This would appear to be a great Australian Open 2008. Even though I haven’t been able see anything other than a few measly highlights, two comments come to mind:
1/ Bravo to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the discovery of the tournament… and hopefully, the beginning of a new era for him. And good luck against Roger (unless Djokovic pulls out the jokervich).
2/ The Eastern Revolution. I don’t know where I have been recently, but I missed the complete overtaking of women’s tennis by the eastern European countries. Some statistics from this year’s Australian Open tournament:
In the singles, ten out of 16 women in the fourth round were from Eastern European countries.In the singles semi-finals, all four women were from E Europe, with 2 from Serbia.In the doubles final, three of the four participants were from Eastern Europe and none of those three even figured in the fourth round of the singles competition.And, just veering back to the men, 5/16 in the fourth round were from Eastern Europe and 2/8 in the quarters… 1/4 in the semis… final?
I haven’t dared to evaluate the juniors, but it seems like something of a monopoly, no?
And I do just have to wonder about the nagging issue of doping, still.
UPDATE ON MONDAY JANUARY 28th…
Well, on the men’s side, Novak Djokovic pulled off the win against Federer and then saw off Tsonga in a closely contested 4-set final match (see the BBC report here). It was the first ever Grand Slam men’s singles victory for a Serb. Kudos. As Djokovic said in his post-victory conference, it was a strange match with ups and downs; but “[t]he difference is if you stay focused in the end.” This was a great example of the importance of psychology since, as the favourite between the two surprise finalists, Djokovic had to get over a blistering start from Tsonga. As for Jo-Wilfried, a great tournament having laid claim to some heavy scalps along the way, including 9th seeded Andy Murray in the first round, then Gasquet (8th seed, no respect!), Youzny (14th) and last but not least the big-armed Nadal (2nd). Not bad for the 38th ranked player.
On the women’s front, Maria Sharapova took the honors over Ana Ivanovic, avoiding a Serbian sweep in the singles. Note that Serbian Nenad Zimonjic (and female partner Sun) won the Mixed Doubles title. Also, local boy, Bernard Tomic, won the Junior Boy’s Title… but you know that with such a name, he might just also have some Serbian blood.
All in all, a great tournament with some revelations in the men’s side. Still, I ask myself when are they going to start getting serious about cleaning up the drug trade?