As we attain the top of the Australian Open’s first week, there are some indicators of what’s to come back within the close to and distant future. Now that collectively, gamers have some substantial expertise of the 2022 season, and with just a few tournaments beneath their belts, what does the event of the ATP tour seem like?
The primary is that Daniil Medvedev leads the sphere. Whereas he has but to take the number one rating, Medvedev has proved dominant thus far in his singles efforts. After an preliminary loss to Ugo Humbert within the round-robin stage of the ATP Cup, he beat Alex de Minaur, Matteo Berrettini and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
On the Australian Open, he achieved bruising straight-set victories over Henri Laaksonen and Botic van de Zandschulp. Solely towards Nick Kyrgios within the third spherical has Medvedev dropped a set.
Medvedev’s unorthodox takeback (which is extraordinarily quick) make his groundstroke reactions fast and environment friendly, serving to take away time from his opponents. Particularly on exhausting courts, his flat fashion of hitting makes for penetrative pictures that maintain low and skid by means of the courtroom, that means even common rally balls are tough to return. That is notably the case for gamers who’re used to buying and selling looping topspin pictures.
He’s eager to go for winners on his serve, with aces down the “T” and out-wide. Medvedev additionally has a powerful attain, which aids courtroom protection beneath difficult conditions, chasing down a ball throughout the baseline or operating in direction of the web. He additionally likes to play with variation, with drop pictures, spin and the occasional improvised shot that catches opponents abruptly.
Mixed with the regular enhance in consistency through the years since turning professional in 2014, Medvedev has matured into one of many deadliest gamers to face on tour. He’s undoubtedly the favorite to win the Open this 12 months, including a second grand slam to his tally.
The second level to notice is that the “new three” of Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas type a bunch of gamers step by step changing the large three. The Greek can be taking part in properly in Australia.
In his most up-to-date match towards Benoit Paire, Tsitsipas’s return of service seems to have considerably improved, hitting near his opponent’s ft and going for winners early on within the rally. Dangerous and beforehand unreliable pictures now appear extra constant, the place acute angles from his one-handed backhand or inside-in forehand winners are hitting their mark.
Tsitsipas additionally appears to be like extra mentally settled at grand slam occasions, with no hesitation to shut out some extent and taking half-volleys on the baseline with little error.
For years, commentators and analysts have been in search of a second that meant the top to the hegemony of the large three. Maybe one thing akin to Roger Federer’s toppling of Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001 was anticipated as a altering of the guard second.
By now, it’s clear that this has not occurred. As an alternative of a sudden alteration in dominance, tennis is experiencing a gradual transition, the place youthful abilities of Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas are actually rising in key grand slam matches.
Nadal stays a tour de pressure of the sport, nonetheless deep into the Australian Open draw, and nonetheless with a major probability of successful the match. Conspicuous by his absence, Djokovic would have defended his title with all his expertise and consistency.
Vaccine and border politics have stopped Djokovic from competing right here in Melbourne, not a relative decline in his world-class recreation.
Nevertheless, the brand new three have all made appearances in grand slam finals. The Russian beat Djokovic within the 2021 US Open last, and Tsitsipas took Djokovic to 5 units within the Roland Garros last final 12 months.
Mixed with their rising share of profession titles (Medvedev 13; Zverev 19; Tsitsipas 7) and maintain of the quantity 2, 3 and 4 rankings, this 12 months will doubtless see the additional defeat of the large three.
Except for the upper-echelons of the sport, the third level is that success seems divided between the very younger and tour veterans.
The staying-power of Marin Čilić is very related, provided that his victory over Andrey Rublev makes him the seventh energetic participant to succeed in the fourth spherical of a grand slam 25 instances, alongside Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka. Gaël Monfils has already been talked about as one other skilled hand persevering with to be a outstanding pressure on tour.
On the opposite finish of the age vary, Jannik Sinner is making big good points 12 months on 12 months. Sinner has loved a meteoric rise, from being ranked exterior the highest 100 at the beginning of 2019 to being ranked inside the highest 50 in 2020, and now holds a quantity 10 rating on the Australian Open.
A tall participant with lengthy legs and arms strikes exceptionally properly and stays bodily agile when altering course. Booming groundstrokes and memorable consistency in his backhand imply he has excelled at clay and exhausting courtroom tournaments, successful the newest of his 5 titles on the 2021 Antwerp Masters.
His matches in Australia have proven his mature disposition on the courtroom, celebrating when the event calls for however not often exhibiting indicators of psychological misery or anger at tough patches in efficiency.
Throughout the third spherical towards Japan’s Taro Daniel, Sinner’s calm manner allowed him to make use of his highly effective groundstrokes however not overshoot or go for an excessive amount of. This deadly mixture of ball velocity and cognitive management has preserved Sinner’s probabilities of operating deep right into a grand slam and portends to extra appreciable success sooner or later.
Tennis is in gradual flux. On the Australian Open, Medvedev, not Djokovic, has taken centre-stage. The Russian appears to be driving excessive on a string of well-executed grand slam matches following his US Open victory.
Whereas the large three nonetheless make appearances at majors, their participation in essential matches is starting to be phased out by the brand new three. Whereas just a few veterans of the tour could make powerful opponents, youthful abilities like Sinner pave the way in which for upcoming hopes of serious victory.
What traits can you see on the Australian Open? Can Medvedev win a slam down-under? And the way prominently will the large three function this 12 months? Let me know within the feedback.