Roger Federer’s Quest To Murray’s Farewell: Five Australian Open Storylines To Follow In The Men’s Draw - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer’s Quest To Murray’s Farewell: Five Australian Open Storylines To Follow In The Men’s Draw

Will Melbourne Park be a turning point in men’s tennis or will the familiar names reign supreme once again?

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The men’s draw at the Australian Open provides a chance to see if the next generation will finally breakthrough as the first member of the prestigious ‘Big Four’ says goodbye. Andy Murray will play in his final Australian Open in what will be an emotional occasion. Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are in a race to become the first male player to win the tournament for a record eighth time.

With so much at stake, here is five things to look out for in Melbourne this year.

Federer out to prove age is just a number

At the age of 37, Federer is bidding to claim his third consecutive title in Melbourne. Something that has only been achieved by Djokovic on the men’s tour over the last 30 years. The Swiss world No.3 kick-started his 2019 season by winning the Hopman Cup once again. Scoring wins over players such as Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” Federer told reporters at Melbourne Park.
“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.
“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn’t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

Federer is the second oldest player in the men’s draw this year. Should he prevail and win a record 21st grand slam title, he would become the oldest grand slam winner in the history of men’s tennis. Eclipsing the record set by Ken Rosewall back in 1972. Success would also make the Swiss player the second in history to win a 100th title on the ATP Tour.

“I’m playing good tennis. I’m confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me,” Federer said ahead of his first round clash with Denis Istomin.

2019 will be Federer’s 20th consecutive appearance in the main draw of the Australian Open. Equalling Lleyton Hewitt’s all-time record.

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Elise Mertens Edges Simona Halep To Win Maiden Premier Level Title

Elise Mertens won the biggest title of her career with a three set win over former world number one Simona Halep in Doha.

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Elise Mertens (@elise_mertens - Twitter)

Elise Mertens won her first Premier title in Doha after edging out Simona Halep 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a dramatic final. 

The Belgian played some aggressive tennis as she tired out Simona Halep to win her first ever premier-level title of her career.

After a long medical time-out which lasted about eight minutes since the last point, Mertens came back from a set and a break to seal a great title which involved beating three top 10 players.

Despite losing a gruelling final, Halep will move back up to world number two heading into next week’s Premier 5 event in Dubai.

It was all about Halep for the first set and a quarter as she dictated the rallies with some sensation backhand shots, using her movement well.

Although there was good returning from Mertens, she couldn’t break down a very good Halep who just looked in control of every point.

After four breaks of serve, the Romanian inched closer towards the title as she took the first set 6-3 in 35 minutes. The Belgian needed to improve her first set to have a chance of winning the title.

The second set started with a share of breaks as Halep looked in fighting-fit shape to seal her first title of 2019 after a great week of tennis.

Then came the major talking point of the match as Mertens took an off-court medical time-out as the match didn’t restart until eight minutes later.

That would be the turning of the match as the Belgian controlled the match from that point onwards with some aggressive backhands and some neat serving.

As a result Halep’s momentum had been taken away as she struggled to cope with the break and couldn’t find her rhythm back.

With many break points not being converted by either player the world number 21 struck in the ninth game with a break to love and converted her first set point in the next game to force a decider.

After a Halep medical time-out, Mertens broke on the first game and a crucially long service hold was the big boost that the unseeded player needed.

It wasn’t to be Simona’s day as a third break in the set secured the best win of Mertens’ career so far to lift the Doha title.

https://twitter.com/WTA/status/1096831044647600134

After a disappointing Fed Cup campaign for Belgium, Mertens beat Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber and Halep today to ensure the best week of her career.

As for Halep she will return to world number two as the emotions of last weekend and the brutal wins of Julia Goerges and Elina Svitolina caught up with her today.

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Petra Kvitova Praises Dubai Field As Svitolina Given Tough Title Defence

Petra Kvitova has praised the Dubai field ahead of another great week in the Middle East as Elina Svitolina prepares to defend her title.

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Petra Kvitova (@AusOpen - Twitter)

Petra Kvitova has praised the Dubai field ahead of a tough week in the UAE as defending champion Elina Svitolina is handed a tough draw. 

The Australian Open finalist has praised the ‘unbelievable’ quality that is on show in Dubai as nine of the world’s top 10 are playing next week.

While Kvitova may not be looking ahead to the title she could face 7th seed Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals as the draw was announced today.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina has been given a tough path ahead of her title defence though as the likes of Donna Vekic, Garbine Muguruza and Naomi Osaka stand in her way.

Attending the draw ceremony alongside Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova praised the tough Dubai field ahead of the tournament start on Sunday, “Every tournament is difficult, and this [field] is unbelievable,” Kvitova told The National.

“We have so many great players playing here. Of course, it’s always tough to win a tournament and it’ll be the same here.”

The draw has seen Kvitova potentially face Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals, with Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina also in her section of the draw. As the prospect of reaching a third final in 2019 is not something to think about yet for the second seed, “It’s a long way to go so I’m not thinking of that.”

Meanwhile in the top half of the draw Elina Svitolina could face Donna Vekic as she faces a tough path to defending her title.

Other players in Svitolina’s section include Garbine Muguruza, who plays Dayana Yastremska in her opening match who beat her in Hua Hin a couple of weeks ago.

Also world number one Naomi Osaka awaits for the Ukrainian as the Australian Open champion looks to play her first tournament without the guidance of Sascha Bajin.

Here is the full draw with action beginning on Sunday:

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Dominic Thiem Edges Cuevas To Remain Unbeaten In Buenos Aires, Schwartzman Awaits

Dominic Thiem has extended his unbeaten streak to 11 matches in Bueno Aires after edging past Pablo Cuevas to reach the semi-finals.

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Dominic Thiem (@SectaDeportivaa - Twittter)

Dominic Thiem won an 11th consecutive match in Buenos Aires as he edged out Pablo Cuevas 4-6 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals. 

After a slow start the Austrian won 73% of first service points to seal a place in the last four as he made it 11-0 in the Argentinian capital.

In the semi-finals he will play good friend and doubles partner this week Diego Schwartzman, who comfortably beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The other semi-final will see Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato take on Guido Pella, who saved match points against Jaume Munar.

There was a threat to Thiem’s unbeaten streak early on as his Uruguayan opponent got off to the perfect start with a break in the third game.

Struggling on serve and failing to create any break point opportunities Thiem surrendered the first set in 34 minutes to the world number 78.

However the world number eight adjusted tactically and remained focused on the task at hand as he took a 3-0 lead. Despite being broke back while serving for the set, the top seed broke straight back to force a deciding set as he looked a relieved figure.

The deciding set went in similar fashion with the only exception being that Thiem wasn’t broken back this time. After holding his lead from 3-0 up, Thiem served out the match to secure his first ATP semi-final of the season.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1096580571327799299

After edging past Cuevas, the world number eight will now play Diego Schwartzman in the last four in what is set to be a busy day for the duo.

Not only will they play against each other in singles, they will also team up with each other in doubles as they reached the semi-finals there as well.

The talented Argentinian defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-q 7-5 to reach the last four in his home country and will look to end Thiem’s unbeaten streak on Saturday afternoon.

The other semi-final will see Marco Cecchinato play Guido Pella with the action starting at 2pm local time.

While in New York the action starts at 4pm local time with Brayden Schnur taking on Sam Querrey and John Isner playing Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals.

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