Ash Barty Exceeding Expectations At Australian Open, Says Coach - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Exceeding Expectations At Australian Open, Says Coach

The mentor of the world No.1 has also shed some light on her plans for the year ahead.

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The return of Ash Barty to professional tennis couldn’t have gone much better than it has, according to her coach Craig Tyzzer.

The world No.1 took an 11-month break from the Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic before returning to action last month. Since then, Barty has already won a WTA title at the Yarra Valley Classic and is currently on a eight-match winning streak. At the Australian Open she has cruised to the quarter-finals without dropping a set. Recording wins over Danka Kovinic, Daria Gavrilova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Shelby Rogers.

Barty’s winning comeback has been hailed by Tyzzer who was named WTA Coach of the Year back in 2019. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he believes the benefits of having ‘the longest pre-season ever’ is starting to pay off.

“She’s been playing well each match. There’s probably been a few dips and a few rises, so there’s a bit of that flow as well,” he said.
“I think it’s ideal that she’s still alive and still playing, still able to keep progressing in the Australian Open. It’s obviously great for us and for her.’
“She’s put it together really well, probably better than I expected.”

At the start of the Australian Open the 24-year-old had the added boost of being cheered on by fans in Melbourne Park but that has since changed. The city is currently in the middle of a five-day lockdown and therefore the event is taking place behind closed doors. Whilst the absence of a crowd is noticeable, Tyzzer believes that it will not affect how she plays over the coming days.

“I know from last year when she won, she loved the crowd in Adelaide last year when she won. It’s a nice venue, really close, really loud. I think she enjoys the Aussie crowd behind her,” he said.
“She’s also good at going, Okay, I have to focus on what’s going on on the court. It doesn’t distract her. I think she’s done that really well. We played with crowds the first week, a bit here during the Australian Open, and she’s been able to focus on what’s going on.”

This year Barty is seeking to become the first home player to win the Melbourne title since Chris O’Neal in 1978. She reached the semi-final stage last year before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.

Looking ahead to what the rest of the season may have in store, Tyzzer confirmed that Barty plans to return to Europe, as well as the Middle East. She skipped the French Open last year where she was the defending champion due to concerns related to travelling during the pandemic.

“We’re hoping that we’ll set up some sort of base somewhere probably in Europe where we can at least switch off and relax and spend some time away from tennis, maybe a bit of golf for Ash,” Tyzzer outlined.
“We’re yet to finalise anything in that regard. But we’re planning on being away for a while.”

Another tournament on Barty’s mind is the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Only once in history has an Australian female tennis player won an individual Olympic medal. That was Alicia Molik at the 2004 Games.

She’s down to play. She’s pretty keen to play,” he commented on going to the Olympics.
“We’re hoping for her that goes ahead. She’s very excited.”

Barty will play Karolína Muchová is the quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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