Australian Open 2021
The first Grand Slam tour of the new year has concluded!
The event saw quite some players miss out on attendance. Tennis great Roger Federer withdrew from the Open as he was still recovering from his right knee surgery, marking the first time he hasn’t attended the event since 2000. British former world number one Andy Murray was forced to give it a miss as he tested positive for COVID-19.
The tournament was played in Melbourne, and the winners are:
- Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev (7-5, 6-2, 6-2)
- Women’s singles: Naomi Osaka beat Jennifer Brady (6-4, 6-3)
- Men’s doubles: Ivan Dodig, Filip Polasek beat Rajeev Ram, Joe Salisbury (6-3, 6-4)
- Women’s doubles: Elise Mertens, Aryna Sabalenka beat Barbara Krejčíková, Katerina Siniakova (6-2, 6-3)
- Mixed doubles: Barbara Krejčíková, Rajeev Ram beat Samantha Stosur, Matthew Ebden (6-1, 6-4)
Serena Williams, aiming to win her 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court’s record, lost to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the semi-final (6-3, 6-4). She left the post-match press conference in tears (which honestly broke my heart). She hasn’t won a Grand Slam since 2018, coming excruciatingly close on several occasions since then. Rafael Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals (3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5).
What was most notable was the presence of an audience, which was only possible because of the strict lockdown measures Australia has been implementing since March 2020. While the Australian Open attendance rates are usually the highest among any Slam event, because of the pandemic, crowds were only allowed to witness nine of the fourteen days of the ‘Happy Slam’ this year. The total attendance was 130, 374.
The event saw a fair share of controversies, one of them being rigorous quarantines, with 72 players being confined to their hotel rooms for every minute of their 14 day quarantine (some players had to serve longer quarantines) and not being allowed access to the gyms, or training areas. The players who were in ‘normal’ quarantine were allowed 5 hours out everyday- 1.5 hours for practice, 1.5 hours in the gym, an hour to eat and 1 hour spent travelling. However, one has to acknowledge the efforts of the Australian administration for working towards upholding their zero covid policy, because had they not put in place such stringent regulations and zero tolerance policies, it would have been just one of the many sporting events being played behind closed doors.