Angelique Kerber Reaches Sydney Quarter-Finals, But Ailing Muguruza Withdraws - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber Reaches Sydney Quarter-Finals, But Ailing Muguruza Withdraws

There were mixed fortunes for two former world No.1 players in Brisbane on Tuesday.

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Defending Sydney International champion Angelique Kerber has kick-started her campaign with a testing 7-6(3), 6-2, win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

The world No.2 was on the back foot during both sets against her fiery opponent. Trailing 1-3 in the opener before clawing her way back and going on to edge Giorgi out in the tiebreaker. Then in the second set, which was briefly halted due to rain, Kerber responded to getting broken by winning five consecutive games in a row to secure the victory.

“It’s so great to be back here is Sydney. I have such great memories from last year, when I won the title.” Said Kerber, who finished runner-up in last week’s Hopman Cup alongside Alexander Zverev.
“It always tough to play Camila, she hits the ball really hard. Even her second serve is like a first serve.
“I was trying to move good and bring a lot of balls back (into play).”
“It’s always not easy to play your first tournament match of the season, but I’m happy to be through. “

Withstanding 34 winners from Giorgi, Kerber claimed 65% of her first service points and converted five out of her seven break point opportunities. One of the most telling factors of the match was the unforced error count. Giorgi made 39 mistakes during the clash, which was three times more than Kerber (13).

Kerber is hoping for a case of deja vu to occur in Sydney this week. 12 months ago, she won the title after experiencing a torrid 2017 season. Last year she won two WTA titles, including the Wimbledon Championships, and re-entered the world’s top five.

“I think 2017 was really important for me.” She reflected. “I leant a lot about me, tennis, dealing with pressure and everything.
“I think without the last two of three years I wouldn’t be the player I am now. It helped me win Wimbledon.”

Next up for the German player will be the winner of the match between Petra Kvitova and Hsieh Su-wei, which will take place on Wednesday.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Gatbine Muguruza has withdrawn from the draw. The former world No.1, who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round, cited illness as the reason. The Spaniard is currently suffering from a gastrointestinal-related illness.

https://twitter.com/SydneyTennis/status/1082550842509516801

It is the second consecutive year that Muguruza has been forced out of Sydney. Last year a thigh injury resulting in her withdrawing from Brisbane and then missing Sydney completely.

Muguruza’s opponent, Kiki Bertens, will play either Sloane Stephens or Yania Putintseva in the quarter-finals.

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Rafael Nadal, The Aussies Slayer

Another routine straight-sets victory for Rafael Nadal who will face

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Rafael Nadal at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

After playing his first round against an Australian (James Duckworth) who “went on court with the determination [not] to play tennis the way that I understand tennis”, Rafael Nadal in his second round got to play an Australian (Matthew Ebden) who plays a more “traditional” kind of tennis, that is where you do not hit with all your might whatever fuzzy yellow round thing happens to be in your striking range.

Sporting his brand new sleeveless “New York City taxi” yellow shirt with chequered black and white finishing on its neck and sleeves, Nadal continued the “cruise control leitmotiv” of this 2019 Australian Open where all the top seed have sailed unscathed and hardly challenged through the first three days of the tournament. On the other hand, Matt Ebden could be defined a “college-type” player, if it weren’t for the fact that he never went to college but indeed he is studying for his commerce degree while living the pro life on tour. His game style is quite versatile, he knows how to do everything, and he does everything “all right”, but does not possess a weapon capable of hurting Nadal or taking the rally in his own hands. The quick hard courts at Melbourne Park, although with not as quick playing conditions on Wednesday night due to the low temperature, would encourage an aggressive approach to take the game out of Rafa’s hands, but unfortunately for him Ebden never found the way to lead the rallies, neither from the baseline nor approaching the net.

Three break points for the Aussie at 3-3 in the first set where the only moments of uncertainty during the whole 1-hour 56-minute match. After Ebden ditched into the net a not too difficult backhand volley to squander the last of those three break point, an 11-3 run by Nadal ended the first set in favor of the Spaniard and the rest of the match was just another Rafa monologue.

