Australian Tennis Opens tend to merge into some sun baked blur of a lot people. From a TV viewing perspective, they are great to follow in Aotearoa, but they really are the PGA Open of the tennis Grand Slams.
There has been something a little bit different about this year though. First of all there was the total self induced drama of Novak (Spartacus if you will) and the conflict between the tournament director and the Australian government.
Anyway, once the Serb was returned some actual tennis broke out.
Ash Bardy continues to show her class, and at the time of writing is the clear favourite to win the women’s title while providing great cricket related Social Media content. (Singles)
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2022
On the men’s side of the draw (singles) it’s all very open. Moving into the semi-finals there is not clear favourite, and there have been a lot of five setters in getting there so it’s gapingly open.
But that’s not what people have been talking about. This has all been about the men’s’ Doubles. That’s right; Doubles.
For some reason Doubles tennis has really receded in recent years, putting it below Futsol, Frisbee Golf and Indoor Cricket as fringe formats of a particular sport.
Nick Kyrios is not everyone’s cup of tea. Years of controversy on the singles circuit with the normal suspects pulling him apart set the narrative in his formative years.
But, somehow, he seems to have found his niche. And people are watching it.
Most people reading this will have probably watched some of yesterday’s semi Final. Have you ever watched any of a Doubles Quarter Final before? Of course you haven’t. It was the appointment viewing of the second Thursday of the Open.
Kyrios and his style brings a younger breed of spectator along with him, and what sport isn’t green with envy in that regard?
Men’s doubles tennis has been in decline for decades, with the odd spike of interest.
The Bryan (Mike and Bob) brothers were the last big draw cards around the world in doubles. Before that there were the Woodies (Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge), also Australian.
Prior to that there was John McEnroe and Peter Fleming. Indians Lender Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were also very good and popular as well, the other Aussies – Peter McNamara (now passed away) and Paul MacNamee were good too.
But they were all fleeting, and nothing like the blanket coverage we’ve seen this week.. In the women’s draw there were the Williams sisters but, that too, was a bit of a sideshow.
The SpecialK thing is just what Doubles Tennis needed. Long may it last.
Finally, Michael Venus has stated in the past that Doubles tennis, especially in New Zealand, hasn’t received the reverence it has deserved. Maybe this is exactly what the category of tennis has finally got what it deserved.
And maybe, Kyrios is not such a knob after all.