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Felciano Lopez speaks about his daunting Djokovic challenge



Feliciano Lopez (Photo by Jewel Samad)

Feliciano Lopez produced the best result in his career at the US Open when he defeated Fabio Fognini in straight sets to reach his maiden quarter-final in the tournament at the age of 33.


The reward for the Spaniard will be a last eight meeting with world number one Novak Djokovic. Djokovic beat another Spanish player, Roberto Baustista Agut, in his fourth round match. Lopez will be familiar with the Serbians playing style after playing him on five separate encounters between 2007-2012. His head-to-head record against Djokovic is dire with a win-loss of 0-5. The 33-year-old has played 12 sets against the top seed in his career, but has only won one of them (Dubai 2011).

With the odds being stacked against him, the left-handed 33-year-old candidly admitted in his after match press conference that if Djokovic is playing at his best, he doesn’t know what to do. Nevertheless, Lopez still intends to enjoy meeting number 6 with the Serbian king of tennis.

When Novak plays good, you don’t know what to do to be honest. He has no weaknesses in his game”. He said.
“I just have to try my best, take the chances, enjoy this match in the biggest court in the world against the best player in the world”.

The last time Lopez defeated a world number 1 player was in 2010 at the Aegon Championships, where he stunned Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. Looking at possible ways that he could repeat another sensational upset five years on, the world number 19 said that he has to be ‘very aggressive‘ and ‘play even better‘.

“In order to win I think I just have to be very aggressive and I have to play even better”. The 33-year-old told the media.
“If I’m able to do it, I do not know because the level is going up and up every round. It’s a great opportunity and a great challenge”.

Prior to the US Open Lopez has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam on three previous occasions. His trio of quarter-final appearances happened at Wimbledon in 2005, 2008 and 2011. In 2005 he was the first Spanish man to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon since 1972.

The quarter-final match between Feliciano Lopez and Novak Djokovic will take place on Tuesday.



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Australian Open Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Both defending singles champions will begin their title defences on Monday down under.



Monday will be a star-studded day in Melbourne, with an astounding 74 Major singles titles represented. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will all be in action. But the most talked-about match on Day 1 sees the WTA’s youngest rising star face the WTA’s most senior stateswoman.


Coco Gauff vs. Venus Williams

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In a rematch from the first round of Wimbledon six months ago, it’s 39-year-old Venus against 15-year-old Coco Gauff. On that day at The Championships, Gauff pulled off the stunning upset, putting the tennis world on notice and beginning a summer of Cocomania. But the dynamic in this match will be much different, as the young teenager will be the favorite. Since Wimbledon, Gauff has accumulated 13 main draw match wins, including the first title of her career this past October in Linz. Venus is just 5-8 since Wimbledon, and hasn’t played a match in over three months. Coco played two matches in Auckland to start 2020, but looked a bit shaky in her three-set defeat at the hands of Laura Siegemund. I expect Gauff to come out a bit nervous on Monday, with the pressure being firmly on her shoulders in this rematch. And Venus will be eager to avenge the Wimbledon loss, and motivated to move up the rankings as she looks to qualify for a spot on an extremely competitive American women’s Olympic team this summer. Despite her recent lack of match play, I give Venus the slight edge to prevail, and show that her career is not quite done yet.

Serena Williams (8) vs. Anastasia Potapova

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Like her older sister, Serena also faces a young new face that is less than half her age. And in this same round of the last Major, it was the 18-year-old Potapova that pushed Coco Gauff to a third set. While she went down in defeat on that day, many pundits came away fromn that match impressed with her game, and with high expectations for her future. However, standing across the net from the GOAT is a daunting task for an as-of-yet unproven teenager. And it’s been four months since Potapova won a main draw WTA match, while Serena is 5-0 to start the year. This should be a comfortable first round victory for the seven-time Australian Open singles champion.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

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Speaking of seven-time champions in Melbourne, Djokovic is again the favorite to be the last man standing 13 days from now. But this is one of the toughest first round opponents Novak could have drawn. Struff just missed out on being seeded at this event, coming off the best season of his career. The big-swinging German can outhit almost anyone on tour when he’s on. However, doing that for three full sets against the best defender in the game should prove too much for the 29-year-old. And not only has Djokovic won all five previous sets they’ve played, but Struff is a meek 1-5 in Melbourne. After a full week of rest following his inaugural ATP Cup triumph, a recuperated Djokovic should easily pass this opening round test.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Lesia Tsurenko

