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.


The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter



By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.


2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.

Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.

Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals



Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)


Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

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