Australian Open 2023: Favorite trap Melbourne – scary record after first week

It’s an impressive result, but from the point of view of many top professionals, frightening: only eight of the 30 (!) top-seeded players are still there when the second week of the Australian Open starts Monday.

On the men’s side, only one Grand Slam winner, Novak Djokovic, remained on the field. Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka? All eliminated.

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And there were also a lot of rumors among the next generation of top players, think of Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev, Félix Auger-Aliassime or Taylor Fritz.

The reasons for defeats are as numerous as the stars that stumble.

The ball factor – Djokovic and Nadal unhappy

One factor is likely to be slower play compared to last year. Nadal, for example, complained that the quality of the balls had “deteriorated” and therefore he was unable to achieve the spin so important to his game.

For the gallery! Djokovic plays around the net

Djokovic is also hampered by the Dunlop balls used in Melbourne. The longer the rallies last, the “softer” and “bigger” they will be, criticized the fifth in the world ranking. So-called “free points” are difficult to create.

“Novak hits the ball harder, but it still doesn’t get to the other side of the net any faster than last year, we’ve proven that scientifically. If you hit the ball harder, it comes five km/ h slower than last year,” said Eurosport expert Matt Willander.

While many top people are apparently struggling with the new conditions, Djokovic is still in the competition.

Djokovic: Concerns and victories for the Serbs

Clearing the way for the tournament record winner, favorite, superstar? Only on paper! Because: The 35-year-old has pain in his left thigh. “It’s a certain movement that triggers it,” explained Djokovic in the Eurosport interview.
The problem arises sooner or later “in every game”. Means: The Serb not only plays against Alex de Minaur (Monday from 9:00 am in the live ticker) in the round of 16, but also against his pain.

Djokovic exclusively on a thigh problem: “Every game happens”

If he beats the Australian, Holger Rune or Andrey Rublev will be waiting for him in the quarter-finals. It is debatable whether Djokovic can hold off opponents of this caliber if there is no physical improvement.

Tsitsipas – looks pretty good

The prospect of Stefanos Tsitsipas, as number three on the seed list, is completely different. The Greek gets it in the round of 16 with the world number 71. Jiri Lehecka to do, then it would be against Karen Khachanov or American shooting star Sebastian Korda.

“He comes across as incredibly bold and good. Plus, he gives the impression that he can really capture the energy of the fans and take it with him. After Nadal’s departure, he’s even more of a favourite,” he said. declared Barbara Rittner, Eurosport specialist.

However, she still has “Djokovic as a big favourite” on the list, “as far as his thigh holds”.

Round of 16: Tsitsipas wins rollercoaster ride against Sinner – highlights

In fact, there are plenty of indications that there will be a showdown of the last two big names remaining in the final: Djokovic vs. Tsitsipas.

Rittner sees Sabalenka ‘ready’ for title

The women’s situation seems even more unmanageable, where the cards are completely reshuffled after the elimination of world number one Iga Swiatek in the round of 16.

Two promising candidates are already in the quarter-finals, Elena Rybakina and Jelena Ostapenko. “Both are playing incredibly good games, have beaten many winners and will work without compromise,” praised national coach Rittner. Rybakina in particular is flying ‘under the radar’ despite his Wimbledon coup last season.

Rittner values ​​Aryna Sabalenka a little higher. “She would be ready for the title”, assures the 49-year-old player, but at the same time warns of the next opponent. The Belarusian takes on Belinda Bencic, number twelve on the seed list.

German result gives Becker ‘stomach ache’

The fact that “many favorites have already gone home” also means “the luck of a new winner”, underlines Boris Becker at Eurosport. Additionally, the absence of reigning champion Ashleigh Barty, who ended her career last year as the reigning world number one, is having a big impact in Melbourne.

From a German perspective, it can be said that neither men nor women benefited from the change in starting position. Eight out of ten DTB pros had to drop out after the first round, only Laura Siegemund made it to the third round and she was eliminated on Saturday.

The sobering balance sheet gave him “a stomach ache”. Eurosport expert Becker – and therefore the Australian Open 2023 is not only a tournament to forget from the point of view of many favorites, but also for the German tennis elite…

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