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It was a year ago at this tournament when Ash Barty elevated her career to the next level, reaching the quarterfinals of a Slam for the first time. 52 weeks on, she arrives in Melbourne as a definitive world No.1, thanks to big title wins at the Miami Open, Roland Garros and the WTA Finals. And just this past weekend, she was the champion in Adelaide. However, she’s 0-1 against her first round opponent. Tsurenko, a 30-year-old Ukranian, defeated Barty two years ago in Brisbane, and was a quarterfinalist at the 2018 US Open. But Lesia is coming off a six-month layoff due to an elbow injury, and Barty is a much improved player two years later, so this should be a rather straightforward win for the Australian.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Steve Johnson

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With Nadal and Djokovic closer to his tally of 20 Majors than ever before, Federer would love to end his two-year Slam drought during this fortnight. While he was the champion at this event in two of the last three years, he feels like a considerable underdog now that Djokovic is back at the peak of his abilities. This will be Roger’s first competitive match in two months, when he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals of the ATP Finals. Today he faces a former top 25 player who now finds himself fighting to stay inside the top 100. Johnson went just 14-21 last year, and spent much of the second half of the season on the challenger circuit. Federer has easily claimed both their previous encounters without dropping a set. With little in Johnson’s game that can bother Roger, this should become Federer’s 21st consecutive victory in the first round of the Australian Open.

Other notable matches on Day 1:

  • Defending champion Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Marie Bouzkova, a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic who was a semifinalist last August at the Rogers Cup.
  • ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Salvatore Caruso, a 27-year-old Italian who has never won a match at a hard court Major. Tsitispas was a semifinalist here a year ago, but is 0-3 in his last three matches at Slams.
  • In her last tournament before retirement, 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki vs. Kristie Ahn, who reached the round of 16 at last year’s US Open.
  • Roberto Bautista Agut (9), who was a quarterfinalist here last year, vs. fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. They’ve split four previous meetings, with Lopez prevailing both times they met on a hard court.
  • Petra Kvitova (7), who reached the final here 12 months ago, vs. fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova. Petra leads their head-to-head 2-0, though they played a tight three-setter last February in Dubai.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena
N. Osaka (3) versus M. Bouzkova
A. Potapova versus S. Williams (8)
S. Johnson versus R. Federer (3)
A. Barty (1) versus L. Tsurenko
J. Struff versus N. Djokovic (2)

Margaret Court Arena
D. Shapovalov (13) versus M. Fucsovics
K. Siniakova versus P. Kvitova (7)
V. Williams versus C. Gauff
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus S. Caruso
S. Stephens (24) versus S. Zhang

Melbourne Arena
M. Berrettini (8) versus A. Harris (WC)
K. Ahn versus C. Wozniacki
J. Londero versus G. Dimitrov (18)
S. Stosur versus C. McNally (Q)

1573 Arena
S. Querrey versus B. Coric (25)
R. Opelka versus F. Fognini (12)
M. Keys (10) versus D. Kasatkina
J. Konta (12) versus O. Jabeur

Court 3
M. Trevisan (Q) versus S. Kenin (14)
A. Li (Q) versus L. Cabrera (WC)
J. Thompson versus A. Bublik
J. Millman versus U. Humbert

Court 5
J. Goerges versus V. Kuzmova
K. Kanepi versus B. Krejcikova (Q)
M. Cilic versus C. Moutet
P. Kohlschreiber versus M. Giron

Court 7
C. McHale versus P. Martic (13)
J. Sinner versus M. Purcell (Q)
M. Gasparyan versus M. Sakkari (22)
D. Schwartzman (14) versus L. Harris

Court 8
G. Pella (22) versus J. Smith (WC)
A. Riske (18) versus Y. Wang
M. Polmans (WC) versus M. Kukushkin
K. Juvan (Q) versus D. Yastremska (23)

Court 10
M. Safwat (Q) versus G. Barrere
M. Linette versus A. Rus
A. Davidovich Fokina versus N. Gombos (Q)

Court 11
S. Zheng versus A. Kalinskaya (Q)
C. Garin versus S. Travaglia
L. Mayer versus T. Paul

Court 12
R. Carballes Baena versus R. Berankis
T. Zidansek versus N. Han (WC)
M. Brengle versus C. Garcia
T. Ito (WC) versus P. Gunneswaran (LL)

Court 13
V. Golubic versus L. Zhu
F. Lopez versus R. Bautista Agut (9)
P. Andujar versus M. Mmoh (WC)
B. Pera versus E. Rybakina (29)

Court 14
D. Evans (30) versus M. McDonald
T. Sandgren versus M. Trungelliti (Q)
F. Ferro versus A. Van Uytvanck
A. Sasnovich versus G. Minnen (Q)

Court 15
Y. Nishioka versus L. Djere
K. Edmund versus D. Lajovic (24)
Q. Wang (27) versus P. Parmentier (WC)
N. Hibino (Q) versus S. Peng

Court 19
E. Alexandrova (25) versus J. Teichmann
R. Albot versus M. Raonic (32)
H. Hurkacz (31) versus D. Novak (Q)
P. Hercog versus R. Peterson

Court 22
P. Badosa versus J. Larsson (Q)
S. Cirstea versus B. Strycova (32)
Q. Halys (Q) versus F. Krajinovic
B. Paire (21) versus C. Stebe

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Five Unseeded Players To Watch Out For In The Men’s Draw At The Australian Open

Meet the unseeded players hoping to cause a stir at Melbourne Park.



