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Serena Williams To Skip Australian Open Over Fitness Concerns

The entry list for the 2022 Grand Slam has been announced but a couple familiar names are missing.

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September 10, 2020 - Serena Williams in action against Victoria Azarenka during a women's singles match at the 2020 US Open. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)

Former world No.1 Serena Williams has confirmed that she will not be playing in next month’s Australian Open after her name was missing from the official entry list which was published on Wednesday.

 

Williams, who has won the Melbourne major seven times in her career, said in a statement that she is ‘not where she needs to be’ with her physicality but didn’t specify if she is currently suffering from any injury-related issues. It will be the fifth time she has missed the Australian Open since making her debut back in 1998 and only the second time in the past decade. She has won the women’s title more times than any other player in the Open Era.

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams said.
“Melbourne is one of my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year.
“I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

The world No.41 has been absent from the Tour since pulling out of her first round match at Wimbledon due to injury. In total, she has only played in five tournaments this year with three of those being Grand Slam events. Williams’ win-loss record for the 2021 season is 12-5 with her best result being a run to the semi-finals of this year’s Australian Open.

It is the second time this week that a former Grand Slam winner has pulled out of the upcoming Australian Open. On Monday Bianca Andreescu confirmed that she is going to delay the start of her 2022 season in order to take a mental break from the sport.

“I want to give myself extra time to reset, recover, and grow from this and continue to inspire by doing charity work, giving back and working on myself because I know by doing this I will come back stronger than ever,” she said.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is another player missing from the entry list but she is yet to publicly comment on her reason. The Russian hasn’t played since Wimbledon.

In the men’s draw world No.1 Novak Djokovic has entered to play following recent speculation about his attendance at the event. Due to a health mandate implemented in Victoria, all players at the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a medical exemption. Djokovic has refused to speak about his vaccination status in public and is yet to say if he will be travelling to Australia. Although he is also on the entry list for the ATP Cup which is held in Melbourne.

Roger Federer will not be playing as he continues his recovery from knee surgery which is set to sideline him from action for a few more months. Meanwhile, Stan Wawrika is another notable absentee from the entry list.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 17th.

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Jannik Sinner takes the positives from his defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Jannik Sinner has taken the positives from his straight-set defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter final at the Australian Open. The Italian 20-year-old star believes that the experience will help him to continue improving. 

 

“It’s a positive tournament. I think that what I have to improve is tennis in general. I have to serve better. I have to serve better, I have to do everything more, especially when you play against the top guys. My goal is to play many matches like this, important matches against the best guys in the world, and then we see and then I grow. I think it was good. I played matches, and I had a good experience. Let’s see what I can do here next year. I think I can go back with a positive mindset, knowing that I have to improve many things. There is a lot of work”, said Sinner. 

Sinner praised Tsisipas, who has extended his win-loss record to 3-1 in the four head-to-head matches against his Italian opponent. 

“I think he played better than me than me today. He served better. He moved the ball better than me. He was moving better than me. It’s tough to play against him when he plays like that. I could not generate the power that I would have wanted. I was trying to move him, but I was maybe a little bit too far back because he played incredible today. I didn’t have many chances. Especially he was serving well, so returning his serves was not easy. My return serves were not so good, especially when he had second serves, or I played very short or I missed. This is why he didn’t play so many second serves. I tried to step a little bit closer, tried to open the court, but today it was tough. I know what what I have to improve many things. This was a lesson for me”, said Sinner. 

Sinner, who was making his third appearance at the Australian Open, dropped just one set en route to his second Grand Slam quarter final two years after losing to Rafael Nadal in this stage at Roland Garros in 2020. 

“In the past few months I have matured as a player in many aspects, but above alla s a person. This is the most important aspect. 

Sinner has become the fifth Italian male player to advance to the last eight in Melbourne after Matteo Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in five sets reaching the semifinal the previous day. Berrettini has reached at least the quarter finals at all four Grand Slam tournaments. With a win over Rafael Nadal in the semifinal of the Australian Open, Berrrettini would become joint second Italian player for most Grand Slam semifinals in history alongside Adriano Panatta, who won Roland Garros in 1976. Sinner reached a career-high world number 10 last November. When Berrettini was that age, he had never been inside the top 500. 

