Fernando Verdasco doesn't back up shock win in a day with few surprises in Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Fernando Verdasco doesn’t back up shock win in a day with few surprises in Melbourne

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Few things can frustrate a tennis fan more than seeing a player that pulls off a huge shock not back it up in the following round. Fernando Verdasco falling to Dudi Sela in the second round of the Australian Open suggests that his victory over Rafa Nadal is more down to the off-par performance of the latter than the well-doing of the former.

 

Verdasco’s approach against Nadal was like a gambler placing his chips on red or black at the roulette table. Victory or defeat, winner or unforced error, all depending on where the ball falls. 90 winners and 91 unforced errors are proof of the risks the Madrid-born player took against the Majorcan. Against Sela it was 56 winners to 63 unforced errors and this time the ball didn’t land on Verdasco’s colour. The Israeli took the clash 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 and makes the most of Nadal’s draw as he is presented with a tremendous opportunity of making inroads at the Australian Open.

 

That same opportunity has fallen into the hands of Andrey Kuznetsov, who meets Sela in the third round after upsetting 30th seed Jeremy Chardy in straight sets. The Russian only won eight more points than his opponent in total but he came out on top when it mattered and he now has the chance of reaching a grand slam fourth round for the first time.

Gael Monfils overcame fellow Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut, on his 34th birthday, in straight sets and will face another compatriot in the shape of Stephane Robert, who defeated Rajeev Ram. The American, just like Verdasco, couldn’t back up a surprise win against Kevin Anderson.

Milos Raonic set up a third round meeting with Viktor Troicki after overcoming Tommy Robredo and Tim Smyczek in straight sets respectively. And just below them in the draw, the big upset of the day was produced by Lukas Rosol -who knows a thing or two about surprises- who put Jack Sock to the sword 7-6, 7-6, 6-3. The American was clearly hampered by his bruising first round encounter with Taylor Harry Fritz and an illness he was overcoming which forced him to retire in the final of Auckland.

“The illness was pretty unfortunate timing for myself coming into the Australian Open, I was disappointed I couldn’t be 100%. But it’s not an excuse, because once I got out there I was feeling pretty good. Today was just his day“, admitted a gallant Sock.

On a day of gold and green tears, as Australia and the world of tennis bid farewell to one of the sport’s toughest competitors and brightest stars of the last twenty years, John Millman provided the locals with some joy as he overcame huge serving Gilles Muller in five sets on the day that will always be remembered as the day Lleyton Hewitt hung up his racket. The Queenslander made the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win.

“It’s a massive thing for someone like myself who has really only spent a year in the top 100. I managed to turn the tables around today when I was being outplayed at the start of the match. I had to dig deep today and change things up and find a way and I managed to”, said Millman about his breakthrough win, and he also had words for Hewitt: “He’s set the benchmark for Australian men’s tennis for a long time. He’s had a lot of hurdles along the way It hasn’t been smooth sailing for him. I have a lot of respect for him. I’m glad he’s going to have a big part in men’s tennis in the future”.

Millman now faces a player he grew up with, Bernard Tomic, who capped off the night’s action with a gruelling four set win over Simone Bolelli. “It kind of sucks we have to play each other. But if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. I’m happy to be playing John, he had a very good win against Gilles so congratulations to him”.

Other second round results today included:

Steve Johnson d. Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-3, 6-2

Feliciano Lopez d. Guido Pella 7-6, 6-7. 7-6, 6-7, 6-4

John Isner d. Marcel Granollers 6-3, 7-6, 7-6

Joao Sousa d. Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1

 

 

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Nick Kyrgios Admits Assaulting Former Girlfriend But Avoids Prosecution

The tennis star says he ‘deeply regrets’ how he reacted during an argument with his former partner.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios will not be charged with assault despite pleading guilty to shoving over his former girlfriend following an argument. 

 

The Wimbledon finalist attended court on Friday after he was accused by his former partner, Chiara Passari, of assaulting her during an incident that took place on January 10th 2021. Kyrgios was initially charged following an argument which took place outside of Passari’s apartment in the inner-city Canberra suburb of Kingston. 

At a hearing at the ACT Magistrates Court, it was revealed that Kyrgios’ ex-girlfriend was standing in front of an Uber car door which prevented him from closing it before he pushed her over. When she fell to the ground, he was heard saying ‘seriously.’ In the minutes leading up to what happened, Kyrgios told Passari “leave me the f*** alone” and to “just f***ing piss off” when he was asked to get out of the car and calm down. He had called for an Uber ride following their argument. 

Passari, who didn’t report the incident to the police until 10 months after it happened, suffered a grazed knee and hurt her shoulder as a result of her fall, according to her legal filing. Kyrgios apologized for his actions two days later when the two met at a Canberra cafe. Unknown to him at the time, that conversation was recorded by Passari. The two continued their relationship for some months before breaking up. 

Magistrate Beth Campbell has ruled in Kyrgios’ favour despite him owning up to his actions. In her verdict, Campbell said the seriousness of the matter was ‘low’ and the tennis star was not likely to re-offend again. 

“You acted in the heat of the moment,” she said.
“I am dealing with you in the same way I would deal with any young man in this court. You are a young man who happens to hit a tennis ball particularly well.”

During the hearing, evidence was heard from Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, who said his mental health issues were ‘recurrent’ and he has suffered from thoughts of self-harm. Although Borestein says his condition has improved in recent times. Furthermore, Kyrgios’ lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith, said there was “a relationship between the mental health and the offending – even though he no longer suffers it to the same extent today.”

In a statement issued following the court’s decision, Kyrgios said he reacted ‘in a way he regretted’ and apologized for his actions. He went on to attribute what happened to his mental health condition at the time. 

“I respect today’s ruling and I am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” he said.
“I was not in a good place when this happened and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.
“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I have found that getting help and working on myself has allowed me to feel better.”

Before his guilty plea, Kyrgios had argued that the charge should be dropped on the grounds of his mental health but that appeal was withdrawn when the court found that he is not currently suffering from a major depressive illness. 

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