February 6, 2016

Murray Dominates Groth, While Ferrer Sends Hewitt into Retirement at the Australian Open

(January 21, 2016) No. 2 seed Andy Murray extended his unbeaten streak against Australian players with a dominant 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 second round win over big-serving Sam Groth on Thursday at the Australian Open.

After the 91-minute match, the Scotsman paid tribute to the retiring Lleyton Hewitt: “He was someone I loved watching growing up. His attitude toward competition I loved,” Murray said. “He fought, well, fights extremely hard to this day. He still has the same passion to win.

“He was an idol for me, I actually named one of my dogs after him because he was someone that I loved growing up.”

Murray, who is an expectant father, with his wife due to have the baby next month, has made it known that if his wife goes into labor during the tournament, he will fly home immediately.

Murray’s next opponent in the third round is the 32nd seed Joao Sousa. Murray assess his challenger:
“This is maybe the third time I played him here. We also played at the French last year. He’s almost the opposite to Groth really. Plays predominantly from the back of the court. Very solid from the baseline. Doesn’t obviously serve so big, but makes a lot of returns.

“He’s a very good mover. Good athlete. He wins. He knows how to win matches. He understands the game well and he gets the most out of his game.

“So, you know, if I play well, I got a good chance obviously. But, you know, he’s the sort of player that if your level’s not quite there, he’ll make it very tough for you, as he did when I played him at the French Open. I was in a bit of trouble against him there.”

Lleyton Hewitt’s singles career ended at the hands of No. 8 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday night. This was the former No. 1’s 20th Australian Open.

“Left nothing in the locker room. That’s something I can be proud of,” said Hewitt after the match joine on the court by his three children. “My whole career, I’ve given 100 percent.”

Hewitt, who played his first Australian Open in 1997, won his first title at the age of 16 and was ranked No. 1 at age 20, was joined on court by his three children after he match.

“I felt like this was the perfect place to finish,” he said.

“Out on the court obviously you got so many things going through your head. You’re trying to soak it up as much as possible out there one last time,” Hewitt said in press.

“You know, it was an unbelievable atmosphere out there. A couple of the roars during the match tonight was as loud as I’ve ever played in front of. I was getting goosebumps at times. Obviously just watching the video and hearing those great players talk about you in that light, you know, was pretty emotional.

“Especially when I got back in the locker room, I guess that hits you a little bit more then. When I’m with my close friends and coaching staff that have helped me so much out, yeah, it’s sort of a strange feeling because you’re obviously disappointed not to keep going, but obviously proud of everything we’ve done as well.”

2014 Australian champion, 4th seed Stan Wawrinka advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over 37-year-old veteran qualifier Radek Stepanek.

“Really happy,” said the Swiss. “Was a good match in general. Three sets win against Stepanek, Hisense Arena.”

“Two match, two victory. Today was a really good level on the tennis side. Just focus every match, trying to rest between, trying to be ready for the next one.”

Other men’s seeds advancing were No. 10 John Isner, No. 13 Milos Raonic, No. 16 Bernard Tomic, No. 18 Feliciano Lopez, No. 23 Gael Monfils, and No. 31 Steve Johnson.

Rafael Nadal conqueror Fernando Verdasco was conquered 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) by Dudi Sela. Other surprises among the men’s seeds included No. 25 Jack Sock who lost to to Lukas Rosol and No. 30 Jeremy Chardy who fell to Andrey Kuznetsov.

On the women’s side of the draw – Ana Ivanovic’s match was delayed when a fan fell down some stairs. The Serbian defeated Anastasija Sevastova ‘s 6-3, 6-3.

Other seeds advancing were third-seeded Garbine, No. 7 Angelique Kerber, two-time Australian Open champion and 14th seed Victoria Azarenka and No. 15 Madison Keys.

The upsets continued on the women’s side as Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka beat No. 18 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4. Other seeds to fall on Thursday included No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 19 Jelena Jankovic and No. 30 Sabine Lisicki.

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2016 Australian Open – Day 2 Men’s Preview

Rod Laver Arena

2016 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

DAY 2 MEN’S NOTES

Tuesday 19 January

1st Round Bottom Half

Featured matches

 

No. 2 Andy Murray (GBR) v Alexander Zverev (GER)
No. 4 Stan Wawrinka (SUI) v Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)

No. 5 Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
No. 8 David Ferrer (ESP) v (Q) Peter Gojowczyk (GER)

No. 13 Milos Raonic (CAN) v Lucas Pouille (FRA)

No. 16 Bernard Tomic (AUS) v Denis Istomin (UZB)

(WC) James Duckworth (AUS) v (WC) Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) v Sam Groth (AUS)

 

On court today…

 

  • Former Australian Open champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka begin their latest Melbourne campaigns today. Nadal faces a repeat of his epic 2009 semifinal against Fernarndo Verdasco, which lasted 5 hours 14 minutes and preceded his only title in Melbourne, in the 3rd match on Rod Laver Arena. Wawrinka, meanwhile, heads to Margaret Court Arena to take on Dmitry Tursunov, who is contesting his first Grand Slam match since the 2014 US Open after 13 months on the sidelines with a foot injury.

 

  • Andy Murray, a 4-time runner-up here in Melbourne, begins his 40th Grand Slam with a 1st round clash against Alexander Zverev in the 2nd match on Margaret Court Arena. The pair met for the first time at the Hopman Cup earlier this month, with the 2-time Grand Slam champion defeating 18-year-old Zverev in straight sets.

 

  • Both the youngest and oldest players to start in the men’s main draw are in action today. Qualifier Taylor Fritz, aged 18 years 95 days, begins his Australian Open campaign against fellow American and No. 25 seed Jack Sock in the 4th match on Court 14. Qualifier Radek Stepanek, aged 37 years 65 days, will bid to become the oldest man to win a match at the Australian Open since Bob Carmichael (38 years 183 days) and Ken Rosewall (44 years 62 days) in 1978, when he takes on qualifier Tatsuma Ito in the 4th match on Court 20.

 

  • Lleyton Hewitt begins his final Australian Open against compatriot James Duckworth in the night match on Rod Laver Arena. It’s a 20th straight appearance at Melbourne Park for Hewitt, which puts him in equal-4th place on the list for most appearances at a single Grand Slam. Hewitt and Duckworth are 2 of the 7 Aussies in action today.

 

 

NO. 2 ANDY MURRAY (GBR) v ALEXANDER ZVEREV (GER)

Head-to-head: first meeting

2016     Hopman Cup                Hard (I)            R2        Murray             63 64

 

MURRAY                                       v                                        ZVEREV

 

28                                          Age                                          18

2                             ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                            83

35                                         Titles                                          0

153-37                     Career Grand Slam Record                       1-2

39-10                        Australian Open Record                          0-0

552-165                              Career Record                               18-24

374-107                        Career Record – Hard                           5-11

0-0                                   2016 Record                                   0-0

0-0                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-0

18-7                          Career Five-Set Record                          1-1

8                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

157-98                       Career Tiebreak Record                         8-12

0-0                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • 4-time Australian Open runner-up MURRAY is contesting his 11th straight Australian Open and 40th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Murray is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after losing 4 finals at any one Grand Slam. He finished as runner-up to Roger Federer here in 2010, and to Novak Djokovic in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Federer, at Roland Garros, and Ivan Lendl, at the US Open, are the only players to lose 3 Grand Slam finals at one major before winning the title in the Open Era.

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2015, Murray reached the semifinals at Roland Garros (l. Djokovic) and Wimbledon (l. Federer). He fell to Kevin Anderson in the round of 16 at the US Open – the first time he had lost before the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam since the 2010 US Open.

 

  • Also in 2015, Murray won 4 titles including his first titles on clay at Munich (d. Philipp Kohlschreiber), where he became the first British player to win a Tour-level clay court title since Buster Mottram at 1976 Palma, and Madrid-1000 (d. Rafael Nadal). He also won the title at Queen’s (d. Anderson) and Montreal-1000
    (d. Djokovic).

 

  • Murray has not lost a 1st round Grand Slam match since the 2008 Australian Open (l. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga).

 

  • Murray warmed up for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup. He won 2 of his 3 singles matches in Perth, defeating Kenny de Schepper and today’s opponent, but losing to Nick Kyrgios.

 

  • If he wins today, Murray will take sole occupancy of 8th place on the list for the most Australian Open match-wins in the Open Era. He is currently level with Wayne Ferreira on 39 wins at Melbourne Park. If he reaches the final here, he would tie Pete Sampras in 7th place on 45 wins.

 

  • Murray is one of 7 Grand Slam champions to start in the men’s main draw here. Murray won the 2012 US Open title (d. Djokovic) and became the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title in 77 years in 2013 (d. Djokovic).

 

  • Murray is coached by 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo.

 

  • ZVEREV is looking to reach the 2nd round here on his Australian Open debut and equal his best Grand Slam performance.

 

  • Zverev is making his 3rd appearance at a Grand Slam. He reached the 2nd round on his Grand Slam debut at 2015 Wimbledon (d. Teymuraz Gabashvili, l. Denis Kudla) and fell in the 1st round as a qualifier at the 2015 US Open (l. Philipp Kohlschreiber). He has attempted to qualify for the majors on 3 other occasions, including unsuccessfully here in 2015.

 

  • Zverev’s best Tour-level result in 2015 was reaching the semifinals at Bastad (l. Tommy Robredo) and the quarterfinals at Washington (l. Marin Cilic). He also won the title at the Heilbronn Challenger (GER)
    (d. Guido Pella), breaking the Top 100 at No. 85 for the first time as a result. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 74 in June 2015 but plays here at No. 83.

 

  • Zverev warmed up for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup, where he won 1 of his 3 matches – defeating Kenny de Schepper but losing to Nick Kyrgios and today’s opponent.

 

  • Zverev is a former junior world No. 1. He was named 2013 ITF Junior World Champion and went on to win the boys’ singles title at the 2014 Australian Open (d. Stefan Kozlov). He also finished runner-up in the boys’ singles at 2013 Roland Garros and helped Germany reach the 2013 Junior Davis Cup Final (l. Spain).

 

  • Zverev is one of 8 former junior Australian Open champions in this year’s men’s main draw. Stefan Edberg is the only player to have won both the junior and senior title here in the Open Era.

 

  • Zverev received the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award in 2015 for being the youngest player in the Top 100. At 2014 Hamburg he became the youngest player ever to reach an ATP 500 semifinal aged 17, falling to David Ferrer.

 

  • Zverev’s brother, Mischa, attempted to qualify for the Australian Open, falling to Taylor Fritz in the final round of qualifying.

 

  • Zverev is coached by his father, Alexander Zverev Sr. His physical trainer is Jez Green, who used to work with Murray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 STAN WAWRINKA (SUI) v DMITRY TURSUNOV (RUS)

Head-to-head: tied 1-1

2008     Sydney                         Hard (O)           R32      Tursunov          63 63

2013     Kuala Lumpur               Hard (I)            QF       Wawrinka         26 63 76(3)

 

A 3rd career meeting between the 2 players. Tursunov won their only meeting in Australia 8 years ago.

 

WAWRINKA                                     v                                     TURSUNOV

 

30                                          Age                                          33

4                             ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                             –

12                                         Titles                                          7

103-41                     Career Grand Slam Record                      38-40

28-9                         Australian Open Record                          5-8

397-234                              Career Record                              229-207

214-128                        Career Record – Hard                        150-132

4-0                                   2016 Record                                   0-0

4-0                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-0

22-18                         Career Five-Set Record                          12-8

6                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         3

157-155                      Career Tiebreak Record                       110-88

0-0                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • 2014 Australian Open champion WAWRINKA has never lost in the 1st round here. This is his 11th Australian Open appearance and his 44th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • The last time Wawrinka lost in the 1st round at a Grand Slam was at 2014 Roland Garros, when as No. 3 seed he was defeated by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He was the first reigning Australian Open champion to lost in the 1st round of the subsequent Roland Garros since Petr Korda in 1998.

 

  • Last year here as defending champion Wawrinka reached the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic 76(1) 36 64 46 60.

 

  • Wawrinka’s best Australian Open result is winning the title in his first Grand Slam final in 2014 (d. Rafael Nadal 63 62 36 63). He was the first player to defeat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds en route to a Grand Slam title since Sergei Bruguera won 1993 Roland Garros.

 

  • Wawrinka won his 2nd Grand Slam title as No. 8 seed at 2015 Roland Garros. He became the 2nd Swiss player – man or woman – in history to win Roland Garros after defeating No. 1 seed Djokovic 46 64 63 64 in the final. At 30 years 71 days, he was the oldest man to win in Paris since Andres Gomez in 1990.

