May 4, 2016

Victoria Azarenka to Play Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami Open Final

(March 31, 2016) A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.

“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”

 

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 6 Kei Nishikori survived five match points to beat No. 16 Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. He’ll face No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios who surprised No. 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4).

Nishikori was down 4-5, 0-40 before fighting off the Frenchman.

“I was up a break and I had many chances to break again, you know, second time,” said the top player from Japan.

“You know, I just try to focus when I lost the game for 4-All. Actually, I knew something like that was going to be happen, so I was kind of ready and like 50/50.

“But when I was down 4-5, Love-40, I thought, All right, that’s it. Especially the last couple games I wasn’t serving well, so that was — I thought it’s going to be tough to come back. I tried to play one point at time. Yeah, I thought I have to hit the ball to win the points, and I did.

“The tiebreak I was try to be focus again. I saw he was down a little bit, so try to be focus again. Yeah, did pretty good in tiebreak.”

“Then I think at 3-4 I really raise my level,” Monfils said. “I think I start to be very aggressive, start to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it.

“At the end, I think I push very hard. Then definitely I have opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well.

“Actually, I think in the breaker he was just better than me.”

Kyrgios talked about playing Nishikori next: “Obviously Kei is one of the greatest players in the world at the moment. He has an unbelievable return of serve, moves unbelievably fast, hits big from the baseline, doesn’t have many weaknesses.

“When I played him in Shanghai I didn’t really do too much wrong. I played a great match the whole time and he just played a really well in the big moments. I definitely had chances.

“I know what my game plan is going to be. It’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great guy.”

For his efforts in Miami, the young Australian’s ranking will move into the top 20.

MIAMI OPEN RESULTS – MARCH 31, 2016
Women’s Singles – Semifinals
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [2] A. Kerber (GER) 62 75
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 63

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [16] G. Monfils (FRA) 46 63 76(3) – saved 5 m.p.
[24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [12] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 76(4)

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 63 63
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 62

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 01, 2016
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [15] D. Goffin (BEL)
WTA – M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)

7:00 pm
ATP – [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [6] K. Nishikori (JPN)
WTA – [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs [8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN)

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Novak Djokovic Three-Peats at BNP Paribas Open

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 20, 2016) Novak Djokovic destroyed Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0 to win his third straight and a record fifth BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday.

He now has a 17-match win streak at Indian Wells with the three-peat. His record in the desert is 46-6. The world No. 1 improves his record on the year to 22-1.

Raonic admitted that a few games into the match he was hampered by an injury. He took a medical time out after the first set.

Djokovic broke the hard-hitting Canadian’s serve five times during the 77-minute match.

This marks Djokovic’s 27th Masters 1000 title. He is now tied with Rafael Nadal for the all-time lead.

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Raonic had a medical issue which began a few games into the match.

Despite the loss the 25-year-old Raonic was upbeat about his tournament performance:

“There is a lot of positives to take away. Right now it’s very disappointing, but at the end of the day, until two weeks ago I didn’t do any side-to-side movement and I didn’t play any points and all these kind of things.

“To be here playing in one of the 12 most important tournaments in our year in the final is great progress forward. I look to sort of keep that going forward and, you know, trying to be healthy and trying to get better every day.”

“I need to work harder (to beat Djokovic),” he said. “I need to execute better. My way that I go about things, I think I’m on the right track. I think it’s about putting the things, putting the things together, being effective, which today I wasn’t able to do.

“I think I have it within me, but obviously I need to reach a lot deeper to find that execution.”
Raonic is 14-2 on the year having won the Brisbane International beating Roger Federer in the final. This was Raonic’s third Masters 1000 final.

“I’m just glad to be able to raise the level of my game as the tournament progresses, and that’s something that I have been doing in the last two years particularly on the big events,” Djokovic said.

“I have been managing to win most of the big matches against top 10 players. You know, obviously I have a certain routine and certain preparation for these big matches that works for me, again. Everybody is different. But I have been — I will try to follow that kind of routine and get myself in that state of mind where I’m able to get the best out of myself when it’s most needed.”

