One day after Serena Williams bested her older sister to capture her 23rd Grand Slam title, the men’s tournament down under is in the books as well—and what a tournament it was. A blur of upsets, sensational performances, and five-set thrillers made for one of the most entertaining majors in several years. It also set the stage, as many commentators said after Sunday’s final, for a wonderful 2017.
Here’s a recap of 10 things we learned.
1. Perseverance Pays Off
The men’s final—which we dubbed Fedal Chapter 35—represented a clinic in perseverance. The idea that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, at 35 and 30 respectively and both coming off of significant injuries, could meet in a Grand Slam final, is mind-blowing. It was a lesson for all players and fans that you can always improve your game and reach a higher level.
2. Grigor Dimitrov Has Arrived
He may have fallen short of the final, but Grigor Dimitrov’s five hour-plus marathon against Nadal in the semifinal seemed to signal his arrival as a legitimate Grand Slam threat. The 25-year-old Bulgarian once hailed as “Baby Federer” got a glimpse of the very highest level of competition and nearly found himself in the final. He would now seem to have a slight experience edge on his contemporaries, such as Milos Raonic (who has made it to a Slam final) and Kei Nishikori.
3. We May Be Able To Count Out Some Contenders
With the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray being upset early and Federer returning from a layoff, this was the most wide open draw in years. And yet, we saw a slew of perennial top-10 and -15 veterans fail to seize the opportunity. Players in this class—including Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer, and Richard Gasquet—now seem unlikely to break through with Slam titles.
4. The U.S. Needs A Few More Years
It was an exciting tournament for American fans, with a slew of young up-and-comers in the draw. Sadly, the U.S. youngsters didn’t make much of a dent in the field. The likes of Noah Rubin, Francis Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Jared Donaldson, Michael Mmoh, and Reilly Opelka will factor into the pro scene soon—but not yet.
5. Coaching Matters
Both Federer and Nadal got as far as they did with relatively new coaches in Ivan Ljubicic and Carlos Moya, respectively. This, like their perseverance, is a lesson for players and fans everywhere. Play Your Court points out that lessons are great for kids and adults of all ages and tennis backgrounds and the Australian Open made it clear that age doesn’t matter when it comes to greatness. With the right coach you can be and play your best, even if you’re not competing for a grand slam. You’re unlikely to find a Ljubicic or Moya to take you to the Aussie Open finals—but the right coach can help catapult your game to new levels!
6. Our Hearts Will Hibernate
You could almost feel bad for Djokovic and Murray seeing the love and appreciation pour in for Fedal 35. They have plenty of fans, but we won’t see this sort of love when they’re carrying the sport after Federer and Nadal finally hang up their rackets. In other words, it may be a while before we see players that a world’s worth of fans attach themselves to so easily.
7. Learn To Love The Youngins
That said, there a lot of fun youngsters on tour. We’ve already discussed the new American generation knocking on the door. The Aussie Open was also something of a coming out party for Alexander Zverev, a German 19-year-old who many have pegged as a future number one player. Throw in the likes of Austrian Dominic Thiem, volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios, and perhaps even Dimitrov, and there are plenty of 25-and-under players to keep an eye on.
8. Nike Reigns
For fans of tennis attire and gear, it was hard not to notice how pleased Nike must have been. When the tournament was down to Federer on one side and Nadal and Dimitrov on the other, it was already an all-Nike final three. Nike is already building on Federer’s win and the leading sportswear brand reigned supreme down under.
9. Federer Is The GOAT
An 18th Slam and a victory over his greatest rival (and kryptonite) at age 35 seemed to seal the deal. As Federer’s friend and semifinal opponent Stanislas Wawrinka articulated with a clever, emoji-infused tweet, Federer is the GOAT: the Greatest Of All Time.
10. Tennis Is Magic
That’s about all that can be concluded after this particular tournament.
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