James Duckworth and teenager Maddison Inglis win Australian Open 2016 wildcard - UBITENNIS
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James Duckworth and teenager Maddison Inglis win Australian Open 2016 wildcard

Duckworth gets a walkover as the other finalist Ben Mitchell flies home to be with his partner for the birth of their baby, whereas Perth based teen Inglis takes advantage of Rodionova’s wedding the night before the final to seal the most important result of her fledgling career.

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While the rest of the world is on vacation, head set on Christmas and New Year celebrations, the Australian activity is in full swing, with the junior championship and the playoffs for a main draw wildcard at the Australian Open 2016. The men’s tournament was  played at best of 5 sets, as in the Grand Slam tournament. Melbourne Park is still mostly “work in progress”, but  courts 6 and 7 already have the new plexicushion and (shaded!) areas for spectators. Here the “best after the best” Australian players competed for a spot in the main draw of the Open starting on January 18.

 

The tournament was characterised by hot weather conditions and by … family events.

Australian Summer has come, and all week temperatures were around 30 C to surge to 41C on Saturday, with humidity of 10% and the classic warm Northerly wind: practically a convection oven. Today (Sunday) the situation is not very different until the end of the match, to then quickly change  with a thunderstorm and temperature drop of 20 degrees in an hour: “four seasons in a day” for which Melbourne is famous. Whoever is coming to Oz for the Open in January it has been notified!

Family events have affected the tournament even more than the weather.

The men’s final has not even been played as Ben Mitchell withdrew to rush home, or better to the hospital, to be with his partner for the birth of their baby. Thus, James Duckworth, seeded n.1 in the playoff and ranked n. 120 ATP sends his regards, congratulations and thanks for what will be his fifth appearance at the Australian Open. ” I didn’t play so well the last four months of the year so to come here and win a few matches, especially some tight ones, some tight tiebreakers, really helps the confidence a lot.” Duckworth reached the final after defeating former ATP n.39 Marinko Matosevic in 4 sets 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7) 7-6 (8). 2015 has been a year to forget for Matosevic, characterized by injuries and illness which made him plunge to n. 296 of the ranking. Ben Mitchell had defeated the 19 years old Brad Mousley in the semifinals, in 4 sets 2-6 7-6 (3) 7-6 (2) 6-4. Mousley returned to competition in June after a one-year ban for ecstasy consumption. I remember watching Mousley losing from Italian Gianluigi Quinzi 6-4, 6-0 at the Australian Open juniors in 2013 and I remember Quinzi saying between his teeth, “How the heck hits the ball this guy?!?”. Well, Mousley has developed in these two years, has a big serve (some thirty ace in the semi), a powerful forehand and covers the net well (just loved his serve and volley). IMHO today it would be him making that remark on the Italian.

Let’s face it: the level of the women’s tournament was … so-and-so. Alas, Australia is struggling to generate talent in women’s tennis. Yes, we can rejoice with the naturalization of Daria Gavrilova, who got her Aussie citizenship last month, and with Ajla Tomljanovic who is not far. But it’s not enough.

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The two favourites were the twenty-four years old Olivia Rogowska (n.275 WTA) and the twenty six year old Arina Rodionova (n. 309 WTA). In the end, though, the winners was 17 years old Maddison Inglis, n. 768 WTA and n.103 junior ITF. The archetype of the Australian girl (as dreamed overseas): blonde, blue eyes, big smile, Maddy Inglis fulfils a dream lasted a week, helped by the premature exit of all the seeded players on her side of the draw, and by another family event: the other finalist – Arina Rodionova – got married the day before the final, after the semi-final victory against Storm Sanders, with AFL player (Australian Rules football a.k.a.  footy) Ty Vickery. Maybe because of the Champagne bubbles, maybe the excitement and tension of the marriage, maybe the stress for a final which she could not lose, maybe the heat, but Arina was not really on the court today. The match was played up to 3 all in the first set. Then Rodionova’s serve was broken by Inglis who eventually took the first set 6-4. The second was a monologue of Inglis, very effective on return, focused on the ball and displaying a serve (actually not really booming, but well placed) which saved her in a couple of tricky situations. It was also a monologue of unforced errors and tactical mistakes by Rodionova, who got literally crushed in the second set,  3-0, 5-1 with Inglis sealing a final 6-4, 6-2 victory with a serve on the T. Just in time to avoid the downpour.

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Other wildcards went to the winners of the junior tournaments Marc Polmans and Priscilla Hon (who defeated Inglis in the final).

A final note goes to Destanee Aiava: write down the name if you do not know her already. Fifteen years old, physically strong, a serve that would be the envy of a number of  top 150 WTA, she reached the QF at the playoff (defeated by Rodionova). If she improves on her mobility and grows mentally as she is growing physically, we will see her soon – but very soon – on the main stage.

 

From Melbourne

Robbie Cappuccio

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1596895388077674497

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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