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Nadal a straight-sets winner to begin Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal didn't show any side effects from a right knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, beating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match. Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, lost in last year's final here to Roger Federer. The Spanish lefthander has only lost in the first round at two Grand Slam singles tournaments — to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013, and to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne in 2016. Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday. Mayer beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3 earlier Monday. In other matches: Caroline Wozniacki was an easy 6-2, 6-3 winner over Michaela Buzarnescu in a first-round match at Melbourne Park. At No. 2, Wozniacki is playing here at her highest seeding since appearing as the top-seeded player at the 2012 Australian Open when she lost in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki, seeded 19th in Melbourne last year, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Add Jack Sock's name to the list of Americans departing Monday from the Australian Open. On the same day the U.S. lost eight women's players, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Sock was defeated by Japan's Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round. Sock, who's never advanced beyond the third round at the Australian Open, was the highest-ranked American man at No. 8 and had his highest seeding at a major. The American, who retired from a match against Sugita at the Hopman Cup to start the season, had 52 unforced errors compared to just 30 winners in the match. Sock is coming off a career-best season in which he won his first Masters title in Paris and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. He lost his first match of the new season last week in New Zealand, however, and was criticized afterward in the local media for appearing not to give his full effort in the match. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Dennis Novak. Last year at Melbourne Park, Dimitrov equaled his best Grand Slam result, reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets. He also lost a Wimbledon semifinal in 2014 to Novak Djokovic. Dimitrov has never lost to a qualifier in seven matches at a Grand Slam tournament, and has dropped only one set. American actor and comedian Will Ferrell watched the Rod Laver Arena match......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 15th, 2018

Halep secures top ranking, Nadal vs Kyrgios in Beijing final

em>By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press /em> Simona Halep will take over the top ranking after reaching the China Open final on Saturday, and Rafael Nadal will play Nick Kyrgios for the men's title. Halep beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4, ensuring that when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday she will be the first women's No. 1 from Romania. Halep could have reached No. 1 earlier but was upset in the French Open final by Ostapenko in their first career meeting. 'Of course it's the best moment in my life, and I want just to keep it,' Halep said in Beijing. 'And I have a few more dreams in my career. I tell you one, only one. To win a Grand Slam.' Halep only had to reach the final this week — and not lose to Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the final — to knock Garbine Muguruza from the top spot. Muguruza retired during her opening match on Monday because of a cold. Top-seeded Nadal defeated third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in the semifinals, his tour-leading 60th match win. Dimitrov's only victory against the Spaniard in 10 matches came last year in the China Open quarterfinals. On Saturday, his backhand cross-court winner secured the second set, on a second set point, on Nadal's serve in the 10th game. But Nadal took immediate control of the third set, racing to 4-0. Kyrgios didn't drop his serve in ousting second-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 7-5 in the other semi. The Australian had an impressive 70 percent first-serve percentage and posted 11 aces to none for Zverev, who is normally known for his serving prowess. Nadal and Kyrgios are tied at two matches apiece in their head-to-head, but the Australian won their latest outing in August in straight sets in the Cincinnati quarterfinals. Nadal is one of three players, along with Roger Federer and Zverev, to win five titles this year. He won the China Open 12 years ago. 'It's very important for me to continue with the positive feelings after winning the U.S. Open,' Nadal said. 'To be back here and be in the final with that very tough draw I had since the beginning is a great effort.' Looking for her second title of the year after winning in Madrid, Halep will play Caroline Garcia of France in the Beijing final. Garcia beat Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the second semifinal. Ostapenko entered the semis without dropping a set. But Halep dominated the first set, breaking Ostapenko's serve in the first game at love. She cemented her lead with another break in the seventh game for 5-2 to serve out the set. In the second, Halep surrendered a 3-2 lead with a service break in the sixth game, but went on to break serve again in the ninth. At 40-0 in the final game, Halep won with a clean forehand winner down the line. Garcia, who saved a match point against Svitolina, is on a 10-match winning streak. Garcia lost in straight sets to Halep in the Montreal quarterfinals in their last meeting. 'That's the kind of match I want to play, against the top players,' Garcia said of Sunday's final against Halep. 'She's a very tricky player.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 8th, 2017

