Australian Open Day 2 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 2 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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All eyes will be on the Margaret Court Arena as Novak Djokovic starts his comeback to the tour. The former world No.1 hasn’t played since Wimbledon due injury. Leaving many intrigued about how he will fair in Melbourne this year. Day two at the Australian Open will be focused on the comeback kids with Juan Martin del Potro and Thanasi Kokkinakis also getting their campaigns underway. Both of whom have been marred by injury in the past.

Here are the five must-see matches on the second day of the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic vs. Donald Young

This will be Djokovic’s first match in 6 months, since he retired during his Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych. But what condition is his elbow in? He pulled out of playing Abu Dhabi and Doha within the past few weeks due to the elbow not being 100%. During practice sessions this past week in Melbourne, he’s been using a different service motion in an effort to put less stress on his elbow. He’s also debuting a new coaching team, which includes Andre Agassi, Radek Stepanek, and strategist Craig O’Shannessy. There’s no way to know what to expect from the six-time Australian Open champion, so all eyes will be on this match to see how Djokovic plays. Young is coming off an unimpressive 2017, and is 0-2 against Djokovic, so Novak should win this one easily if his elbow cooperates.

Danil Medvedev vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis

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Medvedev just won the first title of his career on Saturday in Sydney, coming through qualifying to eventually defeat young Aussie sensation Alex De Minaur in a thrilling final. On Tuesday, he’ll play a different Aussie in fellow 21-year-old Kokkinakis. Thanasi has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons, but has shown signs of rejuvenating his career. Last summer, he upset Milos Raonic at Queen’s Club. Kokkinakis also defeated Tomas Berdych on his way to the final in Los Cabos. And earlier this month, he upset Alexander Zverev at the Hopman Cup. Kokkinakis will be eager to get a big win in front of his home crowd. Will Medvedev be drained after the best week of his career, or will he be able to build on the momentum? These two met twice in 2017, with Medvedev winning both meetings without dropping a set. This could be a great first round battle between two ATP Next Gen players.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Shelby Rogers

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Both women are coming off a year of emotional highs (as I recently outlined here and here). A year ago in Melbourne, Lucic-Baroni advanced to her first major final since 18 years prior. Also at last year’s Australian Open, Rogers took out Simona Halep in the first round. Another upset could be in the cards here: just last week in Sydney, Lucic-Baroni was forced to retire from her match against Petra Kvitova due to illness. Mirjana is 2-0 lifetime against Rogers, with both meetings taking place last year. This is a tough first round draw for Lucic-Baroni as she tries to recapture the magic of last year’s Australian fortnight.

Tomas Berdych vs. Alex De Minaur

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De Minaur has been the talk of the Australian summer in the tennis world. The 18-year-old Aussie came into the year ranked outside the top 200. With Lleyton Hewitt in his coaching box, he made it to the semifinals in Brisbane and the final in Sydney. He’s defeated six top 50 players in the past two weeks. Berdych does not arrive in Melbourne with much confidence. After advancing to the semifinals at Wimbledon in July, he went just 4-4 before shutting down his season early due to a back injury. He lost his only match of 2018 to Jan-Lennard Struff in Doha. De Minaur will surely have an energized Aussie crowd on his side in this evening match on Hisense Arena. If he has enough left after all the tennis he’s played in the last two weeks, there’s a good chance for De Minaur to pull off the upset.

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Frances Tiafoe

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This will be the final match of the evening on Margaret Court Arena. It will also be Del Potro’s first match at the Australian Open since 2014. He skipped last year’s event to give his wrist a rest, and also missed the two prior year’s events due to wrist injuries. But Juan Martin is in good form now. This week he returns to the top 10 for the first time in three-and-a-half years. This is thanks to going 23-6 since the start of the US Open, including a run to the final just last week in Auckland. His opponent on Tuesday turns 20 this week, and at the last major took Roger Federer to five sets. Tiafoe also took Del Potro the distance in their only previous meeting. In Acapulco last year, Francis lost to Juan Martin in a final set tiebreak. Del Potro will be the favourite to prevail, but this could be an interesting match against the young American.

