Out of the 14-day delicate tennis quarantine, we’re cleansing out the pocket book and notes app. Here are 50 Thoughts from the 2021 Australian Open. First, we did this final main and it obtained quite a lot of response. So we’ll provide once more: if you’d like The Mailbag e-newsletter type, despatched each Wednesday as an electronic mail, let me know.• You thought Novak Djokovic was versatile? How in regards to the contortions pulled off by Tennis Australia required merely to carry this occasion. And by the remainder of the neighborhood to regulate accordingly? Hard and delicate quarantines. Nasal swaps for all. Crowds and no crowds and crowds once more. No linespeople. Simultaneous tournaments. Tennis gamers are creatures of behavior and routine; but there have been every day variables mocking the perfect laid plans. Nevertheless, they persevered. We’ll see the place the game goes from right here. But a protracted racket-claps. To Craig Tiley and group for getting this occasion staged. And to the gamers for the general high quality of play.• All hail Novak Djokovic, your males’s singles champion who moved to 9-0 when he reaches the Australian Open closing….and extra essential, strikes to 18 majors. It was an adventuresome marketing campaign. Sometimes Djokovic was extraordinary. Sometimes Djokovic merely saved his stage whereas everybody else dropped theirs. As the nice ones do, he saved his finest for final. And the GOAT rodeo continues…Xinhua/Sipa USA• Naomi Osaka, the ladies’s singles winner, has now taken the title at 4 of the final eight majors she has entered. (Quirk: one in 2018, 2019, 2020 and now 2021.) She’s now received 21 straight matches. Casual followers will see the unremarkable closing scoreline. Fans who adopted this event know her journey entailed beating difficult gamers (Ons Jabeur), staving off match factors (Garbine Muguruza), destroying a sentimental/cult favourite (Hsieh Su-Wei), and out-Serena-ing Serena. Be assured the remainder of the sphere adopted the event.• At the 2019 U.S. Open, Daniil Medvedev acquitted himself nicely and performed valiantly towards Rafael Nadal within the closing. He left with a smile. Not a lot in Melbourne. For six rounds—together with straight set wins over Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas—Medvedev was good. So a lot so, he was the oddsmakers’ favourite to take the title over Djokovic. In the ultimate, although, the Russian performed each unfastened factors and tight factors and by no means fairly discovered his finest stage, together with on his serve. The opponent, after all, had lots to do with that. But for a participant who’d crushed Djokovic thrice, together with their most up-to-date encounter, Medvedev didn’t have it in his second main closing. And you watched this makes for a bittersweet marketing campaign. Still, Medvedev leaves with the No. 3 rating. And the distinct impression he’ll majors. It would simply assist if the Big Three weren’t round.• Jennifer Brady didn’t convey her finest to Saturday’s closing. But that shouldn’t overshadow her play for the earlier six matches, nor her ascent because the tennis reset. Tennis’ reply to Taylor Swift, Brady was so productive in tough 2020 and now the fruits: she presently ranked No. 13. And leaves with a way that the perfect remains to be to come back.• Clearly emotional, Serena left her post-match press convention after her semifinal defeat, one other (valiant) try at that twenty fourth main thwarted by a youthful opponent. Even when she wasn’t in a temper to talk, Serena revealed an important deal. (Note two phrases that didn’t depart her lips in her autopsy: “Naomi” and “Osaka.” Insight into mindset of a champion, she believed she misplaced the match, not that it was received.) I’ve actual empathy for Serena as, presumably, she now waits 4 lengthy months for Wimbledon, her subsequent, finest likelihood at a significant. She is now not the pressure she as soon as was. And but she remains to be beating high gamers (Sabalenka, Halep right here) and enjoying divinely, at the very least in spurts. She’ll make her personal resolution, after all, as she ought to. But in different sports activities, there are routes for profitable championships in your late 30s. (Pick the best franchise. Downshift right into a supporting function. Be Tom Brady.) In binary, particular person sports activities, the pathway is much less clear.Patrick Hamilton/Belga/Sipa USA)• Stefanos Tsitsipas scored maybe the perfect win of his profession, getting back from 0-2 units to beat Rafa Nadal. And 48 hours later, he suffered maybe probably the most gutting loss, a complete defeat and the fingers (and legs) of Medvedev. Not one for platitudes, Tsitsipas supplied this withering self-assessment: “I simply must discover a option to get there and simply be in the identical way of thinking. I’ve confirmed that I’ve the extent to beat these gamers. It’s not that I have never, however as Stan [Wawrinka’s] says, ‘Ever tried, ever failed, irrespective of, strive once more… fail higher.’ So let’s hope for one thing higher subsequent time. I actually hope it comes.” (For the document, he’s quoting Wawrinka’s tattoo quoting Samuel Beckett.)