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2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Tuesday Night
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Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.
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Daniil Medvedev Finds Another Way of Playing Professional Tennis
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At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.
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“Be honest for once” – Brenda Patea accuses Alexander Zverev of lying about his involvement in her pregnancy
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Alexander Zverev's ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea has slammed the German for using their unborn child to boost his own public image despite not being in contact with her during her pregnancy.Patea, a German model, announced in October 2020 that she was pregnant with Alexander Zverev's daughter. She was in a relationship with Zverev until July of last year, and is currently 36 weeks into the pregnancy.Patea had declared at first that she had no plans of sharing custody of their child with Zverev, before subsequent public statements made it seem like the two were on amicable terms.But in her recent interview with German tabloid 'Bild', Patea revealed that the pair have had no contact for two months. The 27-year-old claimed that they last spoke when another ex-girlfriend, Olga Sharypova, accused Zverev of domestic violence during their relationship."I've been reading many of Alex's (Zverev) interviews and I ask myself what he wants to achieve by saying these things," Patea said. "'Highlight of his life'? 'He's extremely happy'? 'Highest priority'? I can hardly believe that because we aren't in contact thus far and he hasn't reached out."(Patea's interview with Bild was in German, and the quotes were translated into English by Twitter users fluent in both languages).Someone asked me to translate this so I’ll share it here too. Brenda is asked in her latest stories about Zverev. I translated her answers. In the background she shows excerpts of his latest interview. My summary: Zverev is full of lies and he’s shown it time and time again. pic.twitter.com/Xq2H1pYuXW— Nawal (@NawalNadal) February 15, 2021Brenda Patea was further asked if she shares the details of the pregnancy and of their unborn daughter with Alexander Zverev. But the model said there had been no contact of any kind and no initiative from Zverev's side. Patea added that she was tired of people assuming otherwise based on the tennis star's interviews. "I just wanted peace and quiet. But so many people are telling me, 'It's great that you're in contact (with Zverev) and that he's interested'. I've had enough of his 'perfect' interviews. Be honest for once," Patea added."If Alexander Zverev is saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too" - Brenda Patea Brenda Patea cheers on Alexander Zverev during the couple's happier timesJust hours after Brenda Patea announced her pregnancy in October, another of Alexander Zverev's ex-girlfriends - Olga Sharypova - accused the US Open finalist of being physically and emotionally abusive towards her during their time together.Sharypova dated Zverev for a year before the NextGen star got together with Brenda Patea. The Russian claimed that Zverev had been physically abusive several times, and specifically mentioned an episode during the 2019 Laver Cup. The incident, in her words, drove Sharypova towards an attempt at ending her life, before she was rescued by hotel staff.Also read: Djokovic's sympathetic support of Zverev, and the silence of Federer & Nadal, highlight tennis' insensitivity towards abuse At the time, there was speculation that Brenda Patea's refusal to share custody of their future child with Alexander Zverev was an indication that he had been unpleasant towards Patea too. But the German model quickly denied any such rumors.Following the denial, there was a tacit understanding in the media that Alexander Zverev and Brenda Patea were planning to raise their daughter together. That, however, was a misconception, as revealed now by Patea."We had contact two months ago when the thing with his ex (Sharypova) came out but that was it," Patea said. "It's stupid to do this in the media. But if he's saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too."If the tone of Patea's answers is anything to go by, it seems like Alexander Zverev has been using his "happiness" on becoming a father as a way to repair his public image after Olga Sharypova's accusations. It remains to be seen how the 23-year-old reacts to this new development, especially since he is still alive in the ongoing Australian Open. Published 16 Feb 2021, 12:22 IST .
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Aslan Karatsev of Russia Continues an Unlikely Run at Australian Open
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He is the mystery man who few in the sport had heard of just days ago. But Aslan Karatsev of Russia has landed in the semifinals of the Australian Open.In one of the most unlikely runs in the history of modern tennis, Karatsev on Tuesday became one of the few players to make the final four of a Grand Slam after surviving the qualifying tournament when he beat an ailing Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in four sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.Karatsev, 27, who was born in Russia, moved to Israel as a child, then returned to Russia as a teenager to pursue better tennis training, according to The Times of Israel. He had been playing in the tennis hinterlands for several years with little success. He had never qualified for a Grand Slam before this tournament. He won three straight matches at the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha to win a spot in the main event and came in ranked No. 114 in the world. He has never been ranked higher than No. 111.Dimitrov appeared to have the match under control after the first set but suffered what looked to be back spasms in the third set and appeared to be on the edge of retiring for the rest of the match.Just four other players have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam after getting through the qualifying event.Ahead of the Australian Open, he played doubles for Team Russia in the ATP Cup, a team event in which players represent their countries. Russia won the competition, but not because of Karatsev, who lost all three matches in which he played with two different partners.His teammates noticed that he was playing as well as they had ever seen, and yet none of them would have predicted anything like this.“We felt like he could do something amazing,” Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s top player and the No. 4 seed in the Australian Open. “To be honest, being in your first Grand Slam main draw? Making quarters is something exceptional. He’s not over yet.”He certainly is not.Karatsev will take on the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.
