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Kyrgios: ‘I'm Playing For A Lot More Than Myself’

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2020

Kyrgios: ‘I’m Playing For A Lot More Than Myself’

Aussie reflects on bushfires, ATP Cup ahead of Australian Open

It has been an emotional build-up to the Australian Open for Nick Kyrgios this year, with the Canberra native lending his support to bushfire relief off the court and helping his nation to reach the semi-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup in front of home fans.

But while those efforts have left the 24-year-old searching for a balance in recent weeks, Kyrgios believes that playing for a greater purpose has elevated his game.

“It is not easy to just completely switch your concentration [to] the Australian Open… When you put it in perspective of what is actually going on… I have to find the balance. I have to go out there and try to get the best out of my game,” said Kyrgios.

“But I think when I’m playing, at the moment, I’m playing for a lot more than myself. I feel like I’m getting the best out of myself with that.”

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The World No. 26 will continue to donate AUD $200 to aid bushfire relief for every ace he serves during this year’s opening major championship and his charitable efforts have also inspired a number of fellow players to make similar donations.

Kyrgios was also present at Rally For Relief on Wednesday, a fundraising event at Rod Laver Arena which helped raise almost AUD $5 million for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The six-time ATP Tour titlist’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by fans at Melbourne Park, with Kyrgios feeling he has received ‘maybe a little’ more support than usual as he makes his final preparations for the tournament.

“Every time I play here, I’m well-supported,” said Kyrgios. “All my practices are pretty full. I think people are excited to see me.

“I guess with everything going on, the other stuff outside tennis, maybe that’s more what they support rather than my tennis itself. Everything I’m doing is just because I care.”

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The ATP Cup provided Australian players with the unique experience of playing for their country on home soil ahead of the Australian Open. Kyrgios won three of his four matches at the innovative team event, his only tournament appearance ahead of the Australian Open.

“I really enjoyed [the ATP Cup]. I think a lot of players did. For the first time they’ve had it, I think it was a success,” said Kyrgios. “I really thought it was awesome. I think a lot of my teammates loved it, as well.

“Just any time you get the chance to play in front of your home crowd, feel the energy like that, it’s pretty special.”

After the intensity of the ATP Cup, Kyrgios has enjoyed spending time on the practice court with fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson. The 2015 quarter-finalist will be aiming to improve his 11-6 record at Melbourne Park this year.

“[I have been] feeling good [in the] past couple days. I’ve hit with my good friend, Thompson. Having a good time,” said Kyrgios.

Kyrgios will open his campaign against Lorenzo Sonego of Italy. The top-ranked Australian in this year’s draw beat Sonego in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting at last year’s Western & Southern Open in straight sets.

“Sonego is a tough competitor,” said Kyrgios. “I played him in Cincinnati last year. It was a tough match. Very capable player. Big serve. Loves to hit his forehand.”

With the feeling of playing for a bigger cause and the support of a nation as the top-ranked Australian in the draw, could Kyrgios be ready for another deep run at this year’s event?

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'I'm pretty fit' – Evans responds to Henman's 'miss a few meals' quip

  • Posted: Jan 18, 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.

British number one Dan Evans says he is happy with his physical condition after Tim Henman suggested he should “miss a few meals” if he wants to break into the world’s top 20 players.

Evans, 29, has leapt up the rankings to be seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam in next week’s Australian Open.

Henman made the comment after captaining Britain at the ATP Cup, where Evans was the team’s best player.

“I’m pretty fit, it’s just how I look I guess,” said Evans, seeded 30th.

Former world number four Henman, who made a return to top-level tennis after being chosen by Andy Murray to lead Britain, bonded well with Evans during the inaugural tournament held in Australia, where they were beaten by the hosts in the quarter-finals.

Evans won three of his four matches, including impressive victories over Belgium world number 11 David Goffin and Australia’s world number 18 Alex de Minaur.

That prompted Henman to say the world number 33 had the ability to break into the top 20 if he looks after himself better off the court.

“Just because you were a good tennis player doesn’t mean you’re an expert in all fields,” Evans told BBC Sport.