• In the doubles, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka ladies’s title. They, after all, are each creditable singles gamers. In a males’s draw that typically lacked such creditable singles gamers as entrants—particularly hanging that that is an Olympic 12 months—Ivan Dodig and Filip Polášek beat defending champs Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury to win the title. And Ram and Barbora Krejcikova took the combined. (There have been no junior matches in Melbourne.)• Dominant champs, beautiful upsets, taut finishes. Dylan Alcott leads the Wheelchair Honor Roll. (And good on Tennis Australia for ensuring this was staged)• In the quarters, Ash Barty was up 6-1, 2-1 on Karolina Muchova, cruising into one other main semifinal. Muchova—not unpredictably—took a medical timeout as a result of she had “misplaced her approach.” And scene. Barty misplaced 12 of the following 15 video games and Muchova prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. I’m of two minds right here. Players needs to be penalized for these strategic breaks, that, at finest, smudge the road between sportsmanship and gamesmanship. Players also needs to be penalized for failing to make changes for shifts in timing and ways. Barty is likable and admirable on so many planes. But it was disappointing that the No. 1 seed was so addled and rattled that she allowed an opponent to show a break into such a pivot level.• The upset of the event? It could have been Rafa Nadal with a five-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Not a loopy consequence on paper. But it was given {that a}) Nadal dominated the head-to-head matchup and b) was main 2-0 units. Nadal has been to 13 Australian Open quarterfinals. He has received one title. Does he really feel unfortunate? “I by no means thought of myself an unfortunate particular person in any respect. It does not matter the accidents that I had. I feel I’m very fortunate particular person. The solely factor that I can do is simply hold going.” That, buddies, is a champion.Jessica PegulaHu Jingchen/Xinhua/Sipa USA• A breakthrough occasion for Jessica Pegula, scoring her first high 10 win (Svitolina) and reaching the quarters earlier than falling to her buddy Jenn Brady. We ought to now have the ability to focus on her as a tennis participant and particular person with no reference to her lineage or household web price. Not not like Brady—although underneath distinction circumstances—there’s something quietly admirable a few mid-career participant saying, “I’m sick of being a center supervisor and I need a promotion. I can’t go into the bosses’ workplace with a counter-offer. So I’ll promote myself, by making sacrifices.”• I come to reward the Big Three—and Serena—and never bury everybody else. But you watch, say, Dominic Thiem win the U.S. Open after which again it up by reaching the quarters in Paris after which the fourth spherical in Australia compromised by obscure harm, and also you suppose: “Tinge of disappointment, however cheap outcomes.” Then you have a look at how reliably the Big Three attain the latter rounds of huge occasions and also you understand their reliability and sturdiness would possibly, lastly, be extra spectacular than their main rely.• If tennis have been a streaming sequence—which, after all, it’s—Hsieh Su-wei would play the scene-stealing function. An easy-to-like recreation, with all that quirk and people staccato strokes. And an easy-to-like persona. Her coach Paul McNamee (whom we typically neglect ran this occasion) dropped the anecdote of the event.• One of the revelations of the occasion was, after all, Aslan Karatsev. (Because Russia wants one other participant in ascent.) The 27-year-old certified and reached the semis. His profession winnings for a decade on Tour in coming to Australia: $618,000. He made greater than $650,000 for profitable 5 matches in Melbourne. More essential, he’s now within the high 50. “No extra qualifying,” he famous.• Different gamers, completely different ages, completely different circumstances, completely different points. But there’s nonetheless appreciable overlap between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Aryna Sabalenka—the 2 seeds to achieve the fourth spherical who had by no means made a Grand Slam quarter. In his case, was up 2-0 units on Karatsev and retreated. She had Serena on the ropes and retreated. Both are indisputably proficient and future stars. But there’s plain scar tissue accumulating.• One of the truisms of this previous 12 months: “COVID has accelerated developments that have been already afoot.” Add to this, the elimination of tennis officers to expertise and computerized line-calling. While acknowledging that there are actual human beings impacted by this, it’s laborious to withstand the improved value and accuracy of automation. Fine. But how does tennis then not flip round and use that expertise in terms of information? If we’re going to section out linespeople—because it seems we’re—can we at the very least switch that capital and people jobs to enhancing the game’s information? As @mattracquet put it properly on twitter: “If this sport spent even 1% of the vitality it devotes to largely pointless psychological gymnastics about shortening tennis’ codecs on pricing technique, content material/streaming availability, participation variety, zoomer participant pr coaching and so forth and so forth we’d presently be dwelling in a tennis utopia”• The 2021 Australian Open prize cash was redistributed—massive ovation…in truth, a standing ovation for Novak Djokovic—to extend for the early rounds and reduce for the latter rounds. Some offset got here from the foreign money markets. The Aussie greenback. At this writing, it’s $.78 US., up from $.67 from a 12 months in the past.