Sinner has a bigger respect for his friend Berrettini on and off the court. 

“I enjoy watching Matteo’s matches. I admire him as a player and as a person. We are good friends I wish him all the best for the next matches. During the ATP Cup we practiced on the court and I now know him better. I have learnt a lot from training with him. Matteo is a very good guy. We get along well. Our rivalry is helping us to push beyond our limits”, said Sinner.

Sinner will return to the court to play at the Rotterdam ATP 500 indoor-court tournament. 

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Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis secure the semifinal spot in the Australian Open doubles tournament

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Australian wild cards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios knocked out sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-5 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 15 minutes to advance to the semifinals in the doubles tournament on Kia Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios hit 25 aces and won 86% of their first service points. 

Kokkinakis and Kirgyos, who won the Wimbledon Junior title in the doubles together, earned the only break in the 11th game to claim the first set 7-5. The Aussies fired 13 aces and won 91% of his first serve points. 

Puetz and Venus broke Kyrgios in the second game at deuce in the second game and saved four break points to hold serve at deuce for 3-0. The early break was enough for Puetz and Venus to seal the second set. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis broke Puetz to love to open up a 3-1 lead. The home team fended off a break point in the seventh game to move ahead 5-2 and closed out the third set 6-3 with a double break in the ninth game.

The Aussie doubles team have never won a doubles Grand Slam title, but have won a singles ATP title each with different players. Kyrgios won the 2018 ATP Tour title with Jack Sock, while Kokkinakis claimed the Brisbane International with Jordan Thompson in 2017. 

“We are stoked with the win. We came big in the big points”, said Kokkinakis. 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios recorded their third consecutive win against a seeded team to reach their first Grand Slam semifinal. 

“It’s been incredible. Another tough win. I think that’s probably the toghest pair that we have played. They brought some serious tennis today and it wasn’t easy”, said Kyrgios. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis set up a semifinal clash against Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who took down John Peers and Filip Polasek 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in 1 hour and 49 minutes. Granollers and Zeballos fended off a set point on serve at 5-6 30-40 in the first set, before breaking twice in the second set to close out the match. The Argentine and Spanish team have won six titles as a team, including four Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal 2019, Rome 2020, Madrid and Cincinnati in 2021. 

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“It was crazy” – Kaia Kanepi Ousts Australian Open Second Seed Aryna Sabalenka In An Epic

The Estonian is through to the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career.

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World number 115 Kaia Kanepi produced one of the shocks of the tournament to send Aryna Sabalenka crashing out.

 

The 36-year-old Estonian saw three match points come and go but prevailed in the super tie-break to seal it; 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10-7).

Through to the quarter finals for the first time in her career, she will face Poland’s Iga Świątek. The 2020 French Open champion saw off Sorana Cîrstea in three sets.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1485600320264847364

The first set saw power tennis from both players out on Margaret Court Arena. 

Kanepi held serve right up till 5-5, when Sabalenka turned the screw.

The Belarussian was pushed to deuce on her own service game but did enough to edge ahead.

She then applied enough pressure, opening up three break-points and only needing one, took the first set 7-5.

But the veteran Estonian roared back in the second set, nailing a huge break of serve to go 1-0 ahead.

Kanepi secured the double break, soon steaming ahead at 4-0 and eventually pocketed the set 6-2.

The 23-year-old from Minsk was beginning to look jaded in the deciding set, as Kanepi took an immediate break of serve.

She soon went 4-2 ahead but Sabalenka fought back for 4-4, as the set went back on serve.

Kanepi got the decisive break to move 5-4 ahead and serve for the match.

Nerves got to the Estonian, however, as Sabalenka saved four match points.

Three times at deuce, and on her third break point, Sabalenka levelled the set for 5-5.

Both players held serve, under enormous pressure, to send the match to a super tie-break.

Kanepi surged into a 5-2 lead but Sabalenka played clutch to level at 5-5.

It was soon 7-7, but the pressure got to Sabalenka, and Kanepi won three straight points to win the biggest match of her career.

https://twitter.com/KanepiKaia/status/1485614786473861122

Kanepi said she was shocked to have won. “Actually, I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve.”

“It was really difficult to come back. I don’t know how I managed to do it.

“I was really tight. My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn’t make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure. It was crazy.”

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