How the 2015 Australian Open may have an impact on the season of some of the top stars - UBITENNIS
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How the 2015 Australian Open may have an impact on the season of some of the top stars

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TENNIS – The 2015 Australian Open crowned Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams after two weeks of exciting tennis, upsets and memorable matches at Melbourne Park. Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open title and his eighth overall win in a Major equalling Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and André Agassi. Williams has become the second best player in history with 19 Majors behind Steffi Graf. The Australian Open may have an impact on the season of some of the top stars. Diego Sampaolo

Novak Djokovic confirmed his status as the King of Melbourne winning this title for the fifth time. Melbourne Park is becoming the backyard of Djokovic in the same way as the Roland Garros for Nadal and Wimbledon’s All England Club for Federer.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic’s next goal will be to win the Roland Garros for the first time in his career and complete the Career Grand Slam with the only Trophy missing from his cabinet. A triumph in the French capital could raise his hopes to complete the calendar year-Grand Slam.This is a hard but not impossible goal for Nole who came close to this achievement in 2011 when he triumphed in the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open losing an epic semifinal against Federer

Only Don Budge, the first player to win the four singles Majors in the same year was Don Budge in 1938, and Rod Laver, who accomplished this feat in 1962 and 1969, accomplished this feat in the history of men’s tennis. Three women won the four Slams in the same year: Maureen Connolly (1963), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (who achieved the Golden Grand Slam with the Olympic Gold in Seul 1988). This is enough to say how tough the achievement is for Djokovic especially in modern tennis.

The First Grand Slam of the year also produced some major changes to the ATP Ranking. These changes could have a major impact on future seeds and draws for the next tournaments. The most significant changes regard two top-10 player Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Andy Murray and Amelie Mauresmo

Andy Murray and Amelie Mauresmo

The first change to the Ranking is the return of the Fab 4 after the return of Murray to the fourth place behind Djokovic, Federer and Nadal after finishing runner-up to Djokovic in the Australian Open final on Sunday. The Dunblane native, who fell out of the top-4 after losing in the quarter final last year in Melbourne and ended the 2014 season in sixth place in the Ranking after a difficult year marred by injury problems which he managed to rescue thanks to a strong finish to the year in which he collected three titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia. Murray had a strong return to form Down Under with wins against Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych before keeping pace with Djokovic in the first two sets of the final which ended with tie-breaks. Murray broke serve at the start of the second set but from then on he started faltering and dropped 12 out of the last 13 games. Murray will have to improve his game especially after the final in which he hit 41 winners but 49 unforced errors.

Apart from the rise to the fourth place the Australian Open final was an important confidence-booster for Murray for the next months in which he will be bidding to his third Grand Slam title after the 2012 US Open and his triumph at Wimbledon in 2013. He will have to defend important points at the Roland Garros where he reached the semifinal last year. He reached the quarter final last year at Wimbledon and at the US Open where he will have his best chances to lift another Grand Slam Trophy.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka

The other major impact on the Ranking regards Stan Wawrinka who reached the semifinal Down Under after another solid tournament in which he beat Kei Nishikori in the quarter final but he could not defend his title points this year and dropped five places to Number 9 in the ATP Ranking after losing the semifinal against eventual champion Nole Djokovic. This means that he will face the risk to meet tough rivals in early rounds of the next Master 1000 Tournaments. He will also have to defend the title points in Monte-Carlo, although early exits last year in Madrid, Rome and the Roland Garros mean that he will have the chance to collect a lot of points since May.

The other major impact on the Rankings was produced by young Aussie Rising star Nick Kyrgios who rose to a career high Number 35 after reaching his second Grand Slam quarter final after last year’s Wimbledon. He has become the first teenager to reach two Grand Slam quarter final since Roger Federer in 2001

Kyrgios, who beat Federer’s conqueror Andreas Seppi before losing to Murray in the quarter final, has the potential to become the next star of the circuit and the great achievement in the Happy Slam could raise his confidence ahead of Wimbledon where he will try to improve his result of last year.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov reached at least the semifinal stage in Grand Slam tournaments in 2014 and are expected to follow in the footsteps of Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic as first-time Grand Slam champions in 2015. These three stars were not ready to lift their first Major Trophy in Melbourne but upsets are behind the corner especially at Grand Slam level. Among the reasons, which explain how the challenge faced by Raonic, Nishikori and Dimitrov is, there are the return to the top of Andy Murray, and the consistent tournament of Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych.

