by Alain Chivilò
Few hours before the start of the Australian Open 2024. Balance reigns supreme especially in men. Rafael Nadal will not participate and in his last year on the circuit he will try to be present in Paris, Roland Garros and Olympics, for a farewell after decades of struggles, defeats but above all victories. Jannik Sinner – the favourit – appears to be the man to beat, [update arrived after this publication] a speedy recovery for Matteo Berrettini who has been blocked by the flare-up of his latest injury. In the female’s tournament the road appears between Sabalenka and Swiatek-Rybakina but, the opponents will be very, very fierce.
Two women’s and two men’s tournaments close the beginning of the season. In few weeks from angels to demons and vice versa but, sport is competitive spirit and battle.
WTA 500. An unexpected final having Rybakina and Pegula, but both withdrew in the final phase of the tournament. The tennis player of the moment is Jelena Ostapenko who had been giving interesting signals since last week. Daria Kasatkina benefited from two consecutive retirements thus having more rest which, however, did not benefit her.
In 1.14 h Jelena Ostapenko 6/3, 6/2 vs Daria Kasatkina. Opening set fought but with a break that made the difference: Jelena 2/6, Daria 1/4. In the second, a clinical Ostapenko wastes no time and collects the three break points obtained against one by Kasatkina.
The two tennis players are on charge and should have no troubles reaching and continuing through the second week but, the alternation of play could cause them to exit early will need to be tested.
ATP 250. Three sets in 2.05 hours of play. Jiri Lehecka 4/6, 6/4, 6/3 vs Jack Draper. Very balanced, difficult and tough final with a cold break achieved and strong management in the crucial moments of the match making the difference. Draper started well in the opening set but later lost to Lehecka.
WTA 250. In Tasmania the number 1 and 2 seeds fight until the end. Three sets for 2.48 hours. Emma Navarro (2) wins the first title of her career, confirming the interesting impressions provided during 2023 against an Elise Mertens (1) with a rediscovered play: 6/1, 4/6, 7/5. The second and third sets were hard fought with breaks and breaks back. At AO the goal is to enter the second week. Today a lot of energy was spent, but in the next few days everything could change.
ASB Classic. Auckland
ATP 250. From the qualifiers Alejandro Tabilo wins in two sets against Taro Daniel in 1.37 h: 6/2, 7/5 The Japanese does not achieve any break points, the three were in the second set. The Chilean closed at the right time in the second, which was more fight than the opening one.
At this point, let the first round of the Grand Slam begins. See you later.
©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo