We provide results updates at this major slam tennis tournament in Australia — including singles, doubles and wheelchair matches completed in Melbourne.
State of Competition
As discussed in our Publiks Events preview of the tournament, the 2020 edition of the Australian Open began with most of the top players on both tours arriving haven taken full advantage of the preparatory Australian hardcourt mini-season. The vast majority of pundits and fans were expecting significant runs from Simona Halep, Daniil Medvedev, Gael Monfils, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka, and Andrey Rublev among others. And the inaugural ATP Cup had featured the season’s first match between the #1 and #2 players of the men’s tour, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — which several hoped would be a preview of a semi or final at the Aussie Open. Roger Federer did decide to prepare out of competition, but Serena Williams won the ASB Classic tournament in New Zealand, with evident plans to repeat the feat in Melbourne, for what would be her twenty-fourth singles slam trophy.
But by the end of the first week of competition, the complexion of the tournament had changed. Osaka, the defending women’s champion, had fallen in straight sets to the rising 15-year-old talent, Cori Gauff, who had earlier in the week defeated 7-time slam champion Venus Williams in a first-round repeat of their meeting at the 2019 US Open. And Serena Williams lost in a deciding third set against Qiang Wang of China during their third round encounter, the result being all the more surprising when compared to their last encounter at a 2019 US Open quarterfinals, where Williams had prevailed 6-1, 6-0.
Meanwhile, the losses of strong prospects Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov was followed by a stern five-set testing of Federer by a fiercely competitive John Millman,who was drawing from both his Australian home crowd and memories of a prior win against Federer on a similarly big stage at the 2018 US Open.
Tournament play at the beginning of the second week was, suddenly and tragically, further altered by the news of the passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, at the age of 41, from a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of eight others, including his own 13-year-old daughter. Fans of the player and sport in California learned of the news by late morning Pacific Standard Time, while most Australian Open players were likely asleep or just waking and rising. Hours later, tributes from top players and legends in tennis began to pour in, most notably from Novak Djokovic, who publicly mourned Bryant as both friend and mentor.
“My heart truly mourns over the news today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend. There are not enough words to express my deepest sympathies to the Bryants and every family suffering from this tragedy.
May God bless you and your Gianna. Thank you for being there for me and inspiring the entire world. Thank you for showing all of us athletes how to compete and respect sport. Thank you for the greatest legacy you leave behind with us. I’ll never forget your smile spreading positive energy everywhere you went. You and your daughter will live forever ♾ in our hearts ❤️ RIP amico mio. Ti voglio bene.” — Novak Djokovic, #2 men’s player, personal post, Sunday 26 January 2020
Though form continued to hold in the match wins of Nadal over Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic over Diego Schwartzman, Federer over Marton Fucsovics, Thiem over Monfils, and Alexander Zverev over Rublev, Wawrinka’s upset over Medvedev and Garbine Muguruza’s over Kiki Bertens were of note, indicating a possible resurgence of form for both multiple slam champions.
In Muguruza’s case, those indications seemed to be bearing out. She was among the quarterfinals victors on the women’s draw, steeling herself and her shots through a game Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and thus joined a sublime Halep, surprising but well-known tough talent Sofia Kenin, and home-crowd favorite and #1 women’s player Ashleigh Barty to the semifinals lineup. On Thursday, Barty did indeed take Kenin, a fighter with court smarts, very seriously, but was eventually defeated by a Kenin on a mission. While Halep did test Muguruza’s refound ability to steel and steer her winners within the lines, but also fell to produce a final that few had predicted at the outset of this tournament.
On the men’s side, Wawrinka’s resurgent form held for only the first set in his quarterfinals encounter, after which Zverev imposed his clinically powerful serve, relentless reach and loping but deadly athleticism on the outcome of the remaining three sets. Two of the other quarterfinals followed form, but only in the result. Djokovic’s victory over Milos Raonic was as clear-visioned as it was straightforward. Federer, on the other hand, required a display of legendary fighting spirit to save seven match points in his five-set thriller against Tennys Sandgren.
