e-sports.

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Post by MrInvisible Mon 22 Feb 2021, 10:52 pm

Looking back at this year's Australian Open, it properly got going with those Kyrgios matches and probably peaked in the quarters, with the Tsitsipas v Nadal, Zverev v Djokovic matches along with Karetsv's fairytale run. The semis and final were somewhat anticlimatic and the womens' tournament also petered out a bit at a similar stage after a v compelling middle part of tournament e.g. Osaka v Muguruza.

Medvedev was a disappointment in the final, particularly mentally and tactically, but once Djokovic moved up the gears from a slow start he delivered a virtually flawless masterclass - superior in every department. The difference between the top 3 (and, to a lesser extent, Thiem) and the rest at moment is the ability to deliver the goods at business end of the tournament. Djokovic was unconvincing at times during the tournament and had the injury issue but despite this produced a top quality performance in the final - I'd argue it's in one of his top 3 Aus Open final performances and top 5 overall slam final performances.

I do feel it was a shame it wasn't Tsitsipas facing him in final - aggressive single-handers (think Wawrinka and Thiem) can trouble Djokovic and give him a run for his money. Would still have tipped Djokovic to win but it is likely to have resulted in a more competitive final, perhaps similar to last year's final between Djokovic and Thiem.

On Medvedev I think he has the potential to improve on the clay and perhaps get similar results to what Murray achieved but I'm not sure about the grass of Wimbledon - compared to say Spanish players (and not just Nadal) the Russians don't really like grass - the likes of Kafelnikov, Safin and Davydenko had a few early losses over the years.

Out of the younger players I think Tsitsipas and possibly Zverev are most likely to prosper at Wimbledon - the former has a natural game on grass including Beckeresque dives around the net, which translates well, whilst Zverev has done well at Halle and gets down low for a tall guy.

On Bertie's point about global tennis audiences, I think there's been a long term decline in interest in the US since Sampras and Agassi hung up their rackets, and this is likely to accelerate further when Serena calls it a day. There will be a bit of a void when Federer/Nadal/Djokovic retire but the younger players will step up, and there seems to be decent bit of variety amongst playing styles, important for maintaining interest amongst the viewing public. The mens' game may go through a more unpredictable phase, like the WTA has been over past few years, and that will also appeal to fans.



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Post by slashermcguirk Tue 23 Feb 2021, 7:22 am

I would think the falling popularity in the US is down to there being very few decent American players over the past 10-15 years. You have to go all the way back to Roddick to find a slam winner and even he only managed one. Sampras and Agassi retiring probably hurt American interest.

On the women’s side, they have Serena but the women’s tour has been useless for a good 10 years now. Serena faced virtually no competition once the likes of Henin retired. Henin had a very good record against Williams and the likes of Hingis and Clijsters were also good players. Since then there has been very weak competition. Thankfully Osaka has stepped up and I do like Halep but now Serena is on the way out.

I still consider Graf by far the best ever women’s player, she had much tougher competition than Serena like Navoratilova, Evert, Seles, Sanchez vicario, Hingis, Capriati, Novotna, sabbatini etc

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Post by Soul Requiem Tue 23 Feb 2021, 8:13 am

No name Bertie wrote:Andy Murray was better than Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Zerev and Thiem.  He only has three grand slams but was set to dominate tennis for a period but then his hip gave way.  Pushing the third rate British Davis Cup team into the top tier level and then winning the Davis Cup was one of his biggest achievements.

Maybe once Federer, Nadal and Djokovic retire interest in tennis will fall.  In the US interest has fallen for some time - replaced by other sports and e-sports.

I do think there's an over exaggeration with regards to the Davis cup, by virtue of having Murray GB were expected to win 2 ties against against all the countries they played. When combined with his brother being a top notch doubles player it's hardly unexpected that they did quite well, the pivotal moment was James Ward beating John Isner.

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Post by dummy_half Tue 23 Feb 2021, 10:28 am

Soul Requiem wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:Andy Murray was better than Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Zerev and Thiem.  He only has three grand slams but was set to dominate tennis for a period but then his hip gave way.  Pushing the third rate British Davis Cup team into the top tier level and then winning the Davis Cup was one of his biggest achievements.

