Category: Tennis

Flawless Federer Races Through First Test In Melbourne

After 21 consecutive appearances at the Australian Open, Roger Federer is familiar with every inch of Rod Laver Arena. The third-seeded Swiss brought the level of comfort that dozens of matches on a court can provide to his opening-round clash with Steve Johnson, sweeping aside the American 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in a breathtaking display. Federer said in his pre-tournament press conference that his expectations for this fortnight were low, but the six-time champion may want to raise them after his latest performance. He broke the American five times and remains unbeaten in opening-round matches in Melbourne (21-0). Federer has never lost before the third round at this event. “I remember coming here for juniors in 1998 and then played qualies in the following year. I remember beating Michael Chang in my first main draw here [in 2000],” Federer said. “That was fun. Now he’s coaching against me [with Kei Nishkori], but we’re good friends because our kids are friends with his kids.” Johnson arrived with confidence after winning an ATP Challenger Tour event last week in Bendigo. But his off-pace slice backhands and chip forehand returns played into Federer’s strengths, allowing the Swiss to attack with his forehand and move forward. A forehand volley winner gave Federer an immediate break in Johnson’s opening service game and he led 4-1 after 18 minutes. Rain briefly brought both players off the court so the roof could be closed, but it did little to disrupt Federer’s momentum. He continued to coast in his service games and grabbed the early advantage. You May Also Like: Federer Prepared For ‘Tricky Situation’ To Start Australian Open The second set was one-way traffic for Federer, who won 16 of the first 18 points and sprinted to a 4-0 lead. Even when Johnson made the correct play, he was often reduced to a spectator as he watched Federer whip winners past him. Federer landed 80...

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Sinner Shining, Shapovalov Stunned At Australian Open

One year ago this week, Jannik Sinner lost in the first round of a Futures event in Monastir, Tunisia. At the time, the Italian was No. 549 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. What a difference a year makes. The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion leads Australian qualifier Max Purcell 7-6(2), 6-2, 4-4 on Monday, with play suspended due to rain. Sinner is trying to win his Australian Open debut and earn his first Grand Slam victory. The teen lost to three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets at last year’s US Open. Sinner has quickly emerged as a talent to watch, defeating Gael Monfils in Antwerp last year before completing a stunning run in Milan, where he beat Alex de Minaur in straight sets to clinch the championship. You May Also Like: Sinner Eyes First Slam Win, Maybe More, In Melbourne The 18-year-old has not let slip that momentum, winning the first two sets against a home favourite in Melbourne. Sinner, who holds a 15/30 advantage on Purcell’s serve at 4-4 in the third set, has converted four of his eight break points and won 79 per cent of his first-serve points. If Sinner does get through, he won’t get to play in a #NextGenATP blockbuster that was possible when the draw came out. Denis Shapovalov arrived in Melbourne Park with plenty of expectations at the Australian Open. But Hungarian Marton Fucsovics dashed the #NextGenATP Canadian’s hopes in the opening round. Fucsovics played the more consistent tennis of the pair, defeating the 20-year-old 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-1, 7-6(3) after three hours and 13 minutes. “It was a really good moment, one of the biggest wins in my career,” Fucsovics said. “I really wanted to win this match.” Shapovalov saved a set point in the second-set tie-break to even the match at one set apiece, seemingly turning the tide in favour of the No. 13 seed. But World No. 67 Fucsovics maintained a steady level throughout each of the four sets, allowing...

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Doubles Preview: Herbert/Mahut Ready For Australian Open Title Defence

