TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. It’s time to look at a few numbers from the 2015 Australian Open. From Melbourne, Robbie Cappuccio
The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air, as if we were waiting for something that cannot arrive. The free trams have disappeared and so have the free shuttle service from the City to the Rod Laver Arena. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. We Aussies might be a bit rough around the edges, but generally we follow the rules and we have a health respect for our civic duties.
There is no mention of the men’s final on the morning papers as the match finished too late as the papers were already printing, but there re many pictures of Serena, queen for the sixth time in Melbourne. By the way, her speech during the prize giving ceremony (“I went on court with a ball, a racket and hope…”) and Maria’s (“I really love playing against her as she is the best and you want to play against the best…”) were hundreds of times more touching, genuine and interesting than those uttered by Djokovic and Murray (who denounced Djoker’s “simulation” of an injury).
It was an extravagant Slam for the colour of the tennis attire with excesses like Stabilo Boss or Peppa Pig (guess who) plus Mattek-Sands’ usual eccentricity that is in a league of it’s own.
The most significant phrase of the tournament was spoken by Vitas Gerulaitis in 1980, “And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row” (referred to Gerulaitis’ encounters with Jimmy Connors), which was adapted for the Berdych-Nadal rivalry, “Nobody, not even Nadal, beats Berdych 18 times in a row”. It was also adapted for the women’s final, “Nobody, but Serena Williams, beats Masha 16 times in a row”.
Newcombe used to say that “you are only as good as your second serve”. If this is true then Murray has to worry as in the final his second serve was travelling at an average speed of 134km/h compared to Djokovic’s 158km/h. What is of bigger concern for the Scot is that both Serena (153km/h) and Masha (150km/h) were serving their second ball faster than him.
Nick Kyrgios’ nickname is “wild thing” and it isn’t just a random pick for him. Proof that he is a “wild thing” came in this tournament as he topped the list for fines. It shouldn’t be condoned, but for someone like me who grew up watching John McEnroe, these indiscretions can be forgiven. By the way the Aussie was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and will have to take a month off from tennis.
Let’s look at some of the numbers of this record breaking tournament:
- 49 Nations were represented by the 256 players of the single’s tournaments. In the men’s draw there were 41 different nationalities with 12 of them coming from Spain. In the women’s draw there were 34 nationalities and 16 players came from the USA. 11 Australians reached the second round.
- 704 participants took part in the Australian Open 2015 considering every tournament that was played, from the men’s singles to the wheel chair events.
- The fastest serve was recorded by… Marius Copil (ROM) at 242km/h. Milos Raonic made the highest number of aces, 114.
- In the women’s draw the fastest serve was recorded by, surprise surprise, by Serena Williams at 204km/h. She even recorded the highest number of aces, 88.
- 703,899 spectators came to Melbourne Park to watch the Australian Open, 18 more than the previous record attendance registered in 2012.
- The day with the biggest attendance was the middle Saturday with 81,031 fans.
- There were 650 journalists and photographers. 296 of them from outside Australia representing 44 nations.
- The Wilson technicians restrung 4763 racquets using more than 57km of string. 71 racquets were restrung quickly during matches. Serena has also the record for the most racquets restrung, 86.
- 360 umpires and line judges, plus Hawk-Eye, were used in the tournament from 34 different countries.
- 380 ball-kids were at Melbourne Park for the fortnight. 327 came from the state of Victoria, 25 from the rest of Australia, 20 from Korea, 6 from China and 2 from Singapore.
- 8412 members of staff, both contracted and voluntary, worked behind the scenes
The Australian Open is a family event. On the last day of the qualifying tournament, Saturday 17th of January, there was Kids Tennis Day with 14500 kids and parents (among them myself with wife and daughter) were treated to a clash between team Dora and team Spongebob. The two teams were formed by the likes of Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Eugenie Bouchard and the Aussie duo of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. But that wasn’t it, more than 7000 kids, with their parents, visited the Disney area during the last three days of the event.
The Hisense Arena was quickly transformed in a small Disneyland where the kids could see characters from Cars, or go to the Frozen inspired world with a pile of snow and a karaoke. What to do to attract the young ones to tennis? Set up a Disney zone and give a free racquet to kids when they walk in and ask for information (just ask, they didn’t have to sign up to anything!) about the Hot Shots program. If you increase the numbers of kids playing it is easier to find the Kyrgios’ and Kokkinakis’ (by the way watch out for Violet Apisah and Destanee Aiava who are both 14 years old, but are competing and beating 17 year olds).
And finally some “digital” numbers. Before the men’s final the ausopen.com site received 13.5 million separate users.
The most clicked player profiles were Madison Keys (212,748), Eugenie Bouchard (198,381), Serena Williams (195,585), Maria Sharapova (176,404) and Ekaterina Makarova (129,614).
Amongst the men Nick Kyrgios was the most clicked (208,863), followed by Novak Djokovic (180,102), Rafael Nadal (159,683), Roger Federer (153,255) and Andy Murray (128,000), that is the Fab Four and… Jimmy Hendrix?
With one big event finished the preparation for another is getting underway. Next to my house work has started for the F1 Grand Prix, so I am off to take my Ferrari flag out of the cupboard.
Past Champions Wozniacki and Kerber Cruise Into Third Round
Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber continued their search for a second Australian Open with comfortable second round wins.
Past Australian Open champions Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber cruised into the third round with straight sets wins.
The defending champion Wozniacki made it back-t0-back wins with a crushing 6-1 6-3 win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.
