Bits and bobs from day 1 at the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Bits and bobs from day 1 at the Australian Open

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TENNIS AO15 – Standing ovation and round-court Hi-fives for Kokkinakis, on court throw-up in a five-setter for McHale and eight seeded players – including Ivanovic – disappearing from the women’s tournament at round one. From Melbourne Robbie Cappuccio

 

AO 2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

A great start for the Australian Open with record attendance of 71,171 which sets a new record for day 1.

A lovely sunny day with top of 28C and a little breeze: this is the present Melbourne gives to the public for the opening of the 103rd edition of the Australian Open. And the Aussie crowd gives back with a record attendance (for day 1) of 71,171.

So what happened in the happy slam today?

Lower part of draw playing today, with easy wins for Federer, Nadal, Murray, Berdych and Dimitrov.

But let’s start with my compatriots: four Italians out of five got to the second round. The only one stopping at round one is Karin Knapp, who fiercely fought, but nothing could do against seed n.3 Simona Halep. Easy wins for the remaining two Italians – Errani and Vinci – who dispatched in around one hour Min and Jovanovski respectively.

Simone Bolelli won in four sets over Juan Monaco, starting slowly, but increasing pace from the third set. He will now face Roger Federer in the second round. Seppi – the marathon man – won yet another five setter with Istomin building cobwebs around the opponent and then hitting with drop shots.

Let’s move to my other compatriots (the perks of dual citizenship: you get more chances at winning).

A total of thirteen Aussies played today, of which three former winners of the Junior tournament. Tomic (Junior Australian Open winner of 2008) won in four, whereas Saville (winner of 2012) lost in straight sets.

Sam Groth showed consistency and won in 3 with 24 aces, Matosevic and Duckworth showed gut and heart and both won in five. Millman did not repeat the miracle of the first set against Federer in Brisbane and lost in straight sets, as did Jordan Thompson.

The Special Ks Kokkinakis-Kyrgios, both offered spectacular matches which kept all Australians awake till late. Aussie favourite Nick Kyrgios (Junior winner of 2013) won a five setter with Delbonis, overcoming his back problems which required a medical time out: Aussie Aussie Aussie – Oi Oi Oi !

The most exciting match, however, was by Thanasi Kokkinakis who battled with [11]Gulbis for over four hours, winning the fifth set 8-6 and then running around the court to hi-5 the Aussie fans. You cannot get that at Wimbledon: this is Australia, this is Melbourne, mate.

The women could not replicate the performance, with only Jarka Gajdosova keeping her momentum going and landing a win in straight sets to get through the second round at her 10th attempt (yay!), whereas the other Australians lost: Gavrilova in three set, Sanders in two and Arina Rodionova was bashed by Puig including a bagel in the opening set.

Apart from the Australians, the most represented nations today were France with 12 players, Russia with 10 (but 7 losses) and Czech Republic with 9 (6 through the second round).

The only retirement today was Robredo, after only 5 games against Roger-Vasselin (taking home good $30,000 anyway, for 15 minutes plus warm-up).

The first player to disappear from the Australian open was the young Swiss Belinda Bencic, which collected a total of 3 games only against Julia Goerges. Her Australian Open could be extremely short as the first round of the doubles will be against Hingis-Pennetta.

Eight seeded players are already out of the women’s single tournament:

[5] Ivanovic, who since her Roland Garros victory of 2008 reached the quarter finals only twice (last year in Melbourne and in 2012 at the US Open), lost to Hradecka 6-1 3-6 2-6

[9] Kerber faded in the third set with Begu 4-6 6-0 1-6

[16] Safarova in a dramatic final against Shvedova 4-6 6-2 6-8

[17] Suarez-Navarro dispatched by Carina Witthoeft 1-6 3-6

[23] Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 3-6 3-6 to Wickmayer

[27] Kuznetsova in straight sets with Garcia 4-6 2-6

[28] Lisicki, who is maybe still thinking of the Wimbledon final of 201, lost 6-4 4-6 2-6 to Mladenovic

[32] Bencic who got stood up by her coach, lost 2-6 1-6 to Goerges

A short adventure down under for the two rising Croatian stars: Coric lost in four sets with Chardy after winning the first, and Konjuh (Junior single and double winner of 2013) lost in straight sets to Rybarikova.

At his fifth attempt since 2011, David Goffin finally gets to the second round. Let’s hope this year he will stay injury free.

The most dramatic match was undoubtedly the one Christina McHale won over Stephanie Foretz. The third set lasted 1:51 with Mchale vomiting on court at 4-4 in the final set. After a short break to clean up the mess, the match resumed with McHale eventually winning 12-10.

ATP

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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