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Australian Open: Sabalenka, Sinner/Medvedev Champions of Memorable Slam

Aryna Sabalenka and Daniil Medvedev/Jannik Sinner dominated the Women’s and Men’s draws at the Australia Open, claiming the title at the first slam of the year.

Sabalenka won her second consecutive slam Down Under and doing so without dropping a set, joining Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Lindsay Davenport as the only women to achieve that feat.

The World No.2 dominated her opponents in each round yielding high first serve in percentages and even higher first serve win percentages. She has one of the strongest returns, especially on second serves, on the tour.

The combination of controlling service games and forcing opponents to serve big, causing second serves and double faults following that, is why Sabalenka was unmatched and forced into only one tiebreak. Her triumph over Zheng Qinwen in the championship, 6-3, 6-2, was only a small fraction of the chaos that happened throughout the two week major in Melbourne.

Sinner matched up against Medvedev in a nerve-racking and thrilling final to close out an action packed open. The Italian went down early behind aggressive returns and service from Medvedev and saw himself in 0-2 hole entering a critical third set. After only being broken twice before the final, Sinner was broken four times in the first two sets. His serve improved and his opponents court time, over six hours more than Sinner, caught up to him contributing to two crucial breaks, both at 5-4, to claim the third and fourth set to force a fifth and final set. After breaking to go up 4-2, the new Australian Open champion never looked back.

The first and second rounds alone saw 20 seeded female players get knocked out by their unseeded opponents. Five of those 20 seeded players included [3] Elena Rybakina, [5] Jessica Pegula [6] Ons Jabeur, [7] Marketa Vondrousova, and [8] Maria Sakkari.

Crazy results started early in the men’s draw as well, qualifier Sumit Nagal became the first Indian man to defeat a seeded player, [31] Alexander Bublik, at a major in 35 years.

Flavio Cobolli earned his spot through qualifying and knocked off [18] Nicolas Jarry in the first round, while [8] Holger Rune and [17] Francis Tiafoe were sent home in the second round.

Rybakina’s second round exit against Anna Blinkova will be remembered as one of the best tie-breaks at the Australian Open. After dropping the second set and a tightly contested third set, Blinkova edged out the World No. 3, 22-20 in a 42 point tie-break that lasted over a half hour.

The four men’s quarterfinal matches displayed jaw-dropping results. Novak Djokovic dropped only one set against the American Taylor Fritz, while Sinner bested a dominant Andrey Rublev in straight sets without having his serve broken.

Medvedev battled in his second five set match against Hurburt Hurkacz and Alexander Zverev upset Carlos Alcaraz with some help from the Spaniards 45 unforced errors and poor drop shot selection, a very uncharacteristic flaw for Alcaraz.

The semifinal between Medvedev and Zverev went the distance after the German lost momentum going up two sets to none. In the third set Medvedev had an 84% win rate on first serves while in the fourth set it was 90% and in the fifth it was 73% earning. Djokovic was stunned and earned his first loss, going 20-1, in an Australian open semifinal and final. Sinner had won 83% of his first serves, broke the reigning champion five times, and never gave his opponent the opportunity to break.

On the hunt to claim her first Australian Open title, Iga Świątek was stunned in a three-set thriller against Linda Noskova.

Katie Boulter and Emma Raducanu, returning to tennis after her surgeries, were bested in the second round by Zheng and Wang Yafan.

Qualifier Dayana Yastremska made an impressive dark horse run to reach her first major semi-final, while fellow qualifier Maria Timofeeva bowed out in the fourth round following a defeat to Marta Kostyuk.

Cam Norrie made an impressive run into the fourth round, but was over powered by Zverev’s service ability in a back and forth five set matchup in the fourth round.

Mirra Andreeva, despite being only 16, made her name known and will become a top 40 player following the updated rankings from Monday 29 January.

Other notable ranking changes include Zheng becoming a top 10 player for the first time in her career, Yastremska jumping 64 spots from 93rd to 29th, Timofeeva climbing 70 spots from 170th to 100th and Rybakina dropping two spots down to 5th.

In the ATP rankings Nuno Borges will rank at a career high 47th, while Tomas Martin Etcheverry, 28th, Sebastian Baez, 25th, Adrian Mannarino, 17th, and Hurkacz, 8th, will also have career high rankings.