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10 Takeaways From The Inaugural ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2020

10 Takeaways From The Inaugural ATP Cup

Learn some of the most notable takeaways from the 24-country competition’s first edition

The inaugural ATP Cup has come and gone. 220,319 fans streamed through the gates in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney for the first edition of this 24-country event. ATPTour.com looks at the 10 takeaways from the first ATP Cup:

1. Team Serbia Clinches Inaugural ATP Cup
There were throngs of Serbian fans who turned out to support Team Serbia throughout the first edition of the ATP Cup, from Brisbane — where the country won Group A — to Sydney, home of the Final Eight. The Serbian players certainly did not let them down.

In thrilling fashion, Serbia defeated Spain 2-1 to claim the trophy, with World No. 2 Novak Djokovic beating World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the No. 1 singles match, before returning to Ken Rosewall Arena to partner Viktor Troicki past Pablo Carreno Busta/Feliciano Lopez for the trophy.

“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life as definitely one of the nicest moments in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have an amazing career the past 15 years, but playing for the team, playing for the country with some of my best friends for a long long time, you can’t match that. That’s just too special.”

Serbia

2. Spaniards Shine, Fall Just Short Of Title
Rafael Nadal and the rest of Team Spain battled hard from Perth to Sydney, working their way to the deciding doubles in the championship tie. But the Spaniards fell just short against an inspired Serbian side.

The Spaniards had their backs against the wall in the quarter-finals against Belgium, with Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen taking the first set of a deciding doubles match. But the entire team showed relentless determination, helping them advance to the championship. Roberto Bautista Agut, who went 6-0 at the first ATP Cup, gave his country a point against Serbia. But it was not enough.

“I think is a great competition. Excited to be part of it. Excited to represent my country,” Nadal said. “I enjoyed a lot to share all this week and a half with my friends on the team. The organisation have been fantastic, honestly.”

3. Australians Thrill Home Crowds En Route To Semis
The Australians needed a wild card at the first entry deadline to ensure their spot in the inaugural ATP Cup. But the home favourites proved that they were plenty deserving of their place, advancing to the semi-finals.

In the Final Eight, Australia played in one of the most memorable ties of the event, defeating Great Britain 2-1 when Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios saved four match points in the deciding doubles to stun doubles stars Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury.

De Minaur was close to surprising World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, which would have forced another deciding doubles thriller. But despite the Aussie’s tremendous effort, backed by a raucous crowd, Spain ended the home side’s run.

4. Russians Show Why They Will Be A Force For Years To Come
Russia’s top two singles players, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, are both 23. So making the semi-finals shows that their country will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Khachanov and Medvedev led Russia through Group D play with the loss of just one match across three ties. And with a dangerous Argentina team waiting in the Final Eight, they raised their levels even higher to earn a 3-0 sweep and make the semi-finals. Medvedev played Djokovic in one of the matches of the tournament, but fell just short of sending his country to a deciding doubles.

5. Video Review Gives Players New Look
From confirming whether a player touched the ball with his finger before hitting a no-look spinorama lob to checking whether a player hit a ‘foul shot’ by making contact with a volley on the opposite side of the net, there was plenty of use of Video Review at the ATP Cup.

Team Moldova challenged a foot fault that was called on Alexander Cozbinov during his doubles match alongside Radu Albot against Great Britain. The chair umpire performs the review using a screen and audio attached to their chair, so Albot climbed up the chair to check it out himself.

“I think it’s really cool,” Albot said of Video Review. “I also saw… with Novak when he put the racquet over the net. That was interesting because if there is no VR [Video Review], you cannot see, it is so quick.”

6. Team Zones A Hit
One of the players’ favourite innovations at this 24-country event was the Team Zone. Instead of sitting on a bench next to the umpire’s chair, players had a zone in the back corner of the court where they were able to confer with their country’s captain, personal coach, countrymen and support staff.

On many occasions, players scheduled to compete later in the day would first show their support for their countrymen. The same held true for those who had already competed, rushing back to the Team Zone as close to when their match ended as possible.

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“In ATP tournaments normally you cannot even communicate with your coach, you’re by yourself and thinking by yourself,” said Russian No. 2 Karen Khachanov. “You’re trying to analyse what’s going on and here you have your whole team behind you, your personal coach, captain. The stats enable you to talk about every point and I think it’s a really good addition.”

Anyone in the Team Zone was able to use a special tablet to analyse live stats and other information, helping them to potentially change tactics mid-match.