Osaka vs. Kvitova for Australian Open title, No. 1 ranking

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Naomi Osaka never made it past the fourth round at any of the first 10 Grand Slam tournaments of her career. Now, still just 21, she's suddenly on the verge of a second consecutive major championship. And the No. 1 ranking, too. Osaka moved one victory away from adding the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected 4½ months ago at the U.S. Open, using her smooth power to produce 15 aces and groundstroke winners at will while beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals Thursday. "I just told myself to regroup in the third set and just try as hard as I can," said Osaka, who saved four break points in the last set and finished the match with an ace at 115 mph (185 kph). "I was so scared serving second serves. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Please!" Osaka said. "Somehow, I made it. I guess that's experience." A day after erasing four match points and a 5-1 deficit in the third set to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Pliskova could not produce the same kind of comeback. Instead it is Osaka, the only Japanese woman to win a major singles title, who will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Saturday. The winner will rise to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time; Osaka is currently No. 4, Kvitova is No. 6. In the men's semifinals, Rafael Nadal continued his relentless roll through the draw by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 at night. Nadal has not dropped a set as he bids for a second Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. Osaka's fourth-round finish at Melbourne Park a year ago was her best showing at a major until last year's U.S. Open, where she outplayed Williams in the final. A victory over Kvitova would make Osaka the first woman to win two Slams in a row since Williams claimed four straight across the 2014-15 seasons. Two years ago, Kvitova missed the Australian Open, just weeks after her left hand was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic. Back at her best during what she calls her "second career," Kvitova surged to a 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory against 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins after Rod Laver Arena's retractable roof was closed as the temperature soared toward 105 degrees (40 Celsius). Kvitova reached her first major final since the December 2016 knife attack that led to hours of surgery on the hand she holds her racket with — and first since winning Wimbledon for the second time in 2014. "I didn't know even if I (was) going to play tennis again," Kvitova said. "It's been a long journey." Against Collins, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia who was 0-5 at Slams until this one, Kvitova was more aggressive throughout, mixing big lefty forehands and well-timed pushes forward to the tune of a 30-9 edge in total winners. But the key to the outcome might very well have been what happened at 4-all after 35 minutes of action: That's when the decision finally was made to close the 15,000-seat stadium's cover, drawing cheers of approval from broiling spectators. Kvitova probably wanted to applaud, too. "I was happier than the fans that the roof closed," she said afterward. "I like to play indoors. It helped me a little bit." She's made clear over the years she is not a huge fan of playing in stifling heat. Not too many people truly are, of course, but Collins is OK with it and thought the roof should have stayed open. "I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well," Collins said. "Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect." When play resumed after a five-minute delay, it went from being completely even to tilted in Kvitova's favor. She dominated the tiebreaker and the second set to stretch her winning streak to 11 matches. Osaka, meanwhile, extended her Slam run to 13 matches while putting a stop to Pliskova's 10-0 start to the season. Osaka accumulated a 56-20 advantage in winners — and held on when it all could have slipped away. She began the day having won 58 matches in a row after taking the first set, but that seemed in danger when Pliskova broke to end the second and had three break points to go up 2-0 in the third. But Osaka steeled herself there, erasing the first break chance with a huge forehand, the second with a down-the-line backhand winner. On the third, another terrific backhand forced a forehand error into the net by Pliskova, who cracked her racket against the blue court. When Pliskova netted a return of an 83 mph (133 kph) second serve to make it 1-all, Osaka tugged at the brim of her pink visor and let out a big exhale. The match would continue for another 28 minutes, but it basically was done, then and there. That stretch began a nine-point, three-game run for Osaka, and she was on her way. She would face one last break point at 4-3, but saved it with a 108 mph (174 kph) ace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

Australian men s tennis hit by infighting, Twitter rants

By Dennis Passa, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The situation seems mostly nasty these days in Australian men's tennis. Compared with the genteel nature of past stars like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall and more recently, the likes of Pat Rafter over-ruling line calls and giving points to his opponents long before video replays existed, Australian men's tennis is filled with Twitter rants, calls by one player for Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt to resign, embarrassing on-court comments. And, to make matters worse, few decent results. The exception, in a big way, is Alex de Minaur, who advanced to the third round at the Australian Open and will play 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal on Friday. And John Millman gave a top performance before losing Wednesday in five sets to Roberto Bautista Agut. After that, it's not pretty. Sure Hewitt wasn't always the consummate "good bloke" — as Australians like to say — in his day, arguing with chair umpires and fellow players and media, but he seems mild mannered compared with the likes of the self-imploding, dynamite-like duo of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. After Tomic lost in the first round, he called on former No. 1-ranked, two-time major winning Hewitt to resign as Davis Cup captain. The two have been feuding for more than a year after Tomic claimed that Australia couldn't win without him and Hewitt countered by saying Tomic wouldn't be chosen for further international duty as long as he was in charge. Tomic's form wouldn't see him chosen anyway for Australia's Davis Cup first-round tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide in February, but Tomic went a bit further, suggesting Hewitt has a personal interest in players he is promoting. "No one likes him anymore," Tomic said of Hewitt. "We have a lot of issues that not a lot of players are happy about. We all know who those players are. Myself, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, (Nick) Kyrgios." Hewitt wasn't about to get involved in a stoush with Tomic, saying it was "Bernie being Bernie and losing and going on and complaining." After Tomic's comments, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios denied that they had any issue with Hewitt, but Kyrgios's Twitter comments on Wednesday night during de Minaur's match appeared to suggest otherwise. Kyrgios posted a screenshot on Instagram of Hewitt doing television sideline commentary from de Minaur's players' box during the Australian player's five-set win over Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen. Kyrgios posted a poll to his followers, asking whose match Hewitt was watching. He provided two options: "Demon" (de Minaur's nickname) and "No one else". Australian No.2 Millman and No.3 Matt Ebden were playing second-round matches at the same time as de Minaur. Kyrgios appeared to suggest that Hewitt only is interested in de Minaur, the teenager who Hewitt has been mentoring along with his Spanish coach Adolfo Gutierrez. Tomic and Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals as teenagers — Tomic in 2011, Kyrgios in 2014 — but neither has been past that stage at a major since. Kyrgios, who is Australia's fourth-ranked player now, removed his Instagram post not long after. He also criticized Hewitt during the Brisbane International for not watching him or Kokkinakas play. John Newcombe, who won seven Grand Slam singles titles in the 1960 and 70s, including Wimbledon three times, urged Hewitt not to get involved in the argument. "I said to Lleyton the other day: 'Things that are being said and all that, take the high ground," Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press. 'You don't have to defend yourself. Everyone sees what you're doing out there.'" "The general public can see what Lleyton's doing, but every time Bernie (Tomic) gets a microphone he attacks Tennis Australia or someone in it." Millman said after his loss to Bautista Agut that he's felt "quite well-supported by the captain, by the coach, by the support staff," but said he liked Tomic, describing him as "larrikin," and Kyrgios, a "top bloke." Perhaps Millman has the best solution. "This stuff," Millman said, "it's in one ear, out the other.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Clinical Nadal overwhelms Aussie Ebden

