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The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

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First Grand Slam of the Year, Australian Open, Kicks Off In Melbourne

Defending champion Novak Djokovic returns to Melbourne seeking his 25th major win.
AP News
Defending champion Novak Djokovic returns to Melbourne seeking his 25th major win.

The ATP Tour kicks off with the Australian Open (Jan. 14-28). With the anxiety, heated conditions, and competitiveness, the players will compete for the year’s first major. 

Defending champion Novak Djokovic returns to Melbourne seeking his 25th major win. He also looks to retain his world number-one ranking, as others–notably Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, and Stefanos Tsitipas–look to take over that prestigious spot. 

Freshman Chase Atkins, a player on the varsity tennis team, believes that no one can beat Djokovic.

“To be honest, nobody else is going to compete with Djokovic. He is unstoppable and is consistently great on the court. His game is on fire right now, and I think nobody will come close to him on hard court.”

While the top seeds are playing for the trophy, they are not the only contenders at this major. Young players such as Ben Shelton, Christopher Eubanks, and Arthur Fils are hot right now and looking to make a run during this tournament. 

Sophomore Ishe Makoni, also on the tennis team, thinks differently and sees that Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka is hot now and will thrive throughout the tournament.

“I honestly think Nishioka has a chance to make a surprising run in the Australian Open. As a player, he has a lot of experience on the ATP tour. Currently, he is the No. 1 Japanese player in the world. This year he has really changed his game around making it to the 4th round of two grand slams, one being the Australian Open. I think he has a real shot at making it at least to the Quarter Finals this year,” Makoni explained. 

The Pharcyde’s picks for each Quarter of the men’s side follow. 

Quarter 1: 

The defending champion has been handed a very comfortable draw in Melbourne. He is the clear favorite to emerge from this first quarter, and he looks for his 11th title in the Australian Open. There are competitors in this quarter, such as #17 Frances Tiafoe, #18 Ben Shelton, and #7 Stefanos Tsitipas, but the Serb will power through. 

Winner: Djokovic over Shelton 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6

Quarter 2:

There are many competitors in this quarter. #5 Andrey Rublev, #4 Jannik Sinner, and #10 Alex de Minaur are among this tournament’s most entertaining and biggest fighters. With them all packed into one division, Alex De Minaur will come out of this quarter strong. He is playing well right now, beating Djokovic in a more minor tournament only a couple weeks ago. 

Winner: De Minaur over Sinner 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3

Quarter 3: 

This quarter is filled with a ton of contenders, too, but #3 Daniil Medvedev is the most prominent fighter here. Throughout the majors he has played in, he has been down many sets and returned to win. He will walk through this division as like it is no big deal. 

Winner: Medvedev over Rune 6-4, 7-5, 6-1

Quarter 4: 

This division will be the most competitive, with many fun players and many competitive players. #2 Carlos Alcaraz, #14 Tommy Paul, #11 Casper Ruud, and #6 Alexander Zverev are fighters that look to make a run. Although this entertaining division will cause chaos, Alcaraz will come out on top, with a great win in the quarter-finals against Zverev. 

Winner: Alcaraz over Zverev 6-1, 6-4, 6-3

With the quarterfinals done, just one more step to the finals. 

Semi-Finals: 

De Minaur over Djokovic 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5

Alcaraz over Medvedev 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4

Finals: Alcaraz over De Minaur 6-1, 6-4, 6-3

Women’s Tournament Lacks A Clear Favorite

Moving on to the women’s side of the tournament, this trophy has many more competitors. 

The tournament’s favorites are Coco Gauff, Aryna Sabalenka, and Iga Swiatek. Senior Andrew Lappin is a massive fan of Coco Gauff. She is the US Open champion, and Lappin believes she can continue running on another hard-court major. 

“She’s such a talented young player and will be a star. Her game has developed, and coming off her first major win, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her snag another,” Lappin remarked.

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka has consistently been ranked #2 globally. Her incredible forehand and serve will be great for this hard court, and she looks to retain this title. 

Qinwen Zheng and Petra Kvitova are among the players who are young, low-seeded, and have a great chance to make a run. Although those players are on fire, JV Tennis coach Mrs. Rizzitano is high on Emma Navarro, a young American ready to fight. 

“Emma Navarro is doing well and just won the tournament in Hobart,” Rizzitano explains. “She is going to make a deep run because she has the fire and does not get frazzled, especially being a newbie to the tour.”

The Pharcyde’s picks for each Quarter of the women’s side follow. 

Quarter 1: 

This should be no surprise. #1 Iga Swiatek is basically unbeatable, and should walk through this quarter. Although she is really good, players like #27 Emma Navarro and #11 Jenna Ostapenki could give her some trouble and cause some chaos in this quarter. 

Winner: Swiatek over Navarro 6-1, 6-4

Quarter 2: 

This quarter is going to be fun, since it has so many contenders for this trophy, such as #3 Elena Rybakina, #12 Zheng Qinwen, and #5 Jess Pegula. In the end, this quarter will be dominated by Rybakina and Pegula. A sleeper in this quarter is Emma Raducanu, who was top-ranked a couple of years ago, but fell down with an injury. 

Winner: Pegula over Rybakina 7-5, 4-6, 6-2

Quarter 3:

This quarter is entertaining with many loved players, especially #4 Coco Gauff. The 21-year-old just won her first US Open, and is looking to get another hard court major in her collection. Other contenders in this quarter is #10 Beatriz Haddad Maia, #8 Maria Sakkari, and sleeper Carolina Wozniacki. Although this will be fun to watch, Gauff will roll through this quarter.

Winner: Gauff over Hadaad Maia 6-2, 6-4

Quarter 4:

This quarter is headlined by defending champ #2 Aryna Sabalenka. The hard court specialist is all over the court, and with her forehand and serve, most people would think that she would breeze through this quarter. Other contenders are #11 Barbora Krejcikova, #6 Ons Jabeur, and sleeper Paula Badosa, who used to be ranked highly a couple of years ago. 

Winner: Sabalenka over Krejcikova: 6-4, 6-7, 6-2

Semifinals: 

Swiatek over Pegula 6-3, 6-4

Sabalenka over Gauff 6-3, 6-7, 6-4

Finals: Swiatek over Sabalenka 6-4, 7-6

It may be cold in the US in January, but it is the hottest time of the year in Melbourne, Australia. Temperatures will go up to 90°F, with the humidity likely to heavily affect the players on the court.

The first major of the year always lives up to the hype. Although it is on the other side of the globe, some of us may have to switch our sleep schedules to watch it. Make sure to tune in to the fun!

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About the Contributor
Reid Waxman, Sports Editor
Reid Waxman is a sophomore at Benjamin and is a staff writer for the Pharcyte. He has been attending this school since WOW and has experience from the Neercyde from middle school. Reid loves how The Pharcyde allows him to branch out on creative writing he looks to do.

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