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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 29, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka

Join us for a look back at all the high points of the 2024 Australian Open.

Photo Source: Getty

Now that the dust has settled from the 2024 Australian Open it’s time to empty the notebooks and reflect on another glorious Happy Slam in Melbourne.

Without any further ado, and with the goal of easing Australian Open withdrawal symptoms, here are 24 thoughts on the first Grand Slam of 2024...

1. Sinner’s a Winner

Jannik Sinner made the most of his 17th Grand Slam main draw appearance, continuing his meteoric rise with a stunning run to the title that saw him defeat the No.5, No.1 and No.3-ranked players in the world. If this is how the mop-topped Italian manages himself at a Grand Slam at the age of 22 – dropping just one set en route to the final, and rallying from two sets down in the final – then imagine Sinner, in all his jaw-dropping, shotmaking glory a few years down the road. Italy’s first major singles Grand Slam champion since 1976 will definitely have a shot at the No.1 ranking and more major titles, on more surfaces.

2. Sabalenka Strong

There’s so much backstory to 2024 Australian Open women’s singles champion Aryna Sabalenka. So many doubts, bumps in the road, low points that could have altered her trajectory, made her lose heart and forced her to slip back down the tennis totem pole. But Sabalenka, more than anything else, is buoyed by fortitude. We saw that in Melbourne as she barrelled to the title without the loss of a single set.

She has an unbreakable spirit, and unyielding will to win, and that is how she has managed to consistently improve her game in virtually every way possible over the last two seasons. Now, she sits as an unmovable, steady force at the top of the game, a certain Hall of Famer, and a player who won’t let success stop her drive to survive.

3. Novak and the Tea Leaves

The end of the Novak Djokovic era in men’s tennis is inevitable. But the timeline? That’s up for interpretation. After the 24-time major champion was shoved out of the Aussie Open by Jannik Sinner, he admitted to playing one of his worst matches ever at the Grand Slams, and it made us wonder if this was an important moment for the young guns that have been perpetually chasing Djokovic ever since they became pros.

With Alcaraz and Sinner each having success against the Grand Slam juggernaut across the last six months, are we seeing the first cracks in Djokovic’s armor?

Oftentimes, losses like these only serve to make Djokovic stronger. At 36 going on 37, will he have the capacity to continue that trend? For the first time in a long time (2018), Djokovic has failed to set the tone of his season with a Grand Slam triumph in Australia. Now he needs to change the tide this spring. We’re anxious as heck to see what he does next.

4. Medvedev’s Iron Will

Win or lose, Daniil Medvedev’s Herculean effort in Melbourne has to be recognized as, well, Herculean. He won three five-setters and came back from two sets down twice to reach the final. He embraced the hard and dark moments of this Odyssey and came through the AO storm, his heart and head focused on giving every once of his being to winning another major title.

Yes, he came up short. It doesn’t detract one bit from his effort.

5. Zheng Arrives

No she didn’t face a Top 50 player en route to her first Grand Slam final. But by making the final in just her ninth Grand Slam main draw appearance, Zheng Qinwen reinforced the belief that she may indeed be the next great Chinese force in tennis. She was excellent in Melbourne, so cool under pressure, and has so much room for growth…

6. Bopanna the Ageless!

One of tennis’ all-time great guys – and talented ones – got a well-deserved moment in the sun when he captured the men’s doubles title with Matthew Ebden. The oldest men’s doubles champion in Grand Slam history is today the oldest first-time No.1 in the ATP doubles rankings as well. At 43!

7. You Can’t Win them All, Iga

Iga Swiatek was outplayed by 19-year-old Linda Noskova in third-round action. An abrupt ending for the World No.1, who was riding an 18-match winning streak into the match. But Swiatek is all about growth, and learning lessons that come her way. She's a read and react type of gal, and she knows how to "come back stronger."

It’s not an ideal start to the 2024 Slam season but the next great Swiatek moment is always waiting to happen, just around the corner. Stay tuned...

8. 35 Five-Setters, a Blip or a Trend?

There were 35 five-setters at the 2024 Australian Open, which is the most played at a Slam since the 1983 US Open. What does it say about the men’s field, or the way the sport is played in 2024? Is it a sign of parity, or just a random data point, etched into the sport’s fabric, 40 years after the last great five-set splurge? Discuss.

9. Russian Rising?

Anna Kalinskaya was 4-13 at the Slams prior to the 2024 AO but reached the quarterfinals at a Slam for the first time in Melbourne. Is this the beginning of something bigger for the 25-year-old? With a new career-high ranking of 38, she’ll have plenty of chances this year to prove that her performance wasn’t a fluke.

