The First Round Players Looking To Spoil The Big Four Reunion At The US Open
Everybody expects the four titans of men’s tennis to come through their opening match at Flushing Meadows, but what does their opponents think?
For the first time since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, every member of the ‘big four’ contingent will feature in a grand slam tournament at this year’s US Open.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the two highest seeded players in this year’s draw. Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic follows closely behind at sixth and Andy Murray will be unseeded in the event for the first time since 2005. Murray is currently ranked 382nd in the world following his hiatus from the sport due to injury. In that group, no player have lost in the first round of a major since Nadal at the 2016 Australian Open. A record that some players are hoping to break in New York.
For David Ferrer, a win over Nadal on the opening day of the tournament would be a dream scenario. The Spanish veteran has confirmed that the US Open will be the final grand slam he plays in before retiring from the sport. Against Nadal, he trails their head-to-head 6-24 and hasn’t defeated a top-10 player for over a year.
“I want to win and I will play on Monday against Nadal with that intention. That is part of my DNA. I am on the threshold of withdrawal, but I will die being competitive.” Ferrer told El Espanol ahead of the first round.
Should Ferrer achieve the unthinkable, he would become only the third player to knock Nadal out in the opening round of a major. Following in the footsteps of Steve Darcis (Wimbledon, 2013) and Fernando Verdasco (Australian Open, 2016).
“We have a great history together. We have been in the Davis Cup team together, including this year. He’s a good friend.” Nadal said of Ferrer during the US Open draw ceremony on Thursday.
“He has been an amazing player for such a long time. It’s true that he is going through times, but he is still a high level player.”
Three-time grand slam champion Murray embarks upon the New York major in unfamiliar territory. Unlike previous years, the Brit has played down his chances of success. The US Open will be only his sixth tournament since returning from injury.
“For the last 10 years or so I’ve been coming and trying to prepare to win the event whereas I don’t feel like that’s realistic for me this year,” Murray told reporters in New York.
“It’s a slightly different mentality for me coming in than what I have had the last 10, 11 years of my life.”
In the first round Murray takes on Australia’s James Duckworth. A player who has also endured his fair share of injury troubles. It will be the first time he has played a best-of-five match for more than a year. Something 26-year-old Duckworth hopes to capitalise on.
“Look, if I was ever going to play Murray, this is probably the best time to play him,” Duckworth told Australian media.
“He hasn’t played a best-of-five-set match for over a year so I give myself a chance. I’m obviously going to have to play well, but I’m definitely a chance.
“Obviously I’m not the favourite going in but I’m going to give it my best shot, take it to him, try to play positive tennis and see how I go.”
An honour for some
Whilst some may perceive it as a bit of bad luck to be drawn against one of the big four in the first round, Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka is focusing on the positives. The 22-year-old will take on Roger Federer on Tuesday. Nishioka has been ranked as high as 58th in the world, but missed eight months of the tour last year due to a knee injury.
“I arrived in New York,” Nishioka tweeted.
“This is the last place in this expedition. The draw was Federer and… This year’s Grand Slam brings me really no luck.
“But it is a dream to play with Federer, so I’m looking forward to it. I want to do the best I can.”
Federer is bidding to win the New York title for the first time in 10 years. He has a 11-2 win-loss record against Japanese players so far in his professional career. His two losses were at the hands of Kei Nishikori.
Finally, Novak Djokovic is hoping to continue his winning momentum generated from Wimbledon and Cincinnati. In his first match, the Serbian faces Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics. A player currently ranked 41st in the world that won his maiden ATP title earlier this year at the Geneva Open. Fucsovics has achieved a new career-high seven times so far this season with his best being 40th.
“I do not have anything to lose, he has, I hope we play a good game.” He told index.ru about the upcoming clash.
“I know him well, I’ve been training with him many times, and his staff knows me well.”
Djokovic is seeded sixth at the US Open. He has never lost before the third round of the tournament since making his debut back in 2005.
In US Open history, no member of the big four has ever lost in the first round.
The big four’s record in Grand slam first Round’s
Players ranked by highest winning percentage
- Novak Djokovic – 96.3%
- Rafael Nadal – 96.23%
- Andy Murray – 93.48%
- Roger Federer – 91.7%
Wimbledon Likely To Scrap Ban On Russian Players, Says Two-Time Champion Murray
Andy Murray has told BBC Sport that he understands the ban implemented on Russian and Belarussian players competing at Wimbledon will be lifted this year.
The All England Club, as well as by British LTA, has been under pressure to conduct a u-turn on their policy following the backlash they received last year from both the ATP and WTA. In 2022 Britain became the only country on the Tour to ban players from their events as a result of the war in Ukraine which has claimed thousands of lives. Organisers said their decision to do so was based on advice from their government who voiced concern that Russia could use UK-based events as propaganda.
