Alex De Minaur Praises ‘Misunderstood’ Kyrgios Ahead Of Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Alex De Minaur Praises ‘Misunderstood’ Kyrgios Ahead Of Australian Open

The world No.23 has jumped to the defence of the controversy-stricken tennis star.

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Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur has hailed fellow Davis Cup team mate Nick Kyrgios as ‘one of the nicest guys’ in the world of tennis as they prepare for the Australian Open.

 

The world No.23 says he believes Kyrgios is often misunderstood by others and says he has always received support from the two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist. Despite his talent on the court and a series of high-profile wins, Kyrgios’ career has been marred by a series of controversies concerning his behaviour. At one stage he was even hit with a suspended ban by the ATP for unsportsmanlike conduct. During the 2019 Italian Open he was defaulted from his match after throwing a chair onto the court in anger.

On the other hand, Kyrgios has also been instrumental in a series of charitable initiatives. During the 2020 Australian Open he was one of the leading figures in the bushfire fundraising appeal. He also has his own foundation which has been set up ‘to increase access to, and provide sport facilities to underprivileged & disadvantaged youths.’

Speaking about the divisive tennis figure on the TODAY show, de Minaur describes the two as ‘almost like brothers’ as he praised Kyrgios for the continuous support he has received.

“Nick’s one of the nicest guys out there,” de Minaur said.
“He’s that person that’s always going to have your back, no matter what.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Davis Cup ties with him and get to know him better and play side by side with him and he’s one of those guys that has always had a lot of confidence in me and has always, from basically a junior, telling me to believe in myself and to go out there and take it.
“He’s very misunderstood but he’s one of the nicest guys out there and he’ll always have your back.
“We’re almost brothers – pretty close.”

Due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and injury, Kyrgios hasn’t played a full competitive match on the ATP Tour since his fourth round loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open almost a year ago. The world No.47 opted not to travel during the pandemic and has publicly criticised some of his peers for their behaviour.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crises, Tennis Australia has managed to stage the first Grand Slam of 2021 with the use of strict quarantine measures which players must abide by for 14 days. At present 72 players are in a strict quarantine where they can’t leave their rooms after being deemed a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for the virus. Leading to an adjustment being made to the scheduling of tournaments in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been dealt a very tough hand with everything that’s been happening,” de Minaur commented on the situation.
“It’s going to be tough, a lot of these players haven’t hit for 14 days so it’s going to take a couple of days to get used to it, maybe a week.
“It’s all about adapting.
“You don’t know what’s going to come your way.”

De Minaur started his season by winning the Antalya Open in Turkey earlier this month in what was his first Tour title since 2019. He is set to return to action at the ATP Cup which will start on February 2nd.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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