Australian Open schedule for day two (All times UK)

Rod Laver Arena – midnight
CEPEDE ROYG, Veronica (PAR) vs PLISKOVA, Karolina (CZE) [6]
FABBIANO, Thomas (ITA) vs ZVEREV, Alexander (GER) [4]
HALEP, Simona (ROU) [1] vs AIAVA, Destanee (AUS)
Not before 8am
BEDENE, Aljaz (SLO) vs FEDERER, Roger (SUI) [2]
BARTY, Ashleigh (AUS) [18] vs SABALENKA, Aryna (BLR)

Margaret Court Arena
WITTHOEFT, Carina (GER) vs GARCIA, Caroline (FRA) [8]
MARIA, Tatjana (GER) vs SHARAPOVA, Maria (RUS)
Not before 4am
DJOKOVIC, Novak (SRB) [14] vs YOUNG, Donald (USA)
8am
MUGURUZA, Garbiñe (ESP) [3] vs PONCHET, Jessika (FRA)
TIAFOE, Frances (USA) vs DEL POTRO, Juan Martin (ARG) [12]

Hisense Arena – midnight
KONTA, Johanna (GBR) [9] vs BRENGLE, Madison (USA)
KERBER, Angelique (GER) [21] vs FRIEDSAM, Anna-Lena (GER)
BERANKIS, Ricardas (LTU) vs WAWRINKA, Stan (SUI) [9]
Not before 7.45am
BERDYCH, Tomas (CZE) [19] vs DE MINAUR, Alex (AUS)

Court 2 – midnight
LACKO, Lukas (SVK) vs RAONIC, Milos (CAN) [22]
BOUCHARD, Eugenie (CAN) vs DODIN, Oceane (FRA)
PETKOVIC, Andrea (GER) vs KVITOVA, Petra (CZE) [27]
THIEM, Dominic (AUT) [5] vs PELLA, Guido (ARG)

Court 3 – midnight
SAFAROVA, Lucie (CZE) [29] vs TOMLJANOVIC, Ajla (AUS)
Not before 2am
GOFFIN, David (BEL) [7] vs BACHINGER, Matthias (GER)
KOKKINAKIS, Thanasi (AUS) vs MEDVEDEV, Daniil (RUS)
MLADENOVIC, Kristina (FRA) [11] vs BOGDAN, Ana (ROU)

Court 5 – midnight
STEBE, Cedrik-Marcel (GER) vs MARTERER, Maximilian (GER)
JABEUR, Ons (TUN) vs VESNINA, Elena (RUS) [16]
DONSKOY, Evgeny (RUS) vs MAYER, Florian (GER)
VIKHLYANTSEVA, Natalia (RUS) vs TSURENKO, Lesia (UKR)

Court 7 – midnight
BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto (ESP) [20] vs VERDASCO, Fernando (ESP)
CABRERA, Lizette (AUS) vs HADDAD MAIA, Beatriz (BRA)
ZEBALLOS, Horacio (ARG) vs FOGNINI, Fabio (ITA) [25]
GIORGI, Camila (ITA) vs KALINSKAYA, Anna (RUS)

Court 8 – midnight
KICKER, Nicolas (ARG) vs THOMPSON, Jordan (AUS)
WANG, Qiang (CHN) vs KEYS, Madison (USA) [17]
MONFILS, Gael (FRA) vs MUNAR, Jaume (ESP)
PLISKOVA, Kristyna (CZE) vs RADWANSKA, Agnieszka (POL) [26]

Court 10 – midnight
ALBOT, Radu (MDA) vs FUCSOVICS, Marton (HUN)
LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana (CRO) [28] vs ROGERS, Shelby (USA)
OSAKA, Naomi (JPN) vs KUCOVA, Kristina (SVK)
KHACHANOV, Karen (RUS) vs POLANSKY, Peter (CAN)

Court 12 – midnight
NARA, Kurumi (JPN) vs VONDROUSOVA, Marketa (CZE)
HIBINO, Nao (JPN) vs VEKIC, Donna (CRO)
CHARDY, Jeremy (FRA) vs SANDGREN, Tennys (USA)
GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo (ESP) vs PAIRE, Benoit (FRA)

Court 13 – midnight
BENNETEAU, Julien (FRA) vs DANIEL, Taro (JPN)
LEPCHENKO, Varvara (USA) vs SEVASTOVA, Anastasija (LAT) [14]
GASQUET, Richard (FRA) [29] vs KAVCIC, Blaz (SLO)
PUTINTSEVA, Yulia (KAZ) vs WATSON, Heather (GBR)

