3. Wild scenes at the Australian Open

It was almost 12:30 a.m., and one of the wildest days in tennis history was just wrapping up at the Australian Open. The first must-watch event had been scheduled for a 1 p.m. start—not on a tennis court, but in a press conference room of the government of Victoria, the state where the Australian Open is played in its capital of Melbourne.

It was there that Victoria's Premier, Dan Andrews, announced that the state was going into a five-day lockdown starting at midnight, a response to more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 being detected in the city that week. The new lockdown also meant that spectators would be barred from the Australian Open, where the sport had just been getting used to its first typical-sized crowds since the start of the pandemic.


But if fans had to leave, they weren't about to go quietly. They clapped for the entertaining contrast between Naomi Osaka and Ons Jabeur, raved as Su-Wei Hsieh weaved a third-set comeback, sat stunned as Aslan Karatsev hit 53 winners to announce his arrival in the big time, along with all the rest of the entertaining fifth-day fare.

At 7 p.m., it was time for the day's most anticipated contest—Dominic Thiem and Nick Kyrgios. And it didn't disappoint, with Kyrgios building a two-set lead in front of a loud Aussie contingent before Thiem came back to win in five thrilling sets. As many as 1.8 million Aussies tuned in on television, the highest ratings of the tournament, and those watching could hear the almost-forgotten sound of roaring crowds ringing in the ears once more.


Attention then turned back to Rod Laver Arena, where more intrigue was mounting. Top seed Novak Djokovic had sailed to a two-set lead against Taylor Fritz, but suffered an abdominal injury during the start of the third and was now in a tussle. At 11:30 p.m., 3-2 in the fourth, came the day's most bizarre moment—fans being asked to leave before the lockdown came into force.


As they trooped up to the exits, a quiet descended on the stadium that just minutes before had been filled with cheers, mostly for Fritz. Djokovic proceeded to drop the fourth set but with the muscle warming up, bounced back to win in five sets. Though his victory was greeted by empty stands, the eventual champion called it one of the best wins of his career.

And a memorable way to start a lockdown.