Vinci bids "addio" to Serena and the hopes of a Calendar Slam! - UBITENNIS
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Vinci bids “addio” to Serena and the hopes of a Calendar Slam!

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Roberta Vinci

US Open – In sports, there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion. One opponent can decisively be the clear favourite but the match is always decided on the field of play. In tennis in particular, no lead is safe no matter what the head-to-head is on paper or the scoreline. Coming into a match with an incredibly long win streaks does not change the fact that the match still has to be played and the winner must first get to match point and convert. Prior to the US Open, Serena Williams (1) was 21-0 at majors this year whereas as her opponent was 1-3. In their previous four encounters, Vinci had never taken a set off Serena nor even had a set point to convert. However, unseeded Roberta Vinci faced this encounter like a brand new day. She took it, head on. This unheralded journeywoman from Italy would forever be remembered as the woman who unended Serena’s quest for “greatest” when she upset the American 2-6 6-4 6-4 for a place in her first ever major final.

 

The beginning of the match was rather tepid as neither player seemed to be willing to take control of the match. Vinci took advantage of some loose shots from Serena to break for a 2-1 lead. However, she would not be allowed to extend this lead as Serena came back roaring to win the next 5 games to take the set 6-2 in just 31 minutes. At this point, one expected that Serena was going to run away with the match and be done with the match in just over an hour. Vinci had other ideas, Serena began playing sloppy service games. She would go down 0-40 a couple of times on her serve. On the second such occasion, Vinci broke for 3-2 and maintained this lead to serve out the set at 6-4.

The match was leveled at a set apiece. However, there was no real sense of panic in the crowd for Serena all throughout this year at majors have dealt well with these type of situations. She has had to play 2 3-setters this tournament already and so a third was not surprising. She got out to a 2-0 lead and the crowd was ecstatic for this surely would be Serena’s march to the win. The crowd was missing the fact that Vinci began to tighten up her game and stay longer in the points. Serena was no longer dictating from the baseline nor dominating at the net. Things were about to get interesting.

Vinci broke Serena to get back on serve 1-2. Serena’s attempt to break back went incomplete as Vinci held serve for 2-2. That Serena Surge that one expected came in short bursts and never gained the required momentum to give Serena the upper hand in this crucial stage of the match. At 3-3, Serena serving for 4-3, she again played loose points and allowed Vinci into the game. Vinci capitalized on another rare break point and converted for 4-3. It was now do or die for Serena and she died. She was unable to break back despite having double break points and Vinci went up 5-3. Serena was able to hold serve for 4-5 and forced Vinci to serve it out. Vinci was up for the challenge and was able to serve it out at love. Roberta Vinci is now a major finalist as she took out Serena Williams 2-6 6-4 6-4 in exactly 2 hours.

After the match, Serena had this to say about losing this battle, “I think she played literally out of her mind … [S]he just played really well. She did not want to lose today.” Vinci will face her countrywoman Flavia Pennetta for the title. Pennetta herself is making her major final debut. She took out the Simona Halep (2) in a straight sets thrashing 6-1 6-3 in just 59 minutes.

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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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