Handing out grades for the 2018 Australian Open halfway through the tournament, including marks for Nick Kyrgios, Madison Keys, Tennys Sandgren, Stan Wawrinka, Garbine Muguruza and more.
Nick Kyrgios has shown will, not always in evidence, offering maturity to match his shotmaking. Top seed Simona Halep and Lauren Davis each showed an abundance of will, two undersized athletes battling on Saturday to 15-13 in the third set, an early candidate for match of the year. For two days, players showed will simply not to wilt, enduring on-court temperatures fit for Ray Bradbury stories.
Plenty of will remains for Week Two. Will Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reprise their final? Will Caroline Wozniacki win her first major? Will Novak Djokovic find his mojo and perhaps even a seventh title? We’ll see. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Herewith your Midterm Grades from Melbourne:
For some it's been easy (Nadal and Federer, the top two men’s seeds.) For some it's been hard (Halep and Wozniacki, the top two women’s seeds–each of whom has been down match point.) For some, the jury remains sequestered (Novak Djokovic.) But the faves remain.
It’s as if 2017 never happened. The winner in 2016 makes quick work of Maria Sharapova and suddenly looks like a worldbeater again.
We all mature at our own pace. Kyrgios defies convention—note that as we wrote this, he was still in the doubles draw. But he also thumbs his nose at distraction. Through three rounds, he’s playing the kind of measured and drama-free tennis that becomes champions.
Overall, a brutal first week for the Americans. But Keys has unlocked all doors. Six sets played; six sets won.
If you had Tennys Sandgren in your “Last American Standing” pool, congrats. And how about lucky loser Bernarda Pera reaching the middle weekend?
Final tip of the backwards cap for one of tennis’ good blokes, playing in his final tournament.
Dance hall days, indeed. Young Korean takes out Sascha Zverev to reach round four.
Simona Halep vs. Lauren Davis
What a battle. As mentioned above, an early candidate for match of the year.
The future quickly is morphing into the present. Watch this kid—and at 18-years old, he remains a kid—play once and you’ll be hooked. But he’ll be stung by his failure to close out Tsonga up 5-2 in the fifth set.
Croatian qualifier up 5-1 in the third set against Caroline Wozniacki, a player picked by many to win the event. That ought to ply Fett with confidence. She then loses the next six games. That ought to strip away aforementioned confidence.
You outplay the great Venus Williams. You then get outplayed by Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum in your next match. Ah, tennis.
The pink-and-black Nike outfit
Judy Murray is right. They look like licorice pastels.
Two straight matches of more than 50 aces for the oldest player in the draw. He wins one match 12-10 in the fifth, and then loses to Andy Seppi 9-7 in the fifth.
Good for him for playing till the end, but the former champ clearly came back too soon from injury.
The Australian Open app and website
At this point, we’re piling on. But this is simply embarrassing. Especially for such an event that is otherwise so buttoned-up. A terrible, terrible unforced error for a global sporting event.
Still looking for her first match win since the U.S. Open. 0-8 since.
You’re in the prime of your career. You travel with a trainer. The field is wide open…. You cannot lose in the second round to a player barely in the top 100. When everything is going great, Mugu is a worldbeater. When anything goes remotely sideways, she follows suit.
Burst into the top in the fall. Lackluster start to the year includes a first round loss in Melbourne.
The heat policy
Ice baths and ice vests and “players are encouraged to hydrate” are insufficient when on-courts temperatures hit 156 Fahrenheit. (That’s not a typo.)