Australian Open Men's Draw Preview - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Men’s Draw Preview

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This year’s Australian Open men’s draw is unique in that the arguable two best players of all time are seeded ninth and 17th. Consequently, 17-time Slam winner Roger Federer was put in world No. 1 Andy Murray’s section, and his biggest rival, Rafael Nadal, wound up in world No. 3 Milos Raonic’s. The result of this? It looks like we’re in for an exciting fortnight. 

 

Full Bracket

The Superstars

Roger Federer [17]

Federer is set to play a qualifier in each of the first two rounds. It gets dicey for him from there, though, as he’d likely have to go through Tomas Berdych [10] and Kei Nishikori [5] in order to reach the final of Murray’s quarter.

Rafael Nadal [9]

Nadal has world No. 49 Florian Mayer in the first round, and probably former top-tenner Marcos Baghdatis in the second. Then he’d ostensibly have to beat Alexander Zverev [24] (That could be fun.), Gael Monfils [6] and Milos Raonic [3] just to get out of the quarter.

The Top Two

Andy Murray [1]

The first foreseeable threat to the newly crowned world No. 1 and Knight Bachelor‘s Australian Open campaign is in the third round, where he could play Sam Querrey [31], who knocked Djokovic out of Wimbledon in 2016. Other big players in his quarter include Berdych, Nishikori and Federer.

Novak Djokovic [2]

Djokovic will kick off his attempt at a seventh Australian Open title by taking on world No. 40 Fernando Verdasco, against whom he had to fight off five match points to make the final of Doha last week. As long as the Serbian can get through that, his path to the semis looks relatively benign, as he can’t face another top 10 opponent until the quarterfinal (Dominic Thiem [8]).

The Challengers

Milos Raonic [3]

Raonic’s early rounds will be ones to watch, with an opener against Dustin Brown, and a possible second-rounder versus Taylor Fritz  (if the American teenager can manage to beat Gilles Muller for his first Grand Slam match win). Raonic also has the added challenge of having Nadal in his quarter.

Stan Wawrinka [4]

With as many Slams as Murray (three), Wawrinka’s chances at winning a fourth don’t look too bad. However, he does have a possible quarterfinal matchup against 2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic [7]

Kei Nishikori [5]

Crammed into the already-crowded Murray-Federer quarter, this may not be Nishikori’s best shot at capturing his elusive first Slam. Not unless some big things unexpectedly break his way.

Main draw action in Melbourne will commence at 11 a.m. local time on Monday.

Grand Slam

Belinda Bencic overcomes first hurdle while Keys breezes through at Australian Open

Belinda Bencic won a tricky encounter against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Madison Keys hammered Daria Kasatkina.

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Belinda Bencic (@sport3laguna on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic secured safe passage through to the second round of the 2020 Australian Open with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

 

The Swiss, 22, enjoyed an excellent 2019. She reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, won two WTA Premier titles and returned to the top ten after a three-year absence caused by a series of injuries.

Now the pressure is on for Bencic as she seeks to consolidate her ranking, so she was understandably relieved to negotiate the first hurdle at the first major of the year.

“I think every first round is very difficult,” the Swiss said in her on-court interview. “It’s really tough to find rhythm so I think it’s all about fighting and I’m really happy I got through.”

The first set was a bit of a scrappy affair. Bencic capitalised on a poor start from Schmiedlova to move 4-0 up. Then the Slovakian benefitted from some sloppy tennis from the Swiss as she dragged herself back into the set at 4-3.

Games eight and nine could have gone to either player. However, Bencic made fewer errors than her opponent and that proved crucial as she won both to take the set 6-3.

Bencic recovers after slow start

Although she won the opening set, the World No.6 looked very frustrated as she walked to her chair. And that annoyance came through in her tennis for the next three and a half games as she struggled to find the court.

When Bencic did get the ball in, she frequently landed it short. And Schmiedlova punished her with a series of excellent winners.

Then, just as the set seemed to be running away from the Swiss player at 3-0 with the Slovakian serving, she re-discovered her rhythm.

Bencic hit a couple of winners and outlasted Schmiedlova in a couple of long rallies to prolong the game and force two break points. Then she benefitted from an error by the World No.202 which gave her the break she needed.

For the next two games, the World No.6 looked in total control. She bossed the points and quickly levelled the set at 3-3.

