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Clijsters on second comeback, Australian Open air quality & doing the splits

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

She has been retired for more than seven years, has a hectic life as a mum of three and is not as “fit and fast” as she used to be, but Kim Clijsters believes she will still be competitive on her return to tennis.

The former world number one, 36, is making her comeback in March after a knee injury put the brakes on plans to return at next week’s Australian Open.

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Sport, she explains what motivated her to take to the court once again, which players she is looking forward to facing and what she makes of the air quality issues the players are facing at the Australian Open.

She says a lot has changed while she has been away – but can she still do the splits?

‘I would be vocal’ on air quality issue

The media day at her academy in her hometown of Bree in Belgium was supposed to be all about the four-time Grand Slam champion’s much-anticipated return to tennis, but Clijsters inevitably found herself being asked about the air quality issues in Melbourne, where qualifying has been delayed because of poor air quality due to bushfires and players have had breathing problems.

Clijsters says if she was at the Australian Open she would be “vocal” in getting organisers to explain how they are going to deal with the issue when the main draw starts on Monday.

“If it’s not possible to play in then what’s the point?” she said.

“If you can’t play and bring good tennis and be fit enough to play two hours, or even the guys 4-5 hours in this environment. You can’t avoid or ignore it.

“They have delayed matches but it’s not going to solve the air quality. On the centre and show courts there is not an issue – they can close the roof and they can have the ventilation on but on the outside courts… you can’t play a whole event just on a few show courts that have a roof.

“If I would have been there I think I would have been very vocal and at least talk to the board and the tournament directors to try to think about solutions.”

She said some of the players from her academy are involved in the qualifying event and have been talking about how hard it has been.

They feel the struggles at night, the coughing,” Clijsters said. “It’s a tough situation to be in. It’s something that’s out of anyone’s control. It’s important that players stay healthy.”

She praised player efforts to raise money for the relief fund to help the crisis, in which at least 28 people have died and an estimated 10 million hectares (100,000 sq km) of land has burned since 1 July.

“Tennis is a sport that has always come together very well to try and make money for [disasters],” said Clijsters, speaking hours after tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were among a number of players to feature in a charity match for the bushfire appeal.

“Everybody cares about it, they all love the Australian Open, we just have to make sure that the people stay safe and healthy.”

What made Clijsters come out of retirement (again!)?

Clijsters, who first retired in 2007 at the age of 23 to start a family, hung up her racquet for a second time in 2012 and has since thrown herself into being a busy mum as well as working as a TV pundit and playing at various Legends events.

But while she commentated on players like Serena Williams, who is still winning titles at the age of 38, she had a nagging feeling that she might not quite be done.

“Whenever I went to a couple of tournaments, even if I was doing commentating or if I was playing some legends, at the back of my mind at times I still felt I could still be a player – I’m not saying win Grand Slams, but be a player and not be among the legends or not doing commentary – still being competitive,” she said.

“Then I would come home and be in craziness of the hectic life with kids and be like ‘yeah, it’s not possible’.”

That was until her youngest son started school.

“I thought this will maybe give me some time and maybe I should just see how far my body can go and just go from there,” she said.

“Maybe this can lead to coming back or playing a few tournaments a year, see how I will react. It very easily could have gone the other way.”

The other key element was the rule that as a former world number one, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wildcards at WTA tournaments. And there is no prescribed number of events that she has to play at.

“If they told me I had to play 16 tournaments a year and I have to go here, here and here, I would have said it was impossible to combine it but in this situation I can combine it,” she said.

She is due to make her comeback in March and has wildcards for the events in Monterrey, Indian Wells, and Charleston.

Asked if anyone had tried to talk her out of returning, she laughed: “At least not to my face, behind my back maybe a little bit.”

How will she fare against the new generation?

Clijsters, who won 41 WTA titles and spent 20 weeks as world number one, has not set herself – publicly – any goals for her comeback in terms of rankings or results.

But she is looking forward to mixing with a new generation of players, who she has been observing from afar.

“Simona Halep is not a young player but is someone I’ve never played against – the way she played against Serena [Williams] in that Wimbledon final [last year] was incredible to watch,” she said.