10. Do You Know Cazaux?

We were all focused on French young guns Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche in Australia, but it was 21-year-old Arthur Cazaux who emerged as the player to watch for the French. Behind drop dead serving (Cazaux credits his days as a handball player for helping him with the serve) he shook up the draw and reached the round of 16. Keep your eyes on this one…

11. Welcome Back Amanda

Amanda Anisimova made her long awaited return to tennis after an “indefinite break” for mental health reasons, and acquitted herself very nicely, reaching the round of 16 at Melbourne for the third time. The 22-year-old took six months off and found new perspective. Now her future – and her capacity for enjoying said future – are on track again.

12. Verdict Still out on Naomi

She had an extremely tough draw, having to face Caroline Garcia in the opening round, but it was good to see Naomi Osaka back on the Grand Slam stage despite the early loss. The game seems to be largely intact, but we’ll know a lot more about Osaka in six months. The four-time Slam champion plans to play a busy schedule, which will allow us to see if she can match up with the new regime on the WTA Tour once she gets into the groove. It will also allow us time so see if she can stay healthy for what should be a grueling stretch – both mentally and physically.

13. Ukrainian Women Rise

This year in Melbourne, for the first time ever, three Ukrainian women reached the second week of a Grand Slam. It’s a testament to the steel will of Elina Svitolina (round of 16), Marta Kostyuk (quarterfinal) and Dayana Yastremska (semifinal). And an inspiration for all.

14. Moms in Melbourne

Eight moms took their place in the 2024 Australian Open women’s singles draw. That’s one sixteenth of the field – a darn impressive number – and a message to the world that today, more than ever, women can choose to take time off to have a child and still return to play the tour.

Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina carried the flag furthest – both reached the round of 16.

15. Missing in Action

Strange to see Mrs. Consistency Jessica Pegula, who had reached seven major quarterfinals since the start of 2021 and was riding a streak of ten consecutive trips to the round of 32 at Slams, fall in the second round in Melbourne. She lost to France’s Clara Burel.

16. Tenth Time’s Not a Charm

Tough luck for Andrey Rublev, who reached his 10th major quarterfinal in Melbourne, only to drop to 0-10 lifetime in major quarterfinals. This time it was Jannik Sinner who took him out. It will be a glorious day when Rublev finally snaps this streak – and we do believe he will.

17. Sascha’s Sour Grapes

Sascha Zverev put forth a gritty performance in Melbourne, winning a pair of five-setters to reach the quarterfinals before topping second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals. But the German couldn’t hold a two sets to love lead over Daniil Medvedev in the semis and later blamed the loss on an illness he had picked up in the previous days.

18. Hey Hey Hsieh

Hsieh Su-Wei is back with a vengeance. The 38-year-old won her 7th major doubles title and her third out of the last four, with Elise Mertens. Hsieh also won mixed, becoming the first woman to win doubles and mixed titles at the same Aussie Open since Rennae Stubbs in 2000. All this after returning to the tour after an 18-month hiatus last spring.

19. Hats off to Anna

It is Anna Blinkova we are talking about. All the Russian did was save six match points to win the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history, defeating Elena Rybakina in the match - and upset - of the tournament, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6[20], in the second round. Blinkova notched her career best win by ranking when she converted her 10th match point against last year's runner-up.

20. Mirra’s Fourth Debut

16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva made her Aussie Open debut and pushed into the third round for the fourth consecutive time at the majors. Then she took it a step further, just as she did at Wimbledon last year. The Russian upset her idol Ons Jabeur then defeated Diane Parry from 5-1 down in the third set to reach the round of 16.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s four majors played, 10-4 overall record with two fourth rounds and two third rounds. The future does indeed look bright.

21. The Winds of Change are Blowing

The men’s singles final in Melbourne was the first final that did not feature at least one member of the Big Three since 2005, when Marat Safin took out Lleyton Hewitt.

22. The Winds of Change, Part 2

By winning the title, Jannik Sinner became the first Non Big Three men’s singles champion in Melbourne since Stan Wawrinka in 2014.

23. This One Goes to 11

Aryna Sabalenka stretched her Aussie Open winning streak to 14 and didn’t drop a set as she became the first woman to successfully defend the title in Melbourne since Victoria Azarenka, 11 years ago in 2013.

24. Young Buck

At 22 years of age, Sinner became the youngest Australian Open champion on the men’s side since Novak Djokovic won his first Grand Slam title, way back in 2008. Those are some pretty excellent footsteps to follow, Jannik!


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