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ชายและหญิงรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศที่เมลเบิร์นพาร์ค
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เราเข้าถึงชายแปดคนและหญิงแปดคนใน Australian Open ของปีนี้และในขณะที่ทุกสายตาจับจ้องไปที่การแข่งขันชิงแชมป์ Djokovic ชายกับนาดาลที่เป็นไปได้เราทุกคนต่างรอคอยที่จะได้เห็นว่า Ashleigh Barty จะสามารถเป็นแชมป์แรกในบ้านของเราได้ใน 43 ปี. บาร์ตี้ยังคงวิ่งได้อย่างราบรื่นผ่านการจับฉลากเอาชนะเชลบีโรเจอร์สในเซตโดยตรงเพื่อเข้าสู่รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศที่เมลเบิร์นพาร์คเป็นปีที่สามติดต่อกัน ตอนนี้ควีนส์แลนเดอร์วัย 24 ปีเป็นที่ชื่นชอบที่ได้รับความนิยมในรอบชิงชนะเลิศซึ่งจะเป็นคนแรกของท้องถิ่นนับตั้งแต่รถไฟเหาะตีลังกาของ Lleyton Hewitt ในปี 2548 ที่เขาพ่ายแพ้ให้กับ Marat Safin ในขณะที่ตำแหน่งแรกดำเนินไปเรื่อย ๆ แต่ก็ยังเห็นภัยคุกคามที่ใหญ่ที่สุดสามประการจากการจับฉลาก - โซเฟียเคนินผู้ปกป้องแชมป์อดีตคาโรลินาพลิสโกวาอันดับหนึ่งของโลกและเอลิน่าสวิโตลินาเมล็ดที่ห้าซึ่งทั้งหมดนี้เกิดขึ้นก่อนรอบรองชนะเลิศ จากนั้น Barty เผชิญหน้ากับ Karolina Muchova ผู้ซึ่งอ้างว่าเธอได้รับชัยชนะจาก Pliskova ด้วยการเอาชนะ Elise Mertens รอบรองชนะเลิศในปี 2018 ในซีรีส์โดยตรง นี่จะเป็นครั้งที่สองที่ Barty และ Muchova พบกันในระดับแกรนด์สแลมโดยออสเตรเลียชนะการแข่งขันซีรีส์เดียวก่อนหน้านี้ที่ยูเอสโอเพ่น 2018 ซึ่งเป็นการเปิดตัวครั้งใหญ่ในครั้งหลัง Ashleigh Barty ส่งลูกเสิร์ฟ (ภาพโดย Chaz Niell / Getty Images) ก่อนหน้านี้ในวันนั้น Svitolina พ่ายแพ้สามเซตโดยเจสสิก้าเพ็กกูลานักฆ่ายักษ์ชาวอเมริกันซึ่งก่อนการแข่งขันเคยเอาชนะวิกตอเรียอาซาเรนกาสองแชมป์และอดีตแชมป์ยูเอสโอเพ่นซาแมนธา Stosur Pegula วัย 26 ปีเผชิญหน้ากับเจนนิเฟอร์เบรดี้ที่ชนะแบบรวดเดียวกับดอนนาเวคิชซึ่งแม้จะถูกขัดขวางด้วยอาการบาดเจ็บที่เข่าขวาในช่วงต้นเซตที่สอง แต่ก็แพ้ไปเพียง 7-5 โดยทิ้งไปก่อน 6 -1. ในแง่ของเงินเดิมพันที่เขย่าครึ่งบนของการจับฉลากตอนนี้ดูเหมือนว่าความพึงพอใจเท่านั้นที่จะป้องกันไม่ให้ Ashleigh Barty ไปถึงรอบชิงชนะเลิศซึ่งหากเป็นเช่นนั้นจะรับประกันเรตติ้งความสำเร็จที่เพียงพอสำหรับผู้จัดรายการโทรทัศน์ช่อง Nine รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศหญิงจะเริ่มขึ้นในวันนี้โดยมีนาโอมิโอซาก้าแชมป์ปี 2019 และ Hsieh Su-wei ทหารผ่านศึกชาวจีนไทเปเผชิญหน้ากันในช่วงบ่ายและ Serena Williams และ Simona Halep เป็นผู้นำในช่วงค่ำ โอซาก้าปรากฏตัวในเกมรอบที่สี่กับการ์บีนมูกูรูซาโดยทิ้ง 2 แต้มในเกมที่เก้าก่อนจะชนะสี่เกมรวดเพื่ออ้างสิทธิ์ในเซตสุดท้าย 7-5 ซึ่งทำลายการเสิร์ฟของชาวสเปนให้ต้องรักจนตาย Garbine Muguruza ของสเปน (ภาพ PETER PARKS / AFP / Getty) นี่เป็นครั้งที่สี่ที่สตาร์ชาวญี่ปุ่นเข้าสู่รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศอย่างยิ่งใหญ่ ในสัญญาณที่เป็นอันตรายต่อส่วนที่เหลือของสนามทุกครั้งที่เธอไม่อยู่ในภาพเธอก็คว้าแชมป์ต่อไป นอกจากนี้เขายังชนะสี่ในห้านัดของเขากับ Hsieh และในรอบที่สามของ 2019 Australian Open ซึ่งเขาต้องมาจากจุดที่ต้องชนะ เมื่ออายุ 35 ปี Hsieh จะลงเล่นใน Grand Slam รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศเป็นครั้งแรกในรอบเกือบสองทศวรรษในสนาม WTA นอกจากนี้เธอยังเป็นผู้เล่นหญิงชาวไต้หวันคนแรกที่ไปถึงจุดที่สำคัญหลังจากที่ Lu Yen-hsun เข้าถึงแปดคนสุดท้ายในวิมเบิลดันในปี 2010 (เธอทำให้แอนดี้ร็อดดิกตกใจอย่างมากบนท้องถนน) รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศคนอื่น ๆ เห็นวิลเลียมส์เผชิญหน้ากับฮาเล็ปในภาพเป็นครั้งแรกนับตั้งแต่การแข่งขันวิมเบิลดันปี 2019 รอบชิงชนะเลิศเมื่อชาวโรมาเนียอ้างสิทธิ์ในตำแหน่งแกรนด์สแลมที่สองของเธอทำให้ชาวอเมริกันในตำนานพ่ายแพ้อย่างเลวร้ายที่สุดในรอบชิงชนะเลิศของกระบวนการ ก่อนหน้านั้นนักเตะวัย 39 ปีชนะการแข่งขัน 5 นัดก่อนหน้านี้รวมถึงในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศของยูเอสโอเพ่น 2016 และที่นี่ในรอบที่ 4 ของออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่น 2019 โดยทั้งสองนัดจะเหลือสามเซต ผู้เล่นทั้งสองคนใช้ระยะทางในการแข่งขันรอบที่สี่โดยวิลเลียมส์เอาชนะอารีน่าซาบาเลนกาลูกที่เจ็ดได้สามเซ็ตและปฏิเสธว่าเบลารุสจะเริ่มต้นการต้อนรับสู่รอบรองชนะเลิศแกรนด์สแลมและฮาเล็ปก็มาจากเซตเพื่อเอาชนะเฟรนช์โอเพ่น แชมป์ Iga Swiatek นั่นเป็นลักษณะของความวืดของแมตช์นี้เป็นที่คาดหวังกันอย่างกว้างขวางว่าใครก็ตามที่ชนะแมตช์นี้จะผ่านเข้ารอบชิงชนะเลิศ แต่ก็ไม่ควรประมาทโอซาก้าที่ยังคงเป็นหนึ่งในทีมเต็งที่จะได้รับตำแหน่งสำคัญครั้งแรกใน 2021 ในด้านของฝ่ายชายสเตฟาโนสซิตซิปัสเมล็ดที่ 5 