The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, February 23, 2021

Wrapping Up Melbourne — Top Australian Open quotes — Must-click women's tennis links

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Notes & Netcords From Melbourne

In the spirit of Jon Wertheim’s 50 Parting Thoughts, I decided to do my own to bid adieu to the Australian Open.

First off, well done to Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia. Yes, they will be at a large deficit for the tournament, but they were able to provide to millions of fans around the globe with an entertaining tournament. Plus, they did get to have fans in the stands for most of the tournament and it certainly gives me hope that we’ll see more events with spectators in 2021.

Naomi Osaka continues to boss up when she makes it deep at a Grand Slam. 4-0 in fourth rounds, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals is simply incredible. She’s the first player since Monica Seles to win her first four Grand Slam finals and is becoming quite the hardcourt specialist.

SportsCenter and Nike deserve all the praise for these Osaka graphics:

What a coming out party for Jennifer Brady. The UCLA Bruin did one better than her US Open run and is now a Top 15 player. How soon can the American break the Top 10?

Aryna Sabalenka is the new World No. 1 in doubles following her second Grand Slam title with Elise Mertens. However, the duo will be splitting as Sabalenka focuses more on singles. Don’t be surprised to see Mertens claim the sole lead some point in 2021.

Congratulations to Barbora Krejcikova, who won her second Australian Open mixed doubles title with Rajeev Ram. The duo captured the 2019 title, but this is the third year running the Czech emerged a mixed winner. I want more mixed doubles at combined events, but make it where doubles rankings are the only option. We need it more than just at Slams/Olympics.

There’s no set date for the Australian Open juniors event, but should there be one if it’s not alongside the pros? I know the title of Slam champion is important, but it certainly loses its luster, should it happen.

The top account out of the last two weeks? Tennis GIFs. Here’s hoping the ATP and WTA don’t get rid of them for copyright and embrace the free publicity:

I have to say, the fashion in Melbourne delivered. My obvious choice for best dressed is Serena Williams’ FloJo-inspired one-piece.

We briefly discussed the Hawkeye Live (which did you know the calls were recorded by local first responders?), but this week in Adelaide linespeople are back in action. However, Yulia Putintseva is the first verbal example of her struggling with calls. Not a good look here, Poots.

You have to feel for Sofia Kenin, who is struggling under the pressure to recreate her 2020 success. Then, after being tossed out in the second round, she had to have her appendix removed in Melbourne.

How about Karolina Muchova storming her way to the semifinals after being down 5-0 against Karolina Pliskova and then a 6-1, 2-0 against Ashleigh Barty? Learn more about the Czech star thanks to WTA Insider.

It’s fantastic to see Bianca Andreescu and her fight back on court. Sure, she didn’t have a great Australian Open, but the 2019 US Open champion fought like hell to make the semifinals at the Phillip Island Trophy.

Was 2021 the last time we saw Serena Williams in Australia? I certainly hope not. The quest for 24 continues, but the fact she’s the most consistent player deep in Slams sure says she’s among the best. Yes, the window closes a tad more, but to write her off as she stays in the Top 10 is absurd.

Also, lets not forget about Venus Williams powering through a knee injury and a mid-match ankle sprain. She persevered and didn’t retire in a straight-set loss to Sara Errani. It also makes you think if she finished because this was her Australian swan song.

The highlight in the trophy ceremony? Naomi Osaka accidentally trolling Jennifer Brady:

How about a hand for Alison Hughes, who chaired her 22nd Grand Slam singles final. An absolute legend!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Daria Kasatkina left Melbourne with her first WTA title in over two years, taking the Phillip Island Trophy with a three-set win over Marie Bouzkova. Ankita Raina became the second Indian woman ever to win a WTA title, taking the doubles event with Kamilla Rakhimova.

This week’s must-read comes from Steve Tignor, who intersects The Framing of Britney Spears with the media’s fascination with Anna Kournikova. He makes some excellent points and I think we don’t give Kournikova enough credit. She could’ve won her elusive singles title playing small events, but she consistently challenged the best instead. It sure does feel like 2003 was yesterday.

WTA Insider did a great Coaches Corner with Wim Fissette and Michael Geserer ahead of the Australian Open final. I love the coach features the WTA has been implementing and hope to see more shine throughout the year.

Victoria Azarenka’s latest episode of Think About It features Dr. Rupy Aujla with the duo focusing on holistic approaches to nutrition.

