But before the women take to the court, we’ll see the resumption of the second gentlemen’s semifinal. Djokovic leads Nadal two-sets-to-one, in a match that was suspended on Friday due to Wimbledon’s 11:00pm curfew. The men will resume play at 1:00pm local time, and the women will follow not before 2:00pm. With the gentlemen’s and ladies’ doubles finals also to be played, it’s going to be one of the more eventful Day 12’s in the history of The Championships.
Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
Just last September, Serena Williams was fighting for her life due to serious medical issues that arose from giving birth to her first child. Now for the tenth time in her over two-decade career, she’ll walk onto Centre Court to play for the Venus Rosewater Dish. Serena is 7-2 in the ladies’ final at Wimbledon, and 23-6 overall in singles final at Majors. Serena is on a 20-match winning streak at SW19, having not lost since 2014 when Alize Cornet upset her in the third round. A win today would tie her with Margaret Court for the most Major singles titles, though of course over half of Court’s tally came prior to the open era. Coming into this tournament, Serena was admittedly less than 100%, as the pec injury she suffered in Paris prevented her from serving at full speed in practice. But Serena has exhibited no ill effects of that injury through six round, as her serve has been extremely effective. She’s been broken only once in each of her last three matches.
Angelique Kerber is into her second Wimbledon final, and fourth Major final. She is one of only five women to defeat Serena in a Major singles final, which she did at the 2016 Australian Open. That was part of a career-year for Kerber, who won her only two Major titles that year. 2016 also saw Kerber win a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, and she was the runner-up at that year’s WTA Finals. She would finish the year as world number one, though her 2017 season was much different. Last year she went just 29-24, with no titles. But 2018 has featured a resurgent Kerber, who already has 38 wins on the year, and has made the quarterfinals or better at all three Majors.
Both players have dropped only one set heading into this Championship match, and have improved in form as the tournament has progressed. As Courtney Nguyen highlighted on Twitter, Serena’s unforced error count has consistently improved round-by-round. Most notably, she made just nine errors in her quarterfinal, and seven in her semifinal. Meanwhile Kerber has averaged just 11 unforced errors over her last four matches. And while her serve does not get near the speed of Serena’s, its placement has been superb, as was her 77% first serve percentage in her semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko.
This of course is a rematch from the Wimbledon final of two years, in which Serena avenged her loss to Kerber in Melbourne from earlier that year. Serena leads their head-to-head 6-2, and has won five of their last six meetings. The angles generated by Kerber will move Serena around the court in different ways than her previous opponents, though Williams should be fully prepared for that considering how many times they’ve played. And while Serena isn’t quite at her competitive best in just the fourth tournament of her comeback, she’ll need to be much less than her best for Kerber to have a decent shot. But if Williams is ever ripe for an upset in a Major final, it’s now. Will Serena be at all overwhelmed by the weight of the occasion, as she goes for 24th Major? Playing for such a milestone has gotten to her in the past, when she was upset by Roberta Vinci in the 2015 US Open semifinals while going for the calendar year Grand Slam. Also keep in mind how kind the draw has been to Serena. Kerber is by far the most accomplished opponent she’s met during this fortnight, and she has beaten Serena before in a Major final. Kerber definitely has a fighting chance, but if the past two decades of tennis have taught us anything, it’s this: bet against Serena Williams at your own peril.
EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Top Names Get Preferential Treatment But That’s Part Of The Tour’
Marcelo Demoliner celebrated his birthday in quarantine, his doubles partner isn’t allowed to leave his room for 14 days and he believes there is a difference in treatment between the top players and others. Yet, he refuses to complain about the situation he finds himself in.
Like his peers, Brazil’s Marcelo Demoliner passes his time in Melbourne quarantine by training, sleeping, eating and posting amusing videos on social media.
Demoliner, who currently has a doubles ranking of world No.44, is required by Australian law to abide by a strict isolation period before he is allowed to play any professional tournament. Although he is allowed to train unless he is deemed to be a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19. An unfortunate situation 72 players find themselves in, including Demoliner’s doubles partner Santiago Gonzalez
During an email exchange with UbiTennis the Brazilian sheds light on what he labels as an ‘usual experience’ that has prompted criticism from some players. Roberto Bautista Agut was caught on camera describing conditions as a ‘prison’ in a video leaked to the press. Although he has since apologised for his comments. Demonliner himself is not as critical as others.
“It is an unusual experience that we will remember for a long time,” he told UbiTennis. “It is a very complicated situation that we are going through. Obviously, it is not ideal for us athletes to be able to go out for just 5 hours a day, but mainly for the other 72 players who cannot go out, like my partner Santiago Gonzalez. They have a complicated situation of possibly getting injured after not practicing for 14 days, but it is what it is.’
“We need to understand and adapt to this situation considering Australia did a great job containing Covid.”
With three ATP doubles titles to his name, Demoliner is playing at the Australian Open for the sixth year in a row. He has played on the Tour for over a decade and has been ranked as high as 34th in the world.
Besides the players complaining about food, their rooms and even questioning the transparency of the rule making, Tennis Australia also encountered a slight blip regarding the scheduling of practice.
“I was a little lucky because I stayed in one of the hotels that we don’t need to take transportation to go to the training courts. It made the logistics issue much easier. The other two hotels had problems with transportation and logistics in the first two days, but I have nothing to complain about, honestly.”
Demoliner remains thankful for what Tennis Australia has managed to do in order for the Australian Open to be played. Quarantine can have a big impact on a person mentally, as well as physically. Each day players spend at least 19 hours in their hotel rooms which was no fun for the Brazilian who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday.
“Without a doubt, it is something we have never been through before. I’m luckily having 5 hours of training daily. I am managing to maintain my physical preparation and rhythm. It is not the ideal, of course, but I can’t even imagine the situation of other players who are in the more restricted quarantine.”
Priority given to the top names
As Demoliner resides in Melbourne, a selected handful of players are spending their time in Adelaide. Under a deal struck by Tennis Australia, officials have agreed for the top three players on the ATP and WTA Tour’s to be based in the city. The idea being is that it will relieve the strain on Melbourne who is hosting in the region of 1200 arrivals.
Craig Tiley, who is the head of Tennis Australia, has insisted that all players will have to follow the same rules wherever they are based. Although some feel that those in Adelaide have some extra privileges such as a private gym they can use outside of the five-hour training bubble. Japan’s Taro Daniel told the Herald Sun: “People in Adelaide are being able to hit with four people on court, so there’s some resentment towards that as well.” Daniel’s view is one echoed also by Demoliner.
“I do believe they are receiving preferential treatment, quite different from us. But this is part of the tour,” he said.
“The top tennis players always had these extras, we are kinda of used to it. We came here knowing that they would have better conditions for practicing, structure, hotels… they also have merits to have achieved all that they have to be the best players in the world. I don’t know if it’s fair, but I believe the conditions could be more similar than they are in this situation.”
Some players were recently bemused by a photo of Naomi Osaka that surfaced on social media before being removed. The reigning US Open champion was pictured on a court with four members of her team, which is more people than what those in Melbourne are allowed to train with.
As the Adelaide contingent continues their preparations, those most unhappy with them are likely to be the 72 players who are in strict quarantine. Demoliner is concerned about the elevated risk of injury that could occur due to the facts they are not allowed to leave their rooms. All players in this situation have been issued with gym equipment to use.
“I think that they will be at a considerable disadvantage compared to who can train. But we need to obey the law of the country, there is not much to do … until the 29th they will have to stay in the room and that is it,” he said.
“Whether it is fair or not, it is not up to me to say because I am not in this situation. The thing about having the other players who didn’t have contact with the positive cases to also stay in the rooms is the concern about the risk of injury, specially for singles players. It will be a tough challenge, especially at the beginning of the season.”
In recent days, officials have been holding video calls with players to discuss ways to address these concerns ahead of the Australian Open. Which will start a week after they are allowed to leave their rooms.
When the tournaments do get underway there are also questions about how the public will react to players who have made headlines across the country for their criticism of the quarantine process. A somewhat sore point for Australian’s with some nationals unable to return home due to the government restrictions. On top of that, people in Melbourne are concerned about a potential outbreak of COVID-19.
“It is a very complex situation. I fully understand the reaction of the Australian population considering the recent events… the effect that the players are bringing, the risks to the population,” Demoliner said of the current circumstances.
“We know this and obviously they are concerned with the whole situation, which is still very uncertain. On our side, though, they did allow us to come here to play. It is important to remember that the decision to welcome us was approved by the Australian Government, otherwise we would not be here.”
Demoliner is one of three Brazilian doubles players ranked to have a top 100 ranking on the ATP Tour along with Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo.
Who Are The Best Hard Court Creators In The Last 12 Months?
Here are some of the best players at earning break points on a hard court in the last 12 months.
As the Australian Open, slowly, approaches UbiTennis looks at the biggest hard court creators from the last 52 weeks.
Although winning matches are determined on how many break point opportunities you convert, to convert the break points you need to create them in the first place.
This can be the biggest challenge but for the players below this isn’t a problem as they are able to consistently create break point opportunities on a hard court.
Starting with the women, it may be a surprise to nobody that Garbine Muguruza, one of the more aggressive returners on the tour leads the way, earning on average 10.4 break points in the last 52 weeks on a hard court.
Muguruza’s hard-hitting style mixed with controlled placement puts her in pole position to punish her opponents on return.
There are also other big hitters in the top 10 such as Petra Kvitova, who averages 9.6 break points while Aryna Sabalenka earns 9.5 break points on a hard court.
While 2020 grand slam champions Iga Swiatek (9.8) and Naomi Osaka (9.3) also feature on this list.
Meanwhile on the men’s side it is Roger Federer who leads this list on average earning 10.8 break points, slightly more than Garbine Muguruza who is on top of the women’s list.
Federer is just ahead of Roberto Bautista Agut with 10.5 break points. This shows just how much Bautista Agut has improved on hard courts in the last 12 months being able to create so many break point opportunities with his return game.
Also featuring on this list are Alexander Zverev (9.2), Novak Djokovic (8.5) and Daniil Medvedev (8.3).
These are the players to look out for when seeing the players who are most likely to create opportunities in their respective draws and who the biggest servers may want to avoid in the Australian Open.
Here are the full lists of the top 10 from each tour and remember the Australian Open is set to begin on the 8th of February.
WTA Top 11 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks
- Garbine Muguruza – 10.4
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – 10.2
- Saisai Zheng – 9.9
- Iga Swiatek – 9.8
- Anett Kontaveit – 9.6
- Petra Kvitova – 9.6
- Petra Martic – 9.6
- Aryna Sabalenka – 9.5
- Ons Jabeur – 9.5
- Simona Halep – 9.3
- Naomi Osaka – 9.3
ATP Top 12 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks
- Roger Federer – 10.8
- Roberto Bautista Agut – 10.5
- Alexander Zverev – 9.2
- John Millman – 8.9
- Dominic Thiem – 8.9
- Guido Pella – 8.8
- Cristian Garin – 8.5
- Novak Djokovic – 8.5
- David Goffin – 8.4
- Adrian Mannarino – 8.3
- Daniil Medvedev – 8.3
- Grigor Dimitrov – 8.3
Further 23 Players In Hard Quarantine After More Positive Tests On Charter Flight
More players head into hard quarantine ahead of the first grand slam of the year.
A further 23 players have been told that they are being placed into hard quarantine after another positive COVID-19 test on a charter flight from Abu Dhabi.
Players were notified this evening in Australia that there was a positive test on the Abu Dhabi charter flight. Although it looks it wasn’t a player who tested positive it now means 23 more players will now go into hard quarantine.
It is understood from several journalists that among those who are now being placed into hard quarantine from the Abu Dhabi flight are Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari, Bianca Andreescu, Angelique Kerber, Marta Kostyuk, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ons Jabeur.
Although there are only 47 players in hard quarantine so far, there is a fear that this number could rise with more COVID test results still waiting to come back.
Before the charter flights, Andy Murray, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova were denied entry into Australia via the chartered flights due to positive COVID results.
The first set of tournaments in Australia are set to begin on the 31st of January with the Australian Open due to begin on the 8th of February.
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