 

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Djokovic Beats Nadal to Reach Indian Wells Final

316Djokoviclofhvolley-001

(March 19, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Novak Djokovic continued his winning streak against Rafael Nadal beating him 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final for the third straight year in a row.  He has now beaten the Spaniard six times in a row, with his last loss coming in the 2014 French Open final. The world No. 1, whose streak in Indian Wells is up to 14 in a row will going be going for a record fifth title and a “three-peat” on Sunday when he faces Milos Raonic for the title. Raonic defeated David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to reach his third Masters1000 final.

Djokovic has now lifted his record over Nadal to 25-23.

In the first set Djokovic and Nadal exchanged breaks of serve before getting to the tiebreaker. Djokovic raced out to a 5-2 lead, thanks to three straight errors by the 14-time major champion.

In the second set, Nadal held off Djokovic until the sixth game when the Serb broke serve to go up 4-2 and holding serve for 5-2.

In the eighth game, Nadal fought off five match points before a forehand long gave the match to Djokovic.

“It could have gone either way, the first set, but I managed to stay composed and serve well in important moments and just believed that I can win,” Djokovic said.

“We had a very long first set. It went over an hour and ten minutes, I think. It’s not the first time. I know it’s very physically demanding when I get to play Nadal.

“I think I have had a couple of break points 4-3-up first set and didn’t use that. He had his chances, as well. He had 5-4, set point.

“So it was quite even coming into tiebreak. You know, tiebreak I was 5-2 up; came back to 5-All with some great defense and great points. Then I just served well and hung in there. You know, I made him play an extra shot.

“So I think, you know, 5-All, 6-5, those points, you know, in the tiebreak, I mean, have decided a whole set, because more or less if you look at the first set it was quite even.”

Nadal

“I think I played well for a set and a half; then I think he played well the last,” Nadal said. “I played bad again with my serve on 3-2, and then he finished playing well the last two games. Played at high level.

“I had my chances in the first set. I felt for a moment that I was competing at the highest level possible. At the beginning of the tiebreak and at the end of the first set with some Love-15 that I had, I made a few mistakes with my forehand. That’s the only thing.

“I believe that with a little bit more of confidence with my forehand at the end of that first set will be a better chance.”

“Today was closer than the last couple of times against the best player of world, so was a very positive week for me,” Nadal continued.

“That’s the way. I gonna try to follow this way to keep going with this level. If I am able to play weeks in a row at this level, then you start to think about the chances to compete for everything.”

In the other semifinal, the Canadian Raonic hit 10 aces in his win against the Belgian, raising his 2016 record to 14-1. Raonic won the Brisbane title, beating Roger Federer in the final.

“Milos is probably playing the best tennis that he has ever played,” Djokovic said. “I think looking at his performances this year, winning in Brisbane, playing semis of Australian Open, and then coming back off injury and playing already in finals here, it’s quite impressive.

“His serve was phenomenal before the start of this season, but this season it seems like he has improved even more, especially the second serve. He’s going for it more. He’s not giving you the same look.

“That’s a very strong weapon that — an advantage that he possesses in his game that he obviously tries to leverage in the matches. I’m aware that it’s gonna be very tough to return his serve, but if I manage to neutralize his serve, get many returns back in play, I think I have a good chance from the baseline.

“I also need to have decent first-serve percentage in, because I don’t want him to, you know, take the advantage of my second serves and, you know, start stepping in too much.

“Yeah. I saw he’s aggressive, trying to take the initiative from the first shot off his serve, which is natural because his serve goes 140 miles and gives him a lot of easy shots.

“Yeah, I will try to prepare myself tactically, analyze his game with my team. You know, we are playing finals, so I’ll try to also use the experience that I have had playing in many Masters Series finals in this tournament, as well. If I’m not mistaken, he’s going for his first.

