2014/08/30

Djokovic Defends his Australian Open Title in Test of Endurance

Novak Djokovic at Desert Smash

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 27, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Novak Djokovic created history on Sunday when he became the first male tennis player in the Open Era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles, overcoming a defiant Andy Murray 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 in three hours and 40 minutes.

 

“Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special. So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible.” Djokovic said of the record. “It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now.”

 

The Australian Open is Djokovic’s most successful Grand Slam, with four out of his six major titles coming at Melbourne Park. He joins Agassi and Federer as the only players in the Open Era to have won four Australian Open Championships. Agassi was on hand for the trophy ceremony and presented Djokovic with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

 

“He had so much success. He won everything: Gold medal, Olympic Games, Grand Slam, everything. Also he made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style. He was I think one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour. Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley. That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.” Djokovic said of Agassi’s footprint on tennis. “So it was obviously a big pleasure and honor for me to receive the trophy from him.”

 

The gladiatorial battle was a trial of stamina as the two baseline defenders exchanged extended rallies throughout the duration of the match. Set one and two lasted over an hour each and with neither player willing to step up and be the aggressor, the first two sets went to a tie-break without a single break of serve occurring. A break didn’t come until the 32nd game in the match when Djokovic managed to break Murray and close out the third set without requiring a tie-break. Djokovic seemed to gain a mental edge after winning the third set and stepped up to play more aggressively, pouncing on any Murray second serves. He hit faster and deeper and applied more pressure in the fourth set to close out the match.

 

Murray had declared prior to the final that he was ready to feel the pain against Djokovic, knowing that if that was the case he knew it’d be a great match. He certainly experienced pain during the encounter, though not how he would have expected, requiring medical attention for blisters on his right foot at the end of the second set.

 

It was the third time that Murray and Djokovic had met at the Australian Open, the first in the 2011 final where Djokovic obliterated Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 and last year in a tough five set semifinal in which Djokovic prevailed and went on to win the title. By midway into the second set on Sunday, Murray had already surpassed the total number of games he won in the 2011 demolition.

 

“I mean, the last few months have been the best tennis of my life. I mean, I made Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the US Open. You know, I was close here as well. It was close,” Murray said of the defeat. “So, you know, I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction. This is the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a slam over five sets.”

 

Murray won an intense first set in the tie-break 7-6(2) in 68 minutes. It was a test of endurance as the two exchanged lengthy rallies peppered with incredible shotmaking. Djokovic had five break point opportunities during the set but a steely Murray stepped up to save all of them. Djokovic served incredibly well in the set, at one stage with a first serve percentage of 80%, and Murray didn’t get one look at a break point opportunity throughout the set.

 

He did in the second set however, Djokovic going down 0-40 in his first service game but saving all break point opportunities with some gritty tennis. The same physical battle endured throughout the set and neither player faced another opportunity to break. After 24 held games in the match the second set ended in another tie-break which Djokovic closed out 7-6(3).

 

The third set began in the same fashion as the first two until finally after 31 consecutive held service games Djokovic won the first break in the match to lead 5-3. He then held to love with some superb first serves to close out the third set 6-3 and lead the match two sets to one.

 

At 1-1 in the fourth set Djokovic again had break point opportunities thanks to a sloppy game from Murray in which he served his fourth double fault for the match. Prior to the final, Murray had served just two double faults for the entire tournament. After a 26 point rally Murray hit a backhand unforced error to gift the Serbian the lead 2-1. Djokovic then consolidated the break before claiming another advantage in the next game as Murray served his fifth double fault down break point. From there Djokovic was full of momentum and confidently served out the match, Murray netting a backhand on Championship point.

 

“I knew that it’s going to be physically very demanding, a lot of long rallies, so I needed to hang in there. I’ve done that. There was a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was Love-40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed have that crucial hold.” Djokovic said of the difficulty level in the match. “After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I’ve done in the first hour or so.”

 

“Yeah, I tried to be more aggressive. So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often.  I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me. I needed to be the one who dictates the play, and I’m really glad that I’ve played my best.”

 

Djokovic was asked what motivated him to fight for more Grand Slam titles, particularly following some tough losses against the top four in the final three majors of 2012.

 

“What more motivation you need than from this trophy?” He asked. “Just seeing it and reading the names of the winners in last 50, 100 years, it’s incredible. To be also mentioned in the history aspect, you know, and winning three in a row, it’s a huge achievement. So I’m always motivated in every match that I play on. But of course Grand Slam finals are always bringing something new, something special to every player, and that’s where you want to perform your best.”

