The immediate future of Australian tennis remains bright, despite the recent retirements of grand slam champions Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott.
That’s the view of former grand slam semi finalist Wally Masur, who hailed the 2022 performances of Nick Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic.
When Barty retired just weeks after claiming the Australian Open, it followed hot on the heels of Alcott’s departure from the sport. Barty bowed out having just claimed her third singles grand slam title, while Alcott had 15.
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In the first week of May, Alex de Minaur at number 22 was the only Australian male or female ranked in the world’s top 60.
While Kyrgios skipped Roland-Garros, a tournament he hasn’t played since 2017, he made the final at Wimbledon and the quarter finals at the US Open, while also winning an ATP tournament in Washington. Despite not receiving rankings points for Wimbledon, he’s now Australia’s top ranked player at No.20.
Tomljanovic was just as impressive, making a run to the quarter finals at Wimbledon for the second straight year, and also reaching the final eight in New York, where she ended the career of Serena Williams.
Speaking on Stan Sport’s Grand Slam Daily, Masur said it was great to see both players stand up.
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“We were all a little bit worried,” he explained.
“Obviously at the start of the year Ash wins the Australian Open and announces her retirement – that’s a body blow to Australian tennis – as did Dylan Alcott, after an incredible successful run at the slams.
“You’re sort of scratching your head, going where is our next grand slam champion going to come from?”
Had Kyrgios received rankings points for Wimbledon, he’d be inside the top-15 in the world, an impressive feat for a player who only played four tournaments in the first five months of the year.
“Nick had had a long time off, and we all know the talent he’s got, but he delivered at Wimbledon, and he really backed it up here (at the US Open),” Masur noted.
“The Russians were not at Wimbledon, but it was the Russians that were his undoing here. He played an awesome match against world No.1 Daniil Medvedev, takes care of him in four sets.
Kyrgios loses it after shaking hands with umpire
“But who’s waiting in the next round? Six foot six Karen Khachanov. Got him in five. He played really well and he was also playing that really exciting brand of tennis, he wasn’t just relying on the power of the serve and forehand, he was really mixing it up well.”
For de Minaur, it was a solid, if unspectacular year, with fourth round appearances in Melbourne and at Wimbledon tempered by a first round loss at Roland-Garros.
He reached the third round in New York, only to fall in a fourth set tiebreaker to Pablo Carreno Busta.
“I’ve always felt like de Minaur has got that ability to push deep in a major, and he was coming against Carreno Busta, he lost probably the unluckiest match point you’re going to lose,” Masur said.
De Minaur smashes racquet on match point
Masur noted Tomljanovic’s effort to make the final eight in New York, the third time in the last six slams she’s reached that stage.
She was beaten in the quarter finals by fifth seed, and eventual finalist, Ons Jabeur.
“Ajla backed up her Wimbledon quarter final,” Masur said.
“That was outstanding, what she did against Serena Williams, because the pressure must have been enormous, 25-thousand fans, and 99.9 per cent of them were going for Serena.
“It was like a wall of noise against her, but she performed so well on the court, in the match, in the post-match interview, she’s got a lot of poise.
“Then she played a great match against Ons Jabeur, she wasn’t too far away there.
“Two top-eight finishes this year in slams, she’s only getting better.
“She’s in her prime.”
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