AusOpen 2015 Review

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A quick and timely note here, on my own review of the past fortnight, even now as both Serena, Maria, Novak and Andy are yet to play out their respective finals tonight and tomorrow. Firstly, a BIG congratulations to the whole tournament of players for a wonderful week of tennis matches.

ATP Ranking Impact

The following table was my own work and is based on all available information:

  1. ATP World Rankings (as at 19 January 2015)
  2. Australian Open points distribution
  3. 2014 Australian Open results
# Before
AO2015
AO2014
(less)
AO2015
(add)
Win
Murray
# Win
Djokovic
#
1 Djokovic
(11,405)
-360
(QF)
+1200 or +2000
(F) or (W)
11,165 1 11,965 1
2 Federer
(9,875)
-720
(SF)
+90
(3R)
9,245 2 9,245 2
3 Nadal
(6,585)
-1200
(F)
+360
(QF)
5,745 4 5,745 3
4 Wawrinka
(5,370)
-2000
(W)
+720
(SF)
4,090 9 4,090 9
5 Nishikori
(5,025)
-180
(4R)
+360
(QF)
5,205 5 5,205 5
6 Murray
(4,675)
-360
(QF)
+1200 or +2000
(F) or (W)
6,315 3 5,515 4
7 Berdych
(4,660)
-720
(SF)
+720
(SF)
4,660 7 4,660 7
8 Raonic
(4,575)
-90
(3R)
+360
(QF)
4,845 6 4,845 6
9 Cilic
(4,150)
-45
(2R)
0
(Injury)
4,105 8 4,105 8
10 Ferrer
(4,145)
-360
(QF)
+180
(4R)
3,965 10 3,965 10

AFTER doing the maths and writing out the table on paper, I found that the 2015 Australian Open Wikipedia page has a very similar table… which confirmed my calculations.

Based on the change in rankings, the top three players – Djokovic, Federer and Nadal remain above the rest in terms of the sheer amount of points. No matter what happens tomorrow night, Novak retains the World #1 ATP ranking. Even though both Federer and Nadal lost earlier in the 2015 tournament, their individual collection of points that has been accumulated throughout the 2014 season shelters them from any dramatic drop in ranking. Should Andy Murray win, he will however rise to #3. It is only later in the 2015 season when a serious amount of points are being defended that Nadal and Federer may be challenged on their present ATP world rankings.

The biggest changes to an otherwise unchanged preeminence in world rankings is the drop of Stan Wawrinka to world #9. Being the AO2014 champion did place a lot of pressure on him, particularly last night, given 2000 points were at stake. This is also amplified by the fact that the 2000 points awarded to a grand slam winner made up over 35% of this total points going into AO2015. Raonic and Cilic are the only other players who moved up the rankings, thanks mainly to Stan’s loss last night in the Semi-Final.

Future Players to Watch

This year, one of the main things that caught my attention was that at the start of the tournament we, Australia, had a prominent presence going into Round 1 with 8 singles tennis players competing. It may also be a reflection that in previous years I have not looked out for local players entering the competition, but in part, because of certain individuals (more to be said shortly), the media helped us focus on this positive sign that the future of Australian tennis is very much alive and well.

The stand-out player of the tournament for me was in the Japanese world #5 – Kei Nishikori. In 2014, he bowed out at Round 4 and I recall discussing this with my Japanese hair dresser at our next meeting. I had the opportunity to watch the final three of Nishikori’s matches: from the third round on Saturday 24/01 against US Steve Johnson @ Hisense Arena, Monday’s fourth round straights-set win against David Ferrer (watched on TV) and then from Melbourne Park his first-ever quarter final appearance against defending champion Stan Wawrinka. Watching Kei play on court, I felt that his style and pace had traces of the Federer brilliance from years past; in part their playing style has a similarity because they lack a power serve. The match against Stan was a defining challenge for Kei – I felt that the momentum was slowly creeping in favour of Kei. Had Nishikori managed to hang on in the third set, I felt that he could have slowly mounted a comeback to claim the match in five sets…

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Nick Kyrgios is the other main stand-out player. Given his stellar rise throughout 2014, and his first quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon, he is a player to continue to watch throughout 2015. I am hoping that there will be a show-down between Kei and Nick sometime in 2015 – it is an inevitable line-up at one of our grand slams, or even a Masters tournament. My main concern is that the Australian media inflates and contributes to an unnecessary and over-the-top championing of local talent. Take Bernard Tomic for example. Today he is ranked in the Top 100, but consider this – Milos Raonic also entered the pro tournament in the same 2008 timeframe and today is the world #8 (soon to be world #6 based on AO2015 outcomes above). You do not see the Canadian press herald Milos as a champion the way our local press does. The fear here is that the media will similarly talk Kyrgios up whether or not he deserves the attention. His youthful ways are still very evident both on and off court, and as he gains more publicity, he will need to very quickly mature and develop a sense of professionalism which the tennis world demands.

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Melbourne on Show

The Australian Open has called Melbourne home for many years. Since 1988 and the move to the current Melbourne Park location, we have developed a reputation as being the Happy Slam. Ours is a highly attended, publicly accessible tournament where players can also feel very relaxed and at home. Whilst recent years have seen the weather become more extreme and hot, the 2015 tournament has been very mild in comparison. This is somewhat ironic given the last two years has seen Margaret Court Arena redeveloped to now be our third and latest in-door court complete with tractable roof-top. I had a quick peek at Margaret Court Arena, inside and outside.

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Whilst I was having dinner at Melbourne Park, Arena Cafe on Tuesday evening before the Andy Murray versus Nick Gyrgios quarter-final, I had the opportunity to chat with visiting UK ladies who were in town for the week in support of Andy Murray. This chat gave me the opportunity to hear first hand how delightful Melbourne is to our international guests. In particular, the ladies were impressed at how close Melbourne Park is to the main CBD and Southbank. They were also doing the usual touristy thing – visiting Philip Island, the Great Ocean Road, etc… but they were first and foremost spending two days at the tennis and AO2015. I was able to provide one recommendation in visiting/participating in a Melbourne Laneways tour on a future occasion – since our laneways are part of our unique appeal.

During a work coffee catch-up, I learnt that our office location, being in the same building as the Sofitel meant that some of the tennis players were also frequenting our regular cafes and restaurants. Indeed, Crown and the casino complex at Southbank provides a picturesque environment where our tennis stars can relax, wine, dine and shop when they have free time.

For all the marvel that the Australian Open has to offer, and given the recent hundreds of $Ms being invested into the latest Melbourne Park facilities, the dark spot becomes Richmond station at the far eastern-end of the complex. Richmond Station as the key public transport hub in Melbourne is strategically located between Melbourne Park, the MCG, Olympic Park and AAMI stadium. Throughout the year, sporting fans traverse the blight and eye-sore that has become Richmond station. The platforms, whilst once considered adequate are now dated in design and lack the space to accommodate our peak crowds – be it tennis, AFL or soccer that is the key attraction.

It is in this thought space that my own alternative designs for Richmond Interchange gain traction. The cost and investment required would be in the order of $1B+ but the long-term benefits and new opportunities that come with a high-density multi-purpose (residential & commercial) outcome surely would make this project worthy for consideration. Further, any development should take in account other similar initiatives to convert the above-ground Jolimont railway yard/tracks into an underground metro system, thereby releasing a lot more land for high-density use. Over the years, ideas have existed in this space – a local residence for the incumbent Prime Minister, to compete with Kirribilli House in Sydney, commercial offices next to Federation Square, and so on.

Such projects would help set Melbourne up for the 21st century and our ongoing effort to being the Sports Capital of the world, complete with Australian Open.