“Bianca Andreescu – what she did at the US Open [when she beat Williams in the 2019 final]. Naomi Osaka is a player I enjoy watching – not just on the court but her press conferences. [American 15-year-old] Coco Gauff is definitely a girl I have my eyes on, especially in the big events. Fun girls, interesting.”

It is not just the players who have changed since she played her last competitive match at the 2012 US Open.

“There is more and more science behind things these days, for my trainer and my osteopath – they also look at treatments differently. There is the cold therapies, so many new approaches to help,” she said.

“I’ve been trying to go more – not fully vegan – but trying to be more healthy. You look at food that triggers inflammation differently. [But] there are things that haven’t changed – I was a big believer in deep tissue massage back in the day – and I still do that.”

Can she still do the splits?

Clijsters was always well known for her agility on court – often doing the splits when trying to get to shots. Unsurprising, perhaps, given that her mother was a gymnast.

And it sounds like we can expect to see some more.

“A few weeks ago when I was on training camp I did [the splits] out of the blue. Everybody on the sideline stopped and was kind of like ‘why did you do that?’, I was like ‘sorry, I don’t know, how it happened’,” she smiled.

“I should be able to, just make sure I’m fit enough to get back up again with no pulled muscles.”

Despite her return already being postponed because of a knee injury, she has not been put off by the physical pressures.

“The knee was an out-of-the-blue bad luck thing. If you put in the time, and you look at everything around you – the diet, the sleep, then you are capable of doing a lot of things,” she said.

“If I do all that – I’m not saying I’m going to be as fit and as fast and do the splits like I used to do – I do think I’m capable of getting to a certain level that I feel happy with. It doesn’t have to be a contender for a Grand Slam but to put myself for a level where I’m happy – that’s the goal.”

But before all that, though, she tells us she needs to take her daughter to basketball practice.

“But I like that, it’s my life.”

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Australian Open Seeds: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer The Top Three For An Eighth Time

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020

Australian Open Seeds: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer The Top Three For An Eighth Time

Draw to be made on Thursday evening in Melbourne

For the eighth time in 13 straight editions, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be the top three seeds at the Australian Open. In each of those years, one of the ‘Big 3’ has gone on to win the title at the season’s first major:

Year  No. 1  No. 2  No. 3  Final 
2008  Federer  Nadal Djokovic Djokovic d. Tsonga
2009 Nadal Federer Djokovic Nadal d. Federer
2010 Federer Nadal Djokovic Federer d. Murray
2011 Nadal Federer Djokovic Djokovic d. Murray
2012 Djokovic Nadal Federer Djokovic d. Nadal
2015 Djokovic Federer Nadal Djokovic d. Murray
2019 Djokovic Nadal Federer Djokovic d. Nadal
2020 Nadal Djokovic Federer ??

Since 2004, when Roger Federer won his first of six Australian Open titles, only two other players have been the last man standing in Melbourne: Marat Safin in 2005 and Stan Wawrinka in 2014.

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The Australian Open draw will be made on Thursday at 6pm AEDT in Melbourne.

The seeds are….

1. Rafael Nadal, Spain
2. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
3. Roger Federer, Switzerland
4. Daniil Medvedev, Russia
5. Dominic Thiem, Austria
6. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greece
7. Alexander Zverev, Germany
8. Matteo Berrettini, Italy
9. Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain
10. Gael Monfils, France
11. David Goffin, Belgium
12. Fabio Fognini, Italy
13. Denis Shapovalov, Canada
14. Diego Schwartzman, Argentina
15. Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland
16. Karen Khachanov, Russia
17. Andrey Rublev, Russia
18. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
19. John Isner, United States
20. Alex de Minaur, Australia
21. Felix Auger-Aliassime, Canada
22. Benoit Paire, France
23. Guido Pella, Argentina
24. Nick Kyrgios, Australia
25. Dusan Lajovic, Serbia
26. Borna Coric, Croatia
27. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Georgia
28. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain
29. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
30. Taylor Fritz, United States
31. Daniel Evans, Great Britain
32. Hubert Hurkacz, Poland

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Berrettini: 'Everybody Would Like To Beat Me'

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020

Berrettini: ‘Everybody Would Like To Beat Me’

Watch Italian’s pre-season training in Monte-Carlo

Matteo Berrettini finished 2019 with a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 8 and made his debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, resulting in him being selected by his peers as the Most Improved Player of the Year in the 2019 ATP Awards. In 2020, he wants even more.