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2015, Wawrinka reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon (l. Richard Gasquet) and the semifinals at the US Open (l. Roger Federer). It was the first time he had reached the quarterfinals at all 4 Grand Slams in a calendar year.

 

  • Wawrinka had a career-best season in 2015. As well as winning his 2nd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, he also won the titles at Chennai (d. Aljaz Bedene), Rotterdam (d. Tomas Berdych) and Tokyo
    (d. Benoit Paire). It was the first time he has won 4 titles in a single season. He also reached 5 further semifinals.

 

  • Wawrinka warmed up for the Australian Open by successfully defending his title at Chennai. He defeated Borna Coric in the final. It was his 12th career title and 4th at Chennai, having also won there in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

 

  • Wawrinka is currently working with Magnus Norman, who reached the semifinals here in 2000.

 

  • TURSUNOV is contesting his first Grand Slam match since the 2014 US Open and is looking for his first Grand Slam match-win since 2014 Roland Garros.

 

  • Tursunov spent 13 months out of the game due to a left foot injury after the 2014 US Open, making his comeback at 2015 Moscow where he failed to qualify in singles but won the doubles title as a wild card with Andrey Rublev. He has played just 2 other events since then, losing in the 1st round at the Ortisei Challenger (ITA) in November 2015 and in the final round of qualifying for the Bangkok Challenger
    (l. Frederik Nielsen) prior to coming here.

 

  • Tursunov is bidding to record his first Tour-level match-win since 2014 ’s-Hertogenbosch, when he defeated Bradley Klahn in the 1st round before giving a walkover to Thiemo De Bakker due to a left foot injury.

 

  • Tursunov is bidding to reach the 2nd round here for the 5th time. His best Australian Open performance is reaching the 3rd round as No. 21 seed in 2007 (l. Tomas Berdych). He fell in the 2nd round on his last appearance at Melbourne Park in 2014 (d. Michael Russell, l. Denis Istomin).

 

  • Tursunov’s best Grand Slam performance is 2 round of 16 finishes at Wimbledon in 2005 (l. Sebastien Grosjean) and as No. 27 seed in 2006 (l. Jarkko Nieminen). This is his 9th Australian Open and his 41st Grand Slam appearance.

 

  • Tursunov is bidding to end a 3-match losing streak at the Grand Slams. He has not won a match at a major since reaching the 3rd round at 2014 Roland Garros (l. Roger Federer).

 

  • Tursunov is a former Top 20 player, having reached a career-high ranking of No. 20 in October 2006, after winning his first career title at 2006 Mumbai (d. Berdych). He plays here on a protected ranking of No. 89.

 

  • Tursunov is a 7-time singles titlist. 5 of his 7 career singles titles have come on hard court – with his last title on the surface coming at 2008 Metz.

 

  • Tursunov is on an 8-match losing streak against Top 10 players. The last time he defeated a Top 10 player was at 2013 Cincinnati-1000 when he defeated No. 4 David Ferrer. He is bidding for his 3rd victory over a Top 10 player at a major – and his first since he defeated No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic at 2006 Wimbledon.

 

  • Tursunov entered the men’s doubles here with Alexandr Dolgopolov. The pair will play No. 16 seeds Pablo Cuevas/Marcel Granollers in the 1st round. Tursunov has won 7 career doubles titles.

 

  • Tursunov is coached by Vitaly Gorin at the Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento. His fitness trainer is Jason Stacy.

 

 

5 RAFAEL NADAL (ESP) v FERNANDO VERDASCO (ESP)

Head-to-head: Nadal leads 14-2

2005     Doha                            Hard (O)           R16      Nadal               62 64

2005     AMS Miami                   Hard (O)           R32      Nadal               62 62

2005     Stuttgart                       Clay (O)           R16      Nadal               63 62

2006     Queen’s                        Grass (O)         R16      Nadal               26 76(3) 76(3)

2007     AMS Indian Wells         Hard (O)           R32      Nadal               64 64

2008     Roland Garros             Clay (O)           R16      Nadal               61 60 62

2009     Australian Open          Hard (O)          SF        Nadal               67(4) 64 76(2) 67(1) 64

2009     Rome-1000                   Clay (O)           QF       Nadal               63 63

2009     Madrid-1000                 Clay (O)           QF       Nadal               64 75

2010     Monte Carlo-1000         Clay (O)           FR        Nadal               60 61

2010     US Open                      Hard (O)          QF       Nadal               75 63 64

2011     Cincinnati-1000             Hard (O)           R16      Nadal               76(5) 67(4) 76(9)

2012     Barcelona                     Clay (O)           SF        Nadal               60 64

2012     Madrid-1000                 Clay (O)           R16      Verdasco          63 36 75

2015     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)           R32      Verdasco          64 26 63

2015     Hamburg                      Clay (O)           R32      Nadal               36 61 61

 

Nadal and Verdasco have met at the Australian Open once before in the 2009 semifinals – their epic 5-set match lasted for 5 hours 14 minutes and is the 2nd longest match (in terms of duration) in Australian Open history. Nadal went on to win his only Australian Open title that year while for Verdasco it is his best Grand Slam performance and saw him break the Top 10 for the first time as a result. This is a 4th Grand Slam meeting for the 2 players but their first since the 2010 US Open.

 

Nadal leads the head-to-head 14-2 but Verdasco has won 2 of their last 3 match-ups, ending a 13-match losing streak to Nadal at 2012 Madrid-1000. Nadal has also won 6 of their 7 hard court encounters and all of their previous meetings at the majors.

 

Nadal and Verdasco are 2 of the 16 lefthanders to start in the men’s main draw. Nadal was the last lefthander to win the title here in 2009. They are also 2 of the 15 Spanish men to start in this year’s draw. Spain has the highest representation of any nation here.

 

NADAL                                         v                                     VERDASCO

 

29                                          Age                                          32

5                             ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                            45

67                                         Titles                                          6

198-29                     Career Grand Slam Record                      91-50

45-9                         Australian Open Record                        20-12

771-161                              Career Record                              430-311

367-108                        Career Record – Hard                        195-164

4-1                                   2016 Record                                   1-1

4-1                              2016 Record – Hard                              1-1

17-6                          Career Five-Set Record                         21-18

3                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         5

192-120                      Career Tiebreak Record                      164-173

0-1                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            2-0

 

  • 2009 champion NADAL is bidding to maintain his record of always having reached the 2nd round at the Australian Open. This is his 11th appearance at Melbourne Park and his 44th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Nadal is bidding to win his 2nd Australian Open title and become the first man in the Open Era – and only the 3rd man in history – to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only players to have won each Grand Slam on two or more occasions [see Preview page 2].

 

  • Last year here Nadal lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. It ended Nadal’s 17-match winning streak against Berdych which was the joint longest winning streak in a Tour-level head-to-head.

 

  • In 2015, Nadal won 3 titles at Buenos Aires (d. Juan Monaco), Stuttgart (d. Viktor Troicki) and Hamburg
    (d. Fabio Fognini). This is the joint fewest titles he has won in a season since 2004 when he won one title. It was also the first year he failed to win a Grand Slam title since 2004.

 

  • At the majors in 2015, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros to Novak Djokovic. It was just his second defeat in 95 best-of-5 set matches and ended his 39-match winning streak at the French Open. He lost to qualifier Dustin Brown in the 2nd round at Wimbledon and to Fabio Fognini in the 3rd round at the US Open.
  • Nadal is looking to win his 15th Grand Slam title and close the gap on Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam title holders. He is currently joint-2nd with Pete Sampras on the list behind Federer (17). He was one of 7 Grand Slam champions to start this year’s men’s main draw.

 

  • Nadal’s best performance at the Australian Open was winning the title in 2009 (d. Federer). He also reached the final in 2012, losing to Djokovic in the longest men’s Grand Slam final on record at 5 hours, 53 minutes, and in 2014 (l. Stan Wawrinka).

 

  • Nadal has never lost in the 1st round at the Australian Open. He has only lost in the 1st round at a Grand Slam once before – to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon.

 

  • Nadal warmed up for the Australian Open at Doha, where he lost in the final to Djokovic.

 

  • Nadal is coached by his uncle, Toni Nadal, and his fitness trainer is Rafael Maymo.

 

  • Lefthander VERDASCO is contesting his 13th consecutive Australian Open and his 51st Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Verdasco recorded his best Grand Slam result here in 2009, when he lost to today’s opponent in the semifinals.

 

  • At the Grand Slams in 2015, Verdasco reached the 3rd round at the Australian Open (l. Novak Djokovic) and at Wimbledon (l. Stan Wawrinka) but fell in the 2nd round at Roland Garros (l. Benjamin Becker) and the US Open (l. Milos Raonic).

 

  • Verdasco’s best results in 2015 were reaching the semifinals at Ecuador (l. Feliciano Lopez) and Houston (l. Sam Querrey). He recorded back-to-back wins at just 6 tournaments and ended the year ranked No. 47, his lowest year-end ranking for 12 years.

 

  • Verdasco warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the 2nd round at Doha (d. Malek Jaziri, l. Djokovic).

 

  • Verdasco has won 6 career singles titles, most recently at 2014 Houston (d. Nicolas Almagro). 2 of his titles have come on hard court – at 2009 New Haven and 2010 San Jose. He is a former Top 10 player, having reached a career-high ranking of No. 7 in 2009, but plays here at No. 47.

 

  • Verdasco has played at every Grand Slam event since making his debut at 2003 Wimbledon. This is his 51st straight major. Only 2 men have a longer active streak: Roger Federer (65) and Feliciano Lopez (56).

 

  • Verdasco entered the men’s doubles here with Robin Haase. They will play Colin Fleming/Jonathan Erlich in the 1st round. Verdasco has won 7 career doubles titles.

 

  • Verdasco is coached by David Sanchez and Sergio Perez. His fitness trainers are Jesus Rivera-Huidobro and Claudio Soliva.

 

 

8 DAVID FERRER (ESP) v (Q) PETER GOJOWCZYK (GER)

Head-to-head: first meeting

 

FERRER                                        v                                   GOJOWCZYK

 

33                                          Age                                          26

8                             ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                           223

26                                         Titles                                          0

130-51                     Career Grand Slam Record                       2-5

35-13                        Australian Open Record                          0-3

659-313                              Career Record                               10-15

308-166                        Career Record – Hard                            8-9

2-2                                   2016 Record                                   0-0

2-2                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-0

20-11                         Career Five-Set Record                          1-2

4                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

148-131                      Career Tiebreak Record                          7-7

1-0                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • FERRER is contesting his 14th successive Australian Open and his 52nd Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Ferrer has not lost in the 1st round at a Grand Slam event since 2005 Wimbledon, where as No. 17 seed he lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He fell in the 1st round here on his Grand Slam debut in 2003 (l. Hyung-Taik Lee) and again in 2005 (l. David Nalbandian).

 

  • Ferrer’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the final as No. 4 seed at 2013 Roland Garros, where he lost in straight sets to Nadal. At 31 years 68 days, he was the 4th oldest man to reach the Roland Garros final.

 

  • Ferrer’s best Australian Open performance is reaching the semifinals as No. 7 seed in 2011 (l. Andy Murray) and as No. 4 seed in 2013 (l. Novak Djokovic).

 

  • Last year here Ferrer reached the round of 16, losing to Kei Nishikori. Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2015, Ferrer reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros (l. Murray) and the 3rd round at the US Open
    (l. Jeremy Chardy). He missed Wimbledon with an elbow injury, ending a run of 50 straight Grand Slam appearances.

 

  • Ferrer warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the semifinals at Auckland, losing to Jack Sock. He fell in the 1st round at Doha to Illya Marchenko.

 

  • Ferrer finished 2015 at No. 7 in the rankings – the 6th consecutive year he has finished in the Top 10. He won 5 titles in 2015, the most titles he has won in a calendar year since 2012. He won the titles at Doha
    (d. Tomas Berdych), Rio de Janeiro (d. Fabio Fognini), Acapulco (d. Kei Nishikori), Kuala Lumpur
    (d. Feliciano Lopez) and Vienna (d. Steve Johnson). He played just one event between Roland Garros and the US Open due to an elbow injury.

 

  • Ferrer started working with Francisco Fogues in 2015.

 

  • Qualifier GOJOWCZYK is looking for his first match-win at the Australian Open. This is his 4th appearance at Melbourne Park and his 6th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Gojowczyk has lost in the 1st round in all 3 of his previous appearances at the Australian Open – as a qualifier in 2012 (l. Donald Young) and 2014 (l. Victor Hanescu), and he retired with cramping as a direct acceptance in 2015 (l. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez). He failed to qualify here in 2013.

