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One drizzly week down, old or new champions set to shine?

Updated: Jun 4

What a relief that there are certainties we can rely on in addition to death and taxes.

We can always look forward to Rupert Murdoch marrying again. Apparently wife number five, Elena Zhudova- a modest 26 years Rupert’s junior: 67 plays 93,-was introduced to the press mogul by wife number three. Wife number five’s daughter was once married to the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Who needs The Great Gatsby anymore? There is a vulgar, vain uber rich class whose behaviour would have Scott-Fitzgerald reeling in disbelief.

We can always rely on tennis players playing on well after their ‘use by’ date. This seems to be a French speciality. To Alize Cornet, Ricard Gasquet and Gail Monfils, thanks for the occasional memories, but please no more!

The certainty of Australian representation being thin at Paris continues. For the first time since 1997, Australia had no women progressing to the second round. Only two men made it to the third round. Alex De Minaur seeded 11 joins 11 of the world’s top 12 ranked men in the fourth round. I fancy his chances of upsetting Medvedev, to reach his first French Open quarter final. On clay, the mercurial Russian looks as uncomfortable as “an aristocrat in a dustheap,” to borrow a line from Huxley.


The ability of Novak Djokovic to enter Grand Slam tournaments under a self-generated cloud of doubt, only then to see him perform at his best, continues to be displayed. Entering the French Open, the defending champion, had not won a tournament in 2024. Eliminated early in the Italian Open a day after being struck by a stray water bottle, the whispers of Djokovic’s demise that he loves to hear again grew louder.


Entering the second week, Djokovic has unsurprisingly shown the mettle that still makes him the man to beat for mine.

Another certainty of life that has done much to promote truth, justice and the rule of law in democratic societies is the independence of the judiciary.

One of the cardinal principles of constitutional democracy created in the wake of American and French revolutions is the principle of the “Separation of Powers.”

Baron de Montesquieu created a democratic legacy of incalculable worth by declaring that only by separating the powers of the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary could the arms of government check and restrain each other, preventing an abuse of power.

Put simply,  democracy can not exist when an individual or an agency of government can be “judge, jury and executioner” in their own case.

Events in New York last week have confirmed that faith in the independence of the judiciary is no longer part of  the ‘American Way.’

American processes of electing Justices to State Courts,  highly political appointments to their Public Prosecution Offices, and grotesquely political Senate Hearings to confirm the openly partisan nomination of a Supreme Court justice have created a judicial and social nightmare.

Once again we are reminded of how blessed Australia is. The seven Justices of our High Court could walk down our busiest street together and nearly all Australians would not either recognise them or know of their importance. In America, the Supreme Court has become a defacto parliament, its judgements predictably aligned to their avowed political preferences.

A former Australian High Court justice described judicial independence as “being in the eye of the storm.” True impartiality, he said enables “the heavens to fall, but justice be done.”

The conviction of Donald Trump has created political firestorms, rather than confidence in the sanctity of the nation’s courts. Commentary and reaction has been arch and partisan: gleeful Democrats see the verdict as vindication of the rule of law, where no individual, even a former President can escape their legal obligations.  Republicans have become even more convinced of a politically ‘trumped up’ prosecution at the behest of Democrats to wound their Presidential rival.

The American body politic, for so long considered the most robust and inspirational in the world, is on the ropes, battered and bruised by its own making. Trump’s sentencing on July 11, will be another testing day for American judicial independence and social cohesion. The only certainty is that this verdict will exacerbate the toxic mix of vicious partisanship and public bewilderment that defines contemporary American politics.

One has also become sadly certain of the inability of African nations to successfully establish prosperous democracies in the wake of their post “winds of change” independence. Zimbabwe’s decline into authoritarian tyranny under Robert Mugabe has set the unenviable bankrupt standard. 

The thirty year political domination of South Africa by Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress has come to an end because of the nation’s recent election. The result may initially seem a boost for a healthier democratic culture; however, the prospect of the ANC, still the nation’s most popular party, having to find parliamentary supporters for a coalition government may well see even more democratic lights fade. This will be especially the case if the ANC has to gain the support of the nation’s most disreputable past President, Jacob Zuma, and his fledgling MK party. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

One also used to be certain of the French being able to demonstrate “vive la difference.” No longer.  Quite the opposite. French liberality has disappeared from the grandstands at Roland Garros with patrons being banned mid-tournament from imbibing alcoholic drinks. The Rechabites rule! Even though the drizzly, cool weather of the tournament has made café au lait the drink du jour, the Aperol Spritz aperitif along with all others have been banned.

Hopefully, a sunnier more sparkling week ensues.

Iga Swiatek, having saved a match point against a resurgent Naomi Osaka in the second round, has swept into her quarter-final against last year’s surprise Wimbledon champion, Marketa Vondrousova, after a ‘double bagel’ 6-0 6-0 fourth round victory. I do not see Swiatek losing. Gauff, Rybakina and Sabalenka will try, but their best is not consistent enough to eclipse the Pole on clay.

Tsitsipas, wearing a stark and quite shocking yellow and black outfit on court that has nothing tres elegant about it more resembling a block of overly creamy beurre , plays Alcaraz in a quarter final.

Expectations bedevil both players. Sinner survives until the second week but remains under an injury cloud as he approaches his quarter-final against journeyman Dimitrov.  Zverev, whose stamina is remarkable, especially for a Type 1 diabetic, is hungry for a maiden Grand Slam after beating Nadal in the first round; however, Djokovic looms as the nemesis for them all.

Jouez, jouez et jouez au jeu.                                     




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