Raonic has moved up to his career high position of World Number 6 after reaching the quarter final for the first time at the Australian Open. However, the young Canadian showed that he cannot rely only on his big serve if he wants to have a serious chance to beat the Fab 4 in Grand Slams, as it happened in the Melbourne quarter final match where his best weapon was not enough to prevail against Djokovic.

Raonic, who will have to defend his semifinal points at Wimbledon after reaching this stage of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career, is just 360 points behind fifth ranked Kei Nishikori, who reached the quarter final in Melbourne.

The Japanese player, Grand Slam finalist for the first time last September at the US Open, beat David Ferrer but lost against Wawrinka who played his best match of the tournament in the quarter final against the Japanese player. By reaching the quarter final Nishikori equalled the same result achieved in 2012. The player coached by Michael Chang won just six of his 25 head-to-head matches against the top-10 but prevailed only twice in Grand Slams against Wawrinka in the quarter final and Djokovic in the semifinal at the 2014 US Open.

In comparison to Nishikori, Raonic won just five of his 27 head-to-head matches against top-10 players but has a 4-2 win-loss record against Murray. The Canadian has the potential to reach again the semifinal in Grand Slam tournaments in the near future.

Dimitrov reached the semifinal at Wimbledon last year but in the other Slams he was quarter finalist only at the Australian Open in 2013 and 2015. This year he faced a very tough task when he was beaten by Murray who was looking to take a re-match after losing last year at Wimbledon. Dimitrov won just four of 19 head-to head matches against the top-10 but has the talent to equal the semifinal achieved last year at Wimbledon.

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych performed well at the start of this year reaching the final in Doha and the semifinal in Melbourne. His Australian Open campaign was highlighted by his win over Rafa Nadal in the quarter final where the Czech player broke his 17-match losing streak against his Spanish rival. His run ended with the defeat against Murray in the semifinal but he showed consistency during the tournament reaching the semifinal for the second consecutive year. Much credit goes to his new coach Dani Vallverdu. Reaching the second Grand Slam final after Wimbledon in 2010 could be a realistic goal for Berdych in the next tournaments if he keeps the consistency.

Roger Federer suffered a major disappointment as he was knocked out by Andreas Seppi in the third round but he has still the chance to bounce back and add another Grand Slam to his impressive collection especially in his favourite Slam at Wimbledon where he won seven times and played a epic final against Djokovic. Winning the 18th Slam title could be the major goal for the final part of his legendary career- It remains to be seen how the Swiss Maestro will plan the rest of the season after the Australian Open especially in spring, if he will drop some tournaments from his calendar and if he plays in the Davis Cup first round against Belgium next March.

Rafa Nadal showed once again his ability to win very hard battles but he is vulnerable to injuries which are taking a heavy toll on his career. He will chase a lot of titles on his favourite clay surface next spring in the tournaments, where he did not perform at the same level as in the past years, before defending his title points at the Roland Garros. After Paris he will not have much to defend for the rest of the year, because he played sparingly in the second half of 2014 because of injury and physical problems.

Women:

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Serena Williams celebrated her 19th title to move up into second place in the all-time list of winners of Grand Slam titles behind Steffi Graf who won 22 Major titles. Williams can dream to win more Grand Slam crowns and close the gap on the German legend if she keeps her form.

Serena has been at the top of the Ranking for a total of 226 weeks and is closing the gap on Chris Evert who was first for 260 weeks and is still ranked third in the all-time ranking of players who stayed at the top for more weeks behind Steffi Graf (377 weeks) and Martina Navratilova (332 weeks).