Maybe once Federer, Nadal and Djokovic retire interest in tennis will fall.  In the US interest has fallen for some time - replaced by other sports and e-sports.

I do think there's an over exaggeration with regards to the Davis cup, by virtue of having Murray GB were expected to win 2 ties against against all but three countries. When combined with his brother being a top notch doubles player it's hardly unexpected that they did quite well.

The Davis Cup certainly required a lot of input from Andy - pretty sure he played both singles and the doubles in a few rubbers, and certainly there was the need to bank his two singles points and then rely on getting one of the other three points.

My comment earlier saying it was about time the next gen players started to dominate was perhaps taken slightly the wrong way - obviously, it's only when they start to win over Djokovic and Nadal on a regular basis that they deserve to take over at the top. My point was though that at 33 and 34 Djokovic and Nadal are not quite the players they were a few year ago (although the decline has been very slight so far), and I think the generation of players who are now 21-25 are better than the guys who are 26-30ish with the possible exception of Thiem, so it should only be a matter of time before a peak Mdvedev/Zverev/Tsitsipas etc becomes better than a declining Djokovic or Nadal (I'm taking it as read that Federer and Murray are pretty much out of the equation now).

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 23 Feb 2021, 12:47 pm

Andy Murray said he could hardly bear to watch any of the AO, so disappointed was he not to be taking part.

On the plus side, he has said he's feeling fine and had had got thru the matches in Italy OK. He'd been a bit leggy in the final but that was probably due to his - of late unfamiliar - workload.

I accept that the women's tour has been a bit up and down in recent years. There have been a huge number of GS winners and some have said this shows there is a lack of consistency and quality.

Halep has probably been the most consistent while Osaka has shown great form of late.

While some might bemoan the lack of rivalries and stand-out players among the women, others would argue that a few new GS champions would do the men's game a world of good.






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Post by dummy_half Tue 23 Feb 2021, 3:58 pm

sirfred

The comparison between the men's and women's game is a bit one extreme to the other - men's tennis has been dominated for a very long time by the same three players with a couple on their coat tails and the rest nowhere. The consistency has been astonishing, but does make fans wonder about the quality of the younger players who haven't stepped up to the level of at least Murray and Stan if not the three GOATs.

It seems generally the women players are less consistent, with perhaps the exception of Serena who when fit always seems to get to the later stages of slams (even if she isn't winning many any more). Maybe Osaka will become the main leader of the pack, but you get others who look like world beaters one tournament then lose tamely in the first couple of rounds the next (the likes of Muguruza).

Basically, somewhere between these two extremes would be good.

If I was a betting man, I'd always think that backing Djokovic at the AO and Nadal at RG at evens were safe bets, whereas I wouldn't know where to put my money for any women's event - easily 10 players who could win any week.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 23 Feb 2021, 4:19 pm

D-half. Yes, putting money on a woman's GS champ at the moment is tricky.

Osaka or Halep would be a sensible bet. But if you chuck Kim C into the mix, there are, I think, SEVENTEEN Slam winners among the women at the moment.

There was a lot of excitement about the GS wins of Andreescu and Swiatek. But both will look nervously at how former French winner Ostapenko has fared recently.

All of this means you will almost certainly have to beat a GS champion to win one yourself.

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Post by dummy_half Wed 24 Feb 2021, 9:17 am

The consistency of the big 3 men is something staggering:

Djokovic first reached a slam semi final in Paris 2007, since which time he's reached 38 semi finals out of 54 competed (70%) and 27 finals (50%) - one injury absence and no Wimbledon last year

Rafa reached a first slam semi at RG 2005 (winning it, obviously), subsequently reaching 34 semi finals in 56 slams competed (61%) and 28 finals (also 50%) - 7 injury absences and no Wimbledon 2020.

Federer reached a first slam semi at Wimbledon 2003, subsequently reaching 46 semi finals in 63 slams (73%) and 31 finals (49%).

