Newcombe Medal Winners Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur Reveal Their Goals For 2019 - UBITENNIS
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Newcombe Medal Winners Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur Reveal Their Goals For 2019

The two players have received the biggest award in Australian tennis. Following in the footsteps of Sam Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios.

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Alex de Minaur and Ash Barty (image via https://twitter.com/TennisAustralia)

Two of Australia’s most promising tennis players are hoping to rise further up the rankings in the new year after receiving their country’s top honor at an annual award ceremony.

 

Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur have been awarded the Newcombe Medal this year. The Newcombe Medal is an annual award given to Australian players in recognition of their performance, achievements and contributions throughout the season. For the first time in its nine-year history, two players share the prize after judges couldn’t decide between Barty and Minaur. Two players who have reached career ranking highs this season.

“To be able to share it with Alex is even more special,” Barty told Tennis Australia.
“I think we’ve both had incredible years and now we’re gearing up to get into another Aussie summer and we’re excited to hopefully go big and play well in front of our home crowd.”

22-year-old Barty has won two WTA titles this season, including the season-ending WTA Elite Trophy, and is currently ranked 15th in the world. She also reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time at the US Open. Barty has also enjoyed success on the doubles circuit by claiming four trophies, including the US Open alongside Coco Vandeweghe. It is the second year in a row she has won the Newcombe medal.

On the men’s tour, de Minaur has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the rankings over the past 12 months. Jumping from No.208 to 31st in the world. Becoming the highest ranked male player in his country. De Minaur he finished runner-up three times in 2018 at tournaments in Sydney, Washington and the Next Gen Finals. The 19-year-old has also been named ATP newcomer of the year.

“It’s given me a real hunger for more,” said Minaur.
“The last couple of Slams I’ve been playing great tennis and I’ve been able to make third rounds. Now that’s definitely a goal – to push it a bit further, hopefully be able to beat some of these top guys and definitely try to make second week.
“But then again, just gonna take it day by day, and as long as I’m improving both on court and off the court, I’m a strong believer that the results will show.”

Big honours, big goals

The award ceremony took place just over a month before the Australian summer of tennis gets underway. For Barty, in the new year she will be hoping to close in on a place in the top 10 for the first time. Something that hasn’t been achieved by an Australian woman since Sam Stosur back in May 2013.

“Obviously the elusive top 10 is right there but it’s very simple for me: I really want to stay consistent.” She said.
“I want to prove I’m a top-15 player, possibly top 10.”

A place in the second week of the grand slams will be the main focus of rising star De Minaur. Earlier this season, he reached the third round of both Wimbledon and the US Open. Losing to Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic respectively.

“That’s one of the goals,” the Australian Associated Press quoted him as saying.
“I played some great tennis this year, especially Wimbledon and the US Open, so I feel like the level’s there.
“I’ve been close against the top guys and now it’s time to learn from the mistakes I did against those guys and hopefully I can get over the line in those big matches going forward.”

De Minaur has also been tipped to rise further up the rankings but John Newcombe. The former player that the medal is named after. Newcombe won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s.

“This kid’s something special. He’s just got something,” Newcombe said.
“He’s done a fantastic job this year and the top eight in the world is certainly there [for him] because he’s got a good brain, he’s got a great all-court game and he’s dedicated to improving himself.”

Barty will start the 2019 season at the Hopman Cup. Meanwhile, De Minaur will return to action at the Brisbane International. Both of those tournaments will take place during the first week of January.

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Great Britain and Germany secure their spot in the quarter finals

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Great Britain secured their spot in the quarter final of the Davis Cup at the Caja Magica in Madrid with a 2-1 win over Kazakhstan.

 

Kyle Edmund, who replaced Andy Murray, beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-3 in the first singles match. Edmund saved all the break points he faced and broke serve in the sixth game of the second set to take a 4-2 lead and converted his first match point when Kukushkin hit a forehand long.

Alexander Bublik came back from losing the first set to beat Dan Evans 5-7 6-4 6-1. Bublik broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. Evans broke straight back to draw level to 4-4. Evans rallied from 15-40 to break serve at deuce in the 12th game to take a 7-5 lead.

Bublik converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4 sending the second set 6-4. Bublik broke three times to clinch the third set 6-1.

Jamie Murray and Neal Stupski beat Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-4. Murray and Kukushkin cruised through to a 6-1 win in the first set before breaking twice in the second set. The British team secured the win on their second match point.

