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Murray & Mattek-Sands through in mixed doubles

  • Posted: Jan 20, 2019
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne ParkDates:14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Jamie Murray and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu and Austrian Oliver Marach in the Australian Open mixed doubles.

The US Open champions will face France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Swede Robert Lindstedt in the second round after the fourth seeds retired at 4-1.

Mladenovic and Lindstedt beat Briton Dominic Inglot and Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 6-2 6-2 in the first round.

Briton Neal Skupski and Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez also progressed.

The pair beat Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik and Croatian Franko Skugor 6-3 6-3.

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Federer Intends To Compete On Clay In 2019

  • Posted: Jan 20, 2019

Federer Intends To Compete On Clay In 2019

The 99-time tour-level titlist’s last clay-court match came in 2016

Roger Federer announced that he will play on clay in 2019 after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday evening.

The Swiss’ last match on the surface came at the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Federer did not compete on clay in 2017-18 to give his body a break ahead of the grass season. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, the 37-year-old ranks third among active players (behind Nadal and Djokovic) in winning percentage on clay at 75.9 per cent.

“I’m at a moment where I think it would be nice to do it,” said Federer, in French. “I can say I have missed it, I did the right thing skipping it last year, the year before as well, and the year before that I was injured. So I felt I wanted to do it again.”

The 2009 Roland Garros champion and four-time finalist may have surprised some with his decision. But for the Swiss, his rationale is simple, and it has to do with his love for the sport.

“I’m in a phase where I want to have fun,” he said.

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From studying Federer on YouTube to beating him in Melbourne – who is Stefanos Tsitsipas?

  • Posted: Jan 20, 2019

A version of this article was initially published on 19 January

In pursuit of his dream to become Greece’s first Grand Slam singles champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas was glued to his computer screen.

Watching YouTube footage of his idol Roger Federer was one method he chose as he sought to become one of the world’s best players.

His favoured match? The then-teenager Federer’s victory over the great Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.

So it is quite apt that Tsitsipas’ fourth-round triumph at the Australian Open is – like Federer’s landmark win – being hailed as a ‘changing of the guard’ moment.

A similar age, a similar ranking and, as Federer mentioned afterwards, similar hair.

From studying him on YouTube to beating him at a Grand Slam, here’s how Stefanos Tsitsipas has become one of the most talked about talents in tennis…

‘You can see the impact of Federer’

No Greek man had ever reached the world’s top 100 until the then teenager cracked it in October 2017, never mind anywhere near his current ranking of 15.

Tsitsipas’s rise up the rankings transferred into trophies when he won his first ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open last October, bettering that – and garnering more attention across the world – with victory in the NextGen Finals in December.

His 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-5) victory over Federer is the biggest sign of what he is capable of, and he could climb into the world’s top 10 if he makes it past Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in his quarter-final.

Greek journalist Vicky Georgatou, who first met him as a teenager, said he was always destined for the top.

“When I first saw him play, I knew he would do something big,” Georgatou told BBC Sport.

“Most of the kids play with two-handed backhands. When I saw him playing with the one-hand backhand I loved it.

“He plays old-school tennis, he has a very good forehand, that is his strength, but he also serves well and has that beautiful backhand which is powerful too.

“He has variety in his game, he goes to the net, he volleys a lot, he can be unpredictable.

“Sometimes his style reminds me of Federer. He was his idol and he watched him a lot. You can see the impact of Federer.”

How Tsitsipas overcame Federer – the stats
R Federer (Swi) S Tsitsipas (Gre)
Aces 12 20
Winners 61 62
Unforced errors 55 36
Break points won 0 (12) 1 (3)
Total points won 166 178

‘I’d love to have more friends on tour’

A playing style described as “old-school”, his own travel vlog, a love of photography, a flowing mane of hair… Tsitsipas has been one of the most talked about young talents on the ATP Tour – even before Sunday’s victory over Federer.

After his third-round win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, Tsitsipas admitted he did not have many friends in the locker room.

“I think I’m comfortable meeting new people and having a discussion with someone,” he said when asked about his perceived shyness.

“Not many of the players want to be friends on the tour. That’s a problem.

“That’s an issue unless you speak the same language. That makes sense.