 

  • Gojowczyk defeated Brydan Klein (GBR) 75 62, Frances Tiafoe (USA) 63 62 and Alexander Kudryavtsev (RUS) 36 76(3) 62 in the 3 rounds of qualifying.
  • The only other Grand Slam event Gojowczyk has contested is the US Open, where he reached the 2nd round as a qualifier in both 2013 (l. Evgeny Donskoy) and 2014 (l. Milos Raonic). At the majors in 2015, he lost in the 1st round at the Australian Open and failed to qualify at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.

 

  • Prior to coming here, Gojowczyk fell in the 1st round at the Happy Valley Challenger (AUS) (l. Alexander Sarkissian).

 

  • Gojowyczk’s best results in 2015 came on the Challenger Circuit. He won the title at Nan Chang (CHN)
    (d. Amir Weintraub) and reached the semifinals at Ningbo (l. Yen-Hsun Lu). He played in 3 Tour-level events, winning just one match at Chennai (d. Alejandro Falla, l. Roberto Bautista Agut).

 

  • Gojowyczk is looking for his 2nd victory over a Top 10 player, having defeated No. 9 Raonic at 2014 Halle. He has a 1-3 win-loss record against Top 10 players overall.

 

  • Gojowczyk is coached by Lars Uebel. He trains at the Sport-Scheck Allwetteranlage in Munich.

 

 

13 MILOS RAONIC (CAN) v LUCAS POUILLE (FRA)

Head-to-head: Raonic leads 1-0
2016     Brisbane           Hard (O)           QF       Raonic              64 64

 

A 2nd straight meeting in Australia this month for the 2 players. Raonic defeated Pouille en route to winning his 8th career title at Brisbane.

 

RAONIC                                        v                                       POUILLE

 

25                                          Age                                          21

14                            ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                            90

8                                          Titles                                          0

43-19                      Career Grand Slam Record                       1-7

14-5                         Australian Open Record                          0-2

211-103                              Career Record                               18-23

154-64                         Career Record – Hard                          12-14

4-0                                   2016 Record                                   2-1

4-0                              2016 Record – Hard                              2-1

5-4                           Career Five-Set Record                          0-1

0                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

137-88                       Career Tiebreak Record                         13-5

2-1                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            1-0

 

  • RAONIC is bidding to maintain his record of always having reached the 2nd round here.

 

  • Last year here as No. 8 seed Raonic recorded his best Australian Open result by reaching the quarterfinals (l. Novak Djokovic). This is his 6th Australian Open appearance and his 20th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Elsewhere in Grand Slam play in 2015, Raonic reached the 3rd round at both Wimbledon (l. Nick Kyrgios) and the US Open (l. Feliciano Lopez). He missed Roland Garros with a right foot injury, which required surgery in May 2015.

 

  • Raonic’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the semifinals as No. 8 seed at 2014 Wimbledon (l. Roger Federer). He became the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal after Robert Powell at 1908 Wimbledon.

 

  • Raonic’s best result in 2015 was winning the title at St. Petersburg (d. Joao Sousa). He also finished as runner-up at Brisbane (l. Federer) and reached the semifinals at Indian Wells-1000 and Rotterdam. He ended his season after Shanghai-1000 in October due to a hip injury.

 

  • Raonic reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 in May 2015 after reaching the quarterfinals at Madrid-1000 (l. Andy Murray). He finished the year in the Top 20 for the 4th straight year and plays here at No. 14.

 

  • Raonic warmed up for the Australian Open by winning his 8th career title as No. 4 seed at Brisbane, avenging his defeat to Federer in the 2015 final with his 2nd career victory over the Swiss. All 8 of Raonic’s career titles have come on a hard court.

 

  • Raonic became the first Canadian to be seeded in the men’s singles at a Grand Slam event in the Open Era at 2011 Roland Garros. He plays here seeded No. 13 – his lowest Grand Slam seeding since 2013 Wimbledon.

 

  • Raonic was born in Montenegro but moved to Canada in 1994. He started playing tennis aged 8.

 

  • Raonic started working with former world No. 1 Carlos Moya at the 2016 Australian Open. Moya finished runner-up here in 1997 before going on to win Roland Garros in 1998. He is also coached by Riccardo Piatti.

 

  • POUILLE is bidding to reach the 2nd round here for the first time and equal his best Grand Slam result.

 

  • Pouille’s best Grand Slam performance is reaching the 2nd round on his Grand Slam debut as a wild card at 2013 Roland Garros (l. Grigor Dimitrov). It was his first Tour-level match-win.

 

  • Pouille has lost in the 1st round in 6 of his 7 Grand Slam appearances – including as a wild card here in both 2014 (d. Alex Kuznetsov, l. Dusan Lajovic) and 2015, when he fell to Gael Monfils in his only career 5-set match to date. He failed to qualify here in 2013.

 

  • Pouille warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the quarterfinals at Brisbane (l. today’s opponent). It was just the 6th time he has won back-to-back matches at Tour-level.

 

  • Pouille is bidding to defeat a player ranked in the Top 20 for the 3rd time. Pouille has a 2-6 win-loss record against Top 20 opposition, having defeated No. 20 Fabio Fognini at 2014 Paris-1000 and No. 16 David Goffin for the best win of his career at 2016 Brisbane.

 

  • Pouille’s best results in 2015 were reaching his first Tour-level semifinals – as a lucky loser at Auckland
    (l. Adrian Mannarino) and as a qualifier at Hamburg (l. Fabio Fognini). He also reached quarterfinals at St. Petersburg and Moscow, losing to Roberto Bautista Agut on both occasions, and finished as runner-up at the Mouilleron Le Captif Challenger (FRA).

 

  • Pouille reached a career-high ranking of No. 23 on the junior circuit. He reached the quarterfinals of the boys’ event at the 2011 Australian Open and the 2nd round as a wild card at 2010 junior Roland Garros. He was a member of the French team that finished runner-up to USA at the 2008 World Junior Tennis Finals.

 

  • Pouille entered the men’s doubles event here with Adrian Mannarino. The pair will play Victor Estrella Burgos/Santiago Giraldo in the 1st round.

 

  • Pouille is coached by Emmanuel Planque.

 

16 BERNARD TOMIC (AUS) v DENIS ISTOMIN (UZB)

Head-to-head: Tomic leads 3-1

2012     Brisbane                       Hard (O)           QF       Tomic               63 76(4)
2012     Monte Carlo-1000         Clay (O)           R64      Tomic               64 63

2013     Davis Cup                     Clay (I)             R4        Tomic               46 62 62 63

2014     Washington                  Hard (O)           R32      Istomin             64 76(6)

 

TOMIC                                                   v                              ISTOMIN

 

23                                          Age                                          29

17                            ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                            59

3                                          Titles                                          1

30-23                      Career Grand Slam Record                      28-30

12-7                         Australian Open Record                          7-9

133-117                              Career Record                              185-190

99-74                          Career Record – Hard                        107-119

4-2                                   2016 Record                                   0-2

4-2                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-2

7-2                           Career Five-Set Record                          11-6

2                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         2

80-64                        Career Tiebreak Record                        92-79

2-2                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

 

  • TOMIC is bidding to record his 100th career hard court match-win today.

 

  • Tomic is bidding to reach the 2nd round at the Australian Open for the 7th time. This is his 8th consecutive appearance at the Australian Open and his 25th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Tomic’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the quarterfinals as a qualifier at 2011 Wimbledon (l. Novak Djokovic). He was the youngest man since Boris Becker in 1986 to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
  • Tomic’s best Australian Open performance is reaching the round of 16 in 2012 (l. Roger Federer) and 2015 (l. Tomas Berdych).

 

  • Elsewhere at the Grand Slams in 2015, Tomic reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon (l. Novak Djokovic) and the US Open (l. Richard Gasquet) and fell in the 2nd round at Roland Garros (l. Thanasi Kokkinakis).

 

  • Also in 2015, Tomic defended his title at Bogota (d. Adrian Mannarino) and reached the semifinals at Delray Beach (l. Donald Young). All of Tomic’s 3 career singles titles have come on a hard court.

 

  • Tomic warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the semifinals at Brisbane (l. Milos Raonic) and the quarterfinals at Sydney, where he retired with fatigue and dizziness while trailing Teymuraz Gabashvili 63 3-0. He plays here on a career-high ranking of No. 17.

 

  • Tomic is one of 9 Australians starting in the men’s draw here. He is looking to become the first native champion to win the Australian Open men’s singles title since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

 

  • Tomic is one of 8 former junior Australian Open champions in the draw. He won the 2008 Australian Open boys’ title aged 15 years 3 months, defeating Yang Tsung-Hua in the final. He was the youngest winner of the title since Ken Rosewall in 1950. He also won the 2009 US Open boys’ singles title (d. Chase Buchanan). Stefan Edberg is the only player to have won both the junior and senior title here in the Open Era. He captured the boys’ singles title in 1983, before winning the men’s singles in 1985 and 1987.

 

  • Tomic is coached by his father John.

 

  • ISTOMIN is bidding to reach the 2nd round here for the 6th time.

 

  • Istomin is looking to record his first match-win of 2016. Prior to coming here Istomin lost in the 1st round at both Brisbane (l. Mikhail Kukushkin) and Sydney (Andreas Seppi).

 

  • Last year here Istomin fell to Seppi in 5-sets in the 1st round. He has lost to Seppi in both of his 2 five-set matches at Melbourne Park but has an 11-6 win-loss record in 5-set matches overall.

 

  • Istomin’s best Australian Open performance is reaching the 3rd round here in 2010 and 2014, losing to Novak Djokovic on both occasions. He is contesting his 10th Australian Open and his 31st Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Istomin’s best Grand Slam result is reaching the round of 16 at 2012 Wimbledon (l. Mikhail Youzhny) and the 2013 US Open (l. Andy Murray). He is the only Uzbek player (man or woman) to reach the last 16 at a Grand Slam.

 

  • Istomin’s best result at the Grand Slams in 2015 was reaching the 2nd round at the US Open, where he retired with a right leg injury against Dominic Thiem. He fell in the 1st round at the Australian Open, Roland Garros (l. Nick Kyrgios) and Wimbledon, where he retired with fatigue against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

 

  • Istomin’s best result in 2015 was winning his first Tour-level singles title at Nottingham (d. Sam Querrey). He reached 3 further quarterfinals at Montpellier, Bastad and St. Petersburg and finished the year ranked inside the Top 100 for the 6th straight year. He plays here ranked No. 59.

 

  • Istomin has won just one of his 14 previous matches against Top 20 opposition at the Grand Slams. His only win over a Top 20 player at a major came against No. 15 Nicolas Almagro at the 2013 US Open. He is on a 4-match losing streak against Top 20 players at Tour-level, with his last win over a Top 20 opponent coming against Ernests Gulbis at 2015 Dubai.

 

  • Istomin entered the men’s doubles here with Aliaksandr Bury. The pair will play No. 14 seeds Treat Huey/Max Mirnyi in the 1st round. Istomin has won 3 doubles titles, including one with Bury in their 2nd tournament together at 2015 Gstaad.

 

  • Istomin broke his leg in a car accident in 2001 while travelling to a Futures event in Tashkent. He spent 3 months in hospital and did not touch a racket in 2 years, with doctors doubting he would ever play competitive tennis again.

 

  • Istomin has received support from the Grand Slam Development Fund, receiving travel grants in 2004.

 

  • Istomin is coached by his mother Klaudiya Istomina.

 

 

(WC) JAMES DUCKWORTH (AUS) v (WC) LLEYTON HEWITT (AUS)

Head-to-head: first meeting

 

Duckworth and Hewitt are 2 of the 9 Australian men to start in the main draw here vying to become the first homegrown champion since Mark Edmondson in 1976. This is just the 2nd all-Australian 1st round match-up at Melbourne Park since 2004. The most recent one in 2013 also featured Duckworth, who defeated Benjamin Mitchell in 5 sets for his first 5-set match-win.

 

DUCKWORTH                                   v                                        HEWITT

 

23*                                          Age                                          34

129                            ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                           308

0                                          Titles                                         30

4-12                       Career Grand Slam Record                     147-63

3-4                          Australian Open Record                        31-19

16-30                                Career Record                              615-261

12-22                          Career Record – Hard                        371-157

1-2                                   2016 Record                                   0-0

1-2                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-0

3-4                           Career Five-Set Record                         32-25

0                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         6

15-15                        Career Tiebreak Record                      171-157

0-1                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            0-0

                                                                                       *Turns 24 on 21 January

 

  • Wild card DUCKWORTH is looking to reach the 2nd round here and equal his best Grand Slam result.

 

  • Duckworth earned a wild card into the main draw after winning the Australian Open wild card play-off. His final opponent, Benjamin Mitchell, withdrew ahead of the final to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their first child.

 

  • This is Duckworth’s 5th straight Australian Open appearance and his 13th Grand Slam overall. He has lost in the 1st round in 8 of his 12 previous appearances at the majors, including as a wild card here in 2014
    (l. Roger Federer).

