Barty’s Party in Melbourne — Australian Open Champion quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, February 1, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, Happy February and Happy post-Happy Slam! What a fortnight in Melbourne! First, I apologize for the infinite Twitter embeds. Second, like I usually do after a Grand Slam, it’s time to give my Australian Open reflections — inspired by both Jon Wertheim and Peter Bodo:

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First off, can we give more than a round of applause for Ashleigh Barty? More than ever she was the favorite to win the title and not only did she live up to her No. 1 ranking, the way she dismantled the field was thoroughly impressive. Barty had the entire weight of Australia on her shoulders as she looked to become their first home champion since 1978 and didn’t lose a set en route to her third Grand Slam title. In fact, she only lost more than four games in a set once — the second set of the final.

Not only was Barty’s reaction to winning heart-warming, it was her reaction to friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua right after winning that made me smile. Then to wrap things up, hero — and fellow Indigenous Australian — Evonne Goolagong Cawley came out to surprisingly present the champion’s trophy to Barty.

The biggest question after Barty’s big fortnight remains — can anyone beat her?

What a two weeks for Danielle Collins. She led Barty in the second set 5-1 and was two points away from levelling the match before Barty earned her way back. The first modern female collegian to reach a Grand Slam singles final, the American also cracks the Top 10 and becomes USA’s No. 1. You all know I’m her original stan on Twitter and it was glorious for Tennis Twitter and beyond to finally rally behind DanYell. The must-read of the week is WTA Insider’s one-on-one with the two-time NCAA champion following the final.

Though they lost in the semifinals, it was a banner tournament for Madison Keys and Iga Swiatek. Keys already matched her 2021 total wins this season, while Swiatek perhaps took the point of the tournament on match point in her come-from-behind quarterfinal victory:

Like Barty, Czechs Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova are now a US Open away from a career Grand Slam. The top seeds outlasted surprise finalists Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia in three sets to claim their fourth Slam as a pair. The match point alone has me winded:

It was an epic tournament for Danilina, playing in her second-ever Grand Slam and Haddad Maia, who originally was to partner with Nadia Podoroska before the Argentine withdrew due to injury. The pair won Sydney the week before and certainly will look to team up the rest of the year.

Kristina Mladenovic captured her third mixed doubles Grand Slam and eighth overall, partnering with Ivan Dodig to defeat wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler. Again, I will scream to the tours, please bring mixed doubles at all combined events.

In the juniors, top-seeded Petra Marcinko knocked out Sofia Kostoulas in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam title. The doubles title also went to the No. 1 seeds with Clervie Ngounoue and Daria Schnaider taking out Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko.

Speaking of juniors, what a week for Angella Okutoyi, who secured Kenya’s first Girl’s Grand Slam victories, while also getting a massive shout out from Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o:

Diede de Groot continues to be an absolute badass on the wheelchair tennis circuit. The Dutch, who captured the Golden Slam last year, won her sixth consecutive Grand Slam in Melbourne over countrywoman Aniek Van Koot. She and Van Koot partnered to take the doubles title over Yui Kamiji and Lucy Shuker. Enjoy this fantastic point by de Groot and Van Koot:

Per usual, WTA Insider continues to deliver every single day. Make sure to see their Champions Corner with Ashleigh Barty to gain the Aussie’s perspective following her win.

I will be incredibly shocked if Craig Tiley remains at the helm of Tennis Australia following his handling of Novak Djokovic and the vaccine mandate to play in Melbourne. The tennis itself was incredible, but him trying to bend many rules in favor of one player doesn’t sit well with me. He lucked out with some fantastic tennis and some Australian champions, but that better not be enough to keep his seat cool.

Though she was knocked out by Amanda Anisimova, how great was it to see Naomi Osaka back in Grand Slam action? I’m looking forward to seeing both happy and healthy Osaka and Anisimova this year. Women’s tennis is better with them gripping and ripping.

Last week, I mentioned how fans wearing “Where is Peng Shuai?” t-shirts via a GoFundMe were asked by Tennis Australia officials to remove them. Well, after the rightful outrage, TA rescinded and amended their policy. Now, the Beijing Olympics are coming this week and we’ve yet to hear or see a conversation between the WTA and Peng. One story to keep an eye on…

If there was one specific stroke talked about all tournament long, it was the slice of Ashleigh Barty. Talk about a versatile weapon.

What a tournament for Alize Cornet, who finally reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal on her 63rd attempt, while 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi drops to 0-7 in the Elite Eight when she was thisclose to beating Iga Swiatek. She completed a career Final 8 Slam after reaching the quarters twice at each of the other three majors.

