The Australian Open. More of the same…

The first Grand Slam of the 2013 tennis season is done, and while there were electrifying moments on the big-stage Down Under, ultimately the tournament revealed that we can expect “more of the same” in the coming year. Of course for the ATP, the wild-card is the return of Rafael Nadal – who’s expected to play the first matches of his comeback on clay in Brazil and Acapulco next month.

Djokovic defeats Murray in the Final / Photo: AFP

After London Gold and a US Open title last year, Andy Murray continues to impress, reaching the Oz Open Final by defeating Roger Federer for the first time in a Grand Slam. However, thanks to a feather, blisters, or more likely the determined belief, shot-making and endurance of his top-ranked opponent, Andy will simply continue to be seen as ‘one of the top-4’ on tour.

What more is there to say that hasn’t already been said about Novak Djokovic? With his third consecutive Australian Open title, he remains the #1 ranked player on tour. Elite consistency. Something for which he and his team should be extremely proud; yet for the tennis fan…more of the same.

Victoria Azarenka wins two in-a-row. Photograph: Dennis Sabangan/EPA

Victoria Azarenka wins her second consecutive Australian Open title. Whatever your thoughts on the semifinal “locked rib, freaking-out” medical time-out…she endured, battling not only an improved Na Li in the final, but an intelligent, disapproving tennis audience, offering cheers for her unforced errors and tepid applause with her winners. Like golf, tennis is as much mental as it is physical. To defeat two opponents in a Grand Slam final is impressive; let’s just hope that in victory, the “semifinal experience” was a hard lesson learned, not affirmation of a technique that gleans results. With the win, Vika remains the #1 female player on tour – something for which she and her team should be extremely proud, yet for the tennis fan…more of the same.

Bob and Mike Bryan win a historic 13th Grand Slam title in impressive fashion over Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling. The brothers continue to break long standing ATP records in men’s doubles – something for which they should be extremely proud, yet for the tennis fan…more of the same.

Guess who remains #1 in women’s doubles? Italy’s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci not only knocked off the Williams sisters at the 2013 Australian Open, they went on to win the tournament. They’ve now won three of the last four Grand Slam tournaments, including last year’s French and US Opens – something for which they should be extremely proud, yet for the tennis fan…okay, you get the idea.

Roberta and Sara, still #1 / Photo from sportinglife.com

I’m not saying that tennis has become a bore. With improved fitness and technology, we’re seeing shot-making and strategy on the court like we’ve never seen before; but the fact is, with the dominance of the top-players, the Grand Slam has become, dare I say…predictable. You can count on ‘business as usual’ during the first two-rounds, occasional dramatic upsets from Round-3 through the Quarters (most exciting time of each tournament), and then battle royales among the same top-contenders during the final five days.

You can’t blame the Grand Slam for its predictability, though. The tournaments themselves are actually living up to their design. Like anything else in life, to find the secrets of top-ranked success, follow the money.

With tennis today, it’s not enough to simply have talent, one must be in peak physical condition. Until rising talent can afford an entourage that includes a coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, chef and shrink who control nearly every aspect of one’s daily life, they can expect to be just that…rising talent, beyond reach of the elite earners. The top-ranked players of the future need unwavering passion and commitment to the lifestyle (think Pete Sampras); but honestly, even more important today…they need an investor.

MEN’S FINAL
Novak Djokovic def. Andy Murray (6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2)

WOMEN’S FINAL
Victoria Azarenka def. Na Li (4-6, 6-4, 6-3)

MEN’S DOUBLES FINAL
Bob and Mike Bryan def. Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling (6-3, 6-4)

WOMEN’S DOUBLES FINAL
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci def. Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua (6-2, 3-6, 6-2)

MIXED DOUBLES FINAL
Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthem Ebden def. Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak (6-3, 7-5)