Australian Open 2015: The Day After - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open 2015: The Day After

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. It’s time to look at a few numbers from the 2015 Australian Open. From Melbourne, Robbie Cappuccio

 

The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air, as if we were waiting for something that cannot arrive. The free trams have disappeared and so have the free shuttle service from the City to the Rod Laver Arena. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. We Aussies might be a bit rough around the edges, but generally we follow the rules and we have a health respect for our civic duties.

There is no mention of the men’s final on the morning papers as the match finished too late as the papers were already printing, but there re many pictures of Serena, queen for the sixth time in Melbourne. By the way, her speech during the prize giving ceremony (“I went on court with a ball, a racket and hope…”) and Maria’s (“I really love playing against her as she is the best and you want to play against the best…”) were hundreds of times more touching, genuine and interesting than those uttered by Djokovic and Murray (who denounced Djoker’s “simulation” of an injury).

It was an extravagant Slam for the colour of the tennis attire with excesses like Stabilo Boss or Peppa Pig (guess who) plus Mattek-Sands’ usual eccentricity that is in a league of it’s own.

The most significant phrase of the tournament was spoken by Vitas Gerulaitis in 1980, “And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row” (referred to Gerulaitis’ encounters with Jimmy Connors), which was adapted for the Berdych-Nadal rivalry, “Nobody, not even Nadal, beats Berdych 18 times in a row”. It was also adapted for the women’s final, “Nobody, but Serena Williams, beats Masha 16 times in a row”.

Newcombe used to say that “you are only as good as your second serve”. If this is true then Murray has to worry as in the final his second serve was travelling at an average speed of 134km/h compared to Djokovic’s 158km/h. What is of bigger concern for the Scot is that both Serena (153km/h) and Masha (150km/h) were serving their second ball faster than him.

Nick Kyrgios’ nickname is “wild thing” and it isn’t just a random pick for him. Proof that he is a “wild thing” came in this tournament as he topped the list for fines. It shouldn’t be condoned, but for someone like me who grew up watching John McEnroe, these indiscretions can be forgiven. By the way the Aussie was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and will have to take a month off from tennis.

Let’s look at some of the numbers of this record breaking tournament:

  • 49 Nations were represented by the 256 players of the single’s tournaments. In the men’s draw there were 41 different nationalities with 12 of them coming from Spain. In the women’s draw there were 34 nationalities and 16 players came from the USA. 11 Australians reached the second round.
  • 704 participants took part in the Australian Open 2015 considering every tournament that was played, from the men’s singles to the wheel chair events.
  • The fastest serve was recorded by… Marius Copil (ROM) at 242km/h. Milos Raonic made the highest number of aces, 114.
  • In the women’s draw the fastest serve was recorded by, surprise surprise, by Serena Williams at 204km/h. She even recorded the highest number of aces, 88.
  • 703,899 spectators came to Melbourne Park to watch the Australian Open, 18 more than the previous record attendance registered in 2012.
  • The day with the biggest attendance was the middle Saturday with 81,031 fans.
  • There were 650 journalists and photographers. 296 of them from outside Australia representing 44 nations.
  • The Wilson technicians restrung 4763 racquets using more than 57km of string. 71 racquets were restrung quickly during matches. Serena has also the record for the most racquets restrung, 86.
  • 360 umpires and line judges, plus Hawk-Eye, were used in the tournament from 34 different countries.
  • 380 ball-kids were at Melbourne Park for the fortnight. 327 came from the state of Victoria, 25 from the rest of Australia, 20 from Korea, 6 from China and 2 from Singapore.
  • 8412 members of staff, both contracted and voluntary, worked behind the scenes

The Australian Open is a family event. On the last day of the qualifying tournament, Saturday 17th of January, there was Kids Tennis Day with 14500 kids and parents (among them myself with wife and daughter) were treated to a clash between team Dora and team Spongebob. The two teams were formed by the likes of Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Eugenie Bouchard and the Aussie duo of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. But that wasn’t it, more than 7000 kids, with their parents, visited the Disney area during the last three days of the event.

