Djokovic, Federer and other top guys open up about their chances at the US Open - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic, Federer and other top guys open up about their chances at the US Open

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US OPEN – On August 28, 2015, the USTA hosted the Media Day which saw the pressing having “unlimited/unrestricted” access to the top players in both the men and women’s draws. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic (1), Roger Federer (2), Andy Murray (3), Kei Nishikori (4) and Rafael Nadal (8) were all present answering questions not only about their chances in the tournament but on a host of other matters.

 

On Preparation and Being at the Open

Djokovic: The Serbian feels that he is stronger and more mature than he was in 2011 when he won three majors. He is very confident and prepared for this tournament as he noted that he played 14 matches (singles and doubles) coming prior to New York since his Wimbledon victory. “I feel like I’m well prepared for New York. I’ve had a lot of matches like I mentioned. So that competitive mode is going to help me ease my way into the tournament better.  Confidence is still there … This is where of course I was setting up my form to be at its peak. Hopefully that can happen.”

Federer: Fresh off his 7th Cincinnati title where he beat the then world’s number 1 and 2 (Djokovic and Murray) in successive matches, the Swiss spoke on his thought process coming into the event, “The goal was for me to play well here at the US Open and hopefully defend Cincinnati, as well. I did very well at Cincinnati, and now the focus shifts to New York. I feel like I have a good chance.” Despite being a 5-time champion here (2004-2008), Federer has failed to make the finals since 2009. He said, “I came very close. Clearly my focus needs to be not trying to win the tournament right away, that’d be thinking too far ahead. I haven’t been in a finals in this tournament as of late. I came close, but close is not good enough. I’ve tried to build up as we move forward.”

Murray: The Brit played three tournaments this summer as well as doubles at one of the event and had this to say on his preparation for a possible 2nd US Open title: I think that I feel confident, I’m hitting the ball well. You know I’ve played a lot of matches so my body is match tight, which is good, and I also played a couple long matches the last few weeks, which is physically very good preparation for here”

Nadal: The Spaniard is having a poor season by his own standards. He has not won a major nor a Master Series 1000 all season long. His summer hardcourt campaign was derailed by Nishikori in the quarterfinals of Montreal and in the 3rd round by Feliciano Lopez in Cincinnati. His confidence has looked well shaken and stirred all season long, “As a tennis player, I’m feeling better today than I was a couple of months ago. I’ve worked a lot these last couple of months. I know the process; It’s a challenge for me to find the level of play that I’ve been at a lot of times in my career. I’m practicing great, now it’s time to play that great against the competition. The level of tennis is very close to being back there.  

Nishikori: The Japanese is looking to repeat his success at the open last year and do one better as he made the finals of a major for the first time in his career. Since his great run of last year, Nishikori has not shown that kind of form at any of the other following majors. However, he is feeling good about his chances here in New York. “I’m feeling pretty good. I think from last year this time I kind of stepped one up and I raised my level after this tournament, so I’m very happy with everything this year. Especially this summer I’ve been playing really well, from Washington and Montreal. I unfortunately got hurt and couldn’t play Cincinnati but still I feel very good physically and also tennis-wise, so very exciting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year, again, but I’m very confident.”

Tough First Round Matches

When the draw came out, there were several first round encounters which looked to be very intriguing for some of these players. Federer, Murray and Nadal all have formidable opponents in the form of Leonardo Mayer, Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios respectively and they are all well aware that they have to be focused from the very first ball. Mayer gave Federer a run for his money back in October in Shanghai last year. Federer noted that it was “was one of the luckiest matches I’ve ever won in my career, to be quite honest.” In regards to the actual matchup, Federer had this to say, “I like the power he has, on both sides, plus the serve, as well, which makes him tough to control from the baseline. I think I always got to try to make an athletic match and there’s lots of movement, shorten the points, on my terms. I think he’s a challenge, to be honest. … I hope I can play with my confidence and use my experience against a player like this.”

Nadal lost to Coric last year at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. Speaking specifically about the loss, Nadal seemed to have very little recollection of that encounter, “I don’t remember playing him before. It was a tough week for me; I had the surgery the week after. I don’t remember it very well, but I think I played very bad.” Nonetheless, the Spaniard was very complimentary of the Croat stating, “He’s a tough player. He’s a young player with a lot of energy and he’s a big competitor. He’s one of the players that is the future of our sport, so it’s a tough one, but I’m playing well. I feel like I’m ready.”