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The Wit and Wisdom of Li Na – 2013 Australian Open Edition

Li Na

( January 27, 2013) Some people call her “Nails.”  In her home country they refer to her as “Golden Flower” or “Big Sister Na.” She is Li Na of China – 2011 Roland Garros champion and  2013 Australian Open finalist, who fell to Victoria Azarenka on Saturday in Melbourne. Li will be ranked No. 5 in the world when the WTA rankings come out on Monday, January 28, 2013.

The 31-year-old who first turned pro in 1999,  has won seven WTA tour level tournaments. She became the first player from an Asian country to appear in a major singles final when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2011 Australian Open.  Her career-high singles ranking of No. 4 came in June 2011, the same month when she won her first and so far only major, the French Open.

One of the many joys in covering tennis is attending a Li Na news conference. In these days of media training for all of the players, they are conditioned to give the media “cookie cutter” answers to questions. Not so with Li.  Her answers are candid, refreshing, usually entertaining and come from the heart. Sure, her English is not perfect, but she is well understood.

Chatting with her is like conversing with your “cool” older young-adult cousin who doesn’t care what she says, but is honest without being insulting and makes you laugh in the process. It makes me wish I could speak Chinese so I could understand her news conferences with her home country journalists.

When I was media in Melbourne last year, I never missed seeing Li in action with the media, whether in person in the main interview room or viewing her through my workstation in the media center. Even though I was not in Melbourne this year, I made a point of watching all of her news conferences and reading all of the transcripts. I actually do this for every tournament she’s in, if I’m able to get video and /or transcripts – she’s just that entertaining.

I hope more players take after her “media” skills. She has a journalism degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Perhaps when her on-court tennis career is over she can become a member of the tennis media? Wonder what type of questions she’d pose to the players? But with 31 being the new 21 in the tennis world,  she’ll turn 31 on February 26, I think Li is far from retirement.

Here are some of the more entertaining portions of Li Na’s news conferences throughout the Australian Open fortnight:

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Q.  Why do you think you fell down?
LI NA:  Because I’m stupid (smiling).

Q.  There was a controversy in the semifinal between Sloane Stephens regarding medical timeouts.
LI NA:  Hey, this is real injury.  Everyone can saw that.

Q.  Have you ever called a timeout like that? (Asked in reference to Victoria Azarenka calling for a medical timeout near the end of her semifinal win over Sloane Stephens.”
LI NA:  If I’m injured, yes.  If no, not.

 

 

LiNaMarionBartoliWTAAllaccessNewhaven

Q.  Do you remember the first time you saw yourself on a billboard or in the airport?  Can you talk about what that experience was like for you?
LI NA:  I say, Okay, I know this girl.  No, because, I mean, first time I was a little bit afraid to watch.  I was feeling like, Oh, it’s real.  Because sometimes you think it’s different when you watch.
First time was like, Ah, like this.  And then I look, Okay, okay, it’s you, so don’t worry about.
After the team or the friend say, I think I know this one.  I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, me, too.  Yeah.

Q.  Do you remember when that was, the timing of that?
LI NA:  I think the huge big one was in French Open, after.  Yeah, because next day I was back to Germany, so I saw in the airport.  I don’t know if it BBC or CNN or something news like   how you say   24 hours.  I mean, Why?  I just win title.  I just go and everyone saw.
Also funny thing is I was bought economy ticket because just so short.
They come and say, We know you just win tournament, so move to business.  I was, Oh, is not bad.

 

BabolatClijstersLiNaBabolatEvent05242012

Q.  Yesterday Jo Wilfried Tsonga was asked why top seeded women’s players lose more than the top seeded men.  He said because of hormones, because women are more emotionally unstable. 
LI NA:  And then?
Q.  Do you have any thoughts on that? 
LI NA:  I mean, but for all of the world, why should the man marry for the women?  It’s, how you say, different thinking.  Women’s tour is women’s tour; men’s tour is totally different.  So nothing prepare for that.
Q.  You don’t think hormones have anything to do with it; you think it’s more about tennis?
LI NA:  Sorry about that.  Now I’m only interesting about tennis.  Maybe when I retire I’m thinking about the hormones one day.
Q.  Do you have a theory on why there’s sort of upsets at the top level in the women’s game as opposed to the men? 
LI NA:  I mean, if I’m retire, I will go to university to learn this thing and I can answer you.
Sorry about that.
LiNaMontreal
Q.  Do you feel calmer on the court these days, and why do you think you’re feeling more calm?
LI NA:  Getting a little bit old, getting more experience.  Right now I really   how you say   enjoy for every match.
Also I was working a lot this point in winter training, as well.  Carlos always say, Calm down, calm down.  All the day I was listening too much, like, Calm down.
Li Na
Q.  This is your third semifinal here in four years.  Why do you think this is your best slam?  This seems to be your best slam.  Do you agree?
LI NA:  Yes, I agree.
Q.  Why do you think it is?
LI NA:  I mean, I don’t know.  Every time I was come here I was feeling, I don’t know, just something around with me.  It’s not wrong.
I don’t know.  I mean, maybe I like the court.  Maybe.
Q.  Do you think it being the beginning of the year also helps for you?
LI NA:  What do you want to say?
Q.  I’m saying you work hard in the off season. 
LI NA:  I working hard all the year (laughter).
Li Na

