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Bonus for free-to-air tennis fans in UK with new channel

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US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta is the top seed at the Moselle Open in Metz, which is being broadcast on a free-to-air channel for the first time in the UK (Zimbio.com)

There is a big bonus for tennis fans across the UK, with a new channel committed to showing live tennis on free-to-air television. Freesports (Freeview Channel 95,)  made a deal to show twenty-six ATP 250 tournaments.

 

The deal includes every 250 tournament whose rights are not owned by Eurosport. The current deal means that the Moselle Open this week is being shown on free-to-air television in the UK for the first time.

The rights to tennis tournaments outside of some of the grand slams have largely been dominated by subscription based services such as Sky Sports over the past twenty years.

UK rules stipulate that sports that are heavily in the public interest must be available to view on free-to-air television. The BBC has owned the rights to Wimbledon for many years, and hold the rights to the latter stages of the Australian Open, including both the Men’s and Women’s finals and one semi-final. ITV currently own the rights to the French Open.

Sky Sports dropped the US Open last year after twenty-five years, citing the growing cost of Premier League football commitments. The US Open is currently shown on Eurosport. The Masters 1000s, 500 series, and WTA Tour are currently split between a number of broadcasters including Sky, BT Sport, and TennisTV.

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Australian Open Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Yesterday’s heat will be replaced by much cooler conditions, but the wind will continue to make its presence known around the grounds.

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A day before seeded players start to run into each other in the singles draws, many top seeds will be considerable favourites on Thursday. Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Daniil Medvedev, and Dominic Thiem should all advance without significant trouble. So let’s take a look at the seeded player who will face some dangerous floaters on Day 4.

 

Belinda Bencic (6) vs. Jelena Ostapenko
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Ostapenko claimed their only previous meeting in 2018 at Indian Wells. However, both players are in very different players two years on. After years of battling injuries, Bencic finally returned to the top 10 last season. Her 2019 was highlighted by 50 match wins, two titles, and her first Major semifinal at the US Open. By contrast, the 2017 French Open champion had a losing record last year. Ostapenko has been racking up the unforced errors and double faults on tour. Bencic is by far the steadier player, with much more variety in her game. And considering the Australian Open has been the worst Major for Jelena in her career, I like Bencic to advance to the third round.

Nick Kyrgios (23) vs. Gilles Simon
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There’s been speculation that Kyrgios will be motivated to play well this fortnight by the wildfire situation in his home country. Nick seemed to be taking matters very seriously on Tuesday, in a straight set first round win. Though as we’ve seen for years now, his effort level can vary greatly from match to match. His 35-year-old opponent is a former top 10 player now ranked outside the top 50, and was 0-4 in the second round of Slams last year. But Simon’s lack of pace can drive players crazy, as we saw here in Melbourne a few years ago when he drew 100 unforced errors out of Novak Djokovic. The first and only previous encounter between these players was six months ago in Washington, which Kyrgios took in straight sets on his way to that title. An inspired and focused Kyrgios should have no problem taking care of the tricky Frenchman again today.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Lauren Davis
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The diminutive Davis took part in an epic affair here two years ago, when she went down in defeat to Simona Halep 15-13 in the third. The 26-year-old American struggled to recover from that match until mid-last year, when she gained some traction on the ITF circuit and went on to defeat the defending champion, Angelique Kerber, at Wimbledon. So the flat-hitting Davis is fully capable of taking it to less powerful players like Svitolina. And the fifth seed comes into this event a bit undercooked, with her only lead-up match being a 6-1, 6-1 loss at the hands of another American, Danielle Collins. But Svitiolina is 4-0 lifetime against Davis, losing only one of nine sets played. I don’t see a strong reason why the result would be different today.

