Tennis News

From around the world

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. 

Source link

Rublev Kicks Off 2022 In Style

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2022

World No. 6 and four-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev began his march towards another Grand Slam second week with a straightforward victory over Italy’s Gianluca Mager on Tuesday at the Australian Open. Making his 2022 debut, the Russian blitzed through in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

It was a near-perfect start for Rublev, whose clean hitting produced 31 winners to just 13 errors in the one-hour, 24-minute contest. While he dropped serve once on five break points against, the Russian—a quarter-finalist in Melbourne one year ago—broke seven times and never trailed in any of the three sets.

After winning the ATP Cup and Davis Cup with the Russian Tennis Federation in 2021, Rublev was set to begin his ’22 campaign at this year’s ATP Cup before a positive COVID-19 test ruled him out. He said he felt “a bit tired” before Tuesday’s match due to the layoff, but was pleased with his performance on the day.

“Of course I would have preferred to play ATP Cup, to feel already these emotions, the nerves during the match, to feel this winning feeling,” he explained in his on-court interview. “Of course it’s not easy when you’re not playing for a couple of weeks and you go straight into one of the best tournaments.

“You feel a bit double pressure because you don’t know how it’s going to be. But this is life, you cannot control it.”

Mager’s attempt at a comeback peaked with two break points in the opening game of the final set, but two big Rublev serves set up easy second balls as he quelled the danger with ease. He finished the match with 13 aces and an 81 per cent win rate on first serve.

After his speedy win in the day’s second match in Margaret Court Arena, Rublev now awaits the winner of the match between Ricardas Berankis and Roberto Carballes Baena.

Source link

The Australian Open Moment That Changed Broady's Career

  • Posted: Jan 17, 2022

Liam Broady suffered one of his most disappointing defeats at the 2020 Australian Open. After a hard-working preseason, the Briton arrived in Melbourne for qualifying with high expectations. The result? A 3-6, 0-6 defeat against Ilya Ivashka in 73 minutes.

“I was trounced and it was a terrible match. My initial reaction was to go mess about in the city and get up to no good,” Broady told last year. “The thing was, I had a fantastic preseason leading up to that. I was feeling awful and thinking that it just wasn’t fair. I had done the best preseason of my life and then I won three games in my first match of the year.

“But I was sitting there thinking that going out won’t make me feel better. I’ve done it enough times in my life to realise that.”

It was right then that the lefty decided to make a commitment and fully focus on his career. The “messing about” could wait. He spoke to his longtime coach, David Sammel, to reaffirm that thought.

“I remember telling Dave at the time that I don’t want to talk about the match, but I want to make a commitment to myself and to you that I’ll make the right decisions over the next 12 months. I said that at the end of 2020 we’ll see,” Broady said. “I made the final of the Challenger in Parma and qualified for Roland Garros, which was the first time I qualified at a Slam. I got a few rewards for it. That made me think that I wanted to do it the same way.”

Broady’s career has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Last November, he reached a career-high No. 121 in the ATP Rankings, more than seven years after he cracked the Top 200 as a 20-year-old. The lefty credits his ascent to that change in mindset.

“In all walks of life, sometimes things take longer than you want them to,” Broady said. “It tests your resilience and some people don’t succeed because they fall off at the first hurdle or second hurdle, but these past two years I’ve tried to stay on the track as much as I can. Now I’m getting the rewards.”

Photo Credit: Fresh Focus Swiss
One of the big hurdles Broady successfully navigated was winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title. The Briton lost his first seven finals at that level before finally breaking through in September in Biel, Switzerland. It was seven years on from his first Challenger final, which came in 2014.

That wasn’t the only streak Broady snapped recently. He was unsuccessful in his first 11 attempts to qualify for a major before bringing that to an end at Roland Garros in 2020 (he had previously competed in major main draws as a wild card). Last year in Paris, the Stockport-native won just four games in the second round of qualifying in Paris against Roman Safiullin. But three days ago in Melbourne, Broady rallied from a set and a break down against the same man to reach the main draw.

Broady is beginning to overcome roadblocks that have stopped him in the past, and he has learned plenty of lessons along the way. What would he tell a younger version of himself who first broke through eight years ago?

“I’d say to try not to let the lows be so low and try not to let the highs be so high. It’s tough because people said that to me at that age, if I commit now and invest in myself then I’ll see it in the future,” Broady said. “But it’s one thing for someone to tell you and another to believe it yourself.”

Read Broady’s Challenger Champion Q&A

The lefty will now get set to face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in the first round. Eleven years ago, he defeated the Aussie in the first round of the Wimbledon boys’ singles event. The path since has not been perfect, but Broady is on the right track.

It is fitting that two years on from one of the most disappointing losses of his career, Broady ended up laying flat on an Australian Open court Friday, full of emotions after one of his biggest wins.

“I feel incredibly overjoyed.”

Did You Know?
Broady began his season by serving as the captain of Great Britain’s ATP Cup team.

– Reporting contributed by Josh Meiseles

Source link

Day 2 Preview: Murray Ready For Rematch, Medvedev Begins Title Pursuit

  • Posted: Jan 17, 2022

If neither his five-set fracas with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open nor his three-set dismissal of Spanish upstart Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells last year were enough to convince you that Andy Murray, metal hip and all, still has the stuff to compete for big-stage trophies, his run last week at the Sydney Tennis Classic surely did the trick.

The 34-year-old Scotsman, after all, proved that he can still go corner to corner with the sport’s elite, flashing the kind of form that landed him three major singles titles in his prime. Ranked No. 113, Murray scored a pair of Top-25 wins, even blunting American Reilly Opelka’s serve, in reaching his first tour-level final in more than two years.

