From Monday 13th to Sunday 26th of January, the Melbourne Park opens its doors to the first Grand Slam of the year: the Australian Open. Not worth staying up all night for two weeks, because you can already read everything about it here. Exclusively, the best of the Australian Open. Guaranteed 100% bad faith.
Monday 13th of January: In this opening day, Novak Djokovic does his usual against Lukáš Lacko and shows that he intends to enjoy his royal table. In the stands, Boris Boom Boom Becker is warming up. The heavyweights of the second part of the table send their opponents packing one after another and remind us that even though surprises are fun, there's always a price to pay in the second week. Tommy Haas is the only one to go out the window. Tommy, your cap will be missed. Because he loves it, Nicolas Mahut offers a relentless fight against Matthew Ebden. The story doesn’t say who emerged victorious, probably because no one would remember it. Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty feels very alone in the Rod Laver Arena against Serena Williams.
Tuesday 14th of January: The Rafael Nadal vs. Bernard Tomic match holds Rod Laver Arena spellbound. On one side, a modern-day hero who has always been successful here, and on the other, the hero that Australia has been waiting for. But then, at one set all, Tomic decides to give up. Nadal reminds him and you can't claim to rule the tour with a bandana and a two-handed backhand. Amidst general indifference, Radek Stepanek and Michael Llodra are wiped out. But Petra Kvitova is only going to comfort one of them. Otherwise, the women's draw looks like a firing squad. The victims? Johanna Larsson and the resurrected Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Their executioner? Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova.
Wednesday 15th of January: The second round is often the most miserable. The excitement of the first round is gone, the importance of the followings isn't there yet and the tournament offers a few games without suspense. Richard Gasquet is not having the best day of his life against Nikolay Davydenko. This famous match against a living dead where the difference between three quick sets and five strenuous ones is only caused by a return slightly too long. In this day tribute to the 2000s, Tommy Robredo uses Julien Benneteau as a mere sparring partner.
Thursday 16th of January: Roger Federer is keeping the vibe alive against Blaž Kavcic who won against Stepanek two days earlier and thus confirms that the first surprise is always followed by a painful reality check in the second round. There's only one Martin Verkerk. The match of the day opposes Marin Cilic to Gilles Simon. The story could only end in hell during the fifth set, between the heat of the southern summer and the silence of the third court. Gilles Simon prevails and says: "Men's tennis gives me more pleasure than women's tennis." Nobody really understood the meaning of this sentence. Otherwise, Francesca Schiavone and her bandana are still here.
Friday 17th of January: Richard Gasquet avoids the Robredo's trap in four sets. Meanwhile, Daniela Hantuchova feels very alone in the Rod Laver Arena against Serena Williams.
Saturday 18th of January: The big day of the tournament offers two beautiful matches. Rafael Nadal against Gael Monfils, a match to suffer, and Juan Martin Del Potro against Benoit Paire, a match to laugh. In the first match, Gael Monfils creates the illusion during a first set inevitably lost 7/6. What happened next is a long journey through the desert. The Monf' can only look, head down, at Nadal murdering him coldly 6/1, 6/2. In the other match, and in the Margaret Court Arena, Benoît Paire has the hot hand, wins the first two sets and leads 3-1 in the third. This is the appropriate time for his mind to step in. At 30-30 on his service, he hits an easy volley into the net and then a double. The following hour is a long way of the cross made of broken racquets, self-persuasion, insults to himself and eventually regrets.
Sunday 19th of January: "I respect Roger, Rafa, Novak and Murray, but for me, all those players don't deserve to be here. When you look at their matches, you can see that they’ve mostly been lucky. As for arbitration decisions in their favour, let's not even speak about it..." The match between Djoko and Gulbis in the last sixteen is everything but boring. Yet the beginning is rather tedious for Gulbis who doesn't exist in the first two sets won by his opponent 6/4, 6/3. The Latvian finally raises his game at the level of his punch lines and wins the fourth set before losing it physically against the opposite wall. During the handshake, Novak smiled. Well, that's all. Meanwhile, Richard Gasquet finally takes his revenge against Stanislas Wawrinka. But to say that he's passed the hurdle? Ana Ivanovic felt very alone in the Hisense Arena against Serena Williams.
Monday 20th of January: The beginning of the second week is marked by the match between Rafael Nadal and Andreas Seppi, who won against Lleyton Hewitt in the first round. A so said match that actually lasts for six games. Up 3-3. After that, the Spanish steamroller reminds his opponent that his first grand slam quarterfinal is not for today.
Tuesday 21st of January: Following yesterday's stress, the Australian Open provides a welcome relief with a match opposing Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet. The match lasts for one hour and thirty minutes, with a score that leaves no room for ambiguity: 6/3 6/3 6/2. During the press conference, Richard Gasquet says something that feels like a déjà vu: "He was stronger than me physically. It wasn't easy. It's hard to live. That's life. I still had a good tournament. This is tennis." #Richard2015
Wednesday 22nd of January: The time has come for heavy weights, raised fists, black eyes, Nike bandanas and endless rallies. It starts with the match Nadal-Del Potro, which meets the expectations of the Rod Laver Arena for this white-hot night session and hitters' duel. Del Potro is the only Argentine who loves hard courts more than clay, Nadal is a cyborg, and we have to wait until the fifth set to see Rafael Nadal finally overcome. Roger Federer continues his long, slow decline and loses against Andy Murray in five sets. For the second year in a row. Numbers don't lie.
Thursday 23rd of January: It’s the day of the semi-finals for the ladies. "I'll never be a Barbie girl, an innocent little flower ". If Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka's tennis can sometimes seem similar, one doesn't want to be what the other has become. The two girls fight fiercely but Azarenka finally wins 6/4 in the third set, confirming that her opponent is well and truly a little too soft for a hitter. A paradox, then. Meanwhile, Na Li feels very alone in the Hisense Arena against Serena Williams.
Friday 24th of January: Rafael Nadal is in semi-finals and Andy Murray is on his way. The latest has just won against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, but he’s human and he’s tired. The match is disappointing and played in four sets, all easily won by the protagonists. The other semi finals are a repetition. Like last year at the same stage, David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic meet. Like last year at the same stage, the battle is cut short. David Ferrer understands that he will be the fifth wheel forever.
Saturday 25th of January: In the ladies final, Serena Williams, fitter than ever after losing only twelve games in six matches, wins easily against Victoria Azarenka, exhausted after two average sets 6/4, 6/3. Or a reminder that female Grand Slam finals are always the worst value for money for ticket buyers.
Sunday 26th of January: The much anticipated final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic turns to psychological warfare. At the beginning of the fifth set, while the match has been interrupted repeatedly by trainers, and while everyone is trying to break the rhythm of the other, Novak Djokovic pretexts a desperate need for the toilets at 4-4, Service Rafael Nadal. Except that no insult goes unpunished with Rafa at 4-4 in the fifth set of a Grand Slam final. Djoko learns it at his expense and loses 6/4, caught at his own game. A few hours later at the press conference, he says: "I really had to pee." Who said that members of the Big Four weren't funny?