Monday, February 22, 2021

Weekend Tennis Diary: Naomi and Novak Win Down Under!


For a major that was filled with many results I didn't want, the 2021 Australian Open definitely "got there" in the end, with Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic coming out on top. Keep reading HERE.

For Naomi, winning in Melbourne immediately took her young career to the next level, joining just Roger Federer and Monica Seles as the only people to ever win their first four Grand Slam finals. The Haitian-Japanese-American never looked in doubt as she dismissed American Jenny Brady 6-4, 6-3 to clinch her second Aussie Open. (Her win of Serena Williams in the semifinals was a clinic in how to beat a hard hitter with reduced movement abilities.) 

Happiness is a warm trophy

Meanwhile, Djokovic cemented his position as the King of Melbournic, dispensing of Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the Serbian's shortest AO final. Although it sounds ridiculous to make it sound like Nole had anything to prove, the match really had a must-win undertone to it. Having squandered what was likely an easy win at the U.S. Open that featured neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal, and then getting massacred by the Spaniard in the French Open final, the path to 20-plus becomes increasingly narrow with each passing year. Novak turns 34 in May, and history shows the odds of winning majors at the age become increasingly slim, as Federer and Serena Williams can attest. 

Now within two of Federer and Nadal, the chances of his tying or overtaking them remains strong. 

Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens won the Australian Open women’s doubles final, 6-2, 6-3, over Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Friday afternoon at Rod Laver Arena, moving them into the No. 1 and 2 rankings, respectively, for the first time. But after the title, the second Grand Slam triumph they have won together, the New York Times reports that Sabalenka said she would no longer play doubles and instead put her “whole focus on singles,” in which she is ranked seventh. For her part, Mertens said she respects the decision and if her partner changes her mind, she will be around. "I just like to play matches." IMHO, Sabalenka totally should have been able to beat Serena, so a sports psychologist might be a better move than ditching doubles. 

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek upset defending champions Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram to win the men's doubles title Sunday -- their first as a team. 

The Croat-Slovak combination, seeded nine, proved too strong for the British-American fifth seeds, outlasting them 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.

Ram didn't go home without a title, though. He and Barbora Krejcikova claimed the mixed doubles trophy for the second time in three years with a 6-1, 6-4 victory against Aussie wild cards Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur.

Sure would have been nice to have new mom Sam and hunky Matt capture the crown on their home turf. 

But it looks like they had a good time.

Damian and spent the fortnight trying to figure out who the mini-Wim Fissette in Osaka's box was. 

Turns out he's Seppe Cuypers -- any relation to Brigitte? -- Naomi's sparring partner. He's 22 and from Belgium, which is apparently the land of really good hair. 

Goran Ivanisevic hasn't let up in the Hot Daddy Department 

Team player

Slone congrats our champ

I've never felt more secure ...

Daria Kasatkina ended a two-year title drought Friday with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win against No.13 seed Marie Bouzkova at the Phillip Island Trophy. This was the tournament where all the early losers in the Aussie Open go to nurse their wounds, and saw Sofia Kenin lose her first match (to an unknown Aussie wild card) and Bianca Andreescu blow her semifinal against Marie Bouzkova.

Twenty-year-old American Jenson Brooksby won his first career ATP Challenger Tour singles title at the Potch Open, an ATP Challenger 80 event on Sunday. At the North-West University in Potchefstroom, he defeated Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, to cap off an impressive run. 

In the semis, Gabashvili had taken out Liam Broady, who still looked like a winner to me 

Benjamin Lock had a nice run to the quarterfinals

lorenzo musetti reached the final in Biella Challenger, but came up a little short again Lore Kwon Soon-woo

Elsewhere around the net ...

Unlucky for me, Jonny O'Mara likes it doggy-style

Interesting to read that David Nalbandian is returning to the world of tennis to coach Miomir Kecmanovic. The rising Serbian is seeded third this week in Cordoba, so we will have a quick look at how the new partnership fares.

And speaking of hot Serbs with Argentine tendencies, how cute was it to see Laslo Djere with his mate gourd in Belgrade? (Is it the Diego effect?)

Robert Farah's next act as an influencer picked up steam with a trip to the dermatologist who keeps him looking so pretty 

Benoit Paire en route to Cordoba, where he will face the winner of Jaume Munar and Nicolas Jarry 

Christian Harrison -- looking like he's en route to a red beard contest -- beat Clement Tabur in the final of an ITF Futures event

Quentin Halys makes losing in the first round of quallies look good

Tommy Haas drove his new BMW to see former coach Nick Bollettieri, who is still going strong a few months shy of 90!

This kid is going to grow up to have daddy issues

Matteo Berrettini and Ajla Tomljanovic play it cool

Denis Shapovalov relaxed after a disappointing loss to countryman Felix Auger Aliassime

Reilly Opelka with USC tennis pal Jake DeVine

Dream date with Janko Tipsarevic

Marton Fucsovics's birthday was for the dogs

At 37, Andreas Seppi officially entered the Daddy Zone

Karen Khachanov keeps smiling 


Lloyd Glasspool lost in the final of another doubles Challenger and then threatened to pull a Corentin Moutet

Lucas Pouille will face Benjamin Bonzi in the first round of the Montpellier event

And look who these kids ran into!

I may have watched this Noah Rubin video more than once, even if I'm not a big fan of the BTR Tour he's promoting. I understand the desire -- and need -- for more tennis outlets. But World Team Tennis and its funky format and scoring never did much for me and I'm not sure this -- which sounds a lot like the Ultimate Tennis Showdown we saw a lot last year -- will either. (Damian started to warm up to the UTS so perhaps I'm in the minority, as is often the case.)

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