The Hisense Arena was quickly transformed in a small Disneyland where the kids could see characters from Cars, or go to the Frozen inspired world with a pile of snow and a karaoke. What to do to attract the young ones to tennis? Set up a Disney zone and give a free racquet to kids when they walk in and ask for information (just ask, they didn’t have to sign up to anything!) about the Hot Shots program. If you increase the numbers of kids playing it is easier to find the Kyrgios’ and Kokkinakis’ (by the way watch out for Violet Apisah and Destanee Aiava who are both 14 years old, but are competing and beating 17 year olds).

And finally some “digital” numbers. Before the men’s final the ausopen.com site received 13.5 million separate users.

The most clicked player profiles were Madison Keys (212,748), Eugenie Bouchard (198,381), Serena Williams (195,585), Maria Sharapova (176,404) and Ekaterina Makarova (129,614).

Amongst the men Nick Kyrgios was the most clicked (208,863), followed by Novak Djokovic (180,102), Rafael Nadal (159,683), Roger Federer (153,255) and Andy Murray (128,000), that is the Fab Four and… Jimmy Hendrix?

With one big event finished the preparation for another is getting underway. Next to my house work has started for the F1 Grand Prix, so I am off to take my Ferrari flag out of the cupboard.

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Novak Djokovic Equals Laver’s Grass-Court Winning Streak With Emphatic Wimbledon Win

The world No.3 was in ruthless form as he dropped only seven game in his latest match at The All England Club.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB)- Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

Novak Djokovic has breezed into the fourth round of Wimbledon after dismissing fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets.

 

The reigning champion was in top form from the onset as he stormed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4, win in under two hours. It is the third time in a row he has beaten Kecmanovic on the Tour and the first on grass. In what was a largely clinical display from the former world No.1, Djokovic hit 36 winners and six aces.

“I thought it started off very well, very strong with a lot of good intensity. Good focus,” said Djokovic. “I know Miomir quite well, we train together a lot. I’m really glad that he, alongside a couple of other (Serbian) players is doing well. I wish him all the best. Hopefully, I will get to play against him many more times on the biggest courts.

In only the third all-Serbian men’s match in the Open Era at Wimbledon, Djokovic got off to a perfect start by steamrolling his way through the opener in just 25 minutes. Dropping just six points on his serve and 12 overall in the set. It is the first time he has bagel a player at Wimbledon since doing so against David Goffin in 2019.

Fortunately for Kecmanovic and the Center Court crowd, the second frame was much more competitive with the world No.30 producing glimmers of the tennis that has taken him to two Masters 1000 quarter-finals earlier this year. Three times in two separate games Djokovic had a break point chance but failed to convert.

Continuing to wear down his compatriot, the top seed eventually secured a breakthrough whilst leading 4-3. Playing behind the baseline he slipped on the grass during a rally whilst having another break point chance but this time Kecmanovic hit the ball out to hand him the advantage. Djokovic went on to close out the set with a backhand lob. 

The only blip in the match for Djokovic occurred when he was trying to close the match out. After easing his way to a double break advantage in the third set, he dropped serve for the first time. However, he prevailed on his second chance to serve the match out to seal his 330th Grand Slam main draw win. 

“It means that I have been playing for quite a few years which I’m very grateful for and I’m very blessed to be in this position to compete at the highest level,” Djokovic replied when asked about winning tally ay major events.
“I’m very proud of my consistency at this level.”

Friday’s win is Djokovic’s 24th in a row on the grass which puts him level with tennis great Rod Laver on the all-time list. Only Bjorn Borg (41) and Roger Federer (65) have ever won more matches on the surface. It is the 55th time in his career he has reached the last 16 of a major tournament. 

So far in this year’s draw, he has only dropped one set in three matches played. That was in the first round against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.

“I think I’ve been playing better and better as the tournament progresses. It is something you wish for as a player that you raise your level of tennis up a notch,” he said.
“I know I can always do better. I always expect the highest from myself but so far, so good. I look forward to the next challenge.”