    MELBOURNE, Australia – A dominant Rafael Nadal overwhelmed Australia's Matthew Ebden in straight sets to reach the 3rd round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, January 16 and stay on track for an 18th Grand Slam title. The Spaniard, who cut short his 2018 season to have surgery on a foot ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Nadal, Sharapova and Wozniacki advance at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal has missed a lot of tennis since last September. He hasn't missed a beat. The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open, his first match back on Rod Laver Arena since he had to retire during his quarterfinal match last year. The 17-time major winner hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. He also withdrew from a tune-up tournament in Brisbane because of a muscle strain in his thigh, mainly as a precaution, to ensure he's fit for the season-opening major. "Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot," Nadal said. "It's very difficult to start after an injury — I know it very well. "So that's an important victory because is the first victory since a while, and at the same time, because that gives me the chance to be on court again." Wearing a sleeveless top, he showed no signs of any issues against Duckworth. His only hiccup came when he served for the match in the ninth game of the third set and was broken. He returned the favor quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round. Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco here in 2016. Maria Sharapova's record in the first round is good, too. She was the first of five Australian Open winners to play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1, starting with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart. No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Polona Hercog and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-4 in the first of the night matches on the main arena. Sharapova has the second-best record (behind Serena Williams) among active women's players in first-round matches at the majors, and she gave an illustration of why that's the case in a 63-minute disposal of Dart. Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, 2008 Australian Open champion Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart. "There is no time for that, I'm sorry to say ... when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova, who is still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown." Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 9 Kiki Bertens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, local favorite Ash Barty, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 20 Anett Kontaveit, No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic. Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets, and she celebrated twice. Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker. Boulter started celebrating and went to the net when she reached 7-4 in the tiebreaker, forgetting it wasn't a conventional count. The new rule was introduced to ensure matches don't get too lengthy — previously the third set in women's matches and the fifth set in men's matches at the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage. Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas, no. 18 Diego Schwartzman, No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 26 Fernando Verdasco and No. 27 Alex de Minaur, who won the Sydney International final last weekend. It was high stakes when ninth-seeded John Isner lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) to No. 97-ranked Reilly Opelka in a match featuring two of the tallest players on tour. Tomas Berdych sent 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Kyle Edmund home early with right away with a 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win over the No. 13 seed on Melbourne Arena in the match before five-time finalist Andy Murray took on Roberto Bautista Agut......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

On bad hip, Andy Murray out in 1st round of Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself — and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother — quite a gutsy goodbye. What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career. Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray's first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years. "If this was my last match ... I gave literally everything I had," Murray told a full house at Melbourne Arena, his voice shaking. "It wasn't enough tonight." Murray, just 31, is a year removed from the operation and he announced in the days leading up to the Australian Open that he will retire in 2019. The biggest looming question is whether he'd be able to make it to July for Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. He had raised the prospect that he might not be able to continue past this week, although he did leave a bit of room open, saying after Monday's match: "Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I'll need to have a big operation (and) there's no guarantees I'll be able to come back, anyway." Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark. And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played. They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators. They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set. They stood when the compelling contest ended. "Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him," Bautista Agut said. "He's a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis." Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens. "Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy," Federer said. "I'm your biggest fan.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Zverev beats Djokovic in 2 sets to win ATP Finals title

