22 Parting Shots from the 2023 Australian Open

Why 22? Well …

  1. Novak Djokovic is in firm control of the ATP Tour after ending 2022 and starting 2023 with big wins.
  2. Aryna Sabalenka rebuilt her serve and conquered mental hurdles en route to winning this event. The pain of her 2022 US Open semifinal loss seems like a distant memory.
  3. Elena Rybakina is a major champion and will contend for years to come. Her game seems quite unshakable.
  4. Stefanos Tsitsipas’ mental game has made huge strides since losing to Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon 2022.
  5. Melbourne’s blue courts are aesthetically wonderful. The time difference between Kentucky and Melbourne makes me watching much of the event difficult as I age. Sleep is important.
  6. US Men’s tennis has enjoyed three consecutive strong majors. Tommy Paul posted another semifinal finish (Tiafoe did the same at the 2022 US Open), but the field also has depth.
  7. Andy Murray is always true to his personality. From looking disheveled on the court to arguing for the right to a bathroom break, I have grown to like the curmudgeon more and more over the years.
  8. Iga Swiatek is about to enter into a period of defending a lot of points. She and her team should maybe talk to Jim Courier about his experience of entering the 1992 sunshine double as the defending champion and #1 player in the world.
  9. Djokovic’s 10 hard-court Australian Open titles equal the combined hard-court titles in Oz from #2 Federer (6) and #3 Agassi (4).
  10. Sabalenka and Rybakina’s final should remind everyone of how important the service is. In every game of a match, a player has to either hit a serve or a return on every single point.
  11. Speaking of that match, it was nice to see a final with two players trying to dictate play. Stringing changes have made defensive and counter-punching tennis more and more common, but dictating play in tennis is a bit like Steve Prefontaine’s “control the pace control the race” maxim.
  12. Rafael Nadal should ask Andy Murray about the best ways to approach hip injuries.
  13. Daniil Medvedev should probably forget about the past 52 weeks and try to start over as a player hunting the top spot and biggest trophies.
  14. Ben Shelton’s first trip outside of the US should be seen as a success.
  15. Victoria Azarenka probably has a few more final four runs in her career which is a testament to her athleticism and fighting spirit.
  16. J.J. Wolf’s father trained my college roommate in tennis. That seems noteworthy.
  17. Barbora Krejikova adding another doubles major means she may be the most anonymous automatic Hall of Fame bid playing on tour today. Having doubles digits in doubles/mixed doubles majors, a gold medal, a fed cup title, a #1 ranking in doubles, 1 singles major, and a #2 ranking in singles mean she can’t be kept out.
  18. Tim Mayotte spoke about the ideal player today having something like Jimmy Connors’ backhand and Ivan Lendl’s forehand. Sound like the new world #1?
  19. Danielle Collins is another player who likes to dictate play. She lost to Kybakina who lost to Sabalenka who beat Collins at the 2022 US Open. The lesson – dictate play!
  20. Aryna Sabalenka has all of the tools, has a lot of events on a favorable surface in front of her, and has proven herself mentally. Her biggest challenge may be avoiding overplaying ahead of the clay season.
  21. Carlos Alcaraz may benefit from not being #1 as his first reign seemed to weigh on him (along with health issues).
  22. Return like Agassi and serve like Sampras? Novak served exceptionally well throughout the 2023 Australian Open. His return as always was awesome.
Photo by Hugo Heimendinger on Pexels.com

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