So basically they each reach the semi finals in about 2/3rds of the slams entered and the finals in half.

Add to that Murray reaching 21 semi finals and 11 finals in 36 slams between 2008 and 2017 and there really wasn't much room for anyone else for a decade.

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 24 Feb 2021, 10:27 am

So Murray lost 18 times in finals and semi finals, how many of them were against the three big?

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Post by Oioi Wed 24 Feb 2021, 11:09 am

From memory, the only GS semi or final he has lost to a non-big player was Roddick in Wimbledon 2009. You have to wonder how many slams he would have won if they were never born. You'd have to put it somewhere around 10 I reckon? But then again, would he have been as good if they weren't around to push him?

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Post by Oioi Wed 24 Feb 2021, 11:11 am

Actually, there was the 2017 FO loss to Stan in the semis. The match that put the final nail in his hip.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 24 Feb 2021, 12:40 pm

Talking of Andy, he went down in straight sets in Montpellier yesterday to Gerasimov. Pretty disappointing result. This is the sort of match he ought to be winning if he is to make a success of his comeback.

Still I suppose if he's feeling OK, and still enjoying it, that's something.

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 24 Feb 2021, 12:59 pm

Oioi wrote:From memory, the only GS semi or final he has lost to a non-big player was Roddick in Wimbledon 2009. You have to wonder how many slams he would have won if they were never born. You'd have to put it somewhere around 10 I reckon? But then again, would he have been as good if they weren't around to push him?

It's a difficult one to guage, he rarely lost to lesser players in grand slams so I don't think it would be a push that he'd have surpassed Sampras. It's not just the losses to those guys but the shortened career in part caused by long attritional matches against them.

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Post by No name Bertie Wed 24 Feb 2021, 3:15 pm

There was a time in tennis when women's tennis was consistently bad in terms of quality in depth when most early rounds of grand slams had matches that ended 6-0 6-1 or similar in less than a hour. Only in the latter rounds did matches become competitive.

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Post by dummy_half Wed 24 Feb 2021, 4:08 pm

No name Bertie wrote:There was a time in tennis when women's tennis was consistently bad in terms of quality in depth when most early rounds of grand slams had matches that ended 6-0 6-1 or similar in less than a hour.  Only in the latter rounds did matches become competitive.
Sometimes not even then - check out Graf v Zvereva in the RG final 1988.

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 24 Feb 2021, 4:29 pm

dummy_half wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:There was a time in tennis when women's tennis was consistently bad in terms of quality in depth when most early rounds of grand slams had matches that ended 6-0 6-1 or similar in less than a hour.  Only in the latter rounds did matches become competitive.
Sometimes not even then - check out Graf v Zvereva in the RG final 1988.

Discounting the Sabbatini semi final; Graf lost just 11 games in six matches during the whole tournament. The semi final taking her up to a whopping 20. Sometimes easy to forget how good she was at times, in 1988 she was at a level that no other woman herself included has ever come close to replicating.

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Post by dummy_half Thu 25 Feb 2021, 3:09 pm

Soul
If I recall correctly, Graf only lost something like 9 points in the final v Zvereva (can't find a link to check this - certain it was single figures).

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Post by Soul Requiem Thu 25 Feb 2021, 3:16 pm

dummy_half wrote:Soul
If I recall correctly, Graf only lost something like 9 points in the final v Zvereva (can't find a link to check this - certain it was single figures).

https://www.tennismajors.com/toto-news/june-4-1988-the-day-steffi-graf-double-bagelled-natasha-zvereva-261976.html

I found this which suggests it was just 13 points which is still incredible. I forget that Graf was only 18 at the time, for some reason I always had her done as being in her 30's when she beat Hingis.

Across the whole of 1988 in slams Graf lost just two sets (Navratilova at Wimbledon and Sabbatini at the US) whilst losing a total of just 100 games across 27 completed matches, incredible. She did all that with an all action game and didn't make a sound. My interest in womens tennis ceased when Graf retired.

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