We Are Tennis by BNP Paribas brings you the best of the past week, on and off the courts, day after day. A week where Jannik Sinner already won his first title, just like Ashleigh Barty, and where a mummy with a golden tongue was discovered in Egypt

Monday, February 1st

At last! Tennis is back in Melbourne. There were no less than 5 tournaments being played to prepare for the Australian Open, all of them which were specially organized in this exceptional period: three in women’s tennis, and two for the men, and that’s without counting the ATP Cup, a competition played in teams, which opened the season in the Southern hemisphere, and where 9 of the 10 best players at the ATP Ranking (only Federer was missing) were involved! Tsitsipas and Fognini looked delighted to meet again, which was nice. Another nice event: the German ultra-runner Florian Neuschwander broke the world record of the quickest 100 km run on a treadmill, and the Burger King restaurant of Cherbourg, France, gave away 1 kg of potatoes to each of their clients to support local farmers. 

 

Tuesday, February 2nd

Getting back on the court after 15 days of isolation in a hotel can be painful: the proof with Dzumhur and his hand covered in blisters, which he posted on the social networks. We can only advise the Bosnian to protect his hands with Bernie Sanders’ famous mittens, which are now up for sale. There was another, more serious, injury, as Rafael Nadal has got back problems, and decided to postpone his return on the courts at the ATP Cup. But there was still some good news on Candlemas: Federer announced that he will be back at the Doha Open, at the beginning of March. In England, Joseph Flavill had a difficult awakening. After spending 10 months in a coma, he discovered the Covid-19 pandemic. The whole of Britain had a painful day, as the brave « Captain Tom » passed away because of this damned virus. RIP.

 

Wednesday, February 3rd

While Yannick Noah had a nice relaxing time, we found out who the first two semi-finalists of the ATP Cup were: Russia, and Italy. There was a bit of a panic in Melbourne, where a Covid case was detected among the staff of one of the hotels where players and staff are currently quarantined, which forced all of them to have an extra day off in order to test everyone. Benoît Paire, on his side, had other issues, as he gave his opinion on his dream replacement for Villas-Boas on the bench of Olympique de Marseille, the french football club which he supports. « My dream? Habib Beye. »

 

Thursday, February 4th

Out of the 504 people who were tested, not one turned out to be positive for Covid: competitions can therefore resume in Melbourne and Craig Tiley, the director of the Australian Open, stated that he was « absolutely confident » in the fact that the tournament will not be postponed. Wawrinka can pull out a bottle of champagne, and Kerber can give us a big smile. Speaking of faces and mouths, Egyptian archeologists discovered the mummy of a man who was a golden tooth. The level of flashiness of Pharaohs was pretty incredible…

 

Friday, February 5th

« This record weighs on my shoulders. » We can understand Serena Williams, who, in Australia, will try to finally equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams won, even though she won her 23rd in January 2017. Almost a lifetime ago… At the local bookmakers, Barty, Osaka and Muguruza were placed in front of the American as the favorites to win the first major tournament of the season. In men’s tennis, Djoko was placed in front of Medvedev, Thiem, Nadal and Tsitsipas. Kyrgios only has a slim chance of going all the way, but it was very nice to see him again after he spent almost a year off the courts. To celebrate his return, the Australian was on the cover of GQ, and broke a racquet during his defeat against Borna Coric. Welcome back, Nick! 

 

Saturday, February 6th

Still suffering with a back injury, Nadal withdrew from the ATP Cup as he wished to be back on form for his first-round match at the Australian Open, which should take place on Tuesday, February 9th, against Laslo Djere. Craig Tiley, the tournament’s director, started to relax as gave some insights on how the players lived through the quarantine. Among a few demands, certain players asked for their pets to be brought to the hotel (which was refused for sanitary reasons). Could it be David Goffin, the animal lover? 

 

Sunday, February 7th

It was the end of the preparation tournaments for the Australian Open, except for the Grampians Trophy, which had too many matches delayed, and where the final has been cancelled (too bad for Anett Kontaveit and Ann Li who had qualified). At the ATP Cup, the Russians Rublev and Medvedev triumphed over the Italians Berrettini and Fognini. Jannik Sinner defeated Stefano Travaglia at the Great Ocean Road Open, and Felix Auger-Aliassime lost against Dan Evans at the Murray River Open. In women’s tennis, Ashleigh Barty defeated Garbine Muguruza at the Yarra Valley Classic, and Elise Mertens won the Gippsland Trophy after beating Kaia Kanepi. Now, time for the first Grand Slam of the season, while in the US, Tom Brady wrote another line of his legend after winning his 7th Super Bowl, and the first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.