Zimonjic, Djokovic

7. Strategy Rooms Give Countries New Prep Opportunity
As Austrian captain Thomas Muster said, “once you have the technology, you must use it.” That’s what players, captains and coaches alike did at the ATP Cup. Each city — Brisbane, Perth and Sydney — had a Strategy Room, where tournament staff helped facilitate various statistics and insights into matches for visitors that could make a difference in critical moments throughout this event.

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In some cases, players stopped into the Strategy Room for a quick look at information about their next opponent, while some countries held team meetings in the room.

“You just tell the players, ‘Look, these are the things that I think you should work on. You’re in the wrong position here, you should be further in or you should be doing this or that,’” Muster said. “Most of the time they come and say, ‘Oh, geez, I didn’t know I’m doing this. Now I can see much clearer.'”

8. Legendary Captains Embrace New Role
Each country at the ATP Cup is led by a captain, and at the inaugural event, there were plenty of tennis legends who led their countries in pursuit of the trophy. Four former World No. 1s who took the role of captain were Boris Becker (Germany), Lleyton Hewitt (Australia), Thomas Muster (Austria) and Marat Safin (Russia). Other notable captains included 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio, Tim Henman and playing captains Grigor Dimitrov, Gilles Simon and Steve Darcis.

“[The] event is [a] very interesting tournament for the beginning of the year, so they can play a lot of matches. They are all friends on the team, so [it] gives [a] comfortable atmosphere inside the team. They practise together. The format is great,” Safin said. “For me, I learned a lot. Experience-wise it’s amazing. It’s very interesting, very interesting for me, too.”

9. Anyone Can Rise To The Occasion
In the ATP Cup, some countries may not have a No. 2 singles player who is near the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings, but this competition provides an opportunity for those men to show the world their game on a tremendous global stage.

Singles winners during this event include World No. 417 Dimitar Kuzmanov, No. 448 Kacper Zuk and No. 678 Aleksandre Metreveli. Kuzmanov was victorious twice.

“I knew I had the qualities to be here. It was just a matter of time and about grabbing my chance, taking my chance. I received it when we were announced to take part of this tournament, and I was really looking forward to show what I can and show I have been practising for all my life,” Kuzmanov said. “I’m happy that I’m grabbing my chances and showing what I can.”

10. For The Love Of Country
The players at the ATP Cup were first and foremost representing their country.. Throughout the tournament, fans flocked from all around the world, waving their country’s flag, sporting its colours and even parading around with instruments to create a special atmosphere for the competitors.

Argentina is more than 11,000 kilometres away, yet the Argentine players couldn’t tell the difference in Sydney, either during the group stages or the Final Eight.

“[It] was an unbelievable feeling. It’s like we are playing at home,” said Guido Pella. “So it’s amazing to step into the court and feel that, because we not only play for our country, it’s like we play for everyone. This is a very nice feeling.”

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Bautista Agut Gives Spain Early ATP Cup Final Lead

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2020

Bautista Agut Gives Spain Early ATP Cup Final Lead

Spaniard goes 6-0 at the inaugural event

Roberto The Reliable. Roberto Bautista Agut won his sixth consecutive match at the ATP Cup on Sunday, placing Spain one match victory away from the inaugural ATP Cup title in Sydney.

The World No. 10 and Spain’s No. 2 beat Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1, breaking the Serbian five times and proving too steady from the baseline for the 29-year-old, who had been 4-1 at the season’s first tournament.

Dusan is playing at a great level but I played a very good match from my side,” Bautista Agut said. “He was aggressive and stepping inside the baseline to manage the game, but I believed I could change it and I played a great end of the first set and a great second set.”

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Bautista Agut broke and jumped to a 3-0 lead, baiting Lajovic in side-to-side rallies. But the Serbian began injecting more pace into his forehand and dictating whenever the opportunity arose. He broke back in the fifth game, cuing the trumpets and flag waving from the overwhelmingly pro-Serbia crowd.

Bautista Agut, however, broke Lajovic in the 12th game to claim the opener. The Spaniard’s consistent deep groundstrokes and inside-out forehand troubled Lajovic as the Serbian sliced a backhand into net on set point.

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Rafa v Novak Blockbuster In ATP Cup Final!

The Spaniard broke three more times in the second set to improve to 4-0 against Lajovic.

It’s been a great time. We enjoy a lot playing ATP Cup, being together, practising together, spending time as a team. We have a good chemistry and hopefully we can keep it like this for many more years,” he said.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will play next for an Open Era record 55th time. Djokovic leads their head-to-head 28-26 (19-7 on hard courts).

