Comeback Kids James Duckworth, Kimberly Birrell Win Australian Open Wildcards - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Comeback Kids James Duckworth, Kimberly Birrell Win Australian Open Wildcards

Two players that have been blighted by injury in recent years have booked a spot in the main draw at next month’s grand slam.

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Former top 100 player James Duckworth has secured a place in next months Australian Open after winning the national play-off tournament in Melbourne.

 

The 26-year-old outlasted compatriot Luke Saville 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(2), in a closely fought match. Saville knocked out top seed Alex Bolt in the semi-finals of the tournament. Duckworth’s reward is a place in the main draw of the Melbourne major for the seventh time in his career and first since 2017.

“I thought today, probably until those last couple of games when I was pretty nervous, was probably the cleanest I’d hit the ball and the most comfortable and confident I’d felt on the court, which I was pleased about,” Duckworth said following his win.

Duckworth’s triumph comes after what has been a turbulent past two years for him. Since his last appearance at the Australian Open, he has had to undergo five surgeries and dropped outside the top 1000 earlier this year. Last year, he could only play in two tournaments due to injury. Within a 13-month period, he underwent three foot surgeries, as well as operations on his shoulder and elbow.

“There were definitely times over the last few years when I thought maybe I’d never play tennis again, let alone the Australian Open,” he reflected.
“It was tough sitting on the sidelines and going through so much rehab and spending so much time on the operating table as well. So to be able to get back is just a dream come true.
“I’ve obviously been through a lot over the last couple of years and to be able to play my home Grand Slam again – which in my opinion is the best tournament in the world, the support you get here is incredible – is just an unbelievable feeling.”

On the rise once again, Duckworth is currently ranked 244th in the world. This season he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-12. In September he won his first title since undergoing multiple surgeries at the ATP Cary Open. A Challenger tournament in America.

Looking ahead to the upcoming grand slam, Duckworth will be bidding to win his fourth main draw match at the event. He has previously reached the second round of the Australian Open in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Birrell caps off dream week

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In the women’s tournament, world No.288 Kimberly Birrell clinched the wildcard without dropping a single set all week.

Birrell, who last played at the Australian Open in 2016, breezed past Astra Shama 6-4, 6-2. The 20-year-old also knocked out third seed Jaimee Fourlis and second seed Ellen Perez on route to the final.

“So many mixed emotions – I think it all kind of hit me in the end, because I knew she was going to put up a fight until the very last point until we shook hands,” Birrell said.
“So happy, and just so much joy, and maybe a little bit of relief too. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and I’m so glad that I was able to take it.”

German-born Birrell has won two titles on the ITF Tour, including the $60,000 Darwin Open this year. She is yet to crack the top 200. Her most significant result on the WTA Tour occurred on the doubles tour. At the 2016 Hobart International she finished runner-up alongside Jarmila Wolfe.

Similar to Duckworth, Birrell has also endured her fair share of injury issues despite her young age. Shoulder surgery in 2016 sidelined her from action for 11 months before she made a steady return.

“It really helps having been through the whole experience before. I played juniors, I’ve been around the environment. It’s not gonna be anything new. And during that Australian Open (in 2016) I played on Hisense Arena, one of the biggest courts in the world. I’m definitely gonna draw on that experience, for sure.” She said.
“I’ve learned so much since then. It’s only been two years but it feels like kind of a lifetime ago because I’ve been through so much since then – coming off a surgery, and kind of almost starting from scratch.
“I feel like I’ve just played so much more tennis since then; my body is completely different to what it was back then. I have so much more faith in myself, and that I can back up match after match and compete against the top girls.”

The Australian Open will get underway on January 14th.

Grand Slam

US Open Leads The Way In Grand Slam Sponsorship Deals, Says Study

An insight into the multi-million dollar business of grand slam tennis.

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Five out of the 10 most expensive rights deals in grand slam tennis belong to the US Open according to a report published by a global intelligence service.

 

SportBusiness has valued the American major as having deals worth in excess of $67 million. Their findings are based on ‘industry sources’ and takes into account only rights fees and not ‘account value.’ Besides the US Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open have two deals that have made the top 10. Meanwhile, Roland Garros only has one, but it is the second highest.