ATP Tour followed the 23-year-old during his pre-season in Monte-Carlo, where he spent hours in the gym and on the court each day. Berrettini knows his Top 10 status means that he can no longer float quietly through draws, so he’s worked on beefing up all areas of his game to shine in the spotlight.

“Last year, they knew me, but not that much. Now they are studying my strokes, my plays, so it’s going to be tougher. Everybody would like to beat me because I’m Top 10,” Berrettini said. “I have to enjoy like I did this year, put in work and still improve… I hope I’m going to enjoy next season.”

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Berrettini was guided through the pre-season by his longtime coach, Vincenzo Santopadre, who was selected by his peers as an ATP Coach of the Year nominee. The former Top 100 player insisted that, “Everybody on our team has to be better than the day before… To me, that’s the most important thing.” But Berrettini also made sure that his team strengthened its relationship for another busy year on Tour.

“I’ve been working with these guys since I was 14. We spend a lot of time together, a lot of months on Tour, practising… So it’s important to get along, to have a chance to have dinners together,” Berrettini said. “It’s not something you build in a few days. It’s something we’ve built during the years. It’s important because they are my team, so it’s a job, but they are also my friends.”

Berrettini will kick off his season next week at the Australian Open.

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ATP Tour & WTA Stars Join Forces For Rally For Relief

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020

ATP Tour & WTA Stars Join Forces For Rally For Relief

Tennis world comes together in support of those affected by bushfires

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios joined forces with WTA stars on Wednesday night to support those impacted by bushfires that have devastated many part of Australia.

The Rally for Relief, held on Rod Laver Arena, the main stadium court at the Australian Open, raised almost AUD $5 million for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Firefighters were courtside relaying their recent experiences.

World No. 1 Nadal and Federer announced that they would donate $250,000 to the bushfire relief efforts. “Hopefully that keeps inspiring the people to support this terrible disaster that we are going through,” said Nadal.

Federer said: “It’s been difficult [to watch]. You wish that this doesn’t happen in your country. In Switzerland we don’t have these kind of extreme situations. I’m always happy to help. I wanted to raise awareness and raise money. And tell the people to still travel to Australia.”

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Team Williams — featuring Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem — played against Team Wozniacki, consisting of Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Tsitsipas and Zverev, in fun, traditional doubles matches on Wednesday. Federer and Kyrgios also completed an exhibition set.

Kyrgios, who was one of the first players to pledge a donation, offering $200 for each ace that he strikes, said: “It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. It’s so hard, I just wanted to send a message. That was an opportunity for me to use my platform. “I woke up the next day and it (had) kind of exploded. It was so emotional.”

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Can Williams win elusive 24th Grand Slam? Australian Open preview

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Serena Williams is the firm favourite to win the Australian Open as she again bids for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

The 38-year-old American is aiming to match the record set in 1973 by Australia’s Margaret Court, who will be recognised at the tournament on the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

Old guard Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still expected to be the men to beat in Melbourne, while Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray is missing because of a pelvic injury.

The first Grand Slam of the 2020 season is set to go ahead as planned, despite the backdrop of raging bushfires that have devastated parts of Australia.

Here is everything you need to know.

  • How to follow the Australian Open on BBC TV, radio & online
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Why isn’t Murray playing?

For the eighth time in the past 10 Grand Slams, three-time major champion Andy Murray is unavailable to lead British hopes.

Murray, 32, was hoping to make a poignant return to Melbourne – where he tearfully admitted last January he thought his career was coming to an end because of chronic hip pain.

Since then, the Scot has had “life-changing” hip surgery, returned to competitive action and won ATP Tour titles in singles and doubles events.

Now he must wait a bit longer to return to Grand Slam singles competition after picking up a pelvic injury while playing for Great Britain at November’s Davis Cup finals.

