Tennis News

From around the world

The Inner Voice That Helped Tsitsipas Reach Australian Open QFs

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Stefanos Tsitipas’ back was against the wall in the fourth round of the Australian Open against Taylor Fritz, but the Greek’s inner voice helped save the day.

“I felt like there were certain moments where I got defensive and wasn’t going for my shots too much, and I kept talking to myself and kept saying, ‘Hit the ball, go for it’,” Tsitsipas said. “That eventually was kind of engraved in my mind. That voice kind of became a reality in the fifth set.

“I came to the conclusion that I cannot be too defensive, I cannot stay in the rallies too much. I have to make him move and I have to be aggressive at the same time.”

That mindset worked, as Tsitsipas rallied past the American 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his third Australian Open quarter-final. In the deciding fifth set, he made just four unforced errors to complete his triumph after three hours and 23 minutes.

“It was very tough, and I had to deal with these moments in the best way. Being able to overcome these difficulties required a lot of mental toughness, and I think I did the right things at these points and managed it very well. It was a great comeback,” Tsitsipas said. “It was a match with a lot of emotions, and I had to keep constantly reminding myself to stay in it and try and find solutions to all these problems, because there was heavy hitting, there were lots of rallies. Serves, big serves from both sides. So there were a lot of things going on.”

Overall, Tsitsipas struck 53 winners to just 44 unforced errors, a solid performance against an in-form Fritz. The American, who was competing in the fourth round of a major for the first time, showed little fear of the moment. He hit 52 winners to put Tsitsipas in trouble in the first place.

But the fourth seed dug deep and played the better tennis when it mattered most. Tsitsipas has put to rest discussions about his elbow, which hovered over him early in the season when he did not play his first singles match at the ATP Cup.

“I missed two weeks of preseason, which was not too bad, because the doctor predicted otherwise,” Tsitsipas said. “My recovery was faster than anyone would have thought it would have been. My recovery was very surprising to my doctor.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Tsitsipas’ determination has been impressive Down Under, and he is now into the last eight at the Australian Open for the third time in four years. The 23-year-old said it was an emotional win for him, and that he played better with those emotions.

“I was able to sustain that emotion and was able to deal with it in the best way. I think the crowd was very important today, encouraging me and giving me their energy from start to finish,” Tsitsipas said. “They [played] a big role in today’s success and overcoming the difficult obstacles that was presented to me throughout the entirety of the match.”

Next up for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion will be 11th seed Jannik Sinner. Tsitsipas leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 2-1.

Source link

The Last Time With… Denis Shapovalov

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Denis Shapovalov upset two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals and earn a clash against 20-time major titlist Rafael Nadal.

Before the match, get to know the Canadian in’s newest ‘Last Time’ Q&A. Shapovalov discusses a meeting with Canadian basketball legend Steve Nash, his cooking skills and more.

When was the last time you watched a sporting event live?
The Toronto Raptors when they were playing in Tampa [Florida]. It is tough to follow when I am in Europe, but I definitely follow the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs as much as possible.

When was the last time you met one of your idols?
Steve Nash. I met him in San Diego [during the tournament last year]. He was doing an exhibition and he was running into the club, so I got to meet him for a minute or two. That was really, really cool.

He said he was a big fan of mine, which was really weird to hear because I am a big fan of his. He is an icon in Canada and basketball. He is very well known in Canada and well looked up to.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Denis Shapovalov (@denis.shapovalov)

When was the last time you strung a racquet?
Probably when I was seven years old. I remember doing a bad job and my dad taking over. I never tried again.

When was the last time you had to hire a court?
Maybe when I was 13 or 14. Back home in Toronto.

When was the last time you went to a concert?
Believe it or not I have only been to one concert in my life. It was three or four years ago. I went to a G-Eazy concert in Cincinnati.

When was the last time you watched Netflix?
I watched The Office. My favourite character might be Dwight.

When was the last time you have missed a flight?
I have never missed a flight.

When was the last time you lost something important?
I lost my phone about 20 minutes before this interview, but I found it!

When was the last time you cooked?
Oh, I am a terrible cook. I actually make breakfast for my girlfriend. That is about my cooking skills. I make an omelette and some nice toast. That is my level right there.

