The Australian Open sees shock exits but a rising Novak Djokovic


The Australian Open is the first tennis grand slam of the year held from January 16 to January 29 in Melbourne, Australia. The men’s and women’s draws both begin at the round of 128 with half of the players each day continuing on to the next round. The prize money for the champions is $1.9 million, a 3.4% increase from last year. Despite strong performances from the top men last year, the Australian Open has seen some shock early exits.


Rafael Nadal, the number 1 seed and defending champion,  crashed out early in the second round to America’s MacKenzie McDonald 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 mainly due to an injury early in the second set which later would be revealed to be a grade 2 muscle strain. The number 2 seed, Casper Rudd also was dumped out by America’s Jenson Brooskby in the second round  3-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 despite having a lead in the first two sets. Another shock exit was Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, last year’s runner up, who lost to America’s Sebastion Korda, 6-7, 3-6, 6-7 in the third round. Although the men’s draw lost many of its top players early, many American men have been able to progress further into the tournament, giving a reminder how dominant American tennis players used to be in the early 2000s. On top of the surprises in the men’s draw, the women’s draw also had some shock early exits.


Poland’s Iga Swiatek, the world number 1, was brushed off by Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 6-4 6-4 in just over 90 minutes. Despite making 61% of her first serves in, Swiatek couldn’t seem to take control of points and was playing defensive from the start, instead of her usual aggressive playing style. The number 2 seed, Ons Jabeur dropped out in the second round to Marketa Vondrousova 1-6 5-7 1-6 due to excessive backhand errors and being mentally frustrated after failing to convert multiple breakpoints. With both draws having eliminated heavy favorites to win, the trophy is up for grabs. 


With the draw opening up for Novak Djokovic, he has become the likely favorite to win on the men’s side. If he is able to win next Sunday, he will tie Rafael Nadal for the most grand slams won by a man in the open era, 22. For the women’s draw however, there isn’t a clear favorite but possible winners could be Jessica Pegula, the women’s highest seed left fourth seed Carolina Garcia, or twelfth seed Belinda Bencic. For Djokovic, drama seems to follow him in every match.

In last Thursday’s match against qualifier Enzo Couacaud, Djokovic was continually heckled by a drunk fan on Rod Laver Arena despite pleas from Djokovic to the umpire, Fergus Murphy, to remove the drunk fan from the stage. The heckling continued well into the fourth set until the umpire finally agreed and the heckler was kicked out of the stadium. The heckling isn’t that surprising for Djokovic as he has often been named public enemy number 1 among tennis fans.