“But, you know, even though he hasn’t played too many Masters finals, he’s still very strong mentally. He’s very calm on the court. He’s very composed. He’s showing, I would say, mental character virtues that are characteristic, I would say, for maybe some more experienced and older players.”

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

“Definitely have been playing higher level this year, but I think also when I have had those difficult moments or let’s say some kind of crisis throughout matches, I have found solutions better,” Raonic said.

“Against Novak it’s a difficult matchup. I think that I have added good things to my tennis that can help me in that aspect. It’s going to be important to control the center of the court; obviously be the one that’s moving less. I think I’m going to have to do a better job of stepping up like I did in that third set with forehands earlier on and not being content with just putting it through. Not expecting sort of the match to be given to me.”

“I have obviously a big challenge ahead of me, but I have been pretty good this year at finding solutions.”

Djokovic is 5-0 against Raonic.

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Nadal Survives Zverev; Wawrinka Ousted at BNP Paribas Open

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

(March 16, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 5 Rafael Nadal came back from 2-5 down and a match point at 3-5 in third set to take down up-and-coming  18-year-old German No. 58 Alexander Zverev 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

Zverev had a match point at 5-3 in third, but he hit a forehand olley into the net and never recovered from his mistake. The Spaniard lost only two points in his Last two service games to close the match.

“I had match point, so I think I did well there. On match point I sucked, so that was it,” Zverev said.

“I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match. That’s what happened.”

“I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.”

“Look, in the last three weeks I lost 7-5 in the third to Berdych; 6-4 in the fifth to Berdych; and 7-5 in the third with match point to Nadal. So I know how tough losses feel right now.

” Look, I mean, I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.

“I’m out and he’s in the quarterfinals.”

“Very happy for the victory, obviously,” Nadal said. “I have been fighting during the whole match. First set I had big chance with not a difficult forehand down the line that I missed. So that first set probably will be the key, if I was able to hit that forehand right place, no?

“But after that, I think I played a great second set. But at the beginning, sometimes when win a set that easy is dangerous for the beginning of the next one, no?

“The beginning of the third he played aggressive, and I think I stopped a little bit the rhythm, so I was in trouble, no?

“Was a great victory. You know, it’s obvious that I played against a great player, a player who was serving unbelievable, at the beginning especially. He served well whole match apart from some double faults.

“”But you think when somebody is serving with that speed in the second serve, some double faults are the normal thing, no?

Is a great victory, as I said before. I’m very happy about it. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations.”

Nadal talked about the adjustments he needed to make against Zverev.

“Well, beginning of the match he was serving over 133 first serves and second serves over 120.

“I was trying to return inside the court, as I did every day, but with the second serve 120 miles with a lot of spin, 124, 123, 120, was impossible, no?

“At the beginning when that happened I was in a little bit of trouble, because I felt like I cannot lose my serve, because if I lose my serve and he was serving that way, is impossible. So I felt a little bit the pressure at the beginning.

“But then I think I returned really well during the whole match, no? First serve. Second serve I decided to go back three, four meters behind the baseline, because from inside he was — he’s young, ready to take the risks, and if the opponent wants to take the risk on the second serve and he’s having success, it’s difficult to make something, no?

“”I decided to go back and tried to put more balls in, and I think worked well. I think I had enough breaks to win the match.

“Negative thing is I lost my serve twice in the third, something that cannot happen, especially after having the break back. But that’s it. No, no, no, the match was tough. I think any player can win, and is true he had a big chance with match point and that volley.

“Sorry for him. I think at the same time, I deserve victory like this after couple of loses with big chances to win, too.”

Belgian’s David Goffin, ranked 18th in the world, stunned third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals of Inidan Wells on Wednesday. The victory for Goffin ended a 14- match losing streak against top 10 players.

Wawrinka came back from 0-4 down in the second set to 4-4. Goffin served for the match at 5-4, but failed to close and Wawrinka won the next three games to even the match at a set all. In the third set, Goffin against served for the match and could not hold. The match went on to tiebreak. Wawrinka hit a crucial overhead out at 5-5 to give Goffin match point which capitalized on.