Li Na

Q.  What sort of stuff was he (Coach Carlos Rodriguez) doing to you?  How difficult was the pre season?
LI NA:  I mean, you know, before I was always training in gym for the winter training because I have to see the doctor for my knee.
So last time I was stay two weeks in Germany still for to check the body.  I was with Carlos for two and a half or three weeks in Beijing.  Totally different program, you know.
He was not   how you say   like every day five, six hours, but not only for tennis.  Tennis like maybe two, three hours, but fitness for two, three hours as well.
So, like, when first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying.  Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing.  I call him and say, Carlos is crazy.  He was like, Why?  I was say the program to him.  He was like, Don’t make the joke.  I say, Hey, listen, I’m not joke.  I really doing this in the morning.
He said, Okay, okay, I will come to you next day.  So next day he was in Beijing.  I was doing some exercise with Carlos.  He was sitting in the gym.  After halfway, he was like, Are you finished?  I said, No, only halfway.  He said, What?  I said, Really, yes.  I do this for three days already.
He said, I’m tired.  I say, Don’t say that.  I’m doing exercises, you’re only sitting.  Don’t say you’re tired.
Yeah, but Carlos   how you say   he was very nice guy but also is tough.  I have to finish all the program.  He will say, Let’s go, continue, with smile.  I can’t say anything.  I have to continue until finish.
Q.  Did you think about quitting at some point, stopping your work with him?
LI NA:  After three days I was really tired.  I was call my husband, I say, I really want to retire.  I say, Now only three days; how be I can continue for three weeks or all the year?
But I think he’s good because you can see until now, I mean, it’s not bad, yeah.
LiNa1022012
Q.  Maria Sharapova has only lost five games in her first four matches.  Have you been able to see any of her?  What do you think about playing somebody who is playing that well?
LI NA:  At least now I’m in the semis.  She has to play, so…  Right?
Now I can start now to enjoy my day.  She has to fight, yeah.  So that’s better.
The match is on Thursday, so I still have the time to recover.
Q.  If you play her, who do you think Max will root for? (Max Eisenbud is the agent for both Maria Sharapova and Li Na.)
LI NA:  I think Max just eat sugar and be somewhere else.  You couldn’t find him.  Be just like, Oh, good shot, you know.  Yeah, this is Max.  He is going to change something.
LiNabh10052012
Q.  On court you mentioned since your husband stopped coaching you you have a better family life.  Could you tell us a bit more about that. 
LI NA:  We always have good communication.  I mean, just coach and husband is   how you say   tough to find a balance.  He was doing very good job.  But between like husband and the coach for us, both of us, is very tough, yeah.
Because sometimes, you know, if he say, We should do something, I was feeling, I’m tired.  You’re my husband.  Why should you be training me so tired.  But I forgot he’s coach as well.  That’s why sometimes we have to fight, we have to shouting.
The funny thing is I think two years ago, China, someone say I was divorced.  They was asking me.  Because they thinking we always like shouting, maybe we divorced.  They ask me, Li Na, we hear you are divorce.  I say, Already two years, don’t worry about that.
I really have to say I have the same husband for long time, so don’t try to push me down.  Even one day we are didn’t love anymore maybe we should divorce.  This is the life.  We couldn’t always together.
10062012 China Open Li Na flying fh
Q.  Many of the players have a particular rival that they see as their main rival.  Who do you see as the biggest rivalry you have in tennis?
LI NA:  You know, I always try to play my game on the court, so, yeah.  But sometimes I was fighting against myself.  I always waste a lot of energy on the court.
Right now first step I have to follow what I do.  I don’t have to against myself.  So this is big step for me.  Yeah.
Q.  Has your coach helped you stop fighting against yourself?  Is that something that Carlos has done?
LI NA:  Yeah, he try.  He try a lot.  He was try very hard.  I think I doing good job.  I mean, at least not like before.  I have like maybe eight of the ten of the time I have the time for fighting against myself.
Now I try to relax on the court or off the court.
10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2
Q.  In this tournament there are four Chinese females in the main draw and one qualifying male.  Similar proportions in the juniors.  In China, is tennis more attractive to the females than the males, do you think?
LI NA:  They are here.  You can ask all of them.  Because for me, I mean, I was traveling all of the world to play some tournament.  I really can get some information, I don’t know, maybe from Internet or from newspaper.  But all the information from them, you know, so you can ask them.  (Smiling.)

