Not quite normal but if players were willing to show up earlier than usual, then it was not going to be a problem.
As well as the usual pre-slam tournaments, we now have the ATP cup team competition.
ATP cup highlights
Some good teams entered. Russia won it last time and had the team. Medvedev, Rublev, kcathinov. Germany had Zverev, Great Britain had our rising stars of Dan Evans & Cam Norrie. Then there was Canada with Denis Shapavalov and Felix Augie Alliesime.
Canada was the dominant team in this year's competition. However, one of their closest matches was against Great Britain. Dan Evans is more than just a plucky player. He has and shows just how difficult he is to play against. Heavy slices, staying low, an occasional topspin backhand down the line, approach shots angled to sidelines plus a usual gritted teeth with plenty of 'come on’s thrown in. Cam Norrie on other hand was constantly off the pace. Tennis can be tough and cruel. Generally, the doubles deciders went the brit’s way, but it was not enough against the inspired Canadians of Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.
Sydney Tennis Classic
The ageless, determined, and now accompanied by metal hips, Andy Murray, by reaching the final, showed us the best run of form in three or four years of trials and tribulations.
Several battles throughout the week versus mid-level players gave him and everyone else the feeling that better things could be on the horizon for a 34-year-old who just loves competition.
Melbourne Summer Set
Rafa’s return to tournament play. Much anticipated as always. When it comes to the sharing of love for senior leading players few come close to Roger and Rafa. What’s the other guy’s name?
Well, it was full of spluttering performances, but it was still Rafa, and all errors are forgiven.
He won the tournament proclaiming he was only going to do his best in Melbourne. When does he not?
Oh dear, the will he or won’t he saga.
This saga was followed by a personal match versus the Australian government, their ministerial departments, and the Australian border force.
A long title for which only one person was prepared to do battle. Yes, we are talking about Novak. I suppose this should be short as plenty has been written already.
Was it the I am coming message that alerted the border force for special attention? Neville Chamberlain had once held up a piece of paper, now was it going to be repeated at Melbourne airport?
The toing and froing that followed were bizarre. He's out, he's in, now he's out and out of Melbourne. Will we ever know for certain whether the events or documents were genuine? Only time will tell. Two remarks stayed with me though.
Rafa: "Novak knew about the situation a long time ago and could have solved the problem if he wanted to."
Anon: "This tournament will be great, with or without him."
I believe this has been born out. It was another great one.
No one is greater than the competitions they play in.