“We played a great match from start to finish. We started quickly, were aggressive and did not give them time to settle”, said Jamie Murray.

Germany set up a quarter final against Great Britain after beating Chile 2-1. Phillip Kohlschreiber beat Nicolas Jarry 6-4 6-3 in the opening match. Christian Garin came back from losing the first set to beat Jan Lennard Struff 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (10-8) after saving three match points. Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies beat Barrios and Tabilo 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to secure Germany the decisive 2-1 win.

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American No.3 Reilly Opelka Blasts ‘Shocking’ ATP Cup

The new event has been described as unfair and a embarrassment by the American.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Reilly Opelka of United States during the Group F match between USA and Canada during Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil / Kosmos Tennis)

With the Davis Cup currently under close scrutiny this week, one player on the tour have turned his criticism to a brand new team event coming to the tour in 2020.

 

Reilly Opelka has launched a verbal attack on the ATP Cup, which will get underway in January. The event features 24 teams playing in three cities across Australia. Unlike the Davis Cup, both prize money and ranking points are available. Many of the world’s top players have already confirmed their intention to play in the event. Although one noticeable absence will be Roger Federer.

“The ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that.” The 22-year-old told reporters in Madrid.
“It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it (the tour) more top-heavy than it already is.”

The teams for the ATP Cup are determined by the ranking of the country’s highest ranked player. However, with only two singles players allowed to play in each team some countries find themselves in a tough spot. Once being America, who currently has eight players in the top 100. Opelka argues that due to the rules of the competition, the distribution of ranking points is unfair.

“I’m 35 in the world. I’m not going to play because I’m the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” He stated.
“It counts as an additional 19th tournament. So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup gets a 19th. So it’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”

Opelka used the example of Moldova playing in the ATP Cup as one of the reasons why he is frustrated. The country has qualified due to the ranking of their top player Radu Albot, who is currently ranked 46th in the world. However, Moldova’s second highest ranked player is outside the top 800.

Fortunately concerning the Davis Cup, the former Wimbledon junior champion has a much more favourable view. This week is the inaugural week-long finals, which has encountered some blips already. The most being the schedule of the event with some ties now finishing until as late as 4am.

“I’m a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction.” Opelka concluded.
“Tennis players are pretty good at that. You don’t really know when you’re going to play matches. You can go really long, or you can go really quick. We’re used to being on standby.” He added.

This week is Opelka’s debut in the Davis Cup.

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Dayana Yastremska Appoints Former Naomi Osaka Mentor As Coach

The youngster is hoping to build on her 2019 breakthrough next year with a new coach by her side.

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Dayana Yastremska - Zhuhai 2019 (photo credit: WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai)

Rising star Dayana Yastremska will head into the 2020 season under new guidance of the 2018 WTA Coach of the Year winner Sasha Bajin.

 

The 19-year-old confirmed her new coach in a Facebook post published on Thursday morning. Bajin is best known for his work with former world No.1 Naomi Osaka, who won two grand slam titles whilst working with him, as well as her first Premier title in Indian Wells. The two ended their collaboration shortly after the Australian Open earlier this year. Since then, Bajin briefly worked with Kristina Mladenovic before deciding to depart.

“I am very happy to share the news that I am starting the 2020 season with a new coach!” Yastremska wrote.
“I am extremely happy, and I am very excited to start our collaboration as it is going to be very interesting and impressive work. I am confident that he (Bajin) can help me in achieving my ambitions.’
“I’m Super excited for the beginning of our pre-season preparation and I am confident that everything works out!”

In recent weeks there has been speculation about the two joining forces on the tour. During the WTA Elite finals in China, the world No.22 was asked about the rumours concerning her team speaking with Bajin. However, at the time she dodged the question by replying ‘I would like to build a great team, but for now I won’t say anything about it.’

Yastremska has enjoyed her best season on the tour yet in his career and broke into the world’s top 30 back in September. She is currently at a career ranking high of 22nd. On the tour in 2019, the Ukrainian has clinched two WTA titles in Hua Hin and Strasburg. In the grand slams, she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.

As of this week, Yastremska is one of only four players under the age of 20 who are in the world’s top 30.

Elsewhere on the WTA Tour there has been another development on the coaching front. Former world No.1 Angelique Kerber has confirmed that she will be working with Didi Kindlmann. A former hitting partner with Maria Sharapova, who have previously worked with Elise Mertens and Ajla Tomljanović. Kerber is currently ranked 20th in the world compared to 12 months ago when she was in second spot.

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