 

  • Duckworth’s best Grand Slam performance is reaching the 2nd round at Melbourne Park as a wild card in 2012 (d. Jurgen Zopp, l. Janko Tipsarevic), 2013 (d. Benjamin Mitchell, l. Blaz Kavcic) and 2015 (d. Kavcic,
    Richard Gasquet), and as a direct acceptance at 2015 Wimbledon (d. Malek Jaziri, l. Sam Groth).

 

  • Elsewhere at the majors in 2015, Duckworth lost in 5-sets in the 1st round at Roland Garros (l. Andrea Arnaboldi), and at the US Open (l. Hyeon Chung).

 

  • Duckworth’s best results last year came on the Challenger Circuit. He reached the final at Kolkata (IND)
    (l. Radu Albot) and the semifinals at San Luis Potosi (MEX) (l. Guido Pella). He reached 2 Tour-level quarterfinals at Brisbane and Nice. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 82 in April but plays here at No. 129.

 

  • Prior to coming here, Duckworth reached the 2nd round as a wild card at Sydney (d. Inigo Cervantes Huegun, l. Jeremy Chardy) and lost in the 1st round as a wild card at Brisbane to Dominic Thiem. He reached his first career doubles final at Brisbane with Chris Guccione, losing to Henri Kontinen/John Peers.

 

  • Duckworth has entered the men’s doubles event here as a wild card with countryman John Millman. The pair will face Lukas Dlouhy/Jiri Vesely in the 1st round.

 

  • Duckworth reached the 2010 Australian Open boys’ singles quarterfinals as a wild card (l. Gianni Mina). He also reached the semifinals of the boys’ singles event at Roland Garros and reached a career-high junior ranking of No. 7 in July 2010.

 

  • Duckworth’s grandmother Beryl Penrose was women’s singles champion at the 1955 Australian Championships.
  • Duckworth is coached by Ben Mathias. His physical trainer is Ian Prangley.

 

  • 2005 Australian Open runner-up HEWITT is making his 20th – and final – Australian Open appearance, extending his record for the most Australian Open appearances ahead of Fabrice Santoro (18) [see Preview page 3]. He is in joint-4th place in the list for the most appearances at a single Grand Slam.

 

  • Hewitt is also making his 66th Grand Slam appearance overall, which puts him in 3rd place for the most Grand Slams played in the Open Era after Fabrice Santoro and Roger Federer [see Preview page 5].

 

  • In his 19 previous appearances at Melbourne Park, Hewitt has fallen in the 1st round 7 times.

 

  • Prior to coming here, Hewitt teamed with Jarmila Wolfe as the Australia Gold team at Hopman Cup. Hewitt defeated Jack Sock but lost to Jiri Vesely and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the round-robin.

 

  • At last year’s Australian Open, Hewitt lost in the 2nd round in 5-sets to Benjamin Becker. He is on a 6-match losing streak in 5-set matches. Hewitt has a 7-6 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open and a 32-25 5-set win-loss record overall. He hasn’t won a 5-set match at Melbourne Park since defeating Marcos Baghdatis in the 3rd round in 2008 in a match that finished at 4:34am.

 

  • All 3 of Hewitt’s Grand Slam appearances in 2015 ended in 5-set defeats. As well as losing to Becker in the 2nd round here, he lost to Jarkko Nieminen in the 1st round as a wild card at Wimbledon in a match where the final set finished 11-9, and to Bernard Tomic as a wild card in the 2nd round at the US Open. He did not play at Roland Garros.

 

  • Hewitt is a former Grand Slam champion, having won the 2001 US Open (d. Pete Sampras) and 2002 Wimbledon (d. David Nalbandian). He was one of 7 Grand Slam champions to start in the men’s main draw here.

 

  • Hewitt finished runner-up here in 2005, becoming the first Australian to reach an Australian Open final since Pat Cash in 1988. He lost to Marat Safin 16 63 64 64 and had carried a hip flexor injury throughout the whole tournament.

 

  • Hewitt has entered the men’s doubles event here with Sam Groth. The pair will play Dusan Lajovic/Viktor Troicki in the 1st round.

 

  • In Davis Cup play in 2015, Hewitt helped Australia to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2006, where they lost to eventual champions Great Britain 3-2. He has been named as Australia’s Davis Cup captain and his first tie in charge will be against USA in Kooyong on 4-6 March.

 

  • Outside of the Grand Slams and Davis Cup, Hewitt played a limited schedule in 2015, contesting just 6 other tournaments. He won 4 matches all year – 2 at the Grand Slams, one in Davis Cup and one at Washington. He plays here ranked No. 308.

 

  • Hewitt is coached by Tony Roche and Jaymon Crabb.

 

 

ADRIAN MANNARINO (FRA) v SAM GROTH (AUS)

 

Head-to-head: first Tour-level meeting

2007     Great Britain     Futures             Hard (I)             R32     Groth               64 76(4)

2014     Knoxville           Challenger        Hard (I)             FR        Mannarino        36 76(6) 64

 

 

MANNARINO                                    v                                        GROTH

 

27                                          Age                                          28

48                            ATP Ranking (18 Jan)                            67

0                                          Titles                                          0

16-23                      Career Grand Slam Record                       6-8

3-6                          Australian Open Record                          2-3

77-109                               Career Record                               32-43

54-73                          Career Record – Hard                          19-32

0-1                                   2016 Record                                   0-2

0-1                              2016 Record – Hard                              0-2

3-3                           Career Five-Set Record                          1-0

0                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

34-47                        Career Tiebreak Record                        36-29

  • 2016 Tiebreak Record                                  0-3

 

  • Lefthander MANNARINO is bidding to reach the 2nd round and equal his best Australian Open performance. He reached the 2nd round here in 2011 (d. Ryan Harrison, l. Richard Gasquet), 2014
    (d. Steve Johnson, l. David Ferrer) and 2015 (d. Blaz Rola, l. Feliciano Lopez). Last year he retired in the 2nd round with illness.

 

  • Mannarino’s best Grand Slam performance is a round of 16 finish at 2013 Wimbledon (l. Lukas Kubot) – one of just 3 times he has advanced beyond the 2nd round at a Grand Slam in 23 previous appearances. This is his 7th appearance at Melbourne Park and his 24th major overall.

 

  • At the majors in 2015, Mannarino reached the 2nd round at the Australian Open, Wimbledon (d. Michael Berrer, l. Gael Monfils) and the US Open (d. Konstantin Kravchuk, l. Andy Murray) but fell in the 1st round at Roland Garros (l. Jurgen Melzer). He led Murray by 2-sets-to-love at the US Open before falling in 5-sets. His 5-set win-loss record is 3-3.

 

  • Elsewhere in 2015, Mannarino reached his first Tour-level final at Auckland (l. Jiri Vesely) and also finished as runner-up at Bogota (l. Bernard Tomic). He reached the semifinals at Delray Beach (l. Ivo Karlovic). He reached a career-high ranking of No. 27 after his run to the final at Bogota and plays here at No. 48.

 

  • Mannarino warmed-up for the Australian Open by winning the Noumea Challenger (CAL) (d. Alejandro Falla) but lost in the 1st round at Sydney to Nicolas Mahut.

 

  • Mannarino is coached by Marc Gicquel, who reached the 3rd round here in 2008. His fitness trainer is Pascal Supiot from the French Tennis Federation.

 

  • GROTH is looking for his first match-win of 2016. He is on a 5-match losing streak having not won a Tour-level match since the 2015 US Open.

 

  • Groth recorded his best Grand Slam performance here last year when he reached the 3rd round
    (l. Bernard Tomic). He also reached the 3rd round at 2015 Wimbledon (l. Roger Federer). This is his 4th Australian Open appearance and his 9th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Also at the Grand Slams last year, Groth reached the 2nd round at the US Open (d. Alexandr Dolgopolov, l. Tommy Robredo) but lost in the 1st round at Roland Garros (l. Pablo Cuevas).

 

  • Groth’s best results in 2015 were quarterfinals finishes at Brisbane (l. Milos Raonic), Stuttgart (l. Viktor Troicki) and Washington (l. Kei Nishikori). He won 2 Challenger titles at Taipei (TPE) (d. Konstantin Kravchuk) and Manchester (GBR) (d. Luke Saville). He reached a career-high ranking of No. 53 in August but plays here ranked No. 67.

 

  • Prior to coming here, Groth lost in the 1st round at both Brisbane (l. Hyeon Chung) and Sydney
    (l. Federico Delbonis). His defeat to Delbonis at Sydney ended a run of 5 straight victories over lefthanded players. He has an 8-4 win-loss record against lefthanded players overall.

 

  • Also in 2015, Groth helped Australia reach the Davis Cup World Group semifnals, where they lost to eventual champions Great Britain 3-2. In the quarterfinals against Kazakhstan, he won the doubles rubber with Hewitt and the 1st reverse singles rubber against Mikhail Kukushkin as Australia fought back from 0-2 down to record a historic win.

 

  • Groth has entered the men’s doubles event here with Hewitt. They will play Dusan Lajovic/Viktor Troicki in the 1st round.

 

  • Groth was one of 9 Australian men to start in the main draw here vying to be the first homegrown champion since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

 

  • Groth is coached by Ben Mathias.

 

 

All statistics courtesy of Grand Slam Media and the Australia Open Men’s information team.

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In His Own Words Lleyton Hewitt

LleytonHewittHOF

(September 3, 2015) Lleyton Hewitt rallied from two sets down against his Australian countryman Bernard Tomic but could not capitalize on two match points and lost 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 in an almost 3 1/2 hour match on Thursday at the US Open. This is the transcript from his post match news conference. This was Hewitt’s last singles match at the US Open. The former No. 1 won the title in 2001.

U.S. OPEN

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lleyton Hewitt

Press Conference

B. TOMIC/L. Hewitt

6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5

An interview with:

LLEYTON HEWITT

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were your emotions after that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I left it all out there again. Yeah, obviously you go through the pain barrier out there on the court. Everything happens so quickly. It was the same as Wimbledon.

But, you know, was a great atmosphere out there on that court. The crowd was really involved. You know, it was nice to be able to turn it into a decent match.

Q. You had your little boy out there watching you. He’s here now. What does it mean for you to be able to share this moment, even though it didn’t go your way tonight?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, it’s great. Obviously my two oldest kids especially are old enough to understand what daddy does out there now. It’s been a lot of fun this year taking him to a few more tournaments.

He’s really enjoyed it. He loves sport. For him to sit out there for five hours, it was a pretty good effort.

Q. Did you feel you had it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, obviously I felt like once I got to the fifth, if I could have broken that first game as well, I could have really opened it up. You know, Bernie’s got such an easy serve, though, he hits his spots well. He was able to do it in that first game from Love-40 down. That sort of just kept the momentum going for him there. If I was able to break it open early in the fifth…

But then obviously had 15-40 at 5-3. He was kind of in that mood of just going for everything. Couple of shots went in.

Q. Would you take that backhand that just dropped over?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can’t remember now. The first backhand he hit, hit the tape. Went for a winner. The next one I felt like I scrambled as much as I could have. He was sort of just redlining on every shot.

Q. What will you miss about playing at the US Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, just great atmosphere like tonight. Especially the night matches are really special at the Open here. I’ve been fortunate to play in so many long four- and five-set matches out there on all three of the major courts.

You know, it was a great atmosphere out there again tonight.

Q. You’re kind of a real mentor and kind of a father figure to these youngsters. Did you feel any conflict? Is it easy to set aside that aspect of things when you go out there and play against them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was really awkward. I said it would be before the match, and it was (smiling).

As I said before, I get along really well with Bernie. Yeah, he’s a good guy. He’s moving in the right direction. You know, the last couple years I’ve gone out of my way to try to help him out a lot. Yeah, I think it was awkward for both of us.

Q. Do you think something like this does something good for him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably, yeah, in the long run I think. He obviously was well on top. Yeah, I was able to somehow find a way. That’s what I’ve been renowned for in my career. If I can instill a little bit of that especially into the three promising young guys on the way up, you know, with their games and the weapons they have, then that’s just another positive for them.

Q. Talk about your quality of fighting. Obviously that was something you had from the get-go. Did you work on that at all? Did it just come naturally?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it just came naturally, yeah. I’m just very competitive. I pride myself on getting the most out of myself.

Q. Do you think you have the same level of ferocity and fight now that you did at the very beginning?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I do. Yeah, maybe in a different way in some way, though.

