TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – (Almost) everything according to the script for the seeded players. Serena show an outfit which brings out “a powerful and beautiful woman”, Rusty (Hewitt) is all but rusty. The gossip of the day though is the engagement of Berdych From Melbourne Robbie Cappuccio
After an über-exciting day 1, with Aussie young guns taking over the stage, everything (almost) according to the script today in Melbourne. It was a cloudy and dry day with temperature just shy of 30C in the early afternoon, ideal for the colourful crowd (attendance of 64,801 today) to take advantage of the ice cooling fans at Melbourne Park.
The main news is perhaps not strictly related to the game itself. LOVE is in the air and Thomas Berdych announces he is marrying his model girlfriend Ester Satorova. Given the size of the engagement ring Satorova will probably soon hire a physio to get the hand back in shape.
In the men’s singles Djoker disposed of the Slovenian Bedene in less than 2 hours. It took a little bit more, 1:08, and 31 aces, for American John Isner to win over Wang 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4. One minute less and one ace less for a philosophical Raonic (“it was what it needed to be”) who wins 7-6 7-6 3-6 over Marchenko. We are all looking forward to an ace competition between them and Aussie Sam Groth (24 aces yesterday).
Just a few notes out of tune, starting – alas – with Italian  Fognini who is the second seeded player – after Gulbis last night – to be kicked out of the men’s singles tournament in the opening round by the Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez (107). Other seeded players to pack up are the French  Benneteau by the German Becker (41),  Cuevas by another German Bachinger (142) and  Alexandr Dolgopolov by the Italian Lorenzi (64).
The evening brings more cheering and happiness to a young and not so young Aussie crowd: Lleyton “Rusty” Hewitt – at his 19th consecutive Australian Open which sets a new record – gets through to second round, with the Fanatics giving their best in choreography and chanting.
After round one, the women’s singles shows a record of 11 seeded players out of the tournament, as three more are blown away today:  Petkovic loses against Brengle (64), but does not lose her smile. Former number one  Jankovic defeated by Bacsinszky (41) and Italian  Pennetta by compatriot Giorgi (33). In the all-Italian women’s singles derby, Pennetta and Giorgi bash each other from baseline for 2 hours in a match characterised by unforced errors and double faults. In the end Giorgi prevails in 3 sets, and is still compete for the most original outfit.
Wozniacki, who now plays “connected” with the new Babolat Play, appears in good shape and dismisses and concern on her wrist injury; she will now face Vika Azarenka in a blockbuster for round 2. Serena Williams shows a bright yellow and pink-trimmed outfit with a cut-out back, which “brings out a beautiful and powerful woman and focuses on the beauty of the shape of the back”. Today’s opponent Van Uytvank will definitely agree on the “powerful” part.
Ups and downs for the Aussies: after the performance of her compatriots in the opening day, great expectations for Sam Stosur, who does not betray her fans and herself and wins smoothly with Niculescu 6-4 6-1. Dellacqua is a copycat: 6-4 6-0 to Meusburger, whereas Rogowska reads the script upside down and loses 4-6 1-6 to Gibbs. Tomljanovic is still fighting with Rogers.
My final note is for Schiavone (record holder for longest grand slam women’s singles match ever played when she defeated Kuznetsova in 2011 in 4:44), who collects only a couple of games per set to the US Coco Vandeweghe. Bounce back Francesca, tennis still needs you!
Zhizhen Zhang Handles Home Pressure As Murray Exits Shanghai
Zhizhen Zhang is into the second round of his home tournament while Andy Murray exited Shanghai in the opening round.
Zhizhen Zhang managed to handle home expectation as he defeated Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2 in his opening match in Shanghai.
Zhang had never managed a win in Shanghai before the victory over the Frenchman as he produced a confident performance to seal a place in the second round.
Although the scoreline looks easy Zhang has to manage high expectations from his home crowd and responded with 27 winners.
The 26 year-old has achieved a record-breaking season as he reached a career-high ranking of 52 in the world and now looks to end the season strong.
Speaking after his ground-breaking win in Shanghai, Zhang admitted that the pressure nearly got to him, “I was very nervous before the match because I had never had a success in Shanghai,” Zhang told the ATP website.
“Finally, in 2023, I got a first win, so I’m super happy about it. It is more pressure, because more people are following me and more people have eyes on me, but I’m happy like this. It’s better than no one seeing you… The fans are super great, as well as my friends and family, so I appreciate them coming [to support me].”
Next up for Zhang it will be 28th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry as the Chinese player looks to continue his momentum from this season.
However there was very little positives for Andy Murray as he was defeated 6-3 6-2 by the in-form Roman Safiullin.
Murray exits the Asian swing with a 1-4 record as he returns to Europe in order to search for more positives ahead of the end of the season.
‘Super happy’ Holger Rune Reacts To Winning First Match Since Wimbledon In Beijing
Holger Rune says he is pain-free and has gained confidence since reuniting with his former coach after ending his seven-match losing streak at the China Open.
Rune, who is the third seed in Beijing this week, beat former top 10 player Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4, in his opening match on Friday. The Dane fired 15 winners compared to only three unforced errors during the 85-minute encounter. It is the first time he has won a match on the Tour since Wimbledon in July.
“It feels very good. I had a tough period both with my body and with matches,” said Rune. “I’m happy to be back feeling good and feeling mentally well off the court. I’m super happy with my level today.”
The 20-year-old is experiencing a roller-coaster season where he reached the final of two Masters 1000 events and won a title in Germany during the first six months. However, recently he has struggled for wins on the Tour and ended his collaboration with Patrick Mouratoglou.
On top of that, Rune has also been hampered by a back injury which he recently underwent treatment on before coming to China. He previously told Danish TV that he had a pinched nerve in the fifth lumbar vertebra in his spine since the clay-court season. As a result, he has had to make adjustments to his service motion to overcome this problem.