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Despite beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the ATP Finals at only 21, Alexander Zverev knows keeping pace with the Serb isn't going to be easy. Zverev claimed the biggest title of his career with a 6-4, 6-3 upset on Sunday, becoming the youngest champion of the season-ending event since Djokovic claimed the first of his five titles a decade ago — also at age 21. "Oh my God," said Zverev, who also became the first German winner since 1995. "I've won one (year-end title). He's won five. He's won, I don't know what, 148 titles more than me. Let's not go there for now. I hope I can do great ... but just chill out a little bit." Top-ranked Djokovic was attempting to tie Roger Federer's record of six titles but followed the same path as the Swiss great, who lost to Zverev in the semifinals at the O2 Arena. Djokovic's serve hadn't been broken all tournament until the final. Zverev did it once in the first set and three times in the second, completing the victory with a spectacular backhand winner up the line. "There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory ... in our careers," said Djokovic, who ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by winning Wimbledon this year, before going on to claim his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open. "Hopefully he (Zverev) can surpass me." Both players began the match in the same form that had seen them earn straight-sets semifinal victories a day earlier, with few points going against the server. It was Djokovic, who had lost just two of his previous 37 matches and defeated Zverev in the round robin, who began to feel the pressure as consecutive forehand errors gave up his first break of the tournament for 5-4. Fans gave Zverev a huge ovation as he stepped up to serve for the set, and it appeared to inspire him. Three straight aces brought up three set points, the second of which he took when Djokovic sent another forehand long. "I was making way too many unforced errors," Djokovic said. "From 4-4 in the first set, my game really fell apart." Zverev even began to win the longer rallies, an area of the game that Djokovic usually dominates. A 26-shot duel brought up another break point in the opening game of the second set and, although Djokovic saved it, Zverev won another lengthy exchange moments later with a forehand winner to go 1-0 up. With the biggest win of his career in sight, Zverev began to show some nerves. Although he is the only active male player outside of the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to possess three or more Masters titles, the young German has only reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal. Two double faults and two backhand errors gifted Djokovic an immediate break back, but Zverev quickly refocused to win a 28-shot rally on his way to breaking in the following game. "I lost my serve once against him today," Zverev said. "I think this is a pretty good stat, especially as he's the best returner we have in the game." From there he remained solid on serve, before ending with a flourish. A backhand winner on the run drifted past the helpless Djokovic and Zverev sunk to the ground in tears. "This trophy means a lot, everything," Zverev said. "You only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only." Djokovic sportingly crossed the net to embrace the player who will now be considered among the favorites in Australia in two months' time to end the Serb's run of two consecutive Grand Slam victories. "I've had most success in my career in Australia," said Djokovic, who has won six times in Melbourne. "Hopefully I can keep that going." Earlier, American pair Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together. Having failed to take advantage of five championship points during the first-to-10 match tiebreaker, Bryan and Sock then had to save one against their French opponents before finally closing out victory. "It was a hell of a match," Bryan said. The 40-year-old Bryan has now won the tournament five times. He won four times with his usual partner — and brother — Bob, who has been out with an injured hip since May. Sock and Bryan have dominated since teaming up, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before finishing their season in style in London. "It's been a hell of a ride," Bryan said. "This could be our last hoorah because Bob's training back in Florida.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Djokovic beats Sousa in straight sets at Paris Masters

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic began his bid for a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Joao Sousa in the second round on Wednesday. Serving for the match at 5-1, Djokovic handed a towel to a male spectator who seemed unwell and who wiped his forehead with it. The second-ranked Serb set up match point with an ace and sealed victory on his third match point when Sousa returned a second serve long. The U.S. Open champion won four of the last five tournaments he has entered, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and most recently the Shanghai Masters. Djokovic is seeking to reclaim the top ranking from Rafael Nadal at a tournament Nadal has never won. Djokovic next faces Damir Dzumhur. Dzumhur upset 14th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-3, while big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov also advanced to the third round. He led 6-2, 2-0 against Matthew Ebden when the Australian retired. Returning from a right knee injury , Nadal faces Spanish countryman Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday, with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer also in action against Milos Raonic. Federer leads the big-serving Canadian 11-3 overall. Federer's last appearance at the Paris indoor event was a third-round loss to big-serving John Isner in 2015. There were doubts Federer would play after a grueling past week which saw him clinch his ninth victory at the Swiss Indoors and 99th overall. "I feel good," Federer told a news conference. "I feel like I recovered well from last week." The 37-year-old Federer is selective of when he plays in order to keep his body as fresh as possible, and he skipped the entire clay-court season for the second straight year. With the season-ending ATP Finals in London starting Nov. 11, he is playing three straight tournaments. But the third-ranked Federer feels comfortable with it. "I feel like it's better for me to play matches rather than practice," Federer said. "As long as I don't feel like I'm taking a chance on my health prior to London, that's the key as well." Federer showed fighting qualities last week in Basel, where he was twice taken to three sets and went an early break down in three of his last four matches. "I was a bit bumpy. But I was happy how I was fighting, how I was trying to figure it out in a different manner," he said. "Last week was special to win the way I did it, in a different manner." Federer moved within 10 titles of Jimmy Connors all-time singles record. He is cautious about his chances of success in Paris, where his only tournament victory came in 2011. The Australian Open champion is drawn in the same half as Djokovic, Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic and big-serving Kevin Anderson, who upset Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year. "I rarely play two or three tournaments in a row now. So starting on Wednesday and winning five matches in a row with this caliber (of players) is very difficult," Federer said. "If I get close to the last four that would also be great." In first-round play Tuesday, there were wins for Mikhail Kukushkin, Gilles Simon, Daniil Medvedev, Marton Fucsovics, Raonic and Verdasco......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018