ได้ผ่านฟรีในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศหลังจากมัตเตโอแบร์เร็ตตินีคู่ต่อสู้ชาวอิตาลีของเขาออกจากตำแหน่งเนื่องจากอาการตึงเครียดในช่องท้อง ทั้งคู่เล่นที่ Rod Laver Arena หลังจากการแข่งขัน Barty vs. Rogers เมื่อคืนที่ผ่านมา Tsitsipas เผชิญหน้ากับราฟาเอลนาดาลเมล็ดพันธุ์ที่สองซึ่งยังคงทำให้ชะตากรรมของเขาราบรื่นต่อไปหลังจากเอาชนะฟาบิโอฟอญินีกองกลางชาวอิตาลีในชุดโดยตรง ชาวสเปนหนีออกจากเซตแรกแพ้เพียงสามเกม แต่ดูเหมือนว่าจะถูกท้าทายเมื่อเขาออกจากการเสิร์ฟในช่วงเริ่มต้นของวินาทีเพียงเพื่อชนะสี่เกมติดต่อกันจาก 4-2 ลงมาเพื่อชนะ 6-4 และอื่น ๆ . อ้างสิทธิ์ในการขาย 2 ชุด (ภาพโดย Kelly Defina / Getty Images) นอกจากนี้เขายังนำ 6-3, 6-4 ในช่วงเวลาก่อนหน้า (และครั้งเดียว) ที่เขาเผชิญหน้ากับ Fognini ในภาพ - มีเพียงชาวอิตาลีเท่านั้นที่จะทิ้งเขาจากด้านหลังโดยอ้างว่าเป็นผู้ตั้งค่าห้า ที่ยูเอสโอเพ่น 2015 เริ่มตั้งแต่ปี 2021 ยังคงเป็นครั้งเดียวที่นาดาลแพ้แมตช์ 2 เซตทูเลิฟในระดับแกรนด์สแลมแม้ว่าจะเป็นครั้งที่สองโดยทั่วไปหลังจากที่ยอมแพ้กับ Roger Federer ในรอบชิงชนะเลิศ Miami Masters ปี 2005 แต่ไม่มีคำถามเกี่ยวกับการสร้างวีรกรรมของ Fognini ซ้ำในนิวยอร์กเมื่อห้าปีครึ่งที่ผ่านมาขณะที่ Clay King อ้างว่าเซตสุดท้าย 6-2 เพื่อเข้าสู่รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศของรายการ Open ที่ออสเตรเลียเป็นครั้งที่ 13 ในช่วง 15 ปีที่ผ่านมา นาดาลต้องการชัยชนะอีกเพียงสามครั้งเพื่อที่จะคว้าแชมป์แกรนด์สแลมเป็นสองเท่า แต่ก็ยังมีสถิติสูงกว่าสถิติชายเดี่ยว 20 รายการที่เขาแชร์กับโรเจอร์เฟเดอเรอร์ การคว้าแชมป์เฟรนช์โอเพ่นในปลายปีนี้ยังทำให้เขาคว้าแชมป์ชายเดี่ยวครั้งที่ 22 และสร้างชื่อเสียงให้ตัวเองเป็นนักเทนนิสชายที่ยิ่งใหญ่ที่สุดตลอดกาล Andrey Rublev ชาวรัสเซียและ Daniil Medvedev จัดฉากการปะทะกันรอบสี่ทีมสุดท้ายในสถานการณ์ที่แตกต่าง Rublev ก้าวหน้าเมื่อ Casper Ruud คู่ต่อสู้ชาวนอร์เวย์ของเขาออกจากตำแหน่งหลังจากการล่มสลายของสองเซ็ตแรกในขณะที่ Medvedev ก้าวเข้าสู่รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศนัดแรกของ Australian Open เมื่อเขาเอาชนะ Mackenzie McDonald ในเซตโดยตรง พวกเขาเป็นชายชาวรัสเซียสองในสามคนที่จะไปถึงเมลเบิร์นพาร์คส่วนอีกคน - อัสลานคารัตเซฟ - กลายเป็นคนแรกที่เข้ารอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศโดยเบอร์นาร์ดโทมิกที่วิมเบิลดันในปี 2554 และเป็นคนแรกที่ล้มเหลวในการแข่งขัน Australian Open นับตั้งแต่ Goran Ivanisevic ในปี 1989 Karatsev กำลังมองหาอาชีพที่มีมนต์ขลังของเขาต่อไปในขณะที่เขาเผชิญหน้ากับ Grigor Dimitrov ผู้ช่ำชองซึ่งส่งหมัดเด็ดอันดับสามและ Dominic Thiem ผู้เข้ารอบสุดท้ายในปีที่แล้วไปสู่ชัยชนะอย่างถล่มทลายซีรีส์โดยตรงในวันอาทิตย์ นี่เป็นครั้งที่สี่ที่ดิมิทรอฟเข้าถึงรอบแปดคนสุดท้ายในรายการออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่นและเขาจะเริ่มรอบตัดเชือกเพื่อเข้าถึงรอบรองชนะเลิศที่สองที่นี่ (และอันดับสี่โดยรวม) ซึ่งเขาจะเผชิญหน้ากับผู้ชนะการแข่งขันระหว่างโนวัคยอโควิชและอเล็กซานเดอร์ Zverev Djokovic ยกเลิกความกังวลเกี่ยวกับการฉีกขาดของกล้ามเนื้อโดยต้องใช้สี่เซ็ตเพื่อเอาชนะ Milos Raonic ผลลัพธ์ที่ได้ทำให้มั่นใจได้ว่าเขายังไม่พ่ายแพ้ต่อนายพลชาวแคนาดา อย่างไรก็ตาม Raonic สามารถคว้าแชมป์กับ Serbs ในระดับ Grand Slam ได้เป็นครั้งแรก ซเวเรฟมือวางอันดับหกเอาชนะชาวเซอร์เบียดูซานลาโจวิชอีกคนในเซตโดยตรงเพื่อเข้าถึงรอบชิงชนะเลิศที่เมลเบิร์นพาร์คเป็นปีที่สองติดต่อกันในขณะที่เขายังคงเสนอราคาเพื่อเป็นชายคนแรกจากประเทศที่เข้าสู่รอบชิงชนะเลิศที่นี่นับตั้งแต่เรนเนอร์ Schuettler ในปี 2003 การแข่งขันที่จะรับชมในวันที่ 9 Rod Laver Arena เซสชันของวัน - การแข่งขันเริ่มเวลา 12:30 น. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) vs [3] นาโอมิโอซาก้า (JPN) ไม่ก่อน 15:00 น.[18[ Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs Aslan Karatsev (RUS) Night session – play starts at 7:00pm[10] เซเรน่าวิลเลียมส์กับ [2] ซิโมนาฮาเล็ป (ROU)[1] โนวัคยอโควิช (SRB) ปะทะ [6] อเล็กซานเดอร์ซเวเรฟ (GER)
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Hsieh Su-Wei to Face Naomi Osaka at Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia — The tennis court becomes a fun house mirror when the player across the net is Hsieh Su-Wei, the queen of the overhead drop shot, whose wicked spins, clever angles and two-handed shots from both sides can rattle her opponents.Naomi Osaka, a three-time Grand Slam champion, sighed audibly on Sunday when informed that her reward for fending off two match points against Garbine Muguruza was a meeting with Hsieh, who clinched her place in the quarterfinals while Osaka was struggling to solve the problem that was Muguruza.