However, the governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis condemned the move with both of them issuing fines to the LTA. It has been reported by The Telegraph newspaper that the WTA is willing to halve their $1M fine if athletes from the two nations are allowed to play this year. It has also been reported that officials are contemplating the possibility of requiring these players to sign some sort of contract to say they will not be making political gestures before being allowed to play. However, this has not been publicly confirmed.
Whilst there is yet to be any official statement, Murray appears confident that the ban will be lifted based on what he has heard. Murray, who donated more than £500,000 of his prize money from last season to charities supporting Ukrainian children affected by the war, has previously voiced his opposition to the 2022 ban.
“It’s a really difficult one and I do feel for the players who weren’t able to play last year – but I also understand the situation and why it’s really hard for Wimbledon to make a call on it as well,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“My understanding is that they are going to be allowed to play and I’m not going to be going nuts if that is the case.
“But if Wimbledon went down another route I would be understanding of that.”
Besides their financial penalty, Wimbledon lost their right to award ranking points last year for the first time in history. There have also been concerns that should the ban not be reversed, the rights for some events held in the UK such as Eastbourne could be removed and sold elsewhere.
Under current rules, players from Russia and Belarus are allowed to play on the Tour but only under a neutral status. They are currently suspended from all team competitions such as the Davis Cup.
Murray spoke about Wimbledon to reporters in Indian Wells ahead of his first round clash with Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina. So far this season he has won six out of nine matches played with his best run being to the final of the Qatar Open last month.
Andy Murray Targets Wimbledon Seeding
Andy Murray believes carefully planning his training sessions to avoid overload will help him achieve his goal of returning back inside the world’s top 32.
The three-time Grand Slam champion has climbed up the rankings this week by 18 places to 52nd in the world following his run to the final of the Qatar Open where he was denied the title by Daniil Medvedev. At the tournament, he defeated Lorenzo Sonego, Alexander Zverev and Australian Open quarter-finalist Jiri Lehecka. It was the first time the Brit has reached the final of a Tour event since June.
Murray was scheduled to return to action this week at the Dubai Tennis Championships but has since withdrawn from the event. Officially he has cited a hip issue as a reason he is not playing, however, it is understood that his decision is only a precautionary measure and is not linked to his previous problems. Murray has undergone two surgeries on his hip and now plays with a metal rod inserted into his joint.
“The matches I had last week were physically pretty demanding,” Murray told The Times.
“It was five matches in six days – the last time I did that was in Stuttgart (in June) but because of the surface (grass), the matches were physically really not that challenging.
“I had an issue then with my abdominal muscle and on Friday evening in Doha I was feeling my abs a little bit after the semi-final.
“Because of the experience I had last year, it was clearly a load-related thing because of the amount of tennis I played in a short period, so I was a bit worried about that.”
The former world No.1 says he needs to be more careful about putting his body under too much pressure due to his age and previous injury problems. Instead, Murray is taking a more structured approach to how he trains.
Using data tracking to analyze his workout plans and focusing on specific areas, the hope is that he can tune up his game without suffering any setbacks. He has already made progress this season by winning six out of nine matches played. Besides Doha, he also reached the third round of the Australian Open before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.
As for goals for the future, Murray hopes to climb further up the world rankings and be seeded for a Grand Slam once again, especially Wimbledon where he feels he has ‘a better opportunity for a deep run.’ He is a two-time champion at SW19 and has won a total of 60 main draw matches at the event.
“I do believe that this is allowing me to be in much better shape,” Murray explained about his approach to training. “I know exactly when I go on the court, how much time I’m going to spend on it and which drills and exercises I do are going to get me to certain heart-rate zones.
“Rather than just blasting yourself twice, once on the court and once in the gym, sometimes I only need to do it on the court if I’m getting the right stimulus from the tennis session.
“My feeling on Wimbledon is that less players play well on grass. More of the guys are comfortable on the hard courts and that probably increases my chances.
“I’m not saying I would expect to win the French Open (on clay) if I played, but with Wimbledon, there is certainly a better opportunity to have a deep run.
“Yes, I have some niggles and my body doesn’t feel amazing, but it’s coped really well with the first few tournaments of the year that have been really demanding.
“My belief is that my body would be fine to play seven five-set matches if needs be. Granted, if they are six-hour ones, probably not, but regular five-set matches, I’d be able to cope with that.”
To guarantee a seeding for a Grand Slam a player must be ranked inside the world’s top 32 before the main draw cut-off occurs. The last time Murray was in this position was back in April 2018.
