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Kyrgios On Medvedev 'Moment': 'That's Why I Play'

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2022

When the Australian Open draw came out, one of the blockbuster showdowns on the horizon was a potential second-round clash between World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and Australian Nick Kyrgios. After Kyrgios guaranteed that match would occur with a win against Liam Broady on Tuesday, he did not shy away from sharing his own excitement.

“It’s going to be a hell of an experience for me. He’s probably the best player in the world at the moment. So I’m pretty excited, I’m excited for that moment. That’s why I play the game,” Kyrgios said. “I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches.

“I’m not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I’m going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.”

Nick Kyrgios
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Kyrgios produced a solid performance in his opener against Broady, a qualifier. The Aussie had not competed since the Laver Cup last September, but he struck 41 winners and did not lose serve against the Briton.

“I’m pretty pleased with the way I responded. It was a pretty flawless [performance]. Everything I could control, serving, attitude, all the non-negotiables, I did great,” Kyrgios said. “Liam obviously qualified, tough competitor. Obviously I’ve had pretty good success against lefties at Grand Slams. I’ve only ever lost to Rafa at a Grand Slam that’s a left-hander. I was pretty confident my game style was going to match up well, but it was just good to be back out there.”

As always with Kyrgios, there were some theatrics on the court, from using the underarm serve to hitting a forward-facing tweener. The home favourite got the John Cain Arena crowd involved from early on.

“I think that’s something I have kind of created on that court. They know what to expect. First game against [Dominic] Thiem last year when I broke, the court went into an absolute berserk state,” Kyrgios said. “I think from the get-go, I know I’ve got the crowd in the palm of my hand, and [at] any time I can use that to spark a moment or spark some energy.”

Kyrgios will hope to do the same against Medvedev, who he says “ticks all the boxes”. The Aussie leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0, with their most recent meeting coming in the 2019 Citi Open final.

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Tsitsipas Back Up to Speed in Comfortable Australian Open Win

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2022

Stefanos Tsitsipas wasted little time getting up to speed at the Australian Open on Tuesday night.

The Greek dispelled any lingering doubts around his recovery from an elbow injury with a quickfire 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win against Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in two hours and 10 minutes to reach the second round.

Tsitsipas has been understandably cautious at the beginning of the 2022 season. There was concern for the World No. 4 when he withdrew from his opening singles match against Hubert Hurkacz at the ATP Cup earlier this month, but the Greek insisted he just needed more preparation.

Fast-forward two weeks and the fourth seed made a fine start to his Australian Open campaign, showing no signs of physical discomfort against World No. 86 Ymer. Having reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2019 (l. to Nadal) and 2021 (l. to Medvedev), Tsitsipas will hope this win can be a springboard for another deep run in Melbourne.

His run last year also included a meeting with Ymer, in which Tsitsipas dropped just six games in a straight-sets third-round win. The Swede managed a better tally this time around but was still unable to make a real dent in the Greek’s defences.

Tsitsipas won five games in a row in taking the first set 6-1, but had to recover from going down an early break to win the second. A year ago, Ymer had defeated Hubert Hurkacz and Carlos Alcaraz before falling to Tsitsipas, and he showed glimpses of that quality again. However, all too often he found himself pinned to the baseline as Tsitsipas made good use of his volleying skills, winning 34 of 48 points he played at the net.

Tsitsipas’ lack of match practice began to show a little in the third set, with some sloppy errors bringing his unforced error count to 38. He highlighted this area for improvement after the match.

“[I will try to] decrease the unforced errors, I think I had a few more than I usually have,” said Tsitsipas. “When you’re a professional tennis player, these small things can make a massive difference.”

He was also full of praise for Ymer, an opponent he knows well.

“Mikael is someone that I’ve been competing with for the past fifteen years, we are the same age, so it’s special to be facing each other on this court,” said Tsitsipas. “We started from eight years old playing together and now we are playing on Rod Laver [Arena].

“He gave me a hard time, really going after every single ball and staying in the match for as long as he could.”

Next up for Tsitsipas will be Argentine Sebastian Baez, who eliminated Spanish veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 after three hours and 26 minutes.

Baez is used to the big stage after competing in last year’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. At the 21-and-under season finale, the Argentine defeated Hugo Gaston and Lorenzo Musetti to earn a place in the semi-finals, where he lost against Carlos Alcaraz.

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De Minaur Feeds Of Aussie Fans To Stage Musetti Comeback

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2022

Alex De Minaur fed off strong home support to rally from a set down and defeat Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.

A bright start from the sublimely talented Italian suggested that de Minaur would be in for a tough evening on Kia Arena, but Australia’s No. 1 player fought back impressively to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said de Minaur when addressing the crowd after the match. “I’ve had some great memories on this court, playing in front of my home fans. There’s no place I’d rather be, that’s for sure.

“The most important thing is I stayed positive throughout the whole match. I’m not allowed to get negative on court so if you guys see me negative on court, make sure to tell me off.”

#NextGenATP star Musetti was playing in the Australian Open main draw for the first time but has already shown he has the game for the big stage. He reached the fourth round of the 2021 French Open on his Grand Slam debut, going two sets up on World No. 1 Novak Djokovic before being forced to retire in the fifth set.

“He’s obviously a very talented player,” said de Minaur. “He’s gone to five sets with Novak, so I knew it was going to be a very tough match and I was happy I was able to turn it around after the first set, play some good tennis and move on to the second round.”

At just 22, de Minaur has already won five ATP Tour titles, including two in the 2021 season (Antalya, Eastbourne). He showed some early season form at this year’s ATP Cup in his hometown of Sydney, winning two singles matches, including a confidence-boosting victory over World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini.

The threat of Musetti was immediately evident as the 19-year-old reeled off five consecutive games to seal the first set 6-3. The Italian was never able to build on that early promise, however, and the speed and tenacity of de Minaur began to tell as he took the second set 6-3 to level.

The third set was one-way traffic as Musetti’s game eluded him and the Australian took it 6-0, making it eight games won in a row in the process. Musetti won just five points in the set as the home favourite began to assert his dominance.

The Italian was more competitive again in the fourth set, but de Minaur made sure that his young opponent was constantly under pressure, winning 28 out of 40 points at the net and hitting 34 winners on his way to victory.

De Minaur faces another star of this year’s ATP Cup in the second round, Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak. The World No. 107 won all three singles matches he played for Poland at the team competition two weeks ago, and he came through 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 against Italy’s Andreas Seppi on Tuesday to set the De Minaur clash.

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Murray Wins Epic On Australian Open Return

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2022

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray earned his first victory at the Australian Open in five years Tuesday as he showed his trademark fighting spirit, overcoming 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to reach the second round in Melbourne.

Murray, who has struggled with injuries since he reached the fourth round as the top seed in 2017, sat deep behind the baseline against Basilashvili in a physical clash, soaking up the Georgian’s powerful groundstrokes in a performance full of grit and determination to advance after three hours and 52 minutes as he demonstrated his big-match mentality.

It is Murray’s second victory over the 29-year-old in the past week, having beaten the World No. 23 in three sets en route to his first tour-level final since 2019 (Antwerp) at the Sydney Tennis Classic. 

The 34-year-old’s last appearance in Melbourne came in 2019, when he lost an emotional match against Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets, with many fearing it would be Murray’s last hurrah at a tournament he has reached the final at five times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) due to his hip problem.

However, following further hip surgery, Murray has built himself back up, reaching tour-level quarter-finals in Metz and Stockholm in 2021 and earning Top 10 wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner.

The Scot, who broke Basilashvili nine times on John Cain Arena, will next face Taro Daniel after the Japanese qualifier defeated Chile qualifier Tomas Barrios Vera 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-1.

Murray made a fast start against the Georgian, hitting with consistent depth to force Basilashvili into errors from the baseline as he moved ahead. In a topsy-turvy clash, where the momentum swung one way and then the other, Basilashvili raised his level in the second set to level, before there were three consecutive breaks in the third set from 2-2, with Murray earning two of them to lead once again.

The wild card struggled on serve at the start of the fourth set though as he started to look physically drained. Murray spent large periods of the clash scampering around the baseline to fend off Basilashvili’s heavy groundstrokes, but worked his way back into the set from 2-4 down as he started to close the net effectively to shorten points.

Murray showed courage to save a set point on serve at 4-5, 30/40, striking a powerful backhand cross court as they moved to a tie-break. However, Basilahvili was too strong in the breaker, hitting through Murray to force a decider. Murray changed up the chess board in the five set though, playing more aggressively as he stepped inside the court to dictate. From 4-1 up and nearly home though, Murray squandered his advantage as Basilashvili levelled. However, the Scot maintained his focus and broke again in the 10th game of the set to seal another classic win.

Did You Know?
With his defeat, it is just the second time Basilashvili has lost in five sets, triumphing on six occasions when taken the distance. 

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