The Serbian is 8-0 in matches and 17-0 in sets against Nadal on hard courts since the 2013 US Open final. Twelve months ago, at the 2019 Australian Open, Djokovic gave Nadal his only straight-sets loss in 27 Grand Slam finals.

We are about to see one of the best matches we can see on a tennis court. Two of the best players in history. I will support Rafa as strong as I can and I believe he can make it and we can get the title here,” Bautista Agut said.

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Serena Williams wins Auckland Classic for first title in three years

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2020

Serena Williams won her first title in three years and first since becoming a mother with victory over Jessica Pegula at the Auckland Classic.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion beat her fellow American 6-3 6-4.

It is the 38-year-old’s first singles title since she won the Australian Open in 2017 and her 73rd WTA title overall.

Williams, in her fourth decade on the WTA Tour, lost the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2018 and 2019 and retired from the 2019 Rogers Cup final.

She said after her victory that she would donate her prize money in Auckland and a dress she had worn to the Australian bushfire appeal.

“I have been playing for so long and been through so much and I’m happy to be doing something I love,” Williams said.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to be out here and to be healthy and to play.”

The Australian Open begins on 20 January, with Williams bidding to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
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Williams won her first WTA title in February 1999, when she beat France’s Amelie Mauresmo on carpet at the Open Gaz de France.

She made a slow start in Auckland, with Pegula taking a 3-1 lead in the first set, before recovering to win the next five games and close out the opening set.

Williams broke the unseeded Pegula’s serve early in the second set and converted her fourth match point to ensure victory.

She celebrated on court with her daughter, Olympia, with whom she was eight weeks pregnant when she won her last Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

She will be in action again later on Sunday alongside Caroline Wozniacki when they play Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend in the doubles final.

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Doha Honored With ATP 250 Tournament Of The Year Award

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Doha Honored With ATP 250 Tournament Of The Year Award

Players selected tournament in 2019 ATP Awards

The Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha concluded another spectacular tournament on Saturday by receiving its Tournament of the Year award in the 250 category from the 2019 ATP Awards. The tournament awards, voted annually by ATP players, recognise the leading standards set across events on the ATP Tour.

The tournament has claimed this award for the third time in five years. Held in the opening week of the ATP Tour season, Doha has set high standards since its inception in 1993 and under the guidance of former player Karim Alami, the tournament continues to build its reputation for its superb facility, world-class hospitality and welcoming fans.

“On behalf of the Qatar Tennis Federation and all the team involved in the organisation of the event, I want to express how delighted we are at being selected once again as the ATP 250 Tournament of the Year,” said Alami. “Our goal has always been to deliver an event that meets the highest organisational standards, while providing players and their support teams, sponsors, officials, guests and spectators with warm conditions and attention to detail that make them ‘feel at home’ during their time in Doha. Winning the ATP 250 tournament award for the third time confirms we have been successful in consistently meeting those standards. It is a great honour that the ATP and ATP players continue to show their recognition and appreciation for the efforts made by everyone involved.

“None of this would be possible without the endless support from our Title Sponsor, ExxonMobil, all our valued sponsors, the support of the Qatar Tennis Federation Board of Directors, the State of Qatar institutions and organisations and the ATP. We promise to continue delivering a very special event and it is our wish that all players come and share a wonderful week with us in Doha year after year.”

The <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/doha/451/overview'>Qatar ExxonMobil Open</a> in Doha claims the Tournament of the Year award in the 250 category in the 2019 ATP Awards.

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Rublev Battles To Doha Title

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Rublev Battles To Doha Title

Russian defeats Moutet in Saturday final

Andrey Rublev couldn’t have asked for a better start to his season. The second-seeded Russian earned his third ATP Tour title on Saturday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha with a 6-2, 7-6(3) victory over #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet.

“It’s amazing. I’m always really happy to play here. I always enjoy my time here and to finally win the title is something special for me,” Rublev said. “It’s an amazing start to the season for me and I hope I can keep this level.”

Rublev continued his love affair with Doha, improving to 9-2 and surpassing his runner-up showing in 2018 (l. to Monfils). The 22-year-old is the third-youngest champion in tournament history, only trailing Andy Murray (2008-2009). He also joins Nikolay Dayvdenko (2010) as the only Russians to prevail at this event.

The second seed was in top form from the first ball and powered through the draw without dropping a set. He finished the week leading the field in first-serve points won (80%) and return games won (15/37, 41%), and finished second in service games won (33/36, 92%).

