Great to see the stars, but …
By Roger Childs
The recent ATP Auckland tournaments which are lead ups to next week’s Australian Open, were a mixed bag.
World number 10, Roberto Bautista Agut was a worthy winner, and played a semi final which was the match of the two weeks, while last year’s champion American Jack Sock was a dead loss.
On the women’s side German Julia Goerges, who has supported the tournament for many years, at last won the big trophy.
However, possibly the best female player in the draw, Barbora Strycova, looked unbeatable at times, then dreadful.
The champion and the flop
Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, showed why he is in the world’s top 10. He has a strong serve and consistently accurate ground strokes. His fitness is very impressive and he thrilled the Auckland crowds with his amazing ability tochase down wide returns and often put them away for winners on the run.
His semi final against Dutchman Robin Hase was a superb match and could have gone either way, This was tennis at its best, and exciting stuff as the 6-7. 7-6, 7-6 score line indicates.
Jack Sock who is now ranked 8th in the world and won last year’s Paris Masters seemed to be in the city of sails just to get his appearance cheque.
He was cleaned out in his first match where he did seem to be trying hard, and was very uncomfortable at the post-match interview. Such arrogance and lack of concern for the organisers and the fans is unacceptable.
Then there were the four players in the men’s draw who didn’t front up on court. They had their excuses needless to say, but I’m sure they’ll all be featuring in Melbourne this week.
Up and coming talent
An American and a Korean were the surprise packets and this augurs well for the future.
19 year old Sofia Kenin looked impressive in her opening games and Caroline Wozniacki was pushed hard to beat her in three sets in the quarter finals. Women’s tennis in the USA is very strong at present and pundits will recall that all four semi finalists in the last US Open were all “locals”, and that didn’t include Serena.
On the men’s side, Hyeon Chung impressed with his excellent all-round game and was a surprise winner over the experienced, big serving American John Isner.
Chung was unlucky to have played this tough game late in the day, and then had to face the wily Spaniard Davide Ferrer, in the quarter finals the following afternoon.
The Korean is a young player to watch.
All eyes are now on the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne, starting this week.