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.


Miami Open Daily Preview: Alcaraz and Sinner Meet Again in the Semifinals



Carlos Alcaraz two weeks ago at Indian Wells (

Both ATP semifinals will be played on Friday, as well as the second WTA semifinal.


For the third consecutive big event in the United States (US Open, Indian Wells, Miami), Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will collide.  At the US Open, they played an epic five-hour five-setter that went into the early hours of the morning.  At Indian Wells, they contested a high-quality semifinal.  Both of those matches went to Alcaraz.  Will he prevail again on Friday?

And are we on the verge of a rematch from the Indian Wells final between Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev?  Fellow Russian Karen Khachanov will be Medvedev’s opposition on Friday.  And in the remaining WTA singles semifinal, Petra Kvitova plays Sorana Cirstea for the right to face Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s championship match.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – 1:00pm on Stadium

Medvedev is now 27-3 this season, and has claimed 22 matches within the past seven weeks alone.  Daniil has easily advanced to this semifinal, averaging just over an hour on court across his three matches thus far.  He is vying for his fifth final in as many tournaments.

Khachanov is 13-5 on the year, and this is his third significant hard court semifinal since last summer.  At the US Open, he defeated both Pablo Carreno Busta and Nick Kyrgios in five sets to reach the semis.  At the Australian Open, he beat both Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda to advance to this stage.  And this week, he took out both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Francisco Cerundolo, who was a Miami semifinalist a year ago.

Medvedev leads their head-to-head 3-1, which includes a straight-set victory at the beginning of this season in Adelaide.  And based on his current run on hard courts, I like Daniil to achieve his first final in Miami.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium

Alcaraz is 18-1 in 2023, while Sinner is 20-4.  Neither has dropped a set this fortnight, so both are feeling fully fresh and quite confident heading into this blockbuster matchup.

Overall Carlitos is 3-2 against Jannik, and 3-0 on hard courts.  Sinner’s two victories have come on grass (Wimbledon) and clay (Umag).  Since holding a match point against Alcaraz in the fourth set of last summer’s US Open quarterfinal, and failing to convert, the Italian has lost four straight sets to the Spaniard.

Both men have made previous appearances in the Miami final, with Sinner losing to Hubert Hurkacz in 2021, and Alcaraz defeating Casper Ruud in 2022.  Carlitos needs to defend his title in order to maintain his No.1 ranking.  And considering how well he’s played since returning to the tour in February, I favor Alcaraz to eliminate Sinner again on Friday.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Petra Kvitova (15) vs. Sorana Cirstea – Kvitova has now advanced to the quarterfinals or better at the last three WTA 1000 tournaments held in the United States.  Cirstea has been playing some of the best tennis of her career since hiring Thomash Johansson as her coach.  Petra leads their head-to-head 6-4, which dates all the way back to 2008.  They met twice on hard courts in 2022, and split those two encounters.

Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens (6) vs. Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (2) – This is a quarterfinal, and the winners will come back later in the day to face Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez in the semifinals.

Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera vs. Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend – This is a semifinal.  Prior to this event, Linette and Pera had not teamed up since last year’s Wimbledon.  This is only Fernandez and Townsend’s second tournament as a team.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Elena Rybakina Plays Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals



Elena Rybakina two weeks ago at Indian Wells (

Due to rain on Wednesday, only one WTA semifinal will be played on Thursday.


Elena Rybakina is just two wins away from completing the “Sunshine Double,” which is winning both Indian Wells and Miami.  But in Thursday’s WTA semifinal, American No.1 Jessica Pegula stands in her way.  The other semifinal is still to be determined, and will not be played until Friday, as Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova will contest their rain-delayed quarterfinal on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the ATP quarterfinals will be completed on Thursday.  Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev faces American Chris Eubanks, who has been the breakout story of this tournament thus far.  Also, Karen Khachanov takes on Francisco Cerundolo, who is vying for his second consecutive semifinal in Miami.  And delayed from Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz battles Taylor Fritz in another ATP quarterfinal.

You can find a preview of the Alcaraz/Fritz and Kvitova/Alexandrova quarterfinals in yesterday’s daily preview here.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.

Chris Eubanks (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – 1:00pm on Stadium

Medvedev leads the ATP with 26 wins this season, as well as with three titles.  Daniil has not dropped a set to this stage, though he’s only played two matches thus far due to a walkover earlier this week.

Eubanks has already won six matches this fortnight after coming through qualifying.  And the 26-year-old achieved a career goal of breaking into the top 100 with this quarterfinal run.  Chris became emotional on-court after clinching that feat on Monday, and followed it up with another upset the next day, over Adrian Mannarino.  The American is projected to become ranked 85th in the world on Monday, but a win on Thursday would propel him into the top 60.