Coric upsets Federer, facing Djokovic in Shanghai final

By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — Borna Coric upset defending champion Roger Federer to face Novak Djokovic in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday. Coric earned passage to the final by taking down the top-seeded Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday. "It was one of the best matches of my life," Coric said. Coric said neck pain almost caused him to skip playing in Shanghai. "Today, really, I just came on the court with absolutely no pressure. I basically didn't care, and that's why I played so good." The Croatian gave himself a third career shot at Djokovic. In their previous meetings, Coric failed to take a set off of Djokovic. The soon-to-be-No. 2-ranked Djokovic booked a final appointment after crushing No. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1. Coric finished off Federer in style with the final two points an ace and a sizzling forehand crosscourt winner. Coric didn't offer Federer a break point opportunity, while managing to break Federer's serve in the opening game of both sets. In all, Federer presented Coric with seven beak point possibilities. "He had more punch on the ball. He served better," Federer said. "I got off to a bad start in both sets. That combination is plenty here in Shanghai with fast conditions." Federer has won three titles this year - the Australian Open, Rotterdam, Stuttgart - but all of them were earned before the start of Wimbledon in July. Federer was asked several times on Saturday about his schedule for the remainder of the year, as well as for next year. He said he couldn't offer any specifics but did offer a guarantee regarding 2019. "I wish I could tell you all these answers, but I really don't know. But I will play tennis next year, yes," he said. Coric, who is 2-2 against Federer, also beat the 20-time Grand Slam champion in their last outing at Halle in June. "Against that kind of player, you need something to hold on to," he said. "I was holding on to that thought that I beat him the last time." Djokovic's win over Zverev and Federer's demise guaranteed Djokovic will move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the world rankings on Monday, which has him swapping positions with Federer, but still trailing Rafael Nadal. Djokovic's serve has not been broken this week in 37 service games. He never offered Zverev a break point opportunity, and broke the German's serve on four of six offerings. By the time Zverev was 6-2, 3-1 down, his emotions got the better of him after he hit a routine backhand into the net. He banged his racket on the court, then gave it another swipe before tossing the mangled implement into the crowd. Djokovic posted only nine unforced errors to 24 for Zverev. "I did everything I intended to do on my end," Djokovic said. "It's all working and it's been a couple of perfect matches." Djokovic is targeting his 72nd career title here on Sunday. He has won all three of his previous finals in Shanghai. Djokovic played his 1,000th career match against Zverev, and holds an impressive 827-173 win-loss record. "I wouldn't be so dedicated to this sport if I didn't believe that I can achieve great heights," Djokovic said. "But you always have to kind of pinch yourself, particularly at this stage of my career, and be grateful, because I have had an awesome career so far." He is on a 17-match winning streak and is 26-1 in matches played since the start of Wimbledon. A win on Sunday would deliver a fourth title of the season to Djokovic, beside Wimbledon and the U.S. Open......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2018

Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final. Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title. The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May. "He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament." Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay. On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set. Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament. "Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be." He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface. But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point. "First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games." Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win. "It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful." Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match. Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis. She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star. Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

