TENNIS – Elena Baltacha is diagnosed with liver cancer. Murray wins 300 on hard courts. Ward’s luck in California. Laura Robson announces Mauricio Hadad as her new coach. Hutchins lands prestigious job and the 2014 inductees for the Hall of Fame are announced. Joshua Bosco
Good luck Baltacha
After suffering with a chronic liver condition from the age of 19, former British No.1 Elena Baltacha has now been diagnosed with liver cancer.
In a statement released on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) website, the 30 year old ex-tennis player said “I’m currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have”.
Baltacha retired from the game in November 2013 and married her former coach Nino Severino, who also used to be a kick-boxing champion, a month later.
300 for Murray, 599 for Hewitt
While Lleyton Hewitt has been denied a 600th career win with a 7-6(5), 6-4 loss to South African Kevin Anderson, British No.1 Andy Murray notched up his 300th win on hard courts with a hard-fought win against Lukas Rosol in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Murray now stands 6th in the active hard-court match wins rankings, topped by Roger Federer with 575 wins, and is just 24 wins shy of Rafael Nadal’s 5th spot.
Hewitt, on the other hand, is looking to become just the third active male player to reach the 600th win milestone, the other two being Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Lucky Ward, unlucky Delpo
Last year’s finalist Juan Martin del Potro has been forced to withdraw from Indian Wells due to his ongoing wrist problem, which had already caused him to retire during his match against Somdev Devvarman in Dubai last week.
His place in the second round match against Feliciano Lopez has been taken by lucky loser James Ward, hero of Great Britain’s Davis Cup tie with USA in February.
Del Potro has also switched places in the rankings with Roger Federer as a result of points lost with his withdrawal. The Argentinian is now eighth and Federer is seventh, close on the heels of No.6 Tomas Berdych.
Another new coach for Laura
British No.1 Laura Robson has once again changed coach. After just 9 months with Zeljko Krajan, 4 months with Miles Maclagan and only 2 months with the newly appointed Nick Saviano and Jesse Witten duo, she has now hired Mauricio Hadad, a Colombian with Lebanese origins, a former tennis player who reached his highest ranking at No.78 in 1995.
In the past he coached Maria Sharapova, helping the then-17 year old Russian to her surprising 2004 Wimbledon title. He also worked with Heather Watson, who won her first WTA title (in Osaka) under his guidance.
Ross Hutchins lands new job
Ross Hutchins has been named tournament Director for the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club.
The 29 year old, who returned to action in January after recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, will not play in the event which starts on June 9 but he will be responsible for tennis decisions and player/ATP relations.
The British player added that Colin Fleming, his regular doubles partner, will partner someone else at Queen’s but assured that they would play together for the rest of the season.
Class of 2014
Last Monday the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced the “Class of 2014”, a list of five new inductees that will join the other 235 people honoured in the organisation’s 60-year history.
The five inductees are:
Lindsay Davenport: a six times Grand Slam champion (3 titles in singles without losing a set and 3 titles in doubles), the former American player has reached the World No.1 spot in both singles and doubles. She also has an Olympic Gold Medal to her name, won in Atlanta in 1996.
Nick Bollettieri: after founding the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, the American tennis coach has guided 10 players to No.1 in the world.
John Barrett: a former British No.5 and BBC Sports Commentator, he reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon four times. One of the sport’s premier historians and authors, he is only the 8th journalist to be honoured by the organisation.
Chantal Vandierendonck: the first female wheelchair tennis player to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, she is a five-time Paralympic gold medallist and three-time ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Champion.
Jane Brown Grimes: a former reporter/researcher for Life magazine, she has been involved with tennis for more than 30 years. She has held executive leadership roles with the WTA and the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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