Defending champion Federer beaten by qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis - UBITENNIS
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Defending champion Federer beaten by qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis

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The defending champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of the Miami Open by young Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, ranked 175, in the second round of the Miami Open here in Key Biscayne, 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) This loss means that Rafael Nadal will regain the World no.1 position when the rankings are released the day after the tournament finishes.

 

Miami Open 2018 - Day 6

This will come as a bitter blow to the Swiss maestro who having raced to a career best 17-0 unbeaten record this year, has now lost two matches in a row in a  final set tie break after losing the nail biting final to Juan martin Del Potro on sunday. This loss puts his career record for final set tie break matches at 1-9. An appalling record for such an outstanding champion.

The first two sets were split with a single break each way, and the match was eventually settled in the final set breaker with neither player able to secure a break of serve.

Federer got off to a bad start after netting a routine forehand to fall behind a mini break. He rallied back to 3-3 only to fall behind again when he netted a backhand slice on the stretch and Kokkinakis sensing blood, pummelled a forehand cross-court winner to set up two match points. Federer’s tame backhand slice return into the bottom of the net to collective groans of disbelief, saw the young Australian secure the biggest upset of the year so far as the world no.1 lost the match, 1000 points and his position at the top of the world rankings.

I feel like I wasn’t feeling good”, Federer said. “The ball. I wasn’t feeling. With my movement, things weren’t absolutely working. I felt like the third set could be a tricky one, of course. I feel like every time I had chances, something bad happened for me; wrong decision making by me, good decision making by him. Who knows what happened. It just felt like I could be paying the price for opportunities missed.”

It’s disappointing”, Federer continued. “Don’t know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today. Sometimes you have these matches. Sometimes you find a way through. I just couldn’t get it done today.”

Speaking about Kokkinanis, Federer had warm words of encouragement for the young Australian whose short career has thus far been plagued by injury: “Look, he’s a cool guy, with a cool demeanour. I know him well. He’s been to Dubai to practice with me a couple of times I know him very well. We have worked very hard together. I’ve always liked his game. I’m happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it, centre court, Miami. People watching, beating me. It’s a big result for him in his career. I hope it’s going to launch him, really get his ranking up.”

On the question of whether he would have played Miami after his loss in Indian Wells, if the no.1 ranking was not on the line, Federer was unequivocal: “It was always on the schedule, regardless”, he said.

Federer also confirmed that he would once again skip the clay court season which effectively puts him out of the game for the next 10 weeks.

 

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Hubert Hurkacz Aims To Build On Delray Beach Triumph

The best way to start the season for the world No.35.

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Hubert Hurkacz (image via https://twitter.com/DelrayBeachOpen)

Poland’s Herbert Hurkacz says he hopes to play at an even higher level over the coming weeks after winning the Delray Beach Open title on Wednesday.

 

The world No.35 eased to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Sebastian Korda in the final to claim only the second title in his career after Winston Salem back in 2018. Hurkacz, who was the fourth seed in the tournament, didn’t drop a set all week en route to becoming the first Polish player in history to win the title. In the final he won 68% of his service points and broke Korda four times overall.

“It feels great. It is great to win the title and I am so happy about that. This Is a great start to the season,” Hurkacz said afterwards.
“I am happy that I am improving and we (my team) are doing good stuff with C.B (coach Craig Boynton), and things are working. So I am really pleased with this result.”

The 23-year-old is hoping to improve on what was a challenging 2020 season for him. After reaching the semi-finals of the Auckland Open in January last year, he could only win back-to-back matches in two out of his next 12 tournaments prior to Delray Beach. His best Grand Slam result was reaching the third round of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

Seeking to break new territory in 2021, Hurkacz will today start his 24-hour journey to Australia which begins with a 5am departure from America this morning. His coach Craig Boynton also currently worked with Steve Johnson and previously mentored Jim Courier.

“It’s the beginning of the season and I still need to work on a couple of things, but I hope I can play even better in Australia,” Hurkacz stated.

Hurkacz is only the second Polish player to have won an ATP Tour title in the Open Era after Wojciech Fibak. At present he is the only player from his country ranked inside the top 100 on the Tour.

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Cristian Garin Out Of Australian Open Following Fall

The South American tennis star will not travel to Melbourne due to both injury and the travel restrictions implemented.

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Chile’s Cristian Garin has become the third top 30 player to pull out of the men’s draw at next month’s Australian Open.

