Bits and bobs from day 8 at the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Bits and bobs from day 8 at the Australian Open

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – It’s summer, it’s Australia Day. But it’s also Melbourne. And in Melbourne, Summer can mean 45C and hot wind from the North or 15C, rain and wind from South. Alas today the weather conditions were the latter, at least in the morning. From Melbourne Robbie Cappuccio

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

It’s summer, it’s Australia Day. But it’s also Melbourne. And in Melbourne, Summer can mean 45C and hot wind from the North (i.e. desert) or 15C, rain and wind from South (Southern Pole). Alas today the weather conditions were the latter, at least in the morning. The Australian Open day started with a temperature of 13.8C and rain, which forced the organisation to close the roof of the main courts. A maiden voyage for the new Margaret Court Arena, which takes only 5 minutes to seal compared to the almost thirty of Rod Laver. Play was stopped briefly though when part of the new retractable roof on Margaret Court Arena leaked. Oopsie Daisy: speed against effectiveness. The poor weather did not stop Aussies on national holiday: it’s Australia day, mate!

It was a fierce fight between Vika Azarenka and Dominika Cibulkova. Cibulkova put so much energy to play the kind of tennis that made her reach the final last year, pounding 44 winners, including a dozen on her backhand side, as she beat the two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza

She will face Serena Williams, which – under a sunny Melbourne sky (wasn’t it raining and miserable half an hour ago? Four seasons in one day)- won an arm-wrestling competition against Garbine Muguruza. It took her 17 aces and 41 winners to take home the match, after losing the first set 6-2, and awakening the ghost of Roland Garros 2014. Serena also thanked the crowd for the support “I don’t get this everywhere, so from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it” and for the technical advice “Someone from the crowd was pushing me Come on Serena, use spin!, there are so many coaches here. Ah it was you”, Serena said pointing at a 10 y.o kid.

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

In the afternoon Margaret Court Arena became Madison Squared Garden as Americans Madison Keys and Madison Brengle played for spot in the quarter-finals. A one way match which Keys took home in one hour. She will be the only unseeded player in the quarterfinals (including mens’ singles) and will definitely have a chance against the winner between Aga Radwanska and Venus Williams (currently one set all). I said unseeded, but definitely not for long as she is now provisionally n.25. As for Brengle, she has almost no points to defend between now and Wimbledon. If she keeps winning some matches could be seeded already at Roland Garros.

The third quarter will see Ekaterina Makarova taking on Simona Halep, who is chasing her first Grand Slam. Both players are the only ones remaining who have not dropped a single set so far. Makarova conceded 23 games so far, Halep only one more.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

In the fourth, Sharapova will face rising star (actually risen star) Genie Bouchard. Aesthetic aside – we are here talking tennis – the match will show two great competitors and aggressive players. When asked if she sees any of herself in Genie, Masha replied “I personally don’t know Genie very well. As a tennis player she’s a big competitor. She’s an aggressive player as well that likes to take the ball early and dictate points. From that perspective, yeah, definitely.” There sure be fireworks in that match, even if after Australia Day

The men’s quarterfinals will see 8 players from 8 different countries.

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

It took three hours, four sets and two tie-breaks to champ Stan Wawrinka to survive a scare from Garcia-Lopez. Up 2 set to love, 4-3 and serving, ended up losing the third and being taken to the tie break in the fourth, where he came back from 6-2 to win 10-8.

Stan the Man will face Kei Nishikori, who on his side bundled out in straight set David Ferrer 6-3 6-3 6-3, breaking the Spaniard five times, hitting 42 winners in what could be called a perfect match for the Japanese.

The top part of the draw will see Milos Raonic who thundered down 30 aces and won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (9-7) 6-3 over 12th-seeded Lopez in just above three hours. He is now waiting either world number one and four-time champion Novak Djokovic or Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller. Guess what? The odds are for a Raonic Djokovic quarter. So far it’s 3-0 for Djokovic (or four including Davis cup) with one set only taking so far by the Canadian bomber. Raonic has achieved a record, being the first Canadian since Michael Belkin in 1968 to win through to the quarters at the Australian Open.

The bottom part will see Aussie young gun Nick Kyrgios – first teenager after Roger Federer to reach to quarterfinals of Grand Slam tournaments – facing Andy Murray who showed sharpness and character to beat Dimitrov. The last quarter is Berdych, who is playing solid aggressive tennis and feels confident of his performance so far charging Rafa, who started the tournament with low expectations and some scepticism, but is being improving day by day after an early scare against Smyczek.

