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The Kooyong Classic gets underway




A clear indicator that the season’s first Gland Slam is just around the corner is the fact that the Kooyong Classic is underway. This event, which first took place in 1988 when the Australian Open moved from the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club to Melbourne Park, serves as the perfect preparation for the inaugural Slam as all players are assured three top-quality encounters.


Past champions include Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and, more recently, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and defending champion, Fernando Verdasco. The 28th edition got underway today, with a mix of rising stars and established veterans taking part.

The first match on court was an absolute belter between Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon. The Spaniard  came out on top an incident-filled battle 6-7, 6-4, 11-9. The Spaniard was figthing jet-lag after arriving just in time from Doha, where he picked up the doubles crown alongside Marc Lopez, and the Frenchman was hampered by an abdominal injury which resulted in medical attention. According to Simon’s camp this injury is the consequence of a shoulder injury from back in September which has forced him to alter his service action and therefore strain his abdominal muscles.

“Besides this problem I’m fine. I hope to get this better and play at the Australian Open”, said Simon. With his victory Lopez advances to the next round, whereas Simon goes on to a play-off with the other first round losers. “I have big jet lag in my body right now. I’m looking forward to playing better on Friday in my second match. I’ve always said this is the best preparation for the Open. The courts and conditions are the same, even the wind is there”, stated Feliciano Lopez following his win.

Next on court was a battle of two players who have seen better days. Nicolas Almagro, still struggling to rediscover his finest form which took him into the top ten before a foot injury, squared off with the talented Paul-Henri Mathieu, who is also in the final straight of his career. The Spaniard, who was surprised by Ante Pavic in the first round of Chennai, got a confidence-boosting 7-5, 6-3 win. More importantly for Almagro’s morale, he rallied back from a 3-5 deficit in the opening set to clinch it.

“I played well, I feel good about my tennis. I’m ready to play in my 11th Australian Open. I’m ready to fight, I’m healthy and I’m over the last two tough years”, claimed an upbeat Almagro.

The last clash pitted together two of the game’s rising starts: Omar Jasika and Hyeon Chung. Jasika, just 18, is part of a new wave of exciting Australian players and will try to make the most of a wildcard at his home Slam next week. Unfortunately for the Melbourne player he was no match for a player who seems like he is no longer a promise but a reality. Chung, already ranked 51 at the tender age of 19, put the Aussie to the sword with a 6-4, 6-3 win and got sweet revenge over Jasika: “I lost to him six months ago so it was good to avenge him this time”.

Jasika will get another chance to pit his tennis against a first class opponent tomorrow when he faces Kei Nishikori. The other three matches will also be a good chance to see some rising stars and gauge the form of more established players as Alex Zverev faces Kyle Edmund, Marcos Baghdatis takes on Pablo Carreño, who took a set off Nadal in Doha, and finally Hopman Cup hero Nick Kyrgios will try to keep up his hot form when he takes on Davis Cup finalist David Goffin.


Kim Clijsters Still Capable Of Top-Level Wins, Says Former world No.1 Murray

Murray gives his verdict on Clijsters’ current form and if she can return to the top of the game.




Image via WTA Insider on Twitter

Andy Murray believes it is only a matter of time before Belgium’s Kim Clijsters is able to return to her winning ways on the Tour.


The 38-year-old is currently in the process of her latest comeback which has been hampered by both injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to the Tour at the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships, Clijsters has only played in five tournaments and is yet to win a match. Her most recent defeat was at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells where she was ousted 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, by Hsieh Su-Wei.

It was in Indian Wells where Clijsters held a hitting session with Murray who says he was impressed by her level of play. Speaking to reporters in Antwerp where he is playing in the European Open this week, the three-time Grand Slam champion believes she is heading in the right direction.

“She still hits the ball fantastic. I think the decision-making and things like that will come with more matches,” quoted Murray as saying. “I think physically she can get stronger. I think that was probably one of her biggest strengths when she was at the top of the game and as successful as she was.
“With more time, more matches, more time on the practice court, physically she’ll keep getting better. It’s not easy after such a long time out of the game, but I’m sure she can still win matches at the highest level, judging on how she’s handled herself so well.”

Following her most recent match, Clijsters said she is progressing well on the Tour given her lack of match play in recent times. She has only played two matches this year. The other took place in Chicago where she lost to Keterina Siniakova in three sets.

“I think for me the most important thing is that, what I talked with my coach and my trainer about, my fitness coach, was physically being able to get through these matches without big concerns. That was the main goal,” Clisjters said following her loss to Su-Wei.
“I came close, but still have a good feeling about, you know I’ve made progression and I think that’s the most important thing.”