“She’s one of those players that, for me, if it was a video game, I would want to select her character just to play her,” Osaka, the 2019 champion, said. “Because my mind can’t fathom the choices she makes when she’s on the court.”Osaka, 23, added, “It’s not fun to play her, but it’s really fun to watch.”Hsieh, 35, is more accomplished in doubles, where she and her partner, Barbora Strycova, arrived at Melbourne Park as the top seeds and exited in the second round. A three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, Hsieh had never advanced to the quarterfinals in singles in 37 prior Grand Slam singles main draw appearances.“She’s probably going to smash me on the court,” Hsieh said cheerfully. “I try to play my game, do my job, see what happens.”Hsieh has a resting happy face, but behind the smile lurks a steely competitor. She has played Osaka five times, and four of the matches have gone three sets, including Hsieh’s lone win, in the third round in Miami in 2019 when Osaka was the world No. 1.Asked what makes playing Hsieh such a challenge, Osaka said, “Have you watched her play?” She laughed. “It’s like, ‘What?’”She added, “I know that for me, whenever I play her I just have to expect everything.”The showdown between Hsieh of Taiwan and Osaka of Japan, is a study in contrasts. Osaka creates pace and Hsieh redirects it. Osaka is a marketing magnet who added Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Workday to her endorsement portfolio ahead of the Australian Open. Hsieh has no sponsors, partly by design.“I’d rather stay simple,” said Hsieh, whose tournament routine of shopping for discounted tennis wear has been upended by the statewide lockdown instituted last week.As embodied by Osaka, the power game is in vogue. But Hsieh’s more refined style will never go out of fashion. She is an artist that turns convention on its head with an unusual vision that gives the court its shape, the way a Bundt pan gives shape to the batter poured into it.“I think she has incredible hands and incredible eyes,” said Serena Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “She sees the ball very early, seeing and anticipating a lot.”That’s why she has such an economy of movement, he added, “and why she’s so difficult to play.”For the past three weeks, the tricky job of preparing the crafty Hsieh for her matches has fallen to Andrew Whittington, who advanced to the semifinals in men’s doubles at the 2017 Australian Open and has cracked the top 200 in singles.On a sunny Monday on Court 17, hard against the tram tracks on the eastern periphery of the grounds, Whittington spent close to an hour feeding Hsieh the hard, flat, well-placed serves that are Osaka’s signature.Hsieh’s coach, Paul McNamee, instructed Whittington to hold nothing back. After Hsieh failed to get her racket on a ball to her backhand, McNamee sidled up to Hsieh and said she would be seeing that serve a lot from Osaka.Hsieh nodded solemnly. Seconds later, she lifted a ball off the court with her racket, turned her back to the net and hit a no-look rainbow shot back to Whittington, who could only laugh.McNamee described Hsieh as a free spirit and said: “You don’t want to box that spirit. You’ve got to let it rise and be free.”Laughing, McNamee added, “I’ve learned the joy of silence a lot working with Su-Wei.”During the last few minutes of the hourlong practice, Whittington fielded serves from Hsieh, including a few made underhanded. He was more prepared for those than the question she lobbed at him near the end of the drill.“Is my serve very slow?” she said.It was the rare instance when she wasn’t kidding around. Sensing Hsieh’s vulnerability, Whittington moved quickly to assure her that her serve is fine. Like the rest of the arrows in her quiver, it is deceptively sharp. Hsieh has put 71 percent of her first serves in play in this tournament.Hsieh’s authenticity, her guilelessness, is “what makes her so unique and so great to work with,” Whittington said.Whittington brought more tennis rackets to the hitting session than Hsieh, who generally travels with one. The ball finds the sweet spot on her racket with such regularity, McNamee explained, that Hsieh went three years without breaking a string.An entertainer who wields her racket like a magician’s prop, Hsieh is sorry that the lockdown will shut out fans through Wednesday — and perhaps longer.