AO 2015: Murray and Nadal in Federer's half - UBITENNIS
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AO 2015: Murray and Nadal in Federer’s half

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TENNIS AO 2015 – The Main Draw of the Australian Open men’s tournament which starts on Monday 19th January in Melbourne was held today. Last year’s finalist Rafa Nadal will face a very tough path and may clash against Tomas Berdych in the quarter finals and Roger Federer in a possible blockbuster semifinal. Federer may face Andy Murray in the quarter finals. Novak Djokovic could clash against Milos Raonic in the top-half quarter. Last year’s Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka could battle against either Kei Nishikori or David Ferrer in the quarter finals Diego Sampaolo

 

AO 2015 men’s draw

AO 2015 women’s draw

First quarter: World Number One and four-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will open his campaign against a qualifier before facing the first tough test against Fernando Verdasco in the third round before a possible fourth round match against either John Isner or 2014 ATP Most Improved Player Roberto Bautista Agut. In the opening round the Spanish player will play against Austrian rising star Dominic Thiem, who reached the fourth round at the 2014 US Open and is currently leading the new generation’s challenge against the old guard.

Djokovic will be bidding to win his fifth Australian Open title after the wins in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and the eighth Grand Slam in his career which also features two wins at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 and the US Open in 2011. Should he win his fifth title Down Under, he would become the most successful male player at the Australian Open in the Open Era. He is currently second most successful player in the Australian Open history together with Roger Federer and André Agassi behind Roy Emerson who clinched six titles at Melbourne Park.

He will be looking for a re-match of last year when he was beaten by Stan Wawrinka with 9-7 in the decider in a thrilling five-set quarter final match.

Djokovic withdrew from the Mubadala final in Abu Dhabi against Andy Murray before suffering an upset quarter final 7-6 6-7 4-6 loss against Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic in the ATP 250 in Doha after a very tough match. This was the second loss for Djokovic in 23 matches since the US Open

Djokovic will have to face a possible quarter final clash against Milos Raonic The Serbian player leads 4-0 in his career head-to-head matches against Raonic. Djokovic’s possible rivals in the semifinals will be Wawrinka or Nishikori.

The top-half also features 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro from Argentina. Del Potro will have to face a difficult test against 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz who won the Hopman Cup last week in Perth together with her compatriot Agnieszka Radwanska. The winner of the match between Del Potro and Janowicz will face the always dangerous Gael Monfils who reached the US Open quarter finals last year.

Raonic’s potential fourth round rivals could be Feliciano Lopez, Monfils or Del Potro.

Del Potro, nicknamed the Tower from Tandil, has made his come-back this week in Sydney after being sidelined for one year because of a career-threatening wrist injury. Now ranked Number 338 player in the world, Del Potro played two encouraging matches in his first tournament in Sydney where he beat two tough players Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round and Fabio Fognini in the second round before losing against Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarter finals.

I did more than what I expected. I played three matches in a row and I played against good players in this tournament, which means a good comeback for me. I didn’t expect to play three matches in a row. We go day by day. It’s dangerous for me if I am looking forward to the next tournaments or the next month. I have to be patient and do my best every day. This is my biggest challenge in my new career”, said Del Potro in Sydney.

Second quarter: The second quarter of the draw could feature a potential quarter final between Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in a re-match of the 2014 US Open quarter final. Defending champion Wawrinka, who will play against Turkey’s Marsel Ihlan in the first round, could face either Pablo Cuevas in the third round, Aleksander Dolgopolov or Fabio Fognini in the fourth round. Wawrinka will be looking to clinch his second consecutive Australian Open-Chennai double after winning in the Indian Tournament last week for the second consecutive year by beating Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene 6-3 6-4.

Wawrinka could renew his battle against Novak Djokovic in the semifinal in a possible re-match of the epic 2013 fourth round match and the 2014 quarter final. On both occasions they played two very tight five-set matches which came down to the wire. Djokovic won in 2013, while Wawrinka took the re-match in the quarter final in 2014 before lifting his first ever Grand Slam Trophy.

I am happy to be back for sure. I am playing well and have confidence with my game but everything starts from zero again and you have to be ready for two weeks. Against Novak last year changed everything. To finish as the winner, it gave me the confidence and put me in the semifinals there. I was feeling great. It feels great to see the picture of me with the Trophy in the corridor. The first thing I did was to check to see if it was there and if it was a good picture. When you have the picture, it’s always a good picture. Starting the year with a Grand Slam and finishing with the Davis Cup, it was an incredible 2014”, said Wawrinka.

