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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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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