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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Ash Barty Reveals ‘Excitement’ After Mixed Doubles Medal In Tokyo

Ash Barty has revealed her excitement after her and John Peers won Australia’s first Olympic tennis medal for 17 years.

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Ash Barty and John Peers (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Ash Barty revealed her excitement at winning Bronze in the mixed doubles in Tokyo with John Peers.

 

The world number one along with doubles specialist John Peers claimed Australia’s first tennis medal at the Olympics since 2004.

Despite benefiting from a bronze medal match withdrawal from Novak Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic, that hasn’t taken away the happiness of claiming an Olympic medal.

Speaking to the Channel 7 programmes Sunrise Barty proudly spoke about the achievement, “It’s been an amazing week for both John and I,” Barty was quoted as saying by Tennis Australia.

“We’ve played some great tennis, probably the best we’ve ever played together. To walk away with a medal and contribute to the team total here in Australia has been incredible.

“Johnny and I, we put ourselves in a position all week to play good tennis and I feel like we really deserve this one. We were so close to being in that gold medal play-off and I think for both of us, it’s been awesome. We’ve played great. I felt like we really deserved this one for Australia.

“No, I think for us it’s excitement. I just hope as athletes, as a whole Australian team that’s here – all 480 odd of us – we can bring a smile to people’s faces at home when they’re sitting on the couch enjoying watching us trying (to) go out there and do Australia proud.”

As for John Peers it was an achievement of a lifetime, inspired by the traditional Olympic spirit, “Any chance you get to represent your country and to do it alongside Ash, to be able to say we’re the first mixed doubles medallists at an Olympics for Australia is something really special,” the 33 year-old commented.

“There was so much uncertainty leading into the Games and to be able to see the way the Australian team’s come together and sort of really bonded has really shown the Australian spirit, the way that all the athletes get behind each other.

“To be able to show the Olympics is going on in uncertain times is just something really special and unique and hopefully it can be the turning point for the world, and Australia, to come out the other side.”

Both will be hoping that this week will be the start of something special for Australian tennis as they will look to capitalise on this success in three years time in Paris.

Next for John Peers will be Washington next week where he and Filip Polasek are the top seeds.

While Ash Barty will be starting her preparations for the US Open in Cincinnati which starts on the 16th of August.

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Czech Republican Trailblazers Inspire Krejcikova and Siniakova To Olympic Gold In Tokyo

Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova reflect on Czech Republic’s Olympic past after Olympic gold.

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Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova admit that former Czech Republican trailblazers inspired them to win doubles gold in Tokyo.

 

The top seeds claimed gold with a 7-5 6-1 win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.

After edging a tight opening set, the Czech Republican duo eased to victory to claim gold in Tokyo.

It was a historic gold as the pair went one better than trailblazers Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova who won silver in Seoul 1988 and Atlanta 1992.

After the victory today Krejcikova paid tribute to those before them and said that they were inspired by those who came before them, “The motivation we got from the previous medallists is really big,” the Roland Garros champion told the ITF website.

“I think we got really inspired by them. I think we really need to thank them because without them we just wouldn’t have the motivation and the inspiration.

“It’s really big. We’re really happy and really grateful that we could be here. We did such a great job during these 10 days and we have this beautiful gold medal. It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

While Katerina Siniakova also outlined how special it is to win the gold medal as the top seeds remain the team to beat in the Women’s doubles game, “It’s really special this one,” Siniakova admitted.

“I really enjoyed my whole time here. It was really tough and I’m so glad we kept fighting and in the end we have this one, this gold medal. It’s really amazing. I feel so honoured I got to represent my country.”

The Czech Republican will be favourites to win their fourth grand slam at the US Open in late August.

As for Bencic and Golubic, it has been a successful tournament especially for Bencic who won Olympic gold yesterday.

After the match Bencic admitted it’s not just about Olympic medals and that its about the memories created, “It’s not just about the medals or the titles, it’s about the memories you create that will last forever,” Bencic claimed.

