‘Cause this is thriller; Melbourne was more Melbourne than ever
In Melbourne no one is spared the surprises that only a Grand Slam held at the beginning of the year provides. The season is just getting underway.
“It was perhaps the best day of tennis at a Grand Slam in the first week,” said Brad Gilbert, who has seen some tennis in his life. Patrick McEnroe felt the same way.
The comments of the two former North American players, coaches and commentators are exaggerated. The story is too long and sometimes the memory is very weak. But the truth is that the fifth day of the Australian Open was a true reflection of what the tournament itself is: vibrant, surprising, electrifying, unpredictable and newsworthy.
If Australia doesn’t have the tradition or history of the other Grand Slams, it can claim to be the most summery of all the major tournaments. “Almost like going to the beach to watch tennis,” we once wrote in CLAY.
That heat and atmosphere so typical of the Aussie January combines with the mental and physical freshness of the competitors. Perfect recipe for entertainment. Show is almost guaranteed.
Iga Swiatek didn’t know what to write on the camera. Within seconds something came to her mind, but again she hesitated: was she unsure of the spelling?
With expressive and authentic style, she decided to leave only one word. Not the moment to complicate her life any further. “Thriller.” She signed it with a smiley face.
A very exciting experience, a heroic tale. Swiatek alluded to the match she had to turn around against the North American Danielle Collins. She was down 2-4 with 0-40 in the third set before starting the comeback.
Any die-hard Michael Jackson fan might think of the lyrics of the King of Pop’s most famous song, whose title is the same as what was written in that blue ink.
Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
Swiatek survived two tough opening rounds against two finalists in Australia in Sofia Kenin and Collins. She moves forward hungry for one of the few major titles she is missing. If she were to be successful in the final on January 27 it would have been worthwhile today to pay special attention to what the 1982 musical hit says.
Collins subsequently announced that 2024 would be his last season. No one knew that was his last game as a professional in Melbourne.
Later, a record that decanted in upset. The longest tiebreak in the history of the Grand Slams was the burial of Elena Rybakina. The Kazakh, runner-up in 2023 lost 20-22 to the Russian Anna Blinkova in a third set tiebreak that lasted 31 minutes. There were ten match points for the Russian and six for the world number 3.
Among the men, all but one match had four or five sets. The very long day ended around 4 a.m. with Daniil Medvedev closing out a 6-0 fifth set against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. “Honestly if I were you guys, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be watching it on TV, so thank you for sticking around,” the Russian said with his particular humor.
To the floor the argument of the organization of Tennis Australia when it announced that the tournament would start on Sunday and last 15 days, so as to avoid those night sessions that extend close to dawn.
Earlier, Carlos Alcaraz delighted with his powerful and athletic tennis against Lorenzo Sonego: fantasy shots, defenses that turns to attack mode when you do not realize, unthinkable winners … and a very revealing statistic: he will face for the first time in his 293 matches as a professional a player younger than him.
Chinese Juncheng Shang, born in 2005, will challenge him in the third round.
To watch it with popcorn just like Michael Jackson. There is a lot of “Thriller” left in the unpredictable Grand Slam.