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

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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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Demoralized Alex De Minaur Says He Is Mentally Struggling After French Open Loss

Less than a month after achieving his best ever result in a Grand Slam, the 21-year-old is ‘not happy’ with his form at the moment as he tries to get the spark back.

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Australia’s top player says he needs to take a ‘long hard look in the mirror’ after crashing out in the first round of the French Open.

 

Alex de Minaur, who was the 25th seed in the men’s draw, fell in straight sets to Italian qualifier and former semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato. The loss continues his lacklustre record at Roland Garros where he has only won one match in four appearances. Although the Australian admits that he is at a loss following his most recent defeat at the clay court major.

“I’m going through probably this rough patch, and everyone has it, but at the moment it’s what I’m dealing with,” he said.
“I’m not happy with where I am, not happy with what I’m showing on court. So it’s a little bit demoralizing in itself that I can’t come out and play the tennis that I want to and that I know I can.”

The mood of the 21-year-old is a stark contrast to that of a couple weeks ago at the US Open. In New York de Minaur achieved a new milestone in his career after reaching the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career before getting knocked out by Dominic Thiem. The person who went on to win the men’s title.

It is the mental part of his game that de Minaur says he is struggling with the most. Echoing similar comments from David Goffin following his loss to Jannik Sinner in Paris. For the world No.27 he believes the only way to get out of his slump is to win matches. De Minaur also lost in the first round of the Italian Open to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer prior to Roland Garros.

“I’m not one to make excuses. At the end of the day, I just didn’t perform the way I wanted to. I’ve had two matches where I missed out on countless opportunities. And I believe that is what I needed to gain some confidence and some momentum,” De Minaur reflected on his current form.
“It’s a pity because a sport like tennis is very based on results, everything. Mentally, it’s a lot based on results. So you can do all the right things and be training well, be feeling physically fit, feeling mentally well, but if you go into a match and you’re not getting those results, then it almost feels like nothing of that counts.”

It is unclear as to what the next move for De Minaur will be as he refuses to rule out the possibility of taking a short break from tennis ahead of the new season. He has now lost in the first round in three out of his four most recent tournaments since the Tour restarted back in August.

“It’s bizarre because I’m basically coming off my career best in a Grand Slam. So obviously there are a lot of things that I need to just clear my head out and almost just maybe not putting as much pressure on myself, that’s probably one of the things,” he said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do but hopefully whatever I decide to do, it will help me out and I can get back to where I want to be.”

As de Minaur exits France, his conqueror Cecchinato will play Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.

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Alexander Zverev Motivated To Prove Critics Wrong As He Eyes Deep Run At French Open

The German tennis star weighs up his chances of glory at Roland Garros.

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Alexander Zverev at the US Open 2020 (photo Twitter @usopen)

Playing in his first match since narrowly missing out on his maiden Grand Slam trophy Alexander Zverev returned back to winning ways on Sunday evening at the French Open.

 

Zverev, who is seeded sixth in this year’s draw, recovered from a 2-5 deficit to defeat Austria’s Dennis Novak 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 Court Philippe Chatrier, whose roof remained open despite it drizzling with rain. The match was a test for Zverev due to a number of reasons. Not only did he have to contend with the cold and breezy conditions, it was his first competitive match on the clay and his first since losing to Dominic Thiem in the US Open final 14 days ago.

“Conditions are obviously very different than the US Open. First of all, we play on a different surface. Then we play in very cold temperatures,” Zverev told reporters.
“I’m happy to get through because Dennis is somebody that plays well on this surface. He can beat good players.”

A lot has changed for Zverev when it comes to playing in the majors since his last Roland Garros appearance. This year he has already reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, as well as the final in New York. A big turnaround for a player who was once criticised for not shining when it comes to playing in the major tournaments. Although the French Open is still the only Grand Slam where he has reached the quarter-finals twice.

“I’m probably the third-best player this year when it comes to slam results after Novak and after Dominic,” he said.
“I obviously do want to win one, win more than one. I was two points away on multiple occasions in New York. That obviously was very upsetting, and in a way frustrating, but at the same time I know how close I’ve gotten. I had one hand on the trophy, but I do believe that I can win them now. “

The question is will Roland Garros be the place where he will win his first major title? When asked what he did between the US Open and now to address any issues with his second serve, the witty German played down any negatively by replying ‘I was on a boat doing nothing at all. Then I came here (Paris) to practice.’

Jokes aside Zverev is becoming a more prominent contender for the biggest titles of the sport. Although he admits that doing so at the French Open this year will be hard work for him.

“Obviously it’s not going to be the easiest slam for me with how the conditions are, with how the preparation was for me. But we’ll see how it goes now, the French Open and the following years to come, as well,” he stated.

Up next for Zverev will be a second round meeting with either France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert or American qualifier Michael Mmoh.

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Marco Cecchinato reaches the second round at Roland Garros

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Former Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato upset two-time Next Gen Finals runner-up and number 25 Alex De Minaur 7-6 (11-9) 6-4 6-0 to reach the second round at the French Open. 

 

De Minaur rallied from 0-40 down to break serve in the third game of the opening set. Cecchinato broke straight back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. De Minaur earned another break from 40-15 down in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. Cecchinato broke back at love in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. After another trade of breaks the first set came down to the tie-break. Cecchinato took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, but De Minaur won the next two points to draw level to draw level to 4-4. Cecchinato saved two set points. The Italian player earned two set points on De Minaur’s serve but he did not convert them. Cecchinato sealed the tie-break 11-9 on his third set point. 

De Minaur saved a break point in the first game of the second set to hold his serve at deuce before breaking serve at 15 in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Cecchinato broke straight back in the third game to draw level to 2-2. In the eighth game Cecchinato saved four break points to hold serve after seven deuces to draw level to 4-4. Cecchinato converted his 11th break point in a 34-point marathon game after 20 minutes to win the second set 6-4. 

Cecchinato broke three times in a row to take a bagel win in the third set. 

Cecchinato will face the winner of the all-Argentine clash between Federico Delbonis and Juan Ignacio Londero. 

Another Italian player Stefano Travaglia cruised past Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-4 6-4 in 2 hours and 23 minutes. Travaglia will face Kei Nishikori, who edged Daniel Evans 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-4 after 3 hours and 49 minutes. 

Evans broke three times in the first, fifth and seventh games to win the first set 6-1. Nishikori won the second set by the same scoreline with three consecutive breaks. 

Nishikori took a 5-2 lead in the third set with a break in the second set. The Japanese player wasted two set points. Evans won four consecutive games with two breaks in the 9th and 11th games to take a 6-5 lead. Nishikori broke straight back in the 12th game to force the set to the tie-break. Nishikori won the tie-break 7-3. Evans broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the fourth set 6-1. 

Nishikori broke in the second game to build up a 3-0 lead in the fifth set. Evans broke back in the fifth game. Both players went on serve until the 10th game, where Nishikori converted his second break point from 40-30 down to claim the fifth set 6-4.

“I think I was rushing too much in the first set. With his slice, I think I was trying to hit the winner too early. I was little more patient in the second set onwards. Things start working well for me, because in the first set I was rushing too much and I did not feel well. It was raining heavily. I started playing better. There were many ups and downs, but I think I managed well in the end”, said Nishikori.  

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