There were 13 breaks of serve in the match.

“I was struggling with my serve and it was difficult with the heat,” Goffin said in press. “In the third, it’s tough to fight again with the heat and with the level of Stan. The tiebreaker is like you flip a coin.”

“Well, not too great day, not too great level,” Wawrinka said smiling. “I didn’t have the rhythm yet. Was a match without brain, let’s put it that way.

“Have some tough time to focus, have some tough time to find what I wanted to play and stay calm. Still try to fight. Got lucky to come back twice. Had the chance to finish the tiebreak. I didn’t, and quite simple.”

“I think he got a bit tired and nervous also,” Wawrinka continued. “He start to miss easy shots. Gave me the chance to come back. Can lose quickly, eh?

“Two time I come back. I had the chance in the third set to finish it also at 5-5 to break him again. I didn’t. I didn’t.

“But in general, he deserved to win. You know, it was the time of. Should have finish before.”
Goffin will play No. 10 seed Marin Cilic, who defeated No. 8 Richard Gasquet, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. Another upset saw No. 12 Milos Raonic beat No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-6 (7).

“A match where you sort of say you felt great but you went out there and you tried to put the pieces together, Raonic said.

“I got ahead a few service games. He served well. He got ahead. I served well. That was pretty much only one point that I would sort of have played differently. Maybe just be a little bit sharper in the second serves in the beginning service games.

“Other than that, it was all good.”

Top seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic advanced easily. Williams defeated defending champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3.

“It feels really good to get that win,” Williams said. “She obviously has been in good form the past couple years. So, yeah, I feel really good just to get under there and buckle down and to win that.

No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who will move up to No. 2 in the rankings, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6 (3) to reach the semifinals. She’ll face Serena Williams in the semifinals.

Asked about returning to No. 2 in the world, Radwanska said: “It’s always a good feeling to be back in this position. I wasn’t long last time, but I think that was a few years ago. It’s always good to be back in that position. Now it’s difficult to be No. 1.

“There is always opportunity, but it’s not about one or two tournaments. To be No. 1 you really have to play the whole season very good, and obviously catch Serena. But she is also playing very good tennis and she will want to play good and be there at No. 1.

“Well, I will try my best, and now I have the opportunity that I’m definitely not really defending much points till the grass, so, well, that’s definitely my spot that I can do that. We’ll see if I can.”

Williams said of the match-up: “She knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games.

“Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies.

“Honestly, I will be ready. I really like Aga on and off the court. I think she’s super exciting to watch on the court, and off the court I think she’s really one of the nicest people.

“Regardless, I think it will be a really good matchup. Whoever wins will go into the final.”

Novak Djokovic defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.

“I’m actually glad to have a match like this with not much complications,” Djokovic said.

“I think we both started to play well on our service games, and he was 30-Love on that game when I broke him. Then he missed four first serves. I managed to step in and return very well on those four second serves that I got and just used the opportunity.

“You know, after that I was feeling more comfortable also on the return games even though Feliciano is a very difficult player to play against. He’s left handed and he has a big first serve and he can hit angles, comes to the net, so very strong, physically moves well.

“But I was very solid. I didn’t allow him to come to the net too many times. It was a good performance.”

Kei Nishikori beat John Isner 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) plays Nadal in the quarterfinals.

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No. 53 Federico Delbonis Surprises No. 2 Andy Murray in Third Round of BNP Paribas Open

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 14, 2016)  INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 2 Andy Murray lost to No. 53 Federico Delbonis 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday in a two-hours and 46 minutes.

The southpaw from Argentina trailed 1-4 to the Brit in the third set, won five of the next six games to serve for the match at 6-5. Murray broke Delbonis’ serve to get to a tiebreak which Delbonis won 7-3 to get the biggest victory of his career. Murray’s loss is the biggest upset of the men’s tournament so far.

