4 min read
The first week of the Australian Open is behind us so it's time to reflect on some of the best, most viral moments. Top Universal Tennis INSIGHTS tournament favorites Ashleigh Barty and Daniil Medvedev have continued their march toward the titles, while plenty of fun, kind, and weird moments have taken place on and off the court.
Let's take a look at all the action we've enjoyed so far.
The Happy Slam may not have started with a lot of happiness but the warm feelings have piled up. Signs of friendship have been strong in all corners of the event, like when Andy Murray and Naomi Osaka had this exchange:
“It definitely means a lot. For me it was a really cool moment," Osaka said. "It's a little bit shocking, because when you're playing, you never really think about
On the court, players have been picking each other up, quite literally. Taylor Fritz beat his good friend Frances Tiafoe in the second round, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5), and started cramping. Despite having just lost the match seconds prior, Tiafoe didn't hesitate to help him out.
Fritz is through to the fourth round of a major for the first time and will face Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Teen Carlos Alcaraz helped Matteo Berrettini up after he fell during their five-set battle, which Berrettini won.
This is sportsmanship 💙— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 21, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz helped Matteo Berrettini up to his feet after a fall during their showdown on Day 5.@Kia_Worldwide • #Kia • #MovementThatInspires • #AusOpen • #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/Vz2o7NMV8u
The Italian is into the quarterfinals where he faces Gael Monfils.
When No. 8 seed Paula Badosa outlasted Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the third round she was nothing but supportive at the net. The two shared a big hug and Kostyuk was cracking a smile within moments.
“We both admire each other," Badosa said. "I really respect her. We know each other since long time. We're very good friends. She told me that if I keep playing like this, I could do a very good result here. I said she played amazing, and that she could play a little bit less today because it was very tough! That's what we were joking
Badosa was knocked out by an unseeded Madison Keys.
All Hail the Super Tiebreaker
The 10-point super tiebreak has been the star of the Grand Slam this year. The sudden death format was put in place in Melbourne in 2019 after decades of never-ending matches. So far, six contests have ended in the most dramatic manner, with two third-round showdowns going all the way.
Unseeded Amanda Anisimova upset Naomi Osaka after saving two match points.
And Berrettini needed a fifth-set tiebreak to overcome fast-rising Spanish teenager Alcaraz.
Leo Takes Over
Victoria Azarenka's five-year-old son Leo joined her for her press conference after she blew out No. 15 seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 in the third round. He charmed the press online and in the room with his brief but accurate answer about his mom.
"It’s definitely not a distraction, I will never say that: Being a parent is not easy. He’s full of personality — I don’t know where he gets it from!” Azarenka said. “I always feel privileged that I’m able to have him here. These kinds of moments are really priceless for me. To be able for me to share that with my son is pretty incredible.”
She would fall to Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 Roland Garros champion.
Fans in Melbourne Park are excited to be out of lockdown after two long years, and that seems to have led to some confusion over what sport they are watching. During a number of matches including Andy Murray's five-set bout with Nikoloz Basilashvil and Medvedev's tricky win over Nick Kyrgios, they chanted "Siu!" — sometimes in between serves. The chant is usually reserved for football sensation Cristiano Ronaldo.
You can hear exactly how Medvedev felt about it:
"Show some respect." 😡😡— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 20, 2022
Daniil Medvedev was NOT happy with the crowd behaviour tonight and he let them know in the on-court interview! 😳
#AusOpen - Live on Channel 9 and 9Now pic.twitter.com/5UKAFOuV9v
While Murray called it "incredibly irritating", Kyrgios leaned into it:
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios hit the Ronaldo celebration after winning his first match at the Australian Open 🎾 pic.twitter.com/rqacinAVef— GOAL (@goal) January 19, 2022
Kyrgios Quenches Thirst
Speaking of Kyrgios, after the Australian won his first match over Liam Broady, he had a sip of beer from a fan.
The 26-year-old would fall to Medvedev in four sets in the second round but he and Thanasi Kokkanikis are through to the quarterfinals in doubles, and loving every second of it. In fact, their displays of friendship may be one of the best of the tournament.
While there were plenty of new faces lighting up the crowds, the Australian nation lost one champion to retirement. Samantha Stosur is competing in her last Australian Open. The 37-year-old took out Robin Anderson before falling to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her final singles match.
End of an era 👏👏@bambamsam30 storied singles career comes to a close with @NastiaPav toppling the Aussie in straight-sets 6-2 6-2. #AusOpen · #AO2022— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
🎥: @wwos · @espn · @Eurosport · @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/sJSk6pIVQJ
Stosur won the 2011 US Open, reached the final of the 2010 French Open, and won six doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slams, including two at her home Slam. She's still in the mixed double event in Melbourne.
The Barty Party Continues
Another Australian champion, Barty, is far from done. The 25-year-old top seed started the week by gracing the cover of Vogue Australia. She proceeded to dominate her first few matches, losing just eight games until the fourth round.
Once there she ended Anisimova's run with her closest scoreline so far, 6-4, 6-3. Barty, who has won Roland Garros and Wimbledon, had her best run in Australia when she reached the semifinals in 2020. She's quite deservedly the pride of her home nation, so much show that her name comes with superlatives.
Although Osaka will not be repeating her 2021 title victory in Melbourne, she did pay a beautiful homage to butterflies on her Nike shoes.
Last year during her Australian Open title run, Naomi Osaka had a run-in with a butterfly which led to one of the best sports photos of 2021.— Andscape (@andscape) January 19, 2022
At this year's #AusOpen, Osaka has worn custom Nike butterfly shoes in both of her matches 🦋 pic.twitter.com/CcsXuBC8zR
For those that might not remember, the 24-year-old had a butterfly land on her leg and face while she was on her way to winning the Australian Open last year. It certainly felt like a good luck omen at the time.
While butterflies are less of an obstruction, Emma Raducanu and Danka Kovinic had their second-round tussle interrupted by seagulls.
Kovinic would beat the seagulls and the 2021 US Open champion to move into the third round of a major for the first time, where she lost to Simona Halep. Despite Raducanu's rapid rise to fame, she was playing in her Australian Open debut.
Making the Call
Going into the tournament, Universal INSIGHTS predicted Medvedev and Barty to win the titles at 26% and 16% odds respectively. This is how the odds stand now:
INSIGHTS Favorites Going into Week 2
Daniil Medvedev — 36%
Rafael Nadal — 34%
Stefanos Tsitsipas — 7%
Matteo Berrettini — 6%
Jannik Sinner — 6%
Ashleigh Barty — 38%
Aryna Sabalenka — 16%
Barbora Krejcikova — 11%
Iga Swiatek — 9%
Danielle Collins — 8%
A lot more action is left to unfold in Week 2 of the Australian Open and you can keep up with everything right here with Universal Tennis.
*UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 6 a.m.. EST, Jan. 23, 2022.