Read More: Why Rublev’s Win Over Federer Is The Biggest Upset Of 2019

Despite the loss, Moutet has plenty of positives to take from this week. The French qualifier ousted fourth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and top-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka en route to clinching his first ATP Tour final appearance. Moutet also showed off his improved fitness by winning back-to-back matches on Friday against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and Wawrinka to reach the championship match.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t win tonight because the opponent was too good. But I will remember this all my life,” Moutet said.

Both men will be rewarded for their efforts by achieving career-high FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday. Rublev is projected to make his Top 20 debut and Moutet will crack the Top 75 for the first time.

“There is still much to work on, but I’m happy to become a Top 20 player,” Rublev said. “I think this is a good part of me, that I still have a lot of space to improve. I want to try to arrive to my maximum and then we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

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The first set was one-way traffic for Rublev, who raced to a 3-0 lead after nine minutes. Moutet started slowly, perhaps feeling the effects from his pair of grueling three-set wins on Friday, while Rublev used his forehand to dictate the baseline rallies. The Russian wrapped up the set with seven winners to just three unforced errors.

It appeared that Rublev would sprint to the title after jumping to another 3-0 advantage in the second set. But Moutet dug deep, adding more height to his shots in the windy conditions and altering the tempo of their exchanges. The Frenchman earned his first pair of break points with Rublev serving at 3-1 and converted after the Russian missed an overhead smash.

A series of comfortable service holds led to a tie-break, where the second seed resumed his dominance and sprinted to a 6/1 lead. A big forehand from Rublev on his third championship point wrapped up the win after one hour and 27 minutes.

Rublev earns 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and $227,930. Moutet leaves with 150 points and $126,160.

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Rafa v Novak Blockbuster In ATP Cup Final!

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Rafa v Novak Blockbuster In ATP Cup Final!

Team Spain, Serbia to meet in ATP Cup final

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced off in finals at every Grand Slam and many of the ATP Tour’s leading events, but both men will meet in new surroundings on Sunday at Ken Rosewall Arena.

The World No. 1 and World No. 2 lead their countries into the inaugural ATP Cup final, with both men eager to lift the trophy alongside their countrymen for the first time. Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 55th time in their ATP Head2Head series (Djokovic leads 28-26) in the tie’s second match, when one player will be able to clinch the title for their team.

“It’s going to be a super tough final against Serbia,” said Nadal. “Novak likes to play here and Serbia has a great team and is playing very well. But Roberto played an amazing match this afternoon and we have a good team, so we are ready for it.”

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Nadal has been impressed by the form of his great rival in the build up to their latest encounter. Djokovic owns a perfect 6-0 record at the ATP Cup so far, which includes singles victories against Top 15 stars Daniil Medvedev, Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov.

“[It is going to] be a tough match for me, of course. He has been playing some great matches this week,” said Nadal.

“But here I am. I think I finished with positive energy [against De Minaur]. I know I have to be ready to play at my highest level to have my chance [against Djokovic]. I need something else, and I’m looking for it.”

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After contesting two matches against Belgium and rallying from a set down to beat Alex de Minaur, Nadal has spent more than six and a half hours on court since arriving in Sydney.

“Physically, I guess he is a little ahead of me. Djokovic plays on a surface that is perhaps his favourite,” said Nadal. “I know I have a complicated game, but if I play at my best level I hope to have my chances. Then, we have other matches in the tie that can help us achieve something important”.

The opening tie of the contest will feature Roberto Bautista Agut and Dusan Lajovic. Top 10 star Bautista Agut enters the contest in top form, having won five matches at this event for the loss of just 19 games.

Lajovic also enters the final with confidence, following his straight-sets victory against Karen Khachanov. The World No. 34, who owns a 4-1 record at this event, will be aiming to record his first win against Bautista Agut in their fourth ATP Head2Head clash. If Lajovic can break new ground, he will hand Djokovic the opportunity to capture the title for Serbia against Nadal.

“I want to give [Dusan] a huge credit for what he has done in this competition so far. He’s won all of his matches except one, and the one he lost was in tight three sets,” said Djokovic.

“His level is getting higher and higher as the competition progresses, which is so good to see [from] him. As a friend and someone that has followed his development for many years, to see him playing this well is fantastic.”

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Following the two singles encounters, Nadal and Djokovic will both return to the court in what could prove to be a winner-takes-all doubles contest.

