Archive for the 'Australian Open' Category

19
Jan
12

Raonic will face the winner of the Hewitt/Roddick match.

Canadian Milos Raonic is trying to start the new season even better than he did a year ago. The No.23 seed had his work cut out for him on Thursday, working his way past Philipp Petzschner 6-4 5-7 6-2 7-5 on Show Court 3. It was in Australia that Raonic qualified for the main draw last year before making a tear to the fourth round, breaking through for the first time at a slam and making tennis enthusiasts take notice. In 2012, he already has a title to his name and booked his place in the third round with the four-set, nearly three-hour win. Raonic made an impressive start to 2012 by winning the ATP stop in Chennai where he beat Top 10 players Nicolas Almagro and Janko Tipsarevic on his way to his second career title. He also won in San Jose in 2011. Thursday morning he and Petzschner, the German ranked No.63, locked horns into the early afternoon. Raonic used a break in the first game of the match to secure the first set 6-4, his serve ticking along just fine, bolstered by his forehand. Raonic won the set when he served out wide to Petzschner, then clocked a forehand winner crosscourt to take the set. But Petzschner worked his way into the match in the second, frustrating the Canadian by bringing him into net and often passing him or forcing an error. Petzschner, an accomplished doubles player, used a drop volley winner to take a 2-1 lead. “I was struggling a little bit, I don’t know why,” Raonic said. “He started well and just put a lot more pressure on me.” It was in the tenth game of the second set that Petzschner was really able to put pressure on the Raonic serve. He held three set points at 0-40 only to watch Raonic rocket three service winners at him. At 5-6, however, Raonic made a series of errors, including a backhand long when Petzschner rushed the net, giving the 27-year-old German the set, 7-5.

Petzschner fought off a break point in the fifth game of the fourth set before Raonic had to dig out of another 0-40 hole in game eight. The seeded player looked destined to close out the match when he broke in the next game, running down a drop shot to flick a spectacular crosscourt winner before forcing Petzschner into a half-volley error. But Raonic couldn’t serve it out at 5-4 in the fourth, needing to break Petzschner for the second time in as many games and the fifth time in the match in game 12. He won the tie just short of the three-hour mark when Petzschner batted a forehand long. “I know he can play really well,” Raonic explained. “My goal was really just to stick with him [until] I get my opportunities.” Raonic’s big serve provided plenty of opportunities, clocking at 225 KMH at one point in the match. Raonic bashed 15 aces to Petzschner’s 10. The two men seemingly traded stats: Raonic hit 43 winners to Petzschner’s 43 unforced errors. The German hit 37 winners to Raonic’s 38 unforced errors.

He is a name that many are keeping their eye on after he raced through the Chennai draw and seemed to have a special place in his heart for the courts at Melbourne. Counting his wins in qualifying he is 8-1 over the last two years here. But Raonic’s early success in 2011 wasn’t for nothing. He was named the tour’s Newcomer of the Year and reaching a career-high ranking of No.25 after starting the year No.152.

 

 

 

 

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15
Dec
11

99 of the world’s top 100 men and women all confirmed for the 2012 Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic will be determined to defend his title and maintain his world No.1 position, while Roger Federer’s year-end win in London sees him eyeing off a sixth Australian Open title and the honour of becoming the tournament’s 100th men’s singles champion. Rafael Nadal will put his disappointing 2011 season behind him and Andy Murray, twice a finalist in Melbourne, is desperate for a Grand Slam breakthrough.

Australia’s own US Open champion Sam Stosur leads a new generation of Grand Slam winners in contention for the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, and French Open winner Li Na will be joined by defending champion Kim Clijsters and five-time AO winner Serena Williams, both returning from injury. World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki is still in the hunt for her maiden Grand Slam, while former champion Maria Sharapova is showing all the signs of returning to winning form. Only world No.13 Robin Soderling and No.69 Alisa Kleybanova, both currently battling illness, are missing from the ranks.

The 104 direct acceptances into the men’s draw include Tommy Haas, Fernando Gonzalez, Benjamin Becker and Paul-Henri Mathieu, all of whom used their injury protected rankings. The women’s draw includes 108 direct acceptances, with Timea Bacsinszky and Anna Chakvetadze both using protected rankings as they return from injury. Venus Williams, currently ranked 105, has also made the cut. Williams hasn’t played since withdrawing from her second-round US Open match after being diagnosed with autoimmune disease Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was thrilled with the line-up. “It’s incredible to once again have every available top player in both the men’s and women’s fields heading to play the Australian Open. “These superstars of world sport love coming to Melbourne. They love the Australian Open and the fans, the city, the facilities at Melbourne Park and the way we look after them while they are here.

