Those top 10 battles are in the men’s draw, where all top 10 seeds advanced to this stage. Of course we lost one of those seeds yesterday, in the fantastic epic that was penned by Stan Wawrinka and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Meanwhile, the world No.1, who is also the winner of the last three Majors, can reach the quarterfinals without meeting a seed at all.
In the women’s draw, only three top 10 seeds remain. In fact, half of the women on today’s schedule will be making their round of 16 debut at a Major. It’s a huge opportunity for the new blood to make a deep run, but some women who have done so before are eager to return to the last weekend of a Slam.
Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Fabio Fognini (9)
Both men are vying for their second Major quarterfinal, a feat they first accomplished at this tournament. They met on clay earlier this year, with Fognini prevailing in straight sets on the way to the biggest title of his career in Monte Carlo. Zverev took both of their other matches back in 2017, one of which was on clay. The 22-year-old must be short on stamina at this point, considering the amount of tennis played over the past two weeks. First there was his title run in Geneva, and then the 13 sets it took him to advance to this round. He played five of those sets just two days ago against the other Monte Carlo finalist, Dusan Lajovic. However, it is worth noting Fognini played 12 sets of his own last week, winning each of his first three rounds in four. I would not be at all surprised by another extended battle here, but I think this day may belong to the Italian. Zverev is still yet to round into top form, and the clay favors the 32-year-old veteran.
Juan Martin Del Potro (8) vs. Karen Khachanov (10)
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This is the other matchup between two top 10 seeds, featuring two heavy hitters who will not hesitate to club the ball. All three of their previous meetings took place last year, with Del Potro winning all three. One of those took place at a Major, as Juan Martin needed four sets and nearly four hours to knock Karen out of last year’s Australian Open. But Del Potro is not quite the same player he was a year ago. He missed about six months of action due to a knee injury last fall, and aggravated that knee during his second round win over Yoshihito Nishioka. That being said, he had no problem dismissing Jordan Thompson on Saturday, dropping just eight games. Khachanov has now reached the fourth round here in each of the past three years, but is yet to go farther at any Major. Is the 23-year-old ready to breakthrough? This match has a similar feel to yesterday’s Wawrinka/Tsitsipas encounter, with a veteran who has been recovering from a serious knee injury defending his turf against the next generation. I think Khachanov has enough game, and enough confidence in himself, to push Del Potro just a bit farther than his knee will allow the big man to go. The Paris Indoors champion of last year may be poised for more success in this city.
Dominic Thiem (4) vs. Gael Monfils (14)
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This could be just as good as, if not better than, the day’s matches between top 10 seeds. The athleticism and shot-making abilities of both men could combine to create a classic. But that’s only if Monfils finds way to be competitive against Thiem, something he’s never done before. Gael is 0-4 against Dominic, and when they played last year on the clay of Buenos Aires, he won just three games. Monfils has had a much stronger season in 2019, and he played excellently in week 1, not dropping a set. On the other side of the net, Thiem dropped a set in each of his first three rounds. The 25-year-old’d inability to get cleanly through the first week is turning into a pattern at the Majors, and causes him trouble come the second week. That could happen here, especially with the French crowd playing a factor. While you can never be sure what you’ll get from him day-to-day, I expect an inspired effort from Gael here at home. Will it be enough to upset last year’s finalist? I would be tempted to say yes, if it weren’t for how lopsided their history has been.
Simona Halep (3) vs. Iga Swiatek
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Here we have a three-time finalist, and last year’s champion, against a new face on tour. The WTA has an informative piece regarding the 18-year-old here. She quickly rose through the rankings by racking up seven ITF titles, and will move into the top 65 with this fourth round run. Aside from a random 6-0 set she lost to Monica Puig on Saturday, she’s been destroying opponents here, with no other player winning more than three games in a set. That includes Qiang Wang, the sixteenth seed. Iga’s been the one dictating play in all her matches. Against Wang, she struck 33 winners and only 12 unforced errors. But the youngster from Poland is yet to face a player with the defensive skills of Simona Halep. The world No.3 hasn’t played her best tennis this year, but she could be rediscovering her form just in time for her title defense. On Saturday against Lesia Tsurenko, Halep lost just three games. While Swiatek surely has a bright future, that future may not immediately materialize. Halep will be a strong favorite in their first career meeting.