“I’ve put so much work and effort into getting back into these positions and to be competing for tournaments again,” said the former No. 1, who fell short against Russian Aslan Karatsev in the title match, 3-6, 3-6. “I have had a lot of issues and gone through a lot to get back here.”

“It’s a huge comeback from him to play at this level after what he has been through,” echoed Karatsev.

Murray hopes to carry that momentum into his much-anticipated return to the Australian Open, where he’s played some of the best tennis of his career. The five-time finalist (2010-11, 2013, 2015-16) has grown accustomed to early-round challenges of late, and the AO will be no exception. The wild card has drawn a familiar foe in Indian Wells runner-up Nikoloz Basilashvili in the opening round. Murray rallied from a set down to defeat the heavy-hitting Georgian just days ago en route to the Sydney final, and also prevailed in four sets in the first round at Wimbledon last year. Both victories were hard-earned.

“It’s a tough, tough draw,” said Murray, currently mentored by Basilashvili’s former coach Jan De Witt. “I would expect another difficult one. He’s a huge hitter of the ball. Hits the ball very clean from both sides and takes a lot of risks. I need to go out and play another top match to win against him in Melbourne.

“He’s not an easy guy to play against, because he can hit winners from all over the court. Not easy to prepare for that.”

Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Murray recently sang the praises of another player who has come within a match of the title in Melbourne Park, 2021 finalist Daniil Medvedev, signalling the Russian as just the kind of player who can break up the prolonged dominance of the Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“It’s nice to hear these words from somebody like Andy, such a champion,” said the World No. 2, who was outplayed by Djokovic in last year’s AO final, but later avenged the loss in claiming his first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

“We all know that the Big Three are getting older, yet they are still winning a lot of Slams. Every tournament that they’re in, they are the favourites… It’s always like this when somebody big is quitting the sport or is starting to not be as good. They’re always saying, ‘Who’s next? There is no one coming.’ Yet there is always somebody to come.”

Like Murray, Medvedev will open his 2022 Australian Open campaign on Tuesday when he faces 91st-ranked Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland. They’ve met just once before, with Medvedev claiming a Davis Cup clash, 7-6(8), 6-7(6), 6-2, in 2019.

“I’m feeling ready physically and mentally,” said the 25-year-old. “That’s the most important thing. That’s when I can play good and I know I can beat anybody.”

Medvedev’s countryman Andrey Rublev, the fifth seed, is in for a first-time meeting with Italian Gianluca Mager, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas finds himself matched with longtime friend and occasional practice partner Mikael Ymer in Melbourne for the second straight year. The 23-year-old Greek, who made his first big splash at the Australian Open in 2019, stunning Roger Federer and becoming the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist (20) since 2007, is 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head against the Swede.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Fresh off Canada’s triumphant run to the ATP Cup title, where he banked wins over Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie and Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime will go up against 90th-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

The atmosphere is sure to be lively when home favourite Nick Kyrgios takes the court against qualifier Liam Broady of Great Britain.

Also on the busy Day 2 schedule are eighth seed Casper Ruud (vs. Alex Molcan of Russia), 11th seed Jannik Sinner (vs. lucky loser Joao Sousa of Portugal), 13th seed Diego Schwartzman (vs. Filip Kajinovic of Serbia), 20th seed Taylor Fritz (vs. Maximilian Marterer of Germany), 22nd seed John Isner (vs. Maxime Cressy of the United States), and 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov (vs. Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic).

Source link

Karatsev Backs Up Sydney Title With Munar Win

  • Posted: Jan 17, 2022

Aslan Karatsev survived a scare Monday as he continued his impressive recent record in Australia with a hard-fought win, edging Spain’s Jaume Munar 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

The 18th seed, who advanced to the semi-finals in Melbourne last year as a qualifier, won his third tour-level title on Saturday at the Sydney Tennis Classic (d. Murray). But the Russian was never completely comfortable against the solid baseline game of Munar. The Spaniard led by a set-and-a-break on Kia Arena as Karatsev was unable to consistently replicate the clean hitting that powered him to the Sydney crown.

With just one day off between his victory against Andy Murray and his opening match in Melbourne, Karatsev could be forgiven for showing signs of fatigue. Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis had faced the same 48-hour turnaround having won the Adelaide International 2 trophy on Saturday and he was unable to replicate such heroics in Melbourne, with German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann cruising past the wild card 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

Unlike Kokkinakis though, Karatsev was able to find the energy and resolve required to fight back, securing his mammoth win after four hours and 55 minutes. The World No. 15 now leads Munar 2-0 in their ATPHead2Head series after also defeating the Spaniard in the first round of the 2021 US Open.

In a tight clash, Munar clinched the first set 6-3 after a series of wayward groundstrokes from Karatsev gave the Spaniard a double break. Visibly frustrated, the Russian let out a roar of anger at the start of the second set which seemed to spark him into life as he recovered from 0-3 to force a tiebreak, which he sealed with a sublime forehand pass.

Munar’s consistency caused problems for the more hit-or-miss style of Karatsev throughout. The Russian ended with 87 winners but also 107 unforced errors, compared to Munar’s 24 winners and 35 unforced errors.

After the Spaniard stayed calm to take the third set tiebreak, a topsy-turvy end to the match saw Karatsev throw away double-break lead in the fourth set, before he finally prevailed in the decider to set up a second-round meeting with World No. 55 Mackenzie McDonald.

Munar was making his fourth appearance at the Australian Open. The World No. 71 reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne Summer Set earlier in January and also teamed with countryman Rafael Nadal on the doubles court at the ATP 250 event.

Source link