Australian Open: Murray gives Czech mate to Berdych - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open: Murray gives Czech mate to Berdych

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – Andy Murray fought back from a set down to Tomas Berdych in four sets with 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-3 7-5 to get through to his fourth Australian Open final after finishing runner-up in 2010,2011 and 2013 and to his eighth Grand Slam final. Murray is bidding to clinch his third Grand Slam title after the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon. On both occasions he beat Novak Djokovic, his possible rival in next Sunday’s final if the Serb beats defending champion Stan Wawrinka in this Friday’s semifinal. Diego Sampaolo

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

[6] Andy Murray b. [7]Tomas Berdych 6-7(6) 6-0 6-3 7-5

Berdych led 6-4 in the previous 10 head-to-head matches and and won their previous two clashes, but this time Murray prevailed in four sets after losing the first set at the tie-break. It was the first time since the 2012 ATP Finals that Murray beat Berdych. That year the Dunblane star beat his Czech rival in the semifinals of the US Open.

Murray dropped just two sets so far in the tournament winning in four sets against Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round before beating Nick Kyrgios in the quarter final. Berdych, who also reached the semifinals last year, broke a 17-match losing streak against Rafa Nadal in the quarter finals beating the Spanish star for the first time since 2006 and reached the semifinal without dropping a set so far in the tournament. Berdych was looking to become the first Czech player to reach the Australian Open final since 1998 when Petr Korda won the final.

Berdych broke in the eighth game of the opening set for 5-3 with backhand winners and served for the first set but Murray broke straight back at 30-40 when Berdych hit a backhand into the net. Berdych saved a break point in a service hold for a 6-5 lead before the first set came down to the tie-break. Murray raced to a 3-0 lead in the breaker but Berdych reeled off fived of the next six points to go up 5-4. Murray earned his first set point but Berdych saved it at 5-6 with a forehand and a volley winner.The Czech hit his fourth ace to earn his first set point chance before taking a tight first set with 8-6 after a 76-minute battle when Murray hit a forehand into the net. Berdych won his 16th consecutive set in this tournament. Murray converted on just one of his four break point chances in the first set.

Murray reeled off seven consecutive games to turn around the match. Murray broke serve in the second game of the second set with a lob en route to clinching the second set with a bagel win in a thirty-minute second set. At 0-5 Berdych rallied from 0-30 but Murray broke serve converting on his first serve point when Berdych hit his forehand long.

Murray won the seventh game in a row at the start of the third set. At 3-2 for Murray in the sixth game Berdych went up 40-0 but missed a game point after two double faults allowing the Scotsman to convert on his second break point. Murray hit a forehand down the line on break point before clinching the third set with 6-3 with an ace after 44 minutes

Murray fended off two break points in the sixth game with a cross-court forehand and with a serve to draw level to 3-3. Murray earned two break point opportunities at 5-5 15-30 when Berdych made two errors and a double fault. Murray converted the break point as Berdych hit a groundstroke long. Murray earned the chance to serve for the match as Berdych hit a backhand long. The 2012 Olympic champion held serve to love clinching his 140th Grand Slam win win with his 15th ace.

Murray has reached his four Australian Open final and his eighth in a Grand Slam tournament and his first since he started working with Amelie Mauresmo

I played very well tonight. I am very happy with the way that I played the match. I am happy to be in the final four times here because I am surrounded by guys like Roger, Novak and Rafa. It doesn’t happen that often. I am very proud of that. Making four finals is a very difficult thing to do. It’s not easy to do. I am proud of my record here. I will try my best on Sunday. I will go in with best tactics possible, prepare well. Have a couple of days rest and recoverd as best as I can. If it is enough, it is great. I could not have done anything more to put myself in a better position come Sunday”.

At the beginning of the match Tomas started out well. I was a little bit tentative at the beginning and I was getting used to his ball. He hits the ball extremely hard and flat. At the start I felt like I was on the back foot a little bit. Towards the end of end of the first set I started to come into it more, be more aggressive. Then in the second set I just picked up from how I was playing at the end of the first. I felt like I could have won the first set. Obviously I had some chances there. I was extremely aggressive in the second set and I managed to run away with it.

Today’s match has marked the first time that Murray faced Berdych since the Czech played began working with Murray’s friend Dani Vallverdu, who worked for five years with the Scotman until they split last November.

Guys wanted there to be tension related to Dani. You wanted there to be tension. It’s completely normal for that to happen. I sat in here the other day and got asked more questions about Dani than I did about the match I just played. Because of everything that’s gone on it’s kind of a natural thing to happen. If you learn how the brain works, it’s completely natural for that. It was kind of expected and had planned for that to be the case as well.”

Murray will play against either Djokovic or Wawrinka in Sunday’s final. “I obviously feel good because I thought I played well tonight. The most important thing in tennis matches you need to be able to make adjustments and change when things aren’t going well. That’s one of the things that we didn’t speak about the other day. Everyone can go into a match with game plans and ideas of how they want to play. I felt like tonight I made some big adjustments in the match from how things were going at the start. I will need to do the same thing again on Sunday against Novak or Stan because things that you think will work don’t always work out that way. You need to be able to make adjustments in the middle of the match. That’s where it doesn’t necessarily always come down to the coach. It has to come down to the individual as well because we can’t get coaching during the match. We need to make adjustments ourselves and that’s one of the things I was most pleased about tonight. After that first set I changed the way I was playing and turned the match in my favour.

Murray credits his coach Amelie Mauresmo on the hard-work during the off-season. After spending the off-season with Amelie and working on a bunch of things, having a sustained sort of period together, I did a great training block. I worked extremely hard physically in the off-season. I worked well to give myself the opportunity to play like this this. The way that I feel today compared with how I felt after losing in four sets last year, when I could barely move at the end of the match because I was so sore and stiff. Today I felt strong at the end.

muzzaberdych

 

(updates coming soon)

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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