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.




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.


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.


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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Andy Murray won’t travel to Australia

Andy Murray will miss next month’s Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago.




Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray has made it official, he won’t be making the trip down under after working with Tennis Australia to find a viable solution to make it work.


“We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work.”

Murray was scheduled to fly to Australia with one of charter flights but due to a positive Covid test wasn’t able to make the flight and put his tournament in jeopardy.

Although he missed the chartered flights there was still a small chance he would play but had to workout an agreement with Tennis Australia to make it work. However it didn’t work and was gutted with the news.

“I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Top Names Get Preferential Treatment But That’s Part Of The Tour’

Marcelo Demoliner celebrated his birthday in quarantine, his doubles partner isn’t allowed to leave his room for 14 days and he believes there is a difference in treatment between the top players and others. Yet, he refuses to complain about the situation he finds himself in.




Marcelo Demoliner pictured during the 2020 Australian Open. image via https://www.facebook.com/mdemoliner89)

Like his peers, Brazil’s Marcelo Demoliner passes his time in Melbourne quarantine by training, sleeping, eating and posting amusing videos on social media.


Demoliner, who currently has a doubles ranking of world No.44, is required by Australian law to abide by a strict isolation period before he is allowed to play any professional tournament. Although he is allowed to train unless he is deemed to be a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19. An unfortunate situation 72 players find themselves in, including Demoliner’s doubles partner Santiago Gonzalez

During an email exchange with UbiTennis the Brazilian sheds light on what he labels as an ‘usual experience’ that has prompted criticism from some players. Roberto Bautista Agut was caught on camera describing conditions as a ‘prison’ in a video leaked to the press. Although he has since apologised for his comments. Demonliner himself is not as critical as others.

“It is an unusual experience that we will remember for a long time,” he told UbiTennis. “It is a very complicated situation that we are going through. Obviously, it is not ideal for us athletes to be able to go out for just 5 hours a day, but mainly for the other 72 players who cannot go out, like my partner Santiago Gonzalez. They have a complicated situation of possibly getting injured after not practicing for 14 days, but it is what it is.’
“We need to understand and adapt to this situation considering Australia did a great job containing Covid.”

With three ATP doubles titles to his name, Demoliner is playing at the Australian Open for the sixth year in a row. He has played on the Tour for over a decade and has been ranked as high as 34th in the world.

Besides the players complaining about food, their rooms and even questioning the transparency of the rule making, Tennis Australia also encountered a slight blip regarding the scheduling of practice.

“I was a little lucky because I stayed in one of the hotels that we don’t need to take transportation to go to the training courts. It made the logistics issue much easier. The other two hotels had problems with transportation and logistics in the first two days, but I have nothing to complain about, honestly.”

Demoliner remains thankful for what Tennis Australia has managed to do in order for the Australian Open to be played. Quarantine can have a big impact on a person mentally, as well as physically. Each day players spend at least 19 hours in their hotel rooms which was no fun for the Brazilian who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday.

“Without a doubt, it is something we have never been through before. I’m luckily having 5 hours of training daily. I am managing to maintain my physical preparation and rhythm. It is not the ideal, of course, but I can’t even imagine the situation of other players who are in the more restricted quarantine.”

image via https://www.instagram.com/MDemoliner/

Priority given to the top names

As Demoliner resides in Melbourne, a selected handful of players are spending their time in Adelaide. Under a deal struck by Tennis Australia, officials have agreed for the top three players on the ATP and WTA Tour’s to be based in the city. The idea being is that it will relieve the strain on Melbourne who is hosting in the region of 1200 arrivals.

Craig Tiley, who is the head of Tennis Australia, has insisted that all players will have to follow the same rules wherever they are based. Although some feel that those in Adelaide have some extra privileges such as a private gym they can use outside of the five-hour training bubble. Japan’s Taro Daniel told the Herald Sun: “People in Adelaide are being able to hit with four people on court, so there’s some resentment towards that as well.” Daniel’s view is one echoed also by Demoliner.

“I do believe they are receiving preferential treatment, quite different from us. But this is part of the tour,” he said.
“The top tennis players always had these extras, we are kinda of used to it. We came here knowing that they would have better conditions for practicing, structure, hotels… they also have merits to have achieved all that they have to be the best players in the world. I don’t know if it’s fair, but I believe the conditions could be more similar than they are in this situation.”

Some players were recently bemused by a photo of Naomi Osaka that surfaced on social media before being removed. The reigning US Open champion was pictured on a court with four members of her team, which is more people than what those in Melbourne are allowed to train with.