 

Karen Pestaina is the founder and Editor-in-chief of Tennis Panorama News. She’s worked as a member of the media in the New York City market since her teenage years and tries never to miss a live Li Na news conference when she’s covering tennis tournaments. Follow her and the site on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

Transcript excerpts courtesy of ASAPSports.

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Djokovic Versus Murray – 2013 Australian Open Men’s Final – Tale of the Tape

HeadtoheadMurayDjokovic-e1296235103544

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – No. 1 Novak Djokovic will play  No. 3 Andy Murray for the Australian Open Men’s singles championship on Sunday.

This will be just the 14th Grand Slam final between the No. 1 seed and No. 3 seed. In Grand Slam Open Era meetings between the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, the No. 1 seed has an 11-2 win-loss record. The last time the No. 3 seed defeated the No. 1 seed in a Grand Slam final was when Mats Wilander defeated Ivan Lendl at the 1983 Australian Open. Ivan Lendl is currently Andy Murray’s coach.

This the second consecutive major final which features the same two combatants separated in age by just one week. The previous closest Grand Slam finalists in age were Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Connors at the 1977 US Open. Vilas was 16 days older than Connors.

 

Novak Djokovic is looking to become the first man in the Open Era and just the third man ever to win 3 consecutive Australian Open titles. Only 2 men, Jack Crawford (1931-33) and Roy Emerson (1963-1967) have won 3 or more in a row.  Although Andre Agassi won the Australian Open in 2000-01 and 2003 he missed the 2002 tournament  due to injury so despite being undefeated here in 4 years, he did not complete the three in-a-row.

 

Murray is trying to become the only first-time major winner to immediately win a second major at the next chance.

 

The Scot is on a 13-match winning streak at the majors having won his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open. He was the first man from Great  Britain to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry at the 1936 US Championships. He defeated Djokovic  7-6(10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in the final.

 

For 4 out of the past 5 years, the man who played his semifinal second has been the one who won the final, so recent history would suggest that Murray may have the advantage in winning the 2013 Australian Open title.

 

Murray defeated Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open. It is the only time Djokovic has lost a 5-set match in his last nine 5-set encounters.

Here is a look at the their head-to-head records. Statistics provided by the International Tennis Federation.

 

 

 

 DJOKOVIC                                                   v                                                    MURRAY

25                                                         Age                                                         25

6’2”/1.88m                                   Height                                   6’3”/1.90m

1                                                ATP Ranking                                                3

$45,686,495                    Career Earnings (USD)*                     $24,934,417

–                              2013 Earnings (USD)*                         $78,800

34                                                       Titles                                                       25

140-27                             Career Grand Slam Record                             106-27

5 titles                        Best Grand Slam Result          2012 US Open Champion

38-5                                  Australian Open Record                                  29-7

475-123                                         Career Record                                         389-123

303-70                                   Career Record – Hard                                   273-76

6-0                                               2013 Record                                              10-0

6-0                                         2013 Record – Hard                                       10-0

18-6                                   Career Five-Set Record                                   14-6

3                                  Comebacks from 0-2 Down                                  6

136-82                                Career Tiebreak Record                                112-71

0-1                                      2013 Tiebreak Record                                      2-2

              *As at January 14

Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 10-7

2006     AMS Madrid                  Hard (I)             R16      Djokovic           16 75 63

2007     AMS Indian Wells          Hard (O)            SF        Djokovic           62 63

2007     AMS Miami                   Hard (O)            SF        Djokovic           61 60

2008     AMS Monte Carlo          Clay (O)            R16      Djokovic           60 64

2008     AMS Toronto                Hard (O)            QF        Murray              63 76(3)

2008     AMS Cincinnati              Hard (O)            FR        Murray              76(4) 76(5)

2009     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)            FR        Murray              62 75