Ash Barty (8) vs. Sofia Kenin
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It was the spunky 20-year-old American who upset Serena Williams on Saturday. But taking out another top 10 seed after the biggest win of your life is a lot to ask. While Barty has never excelled on clay, her success from the past few seasons is now translating to this surface. After reaching her first Major quarterfinal in her home country earlier this year, the Australian is now a favorite to reach her second one consecutively. However, it’s not fair to count out Kenin, who has shown just how strong a competitor she is many times over the past year. If she can put her upset of Serena out of her mind, this could be a close one.
Other notable matches on Day 9:
- Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff. The 29-year-old from Germany is into his first Major fourth round after an upset of Borna Coric, in a match that went to 11-9 in the fifth.
- Madison Keys (14) vs. Katerina Siniakova. Siniakova upset Naomi Osaka two days ago, and will be the underdog again here against Keys, who has reached the quarters or better at four of the last six Slams.
- Amanda Anisimova vs. Aliona Bolsova (Q), in the first meeting between the 17-year-old American and the 21-year-old Spaniard, both playing for their first major quarterfinal.
Order of play
Court Philippe-Chatrier (10am BST)
Sofia Kenin vs Ashleigh Barty
Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Dominic Thiem vs Gael Monfils
Simona Halep vs Iga Swiatek
Court Suzanne-Lenglen (10am BST)
Katerina Siniakova vs Madison Keys
Kei Nishikori vs Benoit Paire – TO FINISH
Fabio Fognini vs Alexander Zverev
Karen Khachanov vs Juan Martin del Potro
Amanda Anisimova vs Aliona Bolsova
Na-Lae Han, Tatsuma Ito Clinch Australian Open Wildcards
With just over a month to go, wildcards for the first grand slam of 2020 have already been decided.
South Korean player Na-Lae Han is set to make her grand slam debut at the Australian Open next month after winning the Asia-Pacific playoff tournament in Zhuhai, China.
The 27-year-old, who was the top seed in the tournament, downed Ayano Shimizu 6-2 6-2 in the final to secure her spot in Melbourne. Han is currently ranked 182nd in the world and has won a trio of ITF $25,000 titles this season. She is currently the only player from her country to be ranked inside the top 300 on the WTA Tour.
“It’s the first time I played Ayano. I am really happy to win the championship and to capture the wildcard,” Han told Tennis Australia.
Han was hoping for double success after also taking part in the doubles draw alongside compatriot Choi Ji-hee. However, the duo lost in the semi-finals. Han won her first and so far only WTA title at the 2018 Korean Open in the doubles with Choi. The wildcard was secured by the Chinese Taipei pairing of Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu.
In the men’s tournament Japan’s Tatsuma Ito upset top seed Jason Jung 7-5, 6-4, to seal his place. 31-year-old Ito has been ranked as high as 60th in the world and will be playing in the main draw of the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career. However, he last won a match in the tournament back in 2013. This year he reached the main draw after coming through qualifying, but lost in the first round to Dan Evans.
“I really enjoyed this moment” said Ito after his win. “I moved through into the main draw after qualifying this year. It was very tough for me and my body. It will easier next year (smiling).”
Elsewhere, South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song won the men’s doubles title. Meanwhile, China had a clean sweep in the junior competitions with Xiaofei Wang and Fangran Tian winning their events.
This year’s playoffs have been branded as a success by tournament director Isabelle Gemmel. It is the eighth consecutive year the tournament has taken place, which aim to promote top-level tennis in the region.
“Na-Lae Han was undefeated all week and Tatsuma Ito overcame a couple of tough matches to win the all-important main draw wildcard.” Said Gemmel.
“With two new countries, Korea and Japan, winning for the first time in singles, it underlines how the Asia-Pacific wildcard playoff has established itself as a key tournament in its own right and how valued it is in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The 2020 Australian Open will get underway on January 20th.
List of winners
MEN’S SINGLES: Tatsuma Ito (JPN)
WOMEN’S SINGLES: Na-Lae Han (KOR)
MEN’S DOUBLES: Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song (KOR)
WOMEN’S DOUBLES: Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu (TPE)
BOYS’ SINGLES: Xiaofei Wang (CHN)
GIRLS’ SINGLES: Fangran Tian (CHN)
Margaret Court’s Tennis To Be Celebrated At Australian Open But Not Her Politics
Margaret Court will be invited to the Australian Open this year despite her political views.
Tennis Australia will be celebrating Margaret Court’s tennis at the Australian Open in January but not her politics.
Margaret Court has won 24 grand slam singles titles, the most of any female player in history as of now, and has been invited to celebrate 50 years since winning one of 11 Australian Open titles.
That year, she would also win all four grand slam titles, marking a historic year for Court in the context of her tennis career.
