Top 10 Questions For Australian Open 2015 - UBITENNIS
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Top 10 Questions For Australian Open 2015



TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – All ready to crack open the ball cans at the year’s first Grand Slam. A top 10 of intriguing questions to be played out at the Australian Open. By Suzi Petkovski

1. Can Novak Djokovic become the leading men’s winner in the Open era? A fifth win in Melbourne would elevate the Serbian ace above four-time champs Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. The world No.1 is already the only man to pull off a three-peat at Rod Laver Arena, in 2011-13.

2. Will another surprise winner seize his moment? Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic stunned the tennis world and themselves to emerge shock Australian and US champions in 2014. Can the new guard – led by Kei Nishikori, rapidly improving Brisbane finalist Milos Raonic and shot-maker Grigor Dimitrov – take down the Big 4 in Melbourne?

3. Will Rafael Nadal end his lean run? The 14-time Grand Slam champion is seeded No.3 here, and coming in with just eight matches since Wimbledon – his only ATP hit-out for the year a shock loss to No.127 Michael Berrer in Doha. ‘I don’t consider myself one of the favourites here,’ Rafa declared on Saturday. ‘I’d be lying if I said I was ready to win.’ Nadal faces the battle-hardened Mikhail Youzhny first up and a possible third round with Lukas Rosol – both of whom have beaten him in majors. The first week will be telling. But even if he is ‘nowhere near’ 100 percent, write off Rafa at your peril.

4. Can Roger Federer add to his legend with Grand Slam No.18? Far from creaky at 33, the incomparable Swiss has all the form coming in, and is stronger and more relaxed than a year ago. ‘Clearly things are more calm this year,’ Federer told the press in his pre-tournament presser. ‘Last year, having the new racquet, having gotten through the back issues… I came here also with Stefan Edberg helping me out. There was many changes that took place in the six months leading into [Melbourne].’ The tour-leading match-winner in 2014, Federer is, like Djokovic, eyeing a fifth AO title – a first for the Open era.

5. Can Andy Murray rebound as a grand slam contender? Has it really been 18 months since that historic Wimbledon win? Murray had a transitional year in 2014, in a difficult return from back surgery in September 2013. But he never lost before the quarters in the Slams (making the semis in Paris) and finished the season strongly. The decision to stick with new coach Amelie Mauresmo, promote Kim Sears to fiance, ink a new clothing deal and part ways with his long-time travelling coach and trainer, all confirms Murray has hit ‘reset’ on his career. No better place to announce his return to Big Four status than a deep run at the Slam where the No.6 seed is a three-time finalist.

6. Can Serena end her five-year drought in Melbourne? Since her last sparkling final win over Justin Henin in 2010, the world No.1 was absent injured in 2011, upset in 2012 by Elena Makarova, and hampered by injury in losses to Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic. The 33-year-old was erratic at the Hopman Cup in Perth – starting with her double-espresso win over Flavia Pennetta after losing the first set 6-0 – but no one can elevate their game like Serena. Unseeded champion here in 2007, the American superstar is still full of surprises.

7. Will Maria Sharapova unseat Serena at No.1? The Russian is seeded a hot No.2 and won a cracker Brisbane final over Ana Ivanovic. The upset loss last year to Dominika Cibulkova still stings. ‘I’m determined to do better,‘ Maria vowed in her tournament preview. ‘I lost in the fourth round here [last year]. That’s not a result I want.’ Maria’s Australian Open win in 2008 – also over Ivanovic in the so-called ‘glam slam’ – was the last time a woman won the title without dropping a set.

8. How long can Victoria Azarenka survive as a non-seed? The 2012-13 champion and former No.1, Azarenka is arguably the most dangerous floater ever (Serena Williams was also a two-time winner when she won unseeded in 2007). Out of the top 40 following a first-round loss in Brisbane to Karolina Pliskova, the 25-year-old is battling back from a forgettable 2014 ruined by injury and a romantic break-up. Vika has avoided a seeded player, but the draw has put Sloane Stephens in her path for the third straight year in Melbourne. Theirs is the most anticipated first round of the tournament. Should she keep her unbeaten streak over the American, Vika will likely face No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki next.

9. Can Simona Halep break through for her first major? The surging Romanian made her first major quarterfinal here only a year ago but bigger things are expected for the diminutive all-courter after her impressive run to the Roland Garros final and rise to No.2 last season. Halep quickly adjusted to new coach Victor Ionita, winning the year’s first event at Shenzhen and has recovered from the bout of gastro that forced her withdrawal from Sydney. How will the 23-year-old deal with heightened expectation? She’s definitely not flying under radar this year.

10. Can one of the Aussie young guns make his move? New No.1 Aussie Nick Kyrgios, 19, his mate Thanasi Kokkinakis, 18, and Brisbane and Sydney quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic, 22, hope to serve up a new Australian era. Kyrgios is battling to be fit, while Kokkinakis, who won his first Grand Slam match here last year, has the toughest draw, in No.11 seed Ernests Gulbis. Tomic, in his seventh Open, has the strongest lead-up form. ‘They have a lot of talent, a lot of potential,’ noted Andy Murray. ‘I think the Aussies are going to have a good time in the next 10 or so years watching all of them play.’ Life after Lleyton could start here.


Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro



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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



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?



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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