Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova set to headline the Fed Cup first round - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova set to headline the Fed Cup first round

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Romania’s Simona Halep and Czech Republic’s Karolina Plsikova will be the stand-out names at next week’s Fed Cup World Group and World Group II first round matches on 9-10 February 2019.

 

Eleven of the top 20 players have been nominated for next weekend’s Fed Cup ties across 13 venues around the world.

The other top players, who have been nominated are France’s Caroline Garcia, Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, USA’s Madison Keys, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, Russia’s Daria Kasatkina and Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit.

Former world number 1 Simona Halep will headline a strong Romanian team, which travels to Ostrava to play against Czech Republic. Halep will be joined in the Romanian team by Michaela Buzarnescu, Irina Camelia Begu, Ana Bogdan and Monica Niculescu.

Czech Republic is aiming at scoring the third win over Romania at this event in front of their home fans after clinching the first two ties between these two nations in 1980 and 2016. Czech captain Petr Pala, who guided Czech Republic to seven titles in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, has nominated Karolina Pliskova, Katerina Siniakova, Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Krejjcikova.

Caroline Garcia will make her return to Fed Cup for the French team, which will travel to Liege to play against Belgium in the Country Hall Sart-Tillman. The French team now guided by Julien Benneteau also features Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet, Pauline Parmentier and Fiona Ferro. Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens will headline the Belgian team, which also features Alison Van Uytvanck, Kirsten Flipkens and Ysaline Bonaventure.

Germany will be aiming at reaching the Fed Cup semifinals for the second consecutive year, when they face Belarus at the Volkswagen Halle in Braunschweig. Andrea Petkovic will be the stand-out name in a strong German team, which also features Tatjana Maria, Mona Barthel, Laura Siegemund and doubles specialist Anna Lena Groenefeld. Germany are bidding to repeat their first round win against Belarus last year. The Belarusian team captained by Tatiana Poutchek has a lot of talented players in the team like world number 10 Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Victoria Azarenka, Vera Lapcko and Lidziya Marozava.

US captain Kathy Rinaldi has nominated this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins for the first round tie against Australia in Asheville. Collins was nominated last year for the Fed Cup Final against Czech Republic, but she did not play. The US team wil also feature Madison Keys, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar.

Australian captain has nominated this year’s Sydney finalist Ashleigh Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Priscilla Hon, Kimberley Hon and Astra Sharma.

Camila Giorgi and Belinda Bencic will headline the World Group II between Switzerland and Italy in Biel. Giorgi will make her come-back to the Fed Cup after nearly three years. Her lat appearance at this event dates back to the Fed Cup first round tie against France in 2016.

World Number 13 Anastasjia Sevastova and Jelena Ostapenko will be in the spotlight in the World Group II tie between Latvia and Slovakia in Riga. Dominika Cibulkova will make her first appearance for the Slovakian team in nearly three years.

 

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Nick Kyrgios and Amanda Anisimova lose to Barbora Krejcikova and Nikola Mektic in the second round of the Australian Open mixed doubles tournament

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Nick Kyrgios returned to the court to play with Amanda Anisimova for the mixed doubles tournament just one day after losing to Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the men’s singles tournament.

 

Kyrgios and Anisimova lost to Barbora Krejcikova and Nikola Mektic 4-6 6-4 10-8 in the second round after 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Both teams traded holds in the first two games before Anisimova dropped serve, as she netted a backhand. Krejcikova consolidated the break by holding serve with a service winner. Kyrgios broke back to draw level to 3-3 with a return winner. Kyrgios saved a break point in the ninth game with his serve, before breaking serve in the 10th game with a return winner to seal the first set 6-4.

Kyrgios and Anisimova fended off three break points in the fifth game of the second set with a service winner from Kyrgios.

Mektic hit a volley winner on the fourth break point chance in the seventh game to break serve for 4-3. Kyrgios and Anisimova broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Krejcikova and Mektic broke serve to take a 5-4 lead. Krejcikova held serve at love to seal the second set 6-4, as she was serving for the set, forcing the match to the decisive tie-break. Krejikova and Mektic raced out to a 5-1 lead, when Amanda netted a backhand.

Kyrgios and Anisimova won three consecutive points to claw their way back to 4-5. Krejicikova and Mektic won four of the next five points to take a 9-5 lead. Kyrgios and Anisimova saved three match points before Krejikova sealed the win with a service winner to reach the quarter final.

Men’s doubles tournament: Ram and Salisbury reach the semifinal at the Australian Open

The US and British team formed Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury beat Finland’s Henri Kontinen and German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-4 to advance to the Australian Open doubles semifinal.

Ram and Salisbury will face Alexander Bublik and Kikhail Kukushkin, who reached the semifinal on Monday.

Last year’s Wimbledon semifinal Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek eased past Marcelo Arevalo and Jonny O’Mara 6-3 6-2 in 1 hour and 19 minutes. Dodig and Polasek set up a semifinal against Max Purcell and Luke Saville, who beat Santiago Gonzalez and Skupski 6-2 6-4 after 68 minutes.

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(VIDEO) Novak Djokovic Makes Tearful Tribute To Mentor Kobe Bryant After Australian Open Win

The world No.2 pays his respect to ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’ on the Rod Laver Arena.

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Novak Djokovic posing for a photo ahead of his quarter-final match with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

World No.2 Novak Djokovic shed tears following his quarter-final win over Milos Raonic after paying tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

 

The 16-time grand slam champion took to the Rod Laver Arena wearing a green zip-up top. On the top right of his jacket with Bryant’s initial along with the numbers 8 and 24. The jersey numbers Bryant worn throughout his 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers. A love heart was also placed under the numbers on Djokovic’s top.

“’I don’t know what we could say. It really caught us by surprise.” An emotional Djokovic said during his on-court interview with John McEnroe on Tuesday.
‘He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world. I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.’
‘When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.’

Bryant was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. As an athlete, he achieved numerous milestones. Including being named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and played in 18 All Star Games.

Just days before Bryant’s death, Djokovic spoke about their friendship during an interview with ESPN. Praising him for the support he received during his elbow injury and fall in the rankings during 2017 and the start of 2018. Reflecting on the conversations the two have had, he said he received some ‘valuable guidance.’

“Kobe has been one of my mentors,” Djokovic told ESPN. “I’ve had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the Rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back.”

Djokovic will play Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

The tribute can be watched below (from 00:30 to 01:40)

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(VIADEO) Australian Open Day Eight: Rafael Nadal Muzzles Kyrgios At Night

The match that everybody was talking about on the second Monday of the grand slam lived up to expectations.

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Rafa Nadal - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Ben Rothenberg from The New York Times joins Ubitennis to look back on Rafael Nadal’s latest win over Nick Kyrgios. The four-set triumph now sees the top seed extend his winning head-to-head record to 5-3. However, was the latest match between the two tennis stars as good as their clash at Wimbledon last year?

 

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