Australian Open 2023: The good, the bad and the ugly
Recap the biggest talking points and headlines from the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park.
😃 The good: Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka
😔 The bad: No Ash Barty or Nick Kyrgios
😡 The ugly: Treatment of Aussie legends on social media
With the Australian Open run and won, take a look back at some of the biggest talking points from the Melbourne Park grand slam. From Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka taking the titles, to Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios' absences hitting Channel 9 in the ratings, the two-week tournament had it all.
Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka triumph over adversity
While Djokovic captured his 10th Australian Open title and 22nd career grand slam overall, Sabalenka won her first. Both came amid trying circumstances for the men's and women's champions.
Djokovic was playing the event for the first time since being deported ahead of the 2022 Australian Open, while also battling a hamstring injury. Tournament director Craig Tiley later revealed the Serbian star played with a three-centimetre tear in his hammy.
As for Sabalenka, her triumph came while not being able to represent her home nation of Belarus. The 24-year-old was playing as a 'neutral' athlete due to Belarus' involvement in Russia's war with Ukraine, while her country also wasn't written next to her name on the women's trophy.
TV ratings flop without Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios
Channel 9 enjoyed record TV ratings in 2022 as Barty became the first Aussie to win the singles title in 44 years, not to mention the captivating run of Kyrgios and Kokkinakis to the men's doubles title. But with Barty retiring last March and Kyrgios withdrawing with a knee injury, the ratings absolutely plummeted.
Overall ratings were down about 40 per cent from 12 months ago - a brutal blow for Channel 9 after they signed a new $500 million broadcast with Tennis Australia on the back of the record-breaking numbers from 2022. But with Barty and Kyrgios missing, there was a distinct lack of local star power to draw viewers in.
Fan favourites Roger Federer and Serena Williams also retired in 2022, while Rafa Nadal was bundled out in the second round and Daniil Medvedev lost in the third. Barty did make an appearance to deliver the trophy ahead of the women's final, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Treatment of Jelena Dokic and Todd Woodbridge
Aussie tennis greats Jelena Dokic and Todd Woodbridge were both forced to call out disgusting abuse from online trolls during the tournament. Woodbridge took to social media to reveal a troll had written a comment that they wished he hadn't survived his recent heart attack, while Dokic exposed vile remarks about her mental health and weight.
The Channel 9 commentators won widespread support after calling out the trolls, with Australian of the Year winner and body positivity advocate Taryn Brumfitt going in to bat for Dokic. “Bullying is never okay and I think we need to call it out. I think we are getting better in this country at doing that," she told Channel 10.
“Good on her for the way she responded and I will give her a call this week to have that conversation. I know how it feels to be trolled and how it feels to have those naysayers but if we keep leading with light and love there‘s nothing more powerful than that.”
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