By the time this is published the second week of the Australian Open will be just a few hours from getting under way. There will plenty of time to look ahead. Here is look back at some of the best, wackiest, and most unexpected stories from week one in Melbourne.
Djokovic Stunned Early
Just when you think you have the answers, sports changes the questions. Six time Australian Open champ and pre-event favorite Novak Djokovic was ousted by 117th ranked wildcard Denis Istomin in round two. Istomin is a career journeyman who his coached by his mom partly because he cannot afford a traditional full time coach. That tells you all you need to know about the kind of win this is for him. He backed it up with another win and is still alive in the event.
Even so, Djokovic is the bigger story here. He has not won any of the three majors since he capped off his career Grand Slam in Paris in June. In two of those events, he has failed to reach the second week. Ultimately, this had more to do with Istomin playing the match of his life than Djokovic playing poorly, but it was still shocking that the Serb could not find a way. I think Djokovic will be fine, but he is vulnerable for the first time in a long time. How he handles that is the magic question going forward. Meanwhile, everyone else still alive has to feel they have more of an opportunity,
Jennifer Brady’s Fairytale Run
I will be the first to admit I had no clue who Jennifer Brady was prior to this event, I was not alone. However, the Pennsylvania born former UCLA Bruin has won three qualifying matches and three the main draw to reach the last 16. She had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before and will break into the top 100 with this result. While the Cinderella story will likely soon end, in a draw full of upsets, Brady’s is manageable for at least one more round.
Federer Turns Back the Clock
After a six month injury layoff and a scratchy first two rounds, questions about the all-time men’s Grand Slam winner were still running rampant as he faced 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round. Vintage Federer are the only two appropriate words. He raced through Bredych in 90 minutes, 6-2-6-2-6-4. You can watch the best of the best at his best in the small snippet below thanks to the KingOfTennis YouTube channel.
While fifth seeded Kei Nishikori will be tough task for Roger in the next round, it sure looks like the projected Federer-Andy Murray quarterfinal will decide the winner of this event, especially with Djokovic out of the picture.
Safarova Saves Nine Match Points, wins
The early award for nuttiest match of 2017 goes to Yanina Wickmayer and Lucie Safarova in the first round of this Aussie Open. Wickmayer controlled the vast majority of the match, but every now and then the tennis gods remind us all that the last point is the toughest one to get. Safarova saved an incredible nine match points in the second set ended up winning going away, 3-6 7-6(7) 6-1. You can watch the drama below courtesy of tennis.com. Safarova was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams in round two.
Tennis Channel and/or the ESPN family of networks continue coverage beginning nightly at 7 PM ET for a few more days. Unfortunately for us Americans, as we get closer to the finals, live match coverage will take place almost exclusively at 3:30 AM ET with re-airs later in the morning.