For the first semifinal, played Thursday night, Djokovic and Federer faced off in a much-anticipated 50th match between the two. The result was a straights-sets victory for Djokovic, only partly due to Federer’s ability to recover from fatigue and a leg strain from prior matches. The Swiss did offer strong play in carrying out a strategy of focusing primarily on holding his service games through the set, then going aggressively for his returns and groundstrokes, seeking early winners as well as early or hopefully decisive return breaks. Djokovic at first buckled, then eventually broke back and held firm when those challenges came, brandishing a serve that was the equal of Federer’s. When coupled with his well-established proficiency with his groundstrokes, including a now legendary return, the Serb applied enough pressure to end the first two sets in his favor, and a two-sets-to-love lead proved to be a daunting task for his opponent. Thus far, Djokovic has made a habit of recognizing any elite-caliber challenge from across the net, focusing on what is required of him, and executing enough to come through. He thus finds himself in another grand slam final.
The second semifinal proved a bit more vigorous, featuring two of the more notable among the touted “next gen” players, Thiem and Zverev. In the previous quarterfinal round, Thiem was able to upset the #1 men’s player, Nadal, in a match of grueling baseline rallies, high tension, and the elite toughness to recover from inevitable lapses. When one talks of tests in tennis, there are few sterner than coming through Nadal. And that experience seemed to have been a factor in his eventual defeat of Zverev in the ensuing semifinal.
A significantly poorer ratio of winners to unforced errors from Thiem (5:13, while Zverev maintained an even 6:6) cost him the first set. But that decisive statistic improved considerably by the next set (9:5 versus 8:8), where Zverev’s reliance on a combination of his powerful serve, comparatively safer ground-stroking and proficient net approaches could not prevent a concession of two breaks to the Austrian. That dynamic left it to Thiem to make his often bolder shots during the bigger, tenser moments — and he did so more often, enough to win the last two tiebreaks and advance to the finals.
“My dream has officialy come true. I cannot even describe this feeling. Dreams come true. If you have a dream go for it. It’s going to come true. Thsi past two weeks have been teh best two weeks of my life. Thank you so much. I love you from the bottom of my heart.” — Sofia Kenin in her post-match acceptance speech after her championship win of the 2020 Australian Open, her first slam title, over Garbine Muguruza
The final two matches of the Australian Open singles main-draw tournament were then set. On the women’s side, Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain was focused on adding to her two slam trophies (the 2016 French and the 2017 Wimbledon) against Sofia Kenin, an American set on continuing her string of upsets.
In the end, the experience the American had fighting for several of her prior matches, free from any expectations but her own, was decisive. Kenin came back from both a lost first set and 0-40 at 2-2 in the third set — where she won five consecutive points with what she later described as the best five shots and points of her career — to finally undo the resolve of Muguruza. It wasn’t simply her remarkable mental fortitude that won her a first slam trophy, but also her constantly astute point construction and clutch ability to produce winners. Many in her camp and in the sport hope that this combination continues for a stellar career.
On the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic of Serbia was intent on adding another slam title to his collection, against Austrian Dominic Thiem, equally intent on acquiring his first. Both players had shown over the fortnight that they had the game and mindset to win the championship. And in a tough, arduous, five-set match Djokovic eventually defeated Thiem. The match evolved through a high-quality start, momentum turns, dips in energy (including dehydration and a medical timeout for the Serb), and final stretches of strong play.
This is the eighth (8th) slam trophy at Melbourne for Djokovic and his 17th overall, notably tied with Rafael Nadal and three away from the record held by Roger Federer. He ascends to the number one ranking come Monday, with Nadal at two and Federer likely still at three. As it has been, improbably, for several years now, the tennis season and its major dramas look to be set for the Big Three. But with newer contenders, like Them and Zverev, getting better and closer to starting their own tallies.
