By: Nashra Syed
The 2021 Australian Open has come to an end, and the next Grand Slam tournament is the French Open that’ll be held in May, with several hard-court and clay tournaments in between. In March, you can catch WTA and ATP players in Doha and Dubai. However, if you missed the Australian Open or didn’t get a chance to witness the games, here’s a breakdown of the top five plays from this year’s tournament.
1 - Naomi Osaka’s 197km/h serve: Osaka v Brady
Naomi Osaka is a force to be reckoned with. Between her serves, power, and strategy, she’s one tough competitor in women’s tennis. The Australian Open women’s singles finals were no exception.
During the final against American player Jennifer Brady, Osaka landed a flawless serve in the first set of the game with a speed of 197km/h. This helped lead her to win that point and later, the Grand Slam title.
To some, this number may not mean much, but to tennis fans, this number reflects the amount of power that comes from a single-serve. To put it into perspective, the average serves played by men tend to go anywhere from 150km/h well past 200km/h whereas the average serves played by women tend to go from 100km/h onwards.
2 - Djokovic’s championship game winner: Djokovic v Medvedev
This year’s men’s singles finals were nothing short of exciting. Novak Djokovic went head to head with first-time finalist Daniil Medvedev of Russia. The first set of this game was a very close 7-5 which had some great plays but the most exciting of the final was Djokovic’s game-winning point.
With Djokovic leading the third set 5-2, 40-30, all eyes were on the court for the championship point. Medvedev served at a speed of 203km/h which was then returned by Djokovic.
Djokovic played frontcourt, hitting the ball in both back corners, which Medvedev was not able to retrieve, earning Djokovic his ninth AO title.
3 - Serena’s quick front court return: Williams v Sabalenka
Even if you’re not a huge tennis fan, you know that Serena Williams is an icon. Her power is unlike any other and she is an inspiration to sports fans all over the world. Although she didn’t go on to claim the Grand Slam title, she did have some epic games throughout her time competing this year.
During the fourth round of the tournament, Williams faced Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. In the fourth game of the first set, Williams served at a speed of 173km/h and had a back and forth exchange with Sabalenka. Williams strategically played frontcourt and landed a quick hit which Sabalenka was not able to return.
4 - Kyrgios’s between the legs racquet moment: Krygios v Ferreira Silva
One of the most interesting encounters of the tournament was between Australian Nick Kyrgios and Portuguese Frederico Ferreira Silva in the first round. Up 40-0, Kyrgios used some quick skills to win that point and then the match, advancing to round two. Ferreira Silva returned Kyrgios’s serve, but the set quickly came to an end when Krygios hit the ball ever so slightly, just making it over the net.
At first glance, it looks like Kyrgios kicks the ball over the net but replays show that he skillfully tapped the ball with his racquet between his legs.
5 - Ram and Krejcikova’s double take: Ram and Krejcikova v Stosur Ebden
Mixed doubles games are typically not as popular as singles but are just as entertaining to watch. American Rajeev Ram and Czech Barbora Krejcikova are a dream team when it comes to mixed doubles. Their teamwork and dedication to the sport plays in their favour as evident in the finals.
In the first set of the game against Samantha Stosur and Matthew Ebden, Ram and Krejcikova played a great hand together, with Ram leading them to win the point. He played frontcourt against Stosur, making viewers do a double-take of the play. His quick coordination and response led to him and Krejcikova winning that point and then ultimately winning the finals title.
This year’s Australian Open has been quite a series of exciting events and we were lucky enough to witness some amazing plays by amazing athletes. Make sure to follow me (@NashraASyed) on Twitter to stay up to date with the tennis world and The Intermission Sports (@IntermissionCA) for more articles and stories.