Roger Federer Faces Istomin Test, Djokovic Gets Qualifier In Australian Open Openers - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Faces Istomin Test, Djokovic Gets Qualifier In Australian Open Openers

A series of intriguing first round matches highlights the Melbourne draw.

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The men’s draw for the Australian Open has taken place with some mouth-watering first round clashes looming.

Roger Federer will be seeking to win the tournament for a third consecutive year in a row to bring his overall total to a record 21. The 37-year-old enters Melbourne in solid form after winning the Hopman Cup alongside Belinda Bencic. At the tournament in Perth, he scored wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie and Frances Tiafoe.

“I think I was seeking confirmation that my level of play was good in practice. In the off-season I felt great, didn’t miss any sessions.” Federer said about his Hopman Cup performance during the draw presentation.
“When I went to Perth I was feeling good, but you never know if it is going to translate into victories. I played great in singles and doubles.”

Federer will start his campaign this year against Denis Istomin. A former top 40 player who reached the fourth round of the tournament back in 2017 in what was one of his best ever runs in the a grand slam. Should he prevail, Federer will then play a qualifier in the second round followed potentially by Gael Monfils and Stefanos Tsitsipas if the draw goes according to the seeds.

“The moment you find out the draw and see who you will play in the first round, that is when you shift your focus only to that first round.” The six-time champion explained.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic will be hoping to continue his 14-match winning streak in grand slam tournaments when he returns to Melbourne next week. The Serbian kicks-off his campaign against a yet to be confirmed qualifier. Then in the second round there could be an intriguing showdown with France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in what will be a rematch of the 2008 Australian Open final, which Djokovic won. Also lurking in his section could be Denis Shapovalov in the last 32 followed by either David Goffin or Daniil Medvedev.

Both Federer and Djokovic are bidding to win the Australian Open for a seventh time this year. If one of them do so, they would become the most decorated male singles player in the history of the tournament.

After an injury-stricken start to the 2019 season, Rafael Nadal is out to prove that he can still challenge for hard court titles. A favourable draw will see him not play a player ranked inside the top 25 until at least the fourth round. He will open against home favourite James Duckworth, who won the Australian Open wildcard play-offs in December. Should he win, he would then take on either Matthew Ebden or Jan-Lennard Struff. Perhaps one of his biggest tests could be in the form of Alex de Minaur in the third round, however, Nadal dismissed the Australian in straight sets at Wimbledon last year. Also in the Spaniard’s section will be 13th seed Kyle Edmund and 18th seed Diego Schwartzman, who are both potential fourth round opponents.

ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev opens up against Aljaz Bedene. The German enters that tournament with a duo of injury concerns. He recently withdrew from the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide due to a hamstring problem. On top of that, he has reportedly suffered a foot injury during a practice session at Melbourne Park.

Tough first round clashes for Raonic, Murray

In the early rounds there could be some fireworks. Milos Raonic, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016, starts against Nick Kyrgios in what could be a marathon match if both players stand firm behind serve. The winner will then play either the formidable Stan Wawrinka or Ernests Gulbis.

Andy Murray, who enters the event with some fitness concerns, starts against Qatar Open champion Roberto Bautista Agut. Murray missed the draw last year due to a hip injury. If either of those players want to reach the second week, they may need to defeat 10th seed Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic. Cilic opens up against the unpredictable Bernard Tomic.

Edmund, who has a wealth of points to defend following his run to the semi-finals of the tournament 12 months ago, takes on Tomas Berdych in the first round. Berdych was troubled by injury last year, but has shown signs of returning back to top form. Illustrated by his run to the final in Doha last week.

The main draw will get underway on Monday.

Projected fourth round draws

Djokovic Vs Medvedev
Fognini Vs Nishikori
Zverev Vs Raonic
Coric Vs Thiem
Cilic Vs Khachanov
Tsitsipas Vs Federer
Anderson Vs Isner
Edmund Vs Nadal

Full draw

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Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos lift their maiden Masters 1000 title as a title in Indian Wells

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Unseeded Nikola Mektic from Croatia and Horacio Zeballos won their first doubles title as a team after beating Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 4-6 6-4 10-3.

