2022 Australian Open
2022 is here, and the tennis season is about to begin in earnest with the first grand slam of the year! The Ausie Open!
With Novak Djokovic receiving all the media attention around his controversial entry into Australia, the other top-seeded men’s players will welcome the anonymity as they head into the 2022 Australian Open. Australia is a happy hunting ground for Djokovic. The defending champion will be confident to add to his record 9 victories at this event. In the ladies’ draw, Naomi Osaka should also fancy her chances. As a two-time winner and the current defending champion there is no reason she cannot do well this year. Apart from the 2021 winners, there is a long list of players eager to begin the year in the best way possible. The new breed of tennis stars are hungry for success, and whoever does manage to go the distance will most definitely have their work cut out for them.
The year’s first grand slam
The Australian Open, also commonly referred to as the ‘happy slam’ is the youngest of the 4 calendar Grand Slams. First held in 1905, the tournament was only designated as a major tournament in 1924. the Australian Open Initially played on grass and at various venues within Australia, the Australian Open moved to its current home of the Melbourne Park complex, situated in the city of Melbourne in 1988. With the change in venue, so came a playing surface change. Hardcourts are now the surface of choice for the Australian Open.
The ‘happy slam’ nickname stems from the fact that the event is recognised as the Grand Slam with the highest crowd attendance. Enjoying its spot on the calendar as one of the first major sporting events each year, the tournament rarely fails to meet the fans’ lofty expectations. By taking place during the last 2 weeks of January, the heat plays a large role in proceedings. Players who can manage the challenging environmental conditions as well as the regular stresses faced in a Grand Slam are the ones who do well here.
Ausie Open Success History
The who’s who in the world of tennis have all tasted success at the Australian Open. From the greats of the 90’s such as Andre Agassi, and Steffi Graf through to the more recent talents of Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the list of past winners is an impressive one.
Enjoying the position of having won the most men’s singles titles in history is Novak Djokovic. He won his first ever Grand Slam here in 2008, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to the title. Since then, he has for lack of a better word totally dominated this event. In the 13 years since that breakthrough victory, Djokovic has won the title on a further 8 occasions. His win in the 2021 event completed a hat trick of titles down under. On the female side of things, it has been more competitive. In the last 10 years, the women’s title has gone to 7 different players. If nothing else, this is a strong indication of the level of the women’s game these days. Osaka is perhaps again the player to watch, as she is the only repeat winner in the past few years (winning in 2019 and again in 2021).
Top 2022 Australian Open Contenders
Current form is difficult to go by for the Ausie Open, as it is traditionally the start of the tennis season and most players have had a decent break over December. However, the ATP Finals played in November would be a good measure of who to look out for in the coming weeks. Alexander Zverev came out tops in the final against 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev. The current world number 3 has enjoyed a purple patch since winning the 2021 Olympic title. An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2020, Zverev will be hoping his momentum can take him to the final of this year’s edition.
Daniil Medvedev is the other major name to keep an eye on in the men’s draw. After losing the 2020 final to Djokovic, he went on to win his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open . The fact that he managed to beat Djokovic in the final will provide him with the belief that he is able to win at the highest level.
The senior statesmen in the men’s competition is Rafael Nadal. The 20-time Major winner is always a threat in any Grand Slam (having won them all). While not his preferred surface of clay, and ‘only’ having won this title once, Nadal has nonetheless come runner up 4 times in his career. It would be foolish to write him off.
The real threat however remains Novak Djokovic. His results speak for themselves in this tournament. Having been the dominant player at Melbourne Park over the last decade, Djokovic is most definitely the player to beat at the 2022 Australian Open.
The women’s tournament could go a few ways, with no player owning this title in recent history. 2021 Ausie Open winner Osaka is one of the favourites. Although only seeded 13th, it makes her path to the final all that more difficult. World number 1 Ashleigh Barty is another contender for the title. The 2021 Wimbledon champion would love to get this win in front of her home crowd. Garbine Muguruza the current world number 3 is also a possible favourite. Winning the 2021 season-ending WTA Finals has put her in good stead heading into the 2022 season. The 2-time Grand slam winner was the losing finalist in the 2020 Australian Open. If she can make another final, she will be hard to beat.
The fact that the 2022 Australian Open is kicks off the tennis season is an exciting one. Fans around the world are eager to see whose year 2022 will be. Will it be more of the same from the defending champs, or will a new breed of contenders emerge? No matter who comes out on top, the one thing for certain is that tennis fans are in for an exciting 2 weeks.
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*At the time of writing Novak Djokovic’s VISA had been rebuked again. There is no final decision yet as to whether he would still be able to compete in 2022.