When was the last time I asked someone for a selfie?
I don’t ask my girlfriend for a selfie, she asks me. Probably with the team. Take a team selfie pic.

Source link

Preview: Berrettini & Monfils Looking To Break New Ground

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Gael Monfils has been candid about both his personal and professional struggles during the past two years, a pandemic-stained stretch that has seen him fall out of the Top 10 and, in his own words, lose his “faith in tennis and everything”. Maybe that’s why the ever-popular Frenchman’s near-spotless start to 2022 has been such a feel-good affair.

Ranked No. 20, Monfils is 8-1 on the year, including a title run in Adelaide. Now he finds himself in the 10th major quarter-final of his career, his first since 2019. He’s winless against his next opponent in two previous encounters, but knows he’s pushed Matteo Berrettini to the limit at this stage before. They went five sets in the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2019, with the Italian ultimately prevailing, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5).

“Matteo has gained a lot of confidence the last two years,” Monfils observed. “I think he plays extremely aggressive. Big serve, flashy tennis with the forehand. Going for it. It’s going be a tough match.

“It’s been a long journey for me and I’m quite happy, but it’s not finished. I will try to play this quarter-final not like the last time; I will try to be better.”

Watch Highlights: Berrettini vs. Monfils At 2021 ATP Cup

Berrettini’s achievement in Melbourne has been especially satisfying, given that the 6’5” Italian was forced to withdraw from his Australian Open match against Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2021 due to an abdominal strain.

“It was really tough last year. I really wanted to play, but I couldn’t with the tear in the ab,” said the 2021 Wimbledon finalist. “But I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I’ve been wishing to come back as soon as possible and the way I won today shows how much I care about this tournament.”

Berrettini, 25, will do his best to overpower Monfils, long one of the ATP’s elite athletes.

“He’s an experienced player. He’s been in these kinds of situations at the Slams so many times. But I’ve done the same,” he said. “Obviously, he’s played way more matches and is 10 years older than me, but in a way he’s still really young because his body is moving really well. He’s a tricky player.”

Watch Highlights Of Nadal & Shapovalov’s First Meeting:

One man is into his 14th Australian Open quarter-final, tied for the tournament record with home-country legend John Newcombe and second only to career-long rival Roger Federer (15). The other has played his way into his fourth consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, now an established second-week presence on the sport’s very biggest stages.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done for quarter-final favourites Rafael Nadal and Berrettini in Melbourne Park.

Nadal, chasing a record 21st major singles title, faces a stiff challenge in the form of another lefty, streaking Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who’s coming off a straight-sets dismissal of third seed Alexander Zverev, and only days ago helped lead Canada to its first ATP Cup title. The big-hitting Berrettini, meanwhile, will be charged with cooling Frenchman Monfils, who at 35 is playing some of his most inspired tennis in years.

Though it’s been half a decade since Nadal got his first across-the-net glimpse of Shapovalov, then only 18, the Spaniard remembers it well. It was at the ATP Masters 1000 Canada in 2017, and Nadal had a shot at No. 1. But his free-swinging opponent, fresh off the ATP Challenger Tour and energised by the home crowd, delayed the pursuit with a wild 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) upset in the Round of 16.

“It was a tough one, that one,” Nadal reflected. “He played great. He was very young and he played with intensity and created some amazing shots. As everybody knows, he’s one of the players with the biggest potential on the Tour. After the match, I said he was a potential multi-Grand Slam winner. And I still think that, if he’s able to keep improving. When he’s playing well, it’s very difficult to stop him.”

Shapovalov has since lost three matches to Nadal, including a fourth-round, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(3) defeat last year on clay in Rome. But after stunning the reigning Nitto ATP Finals titlist Zverev in the Round of 16, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3, the World No. 14 is brimming with confidence.

“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there,” said Shapovalov, just the third Canadian man in tournament history to reach the quarter-finals. “Obviously, he makes you play a lot. His defence is very good. He’s very good at what he does, so I’m going to have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing — playing patient, fighting for every point, and just picking my spots to play aggressively.”

Shapovalov’s alignment with former Andy Murray mentor Jamie Delgado is off to a good start.

