Meet The Young Players And Game Changers At The 2019 Australian Open
2019’s first tennis Grand Slam tournament has entered its second week, and beyond the early exit and talk of imminent retirement of Andy Murray, this Grand Slam may very well go down in tennis history as the one which formally announced the arrival of the new "Young Guns" of tennis. For close to twenty years now, several younger players have come and gone; but when the smoke clears, the ones clearly still left standing have been Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, with the likes of Andy Murray, Juan Del Porto, and Stan Wawrinka providing strong support through the two decades.
But in Tuesday’s Quarter-Finals in the bottom half of the draw, it’s two young upstarts against the old guard. There’s 32-year-old Rafa, in questionable health but still standing, up against 22-year-old African-American Frances Tiafoe. And the other Quarter is the big earth shaker! 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas upset sentimental favorite Roger Federer in four tension-filled, super tight sets; and now faces Roberto Bautista Agut, a 30-year-old journeyman. So that’s two Spaniards, Nadal and Agut, in the Quarter-Finals of the bottom half draw, against two young players aching for a changing of the guard.
Novak, 31, is still alive in the top half; but youth is also represented and making its weight felt in that half of the draw. German Alexander Zverev is 21 years of age, and Croatian Borna Coric is all of 22. Djokovic’s opponent Monday night in the Round of 16 is Russian Daniil Medvedev, another 22-year-old. While not many see Medvedev getting past Djokovic, hopes were high for Zverev and Coric to get past the round and possibly meet in the Quarters (but unfortunately, Zverev lost to 28-year-"old man" Milos Raonic). And yes, for the Asian contingent, it’s good to know that Japan’s Nishikori is still hanging around.
On the Women’s side, it’s the Australian Open and so the big news is how hometown favorite Ashleigh Barty defeated Maria Sharapova to reach the Quarters. Other than that "big" story, it’s more a case of the usual suspects still alive; Serena Williams, Simone Halep, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, and new name American Danielle Collins. If anything, the American girls have been slowly showing signs of a resurgence in Women’s tennis; but still looking up to the indomitable Serena.
At the time of this writing, we can’t predict who’ll be facing each other across the Center Court net come Sunday in the Men’s Finals. For all we know, it'll be Djokovic against Nadal, a clear case of "same old, same old;" but for now, especially with how Tsitsipas bundled Federer out of the tournament, youth is being served in a big way. Federer didn’t play badly at all, it’s just that this 19-year-old remained unfazed, and played a marginally stronger game on the night.
Photos from @australianopen