Novak Djokovic of Serbia tied a men’s singles tennis tournament record in Melbourne on Sunday, January 31 when he won the Australian Open for the sixth time. The 28-year-old beat Andy Murray of Scotland in three straight sets 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) to equal the previous mark of half a dozen wins which was set by Roy Emerson of Australia. Djokovic reached the final this year by beating Roger Federer in the semis while Murray made it by taking out Milos Raonic of Canada. Emerson won his six Australian Opens in a short period of time as he achieved the feat between 1961 and 1967.
American tennis star Serena Williams was arguably sports’ most dominant athlete when she entered the Australian Open tennis tournament down in Melbourne. And that’s why the 34-year-old’s loss in the women’s singles final to 28-year-old Angelique Kerber of Germany on January 30th is considered such an upset. It was Kerber’s first appearance in the final of a Grand Slam tennis event in her 33rd major appearance. Kerber is now the first German woman to win a major tennis tournament since Steffi Graf back in 1999 while Williams was draw level with Graf’s mark of 22 wins in major singles competitions.
Thirty-two-year old Italian Roberta Vinci pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in women’s tennis history on September 11th when she ousted American Serena Williams from the U.S. Open semifinals in three sets. However, Vinci’s moment of glory didn’t last too long as she was beaten in the final in New York the next day by fellow county woman Flavia Pennetta in three sets. When the tournament began, a lot of bookmakers didn’t even offer betting odds on Vinci winning the tournament and the odds of Pennetta capturing the crown were about 200/1.
Against Vinci, Williams went into the match as the 30/1 favourite. She was entering her 47th Grand Slam semifinal showdown while it was the first ever for Vinci. Williams also had a 33-match winning streak on the go in Grand Slam events and had lost just 22 matches in the past decade. Vinci had already lost 24 matches this year alone and it was just the third major quarterfinal of her career. Williams had made three quarterfinals during the same year a total of 10 times.
Pro sports have long been considered to be dominated by younger athletes, especially when it comes to tennis. However, recent statistics show that’s not the case anymore. It seems older players are now better than their younger counterparts. In days gone by we saw Boris Becker win Wimbledon when he was just 17 years old and Rafael Nadal took the French Open when he was 19, but the days of young guns ousting veterans appear to be over.
Let’s take a look at the stats and see how tennis has evolved over the past couple of decades. Back in 1992, each player ranked in the men’s top 10 was an average age of 23.2 years old. In 2002 the age rose to 24.5 and this year it reached 28.6. There have been 10 occasions when a male Grand Slam tournament was won by a teenager. However, there are now just four male teenagers ranked in the top 100 and just one in the top 75. Back in 1985 there were two teenagers in the top 10. Also in 1985 just three players in the top 40 were older than 28. In 2015, 24 players in the top 40 are 28 or older.
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