The 2017 Australian Open: A Comeback for the Fallen


Haasitha Korlipara, Staff Writer

Sunday, January 29, marked the end of the Australian Open, during which professional tennis players showcased their phenomenal skills at Melbourne Park in Victoria, Australia. This Grand Slam tournament stands alongside the French Open in May and June, the Wimbledon in June and July, and the U.S. Open in August and September as the four most important annual tennis events around the world.

The 14-day tournament, which spanned from January 16 to January 29, was characterized by events for professional players in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles matches. More notably, Junior players (boys and girls under the age of 18) and wheelchair players also received the opportunity to compete in singles and doubles play in their own draws.

The Australian Open holds, to this day, the highest record for attendance at a Grand Slam event, often rivaling and at times exceeding the attendance rates of the U.S. open. This year, an overwhelming 728,763 tennis fans attended the Australian Open, defeating its all-time record of 720,363 attendees from the year before (2016).

The tournament was characterized by major comebacks for several struggling professional tennis players who had fallen in ranks in recent years, mainly due to injury or family issues.

Croatian tennis player Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, whose career plummeted as she became occupied with off-court issues revolving around allegations of mental and physical abuse inflicted by her father, had not won a match at the Australian Open since 1998. She was able to redeem herself, however, through her win over American player Jennifer Brady and subsequent entrance into the quarter-finals.

Venus Williams, who had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011, fell outside the top 100 in 2012. Just as fans began to worry that Williams would be unable to start competing for Grand Slam titles again, Venus stormed up to the finals round against her sister in the 2017 Australian Open, putting up a tough battle against the symptoms of muscle fatigue and pain in the joints that are associated with Sjogren’s syndrome. Although she was unable to win the match against Serena, simply the fact that she advanced into the finals round has convinced fans worldwide that the older Williams sister is not prepared to give up on her career just yet.

Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who was victim to a car crash that left him with an overwhelming 80 stitches during his childhood, has made full recovery and went on to rebuild his tennis career over the recent years. Notably, he achieved an unexpected victory over Novak Djokovic, currently the world’s second-best men’s player, in a five-set play during the Australian Open.

The long-awaited 2017 Australian Open Men’s Singles final between Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal was well worth the anticipation of fans all around the world. Federer defeated Nadal, despite several knee and back injuries, and won his 18th men’s single Grand Slam title after four and a half years of not winning a major title.

The 2017 Australian Open truly was deserving of its title as “one of the most heartwarming sporting events in recent history”. Yet, for the dispirited fans of Djokovic and Nadal (ranked No. 6 in the world), fear not, as a brighter future perhaps awaits the two high-ranking players in the upcoming 2017 French Open in June!