Roger Federer favorite to win 2018 Australian Open: Lleyton Hewitt - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer favorite to win 2018 Australian Open: Lleyton Hewitt

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(Roger Federer – photo via zimbio.com)

Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt has tipped Roger Federer to defend his Australian Open, despite the comebacks of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne.

 

Hewitt, the winner of the 2001 US Open and Wimbledon in 2002, has backed the Swiss maestro Federer to win his 20th Grand Slam title at the Rod Laver Arena in January ahead of his arch rival Rafael Nadal. After spending nearly six months on the sidelines due to a knee injury in 2016, the Basel native made a stunning return by capturing his 18th Major title in Melbourne, beating Nadal in a five-set thriller, overcoming both his poor record and the mental block he had against his great adversary.

After his triumph in Australia, Federer went from strength to strength, steamrolling one opponent after another to claim a record 8th Wimbledon crown. He also won three Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Miami and Shanghai before ending the year as World No. 2.

The 36-year-old has in fact defied father time, and is playing perhaps the best tennis of his career. However, his march towards a sixth Aussie Open trophy will face a stiff challenge from the returning trio of Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka. But, Hewitt believes Roger will still be the overwhelming favorite, especially with questions hanging around the extent of Nadal’s knee injury.

Hewitt said: “Federer has been so dominant, especially in big tournaments. He’s gonna go in — even at the age of 36 — as probably the favorite. Especially the way Nadal obviously had to pull out of London. But there’s going to some opportunities for some young guys to stand up and maybe win a grand slam.”

He added: “Coming in a lot of the top guys from the previous years are gonna be seeded a lot lower. Such as Djokovic, Murray…that kind of guys — just because they haven’t played really for the last six months. So, it’s gonna be a massive question mark on how they come in, how their bodies are holding up. Mentally as well with a couple of them.”

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Denis Shapovalov Battles Back To Reach The Quarterfinals In St Petersburg

The Canadian got off to a slow start in his first match but was able to recover nicely for a big three-set win.

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Second seed Denis Shapovalov needed to go the distance at the St Petersburg Open to beat his Spanish opponent Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 49 minutes.

 

The Toronto native didn’t have the best start to the match but was able to recover and pull off a comeback to take the win. Serving a total of 11 aces to reach the quarterfinals.

” It’s very tough to play Pablo (Andujar) first round of a tournament, he’s a great player and it was a tough start to the match,” said Shapovalov. “I didn’t feel so great but I just told myself to keep going because obviously there is still a lot of tennis to be played and I wanted to turn it around in the second set and I did a really good job.”

It was the Spaniard who got off to a better start, earning a breakpoint in the first game of the match before grabbing the early break and he was able to consolidate it. At 2-0, Andujar had two chances to go up a double break but the Canadian saved both and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 92 was able to earn another breakpoint. This time converted for the double break lead and served out the first set.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-1 when Shapovalov broke to love and that one break of serve was enough for him to serve it out and send the match into a decider.

The Canadian continued pushing as his level improved. In the first game of the final set, he broke the Spaniard with a perfectly timed cross-court winner to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break he was hungry for more and broke Andujar’s serve once again to go up a double break. Shapovalov closed the match out with a bagel set.

During his on-court interview, Shapovalov was asked how happy he was back to be in St Peterburg and he mentioned the amazing memories he had playing in the event last year.

” It always feels great to be back and I remember last year playing Andrey (Rublev) in the semifinals. I was one set up and I lost this match but I am happy to be here due to the fact I always get great support from the fans here”. He said.

Shapovalov will face Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarterfinals after the German upset seventh seed Alexander Bublik in straight sets (6-4, 6-3).

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Former World No.8 And Grand Slam Champion Jurgen Melzer Retires

Melzer ends a career which has seen him crack the world’s top 10 in both singles and doubles.