Djokovic will play Dutch sensation Tim van Rijthoven in the fourth round.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Djokovic, Kerber, Alcaraz Face Seeded Opposition

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A shot of a double rainbow over the grounds on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Third round singles action begins on Friday, which is the first day seeded players clash in the draw.  Novak Djokovic, Angelique Kerber, and Carlos Alcaraz will all face seeded opposition on Friday.  And in perhaps the day’s most marquee matchup, Italy’s Jannik Sinner takes on John Isner, who eliminated Andy Murray on Wednesday.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Diane Parry – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Jabeur is now on a seven-match win streak, dating back to her title run two weeks ago in Berlin.  She has earned two comprehensive victories this week, dropping just four games in each of her first two rounds.  Parry is a 19-year-old who also nabbed her first two matches in straight sets.  And just a few weeks ago, Diane also reached the third round of her home Slam in Paris, where she upset Barbora Krejcikova in the defending champion’s return from an injury layoff.  There is plenty of promise in Parry’s game, but upsetting the new world No.2, whose style of play is a great fit for grass courts, would be a shocking result.


Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Elise Mertens (24) – Second on No.1 Court

Kerber got off to a terrible start this season, with a record of 2-8.  Surprisingly, Angie found her form on her worst surface, with a clay title run in Strasbourg.  Since last year, the 2018 champion is 15-3 on grass, and has not lost a set this week.  Mertens is now into her 18th consecutive third round at a Major, though just barely.  She needed to save two match points in the second set on Wednesday, before coming back to play an extended third set on Thursday, to eventually prevail 7-5 in the third.  Elise claimed their only previous encounter in three sets, which occurred three years ago in Doha.  But on grass, Kerber should be considered the favorite.  Angie thrives off the low bounces these lawns provide.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic (25) – Second on Centre Court

After Djokovic was prevented from playing the Australian Open in January, it’s Kecmanovic who benefited from taking the top seed’s place in the draw.  Miomir took full advantage, reaching the second week of a Major for the first time.  And he has continued that momentum throughout the year, accumulating 27 match wins through six months.  But he will likely be outmatched by his fellow Serbian on Friday.  Djokovic is on a 23-match win streak at Wimbledon, and after some subpar form in his opening round, he comfortably dispatched of Thanasi Kokkinakis on Wednesday.  Novak has claimed both his previous encounters with Kecmanovic, making him a clear favorite to reach the round of 16 at The Championships for the 14th time.


Jannik Sinner (10) vs. John Isner (20) – Third on No.2 Court

Isner demoralized the British audience on Wednesday by earning his first victory over two-time champion Andy Murray in nine tries.  John’s serving was extra impressive in that match, striking 36 aces across four sets.  But the rest of his game was highly effective as well, with 82 winners and only 32 unforced errors.  And as Ben Rothenberg highlighted on Twitter, he broke Murray twice after only breaking him once across their previous eight matches.  Meanwhile, Sinner came into this event 0-4 in main draw matches on grass, yet gained two four-set wins this week over Stan Wawrinka and Mikael Ymer.  Jannik and John’s head-to-head is tied at 1-1, with Isner prevailing last year in Cincinnati, and Sinner prevailing later in the year in Davis Cup.  As monstrous as Isner’s serve can be, maintaining his high level from Wednesday in all aspects of his game will be challenging.  I give the slight edge to the more well-rounded game of Sinner, whose penetrating groundstrokes should earn him a few breaks of serve.


Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Oscar Otte (32) – Third on No.1 Court

Despite only playing two grass court matches in his career prior to this fortnight, Alcaraz appears pretty comfortable on this surface.  After surviving a tight five-setter in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, Carlitos prevailed in straights in the last round.  But his opposition on Friday is quite a formidable grass court player.  Otte is a 28-year-old who, as a qualifier, pushed Andy Murray to five sets at this event one year ago.  And Oscar is now 7-2 on grass this season, coming off back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Halle.  He also reached the second week of last summer’s US Open, and is now ranked inside the top 40.  Yet based on what we’ve seen Alcaraz achieve this season, building a record of 34-4 with four titles, the 19-year-old’s mix of power, speed, and finesse should be enough to overcame the veteran from Germany.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Frances Tiafoe (23) vs. Alexander Bublik – These are two of the sport’s most entertaining players to watch.  And both are in strong form, each winning all six sets they’ve contested this week.  They played just last week in Eastbourne, with Bublik victorious in three sets. 