“I think I just stay the same, enjoy, try to be positive,” she said. “If I don’t win, I hope quarantine finishes very soon so I can go out to enjoy a little bit.”Even if Osaka comes away with the win, she doubts it will be enjoyable. In the third round of the 2019 Australian Open, Osaka defeated Hsieh, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.It is not a pleasant memory.“I just remember having, like, so many emotions just because I felt like there wasn’t a lot of things I could control while I was playing her,” Osaka said.It is Hsieh’s greatest strength. She can make the best, most powerful players feel helpless.
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Injured Djokovic ‘gambles’ to play on at Australian Open
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FILE – Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 10, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his second round match against Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy Novak Djokovic says it’s a “gamble” to keep playing the Australian Open and his abdominal injury could have an impact on the rest of his season, but the world number one is prepared to take the risk. The Serbian eight-time champion sustained a “muscle tear” during a thrilling five-setter against Taylor Fritz on Friday. He didn’t train the following day but took to Rod Laver Arena Sunday evening dosed up on painkillers to see off the threat posed by big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic over four sets and make the quarterfinals. Djokovic said the pain was “bearable” and he “somehow managed to find a way and win”. But he is not planning to train again on Monday, instead working on his recovery ahead of his last-eight clash with sixth seed Alexander Zverev. “I mean, it’s kind of a gamble, that’s what the medical team told me. It’s really unpredictable, you can’t know what’s going to happen with you once you’re on the court,” he said. “You’re not gonna save yourself or think about going for that point or this shot or that shot. It just pulls you. It’s normal. Playing at this level, you just want to give it your all. “It could cause much more damage than it is at the moment, but also could go in a good direction.” The 33-year-old refused to say what exactly the problem was, although his abdomen was strapped against Raonic and he said after the Fritz clash that was it “a tear of the muscle”. ‘There is always a risk’ “I know what it is, but I don’t want to talk about it now. I’m still in the tournament,” he said, conscious that he does not want to give Zverev any extra ammunition to target him. “I hope you guys understand that. I don’t want to speculate too much about it.” Djokovic’s win against Raonic was his 300th at a Slam, only the second player in history to reach the mark after Roger Federer, who has 362. It kept him on track for an 18th Grand Slam title in his bid to close in on the 20 held by the Swiss great and Rafael Nadal. His drive for more Slam crowns is the reason he hasn’t pulled out, making clear that if it was any tournament other than a Grand Slam he would have withdrawn. But playing on could mean he faces a period on the sidelines after Melbourne to recover. “I have talked a lot with my own medical team and also the medical team of Tennis Australia — Australian Open,” he said. “They all share the opinion that there is a slight, very slight, slim chance that I will make a significant damage that would take me out of the tour for whatever, some extended period of time. “So, yes, there is always a risk that the injury will get worse, but they don’t think it’s going to be very significantly worse that it’s going to jeopardize my entire season. “So it will jeopardize, depending on how I go here, certain tournaments that are coming after Australian Open that I was maybe thinking to play.” Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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Brilliant Barty sweeps into Australian Open quarterfinals
