World No.1 Novak Djokovic has become the most successful male player in Australian Open history after crushing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, to claim his seventh title in Melbourne Park.
The top seed showed little weakness during what was undoubtedly his best performance in the entire tournament this year. Taking on Nadal, who last won the Melbourne title in 2008, Djokovic toppled him with the help of a sublime serving display. Winning 81% of his service points. Furthermore, the Serbian hit 34 winners to nine unforced errors and faced just one break point throughout the entire encounter. Making it one of the most dominant displays he has ever produced against the Spaniard in their historic rivalry.
“I’m just trying to contemplate the journey in the last 12 months.” An emotional Djokovic reflected during his trophy ceremony.
“I had the surgery exactly 12 months ago so to be standing in front of you today and to win this title and three out of four Slams is amazing. I’m speechless.”
The clash on the Rod Laver Arena was the 53rd instalment of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Prior to the clash, Djokovic narrowly lead their head-to-head 27-25. Pointing potentially to a close encounter between the two in Melbourne. However, the start to the match saw a stark disparity between the two.
Djokovic looked to be at home from the onset on a court that has brought him so much success. Meanwhile, Nadal was nervous and tentative with a series of errors undoing him. Throughout the opener, the world No.1 produced a serving Masterclass by winning 24 out of 25 points behind his serve. In contrast, Nadal dropped his first service game after hitting back-to-back errors. That sole break was enough to clinch Djokovic the first set. Serving for the 6-3 lead, a 21-shot rally concluded with a Nadal backhand ploughing into the net. Granting Djokovic his first set point, which he converted with the help of another mistake from across the court.
Applying pressure onto the 17-time grand slam champion, Djokovic continued his emphatic offensive. Capitalising on yet another lacklustre service game from Nadal, which featured four unforced errors, the Serbian broke for a 3-2 lead in the second frame. Continuing to draw blood, the double break was soon secured with the help of some spectacular play from Djokovic. Who was producing his best level of tennis. Storming to a two-set lead, Djokovic close it out with a love service game that ended with an ace out wide.
Steam-rolling towards his 15th grand slam title, which is the third highest in the Open Era, Djokovic continued to dismantle his opponent. Capitalising on the backfiring of Nadal’s trademark forehand down the line, another early break in the third set move him to a 3-1 lead. Doing so with the help of a drop shot.
It wasn’t until almost 110 minutes into the match that Djokovic faced his first break point. A clear indication of his dominance against the world No.2. Once again he denied Nadal the chance of generating momentum as he fought back to hold serve and edge closer to the title with a 4-2 lead in the third set. Destroying the mini threat, it was a pulsating forehand winner down the line that granted Djokovic a duo of match points. After failing to convert his first, he prevailed on his second after a Nadal backhand drifted long.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2019
Nadal vows to be better
After being denied the chance to end his 11-year title drought in Melbourne, Nadal has vowed to improve his game further. The Australian Open was his first tournament on the tour since September. In recent months the 32-year-old has been blighted by injury issues concerning his knee, abdomen and thigh. On top of that, he also underwent minor surgery on his ankle in November.
“It has been an emotional two weeks. Even if tonight wasn’t my best day, I had somebody that played much better than me tonight.” Said Nadal.
“It’s been a very important two weeks for me. I have been going through some tough moments over the past year. Only having the chance to play in nine events and having to retire in two of them.”
Now with his injury woes hopefully behind him, Nadal hopes his Melbourne run will elevate him to success later on in the season. In the tournament he scored two wins over seeded players – Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I really believed I played some good tennis. This is going to be some good energy for what’s coming.” He said.
“I’m going to keep playing hard, keep fighting hard to be a better player.”
The resurgence of Nadal has also gained praise from Djokovic. He has now lost eight consecutive matches against the Serbian on a hard-court.
“You are showing to me and all your other colleagues what is the definition of the fighting spirit and resilience.” Djokovic said during his tribute to Nadal.
The hat-trick of hat-tricks
Djokovic has now won three consecutive grand slam titles in a row after Wimbledon and the US Open. He has become the first player in history to claim three consecutive major trophies on three different occasions. He has previously done so during 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.
“I would like to thank my team for supporting me. It is an individual sport, but you guys tolerate me on my bad days. Putting together a great successful formal that is working.” Djokovic said.
“Marian (Vajda) thanks for coming back to my team.” He later added.
Underlining his status as world No.1, Djokovic exits Melbourne with 2000 ranking points and AUS$4.1 Million in prize money.
Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’
Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’
German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.
The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.
“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.
Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.
Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.
Zverev’s Instagram statement in full
“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government
The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?
Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.
The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.
Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.
“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.
Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.
Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.
“In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”
This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.
The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.
Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt
A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.
Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.
Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.
There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.
The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.
Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.
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