TENNIS AO2015 – Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will play they third final at the Australian Open. Nole won the previous two final match-ups Down Under in 2011 (6-4 6-2 6-3) and 2013 (6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2) and the semifinal in 2012 in a five.-set match (6-3 3-6 6-7 6-1 7-5). Djokovic leads 15-8 in the previous head-to-head matches against Murray and leads 13-6 in hard-court matches. Their last Grand Slam match was the US Open quarter final last year when Djokovic won in four sets with 7-6 6-7 6-2 6-4. Djokovic also won the last two matches in the Beijing semifinal (6-3 6-4) and in Paris Bercy quarter final (7-5 6-2). Diego Sampaolo
Nole won six of their past seven head-to-head matches since the epic US Open final in 2012 won by Murray in five sets with 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2. Murray clinched only one of these seven matches at the 2012 Wimbledon final when the Dunblane native made history becoming the first Briton to win at Church Road since Fred Perry in 1936.
“He has a fantastic record in Melbourne. He loves the court and the conditions. It would be a big upset if I manage to win. I have never won against him in Melbourne. I have lost against him the last four or five times we played against each other. I am not saying it’s not a possibility but it’s going to be very tough. ”, said Murray.
Murray admitted that he did not watch the second semifinal between Djokovic and Wawrinka
“I tried not to spend too much thinking about it (the match between Wawrinka and Djokovic) and I tried to do the same sort of routine as I have been doing in the other matches and use Friday as a recovery day. Then I practiced slightly harder than I would normally have the day before a Grand Slam final”, said Murray
Murray and Djokovic will play the closest Grand Slam final by age. Both players were born in 1987 but Murray is just seven days older than his Serbian fellow colleague. The previous closest Grand Slam finalists by age were Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Connors who played the 1977 US Open when Vilas was 18 days older than Connors.
Djokovic is bidding to win his 8th Grand Slam title and become the 8th player in history together with André Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall on the all-time list for most major titles. “Djoker” has a 7-7 win-loss record in the previous Grand Slam finals. He won four titles at the Australian Open in 2008 against Jo Wilfred Tsonga in four sets (4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6), in 2011 against Murray (6-4 6-2 6-3). In 2012 against Rafa Nadal in a epic five-set match (5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5) and in 2013 against Murray (6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2).
Djokovic is looking to become the 17th Number 1 seed player to triumph at the Australian Open in the Open Era. He is bidding to extend to extend his 9-match winning-streak against top-10 players. He suffered his last defeat against a top-10 player last October when he lost to Roger Federer in the 2014 Shanghai Master 1000 Tournament. He lost just two sets in his last eight matches against top-10 rivals against Kei Nishikori at the 2014 ATP Finals in London and in the semifinals at the 2015 Australian Open against Stan Wawrinka on Friday where he prevailed with 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4 6-0.
Murray, who is playing in his 10th consecutive Australian Open and in his 36th Grand Slam tournament overall, is bidding to become the first player in the Open Era to clinch the Australian Open title after losing three finals in 2010 to Roger Federer, in 2011 and 2013 to Djokovic. Marat Safin lost two finals in Melbourne in 2002 to Thomas Johanson and 2004 to Roger Federer before beating Lleyton Hewitt in his third attempt in 2005. Murray has a 2-5 win-loss record in his previous seven Grand Slam finals. Murray is looking to become the first number 6 seed to clinch a Grand Slam title since Juan Martin Del Potro’s win over Roger Federer at the 2009 US open.
Murray became the first Briton to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry in 1936 and the first player from his country in the home Slam at Wimbledon since Perry in 1936. He could write another piece of British tennis history if he wins tomorrow. He could become the British player to clinch the Australian Open since Perry beat Jack Crawford in 1934. Murray is looking to become the 21st man to win three or more Grand Slam titles. He has not defeated a World Number 1 since beating Djokovic in the 2013 Wimbledon final. The only other number 1 player Murray managed to beat in the four Grand Slams was Rafa Nadal in the semifinals of the 2008 US Open. Murray lost the final of that edition of Flushing Meadows against Roger Federer. Then he became the first British player to qualify for a Grand Slam final since Greg Rusedski in 1997. By reaching his 8th Grand Slam final with his semifinal win over Tomas Berdych Murray has become the second most successful player in Grand Slam behind Fred Perry who qualified for 10 Slam finals (including two at the Australian Open).
Federer (25 finals), Nadal (20) and Djokovic (15) are the only three active players to have reached more Grand Slam finals than Murray who Is currently joint 13th with Ken Rosewall and Guillermo Vilas for the most Grand Slam finals in the Open Era.
The last time Murray suffered a five-set defeat was in the semifinals of the 2012 Australian Open against Djokovic.
After winning at the US Open and Wimbledon the Dunblane native could add a third Slam to his trophy cabinet and come closer to achieving a Career Grand Slam.
“Winning any of the Slams is a very tough and challenging ting to do. Winning three or four Grand Slams seems like nothing because of everything that the other guys have done, but it’s a very difficult to do. Whether I win or not on Sunday, I still feel like my record here has been a good one. We know each other pretty well. We both know what to expect from each other’s game. The fact that I have won seven of the last eight matches is going to serve a great confidence booster coming into the match”, said Murray.
Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.
Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.
The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.
” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.
Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.
However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.
The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.
The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.
The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.
Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.
After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.
” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.
Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
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