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Vicente On Rublev: 'He'll Put In Whatever Hours You Ask'

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2020

Vicente On Rublev: ‘He’ll Put In Whatever Hours You Ask’

Rublev is off to an 11-0 start in 2020, including two titles

There is no doubt that Andrey Rublev is one of the players of the moment. The Russian will play in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday against Alexander Zverev after producing a spectacular start to the year, in which he has won all 11 matches he has played, including titles in Doha and Adelaide.

Shortly before battling for a place in the quarter-finals at the season’s first major, Fernando Vicente, the Russian’s coach, sat down with to analyse what the World No. 16 has achieved.

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On Winning Two Titles To Start The Year…
“I’m very happy because he deserves it. I’m surprised at the results, but he works so hard and puts so much into it… Rublev is a very good player, he’s been playing well and of course it’s not easy to win tournaments”, says Vicente of the trophies picked up by his charge in Doha and Adelaide in the first two weeks of the season. “He’s playing very well, hitting the ball amazingly well and [is] very content mentally. It’s been many years since that last happened, but he still has a lot to improve on… he lacks a little in reactions and his second serve and he could come to the net more.”

Being Unbeaten Thus Far In 2020…
“He’s tired, but he’s coped with it”, Vicente says. “He’s not overwhelmed, he knows he has several wins under his belt here in Melbourne, and in Goffin he beat one of the big opponents, one of the best in the world. Rublev wants to reach that level.”

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On Rublev’s Evolution In Their Four Years Together…
“This is our fourth year, and he’s changed everything”, recognises Vicente, who started to train Rublev when he was a junior. “He’s a very restless person and he didn’t have much [of an] idea of how to play tactically. He wouldn’t see what was happening. We laid the foundations for learning while we worked on his physical strength… He really liked hitting it hard, but he wasn’t used to running.”

On Rublev’s Character…
“The mental side is very important,” confesses the Spanish coach. “He’s trying to control himself because sometimes he goes crazy, and his opponents know that. He has to accept that other people play well, too. Now he’s more relaxed.

“On court there is no problem because he loves playing and he’ll put in whatever hours you ask of him without saying a word. The problem is more about controlling his emotions, being capable of seeing what is happening on the other side of the net, managing his nerves and not showing them.

“A lot of the time that comes from being demanding: he can do nine things well and one badly, and he beats himself up about it too much. He doesn’t deserve that. Nobody can get every ball on the line at five thousand miles an hour.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

On One-On-One Conversations With Rublev In The Early Hours…
“With Rublev you really have to choose the right moment to tell him things”, says Vicente. “On court it’s very hard. His mind is a little unusual. Sometimes we are up until five in the morning talking in the hotel because he’s lost a match.

“Last year in Paris, when he had just won in Moscow, we were up until four in the morning talking one-to-one for two nights because he was feeling receptive, and it was a good time to analyse what he does well and what he does badly, where he makes mistakes, how he can improve as a person.”

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Juan Martin del Potro needs more surgery to get rid of pain in his knee

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2020

Juan Martin del Potro will have surgery in Miami on Monday in a bid to return from a serious knee injury.

Argentina’s former US Open champion, 31, last played at Queen’s Club in June where he fractured his right kneecap for a second time.

Surgery last summer failed to alleviate the pain, which has prevented normal activities, such as walking up stairs.

“We hope this is the definitive solution to eliminate the pain,” said a statement on his Instagram account.

His team added: “It has not only prevented Delpo from playing tennis, but also making it difficult for him to perform daily activities.”

Del Potro suffered the initial fracture of his kneecap in October 2018 in Shanghai. He made a comeback a few months later but the injury recurred when he slipped on the grass during a second-round match with Canada’s Denis Shapovalov at the Fever Tree Championships last summer.

Plans to return for the European indoor season in October had to be shelved and now, after speaking to doctors in Europe, Argentina and the United States, it has been decided further surgery is necessary.

Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 and was runner-up in 2018, and has been a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and the French Open. He lost to Andy Murray in the 2016 Rio Olympics singles final before helping Argentina win the Davis Cup for the first time later in the year.

Since he made his Grand Slam debut in France in 2006, Del Potro has been forced to miss 19 of tennis’ biggest events, but when fit, he has been a formidable opponent for Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

No timeframe has been given for any potential return.

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Kyrgios On Nadal Showdown: 'I'm Super Excited'

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2020

Kyrgios On Nadal Showdown: ‘I’m Super Excited’

World No. 1 and Aussie battle for spot in Melbourne quarter-finals

When Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios play, the tennis is almost always sensational. Throw in the Melbourne crowd and the opportunity to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, and their clash on Monday in the fourth round of the Australian Open promises to be a blockbuster showdown.

“I’m super excited, honestly. Playing one of the greatest tennis players on centre court at your own Slam, it’s pretty damn cool,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously it’s going to be another physical battle. Nothing comes easy with him. He had a relatively routine match [on Saturday], so he’s going to be feeling good. I’m looking forward to it. That’s why you play.”

Kyrgios played the longest match of his career late Saturday evening, finding a way to battle past big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov in a fifth-set Match Tie-break after four hours and 26 minutes. Immediately, as Kyrgios fell to the court in celebration, the fans knew that their home favourite was not only moving on, but that he will get a crack at top-seeded Nadal, who is chasing his second title at Melbourne Park.

“I feel good,” Kyrgios said. “I feel like my game is ready to go.”

<a href=''>Nick Kyrgios</a> owns a 3-0 tie-break record at this year's <a href=''>Australian Open</a>.

Nadal has won four of the pair’s seven ATP Head2Head encounters, most recently defeating the Aussie in the second round at Wimbledon last year. The Spaniard showed his toughness to win tie-breaks in the third and fourth sets at SW19, triumphing after just over three hours.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion, who is chasing Roger Federer’s record of 20 major trophies this fortnight, knows that Kyrgios at his best could challenge anyone on the ATP Tour, as he has throughout their rivalry.

“He’s a very top, talented player. But there is a lot of important things that you need to do to become a champion,” Nadal said after his Wimbledon win. “He has a lot of good ingredients.

“With his talent and with his serve, he can win a Grand Slam, of course. He has the talent to do it.”

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But Rafa is Rafa after all. Upsetting the Spaniard will be a tremendous task for Kyrgios. The legendary lefty is trying to reach at least the quarter-finals at the season’s first Grand Slam for the 12th time in his 13 most recent appearances, while the Aussie is trying to make the last eight at a major for the first time since the 2015 Australian Open.

Nadal is also in devastating form. The 33-year-old led Team Spain to the final of the inaugural ATP Cup to start the year, and he has not yet dropped a set in Melbourne. The 84-time tour-level champion has allowed only one set to go past 6-4, and he defeated former World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 27 seed, in only one hour and 38 minutes in the third round.

<a href=''>Rafael Nadal</a> powers into the fourth round of the <a href=''>Australian Open</a>.

“It was my best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt. Big difference between today and the previous days,” Nadal said after defeating Carreno Busta. “I have been serving well, starting to create damage with the forehand. Hitting serve and one shot.”

Even though Kyrgios has beaten Nadal on three occasions, his challenge will be to find a way to knock off the Spaniard in full flight. Kyrgios, who defeated Nadal in Acapulco last year, will be able to look back at that match and even his Wimbledon loss positively as he steps into Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

“Every time you put up a battle like that against Rafa, you’re going to take confidence from it. Two tough tie-breaks. There’s nothing in that match really. He changed up his game plan a little bit,” Kyrgios said. “I’ll probably expect him to serve a little bit more to my forehand when I play him in a couple days. That’s what he did at Wimbledon. He had some pretty good success there. I thought he played really well at Wimbledon. I came out a little slow. But the grass just seemed so slow. I couldn’t really break him down.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

How has Kyrgios found success against Nadal? The Aussie has a short backswing on his backhand, allowing him to blunt the heavy topspin of Nadal’s cross-court forehand. Kyrgios’ booming serve also allows him to start off points on the front foot. But that’s not all, according to the 24-year-old.