The Slovakian responded superbly. She cracked three big winners to break her opponent for the second time in the set.

This time, however, Bencic refused to let her get away. She broke back immediately and then held her serve to love to move 5-4 ahead.

Schmiedlova held comfortably in game ten. Then the Swiss player battled through a very difficult service game. She let out a roar of ‘come on!’ when her opponent’s last ball travelled beyond the baseline.

Buoyed by this, Bencic attacked the Slovakian’s serve. She extracted two errors from the World No.202’s racket and cracked a forehand winner to make it 0-40. Then she seized the third of her match points with a deep backhand that Schmiedlova could not get back over the net.

Keys powers past Kasatkina

Madison Keys started her 2020 Australian Open campaign in style as she thumped Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1 in just 57 minutes.

The American began in blistering style as she hit seven winners in the first five games to move 4-1 up. Then she gathered herself after a brief blip to close out the set 6-3.

The second set was even more one-sided. Keys crunched 19 winners and broke Kasatkina three times to take it 6-1 in 26 minutes. She will now face either Magda Linette or Arantxa Rus in round two.

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Grand Slam

(VIDEO) Australian Open Day 1: Rain Causes Havoc, But Djokovic And Federer Still Shine

Ubitennis.net looks back on all the highs and lows that took place at Melbourne Park on Monday.

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Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on all the action that took place on the first day of the 2020 Australian Open. Including two very different wins for Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Federer raced into the second round with a straightforward win over Steve Johnson. Meanwhile, Djokovic dropped a set against Jan-Lennard Struff on route to the next stage. Due to the poor weather only 32 out of the scheduled 64 matches could be played on the opening day of the grand slam tournament.

 

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Naomi Osaka begins Australian Open title defence with routine win

Defending champion Naomi Osaka brushed aside Marie Bouzkova in straight sets in round one of the 2020 Australian Open.

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Naomi Osaka (@DriveCruzado on Twitter)

Naomi Osaka made a confident start to her title defence at the 2020 Australian Open with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Marie Bouzkova.

 

The Japanese player, 22, had a mixed 2019. She played brilliantly at times, and she was quite a long way off her best on occasion too.

But the signs are good for Osaka so far this year. She won three matches and played 12 hard-fought sets against high-class opponents in Brisbane. And she looked sharp in her opening match at Melbourne Park.

After the first three games were won easily by the server, the World No.3 faced two break points in game four. She saved them both with accurate serves.

Then Osaka went on the attack. She unleashed a succession of powerful groundstrokes to earn three chances to break.

Bouzkova saved two of them with good tennis while the Japanese player wasted the other one with a mishit backhand. Osaka then overpowered the Czech to win to earn another break point, which she squandered by missing another backhand.

The World No.3 stuck to her task though. She hit another fierce return to gain a fifth chance to break. This time she whipped a stunning forehand across court to seize it.

Osaka played with more confidence after that. She hammered an excellent backhand down the line to clinch the hold that put her 4-2 up. Then she was gifted a second break by a double fault and an error from Bouzkova.

In the next game, the Japanese moved 40-30 ahead and then clinched the set with a superb cross-court forehand winner.

Osaka recovers well after falling behind

Osaka made a sloppy start to the second set. Consequently, Bouzkova went 1-0 up and then had two break points for a 2-0 lead.

However, the World No.3 re-focused just in time. She sent down two flawless aces to bring the score back to deuce. Then she produced a third moments later to seal the hold.

Despite this escape, Osaka did not dominate the second set. She made a series of errors and eventually gifted Bouzkova a break of serve in game six.

This enabled the Czech to establish a 4-2 lead. But the Japanese player quickly quashed any predictions of a deciding set when she broke back immediately.

Osaka then found a nice rhythm for the rest of the match. She won the next three games easily to seal a relatively smooth passage into round two.

The Japanese player will face a Chinese opponent in the last 64. Zheng Saisai overwhelmed qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3 6-2 to book her meeting with the World No.3.

Elsewhere in Melbourne Park, Sofia Kenin beat qualifier Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-4. Julia Goerges hammered Viktoria Kuzmova 6-1 6-2 in just 56 minutes. Petra Martic overcame Christina McHale 6-3 6-0. And Paula Badosa won her first Grand Slam match as she thrashed Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-0.

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