Whilst the limelight will be on the prestigious Big Three at Melbourne Park, there is a group of underdogs in the men’s draw hoping that they can make their mark. 


A mixture of former grand slam finalists and rising stars pose a threat to the higher-ranked players in the men’s draw. Last year the best performance by an unseeded male player was Frances Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals. 

Here is a look at five underdogs who could pose a threat. 

Kevin Anderson 

A two-time Grand Slam runner-up, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is still on the comeback from injury. Missing six months of the 2019 season due to a knee problem. He returned to action earlier this month at the ATP Cup, where he managed to take Novak Djokovic to two tiebreakers before losing his opening match. Following that, he scored victories over Benoit Paire and Christian Garin. 

“My biggest ambition is to get back into top-10. My best ranking is top-5, so I would like to get back there.” Anderson told reporters at the ATP Cup.
“But the two biggest goals is I want to win a Masters series. I feel like that’s something that I’m definitely a good enough tennis player to do that. I’ve put myself in good positions but haven’t quite taken that step. And then, obviously, the grand prize in tennis, a Grand Slam.”

The 33-year-old will open up his campaign against Ilya Ivashka. Then further in the draw, he could take on seeds Taylor Fritz and Dominic Thiem in the following two rounds. He is yet to play Fritz but interestingly holds a winning 7-2 head-to-head advantage over Thiem. 

Anderson is making his 13th appearance in Melbourne. His best run was to the fourth round of the tournament three consecutive times between 2013-2015. Last year he lost in the second round to Frances Tiafoe. 

Casper Ruud

Norway’s top player Casper Ruud has been slowly gathering momentum on the tour in recent weeks. At the ATP Cup, the 21-year-old broke new territory by scoring wins over top 20 players John Isner and Fabio Fognini. The first time in his career he has defeated top 20 opposition. 

“It’s great feedback for me to play three very good matches at the beginning of the year,” Ruud commented about his opening tournament. 
“I think this has been a very good start of the year and not practice but a good way to start before Melbourne.” He added. 

Playing in the Australian Open main draw for only the second time in his career, Ruud will start his campaign against world No.98 Egor Gerasimov. Somebody who has only ever won one main draw match at grand slam level. Should he get through his opening match, the Norweigan could play seventh seed Alexander Zverev. Zverev, who is currently trying to find his form on the court, is yet to win a match in 2020 after suffering three losses at the ATP Cup. 

Marin Cilic 

Whilst he has been far from his best in recent months, nobody should ever dismiss the threat posed by somebody as talented as Marin Cilic. Experiencing a rollercoaster 2019 season marred by injury, the former US Open champion now finds himself ranked 39th in the world. Placing him in danger of exiting the world’s top 40 for the first time since October 2013. Nevertheless, the 2018 runner-up in Melbourne is hoping he can return to his best. 

“I love the conditions (in Australia), I love the heat, the dry heat. That’s always been very beneficial for my game, as well. Hopefully, it’s going to turn out well in the Australian Open, too.” He told reporters on January 2nd. 

Cilic is set for a stern test early on at the Australian Open when he played Corentin Moutet in his opening match. Moutet is one of France’s most promising rising stars and recently reached his maiden ATP final in Doha. Also lurking is his section is Benoit Paire and Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Only once has Cilic lost in the first round of the tournament which was in his debut back in 2007. Heading into this year’s tournament, he has won 29 out of 40 matches played at the tournament. 

Jannik Sinner

The Italian sensation is the youngest player in the top 100 at the age of 18 and has already got the attention of many. Being described by John McEnroe as ‘one of the most talented kids in the last 10 years.’ Sinner broke through on the tour last year by winning Challenger titles in America and Italy. Then in November, he claimed the biggest trophy of his career by triumphing at the Next Gen Finals on home soil. 

Unfortunately for Sinner, he is yet to gain momentum in 2020 after losing his opening matches at two consecutive tournaments. In Canberra, he fell to Finnish world No.104 Emil Ruusuvuori. Then he Auckland he was bowed out by Paire. 