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Runner-up Maria Sharapova lost her 17th consecutive match since 2004 against Serena but she fought hard in the second set and can look to the next tournaments with a renewed confidence especially during the spring clay season where she will have to defend the title points in Madrid, Stuttgart and the Roland Garros. Maria, who started her season with a title in Brisbane against Ana Ivanovic, showed once again the ability to fight hard until the end especially when she saved two match points against Alexandra Panova in the second round. Last year she won a hard final match against Simona Halep in Paris and she will certainly take advantage of this ability to fight hard until the last point in long and tough matches during the European clay season.

Sharapova has learned to move effectively on the clay surface, which was considered as one of her worst surface. She won two of her six Grand Slam titles in 2012 and 2014 in Paris and finished runner-up in 2013.

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

The major surprise of this year’s Australian Open Madison Keys could produce a major impact in the circuit after reaching the semifinals. The US teenager has reached the top-20 for the first time in his career after starting the tournament in 35th place in the WTA Ranking and is the youngest player in the top-20. Keys upset her childhood idol Venus Williams in the quarter final before losing against Serena in the semifinals. If Keys keeps this level, she could reach have the potential to reach the top-10 in the coming months and become the new star of the future. Keys could follow in the footsteps of Eugenie Bouchard, who start the 2014 season with a semifinal in Melbourne and went on to reach another Grand Slam semifinal at the Roland Garros before qualifying for the final at Wimbledon. The young Canadian did not confirm the semifinal of last year but she played a good tournament losing to Sharapova in the quarter final.

The other semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova confirmed her excellent level on the Grand Slam stage reaching her second consecutive semifinal after the US Open. She also reached the quarter final at Wimbledon last year. The Russian player crushed Simona Halep 6-4 6-0 in the quarter final before losing to Sharapova in the semifinal showing her potential to raise her game on the bigger stage. Thanks to her consistency Makarova has moved up to ninth place in the WTA Ranking and has the potential to reach her first Major final in the coming three tournaments.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Serena’s older sister Venus made a surprising start to her season winning in Auckland and reaching the quarter final in Melbourne. Venus beat Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the quarter final in a Grand Slam for the first time since 2010. She was beaten by Madison Keys in a clash between two different generations. Venus moved up seven position from 18th to 11th place in the WTA Ranking and cannot be written off in the coming tournaments if she is fit. Considering her illness which affected her in her recent years it’s a great achievement for the US legend.

Two players who suffered defeats in the early rounds were Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova but they faced tough players. Wozniacki lost to Vika Azarenka in the second round, while Kvitova was knocked out by Keys in the third round. Both players will have the chance to bounce back in the coming months. Last year they also did not start well but they raised their level in the second half of the season. Kvitova lost in the first round in Melbourne in 2014 but she finished strongly winning her second title at Wimbledon, New Haven and Wuhan. Wozniacki lost in the third round in Melbourne and fell in the first round in Paris but she enjoyed a second half winning a title at Istanbul and reaching the final at the US Open and Tokyo and the semifinal in Eastbourne, Cincinnati, Wuhan and in the WTA Championships in Singapore.

Cictoria Azarenka

Cictoria Azarenka

Vika Azarenka made a successful come-back with her her spectacular second round win over Wozniacki after starting the tournament as unseeded in 44th place in the WTA Ranking. She dropped to World Number 49, but her win over Wozniacki could be a confidence-booster for Azarenka who will try to improve her ranking in the coming tournaments.

Halep could not handle the pressure of high expectations and faltered in the second set against Makarova losing with a bagel. The young Romanian will have to defend a lot of points during the spring clay season where she will try to defend the final reached last year in Paris.

Agnieszka Radwanska was beaten by Venus Williams and dropped to eighth place, her lowest ranking since 2012.

Last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova lost eight positions in the Ranking dropping to 18th but she showed encouraging progress reaching the quarter final in her favourite tournament.

Italian Camila Giorgi enjoyed a solid tournament reaching the third round where she came close to upsetting Venus Williams. She improved her ranking by two positions to Number 31.

Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic

The major disappointment of this year’s tournament Down Under was Ana Ivanovic who did not advance the first round. The Serbian enjoyed a consistent 2014 season winning four titles in Auckland, Monterrey, Birmingham and Tokyo but reached her only Grand Slam quarter final in the Australian Open. She will have to raise her game if she wants to improve her record in Grand Slam tournaments. She will have to defend her final points of last year in Stuttgart and the semifinal points in Rome.

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Jack Draper Stuns Tiafoe in Stuttgart; Becomes New British Number One

The Brit serves up astonishing 31 aces in just 17 service games

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Britain’s Jack Draper was pushed all the way before beating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie-breaker to reach the semi-finals of the Boss Open in Stuttgart today – a result which also makes him the new British number one.

Draper’s biggest wins of his career came when he defeated world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal last year as a qualifier, and also beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the US Open third round. However, today’s victory over Tiafoe confirms his ascent to the top spot in the British rankings, something which is extremely proud of.

“It’s an incredible privilege, an honour to be in that position,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been so lucky to have guys like Andy Murray, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of me all these years and they’re still in the mix pushing me, so it’s a real honour, a big milestone.”

Games went with serve in the opening set until Tiafoe broke when the scores were even at five games all. Tiafoe, whose three ATP titles have come on all three surfaces, survived a break back point in the next game to take the set with 15 winners and an impressive 71% of first serves in. The payers stopped briefly for a rain delay at the start of the second set.

“It was difficult, it wasn’t easy after the first set, I thought Frances played a really good game, just the one break.” Said Draper. “Going off, I was very frustrated, but then I came back really strong, I knew I had my opportunities and I knew I would have some more. I’m really happy with the way I served and competed and how brave I was at the end.”

As the second set continued, Draper missed two breakpoints when 4-3 ahead including a huge chance when he pushed his opponent out wide and approached the net – but put too much on his drop volley which Tiafoe punished. Draper had been serving unbelievably throughout the set with 11 aces overall, and blitzed through another love service game to go 5-4 up and apply some scoreboard pressure.

In the next game he hit a strong forehand up the line to win the crucial first point and then chased down a drop shot to hit another flashy winner to go 0-30 ahead. Tiafoe won the next point but then double faulted to give Draper set points – and he converted with yet another superb forehand up the line to level the contest at a set all.

Both players held serve easily at the start of the third but then tested each other out as the set progressed. Tiafoe fought through a deuce game and got to 30 all on Draper’s serve but the Brit averted the danger. Draper missed a match point when 5-4 up with a missed return but entered the tie-break in good shape – his first serve was almost unplayable winning over 85% when in.

“I’m incredibly happy with the win. I’ve lost all my last three third set tie-breakers so to come through today was really amazing, I’m really proud of my effort. I’m really happy with the way I served and the way I played; it was a really high-quality match. Frances was serving very well himself so to serve the way I did; it was a really big positive for me.”

Draper now goes on to face another American Brandon Nakashima who progressed after Jan-Lennard Struff withdrew with sickness. Speaking about his next opponent who was born in the same year as Draper, he said: “He’s someone who is an incredibly good young player, a really exciting talent, I think he had a lot of injuries last year like myself but he’s been rising this year and playing a lot of matches. Like everyone here, they’re all amazing players and it will be a tough battle.”

After the match, Draper spoke to Sky Sports and elaborated further about the positive influence of the other British top five, and about the Euro 2024 tournament beginning this evening.

“Those guys have all inspired me to be better. Obviously, Andy is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and has achieved so much in the game. For me he’s one of the greatest players. I’ve learned so much from those guys, the professionalism, the discipline and they’ve always been really good for me, just as a young player looking up to them and copying what they do so I’m very grateful for that.”

“[In the football]: Hopefully England can do one better than three years ago because we did well to get to the final. We have an incredibly strong team. It’s going to be a lot of tough matches but hopefully they can pull through.

On the other side of the draw, former champion Matteo Berrettini faced qualifier James Duckworth.  The Australian, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2021, could only manage 64% of first serve points won and committed 16 unforced errors while also facing eight breakpoints. A single break of serve in both sets was enough for the Italian to move forward into the semis, as he won 6-4, 7-5 with another strong serving display.