Taylor Fritz (29) vs. Kevin Anderson
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The biggest question here will be what does Anderson have left after his first round, a match that went to a fifth-set tiebreak and wasn’t decided until after 1:00am local time Wednesday morning. And that was only Kevin’s fourth match since Wimbledon, as he missed nearly six months of action due to a knee injury. Meanwhile the 22-year-old American is coming off the best season of his career, winning his first ATP title in Eastbourne and reaching two other finals later in the summer. Fritz would normally be outmatched by Anderson, as there’s not much he does better than the South African. But against a depleted Anderson who lacks match play, Fritz should be favored to prevail in their first career meeting.

Danielle Collins (26) vs. Yulia Putintseva
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Well this is guaranteed to be a feisty contest, with two of the WTA’s most boisterous players. But it is not guaranteed to be a long affair. They’ve played twice in the past year, with neither match lasting an hour. Last summer on the grass of Eastbourne, Collins retired down 5-0 in the first set. And just two weeks ago in Brisbane, Collins prevailed 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes. The American already has six match wins to start the year, with victories over top names like Svitolina, Bencic, and Kenin. Putintseva came through qualifying in both Brisbane and Adelaide earlier this month, so she’s also playing with some confidence. Collins is defending semifinal points from a year ago, and seemed to be feeling the pressure in her opening round match, which she escaped 6-4 in the third. I expect her to relax a bit more following that scare, and we’ve seen how dangerous she can be when she’s on. Danielle will be capable of dictating play in this one, and should be the victor.

Other notable matches on Day 4:
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  • 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Federico Delbonis, a 29-year-old from Argentina who has never won more than three games in a set in three previous matches against Nadal.
  • Three-time Major champion Stan Wawrinka (15) vs. Andreas Seppi, who upset Roger Federer in Melbourne five years ago.
  • Karolina Pliskova (2), who has reached the second week at all of the last seven hard court Slams, vs. Laura Siegemund, who is 1-0 against Pliskova. That match occurred three years ago on clay in Siegemund’s home country of Germany.
  • The always-entertaining Gael Monfils (10) vs. the nearly-seven-foot-tall Ivo Karlovic, who will turn 41-years-old next month, and on Tuesday became the oldest man in the Open Era to win a match at this event.
  • Dominic Thiem (5), who lost in the second round here a year ago, vs. Australian Alex Bolt (WC), who reached the third round here last year.

Order of play (time in GMT)

Rod Laver Arena

From 00:00am
G. Muguruza v A. Tomljanovic
L. Siegemund v K. Pliskova (2)

Not before 3:00am
E. Gerasimov v A. Zverev (7)

Not before 8:00am
H. Dart v S. Halep (4)
R. Nadal (1) v F. Delbonis


Margaret Court Arena

From 00:00am
B. Bencic (6) v J. Ostapenko
D. Medvedev (4) v P. Martinez
P. Hon v A. Kerber (17)

Not before 8:00am
A. Seppi v S. Wawrinka (15)
E. Svitolina (5) v L. Davis


Melbourne Arena

From 00:00am
D. Vekic (19) v A. Cornet
J. Moore/A. Sharma v A. Barty/J. Goerges
A. Bolt v D. Thiem (5)

Not before 7:45am
N. Kyrgios (23) v G. Simon


1573 Arena

From 00:00am
C. Bellis v K. Muchova (20)
G. Monfils (10) v I. Karlovic

Not before 3:30am
T. Fritz (29) v K. Anderson
D. Jakupovic/R. Olaru v T. Babos (2)/K. Mladenovic (2)


Court 3

From 00:00am
Z. Diyas v A. Blinkova

Not before 3:00am
L. Hewitt/J. Thompson v J. Nam/M. Song
J. Munar v A. Popyrin

Not before 7:00am
M. Ymer v K. Khachanov (16)


Court 5

From 00:00am
S. Arends/R. Berankis v J. Melzer (12)/E. Roger-Vasselin (12)
M. Demoliner/M. Middelkoop v T. Sandgren/J. Withrow
J. Duckworth/M. Polmans v A. Harris/C. O’Connell
Y. Lee/F. Wu v S. Kenin (16)/B. Mattek-Sands (16)


