Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the second week of this Australian Open.
Tennis waits for no one and the first week of this Australian Open gave us a stark reminder of just that.
At any given time, there are entirely too many matches unfolding at once for any sane human to properly assess and comprehend all that is happening at once—but still we try, even if we tend to receive most results 12 hours later because of the time difference of us living in Canada.
Tennis keeps keeping on, I guess is what we’re trying to say here, and this is doubly true when the tennis unfolding is unfolding down under in Australia at the same time as we sleep every night.
As week one of our first Grand Slam of the year has come to a close, let’s recap where we are and see if we can predict what might unfold over the next seven days.
The next great American tennis star is here. Maybe.
Don’t look now, but there’s quite a nice opening for the United States to crown a new champion over the next seven days. While we had expected Serena Williams to be this beacon of hope for American tennis, as she has typically been, the 38-year-old bowed out early in Melbourne.
In her place stepped in “fierce counterpuncher” Sofia Kenin. The 21-year-old has a quarterfinal matchup that’s on paper eminently winnable against No. 78-ranked Ons Jabeur. From there, it would be a semifinal against either of Ashleigh Barty or Petra Kvitova and, well, you just never really know before it’s time for the final. Who knows, you know?
The great exodus of seeded players on the women’s side blows up the singles draw.
Who in the hell predicted that things would be so wide open on the women’s side? As we’re writing this, the upper two quarterfinals have been determined while the fourth round matches of the lower half are yet to be played. And get this: only 10 of the 32 seeded players, including just four of the top 10, are still in action.
With such a wide open first week, a singles final on the women’s side between Jabeur and Iga Swiatek would only be fitting—it wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, mind you, but it would be fitting.
Milos Raonic who?
Canadian tennis fans have been spoiled in recent years with the arrival of a new generation of players that took the sport by storm and which all culminated in last summer’s US Open triumph for youngster Bianca Andreescu.
In light of this, the godfather of them all, 29-year-old Milos Raonic, has become the forgotten man. Quiet and kept, Raonic is not as boisterous or electric as his countrymen Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime—but he’s the undeniable rock upon which the entire golden age of Canadian tennis has been built. He’s been taken for granted but has used this week in Australian to remind everyone that his hand is still as steady as ever.
A tall foe awaits in the quarterfinals in the form of Novak Djokovic, but Raonic has already won in getting there.
Poor Rafael Nadal!!
Novak Djokovic is getting all philosophical with The New York Times because that’s how hard (read: easy) his draw is, while Roger Federer survives pseudo scares against players that shouldn’t ever scare him.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is the supposed no. 1 seed of the entire tournament, one he’s only won once in his entire career all the way back in 2009, and he’s had to navigate an upper section of the draw that’s full of mines at every turn.
After presumably taking care of business against Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round, Nadal will then need to face Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev just to make the final, where Djokovic is likely to wait on him. And how has the Spaniard fared recently against the Serb on hard courts? Very, very freaking bad.
19 straight sets and 9 wins in a row for Novak Djokovic against Rafael Nadal on hardcourts:
6-2 6-3 6-2
Only two sets Nadal has taken more than four games in. Last set and win was seven years ago.
— Jase (@Certinfy) January 12, 2020
You would truly, truly hate to see it.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG