Australian Open Day Six: Zverev and Sharapova disappoint, Italy flirts with history - UBITENNIS
Connect with us


Australian Open Day Six: Zverev and Sharapova disappoint, Italy flirts with history




MELBOURNE – World No. 4 Sascha Zverev was once again upset by a lower ranked opponent in the early rounds of a Grand Slam tournament. After failing to reach the quarterfinals in all of the four Grand Slams in 2017, the young German didn’t go much further at this year’s Australian Open either. After his surprising loss to Chung with the score of 6-0 in the fifth set, I asked Zverev if his issues were more physical or mental: He honestly admitted that they were more mental.  


After prevailing over Richard Gasquet in his third-round match, Federer told the press that he met Sascha in the locker room and tried to cheer him up: “I told him that he doesn’t have to put too much pressure on himself. I used to succumb to the pressure and lose early at the Slams until I turned 22 in 2003. At that age, you don’t have to consider a failure every time that you don’t win a tournament. He is young and has to be patient.”

Many predicted that Zverev will be No. 1 in the world once the new generation of players replaces the old one. Hyeon Chung of South Korea, who won the NextGen ATP Finals in November last year and surprised Zverev in yesterday’s third round match, is a very solid and promising player as well. “These guys look more experienced than their actual age. They are very professional and extremely well-prepared. Besides the technological evolution that occurred in the past ten years, the biggest change in today’s game is that younger players are much more professional,” Novak Djokovic said.

Yesterday Djokovic and Federer didn’t have any problems defeating Ramos Vinolas and Gasquet respectively.  Maria Sharapova produced a very disappointing performance against “the wall” that was erected by Angelique Kerber in the most anticipated third round clash of the women’s tournament. Sharapova was extremely inconsistent throughout the match and never really challenged the German, who – after a disappointing 2017 season – seems to have found the same form that took her to No. 1 in the world a couple of years ago. This was only the 10th time in 50 Slams that Maria Sharapova failed to reach the second week of competition.

Local favorite Ashleigh Barty was surprisingly eliminated by Naomi Osaka of Japan, while Simona Halep and Lauren Davis treated the crowd to an epic match, which saw the Romanian prevail 15-13 in the third set after saving four match points. A couple of days ago, Simona fell on the court after rolling her ankle and many wondered if she was going to withdraw from the tournament. In week two of competition, not only Halep will have to deal with an ankle injury, but she will also have to overcome the fatigue that such a brutal match entails.

For the first time in 42 years, Italy has two male players in the round of 16 of a Grand Slam tournament. The last time that it happened was in 1976 when Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti both reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros. Panatta went on to win the title in what were considered the golden days of Italian tennis. It is fair to say that Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini had a pretty comfortable road in the tournament so far and are yet to face any higher ranked opponents. Seppi – who is currently ranked No. 76 – defeated No. 155 Moutet, No. 168 Nishioka and No. 89 Karlovic to reach the round of 16 in Melbourne for the fourth time in six years. World No. 25 Fognini defeated No. 66 Zeballos, No. 72 Donskoy and No. 59 Bennetteau. Nevertheless, kudos to both Italians for taking advantage of very favorable draws. At the end of the day, you can only defeat who is in front of you.

The task will get much tougher for both Italians in the round of 16, where Seppi will face the in-form Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Fognini will play Tomas Berdych – who has recently slipped to No. 20 in the ATP rankings after a difficult 2017 campaign, but has consistently been a top-ten player for almost a decade.

Berdych played an impeccable match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in a third-round match that promised to be a classic on paper and turned out to be a walk in the park for the Czech instead. Tomas showcased some vintage form throughout the entire match, while Del Potro looked fatigued and uninspired.

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – )


Continue Reading
Click to comment


Laver Back In the Conversation For Greatest Player?

Daniil Medvedev thwarted Djokovic’s Calendar Year Grand Slam ambitions and is ready to take over as the best in the game.




Who’s the greatest player ever?


How about Rod Laver, the owner of two Calendar Grand Slams?

Or what about Rafa Nadal, the owner of 21 major singles titles (including Olympic Gold)?

Or what about 20-20-20-Laver?


Since Novak Djokovic failed in his bid to win a Calendar Grand Slam on Sunday, I nominate the last of the three possibilities. 20-20-20-Laver sounds like a winner.

For Djokovic just to enter the conversation was a major achievement, and that was spurred by the Serbian’s bid for a Calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended that conversation on Sunday, at least for now, with his straight-set 4-4-4 dismantling of Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.


As 2021 turned out, it was a really disappointing year for Djokovic, even though he won the year’s first three Grand Slam events. Most players would be out celebrating if they won three Grand Slams in one year.

The loss to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics ended Novak’s Golden Grand Slam. And then Medvedev took care of the Calendar Grand Slam talk and the possibility of Djokovic breaking a 20-20-20 deadlock with Nadal and Roger Federer.

So, what’s next? I doubt that Novak is planning to skip the Australian Open in January. Even that one won’t be easy for Djokovic as a result of what has happened in late summer.


Djokovic has practically owned the Australian Open with nine titles in Melbourne, and eight of the last 11. But Medvedev and Zverev will be major obstacles for Djokovic in Melbourne, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Australian Open isn’t likely to be a picnic for Novak, even if Federer and Nadal skip the trip. If so, Federer and Nadal will be leaving the Australian Open in capable hands.

Things should start heating up by the quarterfinals Down Under.

By the way, Djokovic is 34 years old. That’s about the age Nadal started having trouble winning Grand Slams.


Medvedev beat Djokovic at just about everything he tried on Sunday. Djokovic was never in the game on serving competition or powerful forehands.

Those areas belonged to the 25-year-old Russian.

