Ash Barty Storms Into Australian Open Final, Ends 42-Year Wait For Home Country - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Storms Into Australian Open Final, Ends 42-Year Wait For Home Country

The world No.1 said it is ‘unreal’ that she now has a shot of winning the title.

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Ash Barty has broken new ground at the Australian Open by producing an emphatic win over Madison Keys to reach the final for the first time in her career.

 

Bidding to become the first Australian women to reach the title match in Melbourne Park since Wendy Turnbull back in 1980, the top seed powered her way to a 6-1, 6-3,win over her below-par American rival. Keys is a former top 10 player who was aiming to reach her first major final since the 2017 US Open. Barty dominated play with the help of 20 winners as she impressively won 78% of her first points. It is the third time in her career she has reached a Grand Slam final.

“It’s unreal. It is just incredible. I love this tournament and I love coming out here and playing in Australia,” Barty said afterwards. “As an Aussie we are exceptionally small but we are a Grand Slam nation and get to play in our backyard.’
“I’m just happy that I get to play my best tennis here. I have done well before and now we have a chance to play for a title – it’s unreal.”

Despite carrying the hopes of her nation on her shoulders, Barty settled into her semi-final clash instantly and displayed no sign of either nerves or tension. She launched her first attack in the opening game by using her slice to apply pressure directly onto Keys’ serve. A drop shot from the American was punished by Barty who hit a cross-court winner to break. She went on to secure a double break for a 4-1 lead by hitting a shot towards the baseline which forced an error from her opponent.

As for Barty’s own serve, she dominated throughout the opener by winning 15 out of 20 points played. It took just 26 minutes for the Australian to secure a 6-1 lead after she returned a tentative Keys serve with a forehand winner down the line.

Inevitably, as the match progressed, Barty looked more tight on the court with the prospect of ending Australia’s long wait for a home player in the final of their biggest tennis event. Nevertheless, she continued to weather the storm before going on to secure a vital break midway through the second frame. After saving a break point in the previous game, a winning Barty passing shot secured another break in her favour to move ahead 4-2. Storming towards the finish line, a serve out wide that was returned out by Keys set her up with two match points. She prevailed on the first of those with yet another forehand winner.

“The conditions were different tonight. It was humid and the ball was a little bit heavier off the strings. I just tried to run and adapt, make as many balls as I could and keep Maddie (Keys) under the pump on her serve,” Barty reflected.
“It was important to stay point-by-point and do the right things each and every time.”

There is a silver lining for Keys who exits Melbourne with a surge in confidence after what was a troublesome 2021 season marred by injury and a loss of form. Last year she only managed to win 11 matches on the Tour compared to this month where she has been able to win 10 alone. Keys has been ranked as high as seventh in the world.

“It’s nice to see her back where she belongs. She is an amazing human being. You see the way she carries herself out on the court,” the two-time Grand Slam champion said of Keys.
“The thing I love most about Maddie is that she is a great person no matter what happens on the court.”

Barty run to the final is yet another success story for Australian tennis this year. Nick Kyrgios and Thanassi Kokkinakis are through to the men’s doubles final where they will play compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcerll. Australia also has representation in the mixed doubles final with Jamiee Fourlis and Jason Kubler. However, Barty says the highlight of her country’s success is that of wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott, who played his last match today before retiring.

“Dylan for me is in front of that. He’s inspired a nation and the whole globe,” she said.
“The way he and the Australian Open have worked together to open up the opportunities for more disabled people around the world to play tennis is exceptional and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Barty will take on either Danielle Collins or Iga Swiatek in the title match. She leads Collins 3-1 in their head-to-head and has won both of her previous Tour meetings against Swiatek.

The last Australian woman to win the Australian Open was Chris O’Neil in 1978.

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Australia fights back from losing the first match to reach the Davis Cup final

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Australia fought back from losing the first singles match to beat Croatia 2-1 reaching its first Davis Cup in 19 years. 

 

Alex De Minaur cruised past Marin Cilic 6-2 6-2 in just 44 minutes to send the semifinal to decisive doubles match. Cilic made 10 double faults, as De Minaur broke four times to draw level to 2-2 in his head-to-head matches. De Minaur has improved his Davis Cup hard-court singles record to 10-1 in the Davis Cup. 

“This is what this team is about, that never say-die attitude. I have had a couple of instances when I have been in this position and I feel like my back is against the wall, and there is only a wall to break through, and that’s going forward steam ahead and just going after every single point. My job was to keep us alive, and I am happy to do anything I can do for my country”, said De Minaur. 

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell came back from one set down to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4. Thompson and Purcell broke twice and never dropped a service game to come back from losing the first-set tie-break. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thompson and Purcell broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve in the 12th game to force the match to the decider. The Australian team broke again in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held their next two service games to close out the third set 6-4. 

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. 

“I am so proud. Australia has a rich history in this competition. We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions. I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it”, said Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt. 

Australia will face either Italy or Canada in the final. 

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Borna Coric beats Thanasi Kokkinakis to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Australia in Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga

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Borna Coric beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 32 minutes with a break in each set to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over Australia in the first match of the semifinal of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga. 

 

Coric hit 19 winners to just 9 unforced errors. 

Kokkinakis saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Croatian player converted his third break point at deuce in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Coric faced the only break point at the second set and earned the only break in the sixth game to seal the win 6-4 6-3. 

“This means a lot to me. I was watching the guys playing Davis Cup when I was injured and doing my rehab. To play for Croatia is an amazing feeling for me. I was turning to my coach in the first set and saying: ‘I don’t know what to do against his serve’, but I started to read it later on, and thankfully I was serving well myself. When I was younger, I did not serve so well and I needed to improve it. After my shoulder injury I did not know whether I would be able to serve again at all, but I did so much work on it that I serve even better now then I used to”, said Coric.

Alex De Minaur will face 2018 Davis Cup champion Marin Cilic. In their previous head-to-head matches Cilic leads 2-1 over De Minaur and beat the Australian player 6-1 5-7 6-4 in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup finals. 

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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