 

09
Dec
11

Wimbledon junior champion Ashleigh Barty has breezed into the semi-finals of the Australian Open wildcard tournament.

Two more wins would see the 15-year-old Queenslander in the main draw of next month’s Australian Open. Barty defeated Emelyn Starr from New South Wales 6-3 6-2 on Thursday. “It was tough out there today,” Barty said. “It was a little bit windy and the sun was pretty bad at one end but I was able to put my game together just long enough to get the win.” Barty upset top seed Casey Dellacqua in the first match of the round robin event and is shaping as a strong favourite for the wildcard. “I just wanted to see how I went. I was just out here to have fun and to play against Casey was great,” she said. Barty admitted she had “definitely” surprised herself with her progress but is unsure about whether she is prepared for an Open main draw spot. “I’m not really sure, I’m ready when I’m ready. I can’t tell you when that will be but I’ll just keep developing and see if I get there,” she said.

Dellacqua won her second match but due to an earlier loss will have to rely on Tennis Australian providing her with a discretionary wildcard into next month’s grand slam. After winning six straight Pro Tour events in the past three months she is certain to be awarded a place in the draw.

21
Dec
10

Will Djokovic play the role of ‘spoiler’ in 2011?

All the talk is about a ‘Rafa’ slam, and the resurgence of Roger to take back the #1 spot, but keep an eye on Novak in 2011. He finished the 2010 season on a high, he’s healthy, he’s confident and he’s hungry!

The upcoming Australian Open will mark three years since the 23-year-old Djokovic won his lone Grand Slam title, with victory over first-time finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Djokovic rose to No. 2 in the 2010 ATP Rankings in February and went on to finish the year World No. 3 for the fourth straight year. A grand achievement for the vast majority of professionals, but Djokovic will no doubt be eager to finish the year inside the Top 2 for for the first time. While Grand Slam success would surely help cement Djokovic’s place at the top of game, he will also look to improve his performance in ATP World Tour events. In 2010 the Serbian won just two ATP World Tour titles (Dubai and Beijing), his lowest tally since 2006 and five less than Nadal’s extraordinary tour-level haul. He particularly underperformed in the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, only reaching the semi-finals in Shanghai, Toronto and Monte-Carlo.

However, Djokovic reaped the rewards of hard work and self belief when he hit top form to save two match points and defeat five-time former champion Roger Federer in this year’s US Open semi-finals, before finishing runner-up to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final. The right-hander then went on to have a very successful end to the season, culminating in leading Serbia to a 3-2 victory over France in the Davis Cup final. While disappointed after his defeat in the US Open final, Djokovic believed he had turned a corner in his career. “I am feeling bad about my loss. I wanted that trophy, and I know I gave my maximum to get it even tonight,” said the Serb. “But when I sleep over the night, tomorrow I will wake up as a new man. I will continue to work hard and wait for the next chance to come. “I feel much more comfortable on the court, more confident and getting this aggressive game back – the game that I need to have in order to stay at the top – and a game that has been a part of me always. It’s a good sign. I will continue on working, as I said, and hope that I can keep that performance.”

20
Dec
10

17 year old Lauren Davis is headed to the Aussie Open.

Lauren Davis defeated Coco Vandeweghe, 6-2, 6-2, to win the Australian Open 2010 Wild Card for the main draw.

Davis, currently ranked No. 444 in the WTA world rankings, won all three of her matches over the weekend without dropping a set. The 17 years old trains with the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton, and now 27 consecutive matches and 36 of her last 37 matches. She won two ITF Futures events and the recent Dunlop Junior Orange Bowl and the prestigious Eddie Herr Junior Championships. “I think I handled the nerves well and I handled her power and everything she threw at me,” Davis said.

When told she made only eight unforced errors, Davis was shocked. “Really? That wasn’t my strategy at all,” she said. “Of course I wanted to be consistent but I wanted to be aggressive too because if I knew if I didn’t she would just go right through me.” Davis started the match in great form as she twice broke and held serve to go up 3-0. She was then broken back to make it 3-1, but controlled the match from there on out. “All the credit goes to Lauren,” said Vandeweghe’s coach Tom Gullikson. “She set the tone for the match with those first few games. She didn’t miss a ball. She forced Coco to hit a couple three, four, five balls every point and Coco just ended up missing.”

18
Dec
10

“I’m happy I’m in the final, I knew it would be tough to play Alicia,” said Dokic.

Jelena Dokic has cruised through to the final of the Australian Open wildcard tournament at Melbourne Park. Dokic crushed top seed Alicia Molik 6-3 6-1 in her semi-final and will now meet Victorian Olivia Rogowska for a spot in the Open main draw. Fifth-seeded Rogowska defeated Sophie Ferguson 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in her semifinal.

