Prodigies set for match-up in the final round of Australian Open Qualifying as Reilly Opelka and Casper Ruud both win - UBITENNIS
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Prodigies set for match-up in the final round of Australian Open Qualifying as Reilly Opelka and Casper Ruud both win

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Reilly Opelka has made it through to the final round of Qualifying, and will face another junior prodigy in Casper Ruud (Image via Zimbio.com)

A blockbuster final round of qualifying in in the Australian Open is set up as two teenagers prepare to face off for the right to feature in the main draw. Reilly Opelka (19) and Casper Ruud (18) both won their matches to meet on the main tour for the first time after encouraging junior careers.

 

Jan Satral defeats Yasutaka Uchiyama 76 16 97. The Czech backed up his win over twelfth seed Alessandro Giannessi with a tough grinding win over young Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama. The Czech took a tight first set before crumbling in the second. A tight final set was finally won by Satral nine-seven.

(11) Evgeny Donskoy defeats Matthew Ebden 76 46 62.  Donskoy has not had it easy in his first two rounds of qualifying. After struggling against Dmitry Popko in the first round, Matthew Ebden, who is more known his grass court expertise, gave the eleventh seed a real battle. It was Donskoy who produced the clutch performance in the third set, going up two breaks in the final set.

Noah Rubin defeats (32) Roberto Carballes Baena 64 36 62. Young American Noah Rubin continued his fine start in qualifying as he ground down thirty-second seed Carballes Baena in three sets. Carballes Baena had broken Rubin in his first two service games, but immediately surrendered the advantage back both times, and Rubin pulled away in the first. Carballes Baena won the second but his serve broke down again in the third, another seed out.

Luca Vanni defeats Alexander Sarkissian 36 63 62. Luca Vanni recovered from losing the first set against the in-form American Sarkissian. Sarkissian had beaten the seeded Henri Laaksonen in the first round, but failed to back up his first set display in the this one, winning just five games in the next two sets.

Jurgen Melzer defeats (13) Taro Daniel 63 62. Former Roland Garros semi-finalist Melzer is still alive in qualifying after he defeated thirteenth seed Daniel in comprehensive fashion. Melzer will need to beat twentieth seed Rajeev Ram to make the main draw.

(20) Rajeev Ram defeats Marcelo Arevalo 61 46 86. Ram was in the main draw directly last year, but has seen his ranking fall significantly since winning his second Newport title a few years ago. He had a comfortable start with his match against Arevalo, but was forced to fight hard in the second and third sets, eventually winning an over-time third set.

Blake Mott defeats (14) Tobias Kamke 62 64. Qualifying has been tough for the Aussies so far, with few making it through so far. Blake Mott is one still in with a chance though, after shocking the fourteenth seed in surprising fashion. Mott only dropped six games in the match, as Kamke’s game regressed back to the form that saw him barely win a match in the first half of 2016.

James McGee defeats (30) Vincent Millot 62 64. McGee and most will face off unseeded in their section after they both took down seeds. McGee’s contribution was to beat Millot. Things had not started well as Millot had broken early. McGee quickly settled though, recovering the break, and dropping just five games after losing that first service game.

Alex Bolt defeats Matthias Bachinger 64 76. Alex Bolt was another who recovered from an early deficit to enjoy a straight sets win. Bolt was also down an early break against the German Bachinger. Bolt also recovered, and won a close encounter taking the second seed on a tiebreak to see another Aussie in with a chance of qualifying for the main draw.

(26) Julien Benneteau defeats Guilherme Clezar 75 60. Julien Benneteau is more used to being seeded twenty-sixth in the main draw, not qualifying. The Frenchman has not let that dampen his spirits though, adding Clezar’s name to Milojevic’s in terms of straight sets wins. Clezar is more comfortable on clay, and fell away badly after a close first set.

Reilly Opelka defeats Mitchell Krueger 63 76. Opelka is the joint-tallest player on ATP records, sharing the feat with Ivo Karlovic. Unsurprisingly, Krueger struggled to make inroads against the former Junior Wimbledon winners serve. Opelka broke in the first before using a tiebreak to finish the match in the second set.

Casper Ruud defeats Jonathan Eysseric 63 36 63. Young Norwegian is a highly-rated junior. His best results have to date come on clay however, and he struggled a little with the left-handed Eysseric in the match, as the Frenchman used his confident net coverage to take time away from the teenager. Ruud took advantage of some errors though, breaking in the first when Eysseric hit an errant smash. Ruud will face the 6’11 Reilly Opelka in the final qualifying round, a tantalising prospect.

 

 

 

 

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Maria Sharapova will miss the Olympic Games in Tokyo

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Maria Sharapova is set to miss the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, as she has committed to play the World Team Tennis at Orange County Breakers in the United States from 28 to 29 July during the same week as the Tokyo event.

 

“I am excited to be back with the Breakers again. The competition in World Tennis is always strong and I am looking forward to playing in team format again”, said Sharapova.

Before the US Open 2019 the five-time Grand Slam champion appointed new coach Riccardo Piatti in her team.

Sharapova has announced that she will be playing in several exhibition matches like the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, the Hawaii Open and the Kooyong Classic before the Australian Open.

 

 

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Stan Wawrinka, Daniel Medvedev, Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils set to highlight the Diryah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia

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Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, Danil Medvedev and Fabio Fognini are set to take part in the Diryah Tennis Cup, the first ever professional tennis tournament, which takes place from 12 to 14 December 2020.

 

Diriyah is a UNESCO World Tennis Heritage Site will host a hard-court tournament at the Diryah Arena, where the boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Antony Ruiz took place last weekend.

The exhibition tournament will feature Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, Danil Medvedev, Fabio Fognini, David Goffin, Lucas Pouille, John Isner and this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille.

Medvedev is the highest ranked player in the Saudi Arabia tournament. The Russian player won four titles in Sofia, Montreal and St. Petersburg and Shanghai and reached the final at the US Open finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal.

“Saudi Arabia will be a big part of my preparation for the new season. The heat and the conditions will be similar to Australia. It will be a great test for us. It’s in our preseason, so we will want to get that match time in to prepare for the new season. The fans should expect us to fight hard like in any tournament. It will be competitive and hopefully they will be lots of fans coming to support us there. Hopefully I can play some great tennis, help the country raise awareness of the sport and inspire people to play. Looking at the players confirmed it’s a really great field. I have heard a lot of good things about Saudi Arabia. I am excited to promote tennis there especially as it’s the first tournament”, said Medvedev.

Wawrinka won three Grand Slam tournaments at the 2014 Australian Open, at 2015 Roland Garros and at the 2016 US Open. This year the Swiss player finished runner-up to Gael Monfils in Rotterdam and to Andy Murray in Antwerp. Wawrinka reached the French Open quarter final. He upset Novak Djokovic in the US Open fourth round before losing to eventual finalist Danil Medvedev. He ended the season ranked world number 16.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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