It is strange for me to not have engaged the 1st major of the year until the middle of the first week. I am now 44 and 2020 has me starting my year is a less than youthful joy. Here are my reasons:
The Australian wildfires bothered and continue to bother me a lot. I don’t see the tennis as connected to the fires, but it is hard to be enthusiastic about a sporting event for whatever reason. I am happy that so many players are making efforts to address the damage.
If this is the future of tennis, I think I’ll keep playing but watch less. Young players emulate this garbage.
During ATP Cup and various Aussie Open tune-up events, there were instances of extreme racquet and verbal abuse on full display. This behavior filters down to junior players. As a coach of high school players, I am not looking forward to trying to police more frequent racquet taps and racquet breaks. Sascha Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas lost a lot of my respect. Nick Kyrgios’ behavior at ATP Cup toward Novak Djokovic was pitiful. His imitation of Rafael Nadal after a time violation was petulant. A tennis player asked a ball girl to peel a banana for him. The era of tennis players being admired might be a memory when the NextGen takes over the tour.
Tennis fandoms tend to treat their non-preferred members of the Big 3 as though they are Todd Packer. Having a preferred champion is one thing, but seeking minutia to criticize about people one doesn’t know is disheartening. In 2004, I was amazed at the level of tennis I saw from Roger Federer. I was impressed with that and am glad that player is still playing in 2020. Still, if I cannot be impressed with the elite level of tennis that emerged in 2005 and 2007 and be happy those exemplars of excellent tennis are still producing great play on the court in 2020 I am not much of a fan of the sport.
This graphic says a lot
Serena Williams has 23 singles majors in the Open Era. I get people wondering if she will tie Margaret Court’s 24, but that is a lot like Bud Collins wondering if Pete Sampras would break his tie of 7-Wimbledon titles with William Renshaw. Roger Federer eventually got to 8 (maybe more) Wimbledon singles titles, but Renshaw and Court’s totals were partially or totally accumulated in an era that has nothing in common with tennis in the Open Era. That fact makes their numbers a curiosity but not a storyline. The above tweet shows that Steffi Graf was considered the singles slam queen. Why Serena is not is something tennis media should be asking itself. I have some ideas, but as a grumpy old man, I am just going to say Serena is the singles slam queen. Take that to the bank.
Now that this is out of my system, I am looking forward to a great Australian Open.