10 things we learned from AO2020
10 things we learned from AO2020
An awesome Australian Open 2020 fortnight has drawn to close.
Marathon matches, major shocks and breakout performances have treated fans at Melbourne and across the globe.
What did we really learn from AO2020? Read on.
1. Kenin’s on course for sustained success
No, not Serena. Nor Coco. Sofia Kenin flew the Stars and Stripes for Americans Down Under.
The 21-year-old, without a major quarterfinal on her CV prior to AO2020, clinched her maiden Grand Slam.
Kenin, moving up to world No.7, became the youngest Australian Open winner since Maria Sharapova in 2008, and is adamant more is to come.
“I feel like 2019 I started off great with first WTA title for me in Hobart. After that things just took off. I had a great run in Paris. Played my idol, Serena. Lost to Ash there. Got the revenge here,” reflected Kenin, having defeated Ash Barty in the semifinals.
“I mean, everything's just happening so fast for me. I'm just still on cloud nine right now.
“I knew I needed to establish myself to get to where I am. All the confidence has come with all the matches that I've had, the success I've had in 2019. WTA Most Improved Player of the Year, so ... FYI … I’ve always had that belief.”
2. Djokovic maintains the drive to be the greatest
It was a fortnight that confirmed the now 17-time Grand Slam champion is the leader of the pack.
Djokovic’s dogged determination and gladiatorial instinct hauled him back from the brink in the final.
Now, the Serbian returns to world No.1, and would cherish his two young children seeing him lift more majors.
“I would love that, it would be a dream come true,” he said.
“To have them remember, to be conscious of what is happening, them supporting me, them seeing me win big titles … It’s my goal and ambition to win as many Slams as possible at this stage of my career.”
Driven by fatherhood and family off the court, we learned Djokovic is still intent on historic glory on it.
3. Barty bound to stay at the top
The world No.1 Australian managed the expectations and pressure of being the top seed with aplomb at Melbourne, playing her crafty all-court game with a smile on her face.
“It's been a hell of a summer," she said after her final-four loss to eventual champion Kenin.
"I mean, if you would have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, made the semifinals of the Australian Open, I'd take that absolutely every single day of the week.”
It was a great run to the semifinals, and serves well for the future that Ash is comfortable at the top.
4. Thiem gains the motivation to fight back
He narrowly missed out on a maiden major, but the Austrian is inching towards glory.
A whopping 65 winners enabled the No.5 seed to dispatch Rafael Nadal, and he had defending champion Djokovic on the ropes.
“I'm very aware and sure now that I can play on a very high level for a full Grand Slam,” he said in the aftermath of his defeat in the decider.
“Didn't have any drops. That doesn't make me proud, but it makes me very confident for the next big tournaments which are coming up.
“Now I feel little bit of motivation to come back for the next Grand Slam.”
Thiem made great strides at AO2020 with fearless striking, and still relishes the fight against the ‘Big Three’, despite just falling short in three Grand Slam finals.
“I'm happy I can compete with these guys on the best level,” he said.
“I really hope also that I win my maiden slam when they're still around because it just counts more.”
5. NK: Rising and rising
No one can deny the effortless talent that Nick Kyrgios possesses. But in the past, questions of motivation and focus has swirled around the home charge.
Well, the 24-year-old answered his critics with a spirited fourth-round showing. Kyrgios, given focus by his incredible fundraising efforts with the Aces for Bushfire Relief campaign, put on a show to reach the last 16.
Several steps in the right direction.
6. Legendary coaches continue to have an impact
Conchita Martinez and Goran Ivanisevic were announced as the latest inductees to the Tennis Hall of Fame, and proved they still have an impact on the court.
Martinez, reunited with Garbine Muguruza, rebuilt the belief of her compatriot to guide the Spaniard to the final, whilst Ivanisevic has contributed to the supreme consistency and enhanced serve of Djokovic.
Meanwhile, former Olympic champion Nicholas Massu has kept Thiem’s 2019 success spilling over into the New Year with an enthralling big-hitting AO2020.
7. Garbine edging back to the summit
During pre-season, the women’s singles runner-up climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Muguruza, now back in the top 20 after her final run at Melbourne Park, appears a rejuvenated player, ready to climb another peak.
Alongside a finely-poised final, Muguruza’s straight-sets passage past Simona Halep in the last four was particularly poignant, a sign that the two-time major winner is well and truly back.
8. Roger and Serena running out of time
You’d be crazy to count out the legendary duo of Serena Williams (23 Slams) and Roger Federer (20).
But the chasing pack is getting larger and far more threatening to snare the top titles, with Kenin the prime example.
Are the all-time greats still Grand Slam contenders? Of course. Is the time to clinch another Australian Open running out? Undoubtedly.
9. Gauff not a flash in the pan
It’s very easy to forget that the American is still only 15 years old.
The 2019 heroics at Wimbledon and the US Open made Gauff a household name, but Down Under the world No.67 replicated the composure and captivating tennis to defeat Venus Williams (again) and reigning champion Naomi Osaka.
Coco also took a set off Kenin in the fourth round, so seeing Gauff in the latter stages of majors is something that we’ll soon become accustomed to.
10. Zverev banishes the demons
Rewind to the ATP Cup at the turn of the year, and Alexander Zverev stated his tennis was “horrible”.
The 22-year-old had completely lost his confidence, flinging a bunch of double faults into matches. Relentless hours on the practice courts at Melbourne Park helped the German incrementally rebuild his belief.
The world No.7 has risen above adversity to post his best Grand Slam showing, and was only just outmanoeuvred by Thiem in the semifinals.