Melbourne Scare A Blessing In Disguise For Naomi Osaka - UBITENNIS
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Melbourne Scare A Blessing In Disguise For Naomi Osaka

The world No.3 says she ‘couldn’t ask for better preparation’ despite dropping a set in her latest match.




Naomi Osaka (image via

It was a tough day at the office for Naomi Osaka on Wednesday after she was forced to battle back from a set down against world No.371 Katie Boulter at the Gippsland Trophy.


The three-time Grand Slam champion was on course for a shock defeat after dropping the opener in just 40 minutes before clawing her way back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. During what was a roller-coaster match the Japanese No.1 effectively utilized the use of her serve as she won 86% of her first service points, as well as producing 33 winners. During the final two sets Osaka broke Boulter in five out of her eight service games.

I thought she played really well. I sort of had to raise my level, kind of go within myself,” said Osaka.
“I felt the entire first set and sort of halfway into the second set, I felt like I was on my back foot a lot. I felt like I was letting her dictate most of the balls. I never really settled that well. I think in the second and third set I was sort of able to find what I needed to do, sort of impose my pace onto the rally, as well.”

This week’s Melbourne event is Osaka’s final chance to tune up her game ahead of the Australian Open where she will be seeking to win the title for a second time after doing so in 2019. Unlike previous years players have less time to get matches under their belts ahead of the Grand Slam after going through a 14-day quarantine. For Osaka, she is drawing positives from her scare against Boulter.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better preparation match,” she stated. “I think it was very different from my first-round match. That’s something I couldn’t practice.’
“So I’m very happy with how it went actually. Even though it was long, I think there are a lot of things that I learned in this match. I feel like it’s nice to play someone like Cornet and then someone like Boulter because they have two different styles. That’s something I’m going to have to deal with in a Grand Slam setting, too.”

Besides playing in Melbourne, Osaka has also been spotted watching matches from the sidelines like she does at other tournaments. When asked by the press which live match stands out to her, she made reference to Andy Murray’s five-set win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the US Open last year. Two players whom she has great affection and respect towards.

“I just like watching matches in person because I feel like you can gauge the speed of the ball,you can sort of see the atmosphere, feel the conditions. I think, I don’t know, it’s just much more engaging than watching on TV,” she explained.

Next up for the second seed will be a quarter-final clash against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

In other matches at the Gippsland Trophy, Elina Svitolina was another player who was forced to overcome a stern scare. Taking on former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the third seed rallied to a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2, win after more than two hours of play.

“It was a bit windy and it was really tough to find the rhythm, and it’s not easy to play against her because she’s going for a lot of shots and you have to really be on your toes,” Svitolina said.
“I was a bit flat in the first set and I wasn’t happy with the way I started. Afterwards, I was just trying to make an extra ball back and tried to make a difference on the balls I had a chance on,”
she added.

Svitolina, who could play Osaka in the semi-finals should they both reach that stage, faces Elise Mertens in her next match.


‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.




Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.


A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic advance to the quarter finals at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow




Karen Khachanov came back from one set down to beat James Duckworth 3-6 6-3 6-1 with four breaks of serve reaching the quarter finals at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow. 


Khachanov played at this tournament for the first time at the age of 17 in 2013 beating Albert Ramos Vinolas one month after earning his first ATP Tour win in St. Petersburg.

Duckworth saved four break points in the first and seventh games of the first set before breaking serve in the eighth game to seal the first set 6-3. 

Khachanov broke serve in the fourth game and saved two break points in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. The Russian player broke three times to cruise to a 6-1 win in the decider. 

“It always feel great to be back in your hometown, in a tournament where everything started for me as a professional tennis player. This is where I won my first matches. I got my first points. Since then, it’s always great to come back home to see the crowd, get home support. It’s also little bit more nervous, of course, but on the other side, I always enjoy playing at home”, said Khachanov.

Khachanov set up a quarter final clash against John Millman, who overcame Ilya Marchenko 6-1 5-7 6-4 after 2 hours and 28 minutes. 

Marin Cilic broke serve four times to beat Tommy Paul 7-5 6-3. Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games to draw level to 3-3. Cilic earned his break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Cilic got the decisive break in the sixth game when Paul missed a backhand long. Cilic never looked back and held his final two service games to close out the second set 6-3.  

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Jannik Sinner wins all-Italian Next Gen clash against Lorenzo Musetti in Antwerp




Jannik Sinner edged Lorenzo Musetti 7-5 6-2 in an all-Italian Next Gen clash to reach the quarter finals at the European Open in Antwerp. 


Musetti showed his impressive shotmaking in the first set, but Sinner broke his younger compatriot in the 11th game at deuce by forcing a volley error with a forehand passing shot. 

Sinner did not drop his serve in the second game and broke twice in the third and fifth game to race out to a 5-1 lead. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game to hold serve at deuce for 2-5. Sinner served out the second set on his first match point. 

Sinner reached the semifinal in Antwerp in 2019 as a semifinal when he ranked outside the top 100. The 20-year-old player is currently 11th in the ATP Race to Turin and is fighting for a qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

“In these past two years some things have changed obviously, I am happy to be in the position where I am right now. There are still a couple of tournaments to play this year, and hopefully I can play great tennis”. 

Sinner will face Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who edged Dusan Lajovic 6-3 4-6 6-2. Lajovic broke at love in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Rinderknech won five of the next six games with two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-3. Lajovic saved a break point in the third game of the second set and earned his only break in the 10th game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Rinderknech saved three break points in the second game of the third set before breaking serve on his third chance at deuce to take a 2-1 lead. The Frenchman earned a double break at deuce in the seventh game to seal the third set 6-2. 

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