Grand Slams are always chock full of interesting story lines, and this year’s Australian Open is no different. From day one, there have been upsets-a-plenty, Cinderella stories, and Serena being Serena. Here are the 5 biggest surprises thus far from the 2016 Australian Open.
1. Johanna Konta
The 47th ranked Konta became the first British woman to make a Slam semi since 1983. How she did it is even more impressive. She ousted world #8 Venus Williams in the first round in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. She didn’t have a slump after the excitement in the first round, either. She tore through the next 4 matches without dropping a set.
2. Rafa falls in the first round
Rafa admittedly got a bad draw this year. He drew the always dangerous Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the tournament, and Verdasco took full advantage of the opportunity, hitting 90 winners, and taking down Rafa in 5 sets. Rafa’s form has been improving of late, making his early exit extra disappointing.
3. Djokovic commits 100 unforced errors and WINS
Djokovic is known for playing nearly flawless tennis every time he takes the court. In his round of 16 matchup against Gilles Simon, he had FAR from his best stuff. He sprayed groundstrokes wide, long and in the net from all over the court. He attempted drop shot after drop shot, nearly all unsuccessfully. But, as only Novak could do, he turned his very worst day into a 5 set victory. He shored up his game in the fifth set, and ran away from the weaker Simon. He cleaned up his game considerably in the quarters, breezing by world #7 Kei Nishikori in 3 relatively easy sets, setting up a 45th meeting with Federer in the semis.
4. Gambling advertisements shown on on-court LED screens
Amid the match-fixing scandal rocking the tennis world, you would think that tennis would want to stay as far away from gambling as possible. Not so in Australia. William Hill, a betting company and sponsor of the tournament, still has advertisements plastered all over the grounds, and most surprisingly, on the on-court LED screens in between games. This has to irk the players, and certainly the fans. It is not a good look for the game at this time, at all.
5. Zhang Shuai
The Chinese journey-woman had previously taken the court in 14 Grand Slams. She lost in the first round in each and every one of them. That is why Simona Halep, who was expected to contend for the title, probably didn’t give Zhang a second thought. That was a bad idea. She upset Halep in the first round for her first Grand Slam victory ever. She didn’t take it for granted, and kept up the momentum, making it all the way to the quarterfinals before falling to Johanna Konta. Very impressive, indeed.