Finally in the doubles top-ranked Bryan brothers were outed in third round losing 7-6, 6-3 to Inglot/Mergea.

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Gerard Pique Believes Long-Term Davis Cup Project Will Work Despite Critics

Gerard Pique claims that the new Davis Cup is a long-term project as the competition kicks off today in Madrid.

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Gerard Pique (@bbctennis - Twitter)

Footballer Gerard Pique believes the Davis Cup is a long-term project that can work despite criticism over the re-formatted competition. 

 

Last August, the Barcelona defender had his re-formatted idea of the Davis Cup approve as part of big funding put in by his company Kosmos.

The competition, which starts today in Madrid, sees 18 teams compete in a one-week competition where they will fight for the Davis Cup title.

Despite Pique’s enthusiasm for the event, many fans and players have criticised the move explaining how the 118 year history of the competition has ended.

However for the Spaniard, he believes that he has convinced many doubters on this journey, “In terms of the event we needed to convince different people who were maybe sceptical and were against the idea of changing the format,” Pique admitted to Davis Cup.com.

“We’ve had to face it since the beginning. This is something I believe we did an amazing job at because we feel people in the game are now more convinced.

“The Davis Cup has a big meaning in the world of sport and tennis, there were some people against it, but right now I feel that Davis Cup is going to be stronger than it has been in the last 10 years.”

Despite the likes of Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev missing from this week’s competition, there are eleven top 20 players competing including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Many critics are seeing this innovation as a short-term project but Pique hasn’t seen it that way and believes that in five years time people will be convinced about the event, “I like to think big and our idea since the beginning is to put this competition where it deserves to be, and maybe to create an event longer than one week,” the Spaniard said.

We understand we have to start little by little. I don’t want to compare ourselves to any other tournament because I think we are unique. In five years’ time I want everyone, players and fans, to think ‘Davis Cup is in November and I want to be there.'”

Even though there are doubters players such as Andy Murray have told people to give the event a chance despite the amount of tickets that are still available for the event.

The action begins today at 3pm GMT time with three ties:

Croatia v Russia

Italy v Canada

Belgium v Colombia

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ATP

Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claim their first ATP Finals title in London

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The French team formed by Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed their first men’s doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 win over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 70 minutes at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London ending the 2019 ATP season on a high note with back-to-back titles in Paris Bercy and London. They remained unbeaten during the whole week at the ATP Finals in London winning all five matches in straight sets.

 

Herbert and Mahut fended off all four break points they faced scoring their ninth consecutive match win. The French doubles specialists have become the first team to win the doubles ATP Finals title without dropping a set since Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

Herbert and Mahut fended off break points in the third game of the match before earning the only break of the opening set in the next game. The Frenchmen saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game.

They have become the French team to win the ATP Finals doubles title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2005.

Herbert and Mahut have won 15 doubles titles as a team during their career. This year they became the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam at last January’s Australian Open and also won the Rolex Paris Masters in front of their home fans.

Last year they came within one point of winning the ATP Finals title against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock after holding a match point.

“Thank you Nicolas for sharing the court, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy, when I am with you on the court. You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that”, said Pierre Hugues Herbert.

 

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ATP

Jannik Sinner wins his third ATP Challenger in Ortisei

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Jannik Sinner won the ATP Challenger in Ortisei adding another title to his impressive collection of trophies he lifted during a memorable 2019 season.

 

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion beat world number 173 Sebastian Ofner from Austria 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour and 6 minutes in the final of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena Sudtirol at the Tennis Center in Ortisei.

Sinner won his third ATP Challenger title in 2019 after his previous wins in Bergamo and Lexington. He also reached the final in Ostrava. During the tournament the 18-year-old player from San Candido beat Lucas Miedler in the first round, Roberto Marcora in the second round, Federico gaio in the quarter final and Antoine Hoang in the semifinal without dropping a set.

Sinner will improve his ranking to his career-high at world number 78 in the ATP Ranking becoming the sixth best ranked Italian player after Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato and Andreas Seppi.

Sinner broke serve in the fifth game of the opening set to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner missed two game points in the seventh game. The Austrian player faced another break point after his third double fault. In the next game Sinner saved the first break point he faced. Sinner closed out the first set 6-2 after two backhand errors from Ofner in the eighth game.

Sinner went up a break to open up a 2-0 lead, but Ofner broke back in the fourth game and held on his serve to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner saved three break points in the seventh game to take a 4-3. Sinner converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the win with two consecutive aces.

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