While 2016 champion Angelique Kerber proved why she is one of the favourites for the title after a 6-2 6-3 win against Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The German will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she stunned Donna Vekic while Wozniacki could face Maria Sharapova on Friday.
Although it was Wozniacki’s first time of defending a grand slam title, she sure hasn’t looked nervous so far as she went too work against the world number 77.
A break to love in the second game sealed a good start as the Swede was made to pay for early match nerves. In this Scandinavian clash the Dane had 10 break point opportunities as she continued to be aggressive.
After a second break in the sixth, the clinical Wozniacki sealed the opening set in 28 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
The second set provided fans with a similar pattern as the Dane assumed control by breaking in the third game to love for a 2-0 lead.
Even though Larsson created a couple break points, she wasn’t aggressive in the big moments to capitalise as Wozniacki sealed her fourth break of the match to book her place in the last 32.
A great performance from Wozniacki, who is sending a real message that she has no plans of giving up her title without a fight.
The win from the world number three means she could face Maria Sharapova in the next round, who still has to play Johanna Larsson.
Kerber Continues Good Form
Another player who is sending a real message in world number two and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber who dropped five games in a great win over Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The Brazilian qualifier had to work very hard to keep hold of her serves but was broken three times without reply as the Kerber advanced to the last 32.
In the next round Kerber will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she knocked out 29th seed Donna Vekic 6-4 4-6 6-1.
The world number 200 is making the most of her Aussie summer as she makes the last 32 of her own slam after sealing her first top 10 win in Brisbane earlier this year against Daria Kasatkina.
Angelique Kerber Eases Past Hercog, Goerges Ousted By Collins
Angelique Kerber set a marker for the rest of the tournament to follow after crushing Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2 in a dominant display in Melbourne.
Angelique Kerber sent a message to the rest of the field after she thrashed Slovenia Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2.
The world number two has looked impressive all season and continued that form by dropping only four games in her Australian Open opener.
A clinical Kerber converted four of five break point opportunities to seal a comfortable first round win and will face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.
However the Melbourne heat got the better of 14th seed as she was ousted out of the Australian Open by in-form Danielle Collins 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
The 2016 champion headed into this year’s Australian Open having won five of her six matches to start the season in Hopman Cup and Sydney, with her only defeating coming to Petra Kvitova.
It was easy to see why she was one of the favourites to win the title early on as she dominated the Slovenian early on with her impeccable groundstrokes.
A 4-1 lead was secured in very quick fashion as the world number 92 was facing a very difficult task to try and outsmart the three time grand slam champion.
The 30 year old was only forced to save one break point in the first set as she won the opener in 38 minutes. Although Hercog had forced the issue a bit more in the second set, the same result was produced as Kerber opened up another 4-1 lead.
The Slovenian failed to convert any of her three break points as her 47 unforced errors would prove costly. Eventually Kerber served out a 74 minute win to progress into the next round.
After the match the German stated that she felt good despite the heat, “I am feeling and my body was feeling good and I’m happy I could play a little more than one hour today.”
The German who will be seen as a favourite for the tournament will now play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the next round.
Goerges Stunned By Heat And Collins
However it wasn’t a good day for another German as 14th seed Julia Goerges crashed out in a three set defeat to powerful American Danielle Collins.
The American played a very good last set and a half to take out the Auckland winner 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in brutal heat. The loss will be even more frustrating for Goerges who served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.
It’s good news for Kerber though as she was scheduled to play Goerges in the fourth round and will now avoid the big-serving German in the last 16.
As for Danielle Collins she could produce a big threat in the tournament as she has an all-American clash with Sachia Vickery in the next round.
Serena’s Bid, Halep’s Test and Wozniacki’s Mission: Five Australian Open Storylines To Follow In The Women’s Draw
What will the always unpredictable WTA Tour produce in Melbourne Park this year?
It has been almost four years since the same woman won two grand slam titles in a row. The WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability, which draws an equal amount of criticism and excitement from fans. There is no telling what that this year’s Australian Open will bring, but here are the main topic’s to follow in the women’s draw.
Serena eyes No.24
During her comeback season last year, it was a case of so near, but so far for Serena Williams. Twice the American came within touching distance of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record for most grand slam titles. At Wimbledon, she suffered a comprehensive defeat to Angelique Kerber. Then at the US Open she was outplayed by Naomi Osaka in a final that was overshadowed by her clash with umpire Carlos Ramos.
“Last year she made an incredible effort to come back in shape after having a baby and actually she came back in a decent shape quite fast,” Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said.
“It was a big deal. She had a lot of medical issues after the delivery but she definitely was not 100 percent.
“And I think she’s fitter now … she came back (this season) to a very, very high level of fitness.
“So she’s ready. She’s ready to compete and when Serena’s ready to compete, she’s ready to win.”
Already a seven-time Australian Open champion, should she win again Williams would become the most successful female player in the Open Era to ever participate at the tournament. Her first triumph was in 2003 and last was in 2017, when she defeated sister Venus in the final.
“I think it’s possible for Serena to equal me,” Court told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper Sunday. “If anybody’s gonna do it, it’s Serena, but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favourite.
“I think it’s a pretty open tournament and I think an outsider can win it.”
Williams is yet to play a WTA Tournament this season heading into Melbourne. The only indication her current form occurred on December 27th when she defeated Venus in an exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championships.
The former world No.1 will make her 18th appearance in the main draw. The event where she made her grand slam debut back in 1998. At present she has a 89% winning record at the event (81-10).
Williams will take on Tatjana Maria in the first round.
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