• An enormous winner at this occasion: Coco Gauff. She fell in spherical two in a decent, high-quality match to No. 5 Elina Svitolina. But received twice. She breezed to a first-round win. And she beat her double-fault-itis. She additionally reached the quarters in doubles with Caty McNally. We say it once more: Gauff remains to be solely 16; she is very self-possessed; and it’s a disguised blessing that her progress as a professional is regular and never meteoric.• I’m unsure what we realized from Nick Kyrgios, who nonetheless manages to overachieve and underperform, typically inside the identical match. He is obscenely proficient. He can play with anybody. If he skilled with the depth and dedication he performed C.o.D., he would fare higher in 5 units. He will be likable. He will be dislikable. His shot-making is nice. His decision-making is much less nice. This could as nicely be the scouting report from 2015. Has there ever been a extra ringing instance of, “It is what it’s?”Nick KyrgiosHu Jingchen/Xinhua/Sipa USA• Bracketed along with Kyrgios—not simply alphabetically and never simply on the doubles court docket—what a pleasant event for Thanasi Kokkinakis. Finally wholesome, the 24-year-old Aussie received a match after which challenged Tsitsipas. It was heartening to see him again. It was heartrending to think about how disadvantaged he’s been over the past 5 years.• There are few cardinal guidelines of sports activities journalism, however listed here are two: 1) don’t recommend to athletes when they need to/shouldn’t retire 2) don’t recommend to athletes when they’re/aren’t injured. Some gamers (See: Venus and in addition Grigor Dimitrov), pointedly, persevered by accidents. Other gamers (Casper Ruud) pointedly didn’t. Djokovic and Nadal each expressed considerations about their bodily states; after which regarded no worse for it. Unless there’s hanging proof on the contrary, we should proceed on the idea that athletes are singularly educated about their very own our bodies.• You want it didn’t take a worldwide pandemic to get right here.… But some actually encouraging information in regards to the surge in American tennis participation over the previous 12 months. Dan Wolken is on it—and asks a great query: can this in some way fertilize a participant who will break the Andy Roddick drought? I’d additionally ask: what’s the USTA’s gameplan to maintain this development and hold these new gamers engaged? The elementary (existential?) problem: how will we take the wildly profitable and glamorous U.S. Open and amortize that over 52 weeks?• We say it once more: it’s wonderful how a lot much less you sweat when you must get your individual rattling towels. (A lot of you, together with an esteemed coach, accurately remarked that the incessant toweling off is much less about hygiene than about gamers discovering a routine between factors.) Add “ballkids-handling-effluvia-filled-linens” as one other COVID casualty we hope doesn’t return.• Speaking of towels, Ash Barty received a difficult—and at instances ugly—match towards her buddy Daria Gavrilova…who cried into her towel, orbited the court docket gathering towels (I counted three) after which left the court docket crying into her new accumulation of towels. (Then—earlier than present process surgical procedure—she issued a profitable submit.) And new rule to gamers: as soon as a match ends, you can not seize your towel swag with out first shaking the opponent’s hand.• This occurred the week earlier than the event, however Sorana Cirstea’s request that the umpire dock HER OWN COACH with a violation is price a re-up. During event three gamers have been fined for teaching: Tsitsipas, Margarita Gasparyan and….Cirstea.• Fabio Fognini is fashionable amongst his colleagues, which should rely for one thing. He misplaced me when he advised Wimbledon be bombed. (He was kidding! That’s what makes it humorous, see.) Here, he beat countryman Salvatore Caruso 14-12 in a fifth-set breaker and, as they met on the web, stated what each gracious winner says as they method a defeated foe. “You have been f—ing fortunate.” They then practically got here to blows.• Larger level: how a lot berth will we give gamers—athletes? people?— for jackass-ery performed in “the warmth of battle?” Usually we are saying “lots.” Stress hormones make for a strong substance. We all are liable to make dangerous choices in “sizzling states.” There is a cause why PR varieties encourage their shoppers to chill off earlier than making public statements. But does this leeway decrease the cool of gamers—not simply Federer and Osaka, however say, Ann Li, to choose a reputation—who handle to win and lose with poise.