Caroline Wozniacki and Roger Federer left Melbourne clutching the trophies after an Australian Open packed full of storylines.
The eventful passage of Wozniacki and Simona Halep to the women’s final and their tremendous duel for the title captured the imagination while Kyle Edmund and Chung Hyeon made their big breakthroughs on the men’s side.
Here, Press Association Sport picks out five things we learned from the Australian Open.
Federer makes tennis appear so effortless that it is often overlooked just what a tremendous competitor he is. When the going gets tough, there are few grittier than Federer. In his quarter-final against Tomas Berdych, when he was in trouble in the first set, he picked a fight with the umpire to fire himself up, and at break points down in the opening game of the fifth set in the final against Marin Cilic, he simply refused to buckle. There is no doubt that Federer’s passion for winning as well as for tennis burns as bright as ever.
If at first you don’t succeed
It was tough to remember a final with so much riding on it for both women as the clash between Wozniacki and Halep. Both in their third slam final having lost the first two, both knowing they may never get a better chance and with the world number one ranking on the line to boot. Between the 2012 Australian Open and the 2016 US Open, Wozniacki made it past the quarter-finals at a slam only once. Yet she kept believing when the doubters had long since written her off and earned her reward with a tremendous performance.
When Andy Murray withdrew and Johanna Konta lost in the second round, Britain’s hopes of a player in the latter stages of the tournament appeared to have gone, but step forward Edmund. The 23-year-old played a magnificent tournament, making giant leaps forward in both his mental and physical resilience to add to his weighty game. He claimed the best two victories of his career over Kevin Anderson in round one and Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals. Now a top-30 player and with the experienced and inspirational hand of Fredrik Rosengren guiding him, Edmund’s future is looking very bright indeed. A round of applause, too, for Chung, who looks a champion in the making.
Women on top
Tennis has run out of superlatives for the era of the ‘big four’, but the men’s tournament was underwhelming as a whole while the women’s event featured outstanding matches throughout, capped by one of the best finals of recent years. Public perception has not yet caught up but the women have outshone the men at the last four slams. Could women’s tennis be coming out of its turbulent era just as men’s tennis heads into the unknown? Interesting times lie ahead.
No end to injuries
Billed as the comeback slam, the tournament ended with more doubts than ever over some big names. Murray did not even make the start-line but has given encouraging updates on his recovery from hip surgery. The most concern is over Novak Djokovic, who again struggled with pain in his right elbow having rested it for six months. Will the Serbian have to join Murray in going under the knife? Stan Wawrinka was clearly not quite ready to return from knee surgery but hopefully did no further damage while Rafael Nadal began the tournament with doubts over his knees and ended it with a torn hip muscle. Federer, meanwhile, sails serenely on.