If Molik was unsure how Dokic was going to approach their AO Play-off semifinal, she had her answer after the first point. Dokic raced to the net like a sprinter going for gold in an early attacking move and while her backhand volley sailed just long, her intent was clear – she was on the attack. Not happy with her form in her last match – a three-set win over Tammi Patterson – Dokic skipped practice yesterday to ensure she would be fresh for today’s semifinal. “I didn’t play great in my last match and was actually feeling a little bit fatigued yesterday … I’ve been working a lot and it just hit me the last two days,” she explained after her 6-3 6-1 win over Molik.

Early on games stayed on serve with both players making their share of mistakes and winners. But in the seventh game Molik let her guard down and the re-energised Dokic was past her in a flash. With three break points up her sleeve, Dokic converted the second to strike the first blow. Two games later and Dokic was at it again, breaking Molik’s serve with a fizzing forehand down the line to take the opener 6-3. It wasn’t just Dokic’s forehand that was causing Molik grief, but the depth of her backhand was also giving the former world No.8 more problems than she could deal with. With Dokic leading 2-1 in the second, the grey clouds that had been gathering ominously above Court 6 finally showed their true intentions and brought about yet another rain delay. Players didn’t leave the court but instead spent 20 minutes sitting on the sidelines – plenty of time for both to tweak their game plans.

While Molik would have been hoping that the break would provide her with the energy she needed to challenge Dokic, it wasn’t to be. It simply delayed Dokic’s charge to the final. A framed backhand from Molik followed by a missed forehand volley that should have been an easy winner delivered Dokic the break. And from there it was all Dokic. The former world No.4 reeled off the next four games to install herself as the favourite for tomorrow’s final where she will come up against 19-year-old Olivia Rogowska who had earlier dispatched second seed Sophie Ferguson to make the AO Play-off final for the second year in a row.

“I’m happy I’m in the final, I knew it would be tough to play Alicia,” said Dokic. “I didn’t think [the score reflected the match]. But I played the big points very well. I saved a couple of break points early on and the set points I had I took all my chances straight away.”

Dokic is now just one win away from a wildcard into Australian Open 2011, but to get there she will need to find a way past fifth seed Rogowska. The two have met in the AO Play-off before, with Dokic coming away the winner. “I played her a couple of years ago in the play-off. She seems to like to play here, she played finals last year. She’s playing well and hasn’t lost a set yet. “It will be a tough match, but it will be different from today, I think her game suits me more than someone like Alicia who mixes it up so much.”

11
Dec
10

“We are in for some incredible tennis in January.”

Australian Open 2011 will feature one of the strongest fields in the tournament’s history, with all of the world’s top 100 men and 98 of the top 100 women entered into the year’s first Grand Slam event. World No.1 Rafael Nadal is focused on winning his fourth consecutive major to complete a ‘Rafa Slam’, while world No.2 Roger Federer’s mission will be to hoist the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for a fifth time. Caroline Wozniacki is on the hunt for a maiden Grand Slam title to go with her No.1 ranking, and Australia’s very own Sam Stosur, world No.6, has the game and the belief to take the next step.

The first entry lists have been released with injured Serena Williams the only omission from the top 100 women. The 104 direct acceptances into the men’s draw include Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) and Dmitry Tursunov (RUS), both of whom used their injury protected rankings. The women’s draw includes 107 direct acceptances, with notable exceptions Elena Dementieva (RUS) who retired at the end of the season and world No.37 Agnes Szavay (HUN), also out with injury.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was thrilled with the line-up. “To have the top 104 players in the world in the men’s main draw is incredible and shows the high esteem with which the Australian Open is held in world tennis. “The women’s field also has every available top player in the world. The players vote with their feet and they are doing it again. I think it is a credit to the Australian public, the staff at the event and the facilities both at Melbourne Park and in the city of Melbourne that the players have such high regard for the Australian Open.

“We are in for some incredible tennis in January.” The men’s field will be completed by 16 qualifiers and eight wildcards, while the women’s field has 12 qualifiers and eight wildcard to be added.

25
Nov
10

As expected Serena withdraws from the 2011 Aussie Open.

Defending champion Serena Williams has pulled out of January’s Australian Open because of a longstanding foot injury. Williams had surgery after cutting her foot on glass in a restaurant while celebrating winning Wimbledon. “As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused further injury,” Williams said in a statement. “It is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals.”

The 29-year-old American, who has not played competitively since winning a fourth Wimbledon crown in July, has also withdrawn from the Hopman Cup, which acts as a warm-up event for the year’s opening Grand Slam event. “The decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one,” added five-time Australian Open champion Williams. “I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: “Serena is a great champion and we will miss her. “We send her our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.”

