Even before the first round began at Melbourne Park controversy was in the air. Bernard Tomic was given a kick up the rear rather than a wildcard by Tennis Australia – a move which clearly did little to fire him up. Tomic has missed a lot of fun whilst he’s been counting his millions.
Determined not to have to deal with a repeat of Wimbledon’s early round retirement-fest the ITF pounced on a ‘poor first round performance’ from Mischa Zverev. Alex’s older bro clearly wasn’t fit and didn’t exactly bust a gut in his set and a half outing vs Hyeon Chung before retiring. At least he was left with around $3,000 of his $48k prize-money – the size of the fine described as harsh by some but if it deters others from taking Slam spots away from those fit enough to compete we’re fully behind it. Go you, ITF!
One young Aussie did show an increased maturity to what we’ve come to expect. Nick Kyrgios lost to Grigor Dimitrov in what was the match of the tournament thus far. The respect and encouragement offered to his victor and friend was touching, possibly taking a leaf out of childhood hero Tsonga’s book who’d done much the same to Nick in the previous round. Don’t be thinking NK is suddenly an angel – when he’s on court the air is still very much blue, especially if his box dares to not “get the f*** up” after he belts a winner.
The Grand Slam curse upon Elina Svitolina is still yet to be lifted. Hotly fancied after flawless progression through the early rounds only to bow out in dramatically swift fashion to the relatively untipped and inexperienced Elise Mertens. We just don’t see how this hoodoo can continue and we guarantee a Slam semi (or more) for Svitty in 2018.
As well as for being so hot and so pink, this year’s Aussie Open may ultimately be best remembered for a NextGen takeover. With the impressive Hyeon Chung ousting an ailing but still very decent Djokovic, Kyle Edmund with a chance to surpass an absent-with-injury Andy Murray in the rankings and Nadal’s body giving up on him, is this a changing of the guard? Yes ok, the greatest-of-all Federer is 1.5 for the title, but there may just be signs of a new dawn.
Simona Halep vs Angelique Kerber
Both had similar QF outings, Kerber trouncing Keys from the off, Halep doing the same to Pliskova from 0-3 in the first. Angie is slight favourite due to her blistering, unbeaten start to the year. “For sure is going to be a second marathon this tournament” said Halep – sounds about right… Back 1.88 for over 21.5 games at JAbet.com
Elise Mertens vs Caroline Wozniacki
We priced Jana Fett as short as 1.02 in-play during her round 2 match vs Wozniacki. It all went wrong from there for Fett and it’s almost as if Wozniacki has been on a free ticket – she’s certainly playing with the freedom to suggest that. Mertens’ fantastic run should end here.
Hyeon Chung vs Roger Federer
“Novak is my idol”, said Chung after that shock 4th round win. Does the obvious similarity in their playing style mean Chung can counter Fed’s brilliance like Djokovic has at times? The young Korean is strutting around with increasing confidence – we fancy Roger to finally drop a set here, at least. Lay 3-0 Federer at 2.28 here.
Marin Cilic vs Kyle Edmund
Battle of the huge forehands. It shows how far Kyle has come that you’d genuinely have to say his is the biggest weapon – he’s hit more forehand winners than anyone this fortnight. Cilic was giving Nadal one hell of a match before the injury surfaced and he’ll probably be a bridge too far for Edmund. Furthermore, Marin will be desperate to avenge last year’s heart-breaking Wimbledon Final loss to Federer.