“But I would love to have more friends on tour.”

Georgatou, who works for Greek sports website SDNA, says that being what some might term a “loner” is nothing new for Tsitsipas.

“His father told me when Stefanos was a little boy he didn’t have many friends,” she told BBC Sport.

“But he liked it that way. It wasn’t a problem.

“He’s not like the other guys on their phones, playing games, he likes to take pictures, he likes to read, he’s very different.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tsitsipas recently said he used filming and photography as a way to explore the various countries tournaments are held in

Carrying the hopes of a nation – and inspiring it

Greece had never made a major dent on the men’s tennis circuit until Tsitsipas announced his arrival last year.

But it seemed clear that he would end up becoming a beacon for tennis in his nation from a young age.

Born into a tennis family, his mother Julia Salnikova was a Fed Cup player for Russia, his father Apostolos was – and still is – his coach, Tsitsipas first picked up a racquet aged three.

Georgatou, who works for Greek sports website SDNA, says even when she first met him as a teenager he had plans to inspire a tennis revolution back home.

“When he was young said he wanted to become a top-10 player and make kids play tennis in Greece,” she said.

“Greece is a country where people are crazy about football and basketball – that will never change.

“I believe that now Stefanos is doing well – and Maria Sakkari too [the Greek women’s number one] – it will become the number three sport in Greece and people will start watching it.

“Hopefully that will lead to more kids picking up a racquet and playing.”

  • Tsitsipas stuns Federer – report & analysis
  • Djokovic’s dark mood over light overshadows win
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‘Raucous support can distract him’

Winning trophies and being ranked among the world’s best players has already seen Tsitsipas attract fervent support here in Melbourne – a city known for its large Greek community.

During his opening three matches he was backed by an enthusiastic crowd regularly chanting football terrace-style and unfurling several blue-and-white Greek flags when they got the chance.

Against Federer, fans were largely congregated outside Rod Laver Arena, watching and cheering the action on the big screen.

“He always tells me that he is playing for the flag – he is a very proud Greek boy,” she said.

“I think he’s not crazy about all this attention, I’m not sure he felt pressure but he’s not used to it.

“He likes feeling loved by people but I think sometimes he gets distracted.

“He told me the first match was difficult and then I think he got used to it.

“He’s a quiet boy, he prefers the tennis the way it is.”

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Federer suffers shock last-16 loss to Tsitsipas

  • Posted: Jan 20, 2019
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Defending champion Roger Federer is out of the Australian Open after Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earned the biggest win of his career to reach the quarter-finals.

The Swiss lost 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-5) on a dramatic night.

Federer, a six-time champion, failed to reach the last eight in Melbourne for only the second time in 16 years.

Tsitsipas, 20, saved all 12 of 37-year-old Federer’s break points on his way to a famous win.

“I’m the happiest man on earth right now, I can’t describe it,” he said.

Federer lumped a forehand long to leave Tsitsipas serving for the match in the fourth-set tie-break, and the youngster forced him into a backhand error to win in three hours and 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas dropped his racquet in celebration and seemed to mouth “me?” at the crowd, expressing his shock further by covering his hand with mouth, before starting to cry as he walked over to celebrate with his team.

He will play Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic in five sets, in the last eight.

  • Federer v Tsitsipas as it happened
  • Profile: Who is Stefanos Tsitsipas?

Federer rues missed opportunities

Federer was aiming to win a record seventh men’s singles title at Melbourne Park, moving him clear of world number one Novak Djokovic and Australian legend Roy Emerson.

But the 20-time Grand Slam champion was undone by a player considered to be one of the best hopes to take over the mantle when Federer – along with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – retires.

The pair were contesting their first ATP-level match, although did meet last month in a Hopman Cup tie which Federer edged in two tie-breaks, indicating their contest in Melbourne could be equally tight.

Tsitsipas’ fearless and energetic approach unsettled Federer, seemingly putting doubt in the former world number one’s mind on the key points.

Federer failed to convert any of 12 break points, with some errant forehands particularly letting him down.

“There are always multiple factors in match like this, but it didn’t go well on the set points,” he said.

“I didn’t break him at the Hopman Cup either, so something is going wrong. It is very frustrating.”