Murray’s upcoming clash with Kyrgios is really not noteworthy considering the fact that the Australian has yet to win a set against the Brit. He is 0-3 lifetime including 0-2 at majors both of which took place this year in Melbourne and Paris. “For me it’s just a tennis match and I go about the match in the best way possible by getting all the things, getting all the tactics, and everything sorted and you know, tailor my practices the next few days around his game style and that’s what I’ll be doing. You don’t obviously pay attention to the other stuff,” said Murray. The real reason this match is drawing so much attention is the “other stuff” as noted by Murray.

Kyrgios has been embroiled in controversy recently because of off-coloured remarks on court pertaining to the romantic entanglements of Thanasi Kokkinakis, Stan Wawrinka and Donna Vekic. The ATP recently imposed a conditional suspension and fine on Kyrgios pending good behaviour within the next 6 months. Murray has seen it fit to express his sympathy towards Kyrgios regarding the situation stating, “He’s a young guy and we all make mistakes and everyone here when they were 19, 20 would have done some bad things and made some mistakes, and for him, it’s unfortunate that’s its happening in front of millions of millions of people. And I think it’s wrong, a lot of the things that he’s done, but I also think that he’s still young, and everyone’s different. People mature and grow up at different rates.”

Djokovic takes on Joao Souza of Brazil and Nishikori will play Benoit Paire in their first round matches on Monday.

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Danielle Collins blasts past Iga Świątek and into the Australian Open final

Danielle Collins comprehensively beat Iga Swiatek to reach the Australian Open final.

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Danielle Collins (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

American Danielle Collins made light work of Iga Świątek to move into her first Grand Slam final.

 

The Pole looked exhausted, particularly in the second set, after her exploits in the quarter finals against Kaia Kanepi, and was no match for the explosive Collins. Świątek going down 6-4, 6-1.

Collins will face Ash Barty in the title match, who also came through in a comfortable straight sets, against another American, Madison Keys, 6-1, 6-3.

It’s looking to be a procession for the world number one in Melbourne, who has yet to drop a set.

On Saturday, the two-time Grand Slam winner will look to become the first Australian women to win on home soil for 44 years.

Having recovered from endometriosis last year, Collins’ run to the final is even more spectacular.

She immediately stamped her authority, breaking Świątek in the opening game.

This was backed up with a comfortable hold, that was sealed with a barnstorming backhand drive. Collins soon nabbed the double break and raced into a 4-0 lead.

But Świątek, to her credit, battled back, holding serve and breaking the American with some explosive hitting.She now trailed 4-2.

A topsy-turvy set of tennis saw Collins break the Pole for the third time, but the drama was only just getting started.

Świątek miraculously saved three set points, the second with a sublime backhand volley, to the delight of Rod Laver Arena, and broke the American, again.

This was backed up with a hold serve, to beg the question, could Collins serve it out and she did, converting her fourth set point in a marathon rally, 6-4.

The 27th seed had all the momentum going into the second set and clinically broke the Pole with some irresistible hitting.

More power tennis flowed from the American’s racquet and she secured the double break, moving into a 4-0 lead.

The seventh seed simply had no answer to Collins’ dominance, and although she saved a match point, the American was far too strong and made no mistake on her second.

After the match she spoke to the crowd.

“It feels amazing. It’s been such a journey and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s been so many years of hard work and hours at an early age on the court,” she said.

“Yesterday I was talking about all the early mornings where my dad would get up with me and practice before school.

“It’s just incredible to be on this stage, especially with the health challenges, and I’m just so grateful. I couldn’t be happier.”

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Nick Kyrgios Refuses To Engage With Doubles Player’s Criticism After Reaching Doubles Final With Thanasi Kokkinakis

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis are into the men’s doubles final at the Australian Open.

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Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Nick Kyrgios has refused to engage in criticism from Michael Venus after he reached the Men’s doubles final with Thanasi Kokkinakis.

 

The controversial Australian reached his first grand slam final with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis as they defeated third seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6(4) 6-4.

The Australian duo have also knocked out top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic as well as sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus.

Speaking of Michael Venus it was the New Zealander who had a problem with Kyrgios’ behaviour in their match branding him as ‘an absolute knob’ as well as stating he has the maturity of a 10 year-old.

After the match Kyrgios refused to hit back at the doubles specialist as he wanted to focus on the victory, “Michael Venus, I’m not going to destroy him in this media conference room right now,” Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference.

“But Zeballos and Granollers are singles players. They’ve had great careers. I respect them a lot more than I respect Michael Venus. I think the balance was there today. The quality of tennis was amazing. I think the festival atmosphere was still there. I think they embraced it. They knew it was an incredible atmosphere.

