The oft-quoted saying “all’s well that ends well” can most certainly be applied to this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
After all, the season-opening Grand Slam had exactly the type of publicity they did not need before the tournament. This was, of course, thanks in no small part to Novak Djokovic’s eventual deportation.
Whatever one’s opinion on the matter, it’s fair to say it took the focus off the tennis. And that is exactly what Tennis Australia did not need.
That’s not to say that they were not culpable in contributing to the circuis – far from it. But it was not their fault either that Australian PM Scott Morrison saw it as a way to win cheap political brownie points.
It says a lot that, in the build-up to the tournament, all one could focus on was Djokovic. The media frenzy around him was endless, as the story had plenty of legs.
But it also meant there was little focus on the sport at hand. Thankfully for fans and writers alike, the tournament was an overall success.
When looking back at the tournament, most will choose to remember Rafael Nadal’s record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title win. Or Ashleigh Barty becoming the first Australian in 44 years to win their home Slam.
Nadal’s fitness struggles before the tournament were well documented. It says a lot that even making the final of the tournament reduced him to tears, never mind his reaction to winning the Slam.
As for Barty, she handled the pressure of being not only the home favourite but overall favourite too in emphatic fashion.
Women’s tennis has long cried out for a dominant figure in the mould of the Williams sisters. And in Barty, they might just have their person.
But of course, it wasn’t just about the champions. The 2022 Australian Open saw many other stories told on the court, all unique in their own manner.
Danielle Collins, who lost to Barty in the women’s singles final, overcame a lot to even be on court. Only nine months ago she had a large cyst surgically removed from her uterus.
She’s openly spoke about the effects this had on her not only physically but mentally too. Yet she marched on to the final and did herself and her fans proud.
And she wasn’t the only one. Alize Cornet, the 32-year-old French player, made it to a Grand Slam quarterfinals for the first time ever. It was a heartwarming moment for a player who’s waited long for her due.
And in an even more heartwarming moment, Cornet chose her post-match interview to applaud interviewer Jelena Dokic, who is a survivor of abuse.
The next generation of tennis stars also shone bright. Carlos Alcaraz, the 18-year-old Spaniard, made it all the way to the third round. He then exited after a five-setter against Matteo Berrettini.
Denis Shapovalov, another inconsistent yet talented star, lost out in the quarters to Nadal. But his round of 16 demolition of Alexander Zverev shows just how good he can be if he wants to.
Jannik Sinner lost out in the quarters to Stefanos Tsitsipas, who himself lost out to runner-up Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev himself should be proud of his final showing, even though he has lessonrs still to learn.
The major point, however, stands true – the season-opening Slam proved a perfect showcase for both the sport and it’s stars. And it did so even with a controversy that had the potential to overshadow the tournament.