The 2024 Australian Open is in the history books, but it was an intriguing 15 days of tennis that will be remembered for a long time. On the WTA side, there were three noteworthy surprises.
The record-setting surprise came in Elena Rybakina's match against Anna Blinkova. This second-round match ended in a 42-point tiebreaker. Both players hung in to make clutch shots in the mentally and physically grueling tiebreaker, but Blinkova came out the winner on her 10th match point in the 30-minute tiebreaker.
Another second-round memorable moment came after the match between Iga Swiatek and Danielle Collins. Swiatek came back from 1-4 down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. After the match, Collins announced at her press conference that this would be her final Australian Open and her last year on the WTA Tour. The impromptu retirement announcement surprised many because Collins is just 30 years old and presumably had many competitive years left on tour if she chose to continue.
Along with Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins, Qinwen Zheng was a 2024 Australian Open surprise.
Before the tournament began, few tennis fans had Qinwen Zheng in their 2024 Australian Open finals bracket. Zheng is an up-and-coming player, but no one expected her to make her first Grand Slam final appearance in Melbourne. In addition to Zheng's stellar play, it was the collapse of seeded players and Grand Slam champions in her bracket such as Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina, in early rounds that created the opportunity she seized upon.
As a result, Zheng debuts in the Top 10 for the first time in her career, at World No. 7 when the updated rankings are released. Though she lost in the final, Zheng can be proud and build upon this experience in the future.