“It’s been awesome,” said Shapovalov, who parted ways with Mikhail Youzhny in December. “It’s really new, but we’ve definitely clicked in terms of personalities and in terms of working on the court. I think we both have kind of the same vision for my game. I feel like he’s a super understanding person. He’s got so much experience and has been through so much with Andy. That’s something that I really thought would be great to add to my team.”

The 2009 Australian Open champ Nadal, who was sidelined for much of 2021 with a troublesome foot injury, is clearly enjoying his return to health, once again covering the court like only the Mallorcan can. If you have any doubts, just cue up his first-set tie-break against Adrian Mannarino of France in the fourth round. He simply refused to surrender the punishing, half-hour-long breaker, winning, 16/14.

“The main thing is about being healthy enough to be here,” he said. “But sport changes quick, and you need to be ready and you need to be there at the right moment to get it if you have the chance. I have been working very hard in all terms for a lot of months, not that much on court, but in all ways to try to come back to the Tour. I’m enjoying the fact that I’m here and again in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, something that’s very special to me. I’m excited just to have another chance to compete again against a fantastic player.”

Source link

De Minaur 'Excited For What’s To Come'

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Alex de Minaur feels his 2022 season is already heading in the right direction, even after his career-best run at the Australian Open came to an end in the fourth round against 11th seed Jannik Sinner on Monday.

“It’s been a good start to the season, bringing in some good momentum,” said de Minaur in his post-match press conference. “[I] came up short today, but [I’m] happy with where my level is going. It’s definitely a big improvement from last year. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

The Australian World No. 42 battled hard but ultimately fell short, losing 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 to an inspired performance from the Italian on Rod Laver Arena.

With his defeat, de Minaur slipped to a 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against Sinner. The Australian acknowledged another special performance from his opponent, but has already identified the moments in the match that he can learn from.

“I had chances,” said de Minaur. “[I] didn’t take those opportunities, those breakpoints early. I came up with an opponent that played very well and just played some very good tennis in the important moments.

“We all know the amazing firepower he has, so I felt like I played a loose game to get broken [in the second set]. I just missed a couple forehands which I tried to press a little bit more than maybe I should have. He got the early break and was able to run away.”

De Minaur was nonetheless pleased with his Australian swing, having given a strong performance for his country at the ATP Cup that included a win over World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini, before reaching the fourth round in Melbourne. He credited a new mental approach for his early-season success.

“It’s a long year,” said de Minaur, “but my hopes and goals are to keep at least my attitude and my mindset throughout the whole year. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the focus.”

De Minaur has also benefitted from the strong camaraderie shared among the Aussie contingent on the ATP Tour, particularly helpful when under pressure to perform at a home slam. He remains optimistic about the prospects of the five Australians that remain in the men’s doubles draw.

“As a fellow Australian, it’s exciting whenever any Aussie player does well,” said de Minaur. “I think we’ve got such a great team chemistry. I mean, you’ve got Nick [Kyrgios] and Kokk [Thanasi Kokkinakis] doing great stuff. [Matthew] Ebden and [Max] Purcell still, Peersy [John Peers] still going. I think it’s exciting stuff.

“It’s amazing the level they can show and put on the court day in and day out, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the week unfolds.”

Source link

Ram/Salisbury Keep The Heat In Melbourne

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are on the hunt for consecutive Grand Slam doubles titles, and they kept that target within their sights Monday, defeating wild cards Dane Sweeny and Li Tu 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

The 2021 US Open champions, who also triumphed together at Melbourne Park in 2020, dropped just one point behind their first serve in the match and offered their Australian opponents no breathing room on John Cain Arena.

Ram and Salisbury hit 21 winners and made just three unforced errors in a solid all-round performance as they advanced to the last eight in Melbourne for the third year in a row.

Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell made it two all-Aussie pairings in the quarter-finals by upsetting 13th seeds Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 7-6(3), 6-3. Ebden and Purcell fired 27 winners, including nine aces and claimed the only break of the match in the second set to defeat the South African-Japanese pairing, joining countrymen Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in the last eight.

Ebden and Purcell will next face 10th seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. The Dutch-British tandem has already claimed two tour-level titles since coming together at the start of 2022, triumphing at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Adelaide International 2. The good form shows no sign of abating as Koolhof and Skupski hit 22 winners and won 81 per cent (29/36) of their first-serve en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win against Marcos Giron and Soonwoo Kwon.

Source link