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Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 15, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning her fourth round match against Shelby Rogers of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina MELBOURNE – Ash Barty made light of the challenge of unseeded American Shelby Rogers with a commanding 6-3 6-4 victory to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the third year in a row on Monday. The world number one has tried to deflect talk that she might end Australia’s 43-year wait for a homegrown champion next Saturday but she looked every bit the title contender as she swept into the last eight without dropping a set. The quest for a home Grand Slam title continues ✨@ashbarty is into her third consecutive #AusOpen quarterfinal.#AO2021 pic.twitter.com/CUIVUeg2XE — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 15, 2021 Rogers has played quarterfinals at two Grand Slams and made a habit of upsetting highly-ranked players but she was unable to get enough of a handle on Barty’s serve to make her high-quality returns a factor. Barty faltered for the first time with victory in sight, allowing Rogers to take back one of the two breaks of serve she had given up in the second set, but the top seed fixed a quarterfinal date with Czech Karolina Muchova two games later. Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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Speed of Courts at Issue in Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia — The chatter about the speed of the tennis courts at the Australian Open this year started innocently enough.It was just before the ATP Cup, the team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event. Dominic Thiem of Austria, the winner of last year’s United States Open, mentioned he had been practicing at John Cain Arena, and the ball seemed to be coming off the blue hardcourt pretty darn fast.Days later, Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and eight-time champion of the Australian Open, said the court at Rod Laver Arena, which he refers to as his second backyard, felt strikingly fast. Then, after his second-round defeat of Frances Tiafoe of the United States, Djokovic said it was playing faster than at any other time since he began playing here 15 years ago, which is not a bad thing for perhaps the game’s most precise and effective ball striker. He said it again after beating Milos Raonic in the fourth round Sunday night. On Friday night, Thiem, the No. 3 seed, came back from two sets down to beat the fan favorite Nick Kyrgios of Australia in the third round, and spoke of all the challenges he had faced — a hostile crowd, Kyrgios’s booming serve and “the fastest Grand Slam Court I have ever played on.”Few players have disagreed.Their comments have caught Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open and the keeper of the courts at Melbourne Park, a bit off guard. Last year at the Australian Open, some players complained the courts were too slow.Machar Reid, the head of innovation for Tennis Australia, knows the most about the condition of the courts. He said pretournament tests produced results similar to last year, the first year the Australian Open contracted with GreenSet, which supplies the acrylic coating of the courts, essentially the paint.“What we aim for is consistency, year after year, not just here but for all the facilities in the country, so the players are playing on a similar surface no matter where they are,” Reid said in an interview last week. “All our indications are that the courts are the same.”Without getting overly technical in evaluating the tests against the experiences of multimillionaire athletes who have hit countless shots on countless courts and are sensitive to the tiniest changes in conditions, it is worth noting that tennis players consistently suffer from the Goldilocks syndrome.Tennis courts are always either too fast or too slow, too