A second round exit might have been subpar for US Open champion Emma Raducanu, but her first set demolition over Sloane Stephens still has me lost for words. She played lightyears better than in New York, in my opinion. She then lost a tough three-setter to Danka Kovinic, but having to slice pretty much the entire match due to blisters so bad her team told her to withdraw beforehand? That’s some icy veins.

What am I not about in Melbourne? The “SIUUUUUUU” chants that sound like boos. Please make it a thing of the past.

ESPN got their crap together for the second week of the tournament and I had no issues catching matches — even if it was on their paid platform. The Best Commentator Award goes to former Top 40 player Jill Craybas, who continues to deliver on the World Feed.

Women’s tennis doesn’t get viewers? Not according to Australian television numbers, which shared that the women’s championship averaged 3.6 million viewers and peaking at 4.3 million. For reference, Australia only has under 26 million citizens.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

If you click on anything this week, please watch drag superstar Trixie Mattel guest hosting The Break for Tennis Channel. It’s worth it, I promise.

A stalker of US Open champion Emma Raducanu was convicted by the Bromley Magistrates’ Court.

I always love players sending their congrats to the latest Grand Slam champion and — no surprise — Ashleigh Barty dominated the socialsphere.

Serena Williams’ rookie card sold for a record $117,000 — the most-ever for a women’s trading card. Speaking of the GOAT, she and sister Venus were announced as this year’s recipients of the Smithsonian’s “Portrait of a Nation.” Lastly, just enjoy this montage:

22 players, including Australian Open junior champion Petra Marcinko, were announced as 2022 Grand Slam Player Development Programme recipients. They will receive grants up to $25,000 to help them with competition-related costs and eventually play their way into Grand Slam action.

Lizzy De Greef captured her second consecutive Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters title, the premier 18 & under wheelchair tennis tournament.

We continue to send our best wishes to Chrissie Evert, who shared a picture following a chemotherapy treatment:

Kaia Kanepi headlines the biggest WTA ranking movers this week following her Australian Open quarterfinal, while Danielle Collins becomes the newest Top 10 debutant. Past Danielle, welcome to the present:

I used to share the previous week’s ITF World Tour champions, but sometimes the list would get too long. However, we’re back!

  • $60,000 Orlando, Florida:
    • (2) Zheng Qinwen def. Christina McHale, 6-1, 6-0
    • (4) Hailey Baptiste/Whitney Osuigwe def. Angela Kulikova/Rianna Valdes, 7-6(7), 7-5
  • $60,000 Andrezieux-Boutheon, France:
    • (3) Ana Bogdan def. (6) Anna Blinkova, 7-5, 6-3
    • (1) Estelle Cascino/Jessika Ponchet def. (2) Alicia Barnett/Olivia Nicholls, 6-4, 6-1
  • $25,000 Florianopolis, Brazil:
    • Elizabeth Mandlik def. Eva Vedder, 6-3, 6-4
    • (3) Andrea Gamiz/Sofia Sewing def. (4) Jessie Aney/Ingrid Gamarra Martins, 7-6(2), 6-4
  • $25,000 Loughborough, Great Britain:
    • Sofia Nami Samavati def. (1) Mariam Bolkvadze, 6-2, 5-5, retired
    • Anna Gabric/Arina Gabriela Vasilescu def. (4) Emily Appleton/Ali Collins, 6-4, 7-5
  • $25,000 Cairo, Egypt:
    • Selena Janicijevic def. Sinja Kraus, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
    • Melanie Klaffner/Sinja Kraus def. (4) Adrienn Nagy/Prarthana G. Thombare, 7-5, 6-3
  • $25,000 Manacor, Spain:
    • (WC) Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers def. Ipek Oz, 6-2, 6-2
    • Fernanda Contreras Gomez/Andrea Lazaro Garcia def. Tereza Mihalikova/Linda Noskova, 6-1, 6-4
  • $25,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • Nigina Abduraimova def. (6) Na-Lae Han, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7)
    • (1) Eudice Chong/Na-Lae Han def. Anna Kubareva/Maria Timofeeva, 7-5, 6-3
  • $15,000 Antalya, Turkey:
    • (5) Ilay Yoruk def. (6) Claudia Hoste Ferrer, 6-2, 6-3
    • Due to weather, no doubles main draw matches were played
  • $15,000 Cancun, Mexico:
    • (3) Stacey Fung def. (6) Julie Belgraver, 7-6(1), 7-5
    • (1) Miharu Imanishi/Haine Ogata def. Julie Belgraver/Jade Bornay, 6-2, 6-3

Kristie Ahn, please never change:

Tweet of the Week

I mean, well done AO social team. This was a phenomenal idea!

