As Bushfires Rages, The Australian Open Is Left In Limbo - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

As Bushfires Rages, The Australian Open Is Left In Limbo

The upcoming grand slam leaves a sense of uncertainty for both players and fans

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On Saturday Novak Djokovic endorsed the idea of potentially delaying the start of the Australian Open and with good reason too.

 

The country has been battling devastating bushfires since September. Resulting in the loss of life, homes being destroyed and thousands of acres of land being burnt. In the midst of it all, Australians are getting on with everyday life. Although concerns are mounting about air quality, especially when it comes to major sporting events.

Fires burning from the East of Melbourne Park have had a negative impact on its air quality.  Just over 300 KM away from the sporting venue is the town of Bright. On Sunday, authorities declared the area as having a hazardous air quality rating. On the same day Wangaratta (257KM away) had a ‘very poor’ air rating.

“They’re obviously tracking the situation every single day as it’s evolving and hopefully calming down with the smoke and fires,” World No.2 Djokovic told reporters when discussing the idea of delaying the Australian Open.
“I think they will, if it continues the same way and if the quality of air is affected… I think Tennis Australia probably will be forced to, I think, create some rules about it.
“I mean, it’s tough for them because scheduling has to be respected in terms of play and the Australian Open starts at a certain time, so there’s a lot of different things involved.
“But health is a concern for me and for anybody.”

Tennis Australia find themselves in a difficult situation. Wheather conditions get better or worse over the coming days are down to mother nature. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that Melbourne’s air quality could be ‘hazardous‘ on Monday. This is due to the haze spreading from fires burning in Tasmania.

Tennis tournaments have already been affected by the current conditions. A Challenger event in Canberra, who recorded the worst air pollution rating in the world earlier this week, was moved to Bendigo. Meanwhile, at the ATP Cup in Sydney on Sunday, the city had a rating of 150 on the Air Quality Index at 15:00. Meaning is is ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups.’ It if had reached 151, it would have been declared unhealthy for all.

“Obviously I’ve seen it a little bit more now [after the match] – it’s definitely not pleasant,” Grigor Dimitrov said following his singles match on Sunday. “I even noticed [the smoke haze] this morning when we were going to warm-up, the court was a little more dustier than it was the previous days. It is what it is … we can control only what we can.”

It is unclear as to if or what organizers will do at the Australian Open to deal with a potential threat posed by the haze. One idea mentioned by Kevin Anderson, who is the vice-president of the ATP Players council, is to continuously monitor the air quality throughout. Although the prospect of delaying the Australian Open remains unlikely.

“First and foremost it has been so sad to see everything that has been going on, to see the extent of it (bushfires),” Anderson said.
“A distant second is the air quality and us being able to perform.
“But it is hazardous. I think that is one of the concerns.
“Hopefully it won’t be an issue but if it is we will definitely need to have that conversation about whether it is dangerous to be out there.”

Grand Slam

Karolina Pliskova And Belinda Bencic Join Mass Exodus Of Seeds At Australian Open

The list of upsets in the women’s draw at the Australian Open grew ever longer as Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic lost.

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Karolina Pliskova (@tribundergi on Twitter)

It was all going so well for the seeded players in the Women’s Singles at the 2020 Australian Open. 21 of them made it through to the last 32. And, for the first time since 2007, that contingent included all of the top ten.

 

Then the third round began on day five and all hell broke loose. First, 8th seed Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang. Then 10th seed Madison Keys was defeated by Maria Sakkari. And, as if that was not already enough for one day, 3rd seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out by Coco Gauff.

It is now day six, and 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova and 6th seed Belinda Bencic have joined the list of high-profile casualties in round three due to losses to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anett Kontaveit respectively.

The Czech, 27, competed very strongly with her Russian opponent throughout. She matched her in almost every department, and both sets of the match went to a tie-break.

However, Pavlyuchenkova outgunned Pliskova in both tie-breaks with some impressive ball-striking as she hit a series of winners to earn a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) victory over the 2nd seed.

Bencic has a day to forget

Bencic experienced something of a waking nightmare. She made ten unforced errors and won just ten points as she lost the first set 6-0 to Kontaveit in just 21 minutes.

The second set started in a similar fashion. The Swiss lost the first three games and faced the embarrassing prospect of joining the list of players who have suffered a 6-0 6-0 loss in a Grand Slam if she did not get her act together.

Then Bencic finally won a game to make it 3-1. After that, she competed much better with the Estonian for the remainder of the match. But of course, by then it was much too late. Kontaveit completed a dominant 6-0 6-1 win in 49 minutes.

Donna Vekic was due to meet the Swiss in the fourth round if both players made it that far. Ultimately, neither did, as the Croatian also sustained a surprising loss when she went down 7-5 6-3 to 18-year-old rising star Iga Swiatek.

The defeats of Pliskova and Bencic mean that five of the top ten have now departed from the draw at the last-32 stage. 5th seed Elina Svitolina and 9th seed Kiki Bertens play this evening. Will they survive or will they join the ever-growing list of top players that have suffered unexpected exits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grand Slam

Caroline Wozniacki Bids Emotional Farewell To Tennis After Defeat to Jabeur

Caroline Wozniacki gave her last on-court interview and said goodbye to the fans after she lost the last match of her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@Reuters on Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki brought the curtain down on her exceptional tennis career with a tearful farewell on Margaret Court Arena.

