AO2015: Who failed and who passed Down Under - UBITENNIS
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AO2015: Who failed and who passed Down Under

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TENNIS AO2015 – The first Grand Slam of the season is already behind us. The Australian Open has traditionally thrown up more surprises and upsets than the other Slams as a result of it being right at the start of the season, when players still haven’t got a groove going. This season that hasn’t been the case. Except for Roger Federer, all of the top eight seeds reached the quarter finals and not many conclusions can be drawn from Melbourne. Bruno Bergareche Sans

 

Novak-Djokovic2-720x432

Novk Djokovic

What is clear is that Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat. Although the Serb wasn’t as brilliant as he has been in the past, he seemed to do just enough to coast to the trophy, without having to switch too much through the gears. When you’re winning slams in that manner then you’re in a class of your own, and with an outstanding fifth Australian Open, Djokovic now takes his overall tally to 8, with there being no clear indication of where his limit could be.

Melbourne also signalled the return of Andy Murray to the top four, a status he had struggled to regain after his back problems. For Murray the Australian Open was like going back in time to his pre-Lendl days. The man from Dunblane played aggressive tennis which helped him to impressive wins over Dimitrov and Berdych but it was his temperament and attitude which let him down in the final, as it had done on so many occasions previously to his first Grand Slam triumphs. The Briton has now lost six of his eight Grand Slam finals which is a very poor record and Amelie Mauresmo has her work cut out trying to ensure that the Scot keeps his focus in important matches because it has proven to be his downfall time and time again.

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

As for the semi finalists, Stan Wawrinka did his job on paper which was to reach the semi finals and bow out to Djokovic in five sets, but in reality his performance in those semis were a bit of a worry for fans of the Swiss star. Wawrinka was extremely erratic and later admitted that he was mentally drained; a very concerning fact when we’re just a couple of weeks into the new season. That semi final defeat also means that Wawrinka drops to number 9 in the world which means he could face the top four as early as in the last sixteen of tournaments. The other semi finalist leaves Melbourne with a slightly bitter taste feeling. Berdych will be radiant about his straight sets win over Rafa Nadal after a 17-match losing streak against the Spaniard but he really didn’t back it up against Murray in the semi finals. The gulf between the Scot and the Czech player was far too big for what Berdych’s aspirations are. With Vallverdu now in his corner, the man from Prague will look to definitively get himself up amongst the big boys but it always seems he’s just one step below.

Rafael nadal

Rafael Nadal

With regards to Nadal, not much was expected from the Mallorcan and even more so after just about surviving against Smyczek in the second round. But if there is one thing you’re always going to get from the Spaniard its grit and determination and he put in a solid run to the quarter finals with a good win against Anderson in the fourth round. The match against Berdych however was a true measuring tool to gauge where Nadal was exactly and it went to prove that the 14-time Grand Slam champion has quite a way to go in terms of getting rid of the rust.

Andreas Seppi and Roger Federer

Andreas Seppi and Roger Federer

The one surprise of the tournament which is mentioned briefly at the top of the article was Roger Federer’s exit at the hands of Andreas Seppi. A curiosity about Federer’s draw at the Australian Open is that he played players ranked 47 (Lu), 48 (Bolelli) and 47 (Seppi) in the opening three rounds. The difference in results only going to show how beautifully unpredictable this sport is. Roger will be bitterly disappointed with such an early exit from a Slam and will be raring to get back on the courts but the sensation is that it will be very difficult for the Swiss maestro to add any more Slams to that incredible record of 17.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

One of the positive stories from the Australian Open was the awakening of Australian tennis. One of the greatest powerhouses, if not the greatest, in the history of tennis, Australia has experienced a void since Lleyton Hewitt which appears to be coming to an end on the evidence of the opening Slam of the season. Huge hope Nick Kyrgios made the most of Federer’s absence to rampage through to the quarter finals with box office big hitting tennis and with a less flashy yet equally efficient game, Bernard Tomic had his typical good run in Melbourne which was only ended by Berdych in the fourth round. Kokkinakis also got the fans going with a tremendous first round win against Sam Groth. Now these players have to show they can also do it without their home crowd behind them.