• This can be a great query on a chance take a look at (that we’d fail). There are 128 gamers who decide apply companions. What are the percentages these companions would then face one another in a randomized draw the next week? Which is to say: there certain appeared to be a disproportionate variety of matches pitting the quarantine apply companions towards one another. Monfils/Emil Ruusuvuori…Muchova/Pliskova…Tsitsipas/Ymer.• Here are 5 gamers who didn’t get out of week one however nonetheless impressed: Nina Stojanovic (who put up a combat towards Serena), massive Max Cressy (once more), 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz (as marketed), Ann Li and Anastasia Potapova.• Jim Courier does an important job with courtside interviews. Sometimes these are rollicking enjoyable. Sometimes they’re excruciating, but provide perception into the participant. This one can be the latter. (“You’re wanting snug [on the court] aside from this interview, which is basically awkward.”) Other interviews—performed by of us apart from Jim—actually missed the mark. Injured gamers not being requested about accidents. Statements quite than questions. After the aforementioned Fognini match, he was, inexplicably, not requested in regards to the near-fist combat that had occurred mere seconds earlier. No one is anticipating—or wanting—laborious hitting journalism right here. But if the questioners contemplated, “What would the oldsters watching at dwelling prefer to know?” that might go a good distance.• We all understand how straightforward it’s to add and obtain a photograph. You have one of many hottest acts in tennis, whose rise has been chronicled the world over. He’s been referenced by Nadal. He’s been trending on social. Can we do higher than this?• As it’s written: for those who now not have sponsors to ply you with patches, you don’t want sleeves in your shirt.• During the Discount-Double-Czech match pitting Karolinas—Muchova and Pliskova—towards one another, the latter was so upset by her play that, between units, she smashed a racket within the tunnel. Though the infraction didn’t technically happen on the court docket, she was nonetheless sanctioned. It helped her. And then it didn’t. She went up 5-0 within the second set. And then misplaced the following seven video games.• The defending champ, Sonia Kenin, left in tears. Then she misplaced to an unranked participant within the post-prom occasion Philip Island occasion. Then she underwent surgical procedure for an appendix removing. In many instances—this isn’t restricted to sports activities, a lot much less tennis—we media varieties wrestle with boundaries between skilled and private. So we tread cautiously right here. But Kenin shouldn’t be in a great place. Her phrases, not ours. And, it’s fairly clear, she would possibly profit from listening to a special (or at the very least extra) voice. Parents know their kids like nobody else. That can even have a stunting impression on development.• A favourite story from this occasion: unranked Li Tu, a neighborhood junior tennis teacher. He fell within the first spherical to Feli Lopez (decidedly not native; and decidedly not a junior). But not earlier than placing up a combat. Said Tu: “If I play my finest I can beat half the draw.”Jennifer Brady and Naomi OsakaBai Xuefei/Xinhua/Sipa USA• An enormous winner at this event: UCLA tennis. Brady continued her tear. Mackie McDonald reached the center weekend. Marcos Giron took a set off of Zverev. Cressy is establishing himself. And school tennis was all around the doubles attracts. Not least Aliona Bolsova, a former Florida Atlantic participant, and probably the most elaborately tattooed participant within the draw….much less fortunately this story in regards to the LSU program is nearly unspeakably horrific; and calls for a significant response.• The USTA and ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) have engaged a consulting agency to assist discover methods to “shield” and “create long-term sustainability” for school tennis. I understand this sounds jingoistic however right here’s an apparent one: get abroad recruitment underneath management. If I’m an athletic director who has to search out cost-savings and one program is made from instate children—whose dad and mom are taxpayers—and the opposite program’s roster appears like this, a tough resolution simply obtained lots simpler. A easy rule: the variety of gamers on the tennis group roster have to be inside one order of magnitude of the varsity’s abroad pupil inhabitants general.• The annual professional forma merchandise dedicated to Margaret Court….I imagine it was my new favourite tennis journalist, Matt Roberts—whom it’s best to all comply with—who raised a wonderful level about naming venues. We don’t simply go by uncooked information. Otherwise, Arthur Ashe—who received three profession majors—wouldn’t be the eponym of the U.S. Open foremost stadium, as he, fairly rightly, is. No, his identify is embroidered on the joint at the very least partially due to what he represents. Thus, Tennis Australia’s rivalry that Margaret Court is being celebrated merely for her tennis—and let’s not pollute this with politics—is lazy and dishonest. Here’s the deal: she was a towering tennis champion. She has additionally revealed herself to be a vile bigot whose repeated public statements are deeply hurtful and offensive to many. This is a not “cancel tradition,” somebody making a foul alternative after which being made to give up their place. This is somebody repeatedly making illiberal remarks and never being shielded from consequence. Tennis Australia hits quite a lot of clear winners, not least this 12 months. But this can be a dangerous error. It will look worse as time goes by. Some needles can’t be threaded. Guys, get some sleep. Then do the best factor.