The 2018 Australian Open is now a part of history, having created memorable stories. Roger Federer’s 20th major title and Caroline Wozniacki’s maiden Grand Slam are definitely the 2 most important. Over the course of the 2 weeks of the tournament though, they weren’t the only ones.
Women’s tennis proved once more that it can be exciting and rewarding for viewers. As much as skeptics insist on comparing it to the men’s sport with a smirk, women produce an incredible spectacle. Serena’s absence seems to have benefited the sport, as it has upped the competition levels among the rest. One can criticize the women’s field for lack of consistency. But at the same time, thanks to that, every tournament is a new opportunity for a new protagonist to shine.
Let’s see some of the best and worst highlights of the women’s field during the 2018 Australian Open.
Best of the 2018 Australian Open
- The semifinal between Simona Halep vs. Angelique Kerber. Both players showed that they’re in top form during the first weeks of tennis in 2018. Anyone who watched the particular match knows it was an instant classic. A rollercoaster match, with both players producing high quality tennis for over 2 hours. Kerber came back from a set and 3-1 down to take the match to a deciding third set. Both players saved two match points and had to play 16 games in the final set for Halep ro finally convert the last one. A match you could only watch from the edge of your seat.
- Su-wei Hsieh and her performances over the course of the tournament. You can hardly call the 32-year old a breakthrough, but she finally got the tennis community to notice. Hsieh lost in the quarterfinals to Kerber, having eliminated Muguruza and Radwanska in the process. But that’s not what she really stood out for. The Taiwanese has a playing style so unique, it’s hard to take your eyes off her. Her effectiveness with the slice shot and the way she places her shots at the dustiest corners of a tennis court are incredible. Probably the most effective and fun to watch tennis pusher out there. No wonder reporters pointed out that she almost drove Kerber -probably the fittest player on tour- crazy.
- Mladenovic winning the doubles Australian Open trophy with Timea Babos. Mladenovic is probably the first player to break into the top 10, while recording 15 consecutive losses in singles. As much as she has been criticized over the last six months, Kiki’s Mr. Hyde singles persona was outshined by a Dr. Jekyll in doubles. A Grand Slam champion nonetheless.
- Petra Kvitova coming back to the tournament she painfully missed last year. It was during the days leading up to the 2017 Australian Open that she suffered the knife attack, which threatened her tennis career. In spite of her early exit this year, it is incredible that Petra is back to top level tennis. Being able to return to Melbourne this year was particularly emotional for her and the fans.
Worst of the 2018 Australian Open
- CoCo Vandeweghe turning back time to when she played like a spoiled child. I’m an avid fan of Vandeweghe’s game when she gets it together. When she is in the zone, she can hit any opponent off the court. At the same time, she is a great server and has the best kick serve of the women’s field today. She could be consistently position herself as a serious contender for the big titles. But what she showed at her 2018 Australian Open early exit was well below anyone’s standards. Topping her bad performance off with screaming yelling profanities towards her opponent. Thumbs down.
- Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka missing out on another big tournament. If Serena’s reason was a happy one, Vika Azarenka has been forced to withdraw yet again due to her ongoing custody battle. It is an awkward case and as I’ve mentioned previously, I wonder whether a male player would ever have to make such an impossible decision. Serena is set to make a come back at the Fed Cup this month and Azarenka announced she’ll be back at the Indian Wells.
Serena Williams returns to top level tennis at the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells.