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The biggest test for Serena Williams career could be her knee

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Serena Williams of the United States plays a forehand in her third round match against Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine during day six of the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (image via Clive Brunskill)

Serena Williams will finish 2015 at the top of the rankings with almost 4000 points more than world No.2 Simona Halep. The task of dethroning Williams from the top of the rankings seems like an impossible task, however Williams isn’t worried about this prospect. The biggest threat to her career could be her knee.

 

During an interview with French media on Tuesday, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has spoken about her current knee problem. Williams decided to end her season early to concentrate on ‘her health issues’. At the time she didn’t elaborate on these issues, but Mouratoglou has spoken about the extent of the problem.

“The cartilage is not gone, not all of it, but a big part is”. He said.
“At her age, her career could really be in danger if she went too far and got more injured like Rafa [Nadal] did in the past. He kept on playing with the same problem and then it got worse and he had to stop for almost a year. We don’t want this to happen. She is 34. If she has to stop for a year then it is really bad for her.”

Throughout her career Williams has been troubled with knee issues. In 2003 she underwent an operation on her left knee to repair a tear, sidelining her for the US Open that year. She also withdrew from the 2008 Bank of West Classic and 2009 Open GDF Suez due to knee troubles. More recently, in 2015 the World No.1 pulled out of her Indian Wells semifinal clash against Simona Halep due to a sprained right knee.

The Frenchman also said that the knee issues contributed towards Williams loss at the US Open as well as stress. The world No.1 was trying to become the first woman since 1988 to win all four Grand Slam titles within the same season. At the US Open Williams lost in three sets to Italy’s Roberta Vinci.

“First, she had pain this day,” Mouratoglou said on Tuesday.
“With the knees you never know, sometimes the pain is much more [than other days]. That was the first thing she said when she came to the [practice] court: ‘My knees hurt so much today.’ So she was really struggling to move”.

Following her loss, Mouratoglou revealed that he didn’t speak with Williams for 15 days, saying that she was ‘depressed’ following her shock defeat. Despite the knee issues and her American disappointment, the world No.1 appears eager to return back to the tour in 2016 according to her coach.

“She came back to practice this week and she’s already so excited to play, which is good, but the preseason is long so you have to manage your motivation,” he said.

Williams first competition will be in the Hopman Cup, where she will play alongside Jack Sock. The tournament will start on January 3rd.

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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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