Five at The IX: Melbourne Champions Quotes

Q. So much history in tennis in this country. What does it mean to you to end the drought, if you want to call it that? What do you hope it does for tennis in this country that you have done that?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: As Australians, we’re extremely lucky to have the tennis history and the rich history that we do, particularly here at the Australian Open. But across all Grand Slams, we’ve had champions that have stemmed back years and years and years and have really set the platform for us to come through and try and do what we do and try and create our own path.

I think there are a few that are closer to home for me, and obviously more of their stories I’ve been more invested in just because I know them more as a person. Those people that come to mind, Pat Rafter and Evonne, in the way that they handled themselves on the court, for me that was, there’s just no one better. Recently you’ve had your Dylan, Sam, who are really able to just enjoy the experience and bring so many different people to tennis, bring so many different walks of life to this beautiful sport that we play.

I think I’m a very, very small part of that. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing myself, but to be a very small part of an amazing history in tennis as an Australian is really, really neat.

Q. We were in here last night talking to Ash Barty after she won, and she has now won all of her slams on three surfaces, and you guys have now done the same thing, as well. Was that a motivating factor for you, because you had so much Grand Slam success before, to win ones that you hadn’t won and maybe try to start to complete your set?

BARBORA KREJCIKOVA: Well, I think we are not really thinking this way. We aren’t really thinking about it. I think it’s amazing what we achieved and how good we are and how well we played this year, also last year, all the seasons that we did. I mean, I’m really proud of us.

I think we are not really thinking this way. Every time we go in a slam, it’s the biggest tournament and we really want to do well. I think we try to give the main focus to all the slam tournaments.

I mean, let’s see. It would be pretty nice if we can complete this, but I think it’s not on our mind and we just going to go and try to play the next slam the best we can.

Q. Have you had chance to look at some of the names on that trophy? At least three of your countrywomen are there. Have you had a chance to look at the names?

PETRA MARCINKO: Yeah, see like a lot of pictures on the wall when we were eating. There was a lot of good players. All of them, I knew all of them. I was like, Oh, my God, imagine my name being there, my picture. That would be amazing.

Q. You were here so often, all the hype of Dylan Alcott, how much it means to the people here. Talk to me about how the perception of wheelchair sports, especially in tennis, is seen here in Australia in comparison to Europe and your home country, the obstacles you have on a daily basis.

DIEDE DE GROOT: I think to start my answer with Dylan, I’ve had a lot of questions about him this week. It’s okay, yeah. I’ll answer another one (smiling).

I think he’s done really well for us here in Australia. His person, his personality, is very outgoing. He uses that to get the crowds to get attention to the game. I think he’s done that very well for us here in Australia, especially where he makes the players go to the next level.

I think in all of the other countries, for us being from a very small country like Holland, it’s very difficult also because we don’t have a home Grand Slam. I think in all of the Grand Slam countries like USA, Great Britain and France, I think those are the countries that have tennis at a very high level and at a very high – how would you say it – like a high pedestal, it’s very high in standards. I think in a country like Holland, we have ice skating or hockey, we’re good at hockey. Those would always be the sports that get more attention.

But I think in general, in Holland especially, we’re viewed as professional athletes. We’re included in all of the professional programs. I have nothing to complain. It’s all very well-perceived I think.

Yeah, hopefully we’ll grow even more.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, mixed doubles champions. How does it feel to hold that trophy?

KRISTINA MLADENOVIC: It feels amazing to hold the trophy again. While Ivan was talking, I was reading my name. Is always so prestigious to win titles like Grand Slams. As a kid that’s what you dreaming of. Like Ivan said, that’s also what we’re working for these days.

It was very special for me. I didn’t play mixed for a long time. To partner with Ivan, he’s really a dear friend, someone I really look up to and respect. He’s was an amazing singles player, from my opinion. Now he’s showing his skills all around the court on doubles. I’m just very grateful for this partnership for this tournament.

For me, if I’m not wrong, it was my sixth final in Melbourne, so I kind of love to have that feeling to reach the end of the tournament. It’s an event where I particularly like, where I had success. You come on the last day and you have always this adrenaline and pressure. Finals is to win. You don’t want to end up losing just on the very last step.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon