Since 2001 when the powers-that-be decided to expand the seeds to 32 at all of the Grand Slam events, we really haven’t had too much by way of upset or surprise. In fact, come a little closer to the screen, I want to have a word with you on the quiet. No, closer still, we don’t want anyone to hear us. Is it me, or is the first week of the average Grand Slam tournament a little predictable?
In the men’s game, the Big Four have had a stranglehold on the major tournaments, Messrs Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray heading for the semifinals with eye-watering regularity. The tennis has been spectacular, the rivalries intense: Roger v Rafa, Andy v Novak – we will not see the like again for many a generation. But watching the four of them steer a path through the lesser lights for the first three rounds has been … well, it has been less than heart-stopping.
Now, we all know that Roger and Rafa get bums on seats, but have you noticed the new vibe around Melbourne Park this week? People want to know who Chung is, where Edmund comes from, how Mertens got this far without anyone noticing her before. Korea is going crackers for Chung and Britain is going bonkers for Edmund, the Belgians are beside themselves about Mertens. Here in Melbourne, everyone is loving every minute of it.