Sakkari’s run at this year’s Australian Open ended one step further than last year, which is a good sign. The young athlete is definitely showing signs of improvement, maintaining her composure when things get tough and fighting until the last minute, no matter what the odds. Additionally, her statements after her fourth round game with Petra Cvitova showed that she also has the confidence necessary to win a Grand Slam. If she keeps persisting, eventually she will reach her goal. It’s only a matter of time.
A lot of the same can be said for the “bad boy” of Australian tennis, Nick Kyrgios, who has shown an entirely different side to himself this year. Kyrgios challenged himself in a way he never had before in his career and came out looking better for it. In both his games against Karen Khachanov and Rafael Nadal, the Greek Australian athlete was placed in difficult situations yet never surrendered despite the odds that were stacked against him. He will surely see his position in the rankings improve after this great tournament!
Steve Corica has spent the last few years developing his team and the results have finally begun to bear fruit. The A-League champions are breezing their way through the competition and already have created a ten-point lead at the top of the ladder. At this stage, it’s hard to say if there’s anyone that can put a stop to their attempt to retain the title. What will be interesting however, is to see how they will fare in their international obligations in the AFC Champions League where they have been placed in a difficult group with Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama Marinos and Chinese giants Shanghai South East.
Despite their continuous poor form, credit must be given where credit is due. Melbourne Victory have achieved something unprecedented in their almost-20-year history, by going through two knock out rounds to reach the group stage of the AFC Champions League. Their play-off round game was held under the most difficult circumstances as they were playing in Japan against one of the most successful teams of the competition, the Kashima Antlers, yet still they found a way to secure their first ever away win in the tournament. This success is important not just to the club, but to Australian football as a whole in its bid to establish itself among its Asian counterparts.
The scandal that erupted after documents were brought to light (by people surrounding Olympiacos) regarding PAOK chairperson Ivan Savvidis funding fellow Greek Super League side Xanthi has cast its shadow over the entire football world, expanding even into political waters. More specifically, the Government intervened to remove the relegation penalty for any Greek club that is found violating any rules in order to avoid further mayhem, yet the Thessaloniki side are still facing a 5-point reduction for the charges. In response to this, the PAOK fans took matters into their own hands by charging into the offices of several members of Parliament, while at the same time organising demonstrations in Thessaloniki. Several arrests have already been made, yet tempers continue to flare, as the football tournament remains hostage to the whims of two clubs who are currently stuck in a struggle for power.
It seems this wasn’t the time for young Stefanos, who despite advancing to the third round of the Australian Open with very little trouble at all, met his match at the hands of the experienced Milos Raonic. The Canadian taught Stef a good lesson in maintaining a level head throughout a tennis game, as he was easily able to thwart off any attempt made by the 19-year-old to get back into the match. Tsitsipas will maintain his world number six position, yet he will need to improve his game if he hopes to remain among the world’s greatest tennis players rather than disappearing into the limelight. He has already established himself as the greatest Greek tennis player of all time. It’s in his own hands to go even further and he has all the time in the world to do so.
ARIS-PAOK BASKETBALL TEAMS
Both Aris and PAOK have offered the sport some of its greatest athletes, including Nikos Galis, Panagiotis Giannakis, Predrag Stojakovic, Panagiotis Fasoulas, Bane Prelevic and so on and it would be a huge loss for the sport if they were both removed from the top tier of the Greek Basket League. What brought them to this situation? A combination of many things: poor financial structure, lack of interest by fans, domestic dominance by Panathinaikos, poor quality players and managers – you name it. But after Olympiacos’ choice to play in the second division last season, if the league were to lose both these teams and their huge fan base as well, the impact will surely be felt.