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January 2024

January saw the start of the tennis season, with every player arriving fresh physically and mentally looking to make an impact at the first Grand Slam in Australia.

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Nadal, Osaka and Kerber return to tennis

Three multiple Grand Slam champions returned after lengthy spells away from the game. Rafael Nadal played the Brisbane ATP 250, and impressed in his opening two matches. However, he lost to Jordan Thompson in the Quarter Finals, picking up an injury that would rule him out of the Australian Open. Naomi Osaka played the WTA 500 event in the same city, and won her opener but lost the following match against Karolina Pliskova.

Angelique Kerber played in the United Cup for Germany, and whilst she herself only won one match, her country won the event, with Alex Zverev and Laura Siegemund playing a key part. They beat Polish duo Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz in a nail biting Final.

Sabalenka untouchable in Melbourne

As is the norm with the WTA Tour, plenty of big names fell in the first week of the Australian Open. Elena Rybakina and Anna Blinkova played the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history in the Second Round, with Blinkova coming out on top 22-20 to eliminate the third seed. An even bigger surprise was Linda Noskova taking out top seed Iga Swiatek in the Third Round. Noskova's run was ended in the Quarter Finals by qualifier Dayana Yamstremska, who had beaten Marketa Vondrousova and Viktoria Azarenka in her own run. 12th seed Qinwen Zheng was breaking new ground, and beat Yamstremska to make a maiden Grand Slam Final.

In the other half, Aryna Sabalenka beat Barbara Krejcikova and Coco Gauff beat Marta Kostyuk in the Quarter Finals to set up a blockbuster Semi Final between the last two hard court Grand Slam winners. Sabalenka edged through a tight two setter to reach the Final, and went on to beat Zheng 6-3 6-2 to defend her Australian Open title, and do so without dropping a set in the tournament.

Maiden Grand Slam title for Sinner

Novak Djokovic came into the event as the defending champion, but seemed not at his best, dropping sets to qualifier Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin in his opening two matches. Nevertheless, he progressed to the Semi Finals, beating an in-form Taylor Fritz in the Quarter Finals. He would face Jannik Sinner, who was in red-hot form and hadn't dropped a set yet in the tournament. Sinner dominated the Serb and beat him in four sets, the first time Djokovic has lost in Melbourne since 2018.

In the other half of the draw, Holger Rune was one of the biggest early casualties, getting outplayed by young wildcard Arthur Cazaux. Daniil Medvedev was given an early scare by Emil Ruusuvuori, but came back from two sets down to advance. He had to play another five setter against Hubert Hurkacz in the Quarter Finals, but came through that as well. Carlos Alcaraz was beaten at that stage by a brilliant performance from Alex Zverev. Medvedev went two sets down again against Zverev in the Semi Finals, but again he fought back to secure a dramatic victory and a third Australian Open Final appearance. In the Final, the Russian came out firing, dominating Sinner and taking the first two sets. However, the Italian grew into the match, and the amount of time Medvedev had spent on court in the event started to take its toll. Sinner came back to level the match at two sets all, and got the decisive break in the fifth set to secure his first Grand Slam title, aged just 22.

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