Tamlyn Patterson
3 minute read
27 Jan 2017
1:22 pm

As long as the ol’ ticker keeps pumpin’

Tamlyn Patterson

It’s a case of in with the old and out with the new at this year’s Australian Open.

Tamlyn Patterson

And while on the subject, another former great is back in action at one of his happy hunting grounds, but more about that a bit later. Just when everyone thought that it was the end of the road for Rafa, Roger, Venus and Serena in their quest to add to their Grand Slam tallies, the tables turned in a tournament that continues to drop bombshells by the minute.

But the sport’s legendary quartet have been loud and proud in proving that there is still plenty of gas in the tank, thirty-something or not. So rampant is the return of 17- time Grand Slam champion Federer that fourth round opponent Kei Nishikori has even said that the Swiss master is back to his best.

The Japanese fifth seed reckons there is no difference from the Federer prior to a knee injury that sidelined him for six months. Rafa, meanwhile, has made it through to his first semifinal since the 2015 French Open even if it was a bit of a struggle against the “future of tennis” Alexander Zverev followed by victories over the mercurial Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic.

Serena is back to doing what she does best, but it’s older sis Venus who deserves all the plaudits. The 36-year-old on Tuesday became the oldest woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal in 23 years. And she did so with plenty of Williams swagger, not dropping a set on her way to the last four. Respect, sister. Considering what these four have achieved, it’s hardly a surprise that they have bounced back.

But they aren’t exactly alone. Add another “tough cookie” to the mix, enter Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. It was almost 18 years ago when the Croatian teen burst onto the scene, taking ownership of the “youngest-ever” label on quite a few occasions. Besides winning the first WTA tournament she entered at the age of 15, she also went on to beat nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles in the third round of Wimbledon in 1999, before reaching the semis.

Having to cut her professional career short due to an abusive father, the 34-year-old is enjoying her fairy tale comeback. She hit the nail on the head after coming through her fourth round match.

“Eff everything and eff everybody, whoever tell you you can’t do it. Just show up and do it with your heart.” From pumping hearts to fist pumps. Today marks the start of Tiger Woods’ official comeback, well in a proper tournament anyway.

Determined to shake the rust off after 15-month layoff, the former world No 1 is wasting no time in getting much needed game time under his belt with the Masters firmly anchored in his vision. Four tournaments, two continents, five weeks. Like Lucic-Baroni, there is no lack of fire as he eyes his 80th US PGA title at his beloved Torrey Pines where the Farmers Insurance Open tees off today.

And as if any more excitement is needed, Tiger will be playing the first two rounds with World No 1 and good buddy Jason Day as well as Dustin Johnson. Nine hours ahead or 10 hours behind, set your alarm … you have been warned.