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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Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the doubles tournament in London

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Former ATP Finals champions Jean Julien Rojer from the Netherlands and Horia Tecau from Romania beat 2019 year-end number 1 team Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-2 5-7 10-8 after 90 minutes in Max Mirnyi Group of the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London.

 

Tecau broke serve with a backhand crosscourt winner to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set. The Romanian player went up a double break with a backhand crosscourt winner at 5-2 to seal the opening set after 28 minutes.

Cabal and Farah did not convert any of their break points in the ninth game of the second set before breaking serve for the first time in the match two games later to claim the second set 7-5 forcing the match to the decisive set.

Rojer and Tecau went up a 6-2 lead in the Match Tie-Break. Cabal and Farah won four consecutive points to draw level to 6-6. Rojer and Tecau rallied from 7-8 down by winning three consecutive points to claim the Match Tie-Break 10-8.

Rojer and Tecau have now a 1-1 record in Group Max Mirnyi. The Dutch and Romanian team took the re-match against Cabal and Farah, who won their previous head-to-head clash in five sets at Wimbledon en route to their maiden Grand Slam doubles title.

“I am happy with our form. We lost the first match and knew we would need to bounce back against a very good team. We played a very good first set, prior to them making adjustments in the second set. We played a really good Match tie-break”, said Rojer.

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Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus secure their spot in the semifinal in the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London

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Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus beat Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-3 6-4 in the evening’s double match securing their spot in the semifinal with a record of 2-0 in the Group Jonas Bjorkman.

 

Klaasen earned an early break with a forehand volley to open up a 3-1 lead. Venus and Klaasen dropped just four points on serve and did not face a break point. Venus held serve at 5-3 to close out the opening set 6-3 after 32 minutes.

Both teams held serve until the ninth game, when Venus got the first break at 4-4 with a half-volley winner, when Melo was serving on a deciding point. Kubot and Melo fended off two match points in the next game to force a deciding point and got their first break point of the match.

Venus sealed the win after 71 minutes with a big serve on their third match point in the 10th game. Klaasen and Venus won 86 % of their serve points.

US players Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury scored their first win in the Group Jonas Bjorkman at the Nitto ATP Finals, when they beat Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 3-6 6-3 10-6 in the Match Tie-Break. The US team improved their ranking to 1-1.

Dodig and Polasek earned the first break in the fourth game of the opening set to open up a 3-1 lead. They saved four consecutive break points in the ninth game, when they were serving for the first set at 5-3. Dodig and Polasek sealed the first set with a service winner after 33 minutes.

Ram and Salisbury did not convert break points in the most crucial moments of the first set. Ram and Salisbury earned their only break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face a single break point to win the second set 6-3 forcing the match to the third set.

Ram and Salisbury opened up a 3-0 lead with an early mini-break in the Match tie-break. Dodig and Polasek rallied to draw level to 5-5. Ram and Salisbury sealed the win on the first match point, when Polasek hit a backhand volley into the net at 9-6.

Dodig and Polasek, who won two titles in Cincinnati and Beijing, lost to Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 10-5 in the Match Tie-Break in last Saturday’s first match.

 

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Dominika Cibulkova announces her retirement from tennis

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Dominika Cibulkova has announced her retirement from professional tennis at an event in her home town of Bratislava. The 30-year-old Slovakian player won eight titles on hard-court, grass, and indoor surfaces and achieved her career-high of world number 4 on 20th March 2017.

 

Cibulkova reached the semifinal at the 2009 Roland Garros, three quarter-finals at Wimbledon (i2011, 2016 and 2018) and the quarter-final at the US Open in 2010. She became the first Slovakian player to reach a Grand Slam final when she finished runner-up to Li Na at the 2014 Australian Open. She achieved the best result of her career in October 2016, when she beat former world number 1 Angelique Kerber at the WTA Finals in Singapore to clinch the Billie Jean King Trophy. That year Dominika won three more titles at Katowice, Eastbourne, and Linz. She also finished runner-up in Acapulco, Madrid, and Wuhan.

“It wasn’t just winning the WTA Finals, but also the road to qualifying, which was really hard. I had to win in Linz just to make it there. While winning Singapore was the biggest moment of my career and life, winning Linz and the way I had to fight to get there, the fact that I was able to do it and belong among the best players in the world”, said Cibulkova in an interview to the WTA Website.

Cibulkova also won four more titles in Moscow 2011, Carlsbad 2012, Stanford 2013 and Acapulco 2014.

She represented the Slovak Republic at two editions of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and has scored a record of 22 wins and 11 defeats in her Fed Cup appearances.

Cibulkova decided Roland Garros would be the final tournament of her career.

“It wasn’t a decision where I woke up and thought: “I don’t want to play anymore”. It was a long process. I was already convinced by the time I played Azarenka in Miami, that this could be my last match. It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament. At that point, I was 100 percent sure. I was not doubting or thinking: maybe yes or no. I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament. I went home and I was happy with my decision. It’s really hard to make it, but once you do, you more free. I feel like this life has been fulfilled for me, and I want to start a new one. I was already feeling like the tennis life is really tough, with all the traveling and training, giving 100 % every day. I started to get tired of it. In the end, I gave enough and achieved things I never dreamed of reaching in my career ”, said Cibulkova.

 

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