Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut to headline top-quality field in Auckland - UBITENNIS
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Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut to headline top-quality field in Auckland

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Thirty-one year-old Italian star Fabio Fognini has confirmed that he will play at next January’s ASB Classic in Auckland from 7 to 12 January 2019.

Fognini will be the second seeded player in the field with his current ranking of world number 13.

Fognini has enjoyed a very consistent season and equalled his career-high of world number 13 after winning three tournaments in Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos (where he beat Juan Martin Del Potro), reached the final in Chengdu and the semifinals in Sydney, Rio De Janeiro, Geneva, Beijing and Stockolm. He was in contention for a qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

It was a successful season for Italian men’s tennis. Two Italian players (Fognini and this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato) ended the season in the top 20 of the ATP Ranking for the first time since 1979.

Fognini made his debut in Auckland in 2010 and is set to make his fourth appearance in the ASB Classic. He lost in the first round for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011 and reached the quarter final in 2016, when he lost 7-5 7-6 (7-4) against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a hard-fought match.

Fognini won eight tournaments in his career and is the only player to beat Rafa Nadal after rallying from two sets down in a Grand Slam tournament.

“I like playing in Auckland. I have had some great matches there and the crowd is amazing to play in front of. I have playing some great tennis this year and I hope to do the same in 2019”,said Fognini.

ASB Tournament Director Karl Budge is happy to have secured Fognini for next January’s Auckland tournament.

“Fabio is one of the most entertaining blokes on tour. He plays with that Italian passion and flare that captivates crowds. It is great to have him in the field”, said Auckland Tournament Director Karl Budge.

Fognini will not the only Italian player in Auckland, because the field will also feature this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, who started the year ranked world number 90 and reached his career-high of 19. Cecchinato won two tournaments in Budapest and Umag.

The other top names in the field are Canadian Next Gen star Denis Shapovalov, world number 10 player John Isner, defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung and former top 10 Tomas Berdych.

Isner won his maiden Masters 1000 title in Miami, reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon and qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Roberto Bautista Agut will defend his title won in 2018. The Spanish player battled past Robin Haase in a three-hour semifinal 6-7 7-6 7-6 before beating Juan Martin Del Potro in the final to claim his second title in Auckland. Bautista went on to win his second title of the year in Dubai.

He beat top ten players Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the semifinals at the Montreal Masters 1000 tournament in 2017. This year he qualified for his second Masters 1000 tournament at the Madrid Mutua Open.

Tomas Berdych will make his first appearance in Auckland. The Czech star is one of the three players who have beaten the “Big Four” Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in Grand Slam tournaments and reached his career-high of world number 4 in May 2015.

Denis Shapovalov reached his career-high of world number 23 becoming the youngest ranked player in the top 25 since Richard Gasquet in 2005. The Canadian teenager is set to return to Auckland for the second consecutive year.

“Auckland is awesome. I jumped off the Sky Tower when I was there last time. I am not sure what I will do on this visit but I am sure I will find something fun”,said Shapovalov.

The young Canadian player will be joined in the field by Hyeon Chung, who won the inaugural edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2017.

“There is a lot of talent on the rise, a lot of guys that are the real deal. It’s motivating in a way. Almost every week there is someone new, doing really well. Danil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have their own style. I have my own style. We all have weapons and weeknesses. It’s going to be interesting to see who is able to be the best version of themselves, who is on top in the next couple of years. I did not expect to be where I am at this moment. It’s been happening so quick. This year I just wanted to stay in the top 50, maintain that ranking. I am really happy to be where I am at the moment. I am currently ranked world number 27 in the world. It’s a huge jump from last year. I have enjoyed a really successful season”,said Shapovalov.

ASB Classic Tournament Director Karl Budge is excited to see Shapovalov in action in Auckland.

“We got a taste of what Shapovalov can deliver this year and can’t wait to see more. There is no question he is a star of the future, and he is delivering some big matches right now. He is so athletic and dynamic, he is just exciting to watch on court. The ASB Classic has a reputation for showcasing the next generation of talent. Nadal, Federer, Murray and Wozniacki all played here early in their careers”,said Budge.  

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Kei Nishikori completes his third came-back win to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open

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Kei Nishikori won his third five-set match at this year’s edition of the Australian Open by completing his third come-back from two sets down with a 6-7 (8-10) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-6 (10-8) win over Pablo Carreno Busta after a 5-hour and 5-minute battle.

Kei Nishikori lived up to his reputation as a marathon man, when he completed his third come-from-behind win at the 2019 Australian Open following up his previous two five-set wins over Kamil Majchrzak and Ivo Karlovic.

Carreno Busta went down a break twice in the early stages of the opening set, but he managed to pull back both breaks in the fourth and sixth games to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori got an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead, but Carreno Busta won three consecutive points for 3-2 after three errors from Nishikori. The Spaniard did not convert three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7, but he converted his fourth chance for 10-8 with a forehand winner.

Carreno Busta went up a set and a break with two forehand winners in the third game before saving two break points at 2-1. The Spanish player did not convert two set points at 5-3, when he made two forehand errors as Nishikori was serving at 15-40, but he closed out the second set at love in the 10th game.

Nishikori went down a break in the fifth game of the third set, but he broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori won the tie-break 7-4 to keep his hopes alive Nishikori broke serve in the first game of the fourth set at 30, but Carreno Busta broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. Nishikori broke for the second time in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and earned three break points for 5-2 in the seventh game, but Carreno Busta held his serve. Nishikori held his next three service games at love to seal the fourth set 6-4.

Nishikori converted his third break point chance in the third game of the fifth set to take a 2-1 lead. The Japanese player came back from 15-40 down in the sixth game to hold his serve at deuce for 4-2, but he dropped his serve while he was serving for the match in the 10th game at 5-4. Carreno Busta built up a 8-5 lead in the decisive super tie-break, but Nishikori reeled off the final five points to seal a thrilling five-set match.

“I don’t know what to say. That was the toughest match. I have no idea how I broke back and I fough my way through. It was a great match. I feel like I have not played enough. It hasn’t been easy of course, especially not today. It was hard against Karlovic with a super tie-break, but today had longer rallies”, said Nishikori.

The Japanese star will face Novak Djokovic, who beat Danil Medvedev 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 in his fourth round match. Djokovic leads 15-2 in his 17 head-to-head matches against Nishikori.

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Lucas Pouille beats Borna Coric in four sets to set up a quarter final against Milos Raonic in Melbourne

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Lucas Pouille upset Borna Coric in four sets by the scoreline of 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Pouille set up a quarter final against Canadian player Milos Raonic, who beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-1 7-6 (7-5). The Frenchman has not won a single set in his three head-to-head matches against Raonic.

Coric broke serve in the first game of the opening set, but Pouille pulled back the break in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next games to set up a tie-break. Coric converted the first of his two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break with his ninth ace to close out the first set.

Pouille got the only break in the seventh game of the second set to draw level to 1 set apiece after Coric made his fourth double fault the match and a forehand error.

Both players held their serve in the first ten games of the third set. Coric went down 0-40 on serve in the 11th game, but he managed to saved the first two break points. Pouille converted his third opportunity with a forehand winner to seal the third set 7-5.

Pouille got an immediate break in the first game of the fourth set. Coric converted his fourth break-back point chance at deuce to draw level to 4-4 setting up a second tie-break. Pouille sealed the win on his first match point, when Coric made his 55th unforced error of the match.

Pouille fired 57 winners and won 66 % of his second serve points.

Lucas Pouille has become the 13th French player to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open and the first since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017. The Frenchman reached the third quarter final at Grand Slam level in his career after Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016.

Pouille lost in the first round for the fifth consecutive year at the 2018 edition of the Australian Open and won his fifth title in Montpellier against his compatriot Richard Gasquet after saving two match points in the semifinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Pouille reached a career-high of world number 10 after advancing to his third ATP Tour level final in Dubai, where he lost against Roberto Bautista Agut. After a difficult second half of the season Pouille hired Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.

“It feels great. It has been a tough match against Borna. He is one of the best players in the world. The last time we played I lost 6-4 in the third set, so I knew what to expect. A few points here and there. In the first tie-break I had 5-4 and made two lets and the ball went out. It was just a few details that made the difference. I am now very happy to be in the quarter final. The atmosphere is great here. In the previous round I played against Popyrin, an Australian guy, and the atmosphere was just electric”,said Pouille.

Pouille has not won a set in his three head-to-head matches against his next rival Milos Raonic and lost in straight sets against the Canadian player in their previous head-to-head match at the 2016 Australian Open.

“He is playing well. I watched the match against Alexander Zverev. I am going to be ready for it and try to reach my first semifinal”,said Pouille.

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Racket-Smashing Alexander Zverev Unfazed By Shock Australian Open Exit

The world No.4 reacts to his disappointing loss at Melbourne Park.

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‘I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed’ was Alexander Zverev’s response to his surprise defeat to Milos Raonic at the Australian Open.

The German fourth seed produced an erratic performance during his 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(5), loss to the world No.17 as he failed to hold serve in six out of his first seven service games. Zverev’s lacklustre performance saw him make more unforced errors than winners (23-21) and produced 10 double faults. At one stage of the match, Zverev let his own emotions get the better of him. Trailing 1-6, 1-4, he decided to destroy one of his rackets on the court. An act that unsurprisingly earned him a code violation.

“It made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out.” Zverev said during his press conference.
“I played bad. The first two sets, especially, I played horrible. I mean, it’s just tough to name one thing. I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.”

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1087214145957752833

Monday’s loss continues Zverev’s patchy record in grand slam tournaments. Tipped by many as a future world No.1 in the sport, he has only managed to reach the quarter-finals of a major in one out of 15 attempts. His sole success was at the French Open last year. On the other hand, his run to the last 16 in Melbourne was his best run yet at the tournament.

“I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either. It’s fine. It’s a tennis match.” He reflected.
“I have learned to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world. If I would think it’s the end of the world every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.”

Heading into the Australian Open, there were concerns about Zverev’s fitness. The week prior he was dealing with issues concerning his hamstring and foot. However, the 21-year-old ruled out that any kind of injury had an impact of his match against Raonic.

Trying to pinpoint the cause of his display, the world No.4 admitted that he would have liked a longer off-season. Zverev ended 2018 by winning the ATP Finals on November 19th and returned to action on December 30th to play in the Hopman Cup alongside Angelique Kerber.

“For sure, I didn’t have a very long off-season, didn’t have a lot of rest. But, you know, this is us as tennis players. I’m happy how the season ended. I wouldn’t want it the other way.” Zverev stated.
“It’s always a give and take. If the season is 11 months long, it’s always that kind of give and take in what you do, how you rest, and how much work you put in. That’s just how it is for us tennis players.” He added.

Zverev’s conqueror Raonic will play either Lucas Pouille or Borna Coric in the next round.

Zverev’s grand slam record

Tournament 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 W–L Win %
Australian Open A Q1 1R 3R 3R 4R 7–4 64%
French Open A Q2 3R 1R QF 6–3 67%
Wimbledon A 2R 3R 4R 3R 8–4 67%
US Open Q2 1R 2R 2R 3R 4–4 50%
Win–Loss 0–0 1–2 5–4 6–4 10–4 3–1 25–15 62%

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