Tennis going to be hot at Australian Open

first_imgEven before the first tennis ball has been hit at the Australian Open, emotions are overflowing Down Under.The first Grand Slam of the year is always a fascinating one. Being played in the other hemisphere, where history, geography and conditions are quite the opposite, the Australian Open has its own charm.As has become a practice before the tournament starts on Monday, the top guns get to speak to the media. None other than gentleman Andy Murray has made players and fans weep with words he spoke at an emotional press conference where he has said he will bid the sport goodbye.In an age where brash players grab headlines and the well-mannered professionals stick to their job diligently, Murray is the quintessential nice guy. He has endeared himself to all with his impeccable manners and behaviour on and off the court.The winner of three Grand Slam titles is respected by women tennis champions, past and present, for asking that players be paid at par. Compared to the old days when Bobby Riggs made uncharitable comments about women’s tennis till Billie Jean King took him on in the “Battle Of The Sexes” match and won, women’s tennis has come a long way.Yes, it needed someone like Andy Murray to speak nicely about the ladies as he believes they play pro tennis as hard as the men, though not over best-of-five sets in the Grand Slams. As the torch-bearer of British tennis and a two-time Olympic champion, Murray knows tennis has been a maelstrom for him in recent years.advertisementHe has simply not been able to recover from the hip injury and even at the Australian Open, one is not sure how long he will last. For him, to think of prolonging his swansong till Wimbledon, a place which he loves and gives him love, maybe a long journey. Be sure, each time Murray is on the court in the melting heat of Melbourne, he will offer fans a glimpse of what a champion he has been.Talk of drama, emotion, and history, one cannot but think of the journeys which the two biggest champions of the sport, Serena Williams and Roger Federer, will undertake. It feels like yesterday Serena won the Australian Open title in January 2017 when she was pregnant and still went on to defeat sister Venus in the final.The last time Serena played in a Grand Slam, at the US Open final against Naomi Osaka, the American was in distress. Her fiery duel with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, with all the conversation going live on air, made Serena a villain.Serena knows she may have pushed it a bit too far in New York last September and this is the time for her to return to winning ways in Melbourne. It’s not often Serena loses two Grand Slam finals in a row, as she did at Wimbledon and the US Open. She has grown a year older, but age never has been a factor for the queen of women’s tennis.Move to action in men’s tennis, it promises to be riveting. Between the three great men in the Open era – Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic -so many Grand Slam titles have been won, their progress in the coming fortnight will be viewed with great interest.Djokovic is indeed the hot favourite, having rediscovered his winning touch after looking pedestrian for a few years in between. He suffered distractions, his losses had more to do with problems other than tennis and lack of concentration was a factor. The way he has been able to bounce back in 2018, coming from outside the Top 20 ranking to win Wimbledon and the US Open was huge. Before this, Federer and Nadal had won the Australian Open and the French Open in 2018.There are many out there backing Federer, who at past 37 years of age, is still pushing hard. These days, there are any numbers of youngsters who come and swing their tennis racquets freely. Heat has never been a problem for Federer and his romance with the fans is a delightful one. It’s certainly a question of how he keeps his motivation high and lasts the two weeks.There are projections he could run into Djokovic in the final but to discount the chances of Nadal would be foolish. Nadal’s tennis career has been up and down. His injuries, long breaks from the tennis tour and return have always been enchanting.Two years ago, he even spoke of possibly retiring before Federer. One should not be fooled by all that, as Rafa still has the shots to hurt and the energy to wear down rivals in the heat of Melbourne.advertisementSo, to talk of favourites Down Under would be a bit dicey. Indeed, the favourites will have to slog it out over the next fortnight.Also Read | Roger Federer credits luck for his longevity ahead of hat-trick bid at Australian OpenAlso Read | Australian Open: Alexander Zverev declares himself fit despite injury scareAlso Read | Australian Open: Coach-less Simona Halep admits behind curve at Melbourne Parklast_img

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