“It was a really solid match, especially on my serve, I didn’t give him any breakpoints,” said Berrettini afterwards. “I felt like the rhythm on the serve was really good, on grass it’s really important and in the right moments I stepped in and was more aggressive. It’s really important to put a lot of returns in and that’s what I tried to do and it worked out, and so I’m happy for that.

When asked why he was so hard to beat on the faster surface he replied, “you should ask my opponents that! I think obviously for my weapons, my serve, it pays off on grass to play aggressively and that’s what I like to do. I’m using the slice as well on the backhand side and it’s important to play good in the important moments and being able to put pressure on your opponent when you’re serving is really important, and I think that’s the key. And when I step on grass, I feel like I want to play for hours and hours so here I am”

The 28-year-old is a big football fan, and was also asked about whether he would watch the opening match of the tournament. “Germany is playing tonight so I will watch tomorrow’s match. I love Germany but to supporting Germany is a little bit too much! Tomorrow is the start [for Italy] so good luck to the guys. Three years ago, we had really good memories during this time, so let’s see!”

Following Struff’s earlier withdrawal against Nakashima, it meant there was only one other quarter final today where Lorenzo Musetti progressed despite dropping the first set 4-6 to Hungarian Alexander Bublik. The Italian raced through the second set 6-1, and when he broke serve to go 1-0 ahead in the decider, Bublik retired.

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Rafael Nadal Announces Wimbledon Withdrawal, Will Play Bastad Ahead Of Olympics

Rafael Nadal has announced his schedule ahead of the Olympic Games.

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Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad ahead of the Olympic Games as he will once again withdraws from Wimbledon.

The Spaniard is set for a massive summer as he competes in singles and doubles at the Olympic Games.

It was announced yesterday that he and Carlos Alcaraz will team up in the doubles event in Paris as Nadal searches for his third gold medal.

However Nadal’s big summer before the Olympics has been slightly altered in order to have the best preparations possible for the big event.

This is as Nadal has announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon with the Spaniard not playing the event since withdrawing from his 2022 semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

In more surprising news though Nadal announced on social media that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad, Sweden ahead of the Olympic Games, “During my post match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay. It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics,” Nadal explained on X.

“With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then. It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at The Championships this year at Wimbledon.

“I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.

“In order to prepare for the Olympic Games, I will play the tournament in Bastad, Sweden, a tournament that I played earlier in my career and where I had a great time both on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing you all there. Thank you.”

Nadal last competed at Bastad in 2005, where he won the title defeating Tomas Berdych in the final.

The tournament will take place the week after Wimbledon on the 15th of July with world number one Jannik Sinner scheduled to participate there as well.

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Rafael Nadal And Carlos Alcaraz To Team Up In Olympic Gold Bid

Rafael Nadal has been confirmed to compete at his third Olympic Games in Paris.

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Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will team up and represent Spain in the upcoming Olympic Games.

The news was announced by Davis Cup captain David Ferrer at a press conference as he stated that Nadal and Alcaraz would team up at the Olympic Games.

Nadal has won Gold at the last two Olympic Games he has participated in and will fancy his chances of further success at Roland Garros, where he won 14 Grand Slam titles.

Meanwhile Alcaraz recently won the Roland Garros title in Paris to claim his third Grand Slam title.

Speaking about the Olympics Alcaraz stated that he is prioritising winning gold in Paris, “The Olympic Games are every four years and it’s a special tournament where you’re not only playing for yourself, but for a country, representing every Spaniard,” Alcaraz was quoted by The Score as saying.

“I think this year I’d choose Olympic gold.”

In addition to Nadal Pablo Carreno Busta, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Marcel Granollers complete the team.

On the women’s team Sara Sorribes Tormo and Cristina Bucsa will represent Spain while Paula Badosa has decided to use her last two protected rankings at Wimbledon and US Open, so will not be competing in Paris.

The tennis event at the Olympic Games begins on the 27th of July and concludes on the 4th of August.

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