'Keep On Fighting’ - Tennis Stars Unite To Support Injury-Stricken Andy Murray - UBITENNIS
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‘Keep On Fighting’ – Tennis Stars Unite To Support Injury-Stricken Andy Murray

From Kevin Anderson to Billie Jean King, tributes pour in for soon-to-be retired Murray.

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Former grand slam champions are among the figures urging soon to be retired Andy Murray to keep fighting on the tour.

Murray has confirmed that he will retire from the sport in 2019 with the possibility of next week’s Australian Open being his final tournament. The Brit has been hindered by a hip injury, which required surgery 12 months ago, for almost two years. The announcement brings to the end a career that has broken numerous records in the sport.

Juan Martin del Potro, whose own career has also been blighted by injury issues, has urged Murray to end his career ’on his own terms.’ The Argentine has undergone multiple wrist surgeries and is currently recovering from a knee injury.

“Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well.” Del Potro wrote on Twitter.

A similar sentiment has been expressed by world No.6 Kevin Anderson. The South African has played Murray eight times of the tour, but has lost six of those meetings.

“My thoughts are with @andy_murrayand I really hope we continue to see you fighting on court so you can retire on your own terms. Get well soon… Tennis is better with you.”

Fellow Davis Cup team mate Kyle Edmund has paid his own tribute. Last year the 24-year-old ended Murray’s 12-year streak as British No.1. Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, Edmund described the 31-year-old as ‘his biggest role model.’ Later adding that he regards him as one of the greatest British athletes of all time.

“For me he’s been my biggest role model out of any tennis player. He’s Britain’s greatest tennis player ever and you could say maybe Britain’s best sportsman ever.” Said Edmund.
“To be able to have had the experiences that I’ve had with him and memories in terms of training with him and getting to know him personally and seeing what he’s done on the court and achieved, he’s definitely helped my career.”

The support for equality

Throughout his career, Murray has been a vocal supporter of equal rights between men and woman. Saying previously that he doesn’t want his children to be discriminated against because of their gender. He made headlines when he previously appointed Amelie Mauresmo as his coach at a time when it was rare for a female to coach to top player on the ATP Tour. He also once called out a journalist at Wimbledon who overlooked the women’s game when asking a question to him.

“There have been so many examples of when he has stood up for us – not just for women’s tennis but women in general.” Said Johanna Konta.
“He has also been blessed with two daughters and I think he’s grown up with a really strong female role model with his mum and now his wife is also a strong character so he is surrounded by great, strong women.
“He has put that through in the way he has voiced his opinions and the way he has tackled some questions and issues that have arisen and I think everybody has always been very appreciative of him.”

Konta isn’t along is her praise for Murray. Andrea Petkovic has said Murray’s retirement is a ‘blow’ to the WTA Tour. Highlighting the importance of having men’s speak up for the right of their female counterparts.

“He was always my favourite, and I think it will be a huge loss for tennis in general, but also for the WTA. Because even nowadays, when you think everything is equal, you still need men, especially successful men, to speak up for women.” Petkovic told reporters.

WTA founder and multiple grand slam champion Billie Jean King believes Murray has a bright future beyond tennis. Although it is currently unclear as to what he will do.

“You are a champion on and off the court.” King wrote on Twitter. “So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations. Much love to you & your family.”

Murray will play Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Australian Open next week.

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Alex De Minaur edges Henri Laaksonen to reach the third round in Melbourne for the first time in his career

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Australian Next Gen hope Alex De Minaur overcame a hard-fought five-set battle against Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen by the scoreline of 6-4 6-2 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-3 after 3 hours and 52 minutes to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career at his third consecutive Grand Slam tournament to the delight of his home fans.

World number 166 Henri Laaksonen, who made his first appearance in the main draw in Melbourne, fought for every point until the end, but De Minaur dug deep to clinch a hard-fought battle.

The 19-year-old Australian star, who won his maiden ATP title in Sydney last week, earned an early break and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-4 with a service winner in the 10th game.

De Minaur went up a break in the fifth game of the second set, when Laaksonen fired a forehand long. The home player built up a break with a forehand down the line winner in the seventh game to build up a 5-2 lead before closing out the second set with a service winner in the eighth lead.