US OPEN 18: From Sloane & Serena to new roof, what to know

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A little more than a year ago, Sloane Stephens was ranked outside of the top 950 as she tried to work her way back toward the top of tennis after foot surgery. By the time the U.S. Open was over, she was a Grand Slam champion for the first time and soaring up the rankings. On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Stephens will begin the defense of a major title for the first time, facing 80th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool. I think that it'll be fun. There will be a lot of different pressure and a lot of excitement and a lot of stress," Stephens said. "Whether I lose first round or win the tournament again, I know I'm going to do my absolute best and that's all I can ask myself." Her success at Flushing Meadows in 2017 is emblematic of the wide-open nature of women's tennis ever since 23-time major champion Serena Williams left the tour for a hiatus while she was pregnant. At four of the past six majors, the titlist was a first-time Grand Slam champ: Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Stephens in New York in 2017; Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Simona Halep in Paris in 2018. Consistency at the majors hasn't exactly been that quartet's hallmark. Current No. 1 Halep lost in the first round at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Ostapenko did the same at Roland Garros this year. Wozniacki exited in the second round at two of the past four Slams. Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation. "You can't let the lows get you too low," the 25-year-old American said, "and you can't let the highs get you too high." Here is what else to know before play starts on the blue hard courts of the year's last Grand Slam tournament: DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK Six-time champion Williams returns to the U.S. Open on Monday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium against 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland. Williams missed the tournament a year ago because she gave birth on Sept. 1. "I feel like everything is just different, in terms of: I'm living a different life. I'm playing the U.S. Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh." She is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon but has lost three of her past four matches. Williams could face her older sister, Venus, in the third round. BIG 4 REUNION For the first time since Wimbledon in June 2017, a tournament will have the entire Big Four in the field: five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer , defending champ Rafael Nadal , two-time winner Novak Djokovic and 2012 champion Andy Murray. They have won 49 of the past 54 Slam titles and the last three Olympic singles golds and have been ranked No. 1 every week for the last 14½ years. Djokovic — who could face Federer in the quarterfinals — and Murray sat out the U.S. Open last year because of injuries. Also back is 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who couldn't defend his title because of a bad knee. WHOSE TURN IS IT? It's been a question asked for years, yet it still remains without an answer: Which youngster will assert himself and break up the dominance at the top of men's tennis? Alexander Zverev, a 21-year-old German who recently began working with Ivan Lendl, hopes he'll be the one, but there is a crop of up-and-comers worth watching. A SECOND ROOF For so many years, and through so much rain, the U.S. Open operated without any possibility of playing despite bad weather, resulting in a series of Monday men's finals pushed back from Sunday. Now there are two retractable roofs: the one added to Arthur Ashe Stadium that's been in use for the past two years, and the one at the rebuilt 14,069-seat Armstrong arena, which will host night sessions, too. It's the culmination of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. SERVE CLOCKS Serve clocks make their debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, allowing everyone to see the countdown on courtside digital readouts as players get 25 seconds to start a point. Clocks also will time the 7-minute pre-match period, from the players' walk-on through the coin toss and the warmup. Also new at the 2018 U.S. Open: electronic line-calling on every court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals — and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday. Nadal, who holds a record seven titles at the Foro Italico, overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Then, four-time Rome winner Djokovic rallied past Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 50 times but their last meeting came more than a year ago, when Nadal won in the Madrid Open semifinals. "Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay," Djokovic said. "Beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this surface. But, I've done it before." Djokovic leads Nadal 26-24 overall, but Nadal holds a 15-7 advantage on clay. Nadal can replace Roger Federer at No. 1 if he lifts the Rome trophy for the first time since 2013. Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon, where he will bid for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title. Djokovic, who is returning from a persistent right elbow injury, hadn't reached a semifinal since before Wimbledon last year. "This is what I was looking forward to," Djokovic said. "This is what I was hoping to achieve." In the other half of the draw, defending champion Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over ninth-seeded David Goffin. He'll meet Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic, who beat 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova required more than three hours to eliminate last year's French Open winner, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-5; and defending champion Elina Svitolina defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 for her sixth straight victory over the former No. 1 player. Svitolina will next face 26th-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who beat Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be Simona Halep, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia that ensures she will keep the No. 1 ranking for another week. Djokovic has now won 12 straight matches over Nishikori and the Japanese player didn't help his cause when he landed an easy overhead into the net early in the third set. Still, it remained tight with long rallies until the end. "It was a fantastic match," Djokovic said. "We went toe to toe until the last point." Fans were decidedly behind Fognini, Italy's top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set. "He played aggressive, a great level of tennis, creating a lot of winners and taking balls earlier," Nadal said. "I felt the pressure a little bit and played a couple of bad games." But Fognini couldn't keep up with Nadal's consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down. "I tried to play more with my forehand and when I play aggressive with my forehand the backhand becomes better," said Nadal, who sat out earlier this season with right knee and hip injuries. "It's important to be able to change the tactics of the match." Fognini had tape applied under his left knee while trailing 3-2 in the third set due to a physical problem that has bothered him for weeks. "The first set lasted more than an hour," Fognini said. "It's him that causes the problem." While the result meant it was now 42 years since an Italian man last won the tournament — Adriano Panatta in 1976 — Fognini was still applauded as he walked off of the court. Nadal joined in the applause for Fognini......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Australian Open: A lookahead to Sunday, recap of Saturday

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A quick glance at the Australian Open: LOOKAHEAD TO SUNDAY Local hope Nick Kyrgios and third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov meet for the second time this year, this time with more on the line. Kyrgios beat Dimitrov in three sets in the Brisbane International semifinals two weeks ago, then went on to take the title. Dimitrov had beaten the Australian in their two previous meetings, including in straight sets on hard courts at Cincinnati last year. Kyrgios defeated Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in the third round and was mostly well-behaved, a far cry from some of the antics he has pulled in the past, including a suspension in October 2016 for not trying during a match in Shanghai, and a heavily-criticized on-court exchange with Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Kyrgios said he's doing nothing special to change his image: "It's not something I wake up and I'm like, 'Look, today I'm going to try to change the perception'. Nothing has changed. I've always been emotional." Dimitrov said he won't get caught up in the moment, or the expected parochial crowd cheering on Kyrgios' attempt to become the first Australian man since 1976 (Mark Edmondson) to win the Australian title. "I've played against the local, so to speak, all that," Dimitrov said. "That's part of the game." Kyrgios pulled out of his doubles pairing with Matt Reid on Friday to save himself for the Dimitrov match. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal plays Diego Schwartman in another fourth-round match. In women's fourth-round matches, second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki plays Magdalena Rybarikova. Wozniacki needed to win the last six games of her second-round match against Jana Fett to stay in the tournament, and says she's playing with "house money." Another fourth-round match has fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina playing Denisa Allertova, a Czech qualifier who has not dropped a set in any of her main-draw matches. __ By AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa. ___ SUNDAY FORECAST Partly cloudy, high of 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) SATURDAY'S WEATHER Mostly sunny, high of 24 C (75 F) SATURDAY'S RESULTS Men's Third Round: No. 2 Roger Federer beat No. 29 Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4; Chung Hyeon beat No. 4 Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0; No. 5 Dominic Thiem beat No. 26 Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5; No. 14 Novak Djokovic beat No. 21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-3, 6-3; No. 19 Tomas Berdych beat No. 12 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2; No. 25 Fabio Fognini beat Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Women's Third Round: No. 1 Simona Halep beat Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-4, 15-13; No. 6 Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5; No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. No. 17 Madison Keys beat Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4; Naomi Osaka beat No. 18 Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2; No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2; No. 21 Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3; Hsieh Su-wei beat No. 26 Agniezska Radwanska 6-2, 7-5. STAT OF THE DAY 2:22: time in hours and minutes of the third set of the Halep-Davis match (3 hours, 45 minutes for the match). QUOTE OF THE DAY "I'm almost dead" — Halep after her win. _____ More AP coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

