Here are the Champions!!

Written by Michelle Lee, Journalist, Editor

For all the tennis fans out there:

The Australian Open finished up just last week. The champions were Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) for the women’s singles, and Roger Federer (Switzerland) for the men’s singles.

While these winners deserved their first place trophies, there were many players who achieved records and displayed wonderful matches. Some matches went on for hours, in the grueling Melbourne heat, while others ended rather quickly, with one side obliterating the other.

In my opinion, Federer and Wozniacki had relatively easy draws to begin with.

In the first and second rounds, last year’s champion Federer, dubbed the Swiss maestro, played unseeded Aljaz Bedene from Slovenia and also unseeded Jan-Lennard Struff from Germany. The Swiss swiftly moved into the 3rd round, where he defeated 29th seed Richard Gasquet from France in straight sets. In the 4th round, unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics proved to be no match for Federer, who easily reached the quarterfinals and beat 19th seed Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic.

In the semifinals, Roger Federer met unseeded South Korean Hyeon Chung, who had triumphed over 32nd seed Mischa Zverev, 4th seed Alexander Zverev, 14th seed Novak Djokovic, in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th rounds, respectively. Novak Djokovic, a 12 time grand slam champion, had been suffering an elbow injury from the previous season. Unfortunately Chung, who was suffering from painful foot blisters, had to retire the match, which ended at 1-6, 2-5, in Federer’s favor. Despite this bittersweet victory for Federer, and frustrating defeat for Chung, the latter broke numerous records, including becoming the first Korean tennis player–male of female–to reach the quarterfinals of any grand slam. And that’s just the icing on the cake. To top it off, he also became the first Korean to reach the semifinals of the tournament and receive the highest ranking any Korean has gotten–World No. 29 (before the tournament he was world No. 58).

Thus, with the win over Chung, Federer secured his position in the finals, where he would prevail against 6th seeded Marin Cilic from Croatia in 5 sets. Cilic only won one grand slam before–the 2014 US Open, against Japanese player Kei Nishikori.

Federer’s  main Grand slam rivals Nadal and Djokovic could not advance further in the tournament mainly due to injuries, and Andy Murray had to withdraw before the tournament even started because of a hip injury. Other able competitors like Juan del Potro, David Goffin, and countryman Wawrinka did not advance further to meet Federer, either. While Roger Federer was able to make his comeback at age 37, which is a relatively old age for tennis, his path to victory was aided by an easy draw and absence of competent players in the later stages of the tournament. 

Hyeon Chung celebrates after a point in AO 2018.

Similarly, 2nd seed Dutch Caroline Wozniacki did not play anyone who had won a grand slam, only 2 seeded players, whom she both easily defeated in 2 sets. Her opponent in the finals, Romanian Simona Halep, who was No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 1 in the world at the time, had played lengthy and tough matches, one of which included a 48 game match (3 hour 45 minutes) against American Lauren Davis in the 3rd round. Halep then defeated rising tennis star Naomi Osaka from Japan in the 4th round and 6th seeded Karolina Pliskova from the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals, where she played another long match against 2016 Champion Angelique Kerber from Germany. Halep eventually prevailed in a 35 game match. While Wozniacki fought hard to reach each consecutive stage of the tournament( she saved multiple match points in earlier matches), she seemed to have an easier draw than the No. 1 seed had . 

Both Federer and Wozniacki played with skill and resilience, and deserved their first places, but their performances were also accompanied by the equally amazing performances from many other unseeded and even no-Grand slam, seeded players.