Reilly Opelka defeats Casper Ruud for Australian Open main draw berth, Radek Stepanek also through - UBITENNIS
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Reilly Opelka defeats Casper Ruud for Australian Open main draw berth, Radek Stepanek also through

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The 6’11 Opelka won a match-up of young talent, defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight sets (Zimbio.com)

It was a case of young and old in Melbourne, as a variety of teenagers and veterans alike successfully qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open.

 

Reilly Opelka was not even born when Radek Stepanek turned pro in 1996, yet the teen and the veteran were on an equal footing in the final round of qualifying, both winning through to the main draw.

(1) Radek Stepanek defeats John-Patrick Smith 62 64. The wily Czech veteran disappointed the home crowds by knocking out Australian Smith in easy fashion. Stepanek has competed in all but one of the Australian Open tournaments between 2003 and 2017, missing only in 2015. He will again feature in the main draw.

(2) Frances Tiafoe defeats (25) Tim Smyczek 36 60 75. Frances Tiafoe will feature in his first Australian Open main draw, as he recovered from a set deficit to defeat fellow seed and compatriot Tim Smyczek. Tiafoe earned two break points at five-four in the fifth, but instead was forced to wait until the next game by Smyczek, but Tiafoe was not to be denied.

(29) Go Soeda defeats Marco Trungelliti 62 36 64. Trungelliti won five matches last year, through qualifying and into the third round. This year he fell in the qualifying round, despite beating third seed Josef Kovalik in the upset of the week. Soeda went up an early double break in third, and survived an attempted comeback from Trungelliti to qualify.

Andrey Rublev defeats (22) Peter Polansky 64 36 63. The young Russian’s development appeared to regress in 2016, with his ranking slumping. However, a great start to the year continues after knocking out the experienced Canadian Polansky in three close sets.

(6) Bjorn Fratangelo defeats Hiroki Moriya 46 64 64. Sixth seed Fratangelo fell at this stage last year, and lost in the main draw to Stephane Robert as a lucky loser. This time the former Roland Garros Junior Champion made sure, even though it took a comeback against the Japanese to ensure his progress.

Ivan Dodig defeats Di Wu 61 75. There was disappointment for Asia as China’s Wu failed at the final hurdle in 2017. The big serving Dodig eased through the first set before Wu kept the second set tight. The former main draw seed ultimately broke late on though to make the first round.

(31) Thomas Fabbiano defeats Andre Ghem 76 64. Ghem had done this section of the draw a favour by knocking out the highest-ranked seed in the form of Joao Souza in the first round. He could not replicate enough of that form in the final round however, going down to the Italian thirty-first seed Fabbiano.

(10) Lukas Lacko defeats (18) Denis Kudla 62 62. These two had met on the ATP tour before in closer circumstances than this match eventually became. Kudla had been forced to battle through the first two rounds, and Lacko himself survived a tough match with Maximo Gonzalez. Lacko ran away with this one though, denying Kudla the chance to defend the second round main draw points he had earned last year.

Noah Rubin defeats (11) Evgeny Donskoy 62 64. Noah Rubin was a wildcard winner in the main draw last year, knocking out Benoit Paire in three tiebreaks. Forced to qualify this time around, the young American did so in style, adding the Russian eleventh seed to the scalp of thirty-second seed Roberto Carballes Baena he had taken in the second round. Arguably the shock of the round on the men’s side.

Blake Mott defeats James McGee 76 36 63. Delight for the home crowd as an Aussie did make it through qualifying. Mott survived a battle with Irishman McGee to make the main draw of his home slam. A great effort and he can look forward to the vociferous support of the crowds at Melbourne Park in the main draw.

Reilly Opelka defeats Casper Ruud 76 63. These are two highly-rated juniors, and it was Opelka who came through. At 6’11 Ruud failed to make any inroads against the American’s serve, and after handing over an early mini break in the tiebreak, he rather fell away quickly, Opelka securing the win after breaking the Norwegian’s serve in the middle of the second set.

Jurgen Melzer defeats (20) Rajeev Ram 62 36 63. A surprise in ranking but not perhaps in form. Ram has mainly competed on the doubles tour for the past few years, and though Melzer is now thirty-five, the former Top ten Austrian still has a fearsome forehand. He found the shot often enough to knock out the American, whose singles game is far more suited to grass.

  • At the time of writing some matches including those of Lee-Bublik, Vanni-Satral, and Bolt-Benneteau had yet to be completed.

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Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev sign up to play exhibition tournament in Khimki

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Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev have signed up to play an exhibition tournament in the Russian city of Khimki in the Moscow region in June.

