Familiar Faces top the Australian Open

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Report Door

Naomi Osaka steals the spotlight as she wins the Australian Open 2021 women’s final.

By Romy Li (III), Contirbuting Writer

Most tennis fans across the United States eagerly anticipate uploads of YouTube videos after each match of this year’s Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.

This tournament took place from February 8 to 21 at Melbourne Park and is part of the 2021 Association of Tennis Professionals Tour and the 2021 Women’s Tennis Association Tour calendars. It consisted of both men’s and women’s singles and doubles draws as well as mixed doubles events. There are also singles and doubles events for boys and girls under the age of 18; these junior competitions will be played later on in the year. Finally, the men and women’s wheelchair tennis players competed in singles, doubles and even quad events as part of the Nippon Energy Company Tour under the Grand Slam category.

As the first Grand Slam tournament without line judges, the Hawk-Eye Live, an electronically expanded version of the Hawk-Eye technology, made line calls instead. This means that players would not be able to challenge any calls during their matches. The Australian Open games were played on 25 hard courts across a series of 25 courts, with 1573 Arena, John Cain Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Rod Laver Arena being the four main show courts.

During the pandemic, one would expect an absence of spectators, but the number of spectators, although taking up only 50 percent of normal capacity, was still estimated to be around 30,000. The turnout, however, was generally below the estimates.

On February 12, a cluster of active cases linked to another quarantine hotel in Melbourne caused a sudden five-day snap lockdown and stay-at-home order. Consequently, the tournament was played behind closed doors, and the final match of the day between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz was suspended. A few days after, organizers announced that spectators would be allowed to return, beginning the next day. For players, mandatory 14-day quarantines, which took place before the warm-up events that started on January 31, were put in place as COVID-19 safety precautions.

The tennis world was, as it always is, divided when it came to rooting for players, but in the end, world number one seed Novak Djokovic, defending champion of the men’s singles title, came out on top in straight sets after the heated final against Daniil Medvedev.

Sofia Kenin, the defending champion of the women’s singles title, lost in the second round. It was Naomi Osaka who defeated our country’s very own Jennifer Brady in straight sets, claiming her fourth Grand Slam title in the process. The Japanese tennis star is continuously gaining well-deserved recognition as a result of her consecutive victories, calm mentality and poised playing style.

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polášek took the men’s doubles title in straight sets, and Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka proved a great match as they took home their second Grand Slam doubles title as a pair, winning in straight sets as well. Barbora Krejčíková and Rajeev Ram won the mixed doubles title.

Joachim Gérard took home his first wheelchair men’s singles Grand Slam title. Diede de Groot was the victor of wheelchair women’s singles, as well as a victor alongside partner Aniek van Koot for wheelchair women’s doubles. Australian top seed Dylan Alcott won the wheelchair quad singles title and won again in wheelchair quad doubles with Heath Davidson. Last but not least, the British pair of Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid took home an impressive tenth Grand Slam title as a duo.

Many fans are now looking forward to this year’s upcoming tournaments, among these events being the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open, all of which will, hopefully by then, be pandemic-free. Until then, watching continual replays of matches from the Australian Open on YouTube will have to do!