 

The world No.22 has confirmed that he will not be travelling to the Grand Slam after suffering a fall in which he hurt his wrist a week ago. Announcing his decision on Instagram, Garin said the limitations in place at the tournament which wouldn’t allow him to travel with his physio played a factor. This year’s Australian Open is taking place amid strict COVID-19 rules which requires players to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and limits the number of team members they can bring. The majority of players will be spending their quarantine in Melbourne but the top names will be in Adelaide following a recent deal secured by Tennis Australia.

I am very sad to report that a week ago I suffered a fall, which left me with a lot of pain in my left wrist (sprain),” Garin wrote on his Instagram story. “It has been very difficult for me to play the last days and given the restrictions of the tour, they do not allow me to travel with my physiotherapist, which makes it impossible to find a good recovery. Unfortunately I will not be able to play this year in Australia, which is something very difficult for me to accept. I hope to return in good condition and with the best energy for the tour in South America.”

photo via – https://www.instagram.com/garincris/

Garin kicked-off his season on Saturday at the Delray Beach Open where he was the top seed. However, he lost his opening match in straight sets to Christian Harrison who went on to reach the semi-finals. It is only the second tournament he has played since the French Open in October.

The setback comes after the 24-year-old confirmed that he has started working with Franco Davin back in November. A tennis coach known best for his work with Juan Martin del Potro. Davin has also previously worked with Grigor Dimitrov and Kyle Edmund.

The withdrawal of Garin follows that of Roger Federer and John Isner. Former champion Federer has pulled out due to his ongoing recovery from a right knee injury. Although one Australian Open official believes his decision was due to another factor. Meanwhile, Isner has opted not to travel to Australia because he didn’t want to spend an extended time away from his family.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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Christian Harrison Speaks Out After ATP Fines Him For Not Wearing A Mask

The American says he is against ‘masking people for the sake of it for TV.’

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Christian Harrison (image via https://twitter.com/DelrayBeachOpen)

American tennis player Christian Harrison has said he will appeal a fine issued to him at the Delray Beach Open after he refused to do an on-court interview because he was required to wear a mask.

 

The ATP has slammed the 789th ranked player with a fine of $3000 for refusing to do the mandatory interview. However, Harrison is arguing his case by saying he believed that wearing a mask was optional and has been told by the tournament supervisor he can appeal against the fine. He has previously spoken out against wearing masks after writing last week ‘Healthy enough to play 3 hour matches. But I’m an absolute safety hazard walking maskless through a restaurant.’ On Twitter he also liked a Tweet last month by Political commentator Liz Wheeler who wrote ‘Wear a mask until EVERY person is vaccinated?! Are you insane?’

“Christian Harrison was fined $3,000 for declining the mandatory post-match on-court interview following his second round win over Cristian Garin on Saturday,” the ATP said in a statement.

Arguing his defence Harrison wrote on social media that it is ‘not healthy’ to wear a mask in the sun for longer than necessary after a match. The rule implemented is one of a series that has been taken in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In America, where Harrison is playing at the Delray Beach Open, the country has recorded more deaths from the virus than any other.

“After my second round match I chose not to do my post match interview due to wearing a mask. It’s not healthy to wear a mask in the hot sun for more time than absolutely necessary after a tough match,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I was given the impression it was optional. I wasn’t told I would be fined. That night I was told it is a requirement for T.V. matches and I would be fined. When I spoke to the supervisor the following morning, I was told since I wasn’t notified that it was mandatory I could appeal the fine and it would be taken away. Unless something changes now I still believe that to be true.”

Refusing to admit any wrongdoing, the 26-year-old says he ‘doesn’t agree’ with masking people for the sake of TV. Although he has stated that he will follow the rules in the future.

“I was required to do a sit down interview after the match with the same person which I agreed to and I did not have to wear a mask for it,” he continues.
“It’s not about safety to wear mask for TV to talk to a microphone with no one around . Playing the tournaments I’ll follow whatever is required even if I don’t agree with it. I don’t support masking people for the sake of it for TV.”

The controversy coincides with Harrison’s fairytale run at the Delray Beach Open this week. On Monday he defeated Gianluca Mager 7-6(2), 6-4, to reach the semi-finals of an ATP tournament for the first time in his career. He did wear a mask during his on-court interview following that win. The breakthrough comes after more than a decade of setbacks for Harrison who has undergone a total of eight surgeries on both legs, both hips, his right wrist, and both adductors.

Harrison will play fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals.

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