2011     Australian Open           Hard (O)           FR        Djokovic           64 62 63

2011     Rome-1000                   Clay (O)            SF        Djokovic           61 36 76(2)

2011     Cincinnati-1000              Hard (O)            FR        Murray              64 3-0 ret. (right shoulder injury)

2012     Australian Open           Hard (O)           SF        Djokovic           63 36 67(4) 61 75

2012     Dubai                           Hard (O)            SF        Murray              62 75

2012     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)            FR        Djokovic           61 76(4)

2012     Olympic Tennis Event    Grass (O)          SF        Murray              75 75

2012     US Open                      Hard (O)           FR        Murray             76(10) 75 26 36 62

2012     Shanghai-1000              Hard (O)            FR        Djokovic           57 76(11) 63

2012     ATP World Tour Finals   Hard (I)             RR        Djokovic           46 63 75

 

Poll – Who Will Win the Australian Open Men’s Final?

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Bryan Brothers Flawless in Capturing Australian Open Crown

Bryan Brothers china open 3

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Bob and Mike Bryan won a record 13th Men’s Doubles crown at the Australian Open on Saturday night, destroying their opponents Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4 in just 53 minutes.

 

The Bryans become the most successful doubles team in history after the win, surpassing the 12 title haul of Australian legends’ John Newcombe and Tony Roche.

 

The twins said the statistic was not on their minds while they were playing.

 

“We weren’t thinking about it much out there, but now that we have it, it’s going to be fun to look back on our career and say we have the most Grand Slams. It’s a big record, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mike Bryan explained.

 

When asked what other big achievements were left for them to strive for Bob Bryan said: “As far as records, there’s not much. But like we’ve told you before, we’re competitors. We hate to lose. We want to finish No. 1.”

 

“That’s just the way we are. We set goals to get better, to improve, and to play well at these big tournaments. That’s why we’ll be out here for the next few, three, four more years.”

 

The win is also the top seeds’ sixth Australian Open title out of nine final appearances. Mike Bryan explained why he believes the Australian Open has been their most successful major.

 

“Hard court. I think we’re basically hard court guys. I mean, we grew up in California. We’ve won six of these, four of the Open, only three at Wimbledon and the French. We always say we’re clay court guys.”

 

Bob Bryan added “Yeah. I also think it’s coming down here fresh, spending the off-season together, training hard, feeling like we put in the work, having a clean outlook, always wanting to start the year on top, kind of show the other guys that we’re still here, you know.”

 

Next on the Agenda for the brothers will be the Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bryans have not lost a Davis Cup doubles rubber since losing to the French pairing of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the World Group quarterfinals in 2008.

 

“It would be nice to win another Davis Cup, to have a couple of those once we retire. You know, we’re really focusing on that,” Mike Bryan said. “Yeah, we’re really excited about Davis Cup. We have a great draw this year.”

 

 

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Azarenka Defends Australian Open Title in Topsy Turvy Final

Victoria Azarenka Miami Players Party

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Victoria Azarenka successfully defended her Australian Open title on Saturday at Melbourne Park after triumphing over Li Na in a drama filled final 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 40 minutes.

 

In a bizarre display of ankle rolls, near concussions, fireworks delays, 85 unforced errors, 16 breaks of serve and some scintillating tennis, it was Azarenka who remained focused and determined in claiming the championship and in doing so will also hold on to her number one ranking come Monday. Azarenka also becomes the eighth different women’s champion to successfully defend the title in the Open Era.

 

Azarenka received a lukewarm reception from the crowd on the back of her controversial semifinal clash against Sloane Stephens in which she has been widely accused of gamesmanship after taking a questionable Medical Timeout in the critical stages of the second set. With the crowd firmly in the favor of the Chinese, it was a subdued Azarenka who dropped her racquet upon winning the match, shook hands with Li at the net and subsequently broke down into her towel with relief. There were no big celebrations and Azarenka avoided the aforementioned topic in her acceptance speech, choosing to play it safe and thank her team, the tournament organizers and Li.

 

“I feel really happy right now. It’s been a long match. It’s been a tough match. Li Na was absolutely playing great tennis. Unfortunate things that happened to her, you know, but that’s sport,” Azarenka said. “But, yeah, I’m just happy that everything I went through, you know, I still could manage to give my best and really come out there and try to focus on my game and play tennis that I can produce. And that’s the thing that I love to do, is to compete.”

 

When asked about the impact the last 48 hours had on her ability to play she said: “It isn’t easy, that’s for sure, but I knew what I had to do. I had to stay calm. I had to stay positive. I just had to deal with the things that came onto me.”

