So it’s farewell from another stellar sunshine double and with it, the end of the first hardcourt season of 2019.
Ashleigh Barty and Roger Federer joined Bianca Andreev and Dominic Thiem as the victors from the first two premier events this year.
But there were so many talking points again this week.
Serena physical condition post-baby continues to look muddled. A strong win here and another considerable injury there; it’s a worrying pattern.
The women’s tour continues to produce much drama without Serena however; look no further than that handshake and net exchange as Kerber fell to Andreev yet again early on in the tournament. An all-too-immediate reminder for the German of how she was outplayed by the boisterous, all or nothing Canadian in the Indian Wells finale only a few days previous.
With Osaka again losing early, the women’s number one ranking was up for grabs, but neither Petra Kvitova or the consistently inconsistent Simona Halep could capitalise. Naomi remains precariously perched at the summit.
So, as the big names continued to disappoint (Svitolina another one to limp out early on) it was up to the likeable Barty to show the kind of form that really got the world to stand up and notice. After destroying the last Australian legend Stosur, Barty is repeating her 2018 heroics with aplomb. Poor Pliskova would be the bridesmaid yet again, will she prove to be a nearlywoman in much the same vein as compatriot Berdych?
The women’s tournament delivered, but so too did the men with some stirring nostalgic performances from the evergreen duo of Ferrer and Lopez, heck even Bernard Tomic looked like he gave a damn again for the first time in a long time.
Elsewhere if was the ‘inbetweener’ generation (playfully coined by the again-excellent Rusedski/Hantuchova punditry) who struggled once more. Early exits for Cilic, Nishikori, Wawrinka and Khachanov as well as the more understandable Thiem
The new new generation showed huge promise and justified their hype, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Dennis Shapovalov and of course Tsitsipas and Tiafoe all wowed the crowd with outrageous shot-making, boundless energy and a fearless demeanor.
As Novak Djokovic wilted once more, it was the evergreen Federer who breezed to the title, getting better and better as the week developed after an uncertain start.
Defending champ John Isner played fantastically well all week and was perfectly capable of causing his Swiss opponent more problems today if not for the foot injury that clearly hampered him in that’s second set.