The Grand Stand Podcast – An in-depth analysis on the 2021 Australian Open feat. Kavinka Fernando and Thevinda Piyadigama
By Patrick de Kretser
It has been quite a busy month in the tennis world. The highly prestigious Australian Open has just concluded, and it has certainly been quite a spectacle to behold for tennis fans everywhere. Even the most casual of tennis fans have been taken aback by how enjoyable the Australian Open has proven to be this year. The Grand Stand has certainly stayed up to speed with all the latest events that have unfolded this month, with both Kavinka and Thevinda weighing in with their thoughts about how the tournament went and where things will go from here. Thevinda is an eccentric tennis fan who is this week’s guest star on The Grand Stand Podcast, and you can catch the full episode on the Australian Open on their Instagram page, which will be referenced at the end of this article.
The biggest talking point of the tournament revolved around the Women and Men’s Singles tournament, which came to a spectacular conclusion as both Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic cruised in the finals by winning straight sets. For Naomi Osaka, it was a win that brought up to second in the global singles ranking and it maintained her 100% record in Slam finals. Kavinka and Thevinda were quick to shower Osaka with praise on the podcast, noting that her dominance in the sport could carry on for the foreseeable future unless someone emerges to rival her at the top level. Despite the loss for Jennifer Brady, Thevinda is still optimistic about her future and compared her playing style to the likes of Roger Federer. “I see Jennifer Brady going on to win a few Grand Slams. Right now Osaka has no competition but Brady can provide that competition for her in the future… Federer and Brady play very similarly, with the way they both focus on and off the ball,” said Thevinda. Thevinda also remarked that Brady and Naomi are coming across as the new faces of the tennis world, emerging as successors from the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, who both dominated the stage for many years. Serena herself was foiled by Osaka once again in a Grand Slam tournament after having previously lost to her in the finals of the US Open back in 2018.
As for the Men’s Singles, Djokovic mirrored Osaka’s dominance over their respective competition after he comfortably breezed in the final against Daniil Medvedev. Thevinda was quick to express his sympathies for Medvedev, as he noted that the atmosphere towards the end of the game became a little flat after it seemed like Medvedev had accepted that the match was all but lost. “It was sad to see him (Medvedev) losing belief in himself towards the end of the game,” remarked Thevinda.
Thevinda also went on to express that he was rooting for Medvedev to hold out and pull off a victory over Djokovic. “To be honest, I was not rooting for Djokovic at all during that final,” he said. Following his loss in the final, Medvedev’s wait for major tournament success will continue on for a while longer, as he has failed to win in any of the eight Grand Slam tournaments he has been able to compete in so far.
Kavinka and Thevinda remained optimistic about Medvedev’s future after referencing that the Russian has racked up rather impressed stats in the last year, including the fact that he has been able to beat all of the top 10 players currently in the men’s singles ranking at some point in the last couple of years.
But Kavinka and Thevinda did not share the same sentiments for every participant in the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal also became a talking point midway during the podcast after one of the viewer’s stated their disappointment for not being able to see Nadal reach the finals this time around. Both our hosts were also in agreement that Nadal’s exit was shocking, and remarked that he should have done better against Stephanos Tsitsipas.
“Nadal had all the experience he needed to emerge on top in that match,” expressed Thevinda on Nadal’s quarter final exit. Kavinka also expressed that while it was shocking to see Nadal perform poorly in the Australian Open, he is likely to still be a dominant force in the French Open, in which he has an amazing record. Kavinka has booked him as the favourite to win the French Open, despite the likes of Medvedev also proving himself to be a strong contender for a future Grand Slam title. “I don’t think Medvedev will win the French Open as long as Nadal is there,” said Kavinka.
Roger Federer also managed to make a brief cameo on the episode, as Thevinda posed a question to Kavinka about what he thought Federer’s chances were to do well in the upcoming ATP Qatar Open, which is due to take place in March. Federer has taken a year-long hiatus from playing competitive tennis after going through several knee surgeries, which has ruled him out since January 2020, so his return is clearly a talking point to be discussed by tennis fans everywhere.
Kavinka weighed in with his thoughts on Federer, but remarked that he was not optimistic about Federer’s chances to do well after having taken such a long break from competitive tennis. Both our hosts did conclude that only time will tell, and we will have to see for ourselves whether Federer can step up to the plate next month when he returns.
One last talking point in the podcast concerned the growing presence of technology and artificial intelligence on the tennis world after having its first major appearance in a Grand Slam with the Australian Open this month. For those who do not know, line umpires were replaced by electronic and digital equipment in the tournament, which have been said to be faster and more efficient at detecting whether balls have gone out of play or not.
While Thevinda was impressed by how effective the technology was, he expressed some sadness about the fact that line umpires will no longer play an iconic role in Grand Slam tournaments along with other tournaments that adopt it later in the future. “We went from a time where we used to have a guy sitting by the net just to call ‘net’ and now we do not even see line umpires anymore. The cameras and AI are so efficient, but I really miss hearing the line umpires in tennis matches,” expressed Thevinda, when asked about the change.
It has certainly been an impressive show for tennis fans and The Grand Stand podcast will continue to cover future tennis events when they come around in the near future.
If you are keen to stay up to speed on all the latest discussions in the sports world and even chip with your own opinions on your favourite sport, then be sure to follow The Grand Stand and head on over to their platforms so that you can catch the full podcasts whenever they are released. Their Instagram page is @the__grandstand and you can also tune in to their episodes on anchor at www.anchor.fm/the-grandstand-podcast. Subscribe, and check in with Happinez every week, as we will continue to bring you up to speed with all the latest news from The Grand Stand right here in the sports column.
PHOTOS © The Grand Stand Podcast, Firstsportz, The Indian Express, Eurosport