Kubot and Melo drew the first blood by getting an early break in the first game, but Mektic and Zeballos broke straight back in the second game. Mektic and Zeballos fended off two break points in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Kubot and Melo went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian team fended off a break point before serving out for the first set in the 10th game.

Mektic and Zeballos were not able to convert any of their two break points in the fourth game of the second set, but they held their service games easily and broke serve in the 10th game on the deciding point forcing the match to the decisive Match tie-break. Mektic and Zeballos cruised through to winning the tie-break 10-3 clinching their maiden doubles title as a team. Zeballos and Mektic won 40 % of their return points.

Earlier this week Mektic and Zeballos saved two match points in a match tie-break against this year’s Australian Open Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut before beating Colombian doubles specialists Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the quarter finals and Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the semifinal.

“It’s unbelievable. Being in the big press conference, it’s great. I have never been in this room. I love it”,said Zeballos in the post match press conference.

“Oh my God, we won Indian Wells. We are a great team. We can beat anyone. Especially on this tournament where the difference is a few balls. A few points will decide who is going to win. Of course you are not expecting to win, but we are going into every match confident that we can win, so we just went step by step and it happened”, said Mektic.

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Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot beat Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini to reach the Indian Wells doubles final

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Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Poland’s Lukasz Kubot secured their spot in the final of the doubles tournament of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after beating singles world number 1 player Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 10-6 in the super tie-break.

Melo and Kubot will face Horacio Zeballos and Nikola Mektic, who beat Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3). Melo and Kubot have played together since 2017, while Zeballos and Mektic are teaming up for their second time in their careers.

In the first set Kubot and Melo earned an immediate break in the first game in the first game. Djokovic and Fognini broke back in the 10th game at 15 to draw level to 5-5. Kubot and Melo came back from 1-4 down to win the tie-break 7-5. Djokovic and Fognini broke twice in the first and fifth games to clinch the second set 6-2. Kubot and Melo took the 10-6 edge in the super tie-break.

Djokovic and Fognini thrilled the crowd with their spectacular tennis, but doubles specialists won the most crucial points.

“I think the fact we played together for a long time, this makes a difference. We were aggressive in important moments. We do what we have to do and most of the time for us, it pays off. I am very happy with this, so let’s go forward for tomorrow to the finals”, said Melo.

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Gael Monfils In Doubt For Miami Masters

The top 20 player has once again been hit by injury woes following a successful start to 2019.

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Gael Monfils (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

France’s top ranked male player is unsure if he will be able to play in next week’s Miami Masters after being forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Gael Monfils pulled out of his quarter-final clash with Dominic Thiem due to a problem with his Achilles. During a press conference, the world No.19 confirmed that he has inflammation in his left Achilles after undergoing a scan. An issue that has been bothering Monfils over the past couple of days.

“I felt my left Achilles a little bit. Day after day I have been treating it with my team. And last night (Wednesday) after my match, it was actually not so good.” Monfils told reporters in Indian Wells yesterday.
“I tried a little jog in the morning, and I couldn’t really actually push on it.”
“I had an ultrasound with the doctor here (in Indian Wells), and we could see, like, a big inflammation.” He added.

Whilst not a severe injury, it is in unclear as to how long the recovery process will be. Raising the chances of Monfils skipping the Miami tournament, which relocates to the Hard Rock Stadium this year. He has already missed the past two editions of the Masters 1000 event. In 2017 he was sidelined by an ankle injury, followed by a back issue in 2018.

“It depends how fast I will heal. Definitely try the other treatment tonight.” He said.
“I will take it really easy with everything and then see how I feel, if I feel that I can play Miami or not.
“So far it’s tough to say how long, but I will stay positive and hope in a couple days I’ll be fine.”

The setback comes after what has been a solid start to the season for the Frenchman. His win-loss record for 2019 currently stands at 14-4. At the Rotterdam Open Monfils won the eighth title in his career and only the second at an ATP 500 event. He also reached the semi-finals of tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai.

“Sometime, some people are more fragile. And I guess I’m kind of fragile with some parts of my body.” The 32-year-old admits. “That’s why I always try new routines.”
“I guess I need to stay tough mentally, because it’s never easy. But I have been through that. I have no fear, I know, for this one (injury.”

As a result of his withdrawal, Thiem will play Milos Raonic in the semi-finals at Indian Wells on Friday.

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