 

“I was actually really happy that I went through so many things knowing that I can still produce the tennis that I can and keep the focus that I can. It just motivates me to be a better player.”

 

The two displayed some magnificent winners in the match, especially in the critical moments at the end of the first and second sets, creating acute angles and using full power to outmaneuver the other. The telling statistic for Azarenka was her ability to hold a high first serve percentage and for Li it was her unforced error count of 57 which far outweighed her winner count of 36.

 

The first and last points in the opening set were a double fault. A nervy Li served first and was immediately broken to start a topsy turvy set of service breaks between the two.

 

Li edged ahead at the pointy end of the set 5-3 and failed when she attempted to serve it out, going down 0-40 and managing to save one break point with an excellent backhand crosscourt winner but losing the second after netting the ball. She was able to close it out though in the next game when Azarenka double faulted on set point down to gift the 30-year-old the set 6-4.

 

The Belarusian turned the tables in the second set by breaking Li in the first game and consolidating in the next. She really upped her power and put pressure on her opponent, running Li around the court to force her into making an error.

 

Serving at 1-3, 30-30 in the second Li rolled over on her ankle and was helped back to her chair by the trainer. She received a Medical Timeout to have the ankle strapped before going back on court and holding serve to trail Azarenka 2-3 in the second set. After some more breaks of serve Azarenka got ahead 5-4 and served out the set 6-4 to force a decider.

 

The finalists swapped breaks to open the final set and as Li held serve for 2-1 a nine minute delay arrived for the Australia Day fireworks. At the resumption of play Li rolled over on her ankle for a second time and hit her head on the ground. She received a second Medical Timeout to check for concussion but she appeared to be fine and continued to play.

 

Azarenka then applied the pressure to run the battered Li around the court and force a break of serve in the fifth game to lead 3-2. She again broke while leading 5-3 after Li sent her forehand long on championship point down.

 

Azarenka was very emotional after the match and was asked if defending the title was more special than winning it for the first time.

 

“I don’t know. It’s a completely different mix of feelings. This one is way more emotional. It’s gonna be extra special for me, for sure. I never compare my wins or losses ever in any tournaments. It’s just a matter of the feeling that you get, things you’ve been through, because you’re the only one who knows what you’ve been going through these two weeks.”

 

With the win Azarenka becomes just the fifth active player to win multiple Grand Slam titles along with Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Murray Victorious in Thriller Against Federer, Meets Djokovic in Final

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By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 25, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Andy Murray ended the title hopes of Roger Federer on Friday night as he outplayed the Swiss champion in a high quality four hour five set semifinal 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.

 

The win gives Murray a third tilt at the Australian Open crown when he meets world number one Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.

 

Coming into the match Murray had never beaten Federer in a major before, even though he held a 10-9 lead in their head-to-head.

 

The match was a contest of grit, determination and shotmaking brilliance. Murray played out of his skin for much of the encounter, stepping into the court and taking the balls early. Federer was on the back foot for the majority of the match but summoned all of his mettle to push Murray and go the distance. A stunning display of winners flew from both racquets as the match wore on but it was Murray who executed more with 62 winners overall and produced 13 less unforced errors than the 17-time major winner.

 

In the first set Murray managed an early break in the third game by forcing a Federer forehand error and it was all he needed to close out the set on serve 6-4.

 

In the second set Federer put a lot of effort into holding his serve but was not able to make an impact on his opponent’s. He tried to change the pace of the ball and bring Murray into the net more to take him off guard.

 

The set went to a tie-break as neither player was able to set up a break point opportunity the entire second set. Federer lead the tie-break early but Murray came back a few points later. Federer then upped the ante on the eleventh point with a scintillating backhand pass to gain another advantage and then sent down a superb serve that Murray could do nothing with to claim the set 7-6(5) and level the match.

 

Halfway through the third set Murray started to swing freely and really brought the pressure to Federer. He played very aggressive and took advantage of Federer’s second serve by pouncing on it early and shutting away winners. He claimed a break in the sixth game and then served out the set 6-3 with an ace.

 

Federer continued to feel the pressure on his serve in the fourth set but managed to hold his first game. In the fourth game Federer set up 3 break point opportunities, Murray saving two with strong serves but he couldn’t save the third, gifting Federer the break after sending a forehand wide. The Swiss then consolidated the break and lead the fourth set 4-1 before Murray fought back and broke Federer back in his next service game with a stunning forehand winner.