Court 7

From 00:00am
M. Pavic (10)/B. Soares (10) v L. Bambridge/B. McLachlan
S. Sorribes Tormo v A. Kontaveit (28)
E. Perez (12)/S. Stosur (12) v L. Arruabarrena/O. Jabeur
P. Gojowczyk v P. Carreno Busta (27)


Court 8

From 00:00am
S. Johnson/S. Querrey v C. Hsieh/Y. Lu
A. Rodionova v K. Bertens (9)
D. Goffin (11) v P. Herbert
G. Garcia Perez/S. Sorribes Tormo v M. Adamczak/K. Srebotnik


Court 10

From 00:00am
G. Minnen/A. Van Uytvanck v S. Aoyama (10)/E. Shibahara (10)
Y. Duan (9)/S. Zheng (9) v H. Carter/L. Stefani
N. Cacic/D. Lajovic v M. Gonzalez (15)/F. Martin (15)
S. Hsieh (1)/B. Strycova (1) v M. Bouzkova/T. Zidansek


Court 11

From 00:00am
R. Ram (11)/J. Salisbury (11) v M. Fucsovics/C. Norrie
V. Kudermetova (13)/A. Riske (13) v S. Peng/S. Zhang
K. Muchova/J. Teichmann v C. Gauff/C. McNally
C. Bellis/M. Vondrousova v E. Mertens (3)/A. Sabalenka (3)


Court 12

From 00:00am
J. Chardy/R. Lindstedt v P. Cuevas/G. Pella
A. Pavlyuchenkova (30) v T. Townsend
G. Duran/D. Schwartzman v L. Kubot (2)/M. Melo (2)
K. Flipkens/T. Townsend v T. Maria/A. Sevastova
D. Jurak/N. Stojanovic v K. Bondarenko/A. Krunic


Court 13

From 00:00am
X. Han/L. Zhu v N. Kichenok/S. Mirza
N. Basilashvili (26) v F. Verdasco
S. Kwon/J. Millman v S. Gonzalez/K. Skupski
A. Blinkova/Y. Wang v A. Kontaveit/M. Minella


Court 14

From 00:00am
E. Alexandrova/I. Bara v K. Christian/A. Guarachi
I. Swiatek v C. Suárez Navarro
H. Hurkacz/V. Pospisil v J. Murray (14)/N. Skupski (14)
B. Krejcikova (4)/K. Siniakova (4) v A. Friedsam/L. Siegemund


Court 15

From 00:00am
G. Barrere/A. Mannarino v U. Humbert/F. Tiafoe
N. Hibino/M. Ninomiya v L. Hradecka (11)/A. Klepac (11)
A. Cornet/F. Ferro v Z. Diyas/E. Rybakina
D. Collins (26) v Y. Putintseva


Court 19

From 00:00am
A. Bedene v E. Gulbis
Y. Sugita v A. Rublev (17)
S. Kuznetsova v C. Giorgi/K. Peschke (8)
D. Schuurs (8) v F. Stollar/D. Yastremska


Court 22

From 00:00am
D. Krawczyk/J. Pegula v I. Begu/K. Pliskova
E. Mertens (16) v H. Watson
M. Sakkari/A. Tomljanovic v G. Dabrowski (6)/J. Ostapenko (6)
J. Isner (19) v A. Tabilo

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Roger Federer Thrashes Krajinovic To Secure 99th Australian Open Victory

Roger Federer convincingly cruised into the last 32 in Melbourne with a straight sets win over Filip Krajinovic.

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Roger Federer (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Roger Federer sealed a 99th Australian Open victory of his career with a 6-1 6-4 6-1 win over Filip Krajinovic. 

 

The Swiss continued his bid for a 21st grand slam title with an emphatic straight sets win over Filip Krajinovic that lasted 92 minutes.