“Unfortunately I’ve had a setback and as a precaution need to work through that before competing,” said the former world number one, who is planning to be back in action in February.

“I’ve worked so hard to get myself into a situation where I can play at the top level and I’m gutted I’m not going to be able to play.”

Can any of the other Britons mount a challenge?

Britain’s best hope of winning a first Australian Open singles title since Virginia Wade did so in 1972 looks to be Johanna Konta – if she is not hampered by a long-term knee issue.

Konta, ranked 13th in the world, reached at least the quarter-finals in three of the four Grand Slams last year.

Although the Australian Open was the only major where she did not compete in the last eight, the 28-year-old does have previous success in Melbourne, having reached the 2016 semi-finals.

The knee problem has disrupted the British number one’s build-up, however, ruling her out of this week’s Adelaide International and limiting her to only one tournament since September’s US Open.

Joining Konta in the women’s draw will be Katie Boulter, who is using her protected ranking of 85 to play after an injury-hit 2019 meant she dropped to 317th.

British number two Heather Watson is ranked 101 in the world, and was just outside the initial cut for direct entry, but has moved into the main draw automatically following several withdrawals by higher-ranked players.

Harriet Dart and Samantha Murray Sharan are seeking to join them by coming through the qualifying rounds.

In Murray’s absence, British hopes in the men’s singles are in the hands of 30th seed Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie.

Evans, 29, is the nation’s leading male player after a fine 2019 in which he climbed back into the world’s top 50 by getting to his first ATP Tour-level final and playing in the main draws of all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year for the first time.

Now, having reached a career-high ranking of 33 on Monday, he goes into a Grand Slam for the first time as Britain’s leading male player and a seed.

Edmund, 25, is hoping a new coach in Franco Davin, who notably helped his fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro win the 2009 US Open, can help him replicate the form that took him to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2018.

The Yorkshireman slid down the rankings during a 2019 where he suffered for form and fitness before ending the year on a high by being Britain’s standout player in their run to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

In the men’s doubles, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski will be seeking to build on the promise they showed in their new partnership last year, when they reached the US Open semi-finals.

New decade, same ‘Big Three’

It may be a new decade – but just as it was during the 2010s, and the latter part of the 2000s, the same three men are widely considered the main contenders to win the first Grand Slam of 2020.

Defending champion Djokovic, world number one Nadal and 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer remain the players to beat, having won the past 12 major titles between them.

Djokovic is aiming for a record-extending eighth men’s singles title in Melbourne and showed just why he is so difficult to beat on the Australian hard courts, having led Serbia to glory in the inaugural ATP Cup.

The 32-year-old, who is aiming for a 17th Grand Slam title to close on Federer and 19-time major champion Nadal, did not drop a set in his six singles matches, including during another dominant win over the Spaniard in Sunday’s final in Sydney.

Nadal, 33, was outplayed by Djokovic in last year’s Australian Open final and continues to struggle against the Serb, who has won their past nine encounters – and 19 sets – on hard courts.

As the top two seeds, they are projected to meet in the final on 2 February, although players such as Swiss great Federer, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas have the capability to stop them.

It remains to be seen whether Federer, 38, was wise to skip the ATP Cup, a decision intended to preserve his body for Melbourne, but one that leaves him short of court time going into the tournament.

Fourth seed Medvedev, 23, pushed Nadal in September’s US Open final before losing an epic five-set match and, given his strong hard-court record over the past year, it seems a matter of time before he becomes a major winner.

The same can be said for 21-year-old Tsitsipas, who showed he can beat the best by becoming the ATP Finals champion in November and is looking to at least match his run to last year’s semi-finals in a city where there is a large Greek community spurring him on.

Can ‘relieved’ Serena finally match Court’s record?

Williams has not won a Grand Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open, when she was eight weeks pregnant.

Since returning from maternity leave in March 2018, she has reached four Grand Slam finals – two at Wimbledon and two at the US Open – losing them all.

But she goes into this tournament as the clear favourite, having rediscovered how to win a final.

Williams claimed the Auckland International on Sunday, beating fellow American Jessica Pegula in the final, to lift her first trophy in almost three years.

“It’s been a long time; I think you could see the relief on my face,” she said.

