March 24, 2023

Djoko all the way up, Americans up, Garcia down and an overall disappointing tournament. Find the tops and flops of the tennis section.


The inner struggle of the Djokovic machine

The Serb remains this formidable machine for crushing opponents. His 22nd Grand Slam conquest was apparently one of the quietest. But the feeling of the Serb was very different from that of the observers. And between when he injured his thigh during a training session with Daniil Medvedev, and when he lifted the trophy for the 10th time in ten finals at the Rod Laver Arena, the new number 1 World Cup believes that he produced one of the greatest psychological efforts of his entire career to mark the history of his game once again. This made his coach Goran Ivanisevic say: “97% of the players, given the MRI on Saturday before the start of the tournament, would have gone directly to the referee’s office to forfeit. But not him. This guy is just amazing “. And without limit. Now rich with 22 Grand Slam titles, like Rafael Nadal, the Serbian champion can go even further. Physically on top, always fresh mentally and tennistically, he is more than ever above the lot. The divisive Djokovic will never be unanimous. But even his detractors agree. The Serb is a champion with admirable resilience.

A ladies’ final at the height

The 2023 Australian Open will not go down in history. On the men’s side, on the women’s side, the fortnight was rather dull, with no duel worthy of the name if we exclude the matches played by Andy Murray. The final between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, won by the first, fortunately raised the level. The two women returned blow for blow during the 2h34 of a bitter battle. The first set was dominated by Rybakina, the second by Sabalenka, and the third was a fight. The outcome was highly indecisive, with games often resulting in ties. We expected no less from the Kazakh (23 years old) and the Belarusian (24 years old), two profiles of hitters. If his opponent showed more touch with a few well-felt drop shots, it was Sabalenka who was able to unleash the most powerful and precise strikes. Until Rybakina bend, and win his very first Grand Slam title. Saturday in Melbourne, the two women certainly did not deliver their last quality duel on the circuit.

Sir Andy Murray

In January 2019, the world of tennis is moved by his tears when he announces his probable retirement from sport at a press conference. Four years later, Andy Murray is still there, with a metal hip, to the delight of fans. It was he who provided the rare thrills of an otherwise unexciting fortnight. In the first round, theScottish achieves the feat of taking out the seeded N.13 Matteo Berrettini,in five sets (6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6). In the second, he overthrew the Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at the end of the night after losing the first two sets (4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 7-5). Exhausted from these ten hours already spent on the court, he finally lost in the third round against the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut (6-1, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4). At 35, he who has already won so much plays without restraint like a beginner who has nothing to lose. Refreshing.

The group shot of American tennis for a brilliant return to the front of the stage

In the wake of the US Open (semi-final by Frances Tiafoe, stopped in 5 sets by Carlos Alcaraz), the Australian Open showed the vitality, quality and variety of American tennis. They were fourteen in the 3rd round of the Australian Open (8 men, 6 women), there were still four (3 men, 1 woman) in the quarter-finals. Tommy Paul, the surprising last representative, being finally eliminated in the semi-finals (by the ruthless Novak Djokovic). Sebastian Korda (injured and forced to retire in the quarter-finals), Jenson Brooksby (Casper Ruud scorer in 2e tour) and Cie will have marked the tournament and brilliantly replaced Taylor Fritz (out on 2e lap by Alexei Popyrin) and Coco Gauff (eliminated in the round of 16 by Jelena Ostapenko), headliners struggling for success in Melbourne. They are 10 in the top 50 of the ATP rankings on Monday. American tennis has regained its momentum. The next step, the highest perched, remains to go and win the moon, a Grand Slam title. The latest in American tennis date from 2020 (Sofia Kenin, Australian Open) and 2003 (Andre Agassi at the Australian Open and Andy Roddick at the US Open).


A second part which suffers from the comparison with the first

The first week had absorbed all the emotions. The Australian Open has, for a week, been faithful to its habits, shaken by surprises, revelations, winning returns. The second released only a few opportunities to ignite. The absences of Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios, outsiders with (too quickly) cut wings like Holger Rune, deprived the Australian Open of the madness that had, for example, seized the last US Open. No one was able to derail the robotic Novak Djokovic (Rublev is, for the 7e times in his career, stuck in the quarter-finals, a stage he never crossed). And the tournament has, in these last rounds and last days, suffered greatly. An impression reinforced by a finale with a moving conclusion but which never took off. After Korda-Hurkacz and Tsitsipas-Sinner in the round of 16, the tournament no longer hosted a match in 5 sets. 6 of the last 7 matches have been one-sided, in three quick sets except for the 4 sets of the Tsitsipas-Khachanov semi-final. And in the women’s draw, after 2 matches in 3 sets in the round of 16, the next and last was invited in a thrilling, intense final. The winners of the singles tables (men and women) will remain in the annals, the tournaments much less.

Caroline Garcia has not assumed her new status

The winner of the last Masters knew she was expected. And the weight of expectation crushed him. In Melbourne, thea Lyonnaise was eliminated without glory in the round of 16 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 by the Polish Magda Linette. His lack of experience of major events (only one major semi-final in 43 Grand Slam tournaments) weighed. Despite an optimal physical form, caught up by the challenge, she was unable to deploy this offensive and flamboyant game which had made her the best player of the second part of the 2022 season. damage and dispute a second 8e finals in Melbourne (after 2018). The Australian Open being the least successful Grand Slam for him: “I struggled to keep my emotions in check and to put my game in place and release myself forward.”, she confided. The 29-year-old Lyonnaise alone carries the hopes of the French in the Grand Slams. He will have to better understand the weight of expectations in the next major meetings. Otherwise, new disappointments could quickly occur…

The failure of N.1 and N.2

In men, Carlos Alcaraz’s package propelled his eldest Rafael Nadal seeded N.1, and the Norwegian Casper Ruud N.2. Among the women, the first two in the WTA ranking were there, namely the Polish Iga Swiatek (N.1) and the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (N.2). But among these four players, no one has managed to go beyond the stage of the round of 16. This is quite simply the first time this has happened in a Grand Slam tournament since the start of the Open era. Once again betrayed by his body, Rafael Nadal was swept away in three sets in the second round by the American Kenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5). Casper Ruud was dismissed at the same stage, also by an American, Jenson Brooksby (6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 6-2). Among the women, Iga Swiatek had a good run before having the misfortune of falling on the future finalist, Elena Rybakina. Defeat in two sets (6-4, 6-4). As for Ons Jabeur, she never found the rhythm in Melbourne. Defeat in the second round against the Czech Marketa Vondrousova (6-1, 5-7, 6-1).

Felix Auger Aliassime, a big missed meeting again

The Brilliant Canadian told us before the Australian Open his dreams of a Grand Slam title. “MEven though there may be trickier moments in a career, I feel closer and closer to this goal.. For now, the facts do not prove him right. Eliminated at 1er tour of Wimbledon by Maxime Cressy and at 2e round of the US Open by Jack Draper, Felix Auger‐Aliassime suffered another Grand Slam disappointment by losing in 8e final against the Czech neophyte Jiri Leheck in four sets. The Quebecer, however, had an interesting table which could have allowed him to take a step forward in the major events. It is of course premature to say that the 22-year-old Canadian nugget will miss out on an extraordinary career. It is clear that during the Grand Slam tournaments, he still fails to play his best tennis.

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