The inaugural Adelaide International got off to a roaring start with sell-out crowds getting treated to a week of stellar tennis.
Here are a few things learned from everything that unfolded at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.
BARTY THRIVING ON HOME SUPPORT
Any concerns about how Ashleigh Barty would handle her position as world No.1 during this Australian summer have quickly dissipated as the Queenslander stormed to the Adelaide title with impressive displays against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Marketa Vondrousova, Danielle Collins and Dayana Yastremska. She has received tremendous support from the Adelaide crowd this week, and has used it to her advantage during tough moments on court.
Barty assured that whether she is the hunted or the hunter, she is still as hungry as ever and has her own goals to chase this season. That mentality has been evident on the court, as she put her problem-solving skills to good use against multiple tricky opponents. The top seed is ready for the Australian Open!
FELIX FINDS HIS GAME
After a breakthrough first half of 2019 saw Felix Auger-Aliassime rise from 108 in the world to No. 21, the Canadian teenager struggled with injuries later in the year and won just two matches in the last three months of the season. He started 2020 with a 1-3 record in singles at the ATP Cup but looks to have recaptured his form in Adelaide, where he reached the semi-finals before bowing out in a three-hour thriller to Andrey Rublev.
It was a high-quality clash that brought the best out of both of them, and despite the loss, Auger-Aliassime can feel very good about his game entering the Australian Open, where he faces Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis in the first round.
“At the back of my mind, now I know that good things could be coming eventually, so I feel like I’m in a good place in my mind and in my game,” the 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime said in Adelaide.
ALL EYES ON RUBLEV
Auger-Aliassime described him as “the hottest player on tour right now” and the Canadian is not wrong. Carrying a 12-match winning streak into next week’s Australian Open, and with two titles captured in the first two weeks of the season, Rublev will have a target on his back in Melbourne, and will be tough to beat.
The Russian insists he doesn’t feel fatigued and is happy that he has finally started to unlock his potential, finding consistency and ways to control his emotions while on court. He did that particularly well in his three-hour semi-final against Auger-Aliassime, who led 3-0 in the deciding set, but still lost in three to Rublev.
COLLINS ON A MISSION
Last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins looked in scary form at times during the first two weeks of the season in Brisbane and Adelaide. A semi-finalist at Memorial Drive this week, Collins’ scalps included Aliaksandra Sasnovich, No.7 seed Sofia Kenin, and No.4 seed Belinda Bencic.
Feeling healthy after months of uncertainty because of her rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, and with a new team in her corner, Collins looks determined to replicate, or do even better, than her breakthrough run in Melbourne last year.
PROMISING AUSSIE TALENT IN THE PIPELINE
Several Australian up-and-comers were given the opportunity to contest the qualifying stages in Adelaide and one 15-year-old in particular, Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz, caught the eyes of many with her standout performance against world No.87 Vitalia Diatchenko. The South Australian pushed Diatchenko all the way in a gruelling 71-minute first set before losing 7-6(9), 6-3 to the Russian in their qualifying first round. Keep an eye on Kempenaers-Pocz these next couple of years!
NEARLY $100,000 RAISED FOR BUSHFIRE RELIEF
With a total of 954 aces struck throughout the week, the Adelaide International has contributed an astonishing sum of $95,400 for the Aces For Bushfire Relief. A tally of 33 aces were struck on finals day alone, as the tennis community continues to do its part in raising funds for bushfire relief.
NEW TOURNAMENT PROVES A BIG HIT
The inaugural Adelaide International, which replaced the Sydney International in the second week of the season, received high praise from players and fans alike, with the night sessions of the last three days of the event all selling out. Spectators came out in scores from the very first day of qualifying, and were rewarded with some incredible matches.
Players particularly enjoyed the facilities at the revamped Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, and gave props to the canopy roof on centre court, that kept them in the shade while still maintaining an outdoor feel.