Last year’s US Open champion Nishikori, who reached the semifinal in Brisbane last week, will start his campaign against Nicholas Almagro in a difficult first round before a possible fourth round against David Ferrer, who is always a difficult rival at Grand Slam level. Ferrer got off to a very good start to his 2015 campaign by winning his 22nd career title at the Qatar Open in Doha where he beat Tomas Berdych in the final with 6-4 7-5. It was his first title for Ferrer under the guidance of his new coach Francisco Fogues. It was his first trophy since Buenos Aires in February 2014 and his first ever Doha win in five appearances after losing the 2013 semifinal against Nikolay Davydenko. Ferrer will not have a tough draw as he will face Thomas Bellucci in the first round, Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round and last year’s Shanghai Master 1000 finalist Giles Simon.

Third quarter: Rafael Nadal, last year’s finalist in Melbourne, was drawn against Mikhail Youzhny in the first round before a possible tricky third round match against Lukas Rosol, who upset the Mallorcan legend at Wimbledon in 2012. If he overcomes these difficult hurdles, Nadal could meet either Kevin Anderson or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round and Tomas Berdych in the quarter final. Nadal suffered a surprising first round loss against Michael Berrer in Doha, needs to play matches to get into shape after being undergoing appendicitis surgery on 3rd November.

Nadal will be looking to complete a double Career Grand Slam after losing against Wawrinka last year.

Berdych was drawn in the same section with Phillip Kohlschreiber, Ernests Gulbis and Bernard Tomic. The most intriguing match of the third quarter of the draw will pit Ernests Gulbis and Australian tennis hope Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Fourth Quarter: This is the most interesting section of the draw as it features Roger Federer and Andy Murray who may square off against in a potential blockbuster quarter final. It could be a possible chance for Murray who lost 6-0 6-1 in the ATP Finals in London last November. Federer and Murray were drawn in into the same half as Nadal. There is a possibility that Federer or Murray could face Nadal in the semifinals. Murray’s possible rivals before the fourth round are David Goffin (semifinalist in Chennai last week) and Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. The young Bulgarian, semifinalist in Brisbane last week, will face a tough debut match against Dustin Brown, a German player of Jamaican origin who beat Rafa Nadal last year in Halle and always produces a spectacular tennis.

Federer, four-time winner at Melbourne in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2012 and semifinalist last year against Nadal, will start against Yen Shun Lu, before facing either in-form Italian Simone Bolelli or juan Monaco in the second round and Croatian rising star Borna Coric in the third round. Coric, the youngest player in the top-100 in the ATP Ranking, who will start against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. Federer could meet either Tommy Robredo, who upset the Swiss legend in the 2013 US Open, or Ivo Karlovic, who upset Djokovic in Doha before losing a hard-fought semifinal against Ferrer last week. In Qatar Karlovic became the third player in history to reach the 9000 aces milestone. With 9092 aces Karlovic is currently ranked second behind Goran Ivanisevic (10183 aces) but he is ranked ahead of Andy Roddick (9074 aces). The second round could feature a very interesting second round match between Karlovic and Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios, who famously beat Rafa Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2014.

Federer is one of the strongest favourites to win his 18th Grand Slam title after his impressive start to the season in Brisbane where he became the third player in history to reach the 1000th match win milestone after beating Raonic in a fantastic final in three sets with 6-4 6-7 6-4. Only Jimmy Connors (1253 wins) and Ivan Lendl won more matches than the Basel legend. During the Brisbane award ceremony Federer received the Roy Emerson Trophy from Australian tennis legend Roy Emerson. Federer clinched his 83th career title in Brisbane

It was a special day for me, winning a title plus getting the magic number of 1000. This figure means a lot because it’s such a huge number. Just alone to count to 1000 is going to take a while. To get to 1000 match wins in front of such legends as Roy Emerson and Rod Laver means a lot to me. I will never forget this match”, said Federer.

The most interesting first round matches are Del Potro-Janowicz, Grigor Dimitrov vs Dustin Brown, Sam Querrey vs Vasek Pospisil, Jiri Vesely vs Viktor Troicki, Ernests Gulbis vs Thanasi Kokkinakis and Rafael Nadal vs Mikhail Youzhny, Roberto Bautista Agut vs Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils vs Lukas Pouille and Jeremy Chardy vs Borna Coric. Former World Number 1 Lleyton Hewitt will play against Chinese wild card Zhang Ze.

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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