Williams’ drought has helped open up the women’s game; the past 11 Grand Slams have produced nine different winners, over a period that has seen seven players hold the world number one ranking.

Younger players have grasped their chance over the past three years, with 22-year-old Japanese Naomi Osaka and 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu both landing their first majors by beating Williams in New York, while the more experienced Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, and Simona Halep, of Romania, finally landed elusive Grand Slam titles.

Osaka, the defending champion in Melbourne, is expected to mount another title tilt on a surface that yielded a 14-match winning streak before she lost to Czech Karolina Pliskova in the Brisbane International semi-finals on Saturday.

Andreescu will not be playing in Melbourne, having pulled out with a knee injury sustained at the season-ending WTA Finals in October.

World number one Ashleigh Barty is aiming to become the first Australian woman to win at Melbourne Park in 42 years, while second seed Pliskova, having won the Brisbane title for the third successive year, is aiming prove wrong those who doubt she has the mindset to deliver a Grand Slam title.

Meanwhile, there will be an emotional farewell for 2018 champion Wozniacki, 29, who will retire after the tournament.

Has the tournament been affected by the bushfires?

Bushfires across Australia have killed at least 28 people and an estimated half a billion animals since September, with more than 10.3m hectares of land destroyed and air quality in some areas reaching dangerous levels at various points.

Australian Open qualifying was delayed by an hour on Tuesday and practice was temporarily suspended because of the air quality, while Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic retired from her qualifier, saying she was “really scared” she was going to collapse because of the “unhealthy” air.

Play was then delayed by three hours on Wednesday because of the air quality before being cancelled for the day because of rain.

Tournament organisers said last week that matches could be suspended after Melbourne’s air quality reached “very unhealthy” levels.

However, they were also confident the tournament would not be disrupted by the crisis.

“We don’t expect any delays and we’ve implemented additional measures to ensure the Australian Open will be able to run as scheduled,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.

“As always, the health and safety of our players, along with our staff and our fans, is a priority, and we’ve committed substantial extra resources to analysis, monitoring and logistics to ensure this throughout the tournament.”

Court’s milestone being ‘recognised’ rather than ‘celebrated’

While Williams seeks to match Court’s Grand Slam singles record, the 77-year-old Australian will be marking one of her other milestones – the 50th anniversary of her 1970 sweep of all four of the majors.

Court’s opposition to same-sex marriage and her view that transgender children are the work of “the devil” have made her a controversial figure and Tennis Australia has said it plans to “recognise” her as a champion rather than “celebrate” her as a hero.

The governing body has so far been vague on the details of what it is planning for Court, who is now a Christian pastor.

Grand Slam winners Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King are among those who have called for the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park to be re-named because of her views and the issue could come up again with the Australian invited to participate in a “significant programme of events”.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Ready To Build On Breakout Year

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime Ready To Build On Breakout Year

#NextGenATP Canadian off to a good start in Adelaide

To Felix Auger-Aliassime, his debut season on the ATP Tour was more like two seasons.

There was before the US Open, the eight months that saw the teenager reach three ATP Tour finals, crack the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and go 31-18.

And there was after the US Open, the final 10 weeks of the season in which Auger-Aliassime suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss three tournaments, including the Next Gen ATP Finals, and ended the year on a 2-5 stretch.

“I would say three-quarters of the year was unbelievable, really good. I hit a tougher period after US Open. I feel like I just had a chance to experience a lot of things in that year. Unbelievable performances, new milestones, a lot of great things. Also tougher times where I had to recenter myself, see how I want to play, how I want to compete,” Auger-Aliassime said in Adelaide.

“But overall it was a really good learning experience, really good learning year, with also a lot of positives with the match wins and the improvements in my ranking. I’m obviously happy where I’m at, but I also feel inside of me where, even I could be 100 or 200 or 20, 10. I still feel the same. I still feel like I want to improve. I’m not satisfied of where I’m at.”

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Last season, Auger-Aliassime became the youngest player ranked inside the Top 25 since former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt (18). The Canadian, who turned 19 on 8 August, also became the youngest three-time finalist since Rafael Nadal, ages 17-18 (2004 Auckland, 2004 Sopot, 2005 Costa do Sauipe).