In their first career meeting, of course the self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” Medvedev is a strong favorite.  But I’m quite interested to see how Eubanks performs in the biggest match of his career.  During a rain delay on Monday, Frances Tiafoe provided Eubanks with some advice in the locker room, which Chris credited with helping him come back in the second-set tiebreak once play resumed.  He’s played more freely since that comeback, and Eubanks may feel as if he has nothing to lose on Thursday.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Rybakina is 20-4 this season, and is currently on a 10-match win streak.  If her 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer counted, she’d currently be ranked third in the world.  Elena easily dispatched of Martina Trevisan in the last round.

Pegula is 19-5 on the year, and 10-3 in Miami.  This is her second consecutive semifinal at this event, and she’s the No.3 player in the world without Rybakina’s Wimbledon points counting.  She saved multiple match points to come back and defeat Anastasia Potapova during Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Pegula is 2-0 against Rybakina, with both matches taking place on hard courts during 2022.  A year ago at this same tournament, Jess prevailed in straight sets.  And last fall in Guadalajara, Pegula outlasted Rybakina in a final-set tiebreak, another match in which the American saved multiple match points.  As confident as Elena currently is, with her big serve and groundstrokes dictating play, it’s hard not to favor the reigning Wimbledon champ.  But based on their recent history, as well as Pegula’s rising confidence after saving match points in the last round, I give Jess the slight edge in Thursday’s semifinals on home soil.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Francisco Cerundolo (25) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – Cerundolo was in danger of falling out of the top 40 with an early loss in Miami, defending the best result of his career at this level, but has impressed by returning to the quarterfinals, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on the way.  Khachanov upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, and is looking to reach his first Masters semifinal since 2019.  Last summer in Canada, Karen defeated Francisco in three sets.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Indian Wells Champs Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz Collide



Carlos Alcaraz two Sundays ago at Indian Wells (

On Wednesday in Miami, 2023 Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz faces 2022 champ Taylor Fritz for the first time.


Alcaraz is just three wins away from defending his Miami title, which he needs to do in order to remain World No.1.  Wednesday’s other ATP quarterfinal sees Indian Wells semifinalist Jannik Sinner take on Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the first Finnish quarterfinalist at a Masters 1000 tournament in a decade.

In the WTA singles draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova are one round away from a big-hitting semifinal.  But first, they must get past Sorana Cirstea and Ekaterina Alexandrova, respectively.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (18) vs. Petra Kvitova (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium

Kvitova is 14-5 this season, and has now reached the quarterfinals of both Indian Wells and Miami this month.  Petra has also now advanced to the fourth round or better of this event for the fifth straight time, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.

Alexandrova had a losing record this year before arriving in Miami.  She defeated Belinda Bencic two rounds ago, and advanced in the last round after Bianca Andreescu’s upsetting ankle injury.  This is Ekaterina’s second WTA 1000 quarterfinal, after first achieving that feat last year in Madrid, when she advanced to the semifinals.

Their only previous encounter occurred three years ago at the Australian Open, when Kvitova comfortably prevailed 6-1, 6-2.  Ekaterina does not possess the same offensive weaponry of Petra, so on a hard court, the two-time Wimbledon champion is a considerable favorite to win again on Wednesday.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Alcaraz is 17-1 on the season, despite missing all of January due to injury.  His only loss came to Cam Norrie in the final of Rio, a match in which Carlitos reaggravated his leg injury.  He’s yet to drop a set during this tournament.

Fritz is 20-5 in 2023, and has now reached the quarterfinals or better at his last five events.  This is Taylor’s first quarterfinal in Miami, and his third consecutive quarterfinal as Masters 1000 events in North America.  Like Alcaraz, he’s also yet to lose a set in Miami, but he’s 1-4 in his last five Masters quarterfinals.

This is the first career meeting between the World No.1 and the American No.1.  Fritz certainly has the firepower to threaten Alcaraz on this day.  But based on Carlitos’ recent sharp form, the 19-year-old is the favorite to advance to the semifinals.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Sorana Cirstea vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now a stellar 20-2 on the year, and has allowed her opponents this past week an average of just 2.5 games per set.  Cirstea is having an excellent March, having advanced to her second consecutive WTA 1000 quarterfinal, a stage she hadn’t reached since 2017.  This is another first-time career meeting.

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner is vying for his second consecutive Masters semifinal, and has not dropped a set thus far in Miami.  This is Ruuuvuori’s maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the only Masters event where he had ever previously advanced beyond the third round.  Jannik is 4-0 against Emil, with all of those wins in straight sets, except a match in Miami a year ago that went to a third-set tiebreak, and saw Sinner save three match points.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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