Here’s my annual fan wrap up of the Australian Open, which, as always, was a happy slam experience for fans, players and staff alike.
The Australian Open never fails to deliver amazing tennis and memorable moments. This year was particularly good in terms of the all Williams Women’s Final and the Federer v Nadal match up for the Men’s Final. Notably both the World No.1 Andy Murray and World No.2 Novak Djokovic went out by Round 4, as did Women’s No.1 Angelique Kerber, so it wasn’t great for their fans.
As always there were new features around the grounds, including a lot more food and drink outlets on Grand Slam Oval and a lot more seating. In terms of the weather, which can be crazy hot, although there were a few hot days, it was more consistent that usual and made for great conditions to enjoy being around the grounds.
So many of the players mentioned what a great tournament it is from their point of view, particularly due to the great organisation, transport, proximity to the CBD and all the other support they receive. I’m so glad Aus Open is still the Happiest Slam, not just for fans but for the players too, and credit goes to Craig Tiley and his team for all their hard work to put on such a great tournament.
Denis Istomin, who was a Wild Card entry to the tournament, defeated six time AO Champion Novak Djokovic in a huge five set match in Round 2. I haven’t yet identified anyone who saw that one coming.
Andy Murray was defeated by Mischa Zverev in the fourth round, who got the biggest win of his career, and went on to lose to Federer in straight sets in the quarter-finals.
Defending champion Angelique Kerber was defeated by the powerful CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets in Round four.
The Memorable Moments
One of the loveliest moments of the tournament was the emotional 34 year old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who reached her first grand slam semi-final in 18 years, crying after defeating No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.
During the post match interview she said “This has made my life, everything that happened that was bad, it’s made it all ok.”
She was defeated by Serena in the semis.
Nadal v Dimitrov
I don’t like to overuse the word epic but this semi-final truly was. Great sportmanship, shot making and skill for five sets that took nearly five hours. Rafa came through and Grigor showed that he is ready for the top ten.
Aussie super star in the making Daria Gavrilova played three matches before losing to Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round. She played some incredible matches to defeat Naomi Broady, Ana Konjuh and Timea Bacsinszky along the way.
After seeing Kyrgios and Tomic fall in the early rounds, I’m so glad Australia has Dasha to support!
As detailed below, Venus Williams had an incredible run and made the final.
Watch his post-match interview with Jim Courier after defeating Andy Murray.
“Everything just feels a little bit unreal…”
— #7TENNIS 🎾 (@7tennis) January 22, 2017
On the Women’s side Serena and Venus Williams played each other in a final for the first time in eight years. Many fans, like me, were hoping Venus would win because she has had such a remarkable career and it would be awesome for her to get another title. But Serena had other ideas, winning in straight sets to achieve her 23rd grand slam victory, passing Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22, and now only one less than Margaret Court’s record. With the win she regained her World No.1 ranking.
It was a fabulous night, including incredible speeches by both ladies showing total respect for each other and Serena talking about what an inspiration Venus is.
It was a beautiful thing that Federer and Nadal were able to play each other in a grand slam final. Federer hadn’t played since Wimbledon until his return at the Hopman Cup at the start of January, and Nadal had also had an injury break for three months.
There was a lot of hype around the final and it lived up to it! A five setter, which was fast by tennis standards, had a lot of twists and turns with both players dominating for some games, and making errors in others.
Although I’m sad that Rafa didn’t win and become the first player in the open era to win all slams twice, I’m still so happy to see him playing without pain after so many injury torments during the last few years. And who couldn’t be happy for Roger, adding one more slam to his tally making a total of 18.
View more photos of Roger practicing and Rafa practicing during the 2017 Australian Open
I think this was the best year for quality fashion that I can recall, with no stand out garish outfits. On that point it’s worth noting that Berdych is no longer with H&M and in his first match I didn’t recognise him.
The black and white Nike outfits were seen a lot in a variety of different combinations.
I liked Rogers coloured top, plain shorts, white jacket combo.
Not so sure about Serena’s outfit, which seems like a practice outfit/match combo.
I’m a big fan of Heather Watson but I did feel like she popped on the yellow skirt because she couldn’t find the real one.
The Asics kit, as worn by Sam Stosur, looked fabulous, particularly against the blue court.
It was a little bit disco, but I did like Angie’s aqua/orange combo
Muguruza looked great in green
Stan Wawrinka was conservative in green and hot pink
Jo’s outfit was conservative too and he’s back to the big hair
As always, Dustin Brown wore his hair with fabulous style. And it makes for great photos.
New Initiatives for 2017
A big change this year was the layout of the grounds.
The entertainment stage was moved near Birrarung Marr, away from the courts. This was good in terms of tennis matches not being disrupted by the sound of music in the background, and people only visiting the grounds for entertainment not being disrupted by tennis 🙂
Grand Slam Oval was separated into areas representing the four grand slams; Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Here are some photos so you can soak up the ambience.
Other random thoughts
Women’s Final Day
On Women’s final day fans can access the grounds where the Junior Boys’ Final and Wheelchair Finals are played, as well as the Junior Girls’ Final and Quad Wheelchair final in Rod Laver Arena for the cost of $30. If they chose to they could also see both Venus and Serena warming up for the final on the Practice Courts. This is really awesome value and the grounds have a way more relaxing vibe during the final weekend than during the first week.
As every year there were record attendances at the 2017 Australian Open topped all records with a total attendance of728,723. I think the $5 tickets for kids helped with this, as did moving the entertainment to a separate section where there was more space for more people.
Whatever the case, having more and more people wanting to go to AO every year is a great reflection on the quality of their marketing and the tournament.
Every year I’m grateful for my tennis friends; for the chit chat, Retweets and Likes on Twitter, for those I get to see in real life who add so much enjoyment to the tournament, particularly when we have the chance to enjoying wining and dining around Melbourne, and for helping each other with information, advice and tickets.
Also thanks to Grand Slam Tennis Tours for their ongoing support.
Thank you Australian Open, for still being the Happy Slam that so many fans, staff, players and their teams around the world enjoy every year. I can’t even imagine how much work the AO team does to create such an enjoyable experience every year but I appreciate every effort!
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal