The Australian Open Finale is Quiet at Best
by Amy Lignor
The one big story coming from the Australian Open – the first “biggie match” of the year when it comes to tennis – is the fact that Serena Williams was not raising the trophy in her hands when all was played out. Angelique Kerber actually brought about the only win that stunned a crowd, not to mention made them a little bored. Kerber and the always sentimental favorite, Williams, held their final with Williams not being able to get the first notch on her Grand Slam belt for 2016; a notch that would have tied her with Steffi Graf’s record twenty-two titles. The matches: 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, and Williams lost to the woman who beat her in Cincinnati back in 2012.
After that one loss years back, Williams (No. 1 in the world) beat Kerber in straight sets during four consecutive meetings they had. Serena, winning her last eight and being 21-4 overall, has now sprung those so-called “experts” into gear. Already they are wondering whether or not the 34-year-old has come to a point in her career where the most pivotal of all matches are stressing her out. Most fans believe it was simply a loss. Nothing more, nothing less. No one can be perfect all the time. Are they right? Absolutely.
Williams’ came to the Open with a huge mark on her back as always. Serena stated after this loss: “Every time I walk into this room, everyone expects me to win every single match…As much as I would like to be a robot, I’m not. I do the best I can.”
Yes, the losses are rare when it comes to Serena, so the energy is amped up when she is on the losing side of the court. Will that stop her? Are we looking at the fall of Serena Williams after having the ultimate season last year and only missing the Grand Slam title by one? No. Serena Williams will be back and, most likely, with more will and determination in her racket than the Australian Open saw. And Steffi Graf’s name was still mentioned, seeing as that Kerber (a left-hander) was the first German to win a grand slam since Graf did it back in 1999.
Kerber was as stunned as the rest of the fans and watchers at the event. Smiling wide, Kerber will now move up to second-place in the rankings. This woman is more than excited, considering that she has been playing since 2008 without a grand slam victory, which meant time was collapsing for Kerber to make a name for herself as fast as she could. Serena offered her congratulations to Kerber and made sure to commend her for being the absolute best player at the Australian Open.
When it came to the men, Roger Federer remained the sentimental favorite, but Novak Djokovic was back. Federer did not see the final match; Djokovic went on to destroy the player ranked number two in the world, Andy Murray. But the game was so quick and so one-sided that it seemed more like a backyard game than an actual performance of the top two players fighting for the right to raise the first men’s grand slam trophy of the year. Sunday was all about his dominance, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3), with Djokovic looking as if he barely had the time to work up a sweat.
As with Williams, Federer isn’t going anywhere. And his name will be tossed about at all the Grand Slam finals this year. But for now, Djokovic joins Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg who hold eleven Grand Slam singles title, and ties the record for most won at the Australian Open with six.
Murray comes away having lost the Australian Open final five times, with Djokovic being his worst rival. He has beaten Murray in the finals three times in the past four years. And although Murray hung on longer than Roger Federer, he is still the name that does not flow through fans’ lips when they speak of ‘exciting’ tennis matches.
So, with the exception of Serena losing the Open, yet still maintaining No. 1 status, of course, for the beginning of a Grand Slam run, the Australian Open was a real sleeper.