 

Khachanov won his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy in 2018. He broke into top 10 of ATP Rankings in June 2019 and achieved his career-high of number 8 on 15th July. Last year he reached two semifinals at the Masters 1000 tournament in Montreal and at the China Open in Beijing (ATP 500 tournament). He defeated Juan Martin Del Potro to reach his first Roland Garros quarter final. The Russian player also advanced to the quarter finals in Indian Wells, Halle, Moscow and Vienna. In 2020 he won four of his five singles matches at the ATP Cup for the Russian team, who qualified for the semifinals before losing to Serbia. He advanced to the Australian Open third round for the second consecutive year and to the quarter final in Dubai in the last tournament played before the suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rublev started the 2020 season with back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide and reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and two quarter finals in Rotterdam and Dubai.

The best WTA players expected to take part in the Kimkhi tournament are Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudemertova, two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vitalia Diatchenko. Pavlyuchenkova came back from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber advancing to the quarter finals for the second consecutive year at the 2020 Australian Open.

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Barty’s father said that her daughter was sad and wanted to step away from tennis in 2014

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Ashleigh Barty rose up the ranking sas a teenager after finishing runner-up at three Grand Slam doubles tournaments with Australian veteran Casey Dellacqua at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2013. The Aussie team also won one title at the Birmingham Classic. Barty decided to step away from tennis in 2014 to play women’s cricket and started playing for the Western Suburbs Cricket Club, a local team that competes in Brisbane Women’s Premier Cricket Twenty League.

 

“It was too much too quickly for me as I have been travelling from quite a young age. I wanted to experience life as a normal teenaged girl and have some normal experiences”, said Barty at that time.

 Ashleigh’s said during a webinar organised by the Active SG Voyager Tennis Academy that he was not surprised when his daughter decided to step away from the sport after the 2014 US Open.

“Ash was sad all the time. She was not herself on the court. I said to my wife that we had just got to make sure that Ashleigh was happy. Her happiness was more important. Were we disappointed ? Of course we were, because we love watching tennis and we were hooked on tennis. To see Ash happy and see her around her sisters and having fun again was so much better than having her miserable and going out and playing tennis”, said Rob Barty.

Barty started her 2019 season with a runner-up finish to Petra Kvitova in Sydney. The Aussie player reached her first quarter final at the Australian Open, where she beat Maria Sharapova before losing again to Kvitova. Barty won her first maiden Premier Mandatory title in Miami and claimed her first Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros. Barty became the first Australian player to win at Roland Garros since Margaret Court in 1973.

Barty followed up her Roland Garros with a back-to-back title in Birmingham on grass. She has become the second Australian player to be number 1 in the WTA Ranking since Evonne Goolagong Cawley. Barty’s winning streak came to end when she was beaten by Alison Riske in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Barty reached the semifinal in Wuhan before winning the WTA Finals in Shenzhen beating Elina Svitolina in the final. Barty finished the season as the world number 1. Last January she started the 2020 season with a title in Adelaide before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin in the semifinal at the Australian Open. During her career Barty clinched eight singles titles and ten doubles titles.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach

The tennis star has announced a big change to his team.

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Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is on the hunt for a new coach after agreeing to end his collaboration with Sebastian Prieto to continue focus on his rehabilitation from injury.

 

Del Potro has been working alongside Prieto since 2017 and achieved a series of career milestones under his guidance. Including winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and reaching a ranking high of third in August that same year. Their decision has been made to allow Prieto to focus all of his attention on Juan Londero. Another Argentine player who is currently ranked 62nd in the world.

“I want to share that I have agreed with Sebastian Prieto to end our partnership, so that he can work with Juan Londero, while I continue my rehab process,” Del Potro said on Twitter.
“I’m very thankful to Piper for all of these years together. He is a great coach and even a better person. All the best!”

45-year-old Prieto is a former ATP player who peaked at a ranking high of 22nd in the doubles. During his career, he won 10 Tour titles with all of those occurring on the clay. He also reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles tournament at the 2003 French Open.

It is currently unknown as to who will be taking over as Del Potro’s new coach. The former grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since last June due to a serious knee injury. At the Fever-Tree Championships in London, he fractured his right kneecap and was forced to undergo surgery to repair it. The second time he had to undergo that procedure within as many years after also suffering a similar injury at the 2018 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Del Potro is currently undergoing rehabilitation and it is unclear as to when he will be able to return to the Tour again. All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled until at least July 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although both the US Open and French Open are hoping to go ahead as planned.

So far in his career, the 31-year-old has won 22 ATP titles and earned almost $26 million in prize money. Earning more money than any other player from his country in the history of the sport.

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