“Zeballos took a selfie with us before we walked out. That’s how you embrace an atmosphere. You’re not losing a match and then getting salty about it afterwards. It’s ridiculous.”

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis’ reactions have caused a stir among opponents with their over-the-top celebrations after points.

However Kokkinakis told journalists that they are not disrespecting their opponents, “I think for the most part it’s not us trying to disrespect the opponents,” Kokkinakis said.

“It’s us trying to get the crowd going to just increase the atmosphere. Sometimes the opponents take it personally. That’s what happened with the Croatians that we played, the No 1 seeds. That’s obviously Michael took offence to that.

“We’re not doing anything directly to them to try and disrespect. We’re just trying to get the crowd even more hyped, and then some of them take it personally.”

Regardless of their reactions, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have put a lot of attention on doubles as they bid to win their first grand slam title.

On Saturday they will have an all Australian final with Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell after they knocked out second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-3 7-6(9).

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Ash Barty Storms Into Australian Open Final, Ends 42-Year Wait For Home Country

The world No.1 said it is ‘unreal’ that she now has a shot of winning the title.

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Ash Barty has broken new ground at the Australian Open by producing an emphatic win over Madison Keys to reach the final for the first time in her career.

 

Bidding to become the first Australian women to reach the title match in Melbourne Park since Wendy Turnbull back in 1980, the top seed powered her way to a 6-1, 6-3,win over her below-par American rival. Keys is a former top 10 player who was aiming to reach her first major final since the 2017 US Open. Barty dominated play with the help of 20 winners as she impressively won 78% of her first points. It is the third time in her career she has reached a Grand Slam final.

“It’s unreal. It is just incredible. I love this tournament and I love coming out here and playing in Australia,” Barty said afterwards. “As an Aussie we are exceptionally small but we are a Grand Slam nation and get to play in our backyard.’
“I’m just happy that I get to play my best tennis here. I have done well before and now we have a chance to play for a title – it’s unreal.”

Despite carrying the hopes of her nation on her shoulders, Barty settled into her semi-final clash instantly and displayed no sign of either nerves or tension. She launched her first attack in the opening game by using her slice to apply pressure directly onto Keys’ serve. A drop shot from the American was punished by Barty who hit a cross-court winner to break. She went on to secure a double break for a 4-1 lead by hitting a shot towards the baseline which forced an error from her opponent.

As for Barty’s own serve, she dominated throughout the opener by winning 15 out of 20 points played. It took just 26 minutes for the Australian to secure a 6-1 lead after she returned a tentative Keys serve with a forehand winner down the line.

Inevitably, as the match progressed, Barty looked more tight on the court with the prospect of ending Australia’s long wait for a home player in the final of their biggest tennis event. Nevertheless, she continued to weather the storm before going on to secure a vital break midway through the second frame. After saving a break point in the previous game, a winning Barty passing shot secured another break in her favour to move ahead 4-2. Storming towards the finish line, a serve out wide that was returned out by Keys set her up with two match points. She prevailed on the first of those with yet another forehand winner.

“The conditions were different tonight. It was humid and the ball was a little bit heavier off the strings. I just tried to run and adapt, make as many balls as I could and keep Maddie (Keys) under the pump on her serve,” Barty reflected.
“It was important to stay point-by-point and do the right things each and every time.”

There is a silver lining for Keys who exits Melbourne with a surge in confidence after what was a troublesome 2021 season marred by injury and a loss of form. Last year she only managed to win 11 matches on the Tour compared to this month where she has been able to win 10 alone. Keys has been ranked as high as seventh in the world.

“It’s nice to see her back where she belongs. She is an amazing human being. You see the way she carries herself out on the court,” the two-time Grand Slam champion said of Keys.
“The thing I love most about Maddie is that she is a great person no matter what happens on the court.”

Barty run to the final is yet another success story for Australian tennis this year. Nick Kyrgios and Thanassi Kokkinakis are through to the men’s doubles final where they will play compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcerll. Australia also has representation in the mixed doubles final with Jamiee Fourlis and Jason Kubler. However, Barty says the highlight of her country’s success is that of wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott, who played his last match today before retiring.

“Dylan for me is in front of that. He’s inspired a nation and the whole globe,” she said.
“The way he and the Australian Open have worked together to open up the opportunities for more disabled people around the world to play tennis is exceptional and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Barty will take on either Danielle Collins or Iga Swiatek in the title match. She leads Collins 3-1 in their head-to-head and has won both of her previous Tour meetings against Swiatek.

The last Australian woman to win the Australian Open was Chris O’Neil in 1978.

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