As the Adelaide contingent continues their preparations, those most unhappy with them are likely to be the 72 players who are in strict quarantine. Demoliner is concerned about the elevated risk of injury that could occur due to the facts they are not allowed to leave their rooms. All players in this situation have been issued with gym equipment to use.

“I think that they will be at a considerable disadvantage compared to who can train. But we need to obey the law of the country, there is not much to do … until the 29th they will have to stay in the room and that is it,” he said.
“Whether it is fair or not, it is not up to me to say because I am not in this situation. The thing about having the other players who didn’t have contact with the positive cases to also stay in the rooms is the concern about the risk of injury, specially for singles players. It will be a tough challenge, especially at the beginning of the season.”

In recent days, officials have been holding video calls with players to discuss ways to address these concerns ahead of the Australian Open. Which will start a week after they are allowed to leave their rooms.

When the tournaments do get underway there are also questions about how the public will react to players who have made headlines across the country for their criticism of the quarantine process. A somewhat sore point for Australian’s with some nationals unable to return home due to the government restrictions. On top of that, people in Melbourne are concerned about a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

It is a very complex situation. I fully understand the reaction of the Australian population considering the recent events… the effect that the players are bringing, the risks to the population,” Demoliner said of the current circumstances.
“We know this and obviously they are concerned with the whole situation, which is still very uncertain. On our side, though, they did allow us to come here to play. It is important to remember that the decision to welcome us was approved by the Australian Government, otherwise we would not be here.”

Demoliner is one of three Brazilian doubles players ranked to have a top 100 ranking on the ATP Tour along with Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo.

SEE ALSO EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Players Can’t Act Like Spoilt People’

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Who Are The Best Hard Court Creators In The Last 12 Months?

Here are some of the best players at earning break points on a hard court in the last 12 months.




Garbine Muguruza (@Tennis - Twitter)

As the Australian Open, slowly, approaches UbiTennis looks at the biggest hard court creators from the last 52 weeks.


Although winning matches are determined on how many break point opportunities you convert, to convert the break points you need to create them in the first place.

This can be the biggest challenge but for the players below this isn’t a problem as they are able to consistently create break point opportunities on a hard court.

Starting with the women, it may be a surprise to nobody that Garbine Muguruza, one of the more aggressive returners on the tour leads the way, earning on average 10.4 break points in the last 52 weeks on a hard court.

Muguruza’s hard-hitting style mixed with controlled placement puts her in pole position to punish her opponents on return.

There are also other big hitters in the top 10 such as Petra Kvitova, who averages 9.6 break points while Aryna Sabalenka earns 9.5 break points on a hard court.

While 2020 grand slam champions Iga Swiatek (9.8) and Naomi Osaka (9.3) also feature on this list.

Meanwhile on the men’s side it is Roger Federer who leads this list on average earning 10.8 break points, slightly more than Garbine Muguruza who is on top of the women’s list.

Federer is just ahead of Roberto Bautista Agut with 10.5 break points. This shows just how much Bautista Agut has improved on hard courts in the last 12 months being able to create so many break point opportunities with his return game.

Also featuring on this list are Alexander Zverev (9.2), Novak Djokovic (8.5) and Daniil Medvedev (8.3).

These are the players to look out for when seeing the players who are most likely to create opportunities in their respective draws and who the biggest servers may want to avoid in the Australian Open.

Here are the full lists of the top 10 from each tour and remember the Australian Open is set to begin on the 8th of February.

WTA Top 11 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks

  1. Garbine Muguruza – 10.4
  2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – 10.2
  3. Saisai Zheng – 9.9
  4. Iga Swiatek – 9.8
  5. Anett Kontaveit – 9.6
  6. Petra Kvitova – 9.6
  7. Petra Martic – 9.6
  8. Aryna Sabalenka – 9.5
  9. Ons Jabeur – 9.5
  10. Simona Halep – 9.3
  11. Naomi Osaka – 9.3

ATP Top 12 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks

  1. Roger Federer – 10.8
  2. Roberto Bautista Agut – 10.5
  3. Alexander Zverev – 9.2
  4. John Millman – 8.9
  5. Dominic Thiem – 8.9
  6. Guido Pella – 8.8
  7. Cristian Garin – 8.5
  8. Novak Djokovic – 8.5
  9. David Goffin – 8.4
  10. Adrian Mannarino – 8.3
  11. Daniil Medvedev – 8.3
  12. Grigor Dimitrov – 8.3

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