“To share this with Viki is unbelievable. The whole week I never felt like I was in a normal tournament or playing alone. She was alongside me the entire way. I always tell her we won this gold medal together as well.

“When we will be 80 years old and have a coffee, we will talk about these moments and I cannot wait for that.”

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold

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Karen Khachanov celebrating victory earlier this week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

48 hours after ending Novak Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam, a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf, Sascha Zverev looks to win another gold medal for Germany.  But a big-hitting Russian stands in his way, one who owns a winning record against Zverev on hard courts.

 

The last day of tennis in Tokyo will also host two gold medal matches in doubles.  In women’s doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have won three Majors, and now go for a gold medal against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.  For Bencic, it’s an opportunity to win a second gold medal in as many days.  

In addition, a pair of teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee will face off for gold in mixed doubles.  Will Elena Vesnina be able to recover from a devastating loss in Saturday’s women’s doubles bronze medal match?  Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova held four match points, only to lose the last six points of the match and fail to reach the podium.

Sunday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.

Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – Second on Centre Court

Overall they have split four previous encounters, but Khachanov leads 2-1 on this surface, which includes their two most recent meetings.  And neither of those have been close.  At the 2018 Paris Masters, it was 6-1, 6-2.  At the 2019 Rogers Cup, it was 6-3, 6-3.  The event in Paris was the biggest title run of the Russian’s career, and a week where he also defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.  However, he hasn’t won a title, or even reached a final, ever since.  And prior to his run to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Khachanov was only 16-14 on the year.  But it is worth noting he’s 4-0 lifetime in ATP finals, with his other three victories coming at 250-level events.

Zverev is certainly the far more accomplished player.  He owns 15 career titles, which includes four Masters events, as well as the 2018 ATP Finals.  And he’s reached the semifinals or better at Majors three times, something Khachanov is yet to achieve.   Though I do wonder just how much scar tissue was created by his loss in the final of last year’s US Open, where he was up two sets before eventually losing in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Both he and Dominic Thiem played a considerably nervy match, and this will be Zverev’s first best-of-five final since that painful loss.

And that could be a significant factor on this day: the men’s singles gold medal final is the only match at the Olympics that is best-of-five.  Zverev possesses a much stronger record in best-of-five, and a far superior record in five-setters.  As per Tennis Abstract, Sascha is 16-9 in fifth sets, compared to Karen’s record of 6-7.  And Khachanov’s two most recent five-set wins were not pretty.  A few weeks ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, against Sebastian Korda, 13 out of the 18 games in the fifth set were breaks of serve.  And last summer at the US Open, he was only able to come back from two sets down thanks to the cramping of Jannik Sinner. 

So who is the favorite to win gold?  Their head-to-head favors Khachanov, while recent form and best-of-five experience favors Zverev.  And the German has been serving excellently throughout this tournament, striking 40 aces and only three doubles, especially impressive for a player who has suffered from double fault issues in the recent past.  However, Zverev had a much easier road to this final than Khachanov.  Other than Djokovic, Sascha faced no one ranked inside the top 40, while Karen beat three top 30 players.  The Olympics are an event which often produces surprising tennis results.  And these are two men who are known to get tight in big matches.  But considering the way Zverev has been serving, and the confidence boost his upset of Djokovic should provide, I give Sascha the slight edge to become an Olympic champion.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] – Vesnina not only lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, she and Kudermetova also served for the championship a few weeks ago at Wimbledon, before losing 9-7 in the third.  And Vesnina and Karatsev were defeated in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, the same event where Pavlyuchenkvoa lost in the women’s singles final.  Who will realize redemption on Sunday?

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic – The Czechs are of course the favorites, with three Major titles as a team.  The Swiss are a new team formed exclusively for this event.  But don’t count them out, especially with Bencic coming off a gold medal victory in singles on Saturday evening.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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