 

At this stage of the set Federer was just feeding the ball to his opponent rather than looking for holes to pounce on and allowed Murray another break to lead 6-5 and attempt to close out the match. Murray clammed up while trying to serve it out and gifted the break back to Federer to force another tie-break. Federer produced some glimpses of brilliance and sent the match to a fifth and deciding set 7-6(2) with a superb serve.

 

Federer shanked a backhand in his first service game on break point down to give Murray the lead in the final set 2-0. He looked as though he’d spent all of his energy getting to the fifth and was left with little to continue his push in the match. Murray maintained a high intensity for the remainder and lost just 3 points from 19 on serve on his way to victory.

 

“Obviously I was happy. It was a tough match. A lot of ups and downs,” Murray said in his post match news conference. “So it was good to come back after the way I lost the fourth set.”

 

“I think I did all the things I needed to do. I did them well. Even, like I say, after the second and fourth sets, which were tough to lose, because, you know, I wasn’t comfortable, but I was in, you know, good positions in both sets.”

 

“To lose them was tough. I was just happy with the way I responded after both those sets.”

 

Federer was making no excuses as to why he lost.

 

“I think overall he probably created more chances than I did. I had difficulties finding — you know, getting into his service games time and time again like I, you know, usually do against him,” Federer explained. “I think he started off serving well, and then, I mean, fifth set, obviously he did well. I think he played a bit more aggressive because he did create more opportunities over and over again.”

 

Djokovic leads the head-to-head against Murray 10-7 but Murray achieved a momentous win over the world number one at the US Open last September, defeating him in a thrilling five set final for his first Grand Slam title. When asked whether having won that title against Djokovic will help him mentally for Sunday, Murray said: “I would hope so. The task isn’t any easier. I’m obviously playing Novak again on this court. I mean, this has been his best court for sure. So I’m aware of how tough it will be to win the match and what have you.”

 

Federer says he thinks Djokovic will come up trumps on Sunday.

 

“He’s done really well again this tournament, digging himself out of the hole against Stan, coming and playing good tennis against Berdych and Ferrer. So obviously a tough match again, and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days.”

 

The final will take place on Sunday evening after the Mixed Doubles final.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Kyrgios and Kokkinakis set up All-Aussie Junior Boys’ Final at the Australian Open

 

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 25, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Newly crowned ITF Junior Boys’ world No. 1 Nick Kyrgios stormed into the Australian Open Junior Boys’ final after dominating eighth seed Filippo Baldi 6-2, 6-1 in just 41 minutes on Friday.

 

“Obviously I’m really stoked with that performance today, I knew Baldi has been playing some pretty good tennis to make it to the semifinal and I knew I had to stick to my game plan,” Kyrgios said. “I like to come out strong, show a bit of fire in the first couple of games, show them that I’m there and that I’m going be tough to beat.”

 

Kyrgios was devastating in the win, sending down 9 aces and winning 75% of first serves in play against the Italian. The 17-year-old Australian will play compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first All-Australian junior final since Ben Ellwood defeated Andrew Ilie in the 1994.

 

The unseeded Kokkinakis defeated eleventh seed Borna Coric 6-3, 6-2 in just over one hour and the win caps off an unforgettable summer for the Adelaide teen. Kokkinakis was in Perth for the Hopman Cup as a reserve for Bernard Tomic but found himself as a substitute for the injured John Isner in the US team who took on Spain in their round robin contest. Kokkinakis came within three points of taking a set off Fernando Verdasco and also teamed with Venus Williams in the mixed doubles.

 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis know each others’ games well and consider themselves good friends. They also teamed up to play the Australian Open Junior Doubles competition where they lost in the quarterfinals. Most recently they squared off in the National 18 and under championships final at Melbourne Park in December with Kyrgios the victor in a tight three set match.

 

In the Girls’ singles, second seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic defeated Estonian tenth seed Anett Kontaveit in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 in just under one hour. The Czech will meet the third seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia in the final who overcame a resurgent Elizaveta Kulichkova in a three set battle 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

 

The Boys’ and Girls’ doubles champions were also decided on Friday with the Australian combo of Jay Andrijic and Bradley Mousley triumphant 6-3 7-6(3) over the German/Austrian pairing of Maximilian Marterer and Lucas Miedler in the Boy’s competition. In the girls’ competition singles finalist Ana Konjuh partnered with Canadian Carol Zhao to defeat the Ukrainian/Czech pairing of Oleksandra Korashvili and Barbora Krejcikova 5-7, 6-3, (10-7)

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

 

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Top Seeds Errani and Vinci Claim Australian Open Women’s Doubles Title

ErraniVinci

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 25, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK,  Australia – Top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci took out the Australian Open Women’s Doubles title on Friday, overcoming a spirited fightback from the local team of Casey Dellacqua and 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in one hour and 42 minutes.