Q. It was obviously a very emotional match. You’ve both spoken about that. Is it a match you could actually enjoy while you were in the heat of the battle or just too much pressure and too much else going around to really enjoy what was happening? The second part is, in one sense is this like a baton change between you and the young ones, playing Bernie, now the No. 1 Australian?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he’s been I guess the No. 1 for a while, for the last couple years anyway. In terms of that, I’ve seen my role the last couple of years as more of a mentor to those guys anyway.

Yeah, I guess once you’re out in the heat of battle it’s hard to enjoy it because you’ve got so many things going through your mind about trying to get the most out of yourself and performing as well as possible.

So, yeah, I would have liked to have been able to enjoy it a bit more. But obviously when it’s so tight, especially in the fifth set, you’re just trying to find a way to obviously get across the line.

Q. You said your competitiveness is something you’ve always had. How do you go about trying to instill that in another player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it’s not easy. Everyone’s personalities are different, so you’ve got to work with that a little bit, I think. It’s probably a work in progress.

But I think the biggest thing is if they see what you can get out of it, just doing a lot of the 1% things, and it doesn’t always even have to be on the match court. It could be being the ultimate professional in the locker room and preparing as well as possible for matches. Then it just becomes part of your daily routine.

So there’s a lot of things the younger guys can learn.

Q. You’ve heard the Aussie fans singing a fun song about walking in a Hewitt Wonderland. What’s the one most wonderful thing about all your years playing tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Playing tennis?

Q. Yes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don’t know. Tennis has given me the life that I have, and that’s the best thing. Obviously I’ve had a lot of success. A lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifices. But obviously at the end of the day, you know, tennis has given me this great life.

Q. Can you mention some of your most cherished memories from here, if any, other than the year you won? Big or small things you’ll always remember about this place or your time here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the night matches are always, you know, that’s probably the biggest difference to a lot of the other tournaments. When you play at night here, great atmosphere here, obviously 23,000, 24,000 people. You really feel like you are the showtime, prime time match.

Yeah, probably a couple years ago, two years ago, whenever I beat del Potro in the second round in five sets, because I came back from a foot surgery and didn’t know if I’d have the opportunity to compete out there on the center stage against those guys again. To beat another former winner here in the night match, that was probably, apart from winning it, one of my biggest ones.

Obviously my first breakthrough year in 2000 of making the semis in singles and winning the doubles the year before I won it. This has always been result-wise one of my more successful slams.

Q. Talk about the first great win when you were young, winning your hometown tournament, how important was that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was obviously important. I went from 750 in the world to 150. Winning a couple satellites, I wouldn’t have done it that quick.

Yeah, I guess, you know, instilled the confidence and self-belief that I can go out there and match it against tour players because I really was just not even a rookie. I was on the junior tour.

To go out there and beat guys like Agassi and hold up under that pressure and circumstance in the heat of battle against the best guys, that gave me a lot of belief. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was able to succeed at a young age.

Q. At Wimbledon you spoke about some of the toughest strokes you’ve faced. Mentally, who would be the one or two greatest fighters that you’ve faced in your career?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, Nadal for sure. The way he goes about it is fantastic. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. How he handles, even at the French Open this year, Novak was well on top early, when he finally got on the scoreboard, incredible competitor.

Q. Can you sense a transformation in the way you were received here? Back when you were younger, you weren’t the crowd favorite. Today everyone was going crazy wanting you to win.
LLEYTON HEWITT: They like the old guy, don’t they? It’s nice (smiling).

Yeah, unbelievable atmosphere out there. The night matches have been great. Even two years ago when I played on center court against del Potro, the whole crowd got behind me there. I really felt the love. Yeah, coming back as a champion as well as the years go on, once you’ve been back, your 10-year anniversary of winning the thing, you’ve been around for a while. I guess I appreciate that.

Q. What will you think about leaving the grounds tonight?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What time to book a practice court for tomorrow. Sam Groth already messaged me (laughter).

Q. A lot of your biggest rivals have long retired. Is there anybody who you’re going to particularly miss playing against?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably Roger just because how good he is. Everything that he can do on a tennis court, it’s second to none. I’ve had a lot of practice sessions before every major tournament the last couple years with Roger and I’ve really enjoyed that as well.

Q. When you first came into it, there were a bunch of Aussies. Now at the end of it there’s a bunch of Aussies too. Is there a message you would like to give to the young guys coming through?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I will pass on stuff to the young guys. I don’t have to say it here. But, yeah, obviously that’s my next role, is to help those boys out.

I was very fortunate that I came up in a group where there weren’t a lot of egos, especially the Woodies Stoltenberg, Fromberg, Wayne Arthurs, a lot of these guys. I stayed at both the Woodies’ houses around the world. They helped me out with a lot of stuff. Obviously Rafter came up when I was playing Davis Cup with him. He took me under his wing.

So I was really fortunate with that stuff. It’s just like, you know, I had Nick at my house in The Bahamas last week training beforehand. I think that’s just part of a really good Australian culture.

Q. How special was it playing in front of your biggest fan, and what advice did he give you after the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He said I nearly won (laughter).

No, he gets along well with Bernie, too. No, it was good. He loves his tennis. I’m very proud that he could sit through five sets. Now he knows what Bec and my parents have had to sit through their whole life.

No, he loves it. Yeah, Bernie is fantastic with Cruz, Nick and Thanasi. They’re great. Hopefully some of this rubs off and he wants to be out here someday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.
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Murray Rallies From Two Sets Down to Win, Hewitt Falls Short in Comeback, Federer Cruises at US Open

(September 3, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –
“But, you know, was a great atmosphere out there on that court. “The crowd was really involved. You know, it was nice to be able to turn it into a decent match.”

“Tennis has given me the life that I have, and that’s the best thing. Obviously I’ve had a lot of success. A lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifices. But obviously at the end of the day, you know, tennis has given me this great life.”

No need for a comeback for second seed Roger Federer. He hit 46 winners in demolishing Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in the first night session match.

“I think this year is another good year. Doing the right things on the court,” Federer said. “It was pretty on the easier side, you know, so I was able to mix it up, was attacking, was also staying back some. I was pretty much all-out attack as much as I could. Obviously I have to manage that against different players when the scoreline isn’t maybe so one-sided.”

American Jack Sock had to retire against Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium while leading due to cramps. The heat during the day was over 90 degrees.

There are two American men left in the draw- No. 13 John Isner and unseeded Donald Young.

“Isner said: “Well, he’s fine now. I didn’t speak in-depth with him. I imagine he got an IV. I hope so. Those help a lot when your body is completely cramping.

“But it’s tough to see. You see it on TV and you’re helpless at that point, completely. He sweats more than anyone I’ve ever seen.

“It’s not a fitness thing. I think that’s a big, big misconception. He’s in very good shape. He can play 50-ball rallies if he wants to. But he sweats a lot. He loses a lot when he’s sweating.

“It’s all about, in my opinion, putting the right things in your body beforehand. He’s in very good shape. It’s not a fitness thing, if people are saying that. His body was at a deficit of whatever it is, sodium, magnesium, potassium. Whatever it is, in these humid conditions, you have to put all that in your body.

“It’s a huge bummer. No offense to his opponent today, but if Jack’s body held up, he would have won the match, so…

“Huge bummer, especially at his home Grand Slam. He obviously was playing well, too, up until that point. Good thing for Jack is he’s very young. He’s very, very good. So he’s going to have a lot more cracks at this tournament, that’s for sure.”

US Open

Men’s Singles Second Round 

[2] Roger Fefderer (SUI) d. Steve Darcis 6-1 6-2 6-1
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 5-7 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-1
[5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. Hyeon Chung (KOR) 76(2) 76(4) 76(6)
[6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 7-6(2) 6-1 6-3
[12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Robin Haase (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-4
[13] John Isner (USA) d. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 6-3 6-4 6-4
[15] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs. Austin Krajicek (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-2
[20] Dominic Thiem (AUT) d. Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-4 6-4 1-0 ret.
Jiri Vesely (CZE) d. [21] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 76(3) 36 36 62 76(4)
[22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs. Rajeev Ram (USA) 7-6(10) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) d. [28] Jack Sock (USA) 46 46 63 21 ret.
[29] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Lukas Rosol (CZE) 7-6(4) 6-2 6-2
[30] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-0 6-3 6-4
[31] Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d. Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-7(4) 6-1
Donald Young (USA) d. Aljaz Bedene (GBR) 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2

Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 7-5, 6-4

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) def. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 6-3, 6-4

[22] Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-1, 6-1

[16] Sara Errani (ITA) def. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 0-6, 6-4, 6-3

Johanna Konta (GBR) def. [9] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-2

Mona Barthel (GER) def. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def. Lesia Tsurenko 7-6(7), 6-2

[18] Andrea Petkovic (GER) def. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-3, 7-6(4)

[11] Angelique Kerber (GER) def. Karin Knapp (ITA) 7-5, 6-2

Barbora Strycova (CZE) def. Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4

[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. Nicole Gibbs (USA) 6-3, 6-4

[24] Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-4, 6-0

Shelby Rogers (USA) def. Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-4, 6-4

[32] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) def. Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

Petra Cetkovska (CZE) def. [4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(1)

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Nadal, McEnroe, Hewitt Keep Focus On Tennis at JMTP Benefit

Nadal McEnroe at Randalls Island

By Vito Ellison

(August 26,2015) NEW YORK, NY -With drawing cards like 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal, 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt and the legendary John McEnroe himself, it’s no surprise that the Johnny Mac Tennis Project drew a near-capacity crowd to Randall’s Island on a balmy Wednesday evening for the fifth edition of his Johnny Mac Tennis Project (JMTP) exhibition. The event was held to raise funds used to provide financial assistance to qualified young tennis players.  Sportime Clubs, home of last night’s event and McEnroe’s eponymous tennis academy and the JMTP, have already provided over $2 million in scholarships and assistance in part paid for by this annual event.

Long considered an iconoclast in the sometimes hidebound world of tennis, McEnroe’s mellower side was on display at last night’s event.  He was effusive in thanking his guests, particularly Nadal, of whom he said “He’s done me a huge favor and I owe him one big time,” said McEnroe.  “He’s come here for nothing and it is very, very much appreciated.” In another exchange he added, “When you get to be stature of Rafael Nadal, you expect people to come up to you, even the older players, to pay respect to you. Rafael’s never been that type.”

While McEnroe’s was unguardedly positive about Nadal he adopted a different, more protective stance regarding Nick Kyrgios. With McEnroe’s desire to keep the event and crowd focused on the good work of the JMTP, Kyrgios, who to his credit honored his commitment to attend, was largely relegated to the background. With Kyrgios still under heavy fire in the court of public opinion for his comments in a match against Stan Wawrinka two weeks ago, McEnroe announced to the gathered press that the Aussie would not be playing singles against Nadal as initially scheduled. “Nick Kyrgios is going to be playing doubles with me, along with my brother [Patrick] and Jonas Bjorkman,” McEnroe started. “I made a decision based on some of the ongoing stuff. While I want to be supportive of Nick and think he’s a tremendous talent…It would be better served for him at this particular time to maybe take a step back.”

Top draw Rafael Nadal would instead square off against another former World No. 1 in Lleyton Hewitt for an eight-game pro set.  The match, though just an exo, was typical of the Spaniard’s two steps forward/two steps back season-to-date. Nadal flashed vintage moments including an well-placed ace that helped him dig out of a love-40 hole on serve and a screaming backhand down-the-line winner that brought a big smile to his face and a 4-1 lead on the scoreboard.  The sparkling moments were tempered though by frustrating periods of imprecision.  He gave the net tape a workout at points and seemed to guide more shots than usual long.  The inconsistency left Nadal, who opened up a 6-3 lead in the eight game pro set scrambling to keep the lid on Hewitt in an 8-7(5) win that was closer than the early going would have indicated.

The exhibition was held in advance of the year’s final major, the US Open which commences Monday.

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Hewitt Says Goodbye to Wimbledon, Falls in Five sets to Nieminen

(June 29, 2015) The 2002 Gentlemen’s singles champion at Wimbledon has played his last match on the green grass of the All- England Club. Lleyton Hewitt put up a fight against Jarkko Nieminen but fell just short on Monday 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9.

“I was always going to leave it out there, everything I had in the tank, said the 34-year old two-time major champion.  “I certainly did that.”

 

“I didn’t, you know, leave any stone unturned preparing.  But also on the match court today.  You know, there was a couple of times the match could have gotten away from me at certain stages and I found a way of hanging in there.

 

“In the end obviously disappointing to lose.  I would have loved to have played Novak in the next round.  But, yeah, Jarkko is a tough competitor and it was never going to be easy.”

 

Why is Wimbledon so special to Hewitt? For me, it’s the home of tennis,” the former No 1 said.  “I don’t get the same feeling walking into any other grounds in the world, no other tennis court, no other complex, than I do here.  I do get goosebumps walking into this place.