slick or too sticky. Players can shift their opinion midway through a match if the weather changes. They are not an easy lot to please.Men seem to obsess and complain about the speed more than women, perhaps because they hit harder. A serve traveling at 130 miles per hour is plenty difficult to return on a normal court. On a too-fast court it is tough to get the racket on it.The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s world governing body, classifies tennis courts into one of five categories for its Court Pace Rating: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast. A surface receives its classification after various tests that include measuring how high a ball bounces when it hits the surface at different speeds and how easily it slides when it is dragged across it, as well as other factors.The red clay of the French Open is the slowest Grand Slam surface. Playing on the grass of Wimbledon in certain conditions can feel like playing on an ice rink, with the ball skidding and barely rising above a player’s shins. The slightly cushioned hardcourts at the United States Open and the Australian Open are plenty fast, but the ball generally pops up. The speed can be adjusted from year to year depending on the grittiness of the acrylic coating — think of it as adding sand to paint.All the courts at Melbourne Park were polished and given a fresh coat of the GreenSet acrylic before this year’s tournament. Reid said Tennis Australia aims to provide a court that lands right in the middle of the I.T.F. classification scale because the organization believes that kind of court produces the best tennis.A court rated in the fastest category would too heavily favor the big servers and prevent points from developing. A slow court would encourage players to stay back and turn each point into a defensive chess match. A medium court allows tennis to hit that delicate balance between athleticism and strategy.The problem is tennis tournaments don’t take place in a static environment. No matter what the numbers say, how “fast” a tennis court plays is the result of an incalculable and ever-changing interaction of the ball, the surface of the court and the climate.Changes in the weather can have a drastic effect on how a ball moves. Cooler weather can make a tennis ball feel like a rock on the racket and lessen its bounce. When the temperature rises, the ball becomes livelier. There have been a few hot days in the past month, but the weather has been rather cool for the Melbourne summer.Then again, racket and string technologies are always improving, allowing players to hit harder, with more topspin than ever. Also, courts generally speed up with increased play, and the courts at Melbourne Park have experienced significantly more play than normal this year. Players began practicing on the courts three weeks before the Australian Open. Five separate competitions took place the week before the tournament started.And yet it’s a mystery whether the courts are truly faster and how big a factor that will play in the outcome of the tournament.Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, whose game is laced with power, described the court at Rod Laver Arena as one of the slowest at Melbourne Park and not that different from the courts at other Grand Slam events.But Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, one of the game’s great baseline defenders, described the courts as “really, really quick.” Schwartzman, the No. 8 seed, lost in the third round to Aslin Karatsev, a hard-hitting Russian ranked 114th in the world and playing in his first Grand Slam singles tournament. Karatsev dispatched Schwartzman in three sets.“He’s a guy who was doing very powerful shots every single time, and the court was not helping,” Schwartzman said. “I prefer it a little bit slower, to have better conditions so you can think a little bit more in the match and you can have choices, different choices, different shots.”In the fourth round, Karatsev came back from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the No. 20 seed.