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What we learned: Six takeaways from AO 2022

  • Alex Sharp

A fortnight bursting with tennis of the highest order has come to a close. 
Young guns have turned heads, legendary figures have proven their champion's mentality, and Australia has enjoyed a party or two …
Let's take a look at some of the lessons learned on court at Melbourne Park.  

Barty is truly in charge 

A world No.1 lifting a Grand Slam trophy isn't hugely surprising. However, Ash Barty's dominance and exhilarating execution at Rod Laver Arena proves the home charge is going to be in contention all season. 

Remember Barty was playing with the clichéd "weight of a nation" on her shoulders, and dropped just 30 games en route to the women's singles crown. She was broken only three times in the seven matches. 

A nation expected, and Barty delivered

Now a major winner on all three surfaces, Barty could complete the career Grand Slam at the US Open, and will surely improve on her previous-best fourth-round showings in 2018-19. 

'Big Three' longevity to run on 

Five months ago, Rafael Nadal posted a picture on social media standing with crutches. The Spaniard's chronic foot injury was causing havoc, and the 35-year-old remained on the sidelines for the rest of the 2021 season. 

Fast-forward to 2022, and he's defied logic and seven opponents to prove he's nowhere near past his prime (and pretty much promised to return at AO 2023!) 

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be back in the mix at some point, meaning the Big Three will surely continue to have their say on the grandest of stages.  

Collins has laid ferocious foundations 

In the off-season, Danielle Collins was hitting with a ball machine and her boyfriend on public courts near her house in Florida.  

Happy to go about business her own way, the 28-year-old blazed into her first Grand Slam final without a permanent coach or travelling physio. 

The plan is now to bolster the travelling team for the new top-10 entrant.  

A maiden major finals appearance could be the springboard that propels Collins higher

Collins, fuelled by her fierce determination, is destined for a statement season, leading the rejuvenated Americans along with AO 22 semifinalist Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova, who knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka. Add Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff into the mix, and 'Team USA' could be enjoying a trophy-laden campaign. 

Medvedev set for showstopping 2022 

He can be divisive, he is absorbing, and he revels in being the ultimate disruptor.

Daniil Medvedev keeps rubber-stamping his own triumphant moments into the history books with his unorthodox strokes and defiance. What a talent. 

For the second straight year, Medvedev made the title match in Melbourne

The runner-up has had quite the rollercoaster at Melbourne Park, battling past the partisan crowd and Nick Kyrgios, saving match point against Felix Auger-Aliassime, and then proving his class to dismiss Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Despite falling in the instant classic final, the 25-year-old is in a strong position to scoop the No.1 ranking and will be oozing with confidence to tackle the rest of 2022. Can he compile a truly dominant season like his 'Big Three' rivals? 

Flying the flag  

Over the past five years, Canada's captivating duo Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov have been touted to be the 'next big things' on the men's tennis landscape. 

The likes of Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev have enjoyed more statement success, but it seems these long-standing friends have edged oh so close to a major breakthrough, to fulfil that potential. 

Auger-Aliassime, building on his US Open semifinal, marched to a two-set lead against Medvedev in the quarterfinals and chalked up match point. His loss was heartbreaking, but the Russian is proving too strong for most right now. 

Shapovalov levelled with Nadal from two sets down, but couldn't secure the decider in another titanic bout.  

Plenty of sensational tennis, plenty of promise in the months ahead abound for these two. 

Expect more green and golden feelings 

It wasn't just national icon Barty flying the flag for the home contingent.  

Kyrgios, who became embroiled in a first-class tussle with Medvedev, lifted the men's doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis. Kyrgios was revved up and motivated, Kokkinakis playing freely, finely injury-free. We'd all welcome a strong output from them in 2022. 

The Special Ks went all the way in the men's doubles

Alex de Minaur also earned plenty of plaudits with his best-ever Australian Open campaign. The 22-year-old started with a four-set flourish over Lorenzo Musetti, only to be denied in the fourth round by top-10 talent Jannik Sinner.