 

“I’m so fortunate.  One of the greatest things about winning this Championship is becoming a member of it. For me to be able to go in the member’s locker room four weeks before Wimbledon, yeah, in there with some of the older members, sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat, it’s a lot of fun.

 

“That’s something I can always come back and enjoy over the years.”

There is a new Aussie “Generation Next” among the men which include 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios, the 26th seed, Bernard Tomic, who is 22 and seeded 27th as well as 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis . who is playing doubles with Hewitt this fortnight. For the first time since 2000, there are 11 Australian men in the Wimbledon draw.

“I think he’s huge,” Kyrgios said.  “His attitude and competitiveness I think is second to none.  Maybe Rafa (Nadal) and him are the greatest competitors of all time. When you got him still playing Davis Cup, leading the charge, I think when he’s training and you watch that, it’s pretty special.  I think it carries a little bit towards us guys.”

 

“I’ve spoken, especially the last couple years, probably more so to Bernie,” Hewiit said.  “He’s had his ups and downs the last couple of years. I’ve built a pretty strong relationship with Bernie.  I think I’m probably one of the closer guys that he trusts now.

 

“You know, obviously little things I try and point out.  I’m not going to say everything here.  But he knows some of the stuff that I think can help him.

 

“Nick, I’m getting to know Nick a little bit better, when I played especially Davis Cup ties with him.  I was in the Asian League with him last year, spent a lot of time getting to know him there.

 

“Some of the young kids in this generation are a lot different.  Even going to dinner with Davis Cup ties, you talk about totally different things, stuff I’ve never heard of.  I sort of sit down with Rochey (Tony Roche), Wally (Masur), and Pat (Rafter), the older blokes.

 

“It’s more trying to build a trust where they feel comfortable coming and asking if they need certain pointers in certain ways.”

 

“Coming back knowing that it’s your last time competing, as I’ve said all year, I’m fortunate that I can have that opportunity to do that,” the 34-year-ol reflected.  “I have tried to soak it up.”

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Notes and Quotes from the 2015 Australian Open Pre-Tournament News Conferences

(January 17, 2015) Ana Ivanovic, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Sam Stosur, Serena Williams, Grigor Dimitrov, Simona Halep, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt and Petra Kvitova met the media on Saturday for Australian Open pre-tournament interviews at Melbourne Park.

A few “notes and quotes” from the Saturday media conferences:

 

Ivanovic in press2

Ana Ivanovic

Mentality coming into the tourney as a top-five player:
“To be honest, I try not to think too much about the rankings. I definitely thought about it towards the end of the last year. I really tried to make that push and finish in top five. At the moment I really want to focus on my game, what to do out there on the court, to enjoy every match because I know if I do that, the results take care of themselves, and rankings speak for themselves. This is my main focus for this season.”

Ivanovic spoke about what makes the Australian Open special:
“I think each Grand Slam, it’s very specific and very individual in the atmosphere and the feel about it. Here I really feel people get excited about tennis. You know, they love sport. They love to cheer. They get loud. That’s exciting. There’s lots of kids always out here that come and support us. Obviously it’s their summer holidays so people are a little bit more relaxed, I feel. But it is very exciting. Since I don’t have a tournament at home, this is like second home for me.”

“It takes time for certain things to fall into place. Last year I really felt I made big steps towards winning more matches, beating top players. These kinds of things you sort of have to have in place in order to do well at the big events. I feel like I’m ready for next step. Also I feel comfortable in my team. I feel I can communicate with them more. Last year at some points it was not the case. Then also US Open was just a fresh start with new team, with new coach. So it takes time to get used to. Now I feel I can communicate with them more and they can help me.”

Asked to pick the fittest woman on tour:
I mean, there is lots of girls who are getting fitter and fitter. Caroline (Wozniacki) ran a marathon. I don’t think I can do that, to be honest (laughter). Radwanska, she’s a type of player that does lot of running on court. It really depends what you consider, you know, because there are some girls who maybe hit harder, have more power, but then those girls that have very high endurance.

Federer in press

Roger Federer

Q. Novak Djokovic had a crack at the Aussie accent. Can you do anything?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I’m not very good at that. I’ll let him do that (laughter).
Q. No g’day, mate?
ROGER FEDERER: I can do that, but not on command.

How he feels coming into Melbourne this year compared to last year?
“Clearly things are more calm this year, I guess, coming in. Last year, you know, having the new racquet, having gotten through the back issues, having gone through the off-season, you know, feeling good but still not quite sure because I needed matches to see how it was going to cope. I came here also with Stefan Edberg helping me out. You know, there was many changes that took place in the six months leading into, I guess, the Australian Open, whereas this time around I’ve played so well. Also was able to win Brisbane last week. Makes me feel more secure, I guess, this year coming into the Aussie Open.

Asked about how close he is to his career-best form?
“Well, I mean, I would hope that over the years I’ve always improved. I think I’m serving more consistent and stronger than I ever have. That’s my opinion. I definitely think the racquet has helped me with that as well, a little bit. But, you know, my concentration I do believe is there, better than it’s ever been, at least I hope it is, because I feel over time you always want to improve. I think my backhand is working better than it has in the past as well. The question is confidence, forehand, movement. But clearly when I was winning almost everything, everything was so gold that nobody was even questioning anything. Maybe if there were different opponents, different times, it would have changed. But for that particular time, I was playing exactly the way I needed to. I had to adjust my game a little bit over the years. I feel I’m playing very well. If it’s the best ever, I’m not quite sure. But I’m definitely very pleased how things have gone now the last six months.”

Asked if fitness has become more of a priority moving forward in his career over the years?
“Hmm, I wouldn’t quite say that. It’s changed just because you’re more careful not to get injured. So sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity. Whereas when you’re younger, you got to put in the hours, you got to put in the work. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired, all these things, you just got to get through it, you know, get match tough, go through the grind. Eventually you have experience, you know what you need to get ready for a tournament, in the off-season what you need to do. So clearly I’ve, you know, made mistakes and made right decisions over the years. You try to put them all together, assemble all those pieces, make it work for the off-season. I mean, I definitely work a bit different. But at the end of the day I really believe in good quality practices now rather than too much. Yeah, I mean, I am 33, so things are a bit different today than they were 10 years ago.”

On whether he will play Davis Cup this year:
“I probably also will decide that once the Australian Open is over. I’ve been talking, you know. Clearly it’s hard to get out from the chair after finally winning Davis Cup. It was always a goal of mine, for Swiss tennis, the guys on my team, for myself, after playing for 15 years. Yeah, I’m just talking to the captain right now, see what the plan is for him, for me, for everybody. After that, I guess I just need a little bit more time. Probably make a call after the Australian Open.”

Sharapova gets ready to serve

Maria Sharapova

Q. Do you consider yourself the woman to beat for the title here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m sure I’m one of them, definitely. I mean, I’m No. 2 in the world. I’ve had a great season last year, winning a Grand Slam. I think there are a lot of players that have an opportunity to win this tournament, and I’m certainly one of them.

 

Q. You have a shot at the No. 1 position. Is it still a big motivation for you to be back as No. 1 in the world or is winning Grand Slams at this time of your career more important?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was a question that was nice not having to answer in December (smiling). Yeah, I mean, look, obviously No. 1 is a ranking that every single player wants to grab and works so hard for. There’s a lot of players that have an opportunity to get there, and I’m one of them. I am, of course, determined to do that. But by doing that you need to win more matches than the person that’s in the first place. So that’s the goal.

 

How much has fitness changed in the last 10 years compared to when you came up at Wimbledon? Has the tour grown in leaps and bounds as far as the physicality?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, definitely. I think you see a lot more people added to the team as far as a fitness coach. I mean, you didn’t see that 10 years ago as much. You know, I have a fitness coach. He doesn’t travel with me full schedule. It’s a pretty limited schedule. He’s always with me during the training weeks away from the tournaments. Never feel there’s too much you can do during a tournament week as far as really setting up a base. It’s more about recovery and getting ready. But the physical aspect of the sport has become, I think, very, very important. It’s always been, but I think it’s become more important than ever.

We’ve started to see on the women’s side these former champions coming in. What do you make from that, from your point of view?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think from experience-wise, there’s no better person that can help you in certain situations as a coach, as a motivator, as someone that just has been there, done that. I think it’s great to see. I think it’s always nice when you’ve been through a career and you have the opportunity or you have the desire to share it with other players, to share your knowledge and experience. I think it’s great.

You were talking about being happy to be in one place.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was in November. I played two matches for IPTL in November. Actually had a great experience, a great time. For an event that had its first year, I thought it was very well-organized, very professional. I think it was great to see tennis being brought into markets which have never seen professional sport like that before, and stars. I think their excitement was unreal. I mean, I felt like a rockstar literally, to put my feet on the ground the day after. It was really fun to see the excitement that people had. The format was fun. It was fast. A lot of the players took it very seriously. I mean, I came in after not practicing for many weeks. I was like, Okay, I’m going to take it easy. Some of the doubles players were really into it, which was great to see. So, yeah, I think personally I would never do the whole tour. It’s quite long. But I think to the girls that did, and guys, you see some were injured at the end of it, which is quite unfortunate. But to go out and to play a few matches in a market that’s never seen high-quality tennis before, very open to it.

What is the best game you remember here in the Australian Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve had a lot. My best game? Obviously, the one that sticks out is my victory. Winning a championships is a big moment, especially a Grand Slam. It was my third Grand Slam in my career. I thought throughout the two whole weeks, it was some of the best tennis that I played. I had one of the toughest draws in a Grand Slam. I actually thought the final wasn’t my best match throughout the tournament. But overall I came through a lot of challenges. Yeah, it’s tough to choose.

 

 

 

Nadal ao

Rafael Nadal

Is a question of everything to be ready, to feel yourself confident, to feel yourself that you are 100% competitive. Always you need to play more matches than four or five in seven months. That’s a thing that everybody knows. At the same time you feel in better shape physically when you are play matches, when you have confidence about your movements. Even if you practice a lot, then the competition is different. The stress of the competition is different than the practices, no? So is a question of time and work. I am working big-time.

I am doing lot of practice and doing the things that we believe we have to do to recover our level. Is true that having a Grand Slam that early in the season after injury like this not the ideal thing. But here we are. I worked a lot since 10th of December. I worked a lot last couple of weeks in Abu Dhabi and Doha, then here this week. I am with calm and happy the way I did the things. Then I need to play better than what I am doing. I think that thing is sure. But I know to play better, I need to win matches. I need to spend hours on court competing. The only way to make that happen is to be on the tour. So I am on the tour, and that’s the only way I can come back to my best level.

Every time is different. Every feeling is different. Every time you come back, you have the doubts, you have the feeling that you are far away from your best. But at the same time you know the only thing you can do is play with the right attitude and try to have the right schedule to play matches, to play weeks in a row. It’s the only way to find the positive feelings and the confidence back. When you have put all the things together, it make your game better again. That’s what I am doing. I am trying to do the calendar that will be better for me. Playing here, then playing on clay, that helps me physically, in terms of tennis, too. That’s all, no? Difficult to say more things. The only thing I can say is I need to play better, yes. But the only way to play better is to win matches.

In the end is difficult to say 50%, 55%, 20%. Doesn’t matter. This kind of thing is impossible. Is not mathematics. You never know when you are 100%. The only thing is I know I need to work, spend time on court, play matches. When that happens during few months, I know in terms of being competitive, in terms of rhythm, I will be ready again, no? But if I am able to win matches in a row before these few months, I’m going to be ready earlier, no? That’s what happened in 2013. But I started on clay, tournaments that give me the chance to play more matches, 250 tournaments. This time a little bit different. At the same time the only way is winning matches and spend time on court.

Q. You said Brazil is a lucky place for you. How do you feel about the Rio Open? Too much play, too many people with Carnival?
I hope not to have too much time for Carnival (smiling). Well, no. I have been in Brazil a couple of times. 2005 was the first tournament victory of a big season. 2013 was a special one, because after a lot of months without winning, without competing, I had a chance to win the title there. Helped me for the confidence for what happened later, no? Last year was important one, but was different situation. This year is a little bit like before, no? Going to be the first tournament on clay after a long time ago. I hope will be a good moment for me to have the full confidence back.

Q. Which aspect of your game are you happiest about as you’re returning to form? Which part is going well for you at the moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing (smiling). No, I am not serving bad. My serve is working more or less well. I need to be a little bit more dynamic on court with my movements. I am a player who find the confidence when I am able to defend well, when I am able to hit the ball knowing that the ball going to go in most of the times. So that’s when I feel myself strong. As I say before, no, to make that happen, you need to do that on the competition. For example, last week in Doha I did a very good thing in the first set, played very good first set. But then, you know, I lose the intensity on my game, I lose the rhythm, something that normally never happen to me when I am competing two weeks in a row. That is something you need when you didn’t play for a long time. I don’t know about in which part of my game I’m more happy. But I really know what I have to do to be happy with my game. My game is always good when my movements are good, when I am able to have control of the point with my forehand, and always hitting good backhands. But the forehand need to be aggressive, need to create space with my forehand. That’s the way that I need to play to have my chances back on being competitive against everybody.