“Tim has plenty of opinions, that was his opinion on this subject and I’ll leave him to it.”

Nevertheless, Evans said he still wants to lean on Henman, who had a similar playing style, in the future after their success together at the ATP Cup.

“If I see him I’ll ask him stuff, he was really good and a big help,” Evans added.

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Australian Open 2020: What happens when tennis greats call it a day?

  • Posted: Jan 18, 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.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki will retire after the Australian Open, calling time on her playing career before she turns 30.

The 2018 Australian Open champion, who won 30 WTA singles titles, plans to focus on her life away from tennis and hopes to start a family.

At 29, it is an early departure for the Dane, who is ranked inside the world’s top 40.

But how much do you remember about other tennis stars who decided to hang up their racquet at an early age?

Take our quiz below to find out…

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Dominant Rublev Doubles Up With Adelaide Crown

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2020

Dominant Rublev Doubles Up With Adelaide Crown

Russian clinches fourth ATP Tour title

Andrey Rublev became the first man in 16 years to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season on Saturday, beating Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-0 to capture the inaugural Adelaide International title.

The World No. 18 saved all four break points he faced to clinch the trophy in 56 minutes. Rublev is now unbeaten in 12 matches, which includes an 8-0 start to the 2020 ATP Tour season. Last week, the Russian won the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha without dropping a set.

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The last man to capture two trophies in as many weeks to open the season was Dominik Hrbaty in 2004. The Slovakian lifted titles in Adelaide and Auckland ahead of the Australian Open.

“I was not thinking about [this statistic], but it’s an amazing feeling… I’m really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen,” said Rublev.

Rublev claimed the first break of the match in the sixth game, focusing his attack on Harris’ forehand to extract multiple errors. From 0/40 down in the following game, Rublev once again targeted his opponent’s forehand to hold serve for 5-2 and served out the set two games later.

Consistency proved crucial in the opening game of the second set, as Rublev took advantage of Harris’ errors to break serve for a second time. The 22-year-old rode the momentum, earning two further service breaks before closing out the match with attacking play.

“The first set was really tough because he had a couple of break points. [It] was a really nervous and tough first set. And then, I don’t know, I started to play even better,” said Rublev. “I think he got maybe a little bit disappointed because he had chances in the first set and he didn’t make it. He was, I think, a little bit down and I started to play even better.”

On his first match point, Rublev moved to the net behind a powerful forehand and forced his opponent into a backhand error with a short volley. The Russian turned to his team in celebration and smiled, having doubled his ATP Tour trophy collection since the start of the year.

“This is what we are working for, to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong,” said Rublev. “This is what we’re working for. And I’m happy that these two weeks went this way… I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before.”

Harris was aiming to capture his first ATP Tour trophy in his maiden tour-level championship match. The South African, who represented his country at the inaugural ATP Cup, defeated sixth seed Cristian Garin and fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta en route to the championship match.

Rublev receives 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and collects $91,625 in prize money. Harris earns 150 points and receives $50,710.

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Novak Powers Into Australian Open Main Draw

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2020

Novak Powers Into Australian Open Main Draw

Safwat makes history for Egypt on Saturday

Ten remaining qualifying spots were up for grabs on Saturday at the Australian Open and Dennis Novak wasted no time securing his place in the main draw. The top-seeded Austrian battled past Japanese Hiroki Moriya 7-6(5), 6-2 for his second main draw appearance in Melbourne.

Mohamed Safwat became the first Egyptian player in 24 years to qualify for a Grand Slam by defeating sixth-seeded Russian Evgeny Donskoy 7-5, 6-4. Four players also enjoyed the milestone moment of reaching their first Grand Slam main draw: Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, Chilean Alejandro Tabilo and Spaniard Mario Vilella Martinez.

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Three players received lucky loser spots into the main draw due to withdrawals: Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, Donskoy and Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Kovalik and Gunneswaran lost their final-round qualifying matches on Friday.

The 16 qualifiers and three lucky losers were all placed into the main draw on Saturday.

