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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Bianca Andreescu becomes the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion at Indian Wells

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Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu edged past Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 to become the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion and the fourth youngest winner at Indian Wells behind Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Monica Seles.

Bianca Andreescu has won her maiden WTA title. With this win she has won 28 of her 31 matches this season and becomes the first wild-card to win the Indian Wells title.

Andreescu started the first set with an immediate break on her fourth break point chance in the opening game after Kerber’s second double fault. The Canadian teenager held her serve with a hold of serve at 15 to open up a 2-0 lead.

In the third game Andreescu hit a forehand slice to draw level to 30-30, but Kerber held her serve for 1-2, as Andreescu sent her forehand wide.

Andreescu held her serve at 30 in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The teenager got to 30-all on Kerber’s serve, but the German player hit a big forehand and held her serve for 2-3. In the sixth game Andreescu hit a forehand winner to earn a game point and held her serve with her first ace. Andreescu made a double fault at 30-15 in the 10th game but she held her serve to close out the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes. Kerber won all her points on her second serve, compared to Kerber’s 55%. The German player made 14 unforced errors in the first set.

In the second set Andreeu got to 30-30, but she hit her backhand into the net to hold serve for 1-1. In the best game of the match Kerber saved two break points to hold her serve for 2-1. Andreescu battled hard to hold her serve but Kerber came back from 30-40 down to convert her only break point of the set after two deuces thanks to a forehand error from Andreescu. The player consolidated the break with a hold at 30 to open up a 4-1 lead. Kerber held her next service games to close out the second set 6-3.

Andreescu opened the third set with a hold at 30 to take a 1-0 lead. The Canadian held serve in the third game at deuce for 2-1, but she missed a chance for a break point, when she netted a short forehand. Andreescu required medical treatment on her arm after the third game.

Kerber converted her second break point to take a 3-2 lead, when Andreescu hit a shot into the net. Andreescu broke straight back at 15 to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love for 4-3. The Canadian got the second consecutive break on her second break point chance in the eighth game to earn her chance to serve for the match, but Kerber saved three championship points to break back in the ninth game on return at deuce, when Andreescu hit her drop-shot into the net.

Andreescu closed out the match with another break in the 10th game on her fourth championhip point. She hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and closed out the match, when Kerber hit the net, and fell to the ground in celebration.

“I would like to congratulate Angelique Kerber for an amazing tournament. It was amazing to share the court with you today. You are an incredible champion and an inspiration. Hopefully this moment can be an inspiration for many young athletes because, like I always say, if you believe in yourself anything is possible. My mother told me throughout the years ‘if you work hard, you dream to get big. Then you can accomplish so many things and that’s what I’ve been doing throughout. This moment has become a reality and it’s really crazy. To my team – thank you for being there for me throughout so many years. It’s really means so much to share this moment right now”, said Andreescu.

 Angelique Kerber congratulated with Andreescu on her amazing week in the post match speech.

“I would like to say congratulations to Bianca for your unbelievable tournament, for your win here. You played amazing during the whole tournament and you really deserved to win the title”, said Kerber.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Federer Clash With Knee Injury, Withdraws From Miami

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final with Roger Federer due to a knee injury.

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Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his Indian Wells semi-final with Roger Federer after suffering a right knee injury.

The Spaniard injured his during his 7-6(2) 7-6(2) win over Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. As a result he has also withdrawn from next week’s Miami Open.

It was reported that Nadal had a 15 minute practice before a 10 minute conversation with his team where they made the decision to withdraw from the semi-final.

After the announcement Nadal emphasised his disappointment at the withdrawal, “I wanted to try my best to be competitive, but during the warmup I felt my knee was not good enough for the level I need to play,” Nadal explained.

“It’s tough for me to accept all these things that I’m going through in my career. Sometimes I feel sad because I’m in a disadvantage to all my opponents. 

[I need to] be positive and grateful for all the things tennis has given to me. I feel fortunate for all the things I’ve done in my life and the world of tennis.”

It is a bitterly disappointing setback for Nadal who would’ve been hoping to close the gap between him and Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

Next for the Spaniard will be Monte-Carlo in mid-April after also announcing his withdrawal from next week’s Miami Open, “The plan for the clay season is Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Roma and Roland Garros. That has been my calendar throughout my career and I hope to be able to complete it one more time.”

As for Roger Federer, he will now play either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s final as he looks to win his sixth title in California.

 

 

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Indian Wells Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semi-Finals

It will be Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal for the 39th time in the BNP Paribas Open Semi-Finals… or will it be?

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Roger Federer (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

During his semi-final yesterday against Karen Khachanov, Rafa aggravated the knee tendinitis that has plagued his hard court tennis in recent years. He was still able to finish off the dangerous Russian, but even Nadal himself admits he won’t know how his knee will be for this match until he wakes up today. It’s entirely possible he may retire from yet another hard court tournament. Assuming he is able to play, we’re in for a rekindling of tennis’ most historic rivalry. The other men’s semi-final will feature two men who have advanced to finals at both Grand Slam and Masters 1,000 events, but are yet to win one.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Roger Federer (4)

Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN – Twitter)

This will be their first match since the Shanghai Masters in October of 2018, nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Nadal holds an overall 23-15 edge in their head-to-head, but he hasn’t defeated Federer in over five years, by far the longest stretch in this rivalry without a Rafa victory since they first met 15 years ago this month. Roger has won all of their five most recent meetings, all of which have been played on hard courts. That run started at the 2015 Basel event.

It famously continued in the 2017 Australian Open final, which is really the match that turned this rivalry around.  Federer came back from down a break in the fifth to beat his toughest opponent. The bigger racquet face he changed to during an injury layoff in 2016 played a significant role. Roger went on to beat Rafa at this tournament two years ago, and then again two weeks later in the Miami final.

Their last three matches have all been straight set wins for Federer, ever since that Australian Open final. Both men have advanced to this semi-final without dropping a set, with Federer only losing his serve once in four matches. Roger has looked exceptionally sharp, and is on a 9-match win streak coming off his 100th career title in Dubai two weeks ago. Considering their recent history, the court surface, and Nadal’s knee, Federer is the favourite to reach his 9th Indian Wells final.

Dominic Thiem (7) vs. Milos Raonic (13)

Dominic Thiem (@OanaVancea – Twitter)

Both of these men should be fully rested ahead of this semi-final.  Unlike Nadal and Federer, they got a day off between their quarterfinal and semi-final matches. And Thiem got Thursday off as well when Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal. Dominic didn’t lose a set in his other three matches at this tournament, while Milos only dropped one in four matches.

Raonic is yet to face a seeded player at this event, but he’s 2-0 lifetime against Thiem. Both of those matches were on hard courts, and Milos took both in straight sets. Thiem though is a much-improved hard court player since they last met in 2016, and he’ll prefer the slower hard court in Indian Wells. However, Raonic has achieved much more previous success in the desert than Thiem. This is the first Indian Wells semi-final for Dominic, while Milos has advanced this far in all of his last four appearances. I like the big-serving Canadian’s chances to reach his second final in tennis paradise.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot (@ESPNtenis – Twitter)

In the women’s doubles final, the best team in the world, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1), vs. two top 15 singles players, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

In the men’s doubles final, an established team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (6) vs. a newly-formed team of Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos.

 

 

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