He appears to be the most serious contender against the ogre Djokovic in Melbourne but isn’t even sure he will be able to take part in the final, even if he qualifies. He’s the number 1 of our offbeat ranking, for this first week of the Australian Ope

He appears to be the most serious contender against the ogre Djokovic in Melbourne : Andy Murray has cooly started the Australian fortnight, more popular and confident in his tennis than ever. Enough for him to lead our offbeat ranking, in front of the ballboy gentleman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and the newly retired Lleyton Hewitt.

 

1- Andy Murray (+5).

 

During his two first rounds at the Australian Open, Murray has only conceded eleven games to his opponents : six against the wonder-kid Zverev (6/1 6/2 6/3) and five against Groth, the local (6/0 6/4 6/1). The quadruple Melbourne finalist, only defeated by Djokovic last year, would very much like this edition to finally be the good one. His fans too, as they have even composed a song for him, to the tune of Mambo number 5 !

 

 

If the Scot appears to be on form, it’s also because he has not been holding back during his training sessions…

 

 

On the other hand, bowling doesn’t really seem to be his thing ! But even then, we can see the competitive side of him.

 

 

Anyway, the man looks confident and chilled. He might even never have been as strong as in this start of the 2016 season, after having triumphed at the BNP Paribas Davis Cup and a few weeks before becoming a father for the first time. He even announced that if his wife Kim Sears was to deliver during the Australian fortnight, he would leave the tournament ! Maybe a good reason to see his beloved dog sooner than expected.

 

 

2- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (NE).

 

French Tennis is a bit under the weather these days but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is doing all he can to straighten it up. On the courts as in the hearts, with this video which was republished all around the world of Jo coming to the rescue of a ballgirl who appears to be in bad shape…

 

 

Even thousands of kilometers away from France, Tsonga can count on the most loyal fans, out in the stands to support him.

 

 

The seed number 9 in this tournament, who’s had an almost perfect start (one set conceded in the first round against Baghdatis), looks blooming in this early stage of the season, as we can see with this picture taken with two members of the All Blacks.

 

 

A good opportunity to notice that his size is not too different from the oval ball aficionados.

 

3- Lleyton Hewitt (NE).

 

The local hero of the beginning of this fortnight is without a doubt Lleyton Hewitt. The Australian was taking part in his last tournament on the professional circuit, after having received a wildcard from the organizers to say farewell. He took the opportunity to pose alongside numerous fellow countrymen who came to pay tribute to his career, as the ex-formula 1 pilot, Mark Webber.

 

 

But also the local country singer John Williamson. Hewitt, the real patriot.

 

 

He’s also had the opportunity to train with the master Federer.

 

 

 

A good opportunity to take out one from the archives !

 

 

Hewitt finally managed to go through the first round against his fellow countryman Duckworth, before being logically defeated in the second round against David Ferrer.

 

 

 

 

So long mister « Come On », and see you soon as the head of the Australian BNP Paribas Davis Cup !

 

4- Garbine Muguruza (NE).

 

The hype of the moment on the women’s circuit is undoubtedly Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard, seeded at number 3, now appears to be Serena Williams’ principal opponent in the quest of winning a 22nd Grand Slam tournament, even more after Simona Halep’s knockout in the first round.

 

 

On her side, Muguruza has not yet won a Grand Slam tournament, losing in the Wimbledon final last year (against…Serena, obviously). On the fashion side however, she has already made a strong impression with her colorful outfits.

 

 

Another example ? Her profile picture on social networks. She loves bright colors !

 

 

Finally, here is the succession of Spanish women’s tennis, and maybe Serena’s heir for the world number 1 spot.

 

5- Novak Djokovic (-3).

 

News from Novak ? Oh, he looks even more unbeatable in this beginning of the season than in 2015. Yes, yes, it’s possible.

 

 

Relaxed, the Serb, confident of his strengths, is still amusing the public, trying to fill the popularity gab separating him from the monster Roger Federer.

 

 

 

An extremely solid game, a few jokes here and there : the good recipe to evacuate the controversy of the week, and the suspicions surrounding the circumstances of his elimination in the first round of the Bercy tournament in 2007.