“People expect me to say and feel that this moment is special and I really do. But I honestly think that the biggest appreciation and understanding of this achievement is going to happen when I start to slow down with tennis. It comes with time, when you have time.” — Novak Djokovic in his post-match press interview after his championship win of the 2020 Australian Open, his 8th at Melbourne and his 17th slam trophy, over Dominic Thiem
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — The men’s singles competition after a fortnight of main-draw competition was characterized most by the calm mission-like play of Djokovic, the Houdini-esque escapes of Federer (saving 7 match points in his quarters), and the rise-to-the-big-occasion of two of the most promising and successful of the next-gen players, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, who defeated multiple-slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.
Heard Read & Seen
“These are the matches I want to win. That’s just the champion he is, the player he is, he makes you hit the extra ball. He played the bigger points better than I did. I feel I’ve made progress as a human. Tennis player I don’t really care about as much. I feel good. Obviously today was horrendous, the news (of Kobe Bryant’s passing) I want to keep going in this direction, for sure.” — Nick Kyrgios in post-match press conference after 4th round loss to Rafael Nadal
“We already had this epic match in New York, two years ago [at the 2018 US Open, which Nadal won in 5 sets]. And today I had the feeling I was lucky in the right situations. Net court also was really on my side. It’s necessary because he is one of the greatest of all time, one of the biggest legends this sport ever had. So you need some luck to beat him.” — Dominic Thiem in on-court post-match press interview with Jim Courier after his quarterfinal defeat of Rafael Nadal
“He played with the right determination. And he was putting one more ball in, all the time, in difficult positions. I lost to a great opponent.” — Rafael Nadal in post-match conference after his quarterfinal loss to Dominic Thiem
“I just want to say respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt. And wasn’t even close to his best in terms of movement. Respect for coming out and trying his best all the way through.” — Novak Djokovic in on-court post-match press interview with Jim Courier after his semifinal defeat of Roger Federer
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — The women’s singles competition after a fortnight of main-draw competition has been characterized most by the crowning of tough, smart, clutch and thoroughly upset-minded American Sofia Kenin. Also notable: the resurgence of form for two-time slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza, the other finalist, the deep runs of top contenders Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep as well as Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ons Jabeur, and Anett Kontaveit.
Heard Read & Seen
“She’s playing really so amazing. I knew I needed to find a way to win. I’m just so grateful and thankful for this moment. I’ve dreamed about this moment since I was 5 years old. Thank you guys! I’m going to relax, enjoy this moment. Whoever it’s going to be, I’m looking forward to the final.” — Sofia Kenin in an on-court post-match press interview with Jim Courier after her semifinal defeat of Ashleigh Barty
“Feeling good. I’ve played many top ten palyers in a row and got the victory. So definitely it’s a sign that my tennis is good. Excited to have one more match, and hopefully get it. It’s going to be a final. I believe in myself. I have what it takes to play these kind of matches and to be at this stage. At the end, the racquet has to speak out there.” — Garbine Muguruza in an post-match press conference after her semifinal defeat of Simona Halep
“You guys can see after the match how much this meant to me. This is such an honor. I’m on cloud nine right now! I love the big stages. That’s why I’m playing — to play in such a great atmosphere. Such an honor. And it gives me motivation. An incredible journey for me. Mental toughness has been such a huge part. I’ve worked on that over the years. It’s just paying off. Thank you to my dad, who put up with a lot. Yeah, nervous before every match. A lot of emotions. But I knew I needed to put that aside and just go out there, play, and show the best I am, show my abilities, and I did that.” — Sofia Kenin in her post-match press conference after her championship win over Garbiñe Muguruza
Sources & Further
For this article’s sources, and further reading on the Australian Open, its sponsoring organizations, and issues raised by the current iteration of the tournament, we encourage you to visit not only the official sites of the Australian Open itself, but also the International Tennis Federation, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).