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Jurgen Melzer (AUT) - Alexander Zverev (GER) vs John Peers (AUS) - Filip Polasek (SVK), (Erste Bank Open 2021 #glaubandich Court); Copyright: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger,

After more than two decades on the Tour, Jurgen Melzer has played his final match after bowing out of the Vienna Open on Wednesday.

 

The 40-year-old confirmed earlier this year that he would end his career at his home tournament. Teaming up with Alexander Zverev in the doubles, the duo lost in straight sets to third seeds Filip Polášek and John Peers. Melzer is a two-time champion in Vienna after winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He later went on to win the doubles title in 2014.

I was a bit afraid that not so many would come after all. Thank you very much, it was a huge honour for me to leave here,” Melzer said during his on-court interview.
“He (Zverev) didn’t hesitate five seconds to play here with me, that is not a matter of course when you’re at number four and you’re close to the Masters. Unfortunately, it was a short undertaking, but thank you.” He added.

Melzer first rose to prominence as a junior when he became the first Austrian to win the Wimbledon boys’ title back in 1999. He would go on to play in a total of 53 Grand Slam main draws during his professional career with his best run being to the semi-finals of the 2010 French Open. On the ATP Tour he claimed five titles with his most prestigious being at an ATP 500 event in Memphis during the 2012 season.

Against top 10 opposition, Melzer has beaten every member of the Big Three at least once. The most notable being against Novak Djokovic where he battled back from two sets down to stun the Serbian at the 2010 French Open. Overall, he recorded 13 wins over top 10 players during his career.

“My career started here (in Vienna) on an international level almost 22 years ago, in 1999 here in the town hall, where for the first time I was allowed to dream of really going the way as a professional tennis player. 22 years later and I would have signed everything, what I have achieved. It was an unbelievable journey that ends today. That I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

It wasn’t just in the singles where Melzer enjoyed success on the Tour. As a double player he achieved a ranking high of sixth and won two men’s Grand Slam titles with Philipp Petzschner, as well claiming the 2011 Wimbledon mixed doubles trophy with his ex-wife Iveta Benešová. More recently, Melzer reached the final of the 2020 ATP Finals alongside Édouard Roger-Vasselin. That was to be the last Tour final of his career.

“Of course you still hope to be at the top, but at some point you will be realistic enough to be able to assess that it will not be enough. It was an unbelievable journey that was a lot of fun. It is over, but it is also good that way.” He concluded.

Whilst his time on the Tour has come to an end, Melzer will remain involved in tennis. He is currently working as the Sports director of the Austrian Tennis Federation (OTV). A role he has held since January.

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Carlos Alcaraz Gets Revenge On Andy Murray To Reach Vienna Last Eight

Carlos Alcaraz is into the Vienna quarter-finals after beating Andy Murray in straight sets.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz got revenge on Andy Murray after beating the former grand slam champion 6-3 6-4 to reach the Vienna Quarter-Finals.

 

The Spaniard lost to Murray in a three set battle at Indian Wells earlier this month but was victorious in Austria.

Despite being a break up in the second set, the three time grand slam champion couldn’t consistently out-power the aggressive Spaniard.

Alcaraz will now play Nikoloz Basilashvili or Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

Alcaraz was aggressive from the very first ball as he controlled rallies behind the baseline and punished Murray’s weak second serve.

After being broke in the first game, the Brit got his revenge in the fourth game as he converted in his sixth break point of the game to seal the break back.

However Alcaraz’s firepower was too much and the Spaniard’s consistent firepower was too much for Murray as two hard-fought breaks followed as he sealed the opening set in 65 minutes.

Murray utilised a more attacking style of play in the second set and was rewarded with an early break of serve as he would take a 4-2 lead.

But Alcaraz displayed too much power and accuracy as he reeled off four games in a row to complete his victory and progress into the Vienna quarter-finals.

Alcaraz will now play Basilashvili or Berrettini in the quarter-finals as he looks for a strong finish to a career-best season.

As for Murray that will be the end of his season unless he gets a wildcard into Paris next week or makes the Davis Cup Finals team for Great Britain.

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