“I didn’t feel any pain in my body,” he stated following his latest match.
“I’m feeling healthy and taking care of my body. Mostly I’m happy to play without pain and enjoy myself.”
Guiding the world No.4 now is Lars Christensen who he has previously worked with since childhood.
“It has helped my confidence. After some tough periods, he knows me so well,” Rune commented. “He knows when I’m back at my best level so it is easy for us to communicate and find the best version of Holger. That we did today.”
Rune will next play Grigor Dimitrov who staged an epic comeback to defeat Mackenzie McDonald. The Bulgarian was a set and 5-2 down before fighting back to prevail 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-1, over the American who was experiencing problems with his shoulder.
Medvedev, Sinner though in contrasting matchesEmbed from Getty Images
In other matches at the tournament, second seed Daniil Medvedev stormed to a 6-2, 6-1, win over Tommy Paul. He has now recorded 39 hardcourt wins on the Tour so far this season which is more than any other player.
“It’s not easy for both of us. Both of us a little jet lagged. Him maybe more, coming from Vancouver,” Medvedev said afterward. “Maybe that made the difference, but if I think only about myself, I’m happy with my level.
“I played great. The start of the match was not easy, but it’s never easy first round, especially in another part of the world. Then I was playing better and better during the match, so I’m happy about my level.”
This week is the first time Medvedev has played since losing to Novak Djokovic in the US Open final. He is seeking to win his fifth title of 2023.
Also through to the next round is Italy’s Jannik Sinner who struggled at times with his fitness during his troublesome 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3, win over Dan Evans. The world No.7 served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but failed to capitalize on the opportunity, lost a 3-0 lead in the decider and then started limping on the court. During the closing stages, he also fell when trying to return a ball and appeared to hurt himself. Despite all the drama, Sinner still managed to seal the win.
Sinner is now 16-1 in opening matches this season. He is bidding to reach his 12th tournament quarter-final in Beijing.
Roger Federer Targets Djokovic And Alcaraz For Laver Cup 2024 After Team World Thrashes Europe
Roger Federer says he would love to see the two highest-ranked players on the men’s Tour play in the next Laver Cup after this year’s tie ended in a crushing defeat for Europe.
Team World, which is captained by John McEnroe, dominated the clash in Vancouver after surging to a 10-2 lead heading into the final day of competition. On Sunday they were required to win only one match to claim the overall title which they did in the opening doubles match. Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe ousted the European duo of Andrey Rublev and Hubert hurkacz 7-6(4), 7-6(5).
“I am proud of these guys. We brought together a great group of some youth and experience, guys that have been here before. Everybody played well,” McEnroe said of his team’s 13-2 victory.
“It was an awesome week. We kicked some ass.”
“Winning is a whole lot better than losing. We struggled the first couple of years, and now we have tasted winning and it feels good.”
In contrast, Europe didn’t have much joy at the event with their only victory being from Casper Ruud who defeated Tommy Paul on the second day of the tie. Since the start of the competition in 2017, Europe won four consecutive titles but 2023 is the second year in a row that they have been defeated.
Hoping that this losing streak will come to an end next year when the event is held in Berlin, Federer says he wishes Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play. Djokovic has played in the Laver Cup twice before but Alcaraz is yet to make his debut.
“They destroyed Team Europe. Team World played fantastic, they really brought the energy. Everybody brought a point, they were stronger in the doubles. In the singles too, they were moving fast, they were ready to go. They thoroughly deserved victory,” said Federer.
“I would like to see Novak again, Alcaraz and Novak on the same team. Sascha Zverev would be great for the German market. Someone like [Holger] Rune, that really hurt Team Europe. Rune and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas pulling out. [Daniil] Medvedev would be great. I like watching [Andrey] Rublev, and maybe someone will come through,” he added.
Federer is a co-founder of the Laver Cup with his management company Team 8 partnering up with Tennis Australia and Jorge Paulo Lemann to create the event. In 2019 the team competition was awarded ATP Tour status with a spot on the official calendar and access to marketing facilities under an agreement. However, ranking points are not awarded to players.
Due to the nature of the format, only one match was played on Sunday with fans not getting the chance of watching any singles. Something two-time French Open champion Ruud admits is a problem.
“Two of the times that I have played was maybe in a way a little bit unfortunate with only one deciding doubles (match) on Sunday,” Ruud commented.
“The crowd didn’t get to see a singles (match) after or whatever. That’s not in my hands to decide what the format looks like.’
“But last year in London was great in many ways because you had so many great players and it came down to almost the last match. When I watched on TV the first series, it was so exciting because Roger played a couple of times, the final match of the Sunday and clutched it for Team Europe. It’s been a couple of years without playing that last singles match. But it’s a great initiative. Me, as a golf fan, watching the Ryder Cup all my life in my childhood, it’s great for tennis to have this event.”
The 2024 Laver Cup will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin between September 20-22.
Zhizhen Zhang Handles Home Pressure As Murray Exits Shanghai
Jannik Sinner beats Danil Medvedev in the China Open final to clinch the ninth title of his career
Iga Swiatek cruises past Magda Linette to reach the quarter final at the China Open in Beijing
Dusan Lajovic beats Stan Wawrinka to reach the second round in Shanghai
‘He’s Here To Stay’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas Brings Father Back Into Team After Philippoussis Split
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Maria Sakkari ‘Scared’ Of Anti-Doping Testing Measures After Halep Ban
Gutsy Novak Djokovic Prevails In Grueling Battle With Medvedev To Win US Open
Iga Swiatek Says Her Priority Is Form, Not Reclaiming No.1 Spot
Iga Swiatek Dismisses Criticism Over Recent US Open Exit
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