So to wrap it all up, what we can conclude from the Australian Open is that Djokovic will take some beating, Murray has to cut down his moaning, Nadal needs some court time and Australia is putting its name back on the map. Let the tennis continue.

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‘He Needs To Bulk Up’ – Tennis Great Cast Doubt On Alex De Minaur’s French Open Chances

John Newcombe believes it will be a few more years before the world No.27 reaches his peak.

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One of Australia’s most decorated Grand Slam champions of all time believes compatriot Alex de Minaur still has a way to go before he poses a threat at the French Open.

 

Former world No.1 John Newcombe believes the 21-year-old needs to improve on his physicality before reaching his peak on the surface. De Minaur comes into the Grand Slam high in confidence after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open in what was his best performance at a major so far in his career. He was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

Although De Minaur’s preparations for the clay took a blow last week after he lost the first round of the Italian Open to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. The world No.27 had a set and 3-0 lead over Koepfer before losing. He is not playing in any tournament this week leading up to Roland Garros.

“I’d have to see the draw, how it comes out, but it will be hard work for him,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press about de Minaur’s chances in Paris.
“He’s going to have to do a hell of a lot of work. If he got to the quarters, it would be a terrific effort.
“He’s not going to be physically where he needs to be, just bulking up a bit, until he’s 25, 26.
“But he’s got a good all-court game and he understands the game well, so there’s no reason he can’t be a pretty good late maturer (on clay).”

This year’s clay-court major will be the fourth time the Australian has played in the main draw. In his three previous appearances, de Minaur has only won one match which was against Bradley Klahn last year.

During a recent interview with atptour.com, the Next Gen star gave little away about his expectations for the clay this year given the revised schedule. The French Open is taking place just two weeks after New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the sport to a five-month standstill earlier this year.

“Realistically, you never know until you step out and play matches. It’s a very quick turnaround, something that has never happened to play such an important event after a slam. I’m taking it all in, doing as best as I can and we will have to see,” he said.

De Minaur has won three ATP titles and has scored four wins over top 10 players so far in his career. He is currently the only player from his country ranked in the world’s top 40 on the ATP Tour.

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Novak Djokovic claims his 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome

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Novak Djokovic came back from 0-3 down in the first set to beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 53 minutes in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Djokovic claimed his fifth title in the Eternal City and his 36th Masters 1000 trophy and his 81st career title. Djokovic has become the oldest Rome champion. 

 

The World number 1 player extended his record in 2020 to an impressive record of 31 wins in 32 matches, including four titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome. 

Djokovic dropped his serve three times and earned five breaks of serve. 

Djokovic wasted a game point and dropped his serve, when he netted his backhand. Schwartzman hit four service winners in the second game to consolidate the break for 2-0. 

Djokovic made a backhand error to face a break point in the third game. Schwartzman earned his second break to open up a 3-0 after 18 minutes, as Djokovic netted another backhand.  Djokovic earned a break point chance and conveted it after a double fault from Schwartzman. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 with an ace in the fifth game to claw his way back to 2-3. The Serbian star forced an error from Schwarzman to earn a breka point in the sixth game and got the break, when the Argentine netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve at 15 to take a 4-3 in the seventh game. Schwartzman hit a forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the eighth game and held serve with a service winner to draw level to 4-4. 

Djokovic saved a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Schwartzman saved a set point with a forehand winner and drew level to 5-5 after two deuces with a backhand the line winner. 

Djokovic held serve after a deuce to take a 6-5 lead forcing Schwartzman to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Djokovic converted his third set point to win the opening set 7-5 after 70 minutes. 

Schwartzman earned an early break at the start of the second set. Djokovic got the break back to draw level to 1-1 when Schwartzman sent a forehand wide. 

Djokovic hit a winner at the net to hold serve in the third game. Schwartzman hit four winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.

Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth game and held serve with a service winner to take a 3-2 lead. Schwartman held serve with a drop shot. Djokovic won his service game at love to take a 4-3 lead and broke serve at love in the eighth game with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic held serve at love to close out the final. 

“”It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday and in every match. That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed. Turning to Paris, I could not ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and i super pleased with it”, said Djokovic. 

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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