Five Crazy Tennis Moments in 2022
2022 has been an incredibly volatile year for professional tennis. Here are five crazy moments that stand out.
Five crazy tennis moments in 2022 Novak Djokovic expelled from Australia
It’s one of the most bizarre occurrences in tennis history, let alone 2022. Novak Djokovic is one of the game’s greatest players and the Australian Open record holder with nine titles. But through a combination of politics, madness and alleged deception, Djokovic found himself on the wrong side of a deportation order.
This all stems from the fact that Djokovic has staunchly refused to get a Covid-19 shot at any time for the past two years. Vaccination would have allowed him to travel the world and play any tournament he liked. Without having to quarantine for two weeks or get an exemption. Djokovic chose not to be vaccinated and entered Australia on the basis of an exemption from the relevant authorities. However, the Australian government got wind that he might have a fake certificate and decided to deport him. Djokovic challenged the decision in court but was unsuccessful. Djokovic was held in a deportation center with other migrants, as opposed to his usual five-star hotel…
Which of course led to an international incident, with accusations from Djokovic’s family that he was being tortured. There were also protests from the Serbian Prime Minister and opportunists like Nigel Farage showed up in Serbia to offer their support…
Oh, and Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open…
Ashleigh Barty retires from all tennis
Ash Barty was clearly the world number 1. Not only that, but in 2021 Barty became the first Australian to win Wimbledon since 1980 and in 2022 Barty became the first Australian to win his championship since 1987.
Barty was expected to dominate for another 12-24 months with that many ranking points accumulated. Therefore, it was a huge surprise when Barty announced his retirement in March at the age of 25. Curiously, this was Barty’s second break from professional tennis, she had taken a break five years prior to play professional cricket.
There may have been signs we didn’t notice. In 2020 and 2021 Barty withdrew from a number of tournaments. She did not play at the 2020 US Open or defend her title at Roland-Garros. She missed the year-end championships in 2021. Indeed, despite winning three Grand Slam titles, Barty never defended her title the following year.
Although ranked No. 1 for 121 weeks, Barty may become one of the most polarizing No. 1 tennis players.
The crazy injury of Alexander Zverev
It’s fair to say that Zverev hasn’t had a good 2022. The out-of-court charges and attack on the umpire’s chair in Mexico have meant that Zverev has been in the news a lot. Unfortunately for him, this culminated in his terrible injury at Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal.
It was the semi-final and thanks to heavy rain the roof was closed and the match was played “indoors”. Due to the rain and cold, the court was extremely heavy and slow. Apart from the difficult conditions, Zverev approached the match as if he were playing on a hard court. Constantly planting your feet on the heavy clay to hit the ball as hard as possible. Zverev even blew up a number of mini tracks throughout the match. Nadal was his usual belligerent self, running everything. The way Zverev injured himself was shocking. Her feet got stuck in the clay and completely twisted her ankle, tearing three ligaments. Shocking because tennis is a non-contact sport and you wouldn’t expect an injury of this magnitude. Zverev cried out in agony, a sorry sight.
I think Zverev was too excited for the game and didn’t play the conditions properly. Perhaps at two meters tall, playing light on his feet is not possible for Zverev.
Wimbledon got no ranking points
When Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarus players for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ATP and WTA Tours threatened to retaliate.
I imagine Wimbledon didn’t think these organizations would push through with their threats, but they did! And stripped the tournament of all ranking points. The event went ahead anyway and the players still seemed to give it their all. After all, there was still prestige and important prizes to be won.
On the women’s side, Elena Rybakina surprised everyone by defeating Ons Jabeur in three sets in the final. Another awkward moment, as Rybakina was born in Russia but represents Kazakhstan. In the men’s event, Djokovic won his 4th Wimbledon in a row, equaling Sampras’ record. It would have given him a lot of satisfaction after missing so many tournaments in Australia and North America. The beaten finalist? Australian Nick Kyrgios, probably the most volatile performance ever seen in a final, constantly screams, rants and raves in his side.
Embed from Getty Images
First teenager No. 1 in men’s tennis
Another huge surprise, Carlos Alcaraz ended the year as the first #1 teenager. Alcaraz rose through the ranks and won the US Open in September.
It’s incredible because for 15 years, the memory has been that teenagers can no longer excel on the ATP Tour. You would hear that the body and the mind are not developed, and tennis today is too physical. Pete Sampras in 1990 and Rafael Nadal in 2005 were the only teenagers to win major tournaments in 30 years. Before, it was almost regular. Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Micheal Chang all won majors as teenagers.
But Alcaraz managed to reverse the trend. To be fair, his rise coincided with Djokovic’s demise due to a lack of tournament play. It won’t take away from Alcaraz’s performance, not only winning the US Open, but also the Miami and Madrid masters. Richly deserved and hope more teenagers will challenge in the future.
Main photo by Getty.