Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus - UBITENNIS
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Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus

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US Open – There was a time, just over a decade ago when Venus and Serena were fighting for major titles. Now it is Serena alone at the top and Venus seemingly struggling to find that major form. Yet here they are again in another battle on one of the grandest stage in tennis with the entire world watching. However, in the end, Serena remains on quest for the calendar slam as she defeated Venus for the 16th time 6-2 1-6 6-3.

 

Despite the fact that this was their 27th meeting on the professional tour level, Venus and Serena Williams matches have always drawn much spectacle, speculations as well as something special in tennis. How could it be that not only one tennis legend but two come out of the same household to transform and transcend the sport of women’s tennis has always fascinated tennis fans and the general public at large. This US Open encounter for a place in the semifinal between the two was no different. Serena is on the cusp of history and Venus possibly on the cusp of retirement. Some liken this matchup to the Billie Jean-King v Bobby Riggs hype and energy but Venus quickly stated,I’m not sure anything can top Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.”

The match was everything one can hope for as it was very competitive despite a casual look at the scoreline. Serena got the early break in the 5th game to go up 3-2 when Venus’s forehand went into the net. Serena broke again in the 7th game for 5-2 and quickly served it out 6-2 in just 33 minutes. In the 2nd set, Venus got charge in the 4th game, breaking Serena to go up 3-1. The elder sister would break again in the 6th game to serve it out 6-1 and level the match just over an hour into the match.

Serena is no stranger to comebacks and she had shown in all her major wins this year, she can summon her best tennis when under pressure. In the decisive set, Serena quickly broke Venus in the 2nd game. She quickly consolidated the break for 3-0. Venus did all she could to remain on serve to avoid another break in the set. The lone break point she had on the Serena serve was not converted and so Serena was able to maintain the lead and close out the match with an ace 6-2 1-6 6-3 after 93 minutes. It’s really great to see her do so well. She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent,” said Serena.

There was not much to really separate them in the match as they were both playing aggressive from the baseline trying to force the other to scramble from behind it. They both served well winning over 70% of their 1st serve points and near half of the points on their 2nd serves. Serena had 35 winners to 29 errors whereas Venus had 24 winners to 26 errors. Besides this winner to error ratio, the only real discernible difference between the two was that despite Venus many attempts to get into to the net, 20 times, she was far less successful than Serena who was 9/11. Venus only won 9 of those 20 points. The crucial thing in the match was that Serena got off to a great start in the 3rd set and maintained it. “[S]he has of course a wonderful mental game, but she also has ability to come up with a great shot when she needs it. That’s just been the hallmark of her game,” Venus said after the match.

Serena will next play Roberta Vinci in the semifinals for a place in the final. Were Serena to win that, this would be her 5th consecutive US Open finals. Of the matchup, Serena had this to say, “I played her in Canada. She played me really tough, and I didn’t really expect that … I’m not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She’s not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play … I just think it was great that I played her because I kind of know what to expect, and I’ll be more ready for it this time.” 

 

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Bad Behaviour Overshadows Fabio Fognini’s Epic Australian Open Win

There was a lot of F-bombs and even a dig at world No.1 Rafael Nadal during the animated encounter in Melbourne.

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Fabio Fognini has found himself at the centre of controversy once again following his spat with the umpire during his opening match at the Australian Open.

 

The Italian 12th seed staged a marathon comeback to edge out America’s Riley Opelka 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5), during the two-day clash. Fognini started his campaign on Monday, but his match was suspended due to the rain. The win improves his career record in five-set matches to 21-13.

Tuesday’s victory wasn’t the talking point of Fognini’s match, it was the behaviour of both him and his opponent. Whilst trailing the match by two sets, 32-year-old smashed his racket onto the ground out of anger. Then in a separate incident he was seen punching his equipment. Prompting a frustrated Opelka to brand umpire Carlos Bernardes as ‘pathetic’ for seemingly not penalising Fognini for time wasting when he received a code violation for the same thing earlier in the match.

“How many f—ing times are you going to let him get away with it?” Opelka could be heard saying.
“You’re f—ing pathetic. He’s done it four times.”

Then it was Fognini’s turn to lose his cool on the court. After being hit with a code violation, the fiery Italian accused Bernardes of giving preferential treatment to players. Suggesting that no such penalty would have been issued if Rafael Nadal had done it. Who Fognini describes as ‘His Majesty’ during a heated exchange between the two.

“I can’t play with a referee who doesn’t give me tranquillity,” Fognini said in Italian.
“When Rafael Nadal asks for it, you [ATP] do it, when Fognini asks for it, you don’t. When His Majesty asks for it, you do it.
“You’re a shame. You’re not fit for this. You can’t give me point penalty for throwing my racket when [Opelka] is saying ‘f**k, f**k’ all the time.
“It’s not like I’m telling you to f**k off, if I told you to f**k off it’d be different.”

It appears that the 32-year-old was making a reference to Nadal’s past request to not have his matches umpired by Bernardes. That was made during 2015 after the two clashed with each other at the Rio Open.

Following the dramatic clash between the two, Opelka admitted that his outburst had a negative effect on him.

“No, not at all. It hurts me.” He told AFP.
“It’s a negative emotion, especially against a guy like him. You want to keep him out of the match as much as possible.
“You don’t want to engage with a guy like that. It’s definitely not a positive thing.”

As for Fognini he is left nursing a bruised index finger after punching his racket. Which he is now having difficulty bending.

Fognini will play Jordan Thompson in the next round.

 

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Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit

Is this the biggest hint yet that the Russian will be walking away from the sport this year?

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Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is unsure if she will play in the Australian Open again following her first round loss in Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

 

Sharapova, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell 6-3, 6-4, to Croatian world No.20 Donna Vekic. Still on the comeback from a shoulder injury that hampered her 2019 season, the former world No.1 failed to capitalise on a 4-1 lead in the second set after dropping six consecutive games to crash out. Furthermore, Sharapova also produced almost twice as many errors compared to Vekic with 31 against 17.

“If I’m looking at that part of the match, it’s a combination of she definitely stepped up on those points, played well, played big, deep, and a little bit of making the wrong choices.” Sharapova reflected during her press conference.

Losing in the first round of Melbourne for the first time since 2010, speculation is mounting about Sharapova’s future in the world of tennis. When questioned by reporters, she said she ‘doesn’t know’ what will happen in 12 months time when asked if she will be returning to Australia. It was at the Australian Open where she played her first grand slam main draw match back in 2003 at the age of 15.

“I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig (Tiley) and the team allowing me to be part of this event.” She said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

The comment comes after what was a troublesome 2019 season. Due to injury issues, Sharapova only managed to play in eight tournaments in which she won eight matches. The five-time grand slam champion has now dropped to 144th in the world rankings. Her lowest position since starting her return from a doping ban back in 2017.

Whilst there is no immediate indication of a retirement from the sport, it is unclear as to what Sharapova’s plans are over the coming months. She is currently trained on the tour by prestigious Italian coach Riccardo Piatti. A partnership she intends to continue. Although she is unsure if she will be able to get in shape to play the tournaments she wants to.

“I would like to. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.” Sharapova told reporters.

Should this year’s Australian Open be the last one for Sharapova, she exits with 15 main draw appearances. The 2008 champion has won 58 matches in what is her most successful grand slam tournament in terms of match wins to date.

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Rafael Nadal Reacts To First Round Win At Australian Open

It was a strong start to the tournament from the top seed in the men’s draw.

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World No.1 Rafael Nadal overcame some spirited play from underdog Hugo Dellien to move into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

The former champion rallied to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-0, victory against the world No.73. Who is the only player from Bolivia to have a top 500 ranking at present. Despite the straightforward score, Nadal was at times made to work hard for victory due to some big hitting coming from across the court, but it was not consistent enough to derail the Spaniard as he dropped serve twice in the match.

“For me it is a positive start. What you want in the first round (of a grand slam) is to win and to do it in straight sets is even better.” Nadal said during his on-court interview.
“I’m happy and excited to be back here in Melbourne.”

Seeking only his second title in Melbourne and first in a decade, the top seed blasted 38 winners to 21 unforced errors in his latest encounter on the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal also had the edge when it came to serve as he won 70% of his first service points and 59% of his second. Converting eight out of his 18 break point opportunities.

Nadal’s form on the court elevated as the match progressed. After manoeuvring his way through the first two sets against Dellien, he switched up to another level in the third. It was during the decider where he dropped only six points behind serve and broke three consecutive times en route to victory. Clinching the win with the help of a clean forehand winner

“It was a tough first five games for me. I was leading 5-0, but he had a lot of chances to win games during that tough time.” He reflected after.
“He’s (Dellien) a fighter. He has a great story behind him. He is playing at a very high level and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.”

The 32-year-old enters this year’s tournament with plenty of match practice following his run to the final of the inaugural ATP Earlier this month. At the tournament Nadal played a total of eight matches (including two doubles) and won six of them. Although he is not phased by the busy start to 2020 for him.

“There has not been much time between seasons this year. I finished late (last year) with the Davis Cup and then started (2020) with a demanding competition at the ATP Cup,’ he admits.
“But I’m happy. I’ve started to take it a bit slow at the end of last week and then I started to increase my intensity on the practice court.”

Nadal has now won his first round match at the Australian Open in 14 out of his 15 appearances. The only exception was in 2016. He has now won 62 main draw matches at the tournament since his debut back in 2004.

Up next for the top seed will be a meeting with either Portugal’s Joao Sousa or Argentina’s Federico Delbonis. He currently leads both player’s 3-0 in their head-to-head and is yet to drop a set against them.

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