Nadal will partner Pablo Carreno Busta in the final match of the tournament. The Spaniards own a 2-0 record as a pair in this event, which includes a tie-deciding Match Tie-break victory against Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen of Belgium in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic will join forces with Viktor Troicki, who has secured wins in four of his five matches at the ATP Cup. Djokovic and Troicki have also triumphed in a pivotal doubles contest en route to the final, defeating Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in a Match Tie-break to secure a 2-1 victory for Serbia in Group A.

With Nadal and Djokovic adding another chapter to their famous rivalry, Spain and Serbia are one tie away from writing the first entry in the ATP Cup history book.

The inaugural ATP Cup champions are ready to be crowned.

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Djokovic On Medvedev Epic: 'Exciting, Exhausting, Joyful, Dreadful All At Once'

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Djokovic On Medvedev Epic: ‘Exciting, Exhausting, Joyful, Dreadful All At Once’

Djokovic will play World No. 1 Nadal when Serbia faces Spain on Sunday

To say Novak Djokovic rode a roller coaster on Saturday would be an understatement. The World No. 2 navigated his way through plenty of ups and downs to squeak past Daniil Medvedev in two hours and 48 minutes.

But it wasn’t the length of the match that made it special; it was the intensity. Djokovic and Medvedev engaged in gut-busting rallies that at times left the Serbian bent over, not because he’s not as fit as they come, but because of the physicality of the points.

“Exciting, exhausting, joyful, dreadful all at once,” Djokovic said. “At one point I think we both refused to miss from [the] baseline, so it was a lot of rallies and it was very exhausting. Very physical battle, but also [a] mental battle.”

In a way, Djokovic was looking himself in the mirror. After the 31-minute first set, in which Medvedev made 12 unforced errors from 46 points, the Russian buckled down and forced the Serbian to do something special to win a point, lengthening the rallies and turning the match into a battle of attrition.

“You have to try to use the various tactics and variations in the game itself, the rotation in the ball, and not really give him always the same look because it seems like he’s a machine,” Djokovic said. “I feel the same when I’m in lockdown, so it was a very physical battle. Some amazing points obviously.

“[It was] definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played against him or any other top player [in the] past few years.”

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Djokovic left no doubt that the pro-Serbian crowd inside Ken Rosewall Arena helped push him over the finish line. There were plenty of reasons Djokovic could have become frustrated against the ultra-consistent Medvedev, but there was no way he was letting down his country’s fans.

“I love playing for Serbia and for my country, and team competitions is something that gets me going tremendously,” Djokovic said. “I love it. I love the experiences, the emotions. Nenad [Zimonjic] is our captain. All of the guys on the team are dear friends of mine, some of the best friends I have in my life. I have known them for over 20 years.

“So to get to share these kind of quality moments on and off the court with them, it feels like you’re traveling with a family. That gives you even more reason to keep on playing.

“That’s why I wouldn’t say that I’m really fully focussed on Melbourne. Of course that’s where I want to play my best, but this time is different, because ATP Cup is really, is more special. I really enjoy it because of all of the things that I just stated.”

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Djokovic has already overcome plenty of obstacles during the first event of the season, beating the likes of Kevin Anderson, Denis Shapovalov and Medvedev. And now, he will face his biggest challenge yet in World No. 1 Rafael Nadal when Serbia faces Spain for the championship.

It doesn’t take much to get the 77-time tour-level champion going. But he will be keen to extend his 28-26 ATP Head2Head series lead against the lefty legend.

“It’s the beginning of the season, and I’m not the only player that feels and talks this way, but I’m very motivated,” Djokovic said. “I’m inspired to play my best tennis.”

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Williams into Auckland final with 43-minute win

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Serena Williams thrashed fellow American Amanda Anisimova in just 43 minutes to reach the final of the Auckland International.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, searching for her first title since the 2017 Australian Open, hammered the 18-year-old 6-1 6-1.

Williams, 38, will face Jessica Pegula in the final after the unseeded American overcame Williams’ doubles partner Caroline Wozniacki.

Pegula beat the Dane 3-6 6-4 6-0.

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Williams will feature in two finals in one day when she and Wozniacki play in the doubles final on Sunday.

Should the American win either, it will be her first title since becoming a mother.

She played aggressively against 2019 French Open semi-finalist Anisimova, hitting five aces, converting all five of her break points and winning 77% of first serves.

“I knew I was playing a really great player and an even better person and I knew I had to come out serious,” Williams said.

“My daughter’s only two – I tend to be really hard on myself but considering everything, I’m doing pretty good.”