Murray is set to return to action next month at Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami.
Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Win Was ESPN’S Least-Watched Men’s Final In Years
Despite the historic victory at Melbourne Park, the world No.1’s clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas failed to attract a big audience in America.
Novak Djokovic’s triumph at the Australian Open might have rewritten the history books but this year’s men’s final wasn’t a hit for ESPN compared to recent editions.
The world No.1 surged to a straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas to become the first man in history to have won the Australian Open for a 10th time. Djokovic has also drawn level with Rafael Nadal for the most major titles won by a male player at 22 each. The win came a year after he was deported from the country after losing a legal battle concerning the legitimacy of his Visa. Djokovic was initially banned from re-entering Australia for three years but that penalty was waived last November.
Despite the recent drama involving the tennis star, ESPN has confirmed that this year’s title match attracted just 430,000 viewers which is the broadcaster’s worst audience for an Australian Open men’s final match in at least a decade. The match took place in the early hours of the morning in America (3:30-7:30am ET) which could be attributed to the figures. However, Rafael Nadal’s five-set triumph over Daniil Medvedev in 2021 attracted 689,000 viewers. This is a year-on-year drop of 36%.
It was a similar situation for the women’s final which saw Aryna Sabalenka oust Elena Rybakin in three sets to win her first major title. 379,000 viewers watched that match which is a 21% drop compared to 2022 which featured America’s Danielle Collins losing in straight sets to Ash Barty.
On Australian TV there were also disappointing figures with the Nine commercial network reporting a 40% decline during the finals weekend. The men’s final was down 300,000 (1.3M vs 1.6M) and the women’s was down a huge 2.83M (1.43M vs 4.26M). Although the 2022 women’s title match triggered huge interest in Australia due to the success of home player Barty. Throughout the entire tournament, Nine attracted a total audience of 10.064M compared to 12.5M in 2022.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. According to TV Blackbox, this year’s men’s final was actually first in the overnight metro ratings and interestingly outperformed Cricket’s Big Bash League – the knockout by almost 1M which was shown at the same time on network Seven. The metro ratings are based on TV viewership in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
Both ESPN and Network Nine have recently signed deals to show the Australian Open. According to the Sports Business Journal, ESPN has signed a nine-year deal with Tennis Australia starting this year. Meanwhile, sen.com.au reports Nine will be the home broadcaster until at least 2030 in a deal worth in the region of AUS$500M.
This year’s Australian Open set a new attendance record of 839,192 fans through the gates.
Jannik Sinner beats Laslo Djere to beat reach the third round at the Miami Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas Benefitting From Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev’s Success
Coco Gauff reaches the third round at the Miami Open for the second consecutive year at the Miami Open
Elena Rybakina beats Anna Kalinskaya to keep her hopes to win the Sunshine Double alive
Dominic Thiem Pondering Return To Challenger Tour After Latest Defeat In Miami
Andy Murray does not care too much about possible all-British third round clash in Indian Wells
WTA CEO Reportedly Said Players Shouldn’t Be Upset If Their Peers Support Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Stan Wawrinka’s Warning To Rune After Fiery Encounter At Indian Wells
EXCLUSIVE: Why Carlos Martinez Is No Longer Coaching Daria Kasatkina
Elena Rybakina Topples Injured Swiatek, Faces Sabalenka For Indian Wells Title
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink Talks Djokovic’s Fitness, Nearest Rivals And Future Of American Tennis
EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Coach Fredric Fontang – ‘Felix Can Win Wimbledon This Year’
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink On Sabalenka’s Rise, Swiatek’s Tough Year Ahead
EXCLUSIVE: Meet Shane Liyanage – The Data Analyst Behind Aryna Sabalenka’s Breakthrough
(VIDEO) Ubaldo Scanagatta On A Week To Remember For Canada At The Davis Cup
Hot Topics3 days ago
Victoria Azarenka At Odds With No.1 Swiatek Over Treatment Of Ukrainian Players
ATP15 hours ago
Dominic Thiem Pondering Return To Challenger Tour After Latest Defeat In Miami
Hot Topics18 hours ago
ATP Coach Accused of Sexually And Emotionally Abusing Players
Focus2 days ago
Top 3 Miami Open 2023 Male Contenders
Latest news2 days ago
Jannik Sinner: “The rivalry against Carlos Alcaraz has made me a better player”
Hot Topics2 days ago
Andy Murray Praises ‘Excellent’ Alcaraz Following Miami Exit
ATP3 days ago
Miami Open Daily Preview: US Open Champions Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu Collide
Latest news2 days ago
Carlos Alcaraz: “It’s going to be a great rivalry between me and Sinner”