“The season, I didn’t start it as I wanted. We didn’t play so many matches before the Australian Open, so it’s not going to be easy for me. But I think we practiced well. Our off-season, we put in a lot of work so I feel great on-court… I felt here we especially tried to practice with the best guys,” Sinner told atptour.com. “Day after day, I feel better on the court, and we will see. The matches are always a little bit different, but hopefully, I can feel better than the first two matches.”

The Next Gen star will play Max Purcell in the first round. 

Ugo Humbert

After a disappointing start to 2020, France’s Ugo Humbert has found his form at the right time. Losing his second match at a challenger tournament in Canberra as the top seed, he then exceeded expectations at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The 21-year-old claimed his maiden ATP title after scoring a trio of high-profile wins. Getting the better of Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Paire. Three players he had previously lost to. 

“I don’t know if I realize what I did but I am extremely happy,” Humbert commented on winning his maiden title. “It was tough, really tough, and emotional as well. It was a lot of work, a lot of improvement with my coach, in the pre-season and the months before.”

Humbert is currently ranked 57th in the world but did break into the top 50 last July. Besides his triumph in New Zealand, he has also won six Challenger titles since 2018. 

The Australian Open will be only the sixth grand slam main draw the Frenchman has featured in. He will play home favorite John Milman in the first round. Should he make it through to the last 32 in Melbourne, he could play Roger Federer. 

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Once Again Serena Williams Faces The Burden Of Expectation At Australian Open

The 38-year-old is used to playing under pressure, but can she deliver in Melbourne Park this year?



For some the prospect of Serena Williams exiting the upcoming Australian Open without silverware will be nothing short of a disappointment.


In recent months it has become somewhat of a grand slam tradition when it comes to the 38-year-old former world No.1. Ahead of each major the question is asked – can she finally equal Margaret Court? The woman who currently holds the record for most grand slam singles titles won in the history of the sport at 24.

This year marks the third anniversary of Williams’ last grand slam triumph. Taking on sister Venus in the title match, she prevailed 6-4, 6-4, in Melbourne. The achievement made her the most decorated major winner in the Open Era and elevated her back to world No.1. Then roughly an hour after her jubilation on court, talk of her matching Court’s record began.

“One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax.” She replied.

Unknown to the public at the time, Williams had more than a few months to relax. During her last grand slam triumph, she was pregnant with her first child. Inevitably the American tennis star stepped away from the tour for over a year to spend time with her new family. Then when she returned, it was a case of settling for second best.

In four out of the last six grand slam tournaments, she has featured in the final. However, she succumbed in straight sets during all of them. Falling to Angelique Kerber (Wimbledon 2018), Naomi Osaka (US Open 2018), Simona Halep (Wimbledon 2019) and Bianca Andreescu (2019). The success has been sparse in recent times, but Williams continues to have admiration from her rivals.

“I’m very impressed about her, that she’s keep playing at this level, with being a mother and also being a little bit older than us. It’s impressive what she does.” Halep told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for Williams, who made her Australian Open debut back in 1998. Earlier this month, she won the ASB Classic in Auckland. The first time she has claimed a trophy since becoming a mother 18 months ago. Could this be the breakthrough she needed to finally claim major title No.24?

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling fit,” Williams said. “I’ve had some good matches – long matches, short matches, rallies, power players, the elements.
“This is exactly what I needed going into Melbourne.

Critics of the former world No.1 have previously said she at times lacked match play heading into the grand slams. In Auckland only one of her five wins in the tournament was over a top 30 player. That was Amanda Anisimova, who was in 25th position at the time. Her other victories were over Jessica Pegula (82), Laura Siegemund (73), Christina McHale (28) and Camila Giorgi (99).

Unlike her rivals, Williams didn’t do a press conference ahead to the Australian Open. Saying she was under no obligation not to. Although she has been training in Melbourne Park.

In her absence, it has been left to her rivals to speculate about her chances. Something Ash Barty, who will be the top seed in Melbourne, quickly distanced herself from.

“I think there are 128 players on the men’s side and there are 128 players on the women’s side that can win the tournament,” Barty commented on Williams’ chances. “I don’t think you can count anyone out. Everyone in this draw is deserving of their spot, has earned their right to be here.”

Williams will be seeded eighth this year at the Australian Open. In her opening match, she will take on Russia’s Anastasia Potapova. Should she progress through the first week, she will play nobody ranked higher than Johanna Konta (12) in the opening four rounds. Then Williams may have to score back-to-back wins over Naomi Osaka and Barty to even reach the final.

Projected route

  • First round: Anastasia Potapova
  • Second round: Tamara Zidansek
  • Third round: Qiang Wang [27]
  • Fourth round: Jo Konta [12]
  • QF: Naomi Osaka [3]
  • SF: Ash Barty [1]
  • F: Karolina Pliskova [2] / Simona Halep [4] / Elina Svitolina [5] / Aryna Sabalenka [11]

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