• Murmurs from the USTA and past.…The two finest Americans missed this occasion. John Isner, the very best ranked American, opted out and stayed dwelling. The brightest prospect, Sebastian Korda, now 20, performed occasions in Europe, profitable in Quimper, France, shaving his rating right down to double digits. Big promise right here.• This isn’t distinctive to the Australian Open, however man, will we glance again and snicker on the pumped in crowd noise. My favourite: the pretend crowd noise combined with laughing, typically deployed at totally unfunny moments. In the phrases of the prophets: “One likes to imagine within the freedom of crowd noise /B ut glittering prizes and infinite compromises / Shatter the phantasm of integrity, yeah.”• Credit to Heath Woodlief and his group for this piece we ran on Tennis Channel re: Kobe Bryant’s intersection with tennis. As at all times, it was good enjoyable doing the pregame present with Martina and Steve Weissman.• Before the occasion started, Tennis Australia introduced that it will function at a monetary loss. But the loss can be worse if the occasion have been cancelled and the momentum would atrophy. Then got here 5 days with zero followers and, I’m informed, that loss could have doubled. Those who benefitted in 2021—the gamers, coaches, media—ought to think about some type of low cost (a Tiley tithe?) in 2022?• This has been a tough 12 months for the nice of us in Indian Wells. This 12 months’s occasion was postponed—not, pointedly, cancelled…at the very least not but—as there was hope that tennis’ two excursions would make house on the calendar. (Not least as a result of the CEO of one of many excursions had a earlier job…operating Indian Wells.) Presented with a proposal to carry the event in October, each excursions stated, “Thanks, however, nah, we’re good.” The excursions supplied Indian Wells a December date, which wasn’t going to work, a) as a result of no high gamers have been going to come back and b) that was too near the 2022 event. So in all chance, the fifth main will go three years between vintages. Unless….• Without compensation—and even acknowledgement—Australia did an important service to the worldwide sports activities neighborhood. A number of occasions watched intently to see how a big occasion handled athletes coming in from all around the world. I’m listening to from dependable and unbiased varieties that the Beijing Winter Games will use tennis’ China swing as a dry run for internet hosting worldwide competitors. But it’s doable China will say, “You know what? We have a 2022 Winter Olympics developing. We can’t afford to have a mistake (and the attendant awful PR) within the fall. We’re cancelling sports activities once more.”….In which case, Indian Wells can swoop in and save the day.• Anyone else watch the Netflix documentary on the fiercely proud and fiercely anti-establishment Nina Simone (a excessive suggest)…after which recoil upon listening to her music co-opted by that rattling multivitamin business that aired on each changeover?Xinhua/Sipa USA• Novak Djokovic raised this level and it’s a good one: to what extent can the circuit proceed to function in 2021? There will be majors—with bubbles and pods and tens of tens of millions in prize cash up for grabs. But how can tennis proceed to tour week-to-week? Especially when prize cash has been slashed to account for the dearth of attendance. Especially when completely different nations have completely different protocols and quarantine guidelines. Especially when a constructive take a look at can put a participant in an unsure place.• A tip of the cap—with a spectacular head of hair poking out—to Tom Tebbutt, the dean of Canadian tennis writing, who has retired. At the (gulp) 1998 Canadian Open, at one of many first occasions I ever coated for Sports Illustrated, Tommy T. couldn’t have been a extra gracious host to the noob. And remained a unprecedented colleague ever since. There’s each a magnificence and an irony to the truth that he’s retiring when Canadian tennis is at a pinnacle. Then once more, he, too, goes out on high.• There have been solely 5 former main champs on the lads facet. And two of them—Stan Wawrinka and the fading Marin Cilic departed early. As for the 2 absentees, Roger Federer will likely be again in Doha and has added Dubai—the place he has a house—to his schedule. Andy Murray didn’t enterprise to Australia. Instead, he entered a Challenger in Biella, Italy; performed 11 units of tennis; reached the ultimate (falling to Ilya Marchenko); and emerge with loads of constructive indicators. • Always enjoyable geeking out on tennis with you guys. We’ll do it once more in Paris. If you loved the protection, thank the bleary-eyed Jamie Lisanti. And favor her with a comply with.