 

6- Nick Kyrgios (-4).

 

At the Australian Open, Australian tennis is obviously one of the main topics. And as Lleyton Hewitt was saying a moving farewell, the heir is most probably named Nick Kyrgos. Another type of guy, being a bit more of a poser and a show-off…

 

 

 

At home, and before being knocked out by Berdych in the thirs round, the joker put on a show for his fans.

 

 

He also started having fun with his opponents, and this as soon as the first rounds…

 

 

How easy it is for him…

 

7- Ana Ivanovic (NE).

 

Finalist in 2008, Ana Ivanovic has yet to win the Australian Open. Her tennis might not be as reliable as a few years ago but she is placing herself as one of the outsiders of a women’s tournament which sounds very open this year, with many victims in the first rounds among the top seeds.

 

 

Anyway, the Serb looks happy to be in Melbourne and enjoys her little free time to visit and make the most of the southern summer.

 

 

 

 

It would be a shame not to do it, wouldn’t it ?

 

8- Belinda Bencic (NE).

 

Among the outsiders of the women’s tournament is also Belinda Bencic, seeded at number 12. The Swiss managed to avoid the trap of an elimination in the first rounds, unlike her fellow countrywoman Timea Bacsinszky. So, inevitably, that makes her fans happy.

 

 

Her french friend Kristina Mladenovic has also had a good start in the tournament before being defeated by the young local Gavrilova in the third round.

 

 

So, obviously, all these ingredients make for a bright smile when having to pose for the photographer.

 

 

9- Milos Raonic (-5).

 

One of the photos of the tournaments first week in Melbourne is the one showing Milos Raonic with a pretty unusual accessory in his mouth : a mouth guard. « Just to not grind my teeth while I play. », he had to justify himself. «  I wear it all the time other than when I'm eating. » It seems that it also helps him reduce headaches. Well, ok then…

 

 

In any case, it doesn’t stop him from winning and going through the first rounds quite easily.

 

 

The Canadian’s other secret for success ? Drawing his inspiration from his predecessors, notably the regretted Arthur Ashe.

 

 

10- Roger Federer (+1).

 

How is the king Federer feeling in the beginning of this season, the 19th of his professional career ? Not too bad, really. With, notably, a 300th win in a Grand Slam tournament, thanks to his victory over Dimitrov in the third round.

 

 

 

The Swiss is already full on, under the not so careful watch of his daughters…

 

 

…but with the unfailing support of his most loyal (and funny) fans !

 

 

11- Maria Sharapova (NE).

 

A very smooth start of the season for the essential Maria Sharapova, who has gone through the first rounds without trouble in Melbourne, a city she seems to enjoy…for the reminder, she has triumphed once at the Australian Open. It was in 2008, when she dominated Ana Ivanovic in the final.

 

 

The Russian is always good to her fans, including the youngest.

 

 

12- Agnieszka Radwanska (NE).

 

Radwanska and animals, episode 1 : selfie with a (fake) kangaroo, mascot of the Melbourne tournament.

 

 

Radwanska and animals, episode 2 : a pretty relaxed pose with a huge snake, and a real one this time.

 

 

Can’t wait for the rest !

 

13- Victoria Azarenka (-10).

 

Azarenka has been chosen by the officials to feature among the stars in an exhibition for the children just before the start of the tournament. A brilliant consecration.

 

 

By the way, the Belarusian already looks quite impressive at this early stage of the tournament.

 

 

Outside of the courts, Azarenka’s motto is : Super chilled !

 

 

 

14- John Isner (NE).

 

The fashion crime of the week goes to Justin Gimelstob. John Isner’s coach, who was certainly too hot, decided to lead his protégé shirtless…wearing only suit trousers. Wow.

 

 

15- Fabio Fognini (NE).

 

The good thing about Fabio Fognini is that we are rarely disappointed. No matter if the Italian is knocked out in the first round of a tournament, there is always enough to make a compilation of his fits of rage.

 

 

 

Commedia dell’arte truly is something else.

 

Outs :

 

Broady, Wawrinka, Garcia, Nadal, Watson, Chardy, Paire and the Zverev brothers.

 

By Régis Delanöe