“I played here before, and it was slower,” Karatsev said. “But for me, it’s good. I think the fast surface for me, it’s always good.”On Sunday, Thiem, the big hitter who started all this chatter, lost badly to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at Rod Laver Arena, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.“It was very, very fast, probably the fastest Grand Slam I’ve played so far,” Thiem said. “But that wasn’t the issue.”After the tournament, Reid said, he will evaluate the reams of data produced by the Hawk-Eye system, which takes hundreds of measurements per second of the ball and the court position of each player. It should provide some insight into whether the courts were faster this year. Or maybe it won’t.
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Nadal gathers strength as injuries strike rivals
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Photo from Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) Twitter account MELBOURNE – For a player who was all doom and gloom about his fitness on the eve of the Australian Open, Rafa Nadal emerged as an unlikely pillar of strength on day eight as injuries cut a swathe through the men’s draw on Monday. Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam crown gathered pace with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 demolition of Fabio Fognini that pushed the Spaniard into his 13th quarterfinal at Melbourne Park. Sealed with an ace 💥@RafaelNadal advances to the #AusOpen quarterfinals for the 1️⃣3️⃣th time.#AO2021 pic.twitter.com/JoH9B67n8S — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 15, 2021 The lower back strain that forced Nadal to miss the ATP Cup is now disappearing in the rear-view mirror and he heads into his next clash against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas without having dropped a set. “The first set without a doubt has been my best level in the tournament,” Nadal told reporters after routing 16th seed Fognini on a sun-bathed afternoon at Rod Laver Arena. “It’s normal, too, because I was able to practice for two days in a row. “I’m excited about playing that quarterfinals match. “If we compare how I was five days ago and how I am today’s situation, it’s different, and my perspective and excitement is completely different, too.” While Nadal booked his 43rd Grand Slam quarterfinal with two hours and 16 minutes of work against Fognini, Tsitsipas did not lift a racket against ninth seed Matteo Berrettini, who pulled out with an abdominal strain. Norwegian Casper Ruud’s hopes of a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal were also undone by an abdominal injury as he retired two sets in against Russian Andrey Rublev. Players’ fitness at the Grand Slam has been under the microscope after they spent two weeks in mandatory hotel quarantine, with some blaming their exits on limited preparations. Defending champion Novak Djokovic, who said he had torn an abdominal muscle against Taylor Fritz, has soldiered on and was able to dispatch Milos Raonic on Sunday to book a quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev. Djokovic was cagey about his injury when probed about it after the Raonic match, saying he did not want to “speculate” and that it was a “gamble” to play on. Having had his fair share of injuries over the years, Nadal felt there was little point in trying to conceal their true nature. “Well, it’s difficult to hide things,” he said. “I think it’s not healthy to hide a lot of things because it’s difficult. “Even if you want to hide, at some point you’re going to have questions to answer. “I don’t want to play that game, honestly.” Although speculation over Djokovic’s fitness will continue to fill the vacuum, Nadal was adamant that no player could grit their teeth and win a Grand Slam if properly injured. “If you really have physical problems, you will not win,” said the 34-year-old. “If you have some pain and it’s not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way. “But when you really, really have an injury, it’s impossible to win a tournament like this.” Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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