The match was a bit more logical tonight – debuted Nadal in his post-match press conference, just a few minutes before midnight – He is not an easy opponent. It has been a very positive victory for me. I [am] happy the way I played. I started a little bit slow, especially on the return side, serving I think was good from the beginning. Then I saved that game in the 3-All. After that things changed. I think I played well“.

When questioned about the level of his game by the Spanish press, Nadal explained that “since I haven’t played a lot recently I am missing a point of reference to understand how well I am playing. The feelings are good, I believe I am hitting the ball well, but I can’t say more than that because I have not played in a while“.

The Spaniard’s third round opponent will be another Australian player, the 19-year old n.27 seed Alex de Minaur, who (as Nadal himself put it) is “half Spanish” since he moved to Alicante with his family when he was 5 and has both Australian and Spanish nationality. “He is a very tough opponent, who has won seven matches in a row this year, so he is confident right now. Some people may say that we have similar games, but although we both like playing from the baseline, the way we hit the ball, the style of our shots are quite different“.

 

 

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Roger Federer Delivers His Verdict On The Much Debated Australian Open Balls

They have been described as ‘terrible,’ but what does the 20-time grand slam champion think?

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Roger Federer believes time will tell if the brand new Australian Open balls are a hit with him following recent criticisms of the product from players on the tour.

Dunlop has become the new ball provided for the tournament after signing a five-year deal. Taking over from Wilson, who was the previous supplier. The balls were issued to all of the tournaments leading up to the grand slam, which generated a mixed response from players. Bernard Tomic described them as ‘terrible’ and ‘pretty cheap.’ Meanwhile, at the Sydney International, John Milman told The Sydney Morning Herald said it was ‘really tough to generate (pace) off the ball.’ Describing them as ‘dead.’

“The balls are really shit … so I’ve got to factor that in for next week in Melbourne, just remember how bad the balls are in cold conditions like that.” Milman said last week.

Weighing in on the debate, Federer said that he understands the points some of his fellow players have made. This year is the 20th consecutive time he has played at the Australian Open. An all-time record tied with Lleyton Hewitt.

“They definitely play a touch different to the ones we’ve had the last couple years.” Federer said following his second round win over Dan Evans.
“I do see what they’re saying. At night the spin is not taking off tremendously. I definitely have to go through a minor adjustment from Perth, which was a faster court.”

Nevertheless, the world No.3 isn’t going as far as criticising the piece of equipment. Arguing that it is too early in the tournament for him to give a proper assessment of the ball. Australian Open director Craig Tiley previously said that he believed players would be happy with the ‘quality, standard and consistency of play of the new AO Dunlop ball in a wide variety of conditions.’

“It’s still early in the tournament to exactly tell you how it feels exactly. I still feel like you can serve your way out of trouble from the baseline. You can spin and slice, all that stuff we saw today.” Federer concluded.
“It’s hard to out-spin guys here. As they changed the finals also to a night session, and the semis are also night sessions, I just feel like it’s really important to have fast enough courts for night session conditions as the main matches are being played there. If you keep it slow, slow, at night the ball doesn’t move.” He added.

Federer will play Taylor Fritz is the third round and will be attempting to get his 97th main draw win in the tournament.

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WATCH: Fans Fight Over Aryna Sabalenka’s Headband Before Security Takes Item Away

Watch the moment two tennis fans lose it over a headband!

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It is traditional for a player to celebrate their victory by throwing some of their unwanted items into the crowd. However, at the Australian Open Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka got more than she bargained for.

The 11th seed moved into the third round of the tournament on Wednesday following a 6-3, 6-4, win over Great Britain’s Katie Boulter. Recording her seventh win of the season. Shortly after her victory, she threw her headband into the crowd at the Melbourne Arena. Inadvertently creating a tug of war between two stubborn tennis fans. Resulting in them both being escorted off the premises!

https://twitter.com/JeddZetzer/status/1085438472863633408

Following the both bizarre and funny showdown between the two spectators, many are wondering who the winner was. Ironically, it was neither. According to Sporting News, security escorted both women away and then took the item from them as they couldn’t agree as to who should get it.

I guess you can’t win them all!

The two ladies involved in the tussle (image via https://twitter.com/standardsport)

 

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