 

Dellacqua and Barty were surprise finalists and were the first Australian pairing to reach the final since Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Helen Gourlay won the title in 1977.

 

In an exciting battle on Rod Laver Arena watched over by tennis legend Margaret Court the Italian top seeds raced to a commanding lead in the match, claiming the first set 6-2 in just 29 minutes.

 

The Australian pair dug deep in the second set to break the top seeds in the eighth game with Vinci serving and closed out the set 6-3 to give themselves a chance in the decider.

 

Errani and Vinci took control in the final set, claiming breaks in the sixth game and on championship point to become the first Italian pairing to win the Australian Open title. Italian Flavia Pennetta won with Argentine Gisela Dulko in 2011.

 

“In the third set we started to get nervous,” Vinci said post match. “However, today we’ve proven we’re a really strong doubles team.

 

“Our strength is that we always play together. We went out there today with lots of grit, and we really wanted to win.”

 

In the mixed doubles competition, the Australian team of Jarmila Gajdosova and Matt Ebden progressed through to the final after defeating the Kazakh and Uzbekh pairing of Yaroslava Shvedova and Denis Istomin in two tough sets 7-5, 7-6(5).

 

The Australians will play Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak in the final on Sunday after the pair overcame Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski in a super tiebreak 10-7.

 

The men’s doubles final will be contested on Saturday after the women’s singles final with top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan squaring off against the Dutch duo of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling.

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

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Effortless Djokovic Through to Third Consecutive Australian Open Final

 

DjokovicShanghaiGetty

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 24, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Novak Djokovic dominated fourth seed David Ferrer on Thursday night to progress through to his third successive Australian Open final.

 

It was a flawless Djokovic who broke through the dogged Spaniard in the semifinal, the world number one dispensing 30 winners and dropping just 7 points on serve during the 89 minute thumping.

 

“This is definitely one of the best performances that I’ve ever had in my career.” Djokovic said immediately after the match. “Before the match I was saying that he is one of the most respected guys on the tour you know, he’s been around for many years.

 

“Well the bottom line is it’s a mental game in the end. You know everybody works very hard. It’s not easy. It’s the semifinals of a Grand Slam and you’re playing one of the top players in the world and you need to focus on every point and even though I was two sets up and four love up I didn’t want to give him any points. I know he’s mentally very strong and he bounces back really really fast if you give him opportunities but, you know, as I said I don’t always expect myself to play this well but I was free in my mind tonight and hopefully I can maintain that level in the finals.”

 

Djokovic will play the winner of the semifinal between Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final on Sunday evening. He was asked whether getting some end of year wins over Murray after his five set loss to him in the US Open final will give him an edge should he meet Murray in the final.

 

“That maybe might mentally help a bit, but it’s not a big advantage. Whenever I play Andy or Roger or Rafa, the top rivals, it’s always small margins and small details decide a winner, especially at this stage of a tournament.”

 

“So, you know, it’s finals. It’s really unpredictable who is going to come out as a winner.”

 

Whoever he plays in the final, Djokovic says he will be prepared for a long battle.

 

“You know, this two-day break definitely serves me well, you know, physically, mentally, emotionally, so I can get all my strength for that final.”

 

“I’m gonna be expecting — I have to be ready to expect a five-hour match or five sets. That’s the kind of approach that I have to every single match that I play on on Grand Slams, especially in the second week. No other thoughts than that one.”

 

“I’m just very thrilled to be able to have another shot at the title.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Day 11 2013 Australian Open Doubles Update

Bryan Brothers China Open 2

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 24, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – On semifinal day for the men’s doubles top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan won through to their ninth Australian Open final after defeating the Italian pairing of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini in three sets.

 

Considered the greatest doubles team of all time, the Bryan brothers will be vying for their sixth Australian Open title and will compete against the Dutch duo of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling in the final. The dutchmen knocked out the third seeds in Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in a tough straight sets encounter.

 

The semifinal lineup for the mixed doubles competition was also completed on Thursday. The pairings of Kveta Peschke/Marcin Matkowski and Yaroslava Shvedova/Denis Istomin had progressed through to the semifinals on Wednesday and they will play the pairings of Lucie Hradecka/Frantisek Cermak and Jarmila Gajdosova/Matt Ebden respectively.

 

The women’s doubles final will take place on Friday before the Roger Federer versus Andy Murray semifinal clash and will see the surprise Australian pairing of Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty take on the top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

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