Australian Open 2015: Fascinating First Round Matches to Watch - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open 2015: Fascinating First Round Matches to Watch

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – The first few days of any major is the most exciting in my humble opinion. If one is fortunate enough to get to go a major tennis event, it is best to go in those first days when all 256 players (128 men and 128 women) excluding doubles players are present and accounted for on all the courts.

 

AO 2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

The first few days of any major is the most exciting in opinion. If one is fortunate enough to get to go a major tennis event, it is best to go in those first days when all 256 players (128 men and 128 women) excluding doubles players are present and accounted for on all the courts. Not only can one see their favourites in action but also new and emerging talents as well as the forgotten veterans who are still out there fighting to remain relevant in the sport. Usually the first round matches are completed within the first three days barring no unforeseen events or inclement weather patterns. The 1st round of a major can also provide some very unlikely upsets. Who can forget in 2013 when Rafael Nadal lost to Steve Darcis in straight sets at Wimbledon or Serena Williams’ epic meltdown in Paris in 2012 to Virginie Razzano who handed the 18-time major winner her lone loss ever in the 1st round of a major in her entire career? There was also the time here in Melbourne back in 2010 when Maria Sharapova went out to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the 1st round.

The 1st round of a major is not only famous for those epic losses but also it can make for some very interesting encounters. This year’s Australian Open is no different as there are several matches both on the men and women’s side that will be fascinating for a lot of tennis fans. This is by no means saying that Andy Murray (6) verses Yuki Bhambri or Serena Williams (1) against Alison Van Uytvanck in the 1st round are not worthy of fans’ time. My point is that there are some matches slated that are sure to bring out some good “tennis drama” with the potential of an upset and/or showing us a young player’s potential on great things on one of the biggest stages the sport of tennis has to offer.

Below are several matches that are slated for Day 1 that I think everyone should check out at least in part if not the entire match if at all possible:

On the Men’s side, the biggest match is Rafael Nadal (3) v Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny has had a win over Nadal at a major in the past (2006 US Open quarterfinals) but as of late, the Russian has slipped down the rankings and now finds himself playing the 14-time major winner in the 1st round. It is unlikely that Youzhny will score the upset but seeing as Nadal is not in perfect match condition coming off a long layoff, Youzhny can make life difficult for the Spaniard.

Ernests Gulbis (11) v Thanasi Kokkinakis, the young Australian hopeful. Despite being the heavy favourite, Gulbis in many instances has the tendency to play well below his level. He is capable of going toe-to-toe with the best of the game and then follows up that performance with a sub-par performance indicative of a player who barely ever gets out of the qualification rounds at tournaments. With the crowd support, Kokkinakis might just feel the magic of a major and sneak in for the upset win.

Jeremy Chardy (29) v Borna Coric, ATP’s new wonder kid. The men’s game has recently lacked any teenager in the top 100 despite the fact that the history of tennis is littered with so many early prodigious talents. However, lately, there has been a few to make their way to the top 100 and Coric is one of them. Having defeated Nadal at the Swiss Indoor in Basel last year, the 18-year-old Croat is continuing to rise up the ranking. This would be only his 2nd major tournament and he does possess the ability to take out the very inconsistent Chardy. If he can get past his first two rounds of play in Melbourne, he could possibly face Roger Federer (2) in the 3rd round which would be an invaluable experience to draw from for the youngster win or lose.

Another good match up on Day 1 is Jiri Vesely v Viktor Troicki. Both players won warmup tournaments leading up to this major event; Vesely in Auckland and Troicki in Sydney. Troicki is trying to rebuild his career and rankings after serving a doping suspension from the tour (July 2013-July 2014) whereas Vesely is slowly trying to make a name for himself on tour. They both have something to prove and are hungry for the win. This match is definitely one to watch from start to finish.

There are also several matches on the women’s side that should definitely be on everyone’s radar. During the 1st day of play, Lucie Safarova (16) v Yaroslava Shvedova is a must see match. They are both big hitters and servers. Safarova has that nasty lefty swing which can be problematic for any player. Shvedova is a very streaky player. She is capable of playing amazing tennis and then absurd tennis. Safarova can be an early round casualty if she faces a hot Shvedova.

Julia Goerges v Belinda Bencic (32) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (27) v Caroline Garcia are two matches that should produce some interesting results. Goerges has been extremely inconsistent on tour and Bencic is trying to move up the ranking. Winning major matches would definitely help in that quest and Goerges can be a tough opponent. However, if Goerges does score the win, no one will necessarily see this as an upset. Kuznetsova, a 2-time major champion (2004 US Open and 2009 French Open) can be a dangerous floater but Garcia is looking to make good on all the potential she has been touted as possessing. It would be interesting to see who wins this match and also how it plays out. If Kuznetsova is in great form, she will be a threat to all the big names in her section of the draw. Meanwhile, this could Garcia’s breakout year.

There are several other women’s matches that have a lot of buzz surrounding them in particular the Victoria Azarenka v Sloane Stephens and the Caroline Wozniacki v Taylor Townsend matches. However, those matches have not been scheduled as yet but when they do, be sure to check them out.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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