The world’s best doubles teams seek an emphatic start to their season at the Australian Open, but will need to navigate a treacherous draw to finish as the last pair standing. Defending champions and top seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut return to the site of their most recent Grand Slam title, which made them the eighth men’s doubles team in history to complete the Career Grand Slam. The French pair start against Simone Bolelli/Benoit Paire. Bolelli won the title here in 2015 (w/Fognini). Herbert/Mahut could face Adelaide champions and No. 15 seeds Maximo Gonzalez/Fabrice Martin or Henri Kontinen/Jan-Lennard Struff in the third round. Kontinen lifted the trophy three years ago in Melbourne (w/Peers). Sixth seeds Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos are also in their quarter. Second seeds Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo open against Guillermo Duran/Diego Schwartzman. Kubot seeks his second crown in Melbourne after prevailing in 2014 (w/Lindstedt). Kubot/Melo are in the same quarter as eighth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau. You May Also Like: The New Doubles Teams Ready To Make Their Mark At The Australian Open Third seeds and reigning Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies kick off their campaign against Alexander Bublik/Mikhail Kukushkin. The German pair share the same quarter as fifth seeds Wesley Koolhof/Nikola Mektic and No. 10 seeds Mate Pavic/Bruno Soares. Pavic’s maiden Grand Slam title came here in 2018 (w/Marach). Soares took the title in 2016 (w/J. Murray). Fourth seeds Ivan Dodig/Filip Polasek begin against wild cards Blake Ellis/Alexei Popyrin. They could have a blockbuster third-round clash against No. 11 seeds and six-time champions Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan. The Bryans are playing in Melbourne for the last time as they kick off their final season on tour. Seventh seeds John Peers/Michael Venus loom as potential quarter-final opponents. View the full...

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Bryans Taking Different Approach At Final Australian Open

This Grand Slam, their 85th together, will be different for Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan. The American twins have announced that 2020 will be their final season on the ATP Tour. After 22 years, the Bryans plan to retire after the 2020 US Open. “This is our last time here. We’re going to miss this place,” Mike Bryan said in Melbourne. “This has been our most successful Slam. So we’re going to try to soak it in, no expectations.” The Bryans have won the Australian Open six times, compared to two Roland Garros titles, three at Wimbledon and five at their home Slam. The twins first played at the Australian Open as a team in 2000. “We’re all honoured to be at this tournament,” Bob Bryan said. “We’re just going to give it one last run.” You May Also Like: Bryan Brothers To Retire After 2020 Season Unlike past years, though, when the Bryans have been so insularly focused on their practices, what they’re eating and their results, they’re taking a slightly different approach this fortnight. The twins are lingering on site a little bit longer. They’re gazing around the grounds more than once, attempting to absorb everything they’ll miss about the tournament where they first became Grand Slam champions. “This is a really special place for us. Really successful for us. I think we made nine out of 10 finals consecutively (2004-’13). We’re stoked to be back here. We’re going to obviously just try to soak it all in,” Mike Bryan said. But of course, they’d prefer to play good tennis. The Bryans last played a match at the US Open, a third-round loss to compatriots Jack Sock/Jackson Withrow. They arrived in Melbourne a week and a half ago. “We have a lot of days of practice, eight days so far… Trying to shake off the rust and put in a good performance. We’re just hoping to thank a lot of people, walk around,...

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Berrettini Sprints Into Second Round At Australian Open

Matteo Berrettini wasted no time getting down to business on Monday at the Australian Open. The eighth-seeded Italian eased past Aussie wild card Andrew Harris 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in their opening-round clash. It’s always tough because my last official match was in November. I figured out how to play my best tennis, so I’m really happy with my performance,” Berrettini said. “Like always, I’m going round by round… I’m happy that I’m healthy and playing well.” Harris received the opportunity to play his debut Grand Slam main draw after climbing nearly 200 spots last year in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But the World No. 162 had never played a tour-level main draw or a Top 10 player, and the jump proved too much for the understandably nervous 25-year-old. Berrettini dominated their baseline exchanges in Melbourne Arena, converting five of nine break points and hammering 38 winners. A big forehand on match point wrapped up the victory after one hour and 55 minutes. You May Also Like: Berrettini Receives Most Improved Player Honour The quick win gave Berrettini his first win of the season and first career victory in Melbourne. The man voted as Most Improved Player of the Year in the 2019 ATP Awards will next face American Tennys Sandgren or Argentine qualifier Marco Trungelliti. Argentine Guido Pella, the No. 22 seed, won 75 per cent of his service points (63/84) to secure a comfortable 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Aussie wild card John-Patrick Smith. The 29-year-old is match tough after helping guide Argentina to a quarter-final finish two weeks ago at the ATP Cup. Pella will look forward to a second-round clash with Frenchman Gregoire Barrere, who outlasted Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Safwat 6-7(8), 7-6(1), 6-4, 7-6(5). American Sam Querrey scored the first upset of the tournament with a convincing 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win against No. 25 seed Borna Coric of Croatia. Querrey played a near-flawless match...

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