Frankenstein’s tennis monster: The perfect Aussie player
Australia's drought at its home slam was this month extended to 43 years.
Despite some flashes of brilliance from Nick Kyrgios, and a typically gutsy performance from Alex de Minaur in the third round, it was Ash Barty who carried hopes deepest, only to fall at the quarter-final stage.
The talent is there. Just not the complete package when it mattered on this occasion.
But what if the talents of Australia's current players could be harnessed into one Aussie super-contender?
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After all, Novak Djokovic, gunning for his ninth win here today, looks almost like he was created in a laboratory purely for the purpose of playing tennis.
But where do you start? For the purposes of this exercise, we opted to avoid doubling up.
So while Ash Barty's backhand slice can cut players worldwide to ribbons, does it outweigh what her calculated approach on court would bring to this hypothetical beast?
Nick Kyrgios' groundstrokes match up well against anyone on the planet. But that serve? It's irresistible.
Here's where we landed.
CREATING THE PERFECT AUSTRALIAN TENNIS PLAYER
HEAD: Ash Barty. Australia's most recent grand slam winner has all the tools: but tying it altogether is her cool, calm demeanour. Barty has ridden the highs and lows of the sport, and is able to use her perspective from time out of the game to appreciate it more now. Never flustered, she has the perfect temperament to bring our tennis Frankenstein to life.
SHOULDER: Nick Kyrgios. Pace, power, precision. Kyrgios has the biggest and best serve in Australian tennis. Kyrgios' fastest serve has been recorded at 230km/h, and he uses it to great effect to pick up cheap points - and that's before we even touch on the crafty underarm serves against players he's pinned to the back of the court with his brutal power. He leant heavily on his biggest asset at the Australian Open, sending down an impressive 69 aces.
HEART: John Millman. What can you say about a player who came back from injury after injury to become a mainstay in the world top 50? Millman is all heart and on the court, he's never out of the contest. Loves a five-setter and, put simply, does not know when to quit.
RIGHT ARM: Thanasi Kokkinakis. It's a toss-up between the Special Ks for who has the more powerful groundstrokes in Australia - but anyone who watched Kokkinakis go blow-for-blow in insane rallies on Rod Laver Arena with Greek powerhouse Stefanos Tsitsipas will know just how much the Australian has in his locker. Kokkinakis hit 58 winners in that match alone. Fit and firing, he is working with serious artillery.
LEFT ARM: Sam Stosur. The most toned arms in Australian tennis belong to Sam Stosur, and our perfect player would benefit from having the former US Open champion's incredible work ethic and dedication to fitness. The 36-year-old has shown incredible durability and longevity to keep her tennis at a grand-slam level an extraordinary 21 years after making her Australian Open debut in 2000.
FEET: Alex de Minaur. Described as a 'freak of nature' by rivals, there's not a ball hit that De Minaur isn't willing to chase. The Aussie men's No.1's ability to turn on the afterburners has shocked his opponents during in his rapid rise up the rankings over the past three years, extending rallies with incredible defence as he blazes his way around the court.
Originally published as Frankenstein's tennis monster: The perfect Aussie player