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Australian Open: Women’s First Round Blockbusters on Day One

The draw for the Australian Open 2022 has been made and the schedule has also been released for opening day

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Paula Badosa last week in Sydney (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The draw for the Australian Open 2022 has been made and the schedule has also been released ahead of tomorrow’s opening day.

 

I think the battle of the American’s, Sofia Kenin vs Madison Keys is going to be a fantastic match.

On the one hand, Kenin is a Grand Slam champion having won here in Australia two years ago, beating two-time Major champion Garbiñe Muguruza.

Kenin, 23, may have reached the final of the French Open later that year, but she has largely struggled with injuries since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, Keys reached her only Grand Slam final way back in 2017 at the US Open, losing comprehensively on home soil to compatriot Sloane Stephens.

At 26-years-old, Keys, is no longer the prodigy she once was. Although her form has nosedived in recent years, the world number 87 won the Adelaide title last week to suggest she might be making a comeback.

Both players have a point to prove and hard-courts are arguably their best surface. I am expecting a decent match.

Spain’s Paula Badosa takes on Australian number two Ajla Tomljanovic, partner of men’s player and last year’s Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.

Badosa made her big breakthrough last year, rising to a high of six in the world that brought with it a first Masters 1000 victory, as she stunned Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells, in three sets.

Although, she has struggled at the Grand Slams, with a quarter-final appearance at last year’s French Open, her deepest run to date.

However, last week’s triumph in Sydney will give Badosa fresh optimism she can go deep in Melbourne.

Croatian born Tomljanovic may often stand in Ashleigh Barty’s shadow in the Australian women’s game, but she is a talented player and could cause an upset on home soil.

Next up is Belinda Bencic who takes on Kristina Mladenovic.

Swiss Bencic might be remembered by some fans as Roger Federer’s partner in crime, where she helped the 20-time Grand Slam champion win the popular Hopman Cup event in its final edition back in 2019. This backed up their 2018 victory.

Bencic has been inconsistent but still won the Dubai Duty Free Championships that same year and won Olympic Gold at last year’s COVID delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Mladenovic’s form may have plummeted but she is a former top-ten player and a seasoned doubles player, having won five-doubles Grand Slam titles.

Now at 91 in the world, she is unlikely to be a threat to Bencic, but in tennis, anything can happen.

The other matches to look out for would be Czech ace, and current French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who entertains veteran German Andrea Petkovic.

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And finally, 2017 French Open champion and last year’s Eastbourne International winner Jelena Ostapenko, 24, plays Anna Schmiedlova.

The Slovakian knows how to cause an upset after big wins over Venus Williams and Azarenka at the 2020 French Open, and another upset could be on the cards.

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ATP and WTA removes rankings points from Wimbledon

Players playing Wimbledon have no ranking points to play for.

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(@FOS - Twitter)

The ATP responded in regards to the ban on Russian and Belorussian players that was made by the tournament.

 

The ATP has officially responded to Wimbledon banning all Russian and Belorussian in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has wreaked havoc on the world of sports.

Russian and Belorussian players up to this point have been playing under their name and not their country.

The ATP released a statement in regards to the decision that was made.

The move essentially makes Wimbledon an exhibition event meaning players who decide to play won’t be able to move up in the world rankings and points won’t have to be defended.

Wimbledon made the announcement in April that they would placing the ban as the All England Club stated the possibility of the Russian government using players success as propaganda for the reason behind the move.

The ATP responded by saying the ban violated their agreement and discriminating against players since they compete as individuals. Removing points seemed like the only feasable move to make.

Russian and Belorussian players are allowed to play at the French Open which begins this Sunday in Paris. Danil Medvedev who is currently the 2nd ranked player in the world was asked about the move.

I’m not in ATP taking the decisions, I’m not in Wimbledon taking the decisions. Maybe it’s government pushing them, maybe it’s their decision. There a lot of mistakes behind this. So if I can play I’m going to be happy to play. I love Wimbledon as a tournament.”

He also added that if he couldn’t play there this year he would try to play next year and play good.

The WTA has also followed suit but this time has also penalized some of the warm-up tournaments.

Wimbledon is currently scheduled to start on June 27th and will culminate with the final on Sunday July 10th.

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Rafael Nadal Dismisses Favourite Status And Talks About Foot Pain Ahead Of Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal begins against Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Rafael Nadal (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has dismissed that he is the favourite for Roland Garros after admitting that his foot pain is still present.

 

Nadal searches for his 14th Roland Garros title over the next two weeks but enters with doubts.

This is after the Spaniard went out at the quarter-final stage in Madrid to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.

That was followed by a third round exit in Rome where he, literally, limped out to Denis Shapovalov.

Now Nadal approaches the tournament in a situation where it is unknown whether he can claim a 22nd grand slam title in the French capital.

Speaking in his pre-tournament press conference Nadal dismissed his chances and claimed his foot pain is still present, “I mean, for sure not, because the results says that I am not, but is something that never worried much to me, no?,” Nadal said when asked if he was the favourite to win the title.

“Of course one of the candidates. I considered myself during all my tennis career one of the candidates here, because I achieve tournaments before here, and now on Friday, before the tournament start, I don’t think I am the
favourite at all. But you never know what can happen.

“It’s not about gonna disappear now. It’s about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances or not. But in my case, is something that I live every day with that, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise.

“So I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros, no? And if I don’t believe that this thing can happen, probably I will not be here.

“So I am just working as much as I can, and practicing as good as possible. My real goal is just put me in a position that I am healthy and playing enough good tennis to give myself good chances.”

Time will tell whether Nadal has healed in time to be a contender for Roland Garros and claim his second grand slam of the season.

One thing we do know though is that the Spaniard has a tricky draw with Novak Djokovic looming in the last eight and Carlos Alcaraz awaiting in the semi-finals.

Despite the tough draw Nadal admitted he doesn’t really think about the draw until he faces the players he has to play, “I mean, mentally for me it doesn’t matter,” Nadal said.

“In terms of tennis, of course the top of the draw you see the names, of course is a very tough one. But we are in a Grand Slam, and you never know what can happen, no? You know, remain a lot of things to happen, to probably arrive to the matches that you are thinking, you know.

“I mean, the only thing that I can say is of course I know everything. For me never have been a problem that. I am probably humble enough in that case to just be focused on my first match. Doesn’t matter if I know where I am exactly and what, you know, possible opponents I can have.

“Only thing that I would like is be the player that, one of the players that you think can face these other great players.”

Before Nadal can think about Djokovic or Alcaraz, the 21-time grand slam champion will have to overcome his first obstacle in Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Novak Djokovic Drawn Against Nadal And Alcaraz In Top Half Of Roland Garros Draw

Novak Djokovic begins his Roland Garros campaign against Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Novak Djokovic (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

World number one Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz in the top half of the men’s draw at Roland Garros.

 

Djokovic is looking to claim a record-equalling 21st grand slam title at Roland Garros as well as successfully defend his title.

However to do that the Serb will have to go through both Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz en route to the final.

In his opening match Djokovic will face Yoshihito Nishioka before possibly facing Alex Molcan who is coached by Djokovic’s former coach Marian Vajda.

Jenson Brooksby and Diego Schwartzman stand in Djokovic’s way of a blockbuster quarter-final with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.

The winner of that match could face Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals with the Spaniard projected to meet Alexander Zverev in the last eight.

Meanwhile Nadal will open his campaign against Jordan Thompson before potentially facing Stan Wawrinka in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Botic Van De Zandschulp and Felix Auger-Aliassime are potential opponents for Nadal before a titanic quarter-final match.

Meanwhile in the second quarter of the draw Alcaraz and Zverev both face qualifiers in the opening round.

Alcaraz could face Sebastian Korda, who he lost to in Monte-Carlo, and Cameron Norrie en route to the last eight.

While Zverev would face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Taylor Fritz before a showdown with Alcaraz.

In the bottom half of the draw Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas could meet in the last eight.

Tsitsipas, who was two sets to love up in last year’s final, will face Lorenzo Musetti in the opening round.

There could be a last 16 meeting for Tsitsipas with Denis Shapovalov however the Canadian will face in-form rising star Holger Rune in the opening round.

Ruud’s opening match will be against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who is playing his final Roland Garros of his career.

In the bottom quarter, Andrey Rublev will meet Soonwoo Kwon in his opening match with the Russian potentially facing Jannik Sinner in the last 16.

While Daniil Medvedev takes on Facundo Bagnis in his opening match in what will be his second tournament back since surgery.

Medvedev could be scheduled to meet Miami Open semi-finalist Miomir Kecmanovic in the third round.

Here is the draw with play beginning on Monday:

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