Laaksonen fought back by breaking serve in the fourth game on his third break point chance to build up a 4-1 lead. De Minaur broke back at 30 in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4 setting up a tie-break. De Minaur did not convert a match point at 7-6 and dropped the next two points on serve. Laaksonen won three consecutive points to clinch the tie-break 9-7.

The Swiss player of Finnish origin earned two breaks in the fourth set and sealed the fourth set with a forehand winner at 5-4 to force the match to the fifth set. Both players stayed neck and neck until the sixth game at 3-3. De Minaur got the crucial break in the eighth game after a netted forehand from Laaksonen before holding serve in the ninth game for 6-3 to the delight of the home fans.

“I weathered the storm and I did not want to lose. I had to make sure I composed myself, mentally reset for the last set. I had to try not to get down on myself and fight for every ball. I could do this every day of the year. There is nothing better than playing in front of you guys whether it is one hour, 5 or 10. I just love it. That was pretty special. I want to thank you for staying out here. The support was amazing and you definitely got me through that one. I can’t thank you enough”, said De Minaur.

De Minaur set up a eagerly awaited third-round match against Rafael Nadal on Friday. The Aussie player is confident that he will have time to recover from the effort.

“I am actually feeling good. I thought physically I handled the situation really well. I felt like the whole body was feeling good. This is why you do the hard work in the pre-season for matches like this, to be able to feel strong and feel confident in yourself physically. That helps you out there on court mentally. It’s going to be fun for me to get out on court again and be able to test where I am”, said De Minaur.

Karen Khachanov beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-3 6-3 to reach his fourth consecutive Grand Slam third round.

Khachanov started the match with a break at love. Nishioka dropped his serve for the second time in the eighth game to lose the opening set 6-3. Nishioka bounced back by breaking serve at love with a forehand winner in the third game of the second set and led until the sixth game, when Khachanov broke back with his forehand. Nishioka saved five break points in the seventh game, but he dropped his serve in the eighth game, when he netted a forehand. Khachanov sealed the second set with an ace in the ninth game. The Russian player broke three times to close out the third set setting up a third-round match against this year’s Doha champion Roberto Bautista Agut.

Marin Cilic edged Mackenzie McDonald 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-4 after 3 hours and 37 minutes. Cilic clinched the first set 7-5 with a break in the 12th game. McDonald fended off six set points to win a hard-fought tie-break 11-9 after 70 minutes. Both players traded four breaks of serve in the third set, which Cilic clinched 6-4 with three breaks.  The fourth set went on serve until 4-4 with just one break point saved by Cilic in the seventh game. The Croatian player earned the break in the ninth game at 15 to seal the fourth set 6-4.

Tomas Berdych continued his good period of form following his final in Doha by reaching the third round at the Australian Open for the 12th time in his career and the ninth time in a row after his 6-1 6-3 6-3 win over Robin Haase. Berdych never dropped a break point and converted five of his seven break points.

 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas advances to the third round of the Australian Open to the delight of Greek fans

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Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki 6-3 2-6 6-2 7-5 in two and a half hours to achieve the best result of his career at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Tsitsipas made history on Monday becoming the first Greek player to win a match at the Australian Open and followed up this win with a four-set victory over Viktor Troicki, who came through the qualifying round.

Tsitsipas drew the first blood breaking in the second game to take a 6-3 lead, but Troicki broke twice in the sixth and eighth games to clinch the second set 6-2 drawing level to one set apiece. Troicki saved four break points to hold his serve in the third game, but Tsitsipas broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games to close out the third set 6-2.

Troicki saved three break points in the seventh game at deuce. The fourth set went on serve until the 11th game, when Tsitsipas got the only break on his second chance to take a 6-5 lead. Tsitsipas closed out the match with a hold at love to the delight of the Greek fans, who provided him a strong support. Tsitsipas grew up in the myth of Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who reached the Australian Open final in 2006.

Maria Sakkari completed a good day for Greek tennis with a 6-1 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Astra Sharma.

“I was prepared for that. I would say it’s always a big help having a big group of people knowing they are for you. It’s definitely different from other tournaments. I would not say it’s pressure, you just feel like people care more. The fans were very loud, they really want it more than me sometimes. I was at the ice bath after my match and the chants were still buzzing in my head”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas achieved his best result at Grand Slam level last year, when he reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Next Gen ATP Finals champion will face 2018 Hamburg and Beijing champion Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia, who came back from 2 sets to 1 down to beat Italian player Stefano Travaglia 3-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3.

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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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