The Australian open 2016 will go down as one of the most exciting slams in the history of the sport as new names emerged and made a mark and the quality of tennis touched a new high, as fairytales were scripted and upsets were produced. We crowned a new major winner in the German, Angelique Kerber who beat Serena Williams in the final to lift the Daphne Akhurst Trophy.
Angelique Kerber – 9.5/10
She was never in the pundit’s fray of potentials coming into the tournament. But boy was she determined to prove them wrong.
She began her tournament on a tricky note against the Japanese, Misaki Doi, where Kerber had to save a match point. She then continued her tournament, improving game by game, match by match, reaching quarterfinals where her real test began. She defeated an in-form Victoria Azarenka and then Johanna Konta, the brit, who herself was having a Cinderella run in the tournament, in the semifinals. In a match that left jaws dropped and arms up in amazement, she reached a level of tennis rarely witnessed on court to beat the massive favorite Serena Williams in a close 3 set summit encounter.
She matched up to the level of tennis manufactured by Serena in the final, where she responded shot by shot, carving unbelievable angles and yet managing to keep the unforced error count to a lowly 13 against 46 by Serena.
Serena Williams – 9/10
The top seed and the hot favorite to win the trophy, Serena Williams, showed no mercy on her opponents coming into the final as blazed through rounds, demolishing opponents. She continued her decade long winning spell against Maria Sharapova, beating her comfortably in the quarterfinals. She bagelled Radwanska as she blasted through the semifinal hitting 42 winners against a docile 7 by Radwanska to set up a final against 7th seed Angelique Kerber where she was stunned by an inspired performance from the German, who played the match of her life to deny the American her 22nd major.
Notwithstanding, Serena Williams played outstanding tennis, not losing a single set but for in the final. She played a highly attacking game assisted by her booming first serves, which clocked 180-190 km/h on an often basis.
Simona Halep – 2/10
The second seeded Romanian came into the slam as one of the probable to win the tournament, as she has been since the last few slams, aiming to win her first major. But her journey ended before it could take off by 133rd ranked Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai. Halep was taken aback by the gritty and aggressive tennis by the Chinese, who had never won a grand slam match in her last 14 attempts. Her poor winners to unforced errors difference could do little to help trump the inspired Chinese.
Agnieszka Radwanska – 7/10
Agnieszka “The professor” Radwanska, the fourth seed Pole, had a rather smooth journey to the semis, with a bump in the 4th round against Anna Lena Friedsam, who took the pole to a tight 3 set match which lasted over 2 and a half hours. Her more or less consistent run was brought to a cranking halt by Serena Williams who destroyed Agnieszka, in a straight sets encounter where 4 winners were all Radwanska could manage in the name of it.
Garbiñe Muguruza – 5/10
Third seed and 2015 Wimbledon Finalist, 22 year old Muguruza had humble beginnings to the tournament beating Kontaveit and Flipkens in the initial rounds. However, she could not overcome the 48th ranked Barbora Strycova, as the Spaniards unforced errors were too good for her winners count, thus allowing an average performance by Strycova to cut her Australian open campaign short.
Maria Sharapova – 6/10
Her first real test in the tournament came against the 12th seed Belinda Bencic, where she outclassed the young Swiss, notching up an aggressive game with 58 winners to Bencic’s measly 10. However, it was her old unassailable adversary Serena, to whom she had lost the last 16 ties, who proved to be her ouster as hapless Sharapova, with 11 winners and 7 double faults, was hammered by the American.
Carla Suarez Navarro – 5.5/10
Suarez Navarro, the highest ranked women player with a single handed backhand, did sail through to the quarterfinals, except for the bagel handed to her in the fourth round by Australian Daria Gavrilova, she could not find her way past Agnieszka Radwanska. Not expected to go past the quarters by most, Suarez Navarro played a bad match, committing 45 unforced errors against only 22 winners, as she lost 1-6, 3-6 to the Pole.
Petra Kvitova – 3.5/10
Another tournament, another upset. This time by the Australian Daria Gavrilova. Second Round. The sixth seeded Czech could not outplay the Aussie, as she played a below par game, committed large unforced errors on the forehand side and served poorly to hand over the win to the crowd favorite Gavrilova.
47th ranked Brit, began her Australian Open campaign with an illustrious victory over the eighth seed Venus Williams. Thereon began her dream run, where she continued to march past higher ranked players, displaying her aggressive game matched by pacey serves and winners in dozens.
She took one match at a time, a strategy which was revealed when she had had no idea who her next opponent in the quarterfinal was unless told by the reporter during the press conference, “It’s Ekaterina Makarova”. Konta beat Makarova 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
She beat Zhang Shuai, the Chinese player who was having a dream run similar to hers but lost to the eventual champion Angelique Kerber in the semifinals. Her brilliant show at the Melbourne Park has earned her the 28th rank in the newly released WTA rankings
14 first round losses at majors. It’s hard to blame her for contemplating retirement if she lost in the first round again at the Australian Open. Zhang Shuai qualified for the main draw at the slam to be pitted against the mighty world number 2, Simona Halep. But she plays the game of her life to cause the massive upset as her parents cheer her from the box. But while most thought the fairytale was it, Zhang Shuai beats Alizé Cornet in the next round and then Varvara Lepchenko in the next and then Madison Keys, the previous year semifinalist at Melbourne Park, in the next round to make it to the quarterfinals.
She was beaten by Johanna Konta, who was scripting a fairytale of her own, in the quarterfinals. However, Shuai’s offensive play with gutsy shot making and on-the-rise pounces on the ball completely unsettled her opponents. With her on-court flare, she played the tournament of her life and left behind a fable for others to get inspired from.