Jelena Ostapenko (12) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu – Ostapenko has twice reached the quarters or better at this event, and was the runner-up a week ago in Eastbourne.  Begu is a 32-year-old who reached the second week of Roland Garros a few weeks ago.  And Begu took their only prior matchup, four years ago in Madrid on clay.

Maria Sakkari (5) vs. Tatjana Maria – Sakkari has easily advanced to this stage, and is vying for her fourth appearance in the round of 16 out of the last six Slams.  Tatjana is a 34-year-old who upset Sorana Cirstea in the last round.  In the first round of this year’s Australian Open, Sakkari defeated Maria in straights.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Rafael Nadal Gives His Verdict On Three WTA Stars After Reaching Wimbledon Third Round

The Spaniard was very complimentary when it came to talking about three of the biggest names in women’s tennis at present.

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal describes Iga Swiatek’s run of 37 consecutive wins as ‘amazing’ and he is also impressed by two younger stars in the women’s game.

The world No.4 spoke about the trio of WTA players following his roller-coaster 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win over Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis. A match where he admits he didn’t ‘have the best start.’ In the fourth set Nadal had to endure a 50-minute rain delay before returning and sealing his place in the last 32 at The All England Club for the 11th time in his career.

“The fourth set has been the level of tennis for me, an important improvement. The rest of the things I have room to improve.” He commented.

Nadal’s triumph occurred on the same day as Swiatek also booked herself a place in the third round. Like the Spaniard, she also endured a roller-coaster match. The Pole has won six titles in a row and is only the second woman since 1990 to reach straight 37 wins after Martina Hingis. She has managed to win a set 6-0 17 times already this year. In total she has won 43 matches in 2022 which is 11 more than any other player on the WTA Tour (as of today).

The dominance of the 20-year-old hasn’t gone unnoticed by Nadal who more than a decade ago in 2008 was on a 32-match winning run before losing to the formidable Novak Djokovic.

I texted her a couple of times because it’s unbelievable the way that she’s playing. It’s unbelievable the way that she’s able to hold her concentration and the winning spirit for such a long time.” Nadal said of Swiatek.
“I think when she’s playing well, it’s very difficult to stop her because her shots are a little bit different, with a lot of power. She’s able to move well. I think she has shots that are very difficult to stop for the rest of the girls.”

 

Swiatek’s game style is one that has been heavily influenced by the 22-time Grand Slam winner who she has named as one of her idols. During an interview with Eurosport France earlier this year she said ‘I wanted to play topspin like him (Nadal). He is the reason why I play like this. Rafa has always been my idol.”

Another player who Nadal spoke highly of was Emma Raducanu who he describes as a ‘very important character’ to the sport. The Brit burst onto the scene last year by winning the US Open after coming through three rounds of qualifying. However, since then Raducanu is yet to make another Tour final and crashed out in the second round at Wimbledon on Wednesday to Caroline Garcia.

“I think she’s a very important character for our sport,” he said. “I know she’s having a tough year, but on the other hand she already won a slam at a very early stage of her career. That gives her I think calm to take her time to keep improving and to keep having chances in the near future. I really hope that she will.”

The maturity of Coco Gauff has also been hailed by Nadal. Despite being only 18 she has reached the final of the French Open this year and has been ranked as high as fifth in the world. This year’s Wimbledon is already her 11th main draw appearance in a major.

I like the way that she talks to the crowd, to the press at the end of the matches. She’s fresh. She’s natural. Looks very mature in her thoughts,” said Nadal.
“I like the way that she plays. She fights for every ball. Even sometimes when she’s not playing that well, she keeps fighting till the end, running for every ball.’
“If she’s able just to improve a little bit with this physical performance that she has, we will probably be talking about a multi-Grand Slam winner.”

Nadal will play Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in his third round match at Wimbledon. 

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