Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt believes there is ‘still time’ for Nick Kyrgios to fulfil his potential on the tour as he become the latest figure to urge the Australian to commit more to the sport.
The 23-year-old has ended 2018 ranked 35th in the world following a season hampered by numerous injury issues. It is Kyrgios’ lowest year-end ranking since 2014. Despite the setback, he has also managed to show his talent on the tour by winning the Brisbane International. Kyrgios also reached semi-finals of events at Queen’s and Stuttgart.
Throughout his career, the world No.35 has come under criticism for his at times controversial behaviour on the court. The Australian player has previously been accused of tanking during matches and was briefly suspended from the tour for unsportsmanlike conduct displayed during the 2016 Shanghai Masters. In June he was fined $17,500 by the ATP for making a sexual gesture during his semi-final match at the Fever-Tree Championships in London.
Despite the controversy, Hewitt believes there is still hope for his fellow countryman. The two-time grand slam champion believe Kyrgios should follow in the footsteps of ‘the ultimate professional’ Alexander Zverev. Zverev is currently ranked fourth in the world and has won four titles this year, including the season-ending ATP Finals.
“There’s still time, absolutely – but it goes quickly,” Hewitt commented during an interview with The Australian Associated Press.
“It goes quickly and you get the next group of kids coming up as well and they’ll be challenging next and they’ll see Zverev now is on the plate.
“Two years ago, Nick was probably ahead of Zverev in terms of what a lot of people thought his potential was.
“Zverev’s done absolutely everything right. He is the ultimate professional and he has been from day dot from when I’ve seen him around on the tour.”
Joining in with Hewitt’s calls is John Newcombe. A former seven-time grand slam champion who also won 17 major titles in men’s doubles during his career. The 74-year-old believes it is important that Kyrgios gets fully fit in order to end his run of injuries. This year Kyrgios has been troubled with issues concerning his elbow and hip.
“If he got himself into 100 per cent physical shape, he’d stop getting all the niggling injuries. That would be a big step forward,” he said.
“Because as you get into the mid 20s and late 20s, if you’re not fully fit, you haven’t done the homework, you’re going to get more and more injuries.”
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Kyrgios was seeing a psychologist to help him ‘get on top of his mental health.‘ Admitting that he ‘probably left it a little too long’ to seek help. He is working with two psychologists – one based in Australia and the other overseas – to help tackle his demons.
“He has a lot of potential and talent but he has to learn to use it, maybe pick a better schedule as well and focus on where he wants to peak.” Hewitt concluded.
Kyrgios is set to start his 2019 season during the first week in January at the Brisbane International.
Carlos Ramos Won’t Umpire Serena Williams’ US Open Matches Following Infamous Clash
They two will be kept apart, but will it be enough to stop people talking about their previous confrontation?
23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos will be kept apart during the US Open following their high-profile spat at the tournament 12 months ago.
During the final of the US Open last year, controversy erupted when Ramos issued Williams with a violation for receiving coaching from the stands. Something which is prohibited in grand slam tennis. A livid Williams denied any wrongdoing immediately after. Suggesting the decision was sexist before calling the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ In total, Williams was hit with three violations that resulted in a game penalty.
Stacy Allaster, who is the president of the USTA, has confirmed that Ramos will not be allowed to officiate Williams or her sister’s Venus’ matches during the grand slam. Saying that she didn’t want to cause a ‘distraction.’ This decision is said to be applied only to the 2019 tournament.
“We don’t need to go there,” Allaster told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.”
“We want to be focused on the competition and want to go forward,” she added.
Ramos, who is from Portugal, was never found guilty of doing anything wrong during the match. The International Tennis Federation issued a statement shortly after the incident. In it, they said that Ramos ‘undertook his duties as an official, according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.’
Regardless of the move by the USTA to try and stay clear of the Williams-Ramos incident, it is set to be thrown back into the media spotlight in the coming days. Sports network ESPN will air a documentary called “Serena vs. The Umpire” on Sunday for the first time. It will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta, Jr.
“We’re exploring stories that are unresolved and have layers to them, and that’s certainly the case with what happened at last year’s US Open women’s final,” said John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Special Projects and Original Content. “With this and subsequent stories, viewers will follow along with Don on his deep dive for truth.”
The TV program is set to include Patrick Mouratoglou, who is the coach of Williams. Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are also set to feature.
The US Open will get underway on August 26th.
Madison Keys Finally Finds Her Footing After Tough Few Weeks
Can the former top 10 player return to peak form in time for the US Open?
