Rafael Nadal sets up encounter with Andrey Kuznetsov, Tomas Berdych also wins in Doha - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal sets up encounter with Andrey Kuznetsov, Tomas Berdych also wins in Doha

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Nadal ensured he didn’t suffer a repeat of early exit last year, when he was beaten by Michael Berrer (Image via trolltennis.com)

Rafael Nadal put his shaky opening match with Pablo Carreno-Busta behind him, returning to the form that saw him end 2015 on a high by defeating Robin Haase 6-2, 6-3 in sixty-five minutes.

 

Nadal looked far better than his sluggish start against Carreno-Busta on Tuesday, breaking three times across two sets, and saving just the solitary break point in each set. The dominance on serve was particularly welcome as it was an issue that Nadal struggled with in 2015. The straights set win was a far more comfortable one for Nadal given that their previous encounter had resulted in a five set battle at Wimbledon in 2010. Nadal had eventually emerged victorious from that match, and went on to win Wimbledon that year.

The man who Nadal went on to defeat in that 2010 final, Tomas Berdych, was also in action in Doha on Wednesday. The thirty-year old Czech had little trouble in defeating Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-0, 6-4. Berdych had too much for the Bosnian, and played a nearly perfect first set. However, the Berdych serve proved to be surprisingly susceptible in the second set, broken twice as Dzumhur tried to find a way back into the match. It proved fruitless though, as Berdych continued to return well, breaking Dzumhur a further three times for a match total of six service breaks, ensuring that the match would not go to a deciding set.

British player Kyle Edmund played the last of the day’s second round encounters, and was victorious in a close match with Daniel Munoz De La Nava. Twenty-year old Edmund advanced to his first ATP quarter-final with a comeback 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 win over the Spaniard. Edmund managed to keep a higher percentage of first serves in play, a crucial factor as Munoz De La Nava was proving impenetrable on first serve, but susceptible on second.The difference in the Spaniard’s play was vast, winning ninety percent of first serve points, but less than half on second serve in the final set. This proved to be the difference, as Edmund managed to edge the final set tiebreak seven-three.

Edmund now faces Tomas Berdych, while Nadal will meet Andrey Kuznetsov.

 

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Gael Monfils Joins Forces With Former Long-Time Coach Of Dominic Thiem

Will the Frenchman return to his best form with the help of his new mentor?

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Tennis star Gael Monfils will start the 2021 season with a new team setup after confirming the appointment of a new coach.

 

The former US Open semi-finalist has paired up with the renowned Gunther Bresnik who is best known for his time spent working alongside Dominic Thiem for over a decade until their split in 2019. Thiem is now coached by Nicolas Massu. Bresnik is the former Davis Cup captain of Austria and has worked with numerous top names such as Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz, Boris Becker and Henri Leconte.

Monfils has been training with Bresnik during the off-season but only now has it been confirmed that the two have formed an agreement to work together. However, over the coming weeks Monfils will be guided by another Austrian. Co-coach Richard Ruckelshausen will work with the world No.11 in Australia and has been appointed as the captain of the French ATP Cup team.

“I’ve known Gaël for a long time,” Bresnik told krone.at on January 9th. “With Ernests Gulbis and Stefan Lochbihler’s son, he worked on his shape here in Spain (during the off-season).”

The 34-year-old will be looking to get back on top form following what was a roller-coaster 2020. Monfils started last year by winning 16 matches within a three-month period. However, following the pause in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic he struggled to regain that form. Ending the season with three consecutive first round losses.

Monfils had been working with Liam Smith. The upcoming Australian Open will be his 54th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He has only reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne major once which was back in 2016.

So far in his career Monfils has won 10 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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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.

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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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‘If I knew, I Wouldn’t Come’ – Victor Troicki Slams Hard Quarantine In Melbourne

Troicki, who will head the Serbian ATP Cup team next month, says his career has been thrown into ‘chaos.’

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Former top 20 player Victor Troicki says his ‘Grand Slam is failing’ after implying that he felt that he was misled about the quarantine rules ahead of the Australian Open.

 

Troicki, who is currently ranked 202nd in the world, is among 72 players who have been placed in a strict quarantine where they are not allowed to leave their room for a 14-day period. Those affected have all been deemed as a ‘close contact’ of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. A series of positive tests was detected on flights en route to the country.

34-year-old Troicki travelled to Australia from Doha after successfully qualifying for the Australian Open with wins over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Ulises Blanch and Jurij Rodionov. This year’s two qualifying tournament’s took place in the Middle East due to the pandemic.

“If I knew, I wouldn’t come,” Troicki told Sportski Zurnal earlier this week.
“Total chaos, horror as far as everything is concerned. I’m locked up for 14 days, I can’t leave the room. No training, nothing. My Grand Slam is failing, I can’t get ready for five sets in the room.”

In recent days there has been some dispute over whether players knew about the conditions regarding going into a strict quarantine. Carlos Martinez, who is the coach of Daria Kasatkina, told UbiTennis that players were initially under the impression that sections of a plan would have to be isolated if there was a positive case and not the entire plane. Ultimately the decision was up to the Australian health authorities.

“Tennis Australia was doing a great job in my opinion. The only thing that was a bit unclear was about the quarantine when somebody gets infected on the plane. They were talking like they were going to make sections inside the plane so if they found somebody in a section (who tests positive) they would isolate those people,’ said Martinez.
“But in the end the government didn’t want to do this and they preferred to isolate all on the plane because it was safer for everyone.”

Amid the debate over whether Troicki and his peers knew the full story or not, Spain’s Paula Badosa has become the first Australian Open player to contract the virus during quarantine. She had previously criticised the procedure before later apologising.

As for Troicki, he says the current situation is creating ‘chaos’ in his career.

“All preparations are failing,” he said. “Two weeks of lying in bed, it is certain that I will have to get back in shape for the next month and a half. All this is creating chaos in my career.”

Troicki is the team captain of the Serbian ATP Cup team. The tournament will start a week prior to the Australian Open on February 1st.

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