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.



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


Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career



Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.


Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.


Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.


“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati



David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.


Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”



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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013



Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.


 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.



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