But for many Australians and people around the world that is not the way she is being remembered lately as it’s her politics that are taking over.
Just before the Gay Marriage Referendum vote in 2018, Margaret Court expressed her rather hateful views towards the LGBTQ community, calling transgender children the work of “the devil.”
Furthermore she claimed that tennis was full of lesbians, “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties,” Court told Vision Christian Radio in 2017.
Those views have been criticised by many with the likes of Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova wanting her name stripped from the second biggest court at the Australian Open.
Now, a couple of years later after much debate, Court will be invited to the Australian Open for her incredible achievement 50 years ago as Tennis Australia announced today.
The Australian was thrilled to hear the truce given by Tennis Australia, “This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone. It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia,” Court said in Tennis Australia’s press release.
During the event a special documentary of Court reflecting back on that achievement will be released as well as this there will be in-stadium entertainment celebrating the event as well as a legends lunch.
But once again Tennis Australia once again distanced themselves from Court’s political views as they stated in their press release, “As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” Tennis Australia said.
“They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion. Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.
“#Open4All encompasses events such as the Glam Slam, an international LGBTQI tournament that has been held at the Australian Open for the past few years, and will be back for AO 2020.
“We have also hosted events for the National Inclusion Conference and have ongoing working relationships with the Pride in Sport Index and Stand Up Events. A full program of #Open4All events at Australian Open 2020 will be released in the coming weeks.
“The Australian Open is for everyone, and we look forward to welcoming the world to Melbourne in January 2020.”
Although, Court will continue to cause controversy especially considering Tennis Australia’s ‘tale of two halves’ press release.
The Australian will hope that it will be her tennis that will be remembered in January, but it won’t be a smooth ride on the road to being appreciated.
Tennis Australia Face Calls To Honour Margaret Court In 2020 Amid Potential Backlash
The 77-year-old is regarded as one of her country’s greatest-ever tennis players, but has been criticised for a series of homophobic comments she has made.
Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court has said she wants to be treated the same as fellow former great Rod Laver concerning the upcoming anniversary of one of the biggest milestones she has ever achieved in her career.
2020 will mark 50 years since Court won all four grand slam titles within the same season. An elusive achievement in the world of tennis. Only three women in total have managed to complete a calendar grand slam – Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the others. Court also still holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles ever won by a tennis player at 24. One ahead of Serena Williams.
Court said she has received no contact from Tennis Australia regarding any plans to mark her milestone. Laver, who is the only man to ever complete the calendar grand slam twice, was honoured this year for his accomplishment. It is the 50th anniversary of when he claimed the four major trophies back in 1969.
“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary),” Court told Nine News Australia.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.”
Any move to honour Court at the Australian Open in January is likely to split opinion. The 77-year-old has been criticised for a series of homophobic remarks she has made for many years. In 1990 she once said that Martina Navratilova was a bad role model for children because she is gay. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, she said in another interview in 2017 that tennis was ‘full of lesbians’ and those who identify as transgender were ‘the work of the devil.’ In another incident, Court wrote a comment to an Australian newspaper is which she said took a swipe at former player Casey Dellacqua after she announced the birth of her child. Dellacqua is in a same-sex relationship.
There have been calls for Court’s name to be removed from one of the premier stadiums at the Australian Open in light of hew views. Billie Jean King, who is one of the founding members of the WTA, has previously called for the arena to be renamed.
“I don’t feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career,” Court told The Sydney Morning Herald about calls for her name being removed. “It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong.
“Many gay people think my name shouldn’t come off it. There are many gay people who don’t believe in gay marriage. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman and they will say that. Then you get the radicals coming at me, you have got these minority groups in every area now having a say and taking on nations and taking on big companies.”
Whilst her comments have triggered controversy, Court has insisted that she has nothing against gay people. Claiming she has members of the LGBT community attend her church. Following retirement from tennis, Court became a Christian pastor.
“I have gay people in the church. It is nothing against the people themselves, I just said what the Bible said. If I can’t say what the Bible says, there is something wrong.”
The ball is now very much in the court of Tennis Australia, who oversees the running of the Melbourne major. Although coming to a decision will not be easy. In June they were named as one of the best sporting organisations for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the annual Pride Sport Awards in Melbourne.
“As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.” A statement from Tennis Australia reads.
During her career Court won 140 titles in the Open Era (1968 onwards). 92 of those were in singles and 48 were in doubles. At the 1963 Australian Open and 1970 US Open she won all three titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
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