Qualifier & Lucky Loser Placements
(Q) Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) v. (16) Karen Khachanov (RUS)
(Q) Ernests Gulbis (LAT) v. (20) Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)
(Q) Tallon Griekspoor (NED) v. (29) Taylor Fritz (USA)
(Q) Christopher Eubanks (USA) v. (Q) Peter Gojowczyk (GER)
(Q) Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) v. (Q)Daniel Elahi Galan (COL)
(Q) Ilya Ivashka (BLR) v. Kevin Anderson (RSA)
(Q) Pedro Martinez (ESP) v. Dominik Koepfer (GER)
(Q) Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) v. Yuichi Sugita (JPN)
(Q) Marco Trungelliti (ARG) v. Tennys Sandgren (USA)
(Q) Mohamed Safwat (EGY) v. Gregoire Barrere (FRA)
(Q) Max Purcell (AUS) v. Jannik Sinner (ITA)
(Q) Dennis Novak (AUT) v. Hubert Hurkacz (POL)
(Q) Quentin Halys (FRA) v. Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
(Q) Norbert Gombos (SVK) v. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
(LL) Jozef Kovalik (SVK) v. (27) Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
(LL) Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
(LL) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) v. Tatsuma Ito (JPN)

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Defending champion Osaka doesn't feel like 'top player'

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2020

Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she still does not see herself as a “top player” despite preparing to defend her Australian Open title next week.

The 22-year-old, who won her first major at the US Open in 2018, is seeded third in Melbourne.

“It’s funny, you guys tell me this top player thing and I never really see it like that,” said Osaka.

The Japanese starts against unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova on Monday.

Osaka’s maiden Grand Slam victory in New York was the standout moment of her rapid rise in 2018.

She won her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March and, on the back of her US Open win, climbed into the world’s top five after being ranked 72nd in January.

“I still feel like Indian Wells was two weeks ago, 2018 Indian Wells. It’s really weird,” said a smiling Osaka, who became the first player since American Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to follow her maiden Grand Slam win immediately with another triumph when she claimed last year’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

But she was unable to match those heights during the rest of 2019, which she describes as the toughest year of her life as she struggled to cope with the expectation her previous results had created.

“I guess just before everything (the success), if I lost it wouldn’t be an article. Now if I lose there’s news. It was tough adjusting to that,” she said.

“I think I’m definitely more relaxed now compared to the US Open.

“I learned a lot there, just in a way of handling my nerves and what to expect. I’m glad I was able to experience everything that I experienced.

“I think heading into this tournament, I’ll be more prepared.”

Wozniacki ‘calm’ as she prepares for final tournament

Denmark’s former world number one Caroline Wozniacki is approaching the Australian Open “like any other tournament” as she prepares to bring a distinguished career to a close.

The 29-year-old, who won her first Grand Slam at the 2018 tournament in Melbourne, is retiring after the event, saying she wants to “achieve other things in life”.

She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last year, which she says was not the reason behind her decision to retire, although she wants to “work on” the autoimmune disease which causes pain and inflammation in joints post-playing.

The world number 35 has also enrolled at Harvard Business School and says she has a “slam packed” diary over the next six months.

Her plans include going skiing with her family, a couple of “girls trips” and a belated honeymoon with her husband David, the former NBA basketball star who she married in June last year.

“I’ve done everything I could to prepare as well as I can for this tournament, then hope for the best,” said Wozniacki, who is unseeded and plays American Kristie Ahn in the first round.

“So far I’m calm and just enjoying myself. I’m sure once the last ball is hit, it’s going to be a bit emotional.”

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'I don't think I could do more than I did' – Federer defends air quality stance

  • Posted: Jan 18, 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.

Roger Federer says he could not have “gone on court and told people to stop” when poor air quality affected players in Australian Open qualifying.

Bushfires in Australia have caused air pollution issues and several lower-ranked players criticised the top stars for not publicly supporting them.

Swiss great Federer said he spoke to tournament officials, telling them they needed to communicate better.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner said: “I don’t think I can do more than I did.”

The 38-year-old world number three, who has won six Australian Open titles, added: “We all care for one another. I told them communication is key for all of us, for everybody.