  • Nadal beats Berdych in straight sets
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The most significant were the eight which he could not take in a six-game spell in the second set – specifically the four which were set points in a nerve-wracking 10th game.

For three consecutive service games, Tsitsipas was put under severe examination in lengthy battles which the Greek eventually came through unscathed.

That enabled him to go on and level in the tie-break – a pivotal moment which turned the match in his favour.

Federer had lost his past two Grand Slam matches after dropping sets for the first time in the tournament – against Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon and John Millman at the US Open – and he suffered the same fate again.

“I lost to a better player who played very well. He stayed calm and hung in there, which is not easy for younger guys so credit to him,” Federer added.

Breakthrough victory for rising star

Tsitsipas has enjoyed a rapid rise over the past 18 months, becoming the first Greek man to reach the world’s top 100 in October 2017 and then climbing to his current ranking of 15th.

That transferred into trophies when he won his first ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open last October, going on to win the NextGen Finals – the end-of-season finals for the best players aged under 21 – in December.

Yet this is the landmark win at a Grand Slam which will now announce his arrival to a wider audience.

It was not all about digging in on the break points, however.

Tsitsipas matched Federer in a high-quality encounter, producing 61 winners – bettering the Swiss’ tally by one – and succeeding in 71% of his 68 forays forward to the net.

He limited his unforced errors to 38, compared to 55 from Federer which included 40 from his forehand alone.

Although most fans inside Rod Laver Arena were pro-Federer, everybody watching cannot have failed to have been impressed by Tsitsipas’ all-action style.

“I believe in coming into the net and being aggressive and taking the ball early, we have to keep it going,” he said.

“Most players in this era are baseliners. I like this aggressive game, coming into the net, and serve and volleying now and again.

“It keeps the game alive and makes it much more interesting.”

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Marathon Man: Bautista Agut Upsets Cilic To Reach Maiden Slam Quarter-final

  • Posted: Jan 20, 2019

Marathon Man: Bautista Agut Upsets Cilic To Reach Maiden Slam Quarter-final

Spaniard moves to 9-0 in 2019

In his 10th Grand Slam fourth-round appearance, Roberto Bautista Agut finally reached his first major quarter-final on Sunday at the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old Spaniard defeated last year’s runner-up Marin Cilic 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, after three hours and 58 minutes, to record his second victory in six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against the Croatian. Unbeaten in 2019, Bautista Agut joins Alex de Minaur at the top of the list for most tour-level match wins this year (9). In the opening week of the 2019 season, Bautista Agut claimed his ninth ATP Tour title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, beating Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych in consecutive matches to lift the trophy.

Bautista Agut also needed five sets to beat Andy Murray and John Millman in the opening two rounds in Melbourne, before defeating 10th seed Karen Khachanov in straight sets. The 22nd seed will meet two-time defending champion Roger Federer or #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-finals. Bautista Agut is yet to beat Federer in eight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings and has never faced Tsitsipas at tour-level.

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After dropping his serve at 4-4 in the opening set, Cilic increased his aggression to charge back. The Croatian hit with greater power and moved up the court to reach 5-5, before taking control of the tie-break. After failing to convert four set points from 6/2, Cilic trusted his forehand on back-to-back points to take the first set.

But Bautista Agut responded in the second set, proving the more consistent player in baseline rallies to earn the only break, at 4-3, and level the match. The Spaniard carried the momentum into the third set, varying the pace on his groundstrokes to extract baseline errors from his opponent. Bautista Agut won eight of nine second-serve return points to gain two service breaks and move one set from the quarter-finals.

Cilic responded well in the fourth set, dropping just seven points behind his serve to reach 5-4. The 2014 US Open champion then capitalised on a series of unforced errors before hitting his 14th winner of the set, on his forehand, to level the match.

But it was to be Bautista Agut’s day, as the Spaniard benefitted from two double faults in the ninth game of the decider before breaking serve with a forehand winner. The Doha champion then served out the match to 15 after rushing Cilic into a backhand error.

Cilic was aiming to equal Goran Ivanisevic’s records for most Australian Open (3) and Grand Slam (14) quarter-final appearances by a Croatian man.

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