Asked about who is the favorite for the tournament?
You know the same like me who is the favorite for the tournament. I think everybody thinks the same names. Novak finished the season great. He is a fantastic player. He’s in his favorite surface. Roger is the same story. Had a great season last year. He finished well. Plays in his favorite surface, or one of his favorites, grass and here. And Andy I think is playing well. We’ll see. The rest always are there. There is a few more players that always going to have the chances. But between these three names, it’s a big chance.
No, I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here. Last year, yes. This year is a different story. Would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win today. I don’t feel myself ready to win the tournament here today. If I am here in a press conference in one week, maybe I will say another thing because will have the feeling that I will play few matches, and if I’m able to win that couple of matches, then probably I will have little bit more rhythm, I will have more confidence. But in theory, playing four, five matches in seven months, you cannot be a favorite of a tournament that is not clay, is on hard. Is another thing. In terms of being favorites, the other names are more favorites than me at this time.

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

On playing in her home country.
“I guess it depends which way you want to look at it. It’s definitely different to playing outside of Australia, playing the other Grand Slams. But it’s not necessarily more difficult. It’s not easier. It’s just different. I think it’s a matter of, yeah, handling everything that’s going on. Obviously I know there’s probably more attention on me here than anywhere else. But, yeah, it’s okay. It’s just different.”

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the way my matches have gone. Obviously I would have liked to have won a couple more. But I think overall the way I’ve been playing in those matches has been pretty good. There’s always things to work on and improve. But I think considering it’s the first few matches of the year, I’ve been pretty happy with it. So I guess going into this first round on Tuesday, I got to be ready and do it all over again. I’ve got a couple more days to fine tune anything I want to get a little bit better before that match.”

Q. How do you feel about your first-round opponent and your part of the draw?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: To be honest, I don’t know much about my part of the draw. Playing Monica (Niculescu), she’s a very different player to a lot of different players on the tour. She likes to slice the ball a lot, slice the forehand even. She’ll serve and volley a little bit, she’ll come into the net. She’s very fast, moves well. She’s very creative and more crafty than maybe most of the other players out there. It’s certainly something that I need to know certain balls are going to come back a lot differently to playing anyone that I’ve played so far this year. I think it’s going to be a lot about concentrating hard and knowing that it’s going to be some funky stuff going on out there, and what I’m going to try to do to combat that.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

On her Australian Open preparation:
“It’s okay. I’m not very happy with it, but I’m never really happy about my practice or preparation. So maybe that’s a good sign. Yeah, I’m just still every day going out there, working really hard.

I definitely feel better now than I did a couple weeks ago. But I still want to improve some things. I feel like I should be doing some things better. But every day I can see something coming through, so… There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel.
“I absolutely hate running, but I do it because I hate the way I look if I don’t run (smiling).”

Asked about the absence of her hitting partner Sascha Bajin:
I keep forgetting to tweet about it. He’s away on injury reserve right now. He texts me almost every day. Like, I wish I were better. What are you doing? Who is there? I’m like, Gosh, leave me alone already. He sends me videos. Yeah, he’s super bummed out. We all are, so…
Yeah, he just got injured. There’s been a lot of stories on how he hurt himself. I’m not sure which one I should tell today. I jumped on his back and broke it (laughter).

I’m working with Jonathan now, forgot his last name. We started together in Florida so I could get used to him, kind of get used to each other. So that has been good.

Asked about her first round opponent:
I don’t know who I play. I never look at the draw. I guess her name is Alison. I always try to keep really focused, yeah.
Well, on a first round, no one wants to lose. So I think a lot of the top players, that’s when they’re looked at the most. People are like, What are you doing? What are they doing? What’s new? Especially at the Australian Open, it’s the very first one of the year. Did they do anything different in the off-season? That’s when the pressure is on, cameras are on, everyone is looking. For me, I get really nervous every single match, especially first-round matches, so…

Q. For Alison (Van Uytvanck), it’s the first main draw here at the Australian Open. What do you remember from your first main draw here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was my first main draw and my first Grand Slam, was Australia. I just remember I knew I wanted to win. I wanted to keep doing well. I had to play Venus in the second round. I remember that was a real bummer for me.

Q. We’ve seen Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova, great women champions, now coaching. What is your point of view on that? Would you ever consider bringing in a coach like them?
The only thing I know is I never say never. I never thought I would play this long. So who knows? Anything is possible. Any and everything is possible. I’m a big fan of Martina and especially Lindsay. I think it would be really good to see them on the tour, bringing their expertise and their knowledge back to tennis.
On attempting to win Australian Open title No. 6:
It would be really great. I’ve been going for number six for a number of years now. It would be really special for me. I would be really happy. I want it I think more than anyone else here. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to get it, so I’ll have to fight hard to get it.

Dimitrov waves

Grigor Dimitrov

You’ve been asked a lot about the changing of the guard. But does it feel this season with Nishikori, yourself and Raonic, you’re getting closer to the big guys? Or after your defeat against Roger last week, do you feel the gap is still a little bit there?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to lie. It was a tough match that I lost last week. Definitely didn’t perform the way I wanted to. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m discouraged to keep trying and keep believing that any of us is going to make it through, so to speak. I think that’s pretty much it. But the other hand, the year just began. We have already the Australian Open, the first major. Anything can happen out here. It’s a good way to start the year. Hopefully everything goes in a positive note.

Have you set some specific goals for your game for the start of the season? Have you worked on something specific?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I’ve worked a lot in the off-season. There’s nothing specific that I would like to say because obviously now I’ve had a pretty good 2014. Obviously we knew what was working for us and knew what we needed to focus on. That’s the one thing that we felt that was good. In the same time I’ve put a lot of work in the off-season on and off the court. I think that’s pretty much it. I never wanted to put too many tasks on my paper to say, Okay, in the off-season I need to work on this and that. Just the more you simplify it, the better it is, when you know what’s working for you.

 How important was your performance here last year?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It was a major thing for me. Definitely gives you a lot of confidence. Gives you like a boost. Next time you come to any other tournament, you felt that you started on a good note. At the same time that confidence gives you, how do you say, to come and play every match better, feel that you can perform on a high level, beat better players. Eventually when I had to come up against better guys, I was able to win, and win quite a few tournaments. I think all that is a good factor. At the same time let’s not forget about the big picture.

Did you replay that tough loss to Rafa much?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It took me awhile to get over it, especially having a set point in that third set, missing that shot by just like a few inches. Of course it’s something not to forget, but at the same time I think I took it really positive. I took that loss as a win even though it wasn’t the case. It gave me a good start. Eventually I think I was performing at a high level throughout the whole season. I think I finished it on a good note.

Halep fh

Simona Halep

Q. How were you feeling after having to withdraw from Sydney?
I’m feeling good now. I’m almost now like hundred percent recovered. I have two days. I slept very well. I ate very well. So I feel prepared to start this tournament. But still I have time, two days more, to feel like hundred percent.

Q. How different was your off-season? You changed coaches. Was there something you wanted to work on?
SIMONA HALEP: Just improve in my game more and more. I did in my serve very well in the off-season, and as well in my forehand. I’m moving better than last year. I’m working hard every day. I changed because I just wanted to change something, and I did. I think was a great idea for myself. Always I took my decisions and work very well. I think very good decision I had in the past.

Q. You made huge strides since a year ago. What surprised you most about your season, how successful you were?
SIMONA HALEP: I’m not surprised that I had big results last year because two years ago I just started to win some titles. I had more experience than before. I was improving a lot I think in my game. I’m much stronger now than before. My game is complete now, I think. I believe in my game. I think I was a little bit, I can say, surprised with the finals in French Open because I didn’t expect that I can play finals after just one quarterfinals in Grand Slam. But, you know, I had nothing to lose there. Was my favorite tournament, because I won in juniors, and I feel very well there. I was trying everything on court. Everything went in the right way at that tournament. I felt very well. Sometimes is very good to be close to your home because more people can come to watch you and can support you. So was a perfect tournament for me. That’s why I think I played the final. Then I had in Singapore the second big result. I played well, as well, there. I cannot say that I was surprised, but still I was very happy in the end of the year that I did few big results.

Q. After such a great year, do you feel more pressure coming into this year?
SIMONA HALEP: No. It’s better than last year. I can say now I feel no pressure. I have just to play my game during the matches and to see how good I can be, how many results I can do, how many matches I can win. So my goal is again to go to Singapore and to win matches with top players. Just I have no pressure.

Q. Do you feel this year’s Australian Open feels more wide open, like many different players could win?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I can say that all the players from here have a chance to do this. I was thinking a few days ago that even if I am third in the rankings, I have my chance, but is not like I have to be in the semifinals or in the finals. Everyone from top 20 I can say has their own chance to win this title. You saw Pliskova, last week she played very well. Kvitova as well. Everyone can win this title. The tournament is open I think for everyone.

Murray UnderArmour

Andy Murray

Q. Slightly different circumstances to last year coming in here. Talk about how the preparation has gone, how you’re feeling coming into Melbourne.
Yeah, I mean, obviously last year was tough because I prepared fairly well, but mentally it’s quite tough sort of going into your first slam and playing long five-set matches. You don’t necessarily know how your body’s going to respond, so mentally you’re kind of worrying a bit and you’d be apprehensive. That’s not the case this year, which is good. And, yeah, my preparation and training over in Miami and then in Dubai went very well. Practice this week’s been good. So, yeah, looking forward to getting started.

Q. Who do you see as your biggest threat in this tournament?
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of top players here. I mean, obviously Stan’s the defending champion, will be confident with that. A new experience, as well. It will be interesting to see how he handles that. But he’s obviously finished the end of last year with the Davis Cup and winning Chennai last week. So I’m sure he’ll be confident. And then, yeah, all of the obvious suspects, same names. Then if you add some of the younger guys that have been coming through the last year or so, you know, with Nishikori, Dimitrov, Raonic, these guys. Also you don’t know, a lot of guys can make big improvements in the off-season if they have five or six weeks’ training to work on things and get physically stronger. So it will be an interesting tournament. The Australian Open normally throws up a few surprises. It will be fun to watch.

Q. Is it easy to get used to the changes that have happened in your team during the off-season, being without Danny? Is it feeling weird for you or…
ANDY MURRAY: No, it hasn’t been weird. It’s been, in my opinion, positive. When things aren’t working well, there’s not a positive atmosphere, it’s not good for anybody. So when that changes and everyone’s working together, that makes things better. So the last two months for me so far have been very, very good.

Yeah, well, obviously very tough draw. Very difficult draw. It’s very hard to comment on it. If you have to play all of those players, obviously it’s going to be extremely difficult to come through that. I’m aware of that. That’s fine. But, yeah, often in these events, you know, there is upsets. And then, yeah, you just have to wait and see who you’re playing in each round because it doesn’t always work out as simply as that. You know, I’m sure Rafa just now, if you said to him, Give me a semifinal spot, he’d be very happy with that coming off a tough injury. But, yeah, it will be interesting to see how it goes. But definitely with the names you mentioned, it’s very challenging.

Q. What do you think of the young Aussie talent?
Yeah, a lot of very good young men. I don’t know on the women’s side. I haven’t seen as much of the young women. But I know on the men’s side, it’s very, very strong. There’s obviously Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, guys like Jordan Thompson, very good as well. They have a bunch of guys ranked between 100 and 200 in the world. Also the guy that Kyle Edmund played today I think is also pretty young from Australia, too. Yeah, they have a lot of talent, a lot of potential. I think the Aussies are going to have a good time the next 10 or so years watching all of them play.

Lleyton Hewitt

How do you rate your chances heading in, I suppose?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I just take it one match at a time obviously. Just try and focus on my first-round opponent, what I need to do to try to get through that match. Played him a couple times before in Davis Cup over five sets, so at least I’m well-prepared for what to expect out there. Obviously just try and get my body as close to 100% by Tuesday. Hopefully go out there and execute what I need to do.

 

Being a competitor, do you go into this thinking you have a genuine chance to win? Is that dream still alive?

LLEYTON HEWITT: When you start the tournament, that dream’s still there for everyone, the 128 of us that are in the draw. Nothing changes in that aspect. Over the years I think I pride myself on not looking too far ahead anyway. Even when I was No. 1 in the world, I always played every match on its merits, gave the utmost respect to my opponents, who I had to play. I’ve said it so many times: it’s a matter of trying to get through the first week of a Grand Slam. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but you have to try to find a way of getting through that, put yourself in a position in the second week. Yeah, anything can happen in Grand Slams. Over five sets, obviously, guys can get injured. There’s a lot of ups and downs over two weeks.

