Hyeon Chung of Korea made his mark last year entering the top 100 and is currently ranked 58. At 21, he has proved himself to be the best New-Generation player when he won the ATP’s New-Gen event in Milan last year. At the Australian Open (AO) last week, he beat Russian born German ‘Wunderkind’ Alexander [...]


Sensational Chung stuns Djokovic

‘AO’- Players make it a pristine 2nd Week

Hyeon Chung of Korea made his mark last year entering the top 100 and is currently ranked 58. At 21, he has proved himself to be the best New-Generation player when he won the ATP’s New-Gen event in Milan last year. At the Australian Open (AO) last week, he beat Russian born German ‘Wunderkind’ Alexander Zverev in 5 Sets. In the next round he went past Djokovic in straight Sets.

Djokovic conceded at the press conference that Chung was the better player today and he has some amazing passing shots. It was not just one department that made Chung the winner against Zverev and Djokovic. Tactical with excellent racquet handling ability and maturity to play under immense pressure in little space available, were the traits of Chung’s success.

Fate of returning elites

The AO has reached the Semifinals stage and, in the Men’s, Wawrinka and Djokovic lost, Murray did not start and Nadal had to give up injured to Marin Cilic in the Quarterfinals. While most of the Quarterfinalists were known players, 2 new names appeared among them. Chung of Korea and Sandgren of USA. With heat being the bigger problem than the opponent, some went extremely tactical to cope with it. Austria’s Top Tenner Dominic Thiem was beaten by Sandgren of the USA.

Among the Women, Garbine Mugurusa and much expected Maria Sharapova did not come into the Quarters. Mertens of Belgium stole the show up to the Semifinals, beating Top 10 ranked Svitolina in the Quarters. Mertens is 22 years and ranked 37 in the world. Former World No.1 and currently No.2 Wozniacki showed at 27 years, she is not a spent force, as she entered the Semifinals by winning the final Set against Spain’s Suarez Navarro at 1.00 in the morning on Wednesday.

Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys and Wozniacki lived up to expectations and produced great quality of Tennis. Kerber, injured in 2017, did not keep her Top 10 position. Right now, she shows she will change that. She beat Maria Sharapova convincingly in the pre-Quarters.

Maria Sharapova is playing well. Being out of competition too long, she loses her rhythm in tight situations. She will remain in the circuit and, in all probability, has the potential, if all goes well, to be back in the Top 10 at year end.

Mertens plays a tactical game combined with endurance and lethal use of all court placements. The Women, in Melbourne used the Ground strokes, Volley and the Drop liberally, changing the Women’s game. Most of them went to Volley, registering over 80% success.

Australian Court surface

The AO courts are well known to lose their sliding tolerance and make players foot-stuck when the temperature increases. Often, this leaves injured ankles. Players are cautious and may be restricting their movement to avoid injuries. Whatever the AO uses as its surface, the entire nation uses. It must be a considerable volume in trade for the industry. Heat tolerance is the only problem it has. In all other departments it is acceptable.

The status of GRAND SLAM

The AO is their national championships. Its status of being a ‘Grand Slam’ is a hard-earned claim of Australia for over 5 decades. When the Davis Cup was making Tennis popular in the very early 1900s, only 4 countries won the Davis Cup in the first quarter of that century. It is this that entitles Australia and 3 other nations to conduct a Grand Slam as their national championship. Australia is one of the nations which promoted and sustained Tennis in the world, well before the formation of the International Tennis Federation in 1915.

All Grand Slams are mega events with 128 entry Singles draw, and they are the only ones to be played over 2 weeks, in the professional calendar. In recent times, the 2 professional bodies have made them compulsory events to be ranked. However, last week, which was the first week of the 2018 AO, the organisers faced nearly unprecedented criticism from players and others.

One single aspect which was beyond the control of the organisers, was the cause of it. ‘HEAT’. To our memory, ever since the event was moved to Melbourne, played on Australian version of hard courts, from Sydney’s grass courts a few decades ago, they have faced the heat issue. With the global warming, I believe, it has reached extreme proportions. They even recorded 69 degrees Celsius inside a grandstand court last week.

The organisers have to accommodate many aspects. One such aspects is spectator interest. They were accused by the players of being favourable to the crowd puller. None other than Roger Federer who got cool of the day match times. Did some elite players go out too early due to heat? The answer is “Yes”. A decision could follow after this year’s event. They may even consider changing the dates to early March, when Melbourne would be cooler.

In both genders, the drama for domination of 2018 is unfolding. The AO is going make many heads turn towards the professional Tennis tour this year. What’s more, there will be new, promising young players to watch.

 -George Paldano, Former int. player; Accredited Coach of German Federation; National coach Sri Lanka & Brunei, Davis-Cup, Federation Cup captain/coach– contact 94 77 544 8880 geodano2015@gmail.com -

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