With yesterday’s win against Félix Auger-Aliassime, the Czech Jiri Lehecka continued one of the great stories of the first week of the Australian Open. But the 71ste world is not the only player with a dream career in Melbourne. Several Cinderellas were invited to the ball in this surprise-filled tournament, which had already robbed its two favorites among men – Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud – as well as its main contender for the throne, Iga Swiatek, among women.
• Also read: Australian Open: “FAA” didn’t collapse under pressure
• Also read: Félix Auger-Aliassime is over in Melbourne
A teenager who already dreams
Her name is Linda, but she is only 17 and has already reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open. Czech Fruhvirtova made the most of an overall easy table, meeting world 64th Croatian Donna Vekic last night. The youngster, herself ranked 82nd, won the title in Chennai last year and reached the fourth round in Miami but this is her first big step at a major tournament. The Czech, a product of Mouratoglou’s academy, is the youngest player in the top 100. And beware, there are two of them: Linda also has a younger sister, Brenda, who qualified for the big draw at just 15 years old before she lost the first round.
Sir Andy Murray and his metal hip
In Australia, the veteran, who had already been knighted by the British Crown, met the doctor who had told him four years ago that his hip problems could be operated on, but that he would never be able to play professional tennis again. “I think I shattered that myth in the last five days,” Murray tweeted. While the metal-hip former world No. 1 never found the game that would allow him to get his hands on three major titles, the 35-year-old’s tenacity has made Melbourne dream. He spent more than 14 hours on the court in three games, beating 13th-seeded Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the first round.
Never left the United States
Before 20-year-old American Ben Shelton set foot in Australia earlier this year, he had never left the United States. He has never used his passport to go on vacation, he said. Shelton attended public school, which would not allow him to miss several weeks to go to a tournament. And he wasn’t one of the most talented players of his generation, he admitted. But thanks to strong performances on the Challenger track and a knockout round at last year’s Cincinnati Masters, Shelton is 89th in the world. But above all at the fourth round in Melbourne, where he was in action last night.
The last of a family of champions
His father Petr won the Australian Open 25 years ago. His sister Jessica achieved the same feat in 2012, but in golf. His other sister, Nicole, was world No. 1 on the LPGA. And his mother, Regina Kordova, took 26th place in WTA singles. Despite making it to the quarter-finals in Melbourne, where he will meet Russia’s Karen Khachanov tonight, 29th seed Sebastian Korda still thinks he’s “the worst athlete in the family,” as he joked the American after beating last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the third round.
From the lucky loser to entering the third round
American Michael Mmoh – yes, another American, surprising many of you in Melbourne – was ready to pack his bags a week ago and join his girlfriend, whom he had engaged to two days before leaving for Australia. The 107th in the world was eliminated in the final qualifying round but received an unexpected call while watching an NFL game before heading to the airport. Because of the packages, the 25-year-old had his place as a lucky loser in the big picture. He capitalized on it, beating German Alexander Zverev, the 12th favorite, in the second round before losing to compatriot JJ Wolf in the third.