The top deal regarding the US Open is a $20 million yearly agreement with JP Morgan Chase. A financial services company that is ranked as one of the largest banks in the world in terms of assets. They have been a prime sponsor since 2005 and reportedly signed a new three-year deal in 2018. The US Open also has high-value deals, with Emirates ($17M), American Express ($10M), Mercedes-Benz (10M) and Rolex ($10M).

Currently the richest grand slam in terms of sponsorship revenue, it comes as no surprise that this year’s US Open Prize money is also a record for the majors. The pool will be worth $57 million with both the men’s and women’s singles champion taking home $3,850,000. An increase of $50,000 compared to last year. Runners-up will each receive $1,900,000.

Elsewhere, the French Open benefits heavily from their partnership with banking group BNP Paribas. A deal worth $17.5 a year. Roland Garros has the second highest share of the total grand slam revenue after the US Open, but there is little to separate them. SportsBusiness concludes Flushing Meadows leads with a 29% share, followed by the French Open with 28% and Australian Open with 27%. The only notable difference is that Wimbledon lags behind at 16%. However, Wimbledon’s revenue exceeded $50M for the first time this year.

Another notable trend identified by SportsBusiness is the growing presence of Chinese investments. A series of new deals this year included the Australian Open scoring a $14.1M deal with beverage company Luzhou Laojiao. Meanwhile, Wimbledon joined forces with their first ever Asian sponsor Oppo in a deal worth $11M. Later this year, China will host the WTA Finals for the first time in its history with a record prize money pool of $14M. Double of what was on offer last year at the year-end tournament in Singapore.

List of the 10 most expensive grand slam deals

  1. JP Morgan Chase and the US Open ($20M)
  2. BNP Paribas and the French Open ($17.5M)
  3. Emirates and the US Open ($17M)
  4. Kia Motors and the Australian Open ($14.1M)
  5. Luzhou Laojiao and the Australian Open (14.1M)
  6. Rolex and Wimbledon (12.3M)
  7. Oppo and Wimbledon ($11M)
  8. American Express and the US Open ($10M)
  9. Mercedes-Benz and the US Open ($10M)
  10. Rolex and the US Open (£10M)

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Grand Slam

How Many Points Are Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer And Co. Defending Until The US Open?

The full breakdown of how many points every member in the top 20 on the men’s tour have to defend over the coming weeks.

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It has been just over a week since Novak Djokovic won his 16th major title at Wimbledon, but the focus has already switched to the final grand slam of the season.

 

The US Open will begin during the final week of August. Held at Flushing Meadows in New York, the tournament will have the biggest prize money pool in grand slam history. Totalling to an amount of more than $57 million. Between now and then, players will be battling to defend their rankings points on the North American hard courts with this time of the year being more crucial for some than others.

Under the current ranking format, any points a player wins at a tournament are theirs until the following year. Then they have the chance to defend those points. For example Djokovic is the current Cincinnati Open champion and won 1000 points in 2018. Therefore, this year, he is defending 1000 points in the tournament.

Regning US Open champion Djokovic has the most points to defend during this period with his tally being 3090 points. In fact, the world No.1 in the only person in the top 20 defending more than 2000 points. A true testament to his consistency last year.

Roger Federer potentially has the chance to reclaim the world No.2 spot from Rafael Nadal depending on how both men perform. The Swiss player has 780 points at stake, compared to 1720 for his rival. However, Federer will only play one tournament prior to New York compared to two for Nadal. He will miss the Roger’s Cup in Canada in order to have a longer rest period.

At the other end of the spectrum, Gael Monfils only has 90 points to defend. This time last year the Frenchman was struggling with injury and retired from his second round match at the US Open due to his wrist.

