Australian Open: Nishikori to face Wawrinka in the quarter-finals - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open: Nishikori to face Wawrinka in the quarter-finals

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – Kei Nishikori beat David Ferrer 6-3 6-3 6-3 to get through to the quarter finals of the Australian Open for the second time in his career three years after losing to Andy Murray in the 2012 edition. The 2014 US Open runner-up will face last year’s Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter finals. The defending champion battled past Guillermo Garcia Lopez in four sets with 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) Nishikori and Wawrinka will meet for the second consecutive Grand Slam after their epic five-set quarter final at the US Open won by the Japanese player. Diego Sampaolo

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Before today’s clash at Melbourne Park Nishikori led 6-3 in their previous head-to-head matches against Ferrer but there were 1-1 in Grand Slam matches. The Japanese player beat Ferrer in the third round of the 2008 US Open. Ferrer beat Nishikori in the fourth round at the 2013 Australian Open.

In today’s match Ferrer was probably too tired after his marathon third round match against Giles Simon on Saturday. He committed 44 unforced errors and hit just 14 winners.Nishikori won the 72 percent of his first-serve points, hit 42 winners and converted on six of his 17 break point chances.

Nishikori broke serve in the third game of the opening set. Ferrer saved two break point chances at 2-4 before dropping serve again in the last game of the set for 3-6. Ferrer broke serve for the first time in the match at the third break point opportunity in the very long opening game of the second set which featured 18 points but Nishikori broke straight back in the next game. Nishikori faced a break point at 2-2 but he managed to hold his serve. The second set went on serve until 4-3 when Nishikori broke serve for 5-3. The Japanese star broke serve in the opening game of the second set and sealed the win on his third match point at 5-3 on Ferrer’s serve.

I played really comfortable on the court. I had a lot of confidence going into the match and I was playing almost 100 percent of tennis, really aggressive, good forehand and serving was also very good”, said Nishikori.

It’s going to be a really tough match because I have seen him play on TV in a couple of matches. Even today he was playing really well. He can hit balls forehand,backhand, great backhand actually. He can hit from anywhere at the back. It’s going to be a tough match. I am in the quarter finals, so no easy matches coming up. Hopefully I can play another good match. For sure it gives me confidence that I beat him at the US Open. It’s not like I cannot beat him. It’s going to be a tough match for sure”, said Nishikori of his match against Wawrinka

Wawrinka who faced a more difficult task against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia Lopez who upset “Stan the Man” in the first round of the 2014 Roland Garros. They previously met once at Melbourne Park in 2010 in a first round match easily won by Wawrinka. The Swiss player held a 4-3 lead in the previous seven head-to-head matches.

Lopez went up a break twice and served for the first set but Wawrinka broke back on both occasions to draw level to 3-3 and 5-5 before winning the set at the tie-break. Stan broke serve in the third game en route to clinching the second set with 6-4 in 33 minutes.

Stan was looking to be cruising to a easy win at 4-3 in the third set but he dropped serve twice. Lopez won the last three games to clinch the third set with 6-4 to force the match to the fourth set. It was the first dropped serve for the Lausanne player.

The fourth set came down to the tie-break where Garcia Lopez cruised to 5-0 and to 6-2. The Spanish player earned four set points but Wawrinka saved the fifth with a passing shot. After escaping the big scare Wawrinka clinched a hard-fought win on his second match point after three hours and two minutes. Wawrinka hit 70 winners but he committed 61 unforced errors.

That level, you can change quickly. I did maybe two mistakes, then he started to play a little bit faster, a little bit more flat. I started to be on my defensive a little bit too much. I am happy to get through. It was important to win that match again. It’s great for me to be in quarter finals and get there. I remember the last time I managed to come back in a tie-break was in Shanghai against Lukas Kubot, losing 6-2 also. It was a bad start to the tie-break. At 6-2 I knew it was close to come-back because I had the wind with me. I had to focus on every point. I knew if I was going to come back at 6-5, he was going to get nervous. I did a good passing shot, along line. They always know I go along line. It was a good one. It was nothing special. I was just focused point after point”, reflected Wawrinka of his fourth set tie-break

I am not focused to win a major. I am taking match after match. I know it’s difficult to do it. It’s amazing I already did one. I am happy to still be there playing great tennis so far. I have the chance to play one more quarter final and see how it’s going to go, Kei is a tough player. He improved a lot last year. I played against him at the US Open. It was a five-set match. I practiced with him before the tournament. He ‘s a great shot maker. He can make winner. It doesn’t matter. He is always taking the ball really early.. It’s always tough to play against him. He doesn’t give you a lot of time. It’s a new year and we start to zero again. Different condition if I have to play him. It will depend a little bit on me and the way I am going to serve, the way I am aggressive from the baseline. If I can play my game, it’s tough for him to always take the ball early. We will see how I am going to deal with that”, said Wawrinka

A lot of players said that surface is faster this year than last year. Wawrinka agreed with that. “It’s quite fast so far. I played only during the day. It’s fast condition and a fast court. We still had some great matches to watch. I think it’s a great Australian Open for people to watch. So far I am happy with the way it goes for me”

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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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