Next up for Federer is John Millman after the Australian knocked out in-form 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-5 6-3.

It was a dominating display from the start for Federer as his forehand looked sharp from the very beginning against a dangerous Krajinovic.

Winning 86% of points on his second serve helped Federer as he secured two breaks of serve to win a 19 minute set 6-1.

As for Krajinovic, he was struggling to offer anything to counter-attack Federer’s intensity and pace in the early stages of the match.

Even heading into the net, didn’t help the Serb’s cause as his approaches were met with ridiculous passing shots from the 38 year-old.

There was some resolve from Krajinovic though after pulling back the early break deficit after capitalising on some Federer forehand errors.

However the resilience from the world number 41 was quickly snuffed out as Federer returned to his best to get the break back and hold serve to seal a two set advantage.

As Krajinovic was struggling with an arm injury, the third seed continued his assault by flattening out the backhand and continuing to be aggressive.

Winning eight of the last nine games secured Federer’s 99th Australian Open victory and a place in the third round in Melbourne.

It was a flawless display against a tricky opponent but Federer knows he will need to keep this level if he has any chance of winning a third Australian Open in four years.

Next up for Federer is John Millman who defeated an in-form Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets to reach the last 32 and the 38 year-old will be looking for revenge after losing to the Aussie at the 2018 US Open.

After the match, Federer was wary of what awaits him on Friday, “He’s a super good guy, unbelievably tough opponent. There aren’t many as fit as him out there,” Federer said.

“They’re the guys I respect the most out there, because they get the most out of their game. I hope it’s going to be a great match with some great rallies.”

 

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Petra Kvitova Grinds Past Badosa And Windy Conditions To Reach Last 32

Petra Kvitová grinded past Paula Badosa to reach the last 32 at the Australian Open.

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Petra Kvitova (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Petra Kvitová battled past the windy conditions to defeat a spirited Paula Badosa 7-5 7-5 to reach the last 32 at the Australian Open. 

 

Experience was the key for Kvitová as she grinded out a tough straight sets win over talented Spaniard Paula Badosa to reach the third round in Melbourne.

Next for last year’s finalist is Ekaterina Alexandrova or Barbora Krejcikova.

In windy conditions, Kvitová continued her bid for grand slam success against hard-hitting Spaniard Paula Badosa and immediately struggled to judge the flight of the ball.

As for the Badosa, she seemed unfazed by the occasion ripping balls and creating space to hit winners past the Czech Republican.

It was also the Spaniard’s ability to return deep into the court that gave her opportunities to break serve after surviving a few early scares.

Some of that great returning was on show as she secured the first break of the match at 4-2 and settled into the contest well.

There was an immediate fightback though from last year’s finalist as a few powerful forehand saw her wrestle the break back and let out a huge ‘Pojd’ scream.

After being unable to detect her opponent’s game, Kvitová went up a gear as she managed to neutralise Badosa’s big serving and hitting.

Eventually a second break towards the end of the set sealed the opening set for the 7th seed as she edged out control of the opening set, 7-5.

Another break at the start of the second set was the momentum that Kvitová needed against a gritty and powerful opponent like Badosa.

But the Spaniard’s resolve continued to shine as she forced more errors out of the two-time grand slam champion and broke back.

Both players proved threatening on return and had many opportunities to secure the crucial break as it was first-strike tennis at its very best.

In the end though Kvitova proved why she has been a top 10 player for so long as she saved three set points as she powered to another break in the eleventh game and held to secure a tight straight sets win.

It was a gritty, determined performance from Badosa who proved why she has a lot of potential to do well in the game.

However experience was the key for Kvitova as she dealt with the tricky conditions and the power of Badosa to make the third round against either Ekaterina Alexandrova or Barbora Krejcikova.

In the pick of the other results, Iga Swiatek and Anett Kontaveit both advanced to round two with straight sets wins over Timea Babos and Astra Sharma respectively.

 

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