The “Happy Slam” is here again, but the 2017 Australian Open has definitely not been business as usual.
On the ATP tour, defending champion Novak Djokovic suffered a shocking five-set defeat in the second round. Denis Istomin, a 30-year-old tennis journeyman who had not beaten Djokovic in their previous five meetings, prematurely ended Novak’s hope of a seventh Australian Open trophy.
According to reports, Istomin is a really nice guy on and off the court. Who did not feel happy for his victory? Surely, he is the man of the tournament! He played the match of his life against Novak. He played with belief — and he did not crash out in his third round match, as many expected he would! How far can he go?
Djokovic’s defeat now puts the newly-knighted and World Number One Andy Murray in pole position for his maiden AO title. Hold your rackets, though! Former AO champion Stan Warwinka might have something to say about that. So might Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin. They are all playing with intent!
In addition, let us not rule out a Fedal final just yet: Roger Federer is playing like a younger version of himself, and Rafael Nadal is playing injury-free and going the distance in his victory over a viable future number one — Alexander Zverev!
If it does come down to a Federer-Nadal final, the edge would surely have to go to The Fed. He has not lost his touch and he still flies around the court as if with wings. Rafa, however, seems to have lost some of this speed. Federer would need to get the victory in straight sets, though. In a five-set match, the odds would strongly be in favor of Nadal grinding out the victory.
There is still a lot of tennis to be played at the 2017 Australian Open, but Denis Istomin’s amazing win against Novak Djokovic — and his successive five-set win over Carreno Busta — have shown us that anything is possible. It is tennis, after all.
On the WTA tour, defending champion Angelique Kerber continues her winning ways, but Konta and Pliskova are demonstrating their own on-court credentials.
Of the Williams sisters, Venus, like Federer, is playing like the seasoned veteran she is, and with speed, energy, skill and guile. Serena has the power, but Venus provides the excitement.
It is all so tantalizing. Just sit back and enjoy the show, folks!