Clijsters has won 41 WTA titles during her career with the last of those occurring a decade ago at the 2011 Australian Open. She has held the world No.1 spot for 20 weeks and has earned more than $24.5M in prize money.

It is unclear as to what tournament Clijsters will be playing next.

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Aryna Sabalenka Believes Experience Is The Key To Grand Slam Glory

The world No.2 reflects on her year so far as she aims to end the season on a high.




Aryna Sabalenka returns a shot during a Women's Doubles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

This year has been full of mixed emotions for Aryna Sabalenka when it comes to playing in the four most prestigious tournaments of the sport.


In the Grand Slams the world No.2 achieved the best performances of her career to date by reaching the semi-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open. A breakout run for the Belarussian who had never gone beyond the fourth round of a major until this season. She was denied a place in her maiden final by Karolina Pliskova and Leylah Fernandez with both of those matches being three-set encounters.

Whilst Sabalenka has a lot to be proud of when it comes to these results, does she have any regrets as well?

“I would go back to my semifinal matches at the US Open and Wimbledon. I would have tried to do everything differently – maybe I would have been less nervous,” she told reporters during her pre-tournament press conference at the Kremlin Cup. “The game was very nervous, and I would have returned to these matches to worry less.”

The 23-year-old believes her experiences will place her on a strong footing going into future Grand Slam events. In recent years she has also turned to the help of a sports psychologist but says it doesn’t fully prepare her for the real thing.

“I have been working with a psychologist for a very long time. In fact, if you look at me 4 years ago and now, I have improved my psychological condition,” she said.
“It seems to me that no psychologist will prepare me for these situations (in Grand Slams). You need to go through it yourself, feel it, get nervous, understand this situation for yourself.’
“I’m more than sure that the next semifinal at the Slam I won’t be so nervous. I will act more confidently, I won’t make the stupid errors that I made in important moments in the last semi-final. It’s a matter of experience, you need to go through it. I don’t think a psychologist will be able to prepare for this.”

So far this season Sabalenka has contested three Tour finals, winning titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid. Overall, she has won 43 matches on the WTA Tour which is the third highest tally after Barbora Krejcikova (44) and Ons Jabeur (48). She is also currently at a ranking high of second in the world and has defeated three top 10 players – Krejcikova, Ash Barty and Simona Halep.

However, Sabalenka believes there is still room for her to improve further. She is currently coached by Anton Dubrov who previously worked as her hitting partner for 18 months.

“I think I played very consistently this year, but, of course, it is possible to be more consistent. I have to keep working on myself, be more consistent. I think I’m moving in the right direction, I just need to keep working on myself.” She states.

This week’s Kremlin Cup will be the first tournament Sabalenka has played since the US Open. She was forced to miss Indian Wells after testing positive for COVID-19 which left her bed bound for four days. Whilst admitting she is yet to reach her full fitness since being ill, Sabalenka is not letting that get in her way.

“I’m not in my best shape, but I know that I need the upcoming matches in the Kremlin Cup, because I haven’t played for almost a month. Maybe I haven’t returned to 100% of my physical form, but psychologically I am at my maximum and ready to win no matter what.” She concludes.

Sabalenka is the top seed in Moscow and will begin her campaign against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

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Anhelina Kalinina beats Daria Kasatkina at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow




Anhelina Kalinina eased past Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-3 after 1 hour and 23 minutes at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. 


Kalinina, who reached the final in Budapest this year, hit 24  winners to 18 unforced errors. She scored her second top 30 win this year after beating Angelique Kerber in the first round at this year’s edition of the French Open. 

The match between Kalinina and Kasatkina featured 12 breaks of serve. Kalinina went up a 3-0 lead with a double break in the second set. Kasatkina pulled one break back in the fourth game and saved four break points to hold serve in the fifth game for 2-3 in the longest game of the match. 

Kalinina saved two match points in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game to open up a 5-2 lead. She was not able to serve out the match after two double faults, but she sealed the second set with a drive volley. 

Anna Kalinskaya rallied from 3-5 down in the first set to beat Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. Yastremska started the tie-break with six consecutive unforced errors, but she saved five set points, but she sent a return outside the court. Kalinskaya set up a second round match against Maria Sakkari. 

Lesla Tsurenko beat 18-year-old Chinese player Zheng Qinwen 6-4 6-3. Bernarda Pera beat Aleksandra Krunic 7-6 (7-3) 6-3. Pera converted her sixth point to close out the first set.  Pera will face Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. 

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