Court 14 – midnight
AHN, Kristie (USA) vs STRYCOVA, Barbora (CZE) [20]
KUKUSHKIN, Mikhail (KAZ) vs GOJOWCZYK, Peter (GER)
SMYCZEK, Tim (USA) vs POPYRIN, Alexei (AUS)
DAVIS, Lauren (USA) vs CEPELOVA, Jana (SVK)

Court 15 – midnight
BLINKOVA, Anna (RUS) vs GASPARYAN, Margarita (RUS)
QUERREY, Sam (USA) [13] vs LOPEZ, Feliciano (ESP)
JOHNSON, Steve (USA) vs KUDLA, Denis (USA)
HSIEH, Su-Wei (TPE) vs ZHU, Lin (CHN)

Court 19 – midnight
BERRETTINI, Matteo (ITA) vs MANNARINO, Adrian (FRA) [26]
CIRSTEA, Sorana (ROU) vs DIYAS, Zarina (KAZ)
HERCOG, Polona (SLO) vs ALEXANDROVA, Ekaterina (RUS)
ZVEREV, Mischa (GER) [32] vs CHUNG, Hyeon (KOR)

Court 20 – midnight
SAFRANEK, Vaclav (CZE) vs VESELY, Jiri (CZE)
MCHALE, Christina (USA) vs SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra (BLR)
DONALDSON, Jared (USA) vs RAMOS-VINOLAS, Albert (ESP) [21]

Court 22 – midnight
ARRUABARRENA, Lara (ESP) vs HOGENKAMP, Richel (NED)
SONEGO, Lorenzo (ITA) vs HAASE, Robin (NED)
KWON, Soonwoo (KOR) vs STRUFF, Jan-Lennard (GER)

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Five Ideas To Improve Tennis

From the rule of the fifth set in the Slams to the controversial medical time out, passing through the distribution of ATP points: how can tennis be improved? Let’s discuss it together.

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BY DAVIDE ORIOLI (translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa)

 

With the sport still stuck in the pits for who knows how long, the moment seems suitable to discuss how to change tennis in order to make it more palatable, televised, popular. Or even simply more coherent. Indeed, there are still aspects of the rules of tennis that are controversial and on which not only fans, but also tennis players and directors themselves, debate. In this article we want to go straight to the point proposing five aspects of the rules that could be improved.

All the institutions that govern tennis in recent years have attempted experiments, already implemented in some tournaments. The ATP for example, as everyone knows, is using the NextGen Finals to test some ideas such as the Fast4 (short sets for those who arrive first in four games, with tie-breaks on 3-3), the NoAd with a killer point on the 40 even, the No Let that plans to play the exchange even if the ball touches the net on the service, and so on, up to free coaching and towel management. These changes have already been experienced and therefore we will not deal with them in this article. Instead, we are going to propose five still little (or not at all) debated ideas, listing them to go from least to most significant.

5 – Change of sides during Super tie-breaks

As said, it is a minutia idea that will not change the history of tennis, but during the Super tie-breaks you should not change sides every six points. The rule makes sense in classic tie-breaks: change the side after the sixth point to make sure that both tennis players play at least one point on each side. For example, we think of conditions of low sun on the horizon that can disadvantage those who play against the sun, or wind against or in favor. Turning every six points guarantees at least one change of course during the tie-break, and further if (and only if) one proceeds to the bitter end. The rule is logical and correct, but for this reason in the Super tie-break it should be adapted to the length of the latter, therefore changing every nine points.

With the change at the sixth and twelfth point, in fact, there are two problems. The first is that the pace of the game becomes extremely fragmented, just at the height of the meeting. Super tie-breaks in which 12 points or less are played are very rare, below one percent, which means almost always having two field changes, one of which is perfectly avoidable. The second problem is the very regularity of the Super tie-break. Being the average duration of these around 17 points, in the end each tennis player will normally have played 11 exchanges on one side of the court and six on the other. A particularly marked discrepancy.

To explain it better, suppose absurdly that atmospheric events make one side so advantageous that those who play on that side of the net win the point 100% of the time. The system with which the changes are built at the moment ensures that up to 6 even, and even during the tie-break, nobody can win the set by exploiting that condition. It will proceed indefinitely on a level playing field, as corrected. With the current system used for the Super tie-break instead, this condition of fair balance is interrupted, and the player who is lucky enough to serve first on the favorable side of the court, will win the game for 10-6. Obviously this is an exaggeration to better explain the principle, but even if the advantage of playing on the one hand was minimal, it is still correct that both players take the same advantage of it. Also because the Super tie-breaks decide the result of the entire match.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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