The 2011 tournament begins on Monday 17 January.

19
Dec
08

Juan Martin del Potro maybe the one to watch in 2009.

del-potro-2

Only a select few tennis teenage phenomenons have achieved a similar result to that of Juan del Potro by winning 4 tournaments in their first full year on the tour. Those four are Rafael Nadal, Leyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Not bad company for this 6’6” Argentinian who climbed from 81 to 8 in the rankings in 2008. After suffering a back injury from playing too many matches on hard courts, his coach Franco Davin, suggested that Juan make a come back on clay where the softer surface might be easier on his back. He won both tournaments that he entered. He switched back to his favourite hard court surface and won his next two tournaments, both against top 10 players including Andy Roddick in the Los Angeles tournament. He entered the 2008 US Open in New York on a 19 match win streak, and was touted as being the hottest player on tour. Hard to argue with that fact. He met Andy Murray in the quarter final in a match that went to 5 sets and could have gone to either player. Murray eventually won and went on to beat Nadal for his first Grand Slam final where he lost to Roger Federer.
Returning home to Argentina for the Davis Cup semi final match with Russia, Juan was facing the difficult task of playing singles against both Davydenko and Andreev. He came through like a champ and became the toast of Argentina. The first match against Davydenko was settled in short order 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, now with the pressure squarely on his shoulders he went on to demolish Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, to put Argentine into the Davis Cup final against Spain. In the final he suffered an injury in his match with Feliciano Lopez, losing in the fourth set and being forced to withdraw from the competition. His team mate Nalbandian, in a fit of frustration over the country’s loss, blamed del Potro for not being ready to play after his loss in the Master’s Cup in Shanghai. His next stop will be the 2009 Australian Open in Melbourne where he must be considered as a legitimate player to reach the final four.
He has already reached star status in his home country where a leading newspaper said this about him, “The name of Juan Martin del Potro is a name of importance on the circuit, a weightier name, infinitely more respected.”
Juan says of his own game, “I have to play well on all surfaces like Nadal and Djokovic if I am to realize my dream of becoming the best player in the world. He credits his coach, Franco Davin, for changing his game, for changing his mind set, and for giving him the confidence to play relaxed. All these young players, del Potro, Murray, Nadal and Djokovic are starting to make Roger Federer feel like a veteran, but do any of them have the endurance to be the next dominant men’s player?

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14
Dec
08

Will the Aussie Open become the Asia/Pacific Open?

aussie-open 

It has been reported that considerable pressure is being exerted on both the ITF and Tennis Australia to move the Australian Open from Melbourne to Beijing China and to rename the event the Asia/Pacific Open. This pressure is coming from corporate H Q’s throughout Asia who consider the Melbourne Park facility to be lacking many of the necessary ingredients required to maintain its status as the home of the only Grand Slam event in the Southern hemisphere. More than just a rumour, it has prompted the Government of the state to commission London based architects HOK Sports to present a master plan for a complete updating of the Melbourne Park site. The plan is expected to be presented to the Government early in 2009 after the completion of the 2009 Australian Open, and will include recommendations for changes in road and rail connections, changes to the entrance location, the building of modern corporate boxes and restaurants, a plan to ease crowd flow. The plan will also include the demolishing and rebuilding of Rod Laver arena. The arena is sadly out of date with a retractable roof that is antiquated and unreliable, and meagre corporate boxes and private court side seating.

The playing surface has also come under some scrutiny by those who want to see the Open played in China. Unlike the other three Grand Slam events, the Australian Open does not have a unique surface. Wimbledon has its grass, Roland Garros its clay, and New York has its hard surface. Maybe the Aussies should consider a surface made from ground coral, Eucalyptus leaves or peanut shells, just to be different. This coming year will see many improvements made by Tennis Australia to make the tournament more fan friendly. More night time matches for both men and women, much better player services, an evening entertainment line up of local and international personalities, and a host of other upgrades, but none of these address the root cause of the problem. If in fact there is a problem.

Tournament director Craig Tiley says, “He wants to make this year’s Grand Slam event the best possible experience for the players and the fans.”

The timing of the Australian Open coincides with the school holidays and the final weekend championship matches are held on the weekend that coincides with the national holiday known as Australia Day. Any discussions about changing the dates for the Open are not being considered.

As a fan of tennis, and a fan of tradition it seems to me that who ever makes the final decision on the future of this almost 100 year old event, should consider factors other than those expressed by corporate executives. It is a shame to witness a final match between two of the best players in the world being played to a partially full stadium because the corporations who own the boxes were not interested enough to show up, when thousands of real fans were unable to purchase a ticket. Just look at what happens in Aurthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Many of the boxes were empty even when their own superstar was winning her 9th. Grand Slam!

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