THE AUSTALIAN OPEN KICKS OFF A BIG YEAR FOR TENNIS
February 9, 2024
The Australian Open, one of the most prestigious tournaments in professional tennis, ended on Sunday, Jan. 29. The tournament, which was held at the National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, began Sunday, Jan. 15, and lasted two weeks. Over one million fans attended the matches, breaking the previous attendance record by over 200,000 people. These numbers brought immense energy to the players, which shone through in the quality of their matches.
The players qualified for the tournament through their rankings, qualifying rounds and wild cards. With ranking points on the line and over 13 million Australian dollars paid to the winners, both the men and women fought hard to come out on top.
In the men’s tournament, Jannik Sinner, representing Italy, won his first Grand Slam singles title. At only 22, Sinner joins the Big Three, a nickname referring to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — all players who have won the Australian Open before turning 23. Sinner faced Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the championship match, even though neither player was favored to make it that far coming into the tournament. Djokovic, the defending champion and winner of 24 men’s singles Grand Slams, was the slight favorite, but in a shocking turn of events, he lost to Sinner in the semifinals.
Another upset occurred during the men’s quarter-finals: Germany’s star Alexander Zverev’s win over 2o-year old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain. It was the six-seeded Zverev’s big break after spending most of 2022 recovering from an injury. He moved on to the semifinals, leaving Alcaraz — the second seed — behind.
On the women’s side of the tour, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defended her 2023 Australian Open title by winning in this year’s tournament. Sabalenka’s impressive playing made her the talk of the tennis world. At only 25 years old, she is the first woman in 11 years to win back-to-back titles. She rolled through the tournament with an assertive dominance. Throughout the entire competition, she only had to play one tiebreak, and over her past six tournaments, she has made the semifinals in each one. Sabalenka triumphed over Zheng Qinwen of China in the final match.
America’s rising star, Coco Gauff, made it to the semifinals before losing to Sabalenka in a close match. The 19-year-old prodigy already has one Grand Slam title under her belt, which she earned in a win against Sabalenka at the U.S. Open last September. She plays with a poise far beyond her age, making it to the final rounds of multiple Grand Slams.