World No.3 Alex Zverev, speaking on the eve of the Australian tennis summer, declared himself part of tennis's new Big Three: Zverev, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev.
It didn't age well given another grand slam failure for the German. World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas summed it up best in response to being left out of Zverev's self-appointed status: "Let tennis do the talking."
After the most dramatic build-up in the event's history, with world No.1 Novak Djokovic deported on the eve of the tournament, it's fair to say the tennis did the talking.
What is this bloke's deal? Two sets down, 2-3 and 0-40 down on serve, 20 majors in the bank. What has he got to prove? Just give up, mate. He's absolutely gone at this point in the final against Medvedev, after also somehow overcoming the threat of being the first man in history to drown due to humidity. He was no chance of winning here before he just Rafa-ed his way to victory through sheer will.
Wherever you stand on the great GOAT debate (for what it's worth Roger Federer's tennis in 2006-07 can never be topped for me. It wasn't tennis. It was art. Only Nadal stopped him winning back-to-back calendar grand slams) there's no denying Nadal has to be the gutsiest athlete of all time.
With 21 in the bank going to Roland Garros - where he's aiming to win a 14th French Open - it could just be the moment the men's GOAT race swings in his favour forever. There's no guarantee Djokovic will ever play in Australia again. Medvedev and Zverev will be hard to beat in New York. If Rafa can get to 22-20 in Paris it could just be enough.
Ash Barty has the opportunity to do something extraordinary over the next couple of years. She is so clearly the best women's player on the planet at the moment. In full flight, no one can get near her.
One thing I'd felt she had lacked in recent seasons was a true killer instinct. She was almost too nice to be a champion. In situations where she arguably should have gone much deeper in majors - Shelby Rogers at last year's US Open, Karolina Muchova at last year's Australian Open, Alison Riske at Wimbledon 2019 - a shock loss out of nowhere eventuated.
At 1-5 down in the second set of the final against America's Danielle Collins on Saturday night, these thoughts must have been in her head. Instead, she produced some of the most ruthless tennis of her career to create Aussie tennis history. What a legend.
For anyone that hasn't watched Medvedev's post-match press conference after his loss to Nadal, I'd urge you to do so.
Medvedev is a good pantomime villain. He crosses the line a bit. His blow-ups at the umpires and ball kids at this tournament were over-the-top. But he knows that. He apologises afterwards instead of doubling down like some other pampered egos on the tour.
There's an endearing humility and warmth to him. This is a bloke who won over a New York crowd less than two weeks after telling them "I want all of you to know when you sleep tonight, I won because of you" after they booed him mercilessly during a win against Feliciano Lopez. Come on. That's a level of shithousery we should all be getting behind.
To hear him say "the kid stopped dreaming" - in large part due to the appalling behaviour of some Australian fans throughout the tournament - in his press conference after the final was heartbreaking.
Deep down everyone wants to be liked and respected. And so much of the disrespect shown to him - including being booed onto court in a grand slam final - was deplorable.
His time as a champ - and to be loved - will come.
Love him or loathe him, Nick Kyrgios is good for tennis. It's never boring. His run to the men's doubles title with good mate Thanasi Kokkinakis was electric to watch. I've been off him ever since the "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend" debacle in 2015. He was 20 then. No excuse but still, he had a lot of learning to do.
In Saturday night's post-match speech, essentially telling Melbourne to lock up your daughters because the "Kokk" was out to celebrate? Come on, Nick. You're 26 now. Leave this faux macho blokiness rubbish behind.
Despite sweating buckets as Collins raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set of Saturday's final against Barty, I couldn't help but admire the American's ability to draw on the feisty energy of a one-sided Aussie crowd to fire herself up.
Collins, 28, has been open about her battle with endometriosis and the painful impact it's had on her career. Since having surgery to remove a cyst the size of a tennis ball in early 2021 she's followed up her 2019 semi-final appearance at Melbourne Park with Saturday night's final. There's one more step to take. I hope she gets there.
Dylan Alcott has received so many deserved plaudits after his glittering career came to an end at the Australian Open. But how about the bloke that beat him in the men's singles quad wheelchair final?
Sam Schroder's 7-5, 6-0 win wasn't in the script of what felt more like a testimonial for the Australian of the Year. Handing out a bagel in Alcott's last set? Absolutely ruthless. At just 22, Schroder has a massive future and will hopefully get the recognition he deserves in large part due to the trail blazed by Alcott.
Honestly, Australia. This stuff is cringey enough when Ronaldo does it.
I didn't think anything would be more annoying from a sporting crowd than the vuvuzelas at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I was wrong.
Let's jib this ASAP, please.
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