“Obviously a tough one to lose in the end, having, you know, kind of fought hard to get myself in a winning position you know, 4-1-up,” Murray said.

“The 4-2 game that I got broken was a tough one in the third set. I was up 30-Love in the game and had a few volleys in that game. You know, he came out with some good passing shots. I could have done a bit more with the volleys maybe.

“But, yeah, I didn’t play a great tiebreak. That was disappointing. Obviously he had the chance to serve it out, and then I got back in there and didn’t play a great breaker.”

Murray has not had a great history at Indian Wells, with his best result coming in 2009 when reached the final. “I think it’s just the conditions here I have just struggled with throughout my career. I have never really felt that I played my best tennis here.

“I have tried and had many different preparations where I’ve got here early and spent a lot of time on the courts, and sometimes I arrive later, like this time from Davis Cup. You know, obviously it takes time to get used to new conditions regardless of where it is, but I have just never really found a way to get comfortable here throughout my career.

“It’s a shame.”

 

Asked if this was his biggest win, Delbonis said: “No, I have like a couple of big wins, but in situation was special, you know. For that tournament, for that surface, for me is the best win.

“And, well, I have — I was like quiet all the match that I know he wants to be aggressive in that third set. I don’t do it my job until the 4-1. I have to play it more to his forehand.

“That, when I do that, I can break. I can play from the 4-2 to the tiebreak and I get a big win for that, you know.

“I have another one (win). The title in Sao Paulo I think is the best one.”

Delbonis did beat Roger Federer when he was No. 5 in the world three years ago in Hamburg.

Asked about his strategy to hit to Murray’s forehand, the Argentine commented: I know that his backhand is pretty good when he’s quiet, you know, in one side. I know that I have to play, hit harder in his forehand to get a good hit or a good position the court, to be aggressive or to move it to him, because this is one of the keys to get a good point.”

“I feel good the surface because it’s not too fast,” he said. “For me, I can slice in that kind of court. I like it. Also, I like it in Australia. Every tournament I come this year I like it so much. I like to play in that kind of court, in that hard courts not so fast.

“For me it’s a good court to be aggressive.”

For Murray, this is the first tournament he has played as a father. February 7, his wife Kim gave birth to a baby girl named Sophia.

A couple of surprises on the women’s side of the draw included former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, seeded 14 lost to 18th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-0 and No. 7 Belinda Bencic was on the short end of a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 score to unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova. With all of the upsets on the women’s side, No. 9 seed Roberta Vinci, who beat 17th seed Elina Svitolina, remains the highest seed in the bottom half of the draw.

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet won 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 over Alexandr Dolgopolov. No. 12 seed Milos Raonic advanced when 17th seed Bernard Tomic retired with a right wrist injury down. 6-2, 3-0. Tomic’s injury puts a question mark on his participation at the Miami Open.

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BNP Paribas Open Photo Gallery from Friday, March 11, 2016

(March 11, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Photo gallery from around the grounds of the BNP Paribas Open. All photos by Curt Janka.

 

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Andy Murray Rallies to Reach Fifth Australian Open Final

(January 29, 2016) No. 2 Andy Murray rallied from two sets to one down to beat No. 13 Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 to reach his fifth Australian Open final. He’ll play defending champion Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday. Murray has lost to No. 1 Djokovic in three previous finals.

The Canadian Raonic began the match by breaking Murray’s serve at love. Raonic made the hold stand to win the first set 6-4. In the second set Murray broke serve in the 12th game to capture the second set 7-5. The third set saw both men stand toe-to-toe into the tiebreak. Raonic jumped to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak and closed it out 7-4.  In the fourth set Murray took Raonic’s serve in the seventh game and saved four break points in the next few games to prevent Raonic from getting back into the set.

Raonic took a medical time out in the fourth set for an upper right leg injury and was visibly hampered in his movement on the court after that.

Raonic was broken to open the fifth set and broke his racquet in anger and frustration. Murray ran up a 4-0 score and did not have to look back.

