Australian Open 2013: Biggest Shocks and Flops from Year's First Grand Slam

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2013

Australian Open 2013: Biggest Shocks and Flops from Year's First Grand Slam

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    The first Grand Slam of the 2013 tennis season has been decided, as we congratulate Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka on winning the Australian Open men’s and women’s single titles. Each working on a modest winning streak, Azarenka won her second consecutive Open title and Djokovic captured an unprecedented third straight championship down under.

    But with the highs that come with a completion of a Grand Slam, we need to look at the surprises and disappointments of the 2013 Australian Open.

    Here are the biggest shocks and flops from this year’s first Grand Slam:

Biggest Shock: Serena Williams Bowing Out in the Quarterfinal Round

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    The biggest shocker of the 2013 Australian Open was Serena Williams losing a three-set quarterfinal match to a relatively unknown teenager player in Sloane Stephens. What an incredible ride Williams was on, as she hadn’t lost on a tennis court since last August.

    It’s a shame that Williams luck changed after injuring her back on a return volley, as losing to Stephens denied her a chance at becoming the oldest woman’s No. 1 player in the world since the advent of the computer rankings. Also, Williams missed equaling her career record of winning 21 consecutive matches in a row. 

The Biggest Flop: Andy Murray’s Lack of a Killer Instinct

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    There is no argument that Andy Murray has the physique, on-court technique and demeanor to be the top tennis player in the world. But, the one aspect that’s missing in his game is having a killer instinct in a Grand Slam final.

    Murray has a lifetime record of 1-5 in Grand Slam finals, which speaks candidly about his inability to win the big match. Yes, he can dominate at the start of a Grand Slam final, but Murray will leave a small opening for his opponent to take hold of the match and capture that elusive title. He must capitalize on these rare opportunities and dispose of his opponent as quickly as possible.

    Since last summer’s Wimbledon, Murray has played the best tennis of his career, but has little to show for it. He might become the latest example of a talented athlete that wilts under pressure. 

The Biggest Shock: Sloane Stephens Moves under the Spotlight

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    Quietly, the tennis world have targeted young Sloane Stephens as being one of the new faces in the next generation of women’s tennis. But, her Australian Open quarterfinal win over Serena Williams might have accelerated her growth and put her in the conversation for winning a Grand Slam title later this summer.

    Stephens showed tremendous poise going against one of the greatest tennis players of this era, especially when the match was still up for grabs. This added confidence should aid Stephens all throughout the 2013 tennis season.

The Biggest Shock: Novak Djokovic Raises His Game Even Higher

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    Coming into the 2013 tennis season, Novak Djokovic was arguably the best player in the world. How can you defeat someone who doesn’t have a weakness?

    He can return any other player’s serve and his stamina which was once a disadvantage has now turned into a distinct edge against any quality opponent. Djokovic has gained a reputation of being fit to play a five-hour-plus match in a Grand Slam final. All of this momentum has allowed him to surpass both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the world rankings and being the new standard in men’s tennis.