Kerber crushes Sharapova in ex-champs showdown at Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – Angelique Kerber crushed Maria Sharapova in straight sets in a battle of former champions at the Australian Open on Saturday, January 20. The 2016 winner from Germany and 21st seed roared past the unseeded Russian 2008 champion 6-1, 6-3 in 64 minutes to reach the last 16. "I was ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

Nadal reaches 3rd round in straight sets

MELBOURNE, Australia – Rafael Nadal looked on point as he powered into the Australian Open 3rd round with a straight sets victory on Wednesday, January 17, a workout he deemed "very important" on his return from a knee injury. Spain's world No.1 only dropped serve once in a dominant performance as ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Federer deflects attention to Nadal, Djokovic in Australia

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer prefers to think of Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic as the favorites for the Australian Open title, despite entering as defending champion and coming off a worry-free preparation. "I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favorite of a tournament," Federer said Sunday on the eve of the year's first Grand Slam tournament, "It should not be the case. "That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career." The 19-time major winner can afford to relax slightly longer, given the half of the draw that he shares with Djokovic doesn't start until day two. Top-ranked Nadal will get under way Monday night against Victor Estrella Burgos on Rod Laver Arena, where he lost the final in five sets to Federer last year. All four singles finalists were 30 or older here last year in what became a tournament for the ages, and three of them are back. Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus Williams in the final to capture an Open era-record 23rd major here last year but decided against defending her title because she didn't have enough time to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September. Venus Williams is seeded fifth and is second match scheduled on center court to get her 77th major under way with a challenging opener against Belinda Bencic. She's 4-0 in career head-to-heads against 20-year-old Bencic — who reached a career-high No. 7 ranking in 2016 and who helped Federer win the Hopman Cup title for Switzerland earlier this month — but is coming off an abbreviated preparation that included a loss in the second round to eventual champion Angelique Kerber at the Sydney International last week. At 37, Venus Williams among the top contenders at Melbourne Park. Others in action on Monday include seventh-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, who meets Francesca Schiavone in a match featuring current vs. former French Open champions, No. 2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu, and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens against Zhang Shuai. Simona Halep is the No. 1 seed in the women's draw, and one of six women who can hold the No. 1 ranking at the end of the Australian Open. Halep, who has had back-to-back first-round exits on her last two trips to Melbourne Park, opens on day two against Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava. Only two men can hold the top ranking in the first week of February — Nadal or Federer — regardless of what No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov or No. 4 Alexander Zverev or anybody else does in Melbourne. Federer returns in contrasting circumstances to his appearance in 2017, when he was coming off a six-month break for an injured left knee and had low expectations about ending a Grand Slam title drought that dated to Wimbledon in 2012. "This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win," a match, Federer told his pre-tournament news conference Sunday. "It was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan (Wawrinka) or others are going through this year." Six-time Australian Open winner Djokovic has been sidelined for six months with an injured right elbow, returning with a remodeled service motion, and 2014 champion Wawrinka has also been out of the game since Wimbledon after surgery on his knee. Nadal, who won the French and U.S. Open titles last year, has also had a limited preparation restricted to couple of exhibition matches last week as he recovers from a sore knee. None of that makes them any less of a threat to Federer. "Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favorites, too," Federer said. "If you're in the draw, you give yourself a chance. That's what happened for me last year — all ended up way better than I thought it would, as you know.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Novak, Naomi, other things we learned at Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The way things went at the Australian Open didn't exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men's tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though. And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people. Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men's Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women's trophies at majors. When it's time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them. "Obviously, it's just the beginning of the season. I know there's a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly," Djokovic said. "I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more." After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16. But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver. It's the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis. As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance. Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments. And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title. "I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they're not playing their best. And I've always wondered how they did that," Osaka said. "So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that." Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them? Here is what else we learned at the 2019 Australian Open: SERENA AND ROGER Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both 37. No one has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than Williams' 23. No man in history has won more than Federer's 20. Williams owns seven Australian Open trophies, Federer six. But she lost in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park this time, and he exited in the fourth round. Maybe age is catching up to them. Maybe not. The idea that either is done contending for big titles seems far-fetched, though. One key thing moving forward: Federer is planning to play the European clay-court circuit and at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. HEALTHY NADAL Nadal was not up to slowing down Djokovic, but he otherwise sure looked terrific — and, most importantly, healthy. There's little doubt who the favorite will be on the clay courts in France. "The positive things that happened these couple of weeks make us very optimistic regarding his future and his level," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "We know there is room to keep improving and we are going to be working on that a lot." UP-AND-COMING If there are those who fret about what will happen when the players who ruled tennis for the past 15 years or so move on, there were several new faces who made statements in Australia. Stefanos Tsitstipas, a 20-year-old from Greece, upset Federer on the way to the semifinals. Lucas Pouille, a 24-year-old from France, arrived with a 0-5 record at Melbourne but was guided to his first major semifinal by coach Amelie Mauresmo. American Frances Tiafoe, a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who turned 21 during the tournament, pulled off a couple of upsets on the way to the quarterfinals. Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, beat three-time major champion Angelique Kerber and made her semifinal debut. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, showed she has a bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