“Ever since juniors I enjoyed playing lefties. I feel like I kind of know what game plan I need to bring to be successful against them. [But] Rafa is a different beast altogether,” Kyrgios said. “I kind of know his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns, can’t do anything about it. Federer knows his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns. He executes them at the highest level.”

As Kyrgios said, he plays for challenges like facing Nadal on a stage like Rod Laver Arena. The question is, even if he brings his best, will he have enough to beat Nadal?

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Slow Start, Fast Finish For Federer

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2020

Slow Start, Fast Finish For Federer

Swiss to face Sandgren in quarter-finals

Roger Federer became the first man to reach 15 Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday, sprinting from a set down to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.

Two days after surviving a final-set tie-break against John Millman, the six-time champion broke serve on seven occasions to move clear of 14-time quarter-finalist John Newcombe. Federer has now reached the last eight at 57 Grand Slam events.

“It was a tough start, I thought Marton played clean,” said Federer. “I guess it was the rest of the Millman match, that guy gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe it took my confidence away a little bit and I think it just took some time.”

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It is the second time in three years that Federer has beaten Fucsovics in the fourth round in Melbourne, having also ended the Hungarian’s run in 2018. With his two-hour, 11-minute victory, Federer improves to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against the 27-year-old.

“The morning after John’s match and this morning, I lay in bed for like an hour and I was like, ‘When are we going to stand up?’… I’m good. I was able to recover and play a good match, so I am sure I am going to feel better with every day that goes by after that match.”

With a semi-final spot on the line, Federer will face two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren for the first time. Sandgren battled past 12th seed Fabio Fognini 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-4 in three hours and 27 minutes.

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Fucsovics made the quicker start under the lights, claiming the opening break of the match at 3-3. Three errors from Federer handed the Hungarian triple break point, with Fucsovics ripping a forehand up the line to convert his third opportunity. The 6’2” right-hander took the opening set with a comfortable service hold, as Federer missed the court with an attempted cross court forehand return.

An emphatic reaction followed from Federer, who held serve to love before striking winners up the line off both wings to break for a 2-0 lead. Federer soon clinched a second service break, as the forehand winners continued to flow, and levelled the match with a swinging serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.

Federer took the momentum into a crucial third set, landing a huge backhand down the line to win the opening point. The Swiss mixed the pace well and showed great touch en route to a 4-0 lead, as Fucsovics struggled to find a way past his opponent. Despite dropping serve in the sixth game, the six-time champion moved one set away from the quarter-finals with a short backhand volley.

For the third straight set, Federer earned an immediate service break. The World No. 3 attacked his opponent’s forehand, extracting multiple errors as he closed in on the last eight. Federer booked his meeting against Sandgren with a powerful serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.

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“I was looking to mix it up a little bit more. It gets really slow in the night time, especially when it is cool like this, so I just had to figure it out and I finally found a way,” said Federer. “I had a good start to the second set and from then on, things got a little bit easier.”

Fucsovics was aiming to become the first Hungarian player to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. The World No. 67 upset 13th seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round, before straight-sets wins against Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner and Tommy Paul.

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Gauff's Australian Open run ended by Kenin

  • Posted: Jan 26, 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.

Teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff missed out on her first Grand Slam quarter-final as fellow American Sofia Kenin fought back to win in the Australian Open fourth round.

Gauff, 15, lost 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 to the 14th seed in Melbourne.

She showed all her undoubted quality in the first set, but tired in the third as Kenin wore her down.

Kenin will next face Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat Serena Williams’ conqueror Wang Qiang in straight sets.

