The Australian Open

US Open: Why is it so difficult to win a second grand slam?

In the middle of the night, as I was working on the story of my day, I woke up to the sounds of my phone ringing. I reached for the phone to see if it was anyone important. It was. It was my brother, calling to ask if I’d gone to sleep in time to get his message. Then I saw it. It was a photo of the Australian Open.

There were just four players on the court with me in the photo: Rafael Nadal, my brother, John Isner and Stan Wawrinka.

The image was an instant reminder of the reason why I couldn’t understand why Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer would ever want to play in the Australian Open. They are the defending champions, after all. One of the world’s biggest tournaments. It’s been on the calendar for 30 years. They’ve won it. They’ve gone on to be the world’s best players.

Yet here they were, with the entire tournament just behind them.

As I turned back to check my emails, I saw it was a Monday and the Australian Open was going to start the next day. A quick webcrawl showed that the three men on the tennis court were making history by winning the first majors after Wimbledon had finished the previous week.

I called my brother a few minutes later. He was getting ready to go watch Nadal play in Melbourne. With the world’s best player in the final round of a Grand Slam, no wonder he couldn’t sleep.

My brother, who I barely knew before this year, was on his way to Melbourne on Monday. No, he didn’t have a tennis bag or a shirt in his car; he had a golf bag, a pair of shorts and a white golf shirt in

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