But Auger-Aliassime is ready for more in 2020. He brings the lessons he learned during his debut season and a new mindset for his second year on Tour. Now, Auger-Aliassime said, he’s ready to not only be among the best in the sport; he’s ready to beat the best in the game.

When you start playing you want to improve this, improve that. You want to get experience,” Auger-Aliassime told “But I think now I’m at a point where I was Top 20 in the world. I reached three finals. Now every tournament I play, I play to win. I come, I want to reach the final. I want to give myself a chance to win titles.”

The 6’4” right-hander fell short in all three finals he played last season, in Rio (l. to Djere), Lyon (l. to Paire) and Stuttgart (l. to Berrettini). But he’s off to promising start early in 2020.

On Wednesday night, Auger-Aliassime reached the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International with a 6-3, 7-6(0) win against Aussie wild card James Duckworth.

The Canadian faced a set point at 30/40, 5-6 in the second set. Auger-Aliassime hit a second serve but Duckworth shanked the forehand, and the teenager ran away with the tie-break, thanks in large part to his big serving.

Auger-Aliassime hit 10 aces and won 86 per cent (32/37) of his first-serve points. He didn’t break Duckworth in the second set but still found a way to move on in two sets.

“I stayed calm,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I’m happy with the way I handled things in the second because it could have went another way.

“In the tie-break, I felt confident just because I felt like the percentage of the set was going my way, and I was, like, ‘OK, now it’s the time to show it’.”

Staying calm, even if you lose a second set or a let a match slip, is one of the lessons Auger-Aliassime learned in 2019. No matter how this week goes, he likely will endure a bad stretch during the season, and he’ll have weeks where nothing will go his way. That’s part of a tennis season for every player.

Take, for instance, last season for his 20-year-old countryman and friend Denis Shapovalov. From Roland Garros to the Winston-Salem Open, Shapovalov was 2-6. But by the end of the season, Shapovalov had won his first ATP Tour title and reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Paris (l. to Djokovic).

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“Enjoy the wins, learn from the losses. Don’t panic because there are a lot of matches,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Obviously you want to win, you want to react. When bad things are happening, you want to go out there and play good. At the end of the day, stay calm, composed because there are so many matches to play.”

He also discovered how vital scheduling can be for a pro player and especially for a younger player. He saw how the world’s best – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – look fresh and ready to play whenever they’re at a tournament.

“To reach the top level, you need consistency. You need to take care of your body. You need to be fresh mentally, so you need periods of rest. I think that’s what I’ve learned,” Auger-Aliassime said. “The best players, to see them every tournament they play, you feel like it’s really, really important for them. It’s do or die.”

But the Canadian also has learned to not push himself too hard. As much as he would love to win his first title this week at the Adelaide International, it’s not a must-do for the 19-year-old.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself with results now. It’s not the time. I just want to feel like I’m playing good tennis,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I feel better and better every day. Obviously you’re never sure when the results are going to come. You can win or lose, like the match today. But at the back of my mind, now I know that good things could be coming eventually, so I feel like I’m in a good place in my mind and in my game.”

Besides, it was only 12 months ago that Auger-Aliassime was losing in the second round of quallies at the Australian Open. Next week, he will be seeded in Melbourne for the third consecutive Grand Slam.

“It’s important just to stay humble and just to remember that there are tough moments. But it’s pretty funny to look back at a year ago, a lot of things were different,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But to be honest, in general, how I live my life, I don’t like to look behind because there’s nothing I can do about it anymore, so I look forward.”

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Auckland Classic: Kyle Edmund beats Andreas Seppi to reach quarter-finals

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2020

British number three Kyle Edmund beat Andreas Seppi to reach the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic.

The 25-year-old recovered from a break down in the second set to beat the experienced Italian 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

He will play American world number 20 John Isner in the last eight.

Edmund reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open two years ago but has since fallen to 69 in the rankings going into this year’s event, which starts in Melbourne on Monday.

British number one Dan Evans will play his Adelaide Open quarter-final against Russia’s Andrey Rublev on Thursday.

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