Amid widespread allegations of match-fixing, the Australian Open still went on and was extremely entertaining. The storylines were that of a WWE match from the early 2000s. Every match seemed to have an incredible moment or story behind it, such as Rafael Nadal’s inglorious first round loss to Fernando Verdasco. After the final, it came to pass that Nadal was the unfortunate winner of the “Wooden Spoon,” which is unceremoniously given to the player who would have lost to everyone he played against. Let me elaborate: Nadal lost to Verdasco. Verdasco lost his second round matchup to Dudi Sela. Sela lost in the third round to Andrey Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov lost his matchup in the quarterfinals to Milos Raonic. Raonic lost in the semifinals to Andy Murray, who subsequently lost the final to Novak Djokovic. If any of that made sense to you then you’re keenly aware that that implies that Rafa would have lost to every single player in the field. It’s not an exact science, but you get the gist.
In the “how could that have possibly happened” department, Serena Williams again failed to tie Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam singles record. Her demise came at the forehands of Angelique Kerber. Kerber had never been in a Grand Slam final, and had lost five of six previous meetings with Williams. Williams pushed the match to a third set, but unforced errors were her undoing. Williams hadn’t dropped a single set in six rounds prior to the final. Conspiracy? Who knows.
Speaking of match-fixing, a major betting website was shut down after an absurd amount of money was being placed on a rather obscure match. The mixed-doubles contest featured Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. Nearly all of the money placed by the sharks was on Hlavackova and Kubot to win. Unsurprisingly, the pair came out victorious by a score of 6-0, 6-3. The first set only took 20 minutes. Triple H came out and won the title at the end. Wait, wrong sports entertainment program.
The true heroes on the court at any given time are the linespeople. They have to make split second decisions on whether a ball was in or out and cannot lose focus during the course of the match. Unfortunately, during the Federer-Berdych quarterfinal match, one of the linesmen lost focus a bit and immediately made every man in the world say “thank God I’m not that guy.” During a Berdych serve in the first set, the linesman attempted to get out of the way of the ball. He badly mistimed it and ended up being hit by the ball where the sun doesn’t shine. He was alright, but the crowd erupted in laughter at the expense of the poor guy.
We’ve all had that moment when you get a phone call at the worst possible time and have to hurriedly tell the person that you can’t talk. Nick Kyrgios took that to a whole new level, answering his phone just moments before his mixed-doubles match. His partner, recently confirmed to be his girlfriend, was not happy about it. When asked if it was something important, Kyrgios said, “kind of, not really.” He managed to avoid a fine because tennis currently has about as much power over its players as David Blatt had as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The men’s final featured two former doubles partners in Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Murray and Djokovic’s careers have been intertwined since their days playing Juniors. They have known each other for almost their entire lives, and their rises to tennis stardom have coincided. And yet, Djokovic always seems to have the upper hand. He had beaten Murray in 11 of their last 12 matchups, and now has 11 Grand Slam titles to Murray’s two. Spoiler: Djokovic won handily. In straight sets Djokovic managed to remind the world why he is the number one. He dismantled the opposition with incredible precision, and came away with another Grand Slam. Murray, whose father-in-law collapsed earlier in the tournament and whose wife is expected to give birth any day now, seemed like he wasn’t completely focused. After the shortest press conference of all time, in which he called his wife a “legend,” Murray got on the first flight back to the U.K.
This Aussie Open was more similar to WrestleMania than an actual tennis tournament. The incredible play was vastly overshadowed by the cornucopia of interesting stories. The best part is that this was only the first major of the year. I bet The Rock will win the belt next. It’s all scripted anyway. Wait, do I have the right sport yet?