Osaka edges Kvitova for Australian Open title, No. 1 ranking

By HOWARD FENDRICH,  AP Tennis Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Naomi Osaka recovered after wasting three championship points and reasserted herself down the stretch to win the Australian Open for a second consecutive Grand Slam title, edging Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday night. The victory allows the 21-year-old Osaka to become the first tennis player from Japan to reach No. 1 in the rankings. Osaka held three match points in the second set at 5-3, love-40 as Kvitova served. But Osaka couldn't close it out. Instead, she completely lost her way, dropping 23 of the next 27 points. That allowed Kvitova to come back and make a match of it, reeling off five games in a row to take the second set and go up 1-0 in the third. Osaka was yelling at herself. She slammed a ball off the court. She tugged at her pink visor's brim. She headed to the locker room after the second set with a towel draped over her head. Hard as it must have been, Osaka regrouped. She also got her powerful shots going again. After Kvitova double-faulted to offer up a break point at 1-all, Osaka converted it with a cross-court backhand winner. There was still more work to be done, of course, and some additional drama when it began raining at the changeover right before Osaka tried to serve for the match at 5-4 in the third set. This time, Osaka would not falter. She would not let this lead disappear. Osaka added the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected in a U.S. Open final last September that forever will be remembered for the way runner-up Serena Williams was docked a game after arguing with the chair umpire. Unlike that day, there was no jeering from the confused crowd. No controversy. No chaos. No sharing the spotlight. Osaka is the first woman to win two major championships in a row since Williams picked up four straight in 2014-15 and has clearly marked herself as tennis' new star......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 26th, 2019

Osaka sets up Australian Open final with Kvitova

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Fourth seed Naomi Osaka outgunned Karolina Pliskova Thursday, January 24, to set up an Australian Open final against Czech 8th seed Petra Kvitova. The 21-year-old Japanese star overcame the 7th seed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach a second straight Grand Slam decider after her breakthrough triumph over Serena ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

Tsitsipas follows up Federer upset by reaching 1st Slam semi

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Lest anyone get the idea that Stefanos Tsitsipas' upset of Roger Federer was a fluke, the 20-year-old from Greece followed it up by beating No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open on Tuesday to become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007. "That was a great win. It got people's attention," Tsitsipas said about his fourth-round stunner against two-time defending champion Federer on Sunday. "My biggest challenge was to stay concentrated, stay focused," in order to show that the previous victory "didn't happen accidentally." Cheered on by a loud, flag-waving contingent of Greek fans inside and outside Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas again displayed his varied skill set, with 22 aces, 30 more winners than unforced errors (68-38) and a nose for getting to the net. He was down a break in both the first and third sets before turning them around against Bautista Agut, whose run to the quarterfinals included victories over Andy Murray, a three-time major champion, and Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and the runner-up to Federer at Melbourne Park a year ago. "Well, he's a good player, no? He's very complete. He has a good forehand and backhand. He's serving well," Bautista Agut said about Tsitsipas. "I think he knows the game. He knows how to play." Now the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas gets to continue the best showing of his career, one that marks him as perhaps the sport's next big thing. And make no mistake about it: He is a millennial, through and through, even promoting his 27,000-follower YouTube channel during his on-court interview. "Guys," he told the crowd, "if you haven't subscribed, please subscribe." No man as young as Tsitsipas had been this far at any Grand Slam tournament since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open or at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003. "It all feels like a fairy tale, almost. I'm just living the dream, living what I've been working hard for," said Tsitsipas, who dropped his racket, fell on his back and covered his face with his hands at match's end. "I mean, I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I worked hard to get here." Seated in his courtside guest box were his parents and two siblings, along with Patrick Mouratoglou, who is Serena Williams' coach and serves as a mentor to Tsitsipas. Now they'll turn their attention to his next opponent, either 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal or another up-and-coming member of the sport's new generation, 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe. Nadal and Tiafoe were scheduled to play their quarterfinal Tuesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2019