Interested in majoring in Professional Tennis Management? The USTA is hosting a seminar with Five at The IX alum Milagros Sequera-Huss on the panel:

This week’s rankings show a stellar improvement for Rebecca Marino (+103), Daria Gavrilova (+77) and a career-high for Jennifer Brady (No. 13).

World No. 31 Amanda Anisimova played at the $25,000 ITF event in Orlando, FL before withdrawing in the second round. Megan Rose, a member of our advisory board, was on hand and was rocking her shirt from The Fan Project. I’ll definitely be purchasing one:

Want to feel ancient? Here’s Kim Clijsters’ first child, Jada, playing basketball. Wasn’t it yesterday she was on court with Kim’s 2009 US Open trophy?

USTA General Manager of Player Development Martin Blackman spoke with the podcast to discuss his role, the consistent breakthroughs of American women and the organization’s shift to supporting collegiate tennis.

Love this intersect between college gymnastics and Billie Jean King:

Tweet of the Week

In a perfect storm where my two favorites, Hsieh Su-Wei and Danielle Collins, combined, Victoria Chiesa made it even better:

Five at the IX: Best Quotes from the Australian Open

Q. There was talk about the fact that women’s tennis at the moment doesn’t have a boss. Now you have four Grand Slams. There are a lot of talks that you might be the next boss. How do you feel about that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I feel like it’s an honor that I’m in that conversation. I also feel like for me, my biggest goal is to be consistent throughout the year, not just randomly popping up and winning a Grand Slam. Hopefully I’m able to be more stable this year and feel more worthy of potentially having that title.

Q. What has the fortnight, five weeks, including the quarantine, taught you about both yourself and where has it left you in terms of where you think you could be in the tennis world?
JENNIFER BRADY: I think I belong at this level. I think winning a Grand Slam is totally achievable. It’s within reach. You know, playing out there, obviously I was nervous, didn’t go my way, but at the same time coming off court, I was, like, Okay, that feels a little bit normal. It felt different than what I was expecting it to feel like. If you were to ask me maybe a year ago, I wouldn’t think it’s possible or it would feel like it’s, like, going to Mars.

So I would say just being more comfortable at this level, yeah.

Q.As a former Buffalo resident, you’ve worked with support staff at the Sabres. There would be some crossover between sports. The Bills had a real good year. Josh Allen had some inspirational games. What have you learned from being around that sports environment?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I mean, I think I can relate to it honestly the most probably than anyone in my family, just being at the higher-level type athlete. It’s been pretty cool to see what Josh has been able to do. Obviously the team got better around him.

Even last year when he wasn’t playing that well, I was like, I like this kid. I loved his competitive spirit. He was a gamer. He just wanted to win. That’s something you love to see.

It’s definitely something I think I tried to take into my game a little bit, even watching the team getting that grit, that competitive attitude, having that mindset. In tennis, it’s like 90% sometimes of the matches.

I think it’s been really cool to watch them and kind of channel that energy into how I’ve been doing. Yeah, I think it does go one in the same a little bit. It goes hand-in-hand.

Q. Given that, how have you managed to maintain this level and break through?
HSIEH SU-WEI: Before Roland Garros I was never beat the top-10 player. Funny thing of Roland Garros, I was dating my boyfriend, it was first year or second year, I forget which year, but his parent was first time coming to watch my match.

Then the first day I was losing very bad. So I see the parent, I think they look like they’re going to fall asleep. I think I play really bad. I tell myself, Okay, now I don’t care what happen, I will try to catch every ball, try to make it look little bit better. At least I want to see them a little bit awake.

That’s the way I get back, win the set and win the match. After that, I start winning some top-10 players.

Q. Just as a person, how you feel you’ve changed. Do you feel different on the court practicing now than you did maybe two years ago?
BIANCA ANDREESCU: On court I don’t feel so different during practice. During matches, I have no idea how it’s going to be. But I never truly take a break. Like, yeah, I’ll take a break when I’m on the court, but I’m always working in my mind. My mind is going on 24/7 with all that imagery work. There’s many studies that show imagery work is just as good as actually doing that specific thing that you’re picturing in your head.

I don’t really think my return to play will be that dramatic just because of that. I mean, I really don’t know how it’s going to be. I really trust in my capabilities. Also the time off, I was able to reflect a lot on myself, on the world, how things have changed so dramatically all at once.

I’ve learnt a lot about that, about myself. So I feel like I’m in a really good place right now mentally, physically, emotionally, all of that.

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 Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.