And movement? On this day, Medvedev had a picnic. The 6-6 first-time Grand Slam winner was everywhere with his amazing quickness. Djokovic couldn’t put a dent in his baseline defense.

Medvedev even out-did Djokovic in the Serbian’s usually solid drop shot department, pinning  even more disappointment on Novak.

Novak even caused a ball girl to change directions during the match as he swung his racket near the surface in  frustration after losing a point. Later, he punished his racket by smashing it into the court and destroying it.


The key to the relatively easy win for Medvedev was his serve. He was a perfect 15-for-15 on first-serve points in the opening set.

Medvedev obviously had little trouble with his serve until he was ready to end the match. With Medvedev owning a match point at 5-2 in the third set, the crowd tried to help Djokovic. Only then when the crowd got into the act of trying to break Medvedev’s attention did he double-fault twice in a row before netting a forehand to give Djokovic the game.

But in the final game of the match, Medvedev was ready for the crowd attack, although he double-faulted another match point away before ending the match with a big serve out wide for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic managed only to hit the bottom of the net with his backhand return.

And suddenly, the tall Russian looks like the best player in the game.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

Continue Reading


Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

The British sensation shocked the tennis world – can she keep it up in the coming years?




They played in the largest tennis stadium in the world.


They were teenagers. They achieved a dream early in their careers.

It just as easily could have been a junior championship a year earlier in their careers.

Only a few people would have been watching then. Such an event might not even have drawn newspaper coverage.


This meeting was much bigger and more important. The two participants would be $2.7 million richer between them before the day ended. They would become famous the world over, at least for now.

But this was Saturday, 9/11/21.

Real life now sets in. There probably are at least 100 other players in the world who are just as outstanding as Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. Yet, most of them will never be involved in a Grand Slam singles final.


What Raducanu and Fernandez accomplished will never be forgotten, always listed in tennis annals.

England will always be proud of its new Grand Slam champion. At long last, Virginia Wade has company.

And Canada will never forget its feisty Grand Slam runner-up.

They stood the test while other more touted and talented players buckled at the knees. High-ranked players crumbled at the thought of losing to a mere teenager.

Next time, that advantage probably won’t exist.


Raducanu and Fernandez played the final like the teenagers they are.

Raducanu came close to making it a one-sided result when she held match point twice with a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Fernandez did not give up on her left-handed game that Raducanu had conquered before in the junior ranks.

After losing both points and the game to make the match closer, Raducanu fought off a pair of break points in the next game before making good on her third match point for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The British 18-year-old generally outplayed the 19-year-old Fernandez most of the 111-minute final. Raducanu had more firepower on her serve and ground strokes.


Raducanu played like a tour veteran, even if it was only her fourth tour-level event. It was her 10th straight win without dropping a set, counting her three wins in qualifying just to get into the main draw. No women’s qualifier before even had advanced to a Grand Slam final.

She has the game to win consistently on the tour, but probably not strong enough to challenge the Top 10 players and Grand Slam titlists right away. She’s now no longer under the radar. Everyone wants to beat a Grand Slam champion.

This may have been just a one-shot opening that Raducanu took full advantage of to win a Grand Slam title.  Just in case the road ahead gets bumpy, she might want to be thrifty with the $1.8 million payday.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

Continue Reading


Novak Djokovic Was Pushed To An Amazing Performance

Zverev fell just short of beating the world N.1, and now Medvedev is the last obstacle still standing on his path to a Calendar Year Grand Slam




Novak Djokovic was simply amazing Friday night.


True, he made a few mistakes against Alexander Zverev, but not when they counted most.

Zverev also was superb, but his mistakes came when they counted really big.

For those reasons, Djokovic is getting ready to play for the unthinkable. No one had thought much about a Calendar Grand Slam until back in June when Djokovic shocked the tennis world with a victory over Rafa Nadal at the French Open.

By the time Wimbledon came around without Roger Federer and Nadal in the field, the odds were high that Djokovic actually could achieve a Calendar Grand Slam. And then he won Wimbledon and in the process turned the race for most Grand Slam titles into a 20-20-20 battle.


When Federer and Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open, all of Djokovic’s goals except a Golden Grand Slam when he lost to Zverev at the Olympics were in play.

Nearly two weeks later, Djokovic is one victory away from breaking out of the 20-20-20 deadlock as well as completing a rare Calendar Grand Slam.

Zverev pressed Djokovic into playing his very best to escape with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals. Only a cold start to the fifth set chilled Zverev’s hopes of spoiling Novak’s dreams.

Even after losing the first five games of the fifth set, Zverev still came close to making things interesting by winning the next two games and going to 30-30 in the eighth game.


Zverev’s improving game, and his big strokes and serves probably were enough to make Novak hope he won’t have to face Zverev’s hard balls again in January at the Australian Open.

That leaves only Daniil Medvedev between Djokovic and immortality.

Medvedev will have to be at his best to beat Novak. The slender 6-6 Russian can’t afford even a brief meltdown if he is to take Djokovic to the wire.

Medvedev appeared to be in awe of Djokovic when the two met in  this year’s Australian Open final.  Djokovic won that one easily in straight sets.


Medvedev’s game is a piece of work. He is completely unpredictable.

His whip forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. He backs it up with incredible movement.

It all depends on whether Medvedev can stick with Novak until the end. If Medvedev is still there, Novak likely will feel the heavy legs from his 214-minute bout with Zverev.

Not even Djokovic can out-move Medvedev. And the Russian’s uniquely quick serve has plenty of pop. He is due to win a Grand Slam.

But Medvedev will have to pull off a miracle against one of the smartest and slyest players tennis has ever seen if he is to win this U.S. Open.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

Continue Reading