What Injury? Serena Williams Reassures Her Fitness Ahead Of The Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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What Injury? Serena Williams Reassures Her Fitness Ahead Of The Australian Open

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Serena Williams training during a practice sessions at last week’s Hopman Cup (image via Zimbio)

Serena Williams has declared that she is back to full fitness after an injury-plagued start to 2016.

The world No.1 was forced to withdraw from the Hopman cup last week due to inflammation in her left knee. Williams has been troubled by knee issues in recent years. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, spoke in November about the extent of the chronic knee problem.

“The cartilage is not gone, not all of it, but a big part is”. Mouratoglou told French Media last year.
“At her age, her career could really be in danger if she went too far and got more injured like Rafa [Nadal] did in the past”.

Due to the stark warning sent out by her coach last year, it was unsurprising that Williams withdrew from the exhibition event to rest her knee. The withdrawal has cast questions on how fit Williams will be to defend her title at next week’s Australian Open. The 34-year-old hasn’t played a full match on the WTA tour since the US Open in September.

Despite the lack of match play going into the first Grand Slam of the year, Williams has told Australian media that she is fully fit for the Melbourne tournament. During an interview with The Herald, the world No.1 said that she was back to the top of her game.

“My body is feeling great now,” Williams said.
“Obviously I had a hiccup but right now it is doing much better. I’ve had a few days of training so it’s looking good.”

With temperatures currently in the mid 30’s, Williams stated that she is ‘Ok’ with the heat. The American has also been granted a boost with the weather predicted to drop to the mid 20’s next week. Discussing her preparation for the upcoming Australian Open, the 34-year-old said that the most important thing for her is to relax.

“I just need to make sure I’m totally relaxed and at ease. It all comes natural after that”. She said.
“I know what I need to do on and off the court to win big tournaments. That is what I like to do.”

Williams will be bidding to win her 22nd Grand Slam singles title next week. If she is successful, the world No.1 will equal steffi Graf’s record. The only player to win more major titles than Williams and Graf is Margaret Court who won 24 between 1960-1973.

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard overcomes Alexander Bublik to reach his first ATP Tour final in Lyon

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French wild card Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard overcame second seed Alexander Bublik 6-4 7-5 after 76 minutes to reach his first ATP Tour final in Lyon on his debut at this tournament. Mpetchi Perricard hit 28 winners and won 85% of his first serve points. 

Mpetchi Perricard started the match with a break in the first game and held serve to open up a 2-0 lead. Bublik saved four break points in the fifth game before breaking serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Mpetchi Perricard broke for the second time in the seventh game at love to take a 4-3 lead. The Frenchman served out the first set at love. 

Mpetchi Perricard broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on his seventh match point. 

The 20-year-old Frenchman claimed the first top-20 win of his career. 

World number 117 Mpetchi Perricard is the lowest-ranked finalist in the history of the Lyon tournament. Earlier this week the young Frenchman beat Lorenzo Sonego and Hugo Gaston. He has clinched three ATP Challenger titles during the 2024 season in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco.

“It is amazing to be in the final here in Lyon. The tournament is not over. I have one match left and I will do my best to win that match”, said Mpetchi Perricard. 

Mpetchi Perricard set up a final against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who beat Italy’s Luciano Darderi 6-2 6-4. Etcheverry won 83% of his first serve points and saved all three break points he faced. 

Etcheverry broke twice in the third and fifth games to win the first set 6-2. The Argentine player earned a break in the ninth game and served out the win on his second match point in the 10thgame. Etcheverry is aiming to win his first tour-level title after reaching two clay-court finals in Santiago and Houston.

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Novak Djokovic edges Tallon Griekspoor to reach the semifinals in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic saved four set points in the opening set to edge Tallon Griekspoor 7-5 6-1 in 1 hour and 17 minutes reaching the semifinals at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday on Wednesday by winning his 1100 match on the ATP Tour. 

Griekspoor saved an early break point on Djokovic’s serve in the ninth game of the first set. Djokovic fended off four set points, as he was serving at 4-5 0-40. The top-seed held serve with an ace and a first serve.  Djokovic broke serve in the 11th game with two deuce points to take a 6-5 lead. Djokovic held serve to love to seal  the first set. 

Djokovic won seven consecutive games  to build up a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve. Griekspoor got back on the board by hold serve in the fifth game for 1-4. Djokovic won the final eight points and broke for the third time to seal the second set 6-1. 

Djokovic set up a semifinal match against Tomas Machac, who beat US rising star Alex Michelsen 6-3 7-6 (7-2). 

Djokovic beat Machac in a third-set tie-break in Dubai last February. 

“I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because he was a better player for most of the first set. We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards really played some good solid tennis. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards I really played some good tennis. The way I played the second set was really good. I want to thank everybody again for the support and presence today on a colde day”, said Djokovic. 

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Jessica Pegula Pulls Out of French Open But Alcaraz, Sinner Raring To Go

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JESSICA PEGULA OF THE UNITED STATES - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Jessica Pegula says she wants to be ‘super safe’ with her recovery after deciding to withdraw from next week’s French Open. 

The world No.5 hasn’t played a Tour-level match since April due to ongoing injury issues. It will be the first time she has missed a major event since the 2020 Wimbledon Championships. She reached the third round of the French Open 12 months ago and the quarter-finals the year before that. 

Pegula now plans to return to action during the grass swing leading up to Wimbledon which will get underway on July 1st. She is expected to play in lead-up events to the tournament but it is unclear as to which ones. 

I’m just about back to practising normal (haven’t had any issues for weeks) but played it super safe with recovery and return to play,” Pegula wrote on Instagram.
“If I had another five to seven days I would have been there 100%. So I will definitely be back for a full grass season and the rest of the summer and grinding out the rest of the year.”

So far this season Pegula has reached three WTA semi-finals in Adelaide, San Diego and Charleston. However, she has only beaten one top 20 player which was Emma Navarro at the Miami Open. 

Alcaraz, Sinner set to return

In the men’s draw two players who have also been troubled by injury issues in recent weeks are on course to play at Roland Garros. Carlos Alcaraz has been forced to miss two out of the last three Masters 1000 events due to a forearm injury, as well as the Barcelona Open. The 21-year-old told the Press Association on Tuesday that he hopes to get back on track despite a lack of match play. 

“I don’t have hours on the court and I think on clay you need to be a lot of hours on the court just to get the rhythm, to get how to move,” he said.
“Tennis players when they are a lot of time off the court with no competition, you lose the competitive part a little bit and you need to play matches, play tournaments to get the rhythm for the big tournaments.
“Missing the three tournaments on clay, really important ones, and not playing points, sets or matches before, it’s going to be difficult, but I have time to practise with the top players, I have time to play sets and practice matches, and I think it’ll be really helpful for me just to be ready for Roland Garros.”

Alcaraz is already in Paris training and recently had a hitting session with  Luca van Assche.

Another player also working hard on the practice courts is the world No.3 Jannik Sinner who recently pulled out of the Italian Open due to a hip injury. The Australian Open champion recently stated that he would not play in Paris if he didn’t feel fit enough to do so. However, he appears to be fit again after having a training session with Kei Nishikori. 

Siner is in contention of claiming the No.1 spot. A milestone that has never been achieved by an Italian male player in the Open Era. 

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday with action getting underway on Sunday.

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