Here is a full breakdown of the amount of points the top 20 players are defending from now until the end of the US Open:-

Ranking (as of 23/7/19)
Player
 2018 performance
Points Defending
1 Novak Djokovic  – R3 Rogers Cup
– Cincinnati Champion
– US Open champion
3090
2 Rafael Nadal – Rogers Cup champion
– SF US Open
1720
3 Roger Federer – Cincinnati Finalist
-R4 US Open
780
4 Dominic Thiem -QF Hamburg
-R2 Kitzbuhel
-R2 Rogers Cup
-QF US Open
460
5 Alexander Zverev – Washington champion
– QF Rogers Cup
– R2 Cincinnati
-R3 US Open
780
6 Stefanos Tsitsipas -SF Washington
-Rogers Cup finalist
-R1 Cincinnati
-R2 US Open
835
7 Kei Nishikori -QF Washington
-R1 Rogers Cup
-R2 Cincinnati
-SF US Open
865
8 Karen Khachanov -R2 Washington
-SF Rogers Cup
-R3 Cincinnati
-R3 US Open
540
9 Daniil Medvedev -R2 Washington
-R3 Rogers Cup
-R1 Cincinnati
-Winston Salem champion
-R3 US Open
510
10 Fabio Fognini -Bastad champion
-Los Cabos champion
-R2 Gstaad
-R2 Rogers Cup
-R2 US Open
590
11 Kevin Anderson -SF Rogers Cup
-R3 Cincinnati
-R4 US Open
630
12 Juan Martin del Potro -Los Cabos finalist
-QF Cincinnati
-US Open finalist
1530
13 Roberto Bautista Agut -Gstaad finalist
-R1 US Open
160
14 John Isner -Atlanta champion
-R2 Washington
-R3 Rogers Cup
-R1 Cincinnati
-QF US Open
710
15 Borna Coric -R2 Gstaad
-R2 Rogers Cup
-R2 Cincinnati
-R4 US Open
270
16 Nikoloz Basilashvili – Hamburg champion
-R1 Kitzbuhel
-R2 Winston Salem
-R4 US Open
700
17 Marin Cilic -QF Rogers Cup
-SF Cincinnati
-QF US Open
900
18 David Goffin -QF Washington
-R1 Rogers Cup
-SF Cincinnati
-R4 US Open
640
19 Gael Monfils -R2 Hamburg
-R2 US Open
90
20 Matteo Berrettini -R2 Bastad
-Gstaad champion
-QF Kitzbuhel
-R3 Winston Salem
-R1 US Open
345

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Tim Henman Backs Djokovic To Break Federer’s Grand Slam Record

The former world No.4 shares his views about the two tennis legends.

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Former British No.1 Tim Henman believes Novak Djokovic is in a strong position to win more major titles than Roger Federer before he retires from the sport.

 

The world No.1 recently defeated Federer in a five-set epic at Wimbledon to clinch his 16th grand slam title. Placing him third on the all-time list behind Rafael Nadal (18) and Federer (20). Djokovic has won four out of the past five grand slam tournaments. The only exception occurred at the French Open where he lost in the semi-finals to Dominic Thiem.

Speaking to sports agency Omnisport during a HSBC event that took place earlier in the week, Henman believes age is on Djokovicv’s side in his bid to break the record of his Swiss Rival. Out of the Big Three the Serbian is the youngest at 32. Nadal is a year older at 33 and Federer turns 38 later this year.

“It’s going to be very interesting to watch,” said Henman.
“He’s five years younger than Federer so he’s got much more time on his side.
“The level of play that Djokovic is at right now, it really wouldn’t surprise me if he did overtake Federer in the future.”

Shortly after his latest win, Djokovic stated that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. Citing inspiration from Federer and his ability to continue playing at his age. Giving him more than enough time to become the most decorated singles player in grand slam history on the men’s tour.

“Roger hopes to inspire people to keep going at 37,” he said. “I’m one of them. The fact that they have made history of this sport motivates me as well, inspires me to try to do what they have done, what they’ve achieved, and even more.”

Besides the dominance of Djokovic, Henman also said that nobody should be writing off Federer yet. The world No.3 had two match points to win the Wimbledon trophy for a record ninth time, but failed to convert.

“I don’t think so. I think it’s very difficult to write these guys off that are playing at such a high level.” Henman replied when asked if Wimbledon was Federer’s last shot at grand slam glory.
“Federer’s not going to be around forever but I think it’s important we all enjoy him while he’s still playing.”

Djokovic is set to return to action next month at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Meanwhile, Federer will not be returning to competition until the Cincinnati Open, which takes place after the Canadian Masters 1000 event.

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