2021 Australian Open

Emma Burgess ’21

The Australian Open is undoubtedly one of the most exciting tennis events of the year, and the 2021 tournament was no exception. Due to time zone differences, watching the Australian Open in the US entails some late nights, but if you are willing to stay up, you are sure to catch some great tennis! 

Even with new COVID-19 protocols in place, those responsible for the planning of the Australian Open were determined to make the playing and watching experience as safe and enjoyable for all parties involved. One difference seen at the Australian Open this year was the absence of line judges on the courts. Instead, all line calls were done electronically in order to limit the number of people present on the court at once. This system of line calling with pre-recorded voices, tracking cameras, and automatic calls was a Grand Slam and resulted in fewer players challenging line calls during their matches. Watching calls be made this way caused many to wonder if the sport would ever return to in-person line judges even once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Additionally, COVID-19 had a large impact on the role of the audience. When the state of Victoria was put into a lockdown after reports of increased cases in Melbourne, the Open sent all fans home. The athletes, however, were allowed to continue to play without spectators, as they were categorized as “essential workers.” While this did create a different atmosphere for the players who had been expecting to perform with the support of a crowd, the safety of all the athletes, spectators, workers, and residents of Melbourne was most important. Fans were permitted back into the Australian Open for the final days of play. 

This year’s Australian Open hosted many great matches that had fans on the edge of their seats. The men’s quarter final match between Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas was especially exciting to watch. While Nadal was the favorite for many in this match and started with an early lead, winning the first two sets, Tsitsipas fought hard to take the third in a tie breaker. From there, Tsitsipas went on to win the next two sets and come out victorious, knocking world No.2 Rafael Nadal out of the tournament. Another exciting match to watch on the women’s side was the quarter final between Jennifer Brady and Jessica Pegula, who are both American players and good friends. This three set match was at first dominated by Pegula, but Brady came back to win the second two sets and emerge as the winner. Brady then went on to continue as a strong competitor in the tournament, making it all the way to the finals where she met world No.2 Naomi Osaka. The reigning champion at the US Open, Osaka was a large opponent for Brady, who is a well renowned player from UCLA. In a tough match, Osaka won the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Brady. In the men’s bracket final, eight time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic (world No.1) faced off against world No.3 Daniil Medvedev. In a close first set Djokovic took a 7-5 win. The next two sets, however, were more decisive toward Djokovic at 6-2 and 6-2, declaring him his ninth open win in three sets. 

This year’s Australian Open was certainly one for the books, between changes due to COVID-19 and a number of great matches, and I know I cannot wait to see what the next open has in store!