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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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Hail Return Of Fans To Italian Open

The top two players on the ATP Tour give their reactions to the return of a crowd in Rome.

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Tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have welcomed a government decision allowing fans to attend the Italian Open during its final two days.

 

On Friday Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed that 1000 people will be allowed to attend the event on both the semi-final and final days. A move the government minister describes as a ‘first but significant, step toward the return of normalcy in sports.’ Until now the tournament had been held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears that allowing a crowd to attend the event may trigger an outbreak of the virus. As part of the conditions there will be rules in force concerning mask wearing, social distancing and reserve seating.

“If we are going to have 1,000 people, it’s better than no people for sure because we all miss the fans, and part of our professional careers in sport is playing in front of them,” Djokovic said following his third round win over Filip Krajinović.
“I’m really glad that that’s going to happen.” He added.

The Italian Open will be the first major tennis tournament on the men’s Tour to welcome fans since resuming after its five-month break due to the pandemic. Both the Western and Southern Open, as well as the US Open, were held behind closed doors. Meanwhile, at the upcoming French Open plans for 11,500 fans to attend the event daily has been more than halved to 5000 following a ruling from French officials.

“The situation is how it is. Very difficult and very unpredictable, so it is normal that things are changing quickly,” Nadal commented on the changes surrounding crowd capacities.
“It is normal that the people who have to make decisions, they do with the best precaution possible. I don’t expect easy decisions and I don’t expect things are prepared in advance because it’s difficult to know how the pandemic evolves during day situations.’
“Changes can change a lot. So if the situation is good enough, fantastic.”

When it comes to where the semi-finals and finals of the tournament could be played due to the admission of fans, world No.1 Djokovic is hoping officials will stick to the premier court. Arguing that it is ‘much better quality’ than the other courts at the Foro Italico.

“I heard also they are considering to use Pietrangeli or NextGen court for semi-finals and finals,” he said.
“I hope it’s not the case, because the quality of the clay and quality of the centre court is, in my opinion, much better than the other courts.”

In order for both Djokovic and Nadal to play in front of Italian fans they must both come through their quarter-final matches. Djokovic will play German qualifier Dominik Koepfer and Nadal locks horns with eighth seed Diego Schwartzman.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Internazionali d’Italia Day 4 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day

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Court Pietrangeli at Foro Italico (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

On Thursday in Rome, the prevailing theme will be established veterans taking on the new generation.

 

A trio of two-time Major champions will face three of the WTA’s most impressive young talents: an American teenager who was tennis’ breakout star last summer, a 24-year-old who already has 23 wins in this abbreviated season, and a 21-year-old who was the shocking winner of this year’s Australian Open.  On the men’s side, 30-somethings Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, and Fabio Fognini will all battle opposition approximately a decade their junior.  What will win out on Thursday: experience, or youth?

Sofia Kenin (3) vs. Victoria Azarenka (SE)

In their only prior encounter, youth prevailed.  18 months ago in Acapulco, Kenin pulled out one of the most significant wins of her burgeoning career, 7-5 in the third.  But this is a very different Azarenka that Kenin faces today.  After years of injuries, personal setbacks, and tough draws, Vika is back in a big way.  Following four consecutive losses prior to last month’s Western & Southern Open, Azarenka is now on a 12-1 run.  Once she got a few wins under her sails, the floodgates have opened.  While Kenin is rarely an easy out, she also doesn’t possess any significant weapons to contain a reborn Azarenka, who remains one of the game’s best returners.  The two-time Australian Open champion should be favored to overcome Melbourne’s most recent victor.

Kei Nishikori vs. Lorenzo Musetti (Q)

Musetti has a lot of the tennis world talking after his startling upset of Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday night.  Lorenzo, the 249th-ranked player in the world, was the junior champion of the Australian in 2019.  Two evenings ago, he dominantly took the first set from Wawrinka 6-0.  But even more impressively, he did not fold after donating a second-set lead, persevering to complete the win in straights.  His one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty, and his composure is noteworthy.  Is Italy’s new star ready to dismiss another top name?  Kei Nishikori missed a year of action due to an elbow injury and the pandemic, and is 1-1 since returning.  Nishikori certainly has a solid clay resume, but he’s currently far from his best.  In a week where Italian men have exceled, another Roman conquering is not out of the question.

Other Notable Matches on Day 4:

Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Coco Gauff.  Coco routed an in-form One Jabeur in the last round, while Muguruza comfortably excused another American, Sloane Stephens.

Anett Kontaveit (14) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Their only previous meeting occurred in Rome two years ago, with Kontaveit winning after two tight sets.

In his first match since February, Gael Monfils (5) vs. Dominik Koepfer (Q), who upset Alex de Minaur in a third set tiebreak on Tuesday.

Fabio Fognini (7) vs. Ugo Humbert.  The 22-year-old Frenchman won his first ATP title earlier this year in Auckland.  Fognini has only once reached the quarterfinals in twelve past appearances at his country’s biggest tournament.

In a rematch of a dramatic fourth round match from 11 days ago at the US Open, Petra Martic (8) vs. Yulia Putintseva.

And in a battle between two rising ATP prospects, Andrey Rublev (9) vs. Hubert Hurkacz.

Full order of play is here.

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