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Mon, Aug. 19

Howard: It begins again – 2019’s tennis season and the Aussie Open
My Point

The Australian Open kicks off the “real” beginning of tennis season for fans of the game even though there have been a few warm up events held in that area to let the players acclimate to the conditions and prepare for battle as best they can already.

If you haven’t watched the Andy Murray interview about how close his retirement is, you should. It’s very emotional. To have your career cut short due to injury even though you’ve made millions of dollars, won Grand Slam titles, been No. 1, had Olympic gold and become the top British/Scottish player ever...it still has a major mental effect and will be a tough adjustment.

The Australian may be his last Grand Slam tournament, but he’d really like to make it to Wimbledon, his home in so many ways - before he calls it a day - it all depends on how his hip holds out. Andy says he’s in a lot of pain and the surgery that Bob Bryan had is what Murray needs to have at some point, even if it wouldn’t allow him to come back and play to the level he’s accustomed to. The surgery will be about getting out of pain and just plain quality of life after the tour.

Talking about Bob Bryan, he’s back playing with brother Mike again and played in Auckland and they made it to the semi-finals before losing, not bad after hip replacement.

Now for a Grand Slam run - a possible two week journey, seeded fourth in a draw of 64 teams - my fingers are crossed for them. They want it bad and have worked hard. At the age of 40 they make Federer look like a younger brother, even if it is doubles.

A side note to the doubles is that Jack Sock who won two majors with Mike Bryan (while Bob was having surgery and then recovering) last year is not seeded in the doubles at all. Not sure that makes much sense.

And in the men’s singles this year at the AO, it’s the big three with Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, and Roger Federer who just happens to have won the last two Australian titles and would like to make it a three-peat.

Roger Federer (No. 3) and Rafael Nadal (No. 2) are in the lower part of the draw with Novak (#1) in the upper half with number 4 seed and young upstart Alexander Zverev.

There are no easy matches in this 128 player draw and getting a couple matches under your belt and making it into the second week healthy is quite an achievement in itself.

The women’s draw seems like it could go to so many different players with 2018 Slams having four different champions. Wozniacki the Australian, Halep got the French, Kurber won Wimbledon and Osaka grabbed the U.S. Open. You can’t really leave out Serena Williams who lost in two finals - Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

And there are a slew of other women players who are definitely in the hunt and hungry for a championship at the Australian Open.

Hip-Hip Hooray for a new tennis season that keep our tennis juices flowing for the next 11 months!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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