Australian Open Review
The Men’s Singles went exactly as predicted, whilst the Ladies’ Singles came to a sensational conclusion at the Australian Open at Melbourne in January.
In a repeat of last year’s men’s final, World No 1 and No 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat World No 2 and No 2 seed Andy Murray, as Nole won his fifth Aussie Open title in six years, and his sixth overall, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6. Djokovic used the Head Graphene XT Speed Pro racket strung with Babolat VS Team natural gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings. Murray used the new Head Graphene XT Radical Pro strung with Luxilon Alu Power main strings and Babolat VS Touch cross strings.
Both men’s finalists played with Head rackets, and both semi-finalists used Wilsons. Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer, and Murray came through an epic five set struggle with Milos Raonic. Federer played with his usual combination of the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph with Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough crosses. Raonic had the Wilson Blade 98 strung with Luxilon 4G.
The Ladies’ Singles was a far less predictable event, with Angelique Kerber scoring a sensational victory over the seemingly invincible Serena Williams in a classic three set final to claim her first Grand Slam singles title. Angelique’s racket of choice was the Yonex VCore Si 100 strung with a hybrid of Babolat VS team main strings and Yonex’s own Polytour Fire cross strings. Serena played with the Wilson Blade 104 with Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon 4G crosses.
Surprise package of the Ladies’ Singles, and the tournament overall, was Johanna Konta, who defeated Serena’s sister Venus in the first round and went all the way to the semi-finals to become the first British player to get that far since Sue Barker way back in 1977. Johanna played with the Babolat Pure Aero, the latest version of their established AeroPro Drive, strung with black coloured Babolat VS Touch main strings and Babolat RPM Blast cross strings. Just as Wilson had both losing semi-finalists in the Men’s Singles, so Babolat had both losing ladies’ semi-finalists, as the semi line up was completed by Babolat Pure Drive Lite strung with a hybrid of Babolat RPM Blast main strings and Babolat VS Team crosses.
There were fewer players changing racket manufacturers than usual this year. Most notable change was David Ferrer playing with the Babolat Pure Drive after over ten years using various Prince rackets. Interestingly, Ferrer was playing without Babolat’s logo on his strings, indicating, perhaps, that he’s not yet fully under contract to them.
Talking of Babolat, there No 1 endorsee Rafael Nadal had a disappointing Open with a first round exit at the hands of Fernando Verdasco. Rafa was using the Babolat Pure Aero Play he first used at last year’s US Open, but of more interest was the bright yellow string he was using. He’s used the black Babolat RPM Blast for the last six years. Has he gone back to the Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour he was using before RPM Blast? He wasn’t around long enough to find out.
Two other changes of note were long term Dunlop user Nicolas Almagro, who’s on the comeback trail after injury, now using Völkl rackets, and Dominic Thiem, the youngest player in the Top Twenty, now playing with the Babolat Pure Strike 18/20.
Victoria Azarenka is still using the Wilson Ultra racket, but there was no Wilson logo on the strings, and she was carrying her rackets in a Nike bag.
Finally, after finishing runner up in last year’s Wimbledon and US Open Jamie Murray at last claimed a Grand Slam men’s doubles title when he and Bruno Soares defeated Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek in the final. Murray uses the Slazenger Aero V98 racket strung with Solinco Tour Bite strings. His carries his rackets in a Solinco bag, and they bear the Solinco logo rather than that of Slazenger. It was Solinco’s first Grand Slam success.