“We just need to do more because I feel like I hadn’t got enough information.”

Fires have been raging in Australia since September, killing at least 28 people, destroying thousands of homes and scorching millions of acres of land.

Spanish top seed Rafael Nadal says he also spoke to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and was “convinced” by the reassurances given that players would be taken off court if air quality experts deemed it was unhealthy to compete in.

Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic had to be helped off court when she retired from her qualifying match on Tuesday because of the air quality.

British player Liam Broady said having to play his first-round qualifier on the same day “made his blood boil”, adding he was “gasping for air” as he lost to Belarusian Ilya Ivashka.

People in Melbourne were advised to stay indoors and keep pets inside on Tuesday.

Australian Open organisers have since confirmed matches will be suspended if the level of air quality goes above 200 on the PM2.5 measure they are using.

This information was made public for the first time on Thursday evening, with the players only receiving the information in an email sent out on Wednesday night – described by Broady as “a slap in the face”.

Federer said a lot of players were left confused on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“So what can I do? I can go to the office, speak to them. I went to them the first day when it was bad on Tuesday, the next day on Wednesday when it was still bad,” he added.

“Can I go on court and say, Everybody stop play? I can try. I don’t think that’s going to do much.”

Tiley said the tournament decided on a threshold of 200 for suspending matches after talking to environment experts and respiratory specialists, adding some sporting events – including the Olympics – use 300 as their benchmark.

“I received – and that doesn’t mean everyone should be the same – an answer that convinces me,” Nadal, a 19-time Grand Slam champion, said.

“They told me that they have the right specialists here analysing and monitoring the air every four minutes.

“There are parameters, if it is over 200, we don’t play, and if it is under 200 we normally play.

“And I was given an answer that the ‘Olympic rule’ is until 300 you can keep competing.

“I really cannot believe that the most important committee in the world wants bad health for the competitors.

“So that answer convinces me. I am here to play.”

However, Canadian 13th seed Denis Shapovalov says he would not play – and default a match – if the air quality became hazardous.

“I don’t want to risk my life, risk my health being out there playing in these conditions when I can play for the next 10-15 years,” said the 20-year-old.

“I think everyone is on the same page in terms of how it is.

“I don’t think anyone is happy with the way things are being dealt with.”

Shapovalov, who helped Canada reach the Davis Cup final in November, said tournament officials should consider reducing men’s matches to three sets if play is suspended for long periods because of poor air quality.

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Nadal Shares His Secret To Longevity On Tour

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2020

Nadal Shares His Secret To Longevity On Tour

Spaniard looking to return to Australian Open final this fortnight

Rafael Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam titles, been ranked No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in three decades and, at the age of 33, is again the top seed at this month’s Australian Open, which starts Monday in Melbourne.

So what’s his secret? Unfortunately, Nadal confirmed on Saturday, he doesn’t have one.

“No secret at all,” he told reporters. “There is only about passion, about love for the game, and being able to stay positive in the tough moments.”

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Nadal has had more than his share of injuries and, along with his trophy-hoisting moments, he’s had plenty of losses as well.

It’s true that I went through some tough situations during all my career. But I was able to always, with probably the positive attitude and with the right people around, they were key, I was able to find a way to keep going,” he said.

For my style of game, as a lot of people said, my career should be little bit shorter. But here we are. Happy for that. Even for me, it is a big surprise to be where I am at my age.

“Happy for everything. Just enjoying the situation.”

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The Spaniard, who opens against Bolivian Hugo Dellien, will go for his second Australian Open title (2009) this fortnight. Nadal made the final in 2019 (also ’12, ’14, ’17) before falling to Novak Djokovic, the first and only time Nadal did not win a set in 27 major championship finals.

The two met again during the ATP Cup final last weekend in Sydney, and their 55th ATP Head2Head meeting was a straight-sets win for Djokovic. Nadal, however, will be ready for a rematch should it come in the final on 2 February.

I am practising I think more or less okay. Just remain for me two more days of practice. Let’s try to keep going with the right intensity and with the right feelings. Hopefully I will be ready for Tuesday,” Nadal said.

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