What do you think of the other young Aussie chances? Pretty good talent coming through.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously Nick has a pretty good section of the draw I think that he’s in. Bernie is in a pretty good section, as well. Bernie has been playing well the last couple weeks. Obviously took someone like Nishikori to play extremely well – he’s a quality player – to beat him in Brisbane. Gilles Muller, 6-6, could have gone either way in Sydney in that match he lost. Obviously Nick would have liked some more matches under his belt coming in. If he can get his teeth into the tournament, I don’t think that’s a big worry for Nick. Thanasi has a tougher first round against Gulbis. He’s got a fighting chance in it, though, for sure Thanasi has improved a lot over the last year.

Is this the most excited you’ve been in your time of the youngsters coming through?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess it’s probably a few more in a group coming through than I’ve ever seen in my time. Probably happened a bit before I actually started. You had the guys, the Woodies, Stolz, Philippoussis, Rafter, Fromberg, so many guys coming through at that stage. For a while, I guess I was the only one and we didn’t have a lot of juniors, we sort of struggled to make that transition from really good junior players in the Grand Slams to making it onto the senior tour.

 

 Andy Murray was saying he thinks the tournament is wide open. There’s a lot of talk that the top four are more challenged than previous years. Do you feel that’s the case?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Possibly. It’s still hard. Obviously Andy Murray is not in the top four in the rankings at the moment. I think guys still see him as one of those big threats as the top four anyway. Obviously there’s Raonic, Dimitrov coming up, putting pressure on. Nishikori. Cilic won a Grand Slam now. These kind of guys. I still think the core is going to be those top three or four guys. Over five sets, it’s still extremely tough to beat two or three of those guys back-to-back at the end of these tournaments.

Petra Kvitova

You must be delighted with your preparations coming into the Australian Open with the win in Sydney?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, for sure. I’m very glad how everything went. I’m glad to have a title in the beginning of this new year. Yeah, I’m glad that I have matches under my belt and I can be well-prepared for the Melbourne which is starting pretty soon and I’m excited.

How did your winter go? Anything you looked at or worked on? Are you feeling good about your game in general?

PETRA KVITOVA: I’m very happy that I have a new fitness coach and physiotherapist in the same person. It’s Alex. I’m just really glad that he’s part of my team. It’s something really special. I know that he’s experienced so well. He knew exactly what we have to do, so that’s great. I’m just glad that we did everything what we could in the off-season to prepare myself for the new season. I tried to be a little bit quicker, fitter, to be in the shots on the time. Normal routine, practicing, practicing, practicing.

Who do you see as the biggest threats in this tournament?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think it’s a lot of great players playing. I know Maria won Brisbane. Serena is always one of the favorites. Simona played really well in Shenzhen. It’s a lot of great players who really can play the best tennis here.

What were you most pleased with in Shenzhen and Sydney with your game?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think that my serve was work very well. I think it was one of the keys of the matches which I played. So that’s really nice because we work on that every day probably. I think that my fitness improved, as well, so I’m just glad for it. I just need to be used to everything what I did, show it on the court with the typical shots and with the rallies.

Having lost first round here, does that make you come back to this tournament thinking it’s exciting that you have no points to defend or remembering what happened last year and being worried about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: I would like to forget about the last year. Unfortunately it’s impossible. On the other side I know I can do only better. So that’s the good thing. I’m excited to play, of course. It’s a Grand Slam. It’s what I love to play. I just will do everything what I can to be just better than the last year because it was very disappointing. It wasn’t really nice time for me. So just will do everything what I can.

What do you like most about the Australian Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I like the people here. I mean, it’s just beautiful to see the friendly faces, the smile. I mean, the weather, of course, when it’s not really hot, hot, that’s nice. The crowd is always amazing. I love hard courts, as well. So I’m just glad that everything is very nice here.

Anything different in the hard courts between here and the US Open?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think so. I never played well in the US Open, so I think that’s a little bit slower over there than here. Of course, the weather is different. There is more humid than here, what is better for me as well.

 Li Na said she thinks you’re the woman to beat this tournament. What do you say to that and how do you feel about that?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s nice of her, of course. I don’t feel really favorite of the tournament. I’m just come here and try to be focusing on the match after match if it’s possible, of course. I think it’s a lot of great players, how I said. I don’t think really it’s like one big, big favorite of the tournament. So we’ll see.

 

 

 

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Defending Brisbane Champ Hewitt Ousted, Sharapova Opens with Dominating win

Sam Groth

Sam Groth

(January 6, 2015) Sam Groth beat defending champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in a night match, while top seed Maria Sharapova dismantled qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday at the Brisbane International.

 

RESULTS – JANUARY 06, 2015

ATP

Singles – First Round
[Q] L Kubot (POL) d [5] K Anderson (RSA) 76(3) 64
[7] A Dolgopolov (UKR) d C Berlocq (ARG) 62 63
[WC] J Millman (AUS) d [Q] R Williams (USA) 63 61
J Nieminen (FIN) d [Q] D Kudla (USA) 46 61 64
M Klizan (SVK) d [PR] J Melzer (AUT) 67(5) 76(6) 61
S Groth (AUS) d L Hewitt (AUS) 63 62
M Kukushkin (KAZ) d [Q] M Copil (ROU) 64 46 64
S Johnson (USA) d M Matosevic (AUS) 26 76(0) 75

Doubles – First Round
[3] R Lindstedt (SWE) / M Matkowski (POL) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / S Gonzalez (MEX) 62 63
M Raonic (CAN) / B Tomic (AUS) d P Herbert (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) 64 20 ret. Herbert (lower back)
[WC] G Dimitrov (BUL) / T Kokkinakis (AUS) d J Chardy (FRA) / L Kubot (POL) 63 36 10-8
WTA

Singles – Second Round
[1] M Sharapova (RUS) d [Q] Y Shvedova (KAZ) 60 61
[3] A Kerber (GER) d [Q] D Gavrilova (RUS) 63 75
E Svitolina (UKR) d [WC] A Tomljanovic (CRO) 63 62
V Lepchenko (USA) d M Keys (USA) 64 64

Doubles – First Round
[1] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Mirza (IND) d J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO) 75 63
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Panova (RUS) d [2] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) 62 46 10-3
[4] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) d A Petkovic (GER) / M Rybarikova (SVK) 62 36 10-8
A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d [WC] M Lucic-Baroni (CRO) / L Raymond (USA) 76(3) 63
J Jankovic (SRB) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d I Olaru (ROU) / S Zhang (CHN) 75 62
M Hingis (SUI) / S Lisicki (GER) d [WC] D Gavrilova (RUS) / S Sanders (AUS) 62 62

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 07, 2015
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:00 am
WTA – [LL] A Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs K Pliskova (CZE)

Not Before 12:30 pm
ATP – S Johnson (USA) vs [2] K Nishikori (JPN)
ATP – [4] G Dimitrov (BUL) vs J Chardy (FRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [WC] T Kokkinakis (AUS) vs B Tomic (AUS)

Not Before 8:00 pm
WTA – [WC] J Gajdosova (AUS) vs [2] A Ivanovic (SRB)

SHOW COURT 1 start 11:00 am
ATP – M Klizan (SVK) vs [7] A Dolgopolov (UKR)

Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – M Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs [7] C Suárez Navarro (ESP)
WTA – K Kanepi (EST) vs [Q] M Brengle (USA)

Not Before 3:30 pm
ATP – C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR) / K Nishikori (JPN)
WTA – M Hingis (SUI) / S Lisicki (GER) vs A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Panova (RUS)

SHOW COURT 2 start 1:00 pm
WTA – M Krajicek (NED) / K Pliskova (CZE) vs [3] H Chan (TPE) / K Peschke (CZE)

Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [4] E Butorac (USA) / S Groth (AUS) vs S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA)
WTA – [1] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Mirza (IND) vs A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS)

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Aussies Bounced Out of Cincinnati

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

By Dave Gertler

(August 13, 2014) MASON, OHIO – The last three Australians left in the singles draw at the Cincinnati Masters all played their second-round matches on Wednesday, with Sam Stosur and Marinko Matosevic both bowing out to their American opponents in straight sets. Lleyton Hewitt also succumbed to the grinding baseline play of Italian Fabio Fognini.

 

Stosur and Serena Williams added another encounter to their storied rivalry, the Aussie receiving warm support from the crowd as she battled to stay in both sets, at times out-hitting her world No.1 opponent. In a match lasting almost two hours, where neither player dropped their serve, and Williams needed to come from behind in both tie-breaks to eventually win through to the next round. “She was up in both of the breakers,” said Williams, “I think it was just a great match, to be honest. She served unbelievable, and I was like, I can’t lose serve because she’s just serving great.”

 

Both players brought their big serves to the table, particularly Serena, who served 12 aces. “Really good quality match,” said Stosur, “I’m really pleased with the way I played. I’m disappointed when you have those couple of set points and don’t go through and at least win that set to take it into three. But I gave myself every chance to try and get through that one.  She came up with some really great stuff when it really counted.”

 

While Stosur was facing last year’s women’s runner up, Marinko Matosevic had to contend with the men’s runner up from last year, in a slightly less competitive 3-6, 6-7 loss to the American John Isner. That left Lleyton Hewitt in a familiar position as the last Australian in the singles draw.

LleytonHewittHOF

Hewitt would drop the first set against Fognini 6-1, before going up a break in the second set, a lead that he would ultimately relinquish, allowing Fognini back into the second set, which he won 6-4. “The second set I fought hard, I was up a break in the second set but couldn’t consolidate,” said Hewitt. The 33-year-old Australian served 9 double faults, saying, “I just didn’t hit my serve well today, especially early on,” said Hewitt, “He makes you play a lot of balls as well. He’s a confidence player, and when he’s hitting ball well, he’s tough to beat. He moves well, as well.”

 

Serena Williams’ next opponent will be Flavia Pennetta, while Isner faces No.8 seed Andy Murray. Fabio Fognini will face Yen-Hsun Lu, who had an upset victory over 4th seed Tomas Berdych. Also through to the round of 16, Roger Federer, who beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours for his 300th win at a Masters Series 1000 event.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Raonic Set to Take on Hewitt in Round of 16 match at Citi Open

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

 

By Dave Gertler

(July 31, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Last year’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C. played a crucial role in the lead-up to what would be Milos Raonic’s first appearance in a Masters 1000 final. At the time, he was still ranked outside the top 10, had never made it past the round of 16 at a major, and promptly bowed out to Australian journeyman Marinko Matosevic in the second round.

 

“I didn’t play well here last year,” said Raonic of his reasoning for returning to this year’s event, “And I really would not have wanted to start off Montreal that way. So I think even though I had a poor result last year, it helped me a lot with the result in Montreal. I think it’s a positive for me to come and play here.”

 

The Montenegro-born Canadian earned his first single-figure ranking in March and, given his transposition to a higher echelon of men’s tennis this year, is now within striking distance of the top 5, especially considering the rest of the year will play out on his favorite surface – hard courts – and in his home continent of North America.

 

“After spending four months of playing tennis where I’m adjusting to figure out the surface,” said Raonic about his transition to the hard courts of the Emirates US Open Series, “It’s a surface I come to and I don’t have to worry about – ‘OK, in this situation, I gotta hit this shot’ – I have that stuff sort of ingrained in myself naturally.”

 

In his first match in D.C. last night, Raonic served 16 aces against Jack Sock on his way to a straight-sets win over the American. In a match characterized by the consistency that has helped the Canadian to five career ATP 250 titles, the 23-year-old Canadian served an even eight aces in both sets, and only allowed his opponent three points in each of the tie-breaks they played.

 

In their third round match tonight, Raonic will face a significant obstacle in the form of Lleyton Hewitt, who as well as winning their only meeting so far, is also the tournament’s last remaining former champion. A lot has changed since their 2012 meeting at the Australian Open, including Raonic reaching the semi-final of the most recent slam.

 

While the No.2 seed seems to have shifted his focus towards winning majors, he has not made the final of any tournament since September 2013, something Hewitt has done twice, winning both times and bringing his overall career tally to 30. While Hewitt’s slam-winning days are arguably behind him, the Canadian is focused on his own upward career trajectory, and the opportunity to go deeper in the next slam. “I can do much better than I did at Wimbledon,” said Raonic, “And that doesn’t put me far away from giving myself an opportunity to win that tournament.”

 

In other men’s round of 16 matches at the Citi Open today, Vasek Pospisil takes on top seed Tomas Berdych while American Donald Young plays Denis Istomin.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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