Raonic made 78 unforced errors in the four-hour and three-minute match.

Murray goes into the final against 10-time major winner Djokovic with a 9-21 record, having lost 3 finals to the No. player. The will be the Scotsman’s ninth major final.

In his on-court interview he talked about what he needs to do to beat the world No. 1: “I need to keep my game plan very well, not have any lapses in concentration and just play the best I can.” 

“He loves playing on this court, we’ve played a bunch of times here. Hopefully it can be a different result.”

Asked about his injury, Raonic said: “Just a difficulty to push off my leg with my adductor midway through the third set. That’s what it was.

“It’s unfortunate. Probably the most heartbroken I felt on court, but that’s what it is.”

“Five finals is a great achievement,” Murray said. “You can’t take that away from me. I should be happy about that. There’s very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.

“Obviously when you get to the final you’re disappointed if you don’t win. But, I mean, I’ve obviously played very good tennis here. I’ve given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. Seven straight quarterfinals, as well.

“I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis, like I said. I need to do it for long enough to have a chance. I’m aware of that. I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.

“But, you know, the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. It’s about what happens on Sunday. People like to read into what’s happened in the past, but Stan beat Rafa in the final here. I don’t know, I don’t think he’d ever won against him in like 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same thing, as well.

“There’s no reason it’s not possible for me to win.”

Earlier in the day,  No. 1 seeds  Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win the women’s doubles crown. The team has now won three straight majors and 36 consecutive matches.

 

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Tale of the Tape: Andy Murray Versus Milos Raonic

Rod Laver Arena

Andy Murray and Milos Raonic will meet in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday night inn Melbourne. Here is a look at their head-to-head records.

 

2 ANDY MURRAY (GBR) v NO. 13 MILOS RAONIC (CAN)

Head-to-head: tied 3-3

2012     Miami-1000                   Hard (O)           R32      Murray             w/o (knee)

2012     Barcelona                     Clay (O)           QF       Raonic              64 76(3)

2012     Toronto-1000                Hard (O)           R16      Raonic              w/o (ankle)

2012     US Open                      Hard (O)           R16      Murray             64 64 62

2012     Tokyo                           Hard (O)           SF        Raonic              63 67(5) 76(4)

2014     Indian Wells-1000         Hard (O)           R16      Raonic              46 75 63

2014     ATP World Tour Finals Hard (I)             RR       Murray              63 75

2015     Madrid-1000                 Clay (O)            QF       Murray              64 75

 

Murray and Raonic have split their previous meetings at 3 each and are also level in their previous hard court meetings, having won 2 each. They have met at a major just once before, Murray winning in straight sets on his way to his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open.

 

Murray and Raonic are bidding to ensure their respective nation has representation in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles finals at this year’s Australian Open. Murray’s brother Jamie and Raonic’s countryman Daniel Nestor have both reached the men’s doubles final here. The last time there was a British man in both the singles and doubles finals at a Grand Slam was at 2012 Wimbledon when Andy Murray finished runner-up in the men’s singles and Jonny Marray won the men’s doubles title. The last time British men reached the singles and doubles finals here was in 1935 when Fred Perry finished as runner-up in the singles and Perry and Patrick Hughes finished as runner-up in the doubles. The feat has never been achieved by Canadian players.

 

Possible semifinal head-to-heads

  Djokovic Federer
Murray 9-21 11-14
Raonic 0-5 2-9

 

MURRAY                                       v                                        RAONIC

 

28                                          Age                                          25

6’3”/1.91m                                  Height                                  6’5”/1.96m

2                                    ATP Ranking                                   14

35                                         Titles                                          8

2 titles                        Best Grand Slam Result                   2 semifinals

158-37                     Career Grand Slam Record                      48-19

44-10                        Australian Open Record                         19-5

557-165                              Career Record                              216-103

379-107                        Career Record – Hard                         159-64

5-0                                   2016 Record                                   9-0

5-0                              2016 Record – Hard                              9-0

18-7                          Career Five-Set Record                          6-4