 

Appropriately, the Dane’s last professional match was the kind of pulsating three-set battle she is famous for. Ultimately, she lost it 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, but the occasion was about so much more than that.

It was a time for Wozniacki to look back at what she achieved and celebrate her triumphs. And, although she was clearly emotional that it was all over, there was no regret in her voice.

“I think it’s only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,” the Dane said in her on-court interview.

“Those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be.”

Wozniacki continued, “There’s so many things I will remember. Obviously the achievements I had on the court were amazing. The feelings that the fans give us players when we’re out here are really amazing.”

“I will remember the support I’ve had from my family – especially my dad who has coached me all these years.”

“Those are the special memories that I will always cherish. The journey we’ve been on together has been really amazing. It’s been a great ride. I really am happy, but I’m ready for the next chapter (in my life) and I’m excited for what’s to come. You may see me around – off the court.”

Players pay tribute to Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and her team (@wwnrradio)

During a special tribute, some of the players Wozniacki competed against gave their thoughts on the Dane. Several mentioned that she was a great fighter, while others praised her positive attitude.

Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens summed up many an opponent’s feelings when facing Wozniacki. “Most annoyingly, she just got every ball back – literally every ball,” the American said. “And she had that backhand which was just not fun (to face).”

“I have a lot of really nice memories of her of just being a really genuinely nice person,” added Naomi Osaka.

The last words were left for one of the Dane’s best friends: Serena Williams. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not have Caroline on the tour,” she said. “I’m really happy for her and I know that she’s doing what she wants to do and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wozniacki was then asked how she fought so hard on court but made so many friends on tour.

“When you’re on the court, you’re there to compete and there to win,” the Dane responded. “But when we’re off the court, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all travelling to the same tournaments and I think it makes it a lot more fun if you have friends on tour.”

After her final on-court interview, all that remained was for Wozniacki to say goodbye. Tournament director Craig Tiley gave her a hug and presented her with a koala. Then her dad Piotr lifted her up and carried her across the court.

Finally, the Dane walked around the stadium thanking the fans for their love and support with happy tears in her eyes. She will be remembered very fondly by the tennis community.

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Grand Slam

Serena Williams Crashes Out Of The Australian Open With Shock Loss To Wang

Serena Williams suffered a shock third-round exit at the 2020 Australian Open. She lost a tight three-set match to Wang Qiang.

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Serena Williams (@SInow on Twitter)

Serena Williams unexpectedly tumbled out of the 2020 Australian Open at the third-round stage with a 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 defeat to Wang Qiang.

 

It is a massively upsetting results for the American. And it means that her quest for a Margaret Court-equalling 24th Grand Slam title will have to continue if she wants it to be successful.

For Wang, this day means something entirely. It is undoubtedly the biggest win of her career so far and should give her great confidence for her first-ever Grand Slam last-16 match in two days’ time.

It also marked an extraordinary transformation from the Chinese player. At the US Open in September, she was humiliated by the great American. She lost 6-1 6-0 in 44 minutes and did not hit a single winner.

Today in Melbourne, she took the game to Serena and hit 25 of them. In addition, she made sure she held onto her serve as much as possible (she was only broken once) and she made the American play as many balls as she could.

Wang punishes Serena’s mistakes

Qiang Wang (@NZStuffSport on Twitter)

The 23-time Grand Slam champion did not perform at her best. She made more unforced errors (56) than winners (43), which is usually a bad sign. And she only got 56% of her first serves, which enabled Wang to attack her second serve.

To the 27th seed’s immense credit, she capitalised on Serena’s mistakes. She remained so consistent and made so few unforced errors in the match (just 20 in 160 minutes of play) that she reduced the margin for error for her opponent significantly.

This meant that when the American faltered, Wang could pounce. She was gifted 0-30 in the ninth game of the first set and hit two winners to seize the crucial break.

Then Serena made some sloppy errors in the fifth game of the second set and the Chinese player broke her again. Unfortunately for the 27th seed, the World No.9 played arguably her best tennis of the match to break back four games later and then eventually take the set 7-2 in the tie-break.

In the decider, Wang served brilliantly. She got 74% of her first serves in and won 84% of those points. Consequently, she did not face a single break point in the set.

By contrast, Serena had to save two break points to keep the match going all the way to 6-5 in the Chinese player’s favour.

However, that was the limit of the American’s resistance. She made five unforced errors to gift Wang the game and with it the win that she had worked so hard for.

The Chinese player will now take on another surprise winner – Ons Jabeur – in the fourth round. The Tunisian became the last player to beat Caroline Wozniacki in her career when she recorded a 7-5 3-6 7-5 win.

Barty eases into Last 16

Ashleigh Barty (@Welovetennis on Twitter)

While the former World No.1 was knocked out, the current occupier of that ranking – Ashleigh Barty – suffered no such strife. She continued her serene progress through the draw with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over rising star Elena Rybakina.

The Australian, 23, has now lost just twelve games in her last six sets after she dropped the first set against Lesia Tsurenko in round one.

It is ominous form, but if Barty’s rivals are starting to worry, they may take some comfort from the fact that the World No.1 might have to play the woman who beat her at Wimbledon – Alison Riske – in the next round.

Furthermore, if the Australian makes it to the quarter-final, she will probably face a very tough task in the shape of Petra Kvitova.

The Czech, 29, has made this Grand Slam business look very easy so far at this year’s Australian Open. She followed up straight-set victories over Katerina Siniakova and Paula Badosa with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Ekaterina Alexandrova to book her place in the fourth round.

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