Entering into this week’s Western and Southern Open a single win would have been a much needed boost for Madison Keys ahead of the final grand slam of the season.
Keys, a former grand slam finalist herself, has been unable to shine on the women’s tour since reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open. In her past three tournaments, she has won one out of four matches played. To make it worse, two out of those three losses were to player’s ranked outside the top 100.
Fortunately for Keys her lull on the tour has ended this week in Cincinnati. An event where she made her debut back in 2012 at the age of 17. In the first round she saw off former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in three sets before brushing aside Daria Kasatkina. However, her most impressive victory took place on Thursday. Taking on Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, Keys held her nerve to prevail 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, after just over two hours of play. Her first win over a top five player since Angelique Kerber at the same tournament 12 months ago.
“She’s been No. 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to, you know, ever give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before, you know, I could actually take a deep breath.” Keys said following her latest win.
“I think I just kind of trusted myself a little bit, and I didn’t really hold back on any of my shots. I think I made a couple of bad misses, but at the same time I think I did a lot of really good things.”
The triumphs come as Keys and her rivals tune up their game ahead of the US Open. Where the 24-year-old will be defending a wealth of points after reaching the semi-finals there last year. Flushing Meadows is a place of fond memories for former finalist Keys and statistically her most successful grand slam. Winning 19 out of 26 matches played in New York so far in her career.
“It feels a little bit better, a little less stressed. Ask me again in a week and I will be just as stressed.” She commented about her preparation for the upcoming major.
“In order to find that level right before a slam, obviously feels good, but especially after having some tough weeks, being able to kind of put it all together makes me feel a little bit better going into the US Open.”
Growing in confidence once again, Keys takes on tour veteran Venus Williams next. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 2-2, however, they haven’t played each other since 2016. A win would move the American into her first tour semi-final since April when she won the Volvo Open in Charleston.
“But again, she’s obviously playing some really good tennis in order to beat Kiki and then Vekic and all that. I’m going to have to see what she’s been doing well.” Keys previewed about her clash with Williams.
The quarter-final clash between the two will take place on Friday evening not before 19:00 local time. Keys is one of four seeded players remaining in the draw.
Inspired By The Old Guys, Richard Gasquet Reaches Cincinnati Quarters
The former top 10 player gives an estimate on how much longer he will continue playing tennis for.
When Richard Gasquet made his debut at the Cincinnati Masters back in 2005, Diego Schwartzman had just turned 13. 14 years later, the Frenchman continues to prove that age is just a number.
Taking on Schwartzman in the third round of this year’s tournament, Gasquet ousted the Argentine 7-6(6), 6-3, in their clash on Thursday. The encounter was by no means a walk in the park for the world No.56, who was forced to save a duo of set points during the opening tiebreak. Nevertheless, he prevailed with the help of 11 aces as he won 75% of his first service points.
“Of course it was an important first set. He was leading 6-4 in the tiebreak. It was the key of the match to win this set, because it was a one-hour-long set, physically very difficult.” Gasquet said during his press conference.
“I felt more confident winning it and then I could break him start of the second set, winning 3-0. I started well. Of course the last game was tough for me. I felt a little pressure, but it was a good game for me.”
It is only the second time Gasquet has managed to reach the last eight of the tournament and the first since 2016. An impressive outcome for a player who missed the first five months of 2019 due to a groin operation.
At the age of 33, Gasquet is approaching the final stages of his career. Which currently features 15 ATP titles and a ranking best of seventh in the world. However, the Frenchman is only the 15th oldest player currently in the top 100 on the ATP Tour thanks to a growing trend of players playing later in their careers. Something which inspires him.
“I don’t know how long I will play. Maybe two, three years.” He estimates. “It’s tough to say. I still like it (tennis). And of course, it’s a big longevity for me, but you see a lot of players who are playing late now, so it helps for me to play more and more.”
Whilst maintaining an optimistic outlook about his future, Gasquet knows better than anybody the demands the sport has on a person’s body. He also missed a chunk of the 2017 season due to his health and injury.
“When I was 20 years old, I didn’t see physio so much. But now, at 33, I need to see the physio every day.” Said Gasquet.
“That’s the difference, the big difference. As a teenager, when you’re young, of course, it’s easier to recover faster. Now at 33, you have to be very careful.”
Gasquet will play Dominic Thiem next, who is almost eight years younger than him. Should he win, he would reach the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since the 2013 Miami Open.
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