  • Kvitova fights back to reach last eight
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After a warm embrace at the net, Kenin and Gauff broke out in tears following an intense battle on Melbourne Arena.

Kenin, 21, dropped her racquet and cupped her face with both hands after taking her second match point to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

“I was just fighting,” Kenin said. “She played some good points at crucial moments but I just had to calm down and relax.”

An emotional Gauff received a standing ovation as she walked off the court, understandably disappointed at the manner of her defeat but with the likelihood of much better moments ahead of her.

“I’m doing well right now at 15. I still have so much I feel like I can get better on,” said Gauff, who will rise into the world’s top 50 for the first time next week.

“I don’t even think this is close to a peak for me, even though I’m doing well right now.”

Gauff falters as errors creep in

Gauff has become a global star in less than a year, announcing her arrival with a victory over seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams at Wimbledon before ‘Cocomania’ surrounded her run to the last 16.

The hype returned at Melbourne Park after the Florida teenager, who turns 16 in March, produced an assured performance to knock out defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round.

That was as much down to Osaka’s implosion as it was Gauff’s brilliance, however.

Against the streetwise Kenin, the question was always going to be whether she could soak up her opponent’s relentless returning and then play aggressively to ask questions of her own.

After a slow start where she lost the opening two games, Gauff rediscovered the things which have marked her out a potential great – hard-hitting from the baseline, fizzing angled winners and fleet of foot around the court – to break back for 4-4.

Gauff missed a set point on Kenin’s serve at 6-5 before the older American produced two double faults as Gauff eventually took the tie-break with her fourth set point.

Momentum swung back in Kenin’s direction early in the second set.

Gauff’s tendency to cough up double faults appeared again, three contributing heavily to Kenin breaking serve in the fourth game and pinching the advantage.

That proved pivotal as Gauff, with errors now starting to creep in, was unable to claw the break back.

In similar fashion to the opening set, the teenager started the decider slowly but this time could not recover like she did in the opening set.

The winners began to dry up for Gauff, allowing Kenin to dominate the rallies and breeze through the decider in 33 minutes.

“She definitely put a lot of balls in the court. She’s quick. Also her drop-shots were good,” said Gauff, who won just 15 points in the final set.

“I think I made a lot of errors too.”

Gauff has admitted she struggled to cope with the intense scrutiny at the US Open a few months ago, culminating in an error-strewn performance against Japan’s two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka.

When the pair met again on Friday, Gauff responded with an assured performance.

Asked what she has learned from her first experience in the senior competition at Melbourne Park, she said: “I’m most proud of how I handled it on the court.

“I guess what surprised me is how calm I was going into all these matches. I wasn’t really nervous.

“I’m happy that I’m not letting the moment seem too big than what it is.”


Former Australian Open semi-finalist Chanda Rubin on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

Gauff came through the first set in flying colours. When the pressure was on she played some of her best tennis.

But Kenin, she’s a tough competitor, and it was always going to be a challenge for Gauff to maintain that high level.

It was a bit surprising that Gauff started missing – the forehand went off and she struggled getting her rhythm back. Kenin was too solid and I think some of the nerves, the tension, the desire to get through that match got to Gauff.

It’s been the most incredible, impressing thing about Gauff – we forget sometimes that she’s 15 and she’s handling these moments incredibly well. You still need experience to get through those deep, tough matches against players who understand how to play their game in the big moments.

Nobody likes losing a 6-0 set but I think in the end there are many positives Gauff can take from this and she’s just got to keep building. Gauff wants to be the greatest – and that takes time. She’s focusing on the right things with the help of the parents and her team.

It’s her mental fortitude, the way she competes – how calm, how much poise she has in the big moments, and against the top players, from Venus [Williams] at Wimbledon to Naomi here, she just manages to find a high level through all that pressure. That’s something that can take years to learn. It’s something that’s come at such a young age – and that’s so impressive.

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