  • Djokovic’s Serbia into ATP Cup final
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In the Brisbane International, Karolina Pliskova reached the final with a victory over Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka.

Defending champion Pliskova, who is second in the world rankings, fought back to beat world number four Osaka 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

She will play American Madison Keys on Sunday after Keys beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-2 6-3.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will feature in Sunday’s doubles final with Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

Barty is donating all her prize money from Brisbane to the bushfire relief fund – she has already donated her A$32,129 (£16,955) second-round singles prize money to the cause.

Barty and Bertens will face Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova in the final.

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We had to wear our masks indoors – Swan on Australian Open preparation

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

When British number six Katie Swan woke up in Canberra on New Year’s Day, she could smell smoke inside her apartment.

“Because it was still dark we didn’t know what it was like outside, but the news said there had been some really bad fires not far away from us,” Swan told BBC Sport.

“I started Googling ‘air quality in Canberra’ and it was showing off the scale, hazardous air quality that day.

“Then when the sun came up you could see that outside was completely covered in smoke, and ash had settled on top of cars in the street.”

Swan was intending to begin her preparations for the Australian Open with a women’s ITF event in Canberra, the country’s capital city.

Bushfires have been spreading across the country since September 2019 and have destroyed more than 1,200 homes across New South Wales and Victoria.

At least 27 people have died and 10 million hectares of land have been destroyed across the country.

The week that Swan was there, the air quality in Canberra was rated as the worst in the world.

“When we arrived they advised us to get masks because it wasn’t healthy even being outside to breathe in that smoky air,” the 20-year-old said.

“We actually ended up having to wear them inside a couple of times as well because you could feel the smoke even in the apartment.”

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‘You did not want to breathe that air in’

There were no fires in Canberra but smoke from the neighbouring states was blown across the city, covering it in smoke.

Swan admitted that she had not realised the severity of the problem until she arrived.

“As soon as we walked outside to get some food you did not want to breathe that air in,” she said.

“It was like being at a bonfire, but being stood next to it all the time.

“The wind was coming from all directions and just blowing into Canberra. The air was the worst but no-one was actually injured where we were, thankfully.”

Swan and her team were advised not to go outside, which meant training was impossible.

“I woke up one day with quite a bad headache. I don’t know if it could have been related to it, but I did call a doctor to check we were OK to be there,” Swan said.

“We were concerned about it being safe.”

WTA events are held in China during the Asian swing in the later part of the season and the air pollution in the county is some of the worst in the world.

However, Swan said that she had never experienced anything like the smoke in Canberra.

“In China, you can see that there’s a smog and the pollution, but it was a different feeling in Canberra,” she said.

“You could smell the smoke all the time. It felt like you were at a bonfire and you were standing next to that fire, but for 24 hours straight. It wasn’t ideal.”

Ultimately, the tournament was moved from Canberra to Melbourne, where the air quality was slightly better, and Swan and her team relocated to Bendigo in Victoria.

She had arrived in Australia on Tuesday, 31 December, but she did not get out on a court until Friday afternoon when she arrived in Melbourne.

“It was a relief when we flew to Melbourne and stepped outside and could inhale fresh air, but a lot of people have it way, way worse than us,” Swan added.

“It was tough to manage those three days but people have lost their homes.

“It’s been devastating to hear about all the people who are homeless now and the animals that have died.”

Swan, who reached the second round of the Canberra event, will play in the Australian Open qualifiers from Tuesday.

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Hewitt Presents Roche With Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award

  • Posted: Jan 11, 2020

Hewitt Presents Roche With Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award

This award will be presented every two years

Tony Roche, the 74-year-old Australian who once coached the likes of Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Patrick Rafter and Ivan Lendl, was presented with the Tim Gullikson Career Coach award on Saturday evening before the Australia-Spain ATP Cup semi-final inside Ken Rosewall Arena.

Former World No. 1 Hewitt presented Roche with the award. This is the inaugural Tim Gullikson Career Coach award, recognising coaches who, throughout their careers, have had a major impact on the sport of tennis, both on and off the court. 

“I started with the juniors and worked my way up. The whole thing is, you try to get the best out of your player, have a bit of fun and enjoy,” Roche said. “I was lucky enough to work with some of the great tennis players of all-time and yet still remain very good friends with those guys and that’s very important to me.”

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Roche was unanimously selected as the winner of this new award. The recipients will exemplify excellence, leadership, respect, and a true love for the sport of tennis and the art of coaching. Named after the late Tim Gullikson, the award showcases someone who has inspired generations of young players and fellow coaches to grow the sport of tennis.

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