8                         Comebacks from 0-2 Down                         0

158-99                       Career Tiebreak Record                       139-88

1-1                            2016 Tiebreak Record                            4-1

 

Road to the Semifinals

MURRAY Time   Time RAONIC
d. Alexander Zverev 61 62 63

d. Sam Groth 60 64 61

2:07

1:31

1st round

2nd round

1:26

2:55

d. Lucas Pouille 61 64 64

d. Tommy Robredo 76(6) 76(5) 75

d. No. 32 Joao Sousa 62 36 62 62 2:38 3rd round 1:46 d. No. 21 Viktor Troicki 62 63 64
d. No. 16 Bernard Tomic 64 64 76(4)

d. No. 8 David Ferrer 64 64 75

2:30

3:20

Round of 16

Quarterfinals

3:44

2:17

d. No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 64 63 57 46 63

d. No. 23 Gael Monfils 63 36 63 64

         
total time on court 12:06 (IBM time) 12:08 total time on court

 

  • 4-time Australian Open runner-up MURRAY is bidding to reach the final here for the 5th time and move into joint-2nd place on the list for most Australian Open finals reached in the Open Era.

 

Player No. of AO finals
Novak Djokovic*

Stefan Edberg

Roger Federer*

Andy Murray??

5

5

5

5??

*The winner of the Djokovic v Federer semifinal will reach their 6th Australian Open final

 

  • Murray is bidding to reach his 9th Grand Slam final and close the gap on Fred Perry for the most appearances in a Grand Slam final by a British man (since the Challenge Round was abolished at Wimbledon in 1922):

 

Player Appearances in a Grand Slam final
Fred Perry 10 – US Championships 1933-34, 1936, Australian Championships 1934-35, French Championships 1935-36, Wimbledon 1934-36
Andy Murray 8      – US Open 2008, 2012, Australian Open 2010-11, 2013, 2015, Wimbledon 2012-13

 

  • Murray is bidding to take sole ownership of 13th place on the list for the most Grand Slam finals reached in the Open Era with 9. Only 3 active players have reached more Grand Slam finals than Murray – Roger Federer (27*), Rafael Nadal (20) and Novak Djokovic (18*). [*Written before the Djokovic v Federer semfinal.]

 

  • Murray is looking to win his 45th match at Melbourne Park and tie Pete Sampras and Nadal in joint-6th place on the Open Era list for most Australian Open match-wins.

 

  • Murray and brother Jamie are bidding to become the first brothers in the Open Era to reach the finals in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles events at a Grand Slam. Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares will play Daniel Nestor/Radek Stepanek in the doubles final on Saturday.

 

  • Murray has a 1-3 win-loss record in 5-set matches at the Australian Open. The only 5-set match he has won here came in 2013 when he defeated Federer in the semifinals. He has won 6 of his last 7 five-set matches, with his only defeat in that time coming to Djokovic in the semifinals at 2015 Roland Garros. He has an 18-7 win-loss record in 5-set matches overall.

 

  • Murray has come from 0-2 down to win a 5-set match on 8 occasions, including in his most recent 5-set match against Adrian Mannarino in the 2nd round at the 2015 US Open.

 

  • Murray has reached his 6th Australian Open semifinal and moved into joint-4th position on the table for most appearances in the last 4 here in the Open Era.

 

              Australian Open semifinals reached (Open Era)

Player No. of AO semifinals
Roger Federer 12
Stefan Edberg 8
Ivan Lendl 7
Andre Agassi

Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray

6

6

6

Pete Sampras

Mats Wilander

5

5

                                            

 

  • Murray has reached his 18th Grand Slam semifinal and extended his record for the most Grand Slam semifinal appearances by a British man ahead of Fred Perry (13 semifinals). Murray has reached the semifinals at the Australian Open 6 times, Roland Garros 3 times, Wimbledon 6 times and the US Open 3 times. He has an 8-9 win-loss record in Grand Slam semifinals and a 4-1 semifinal win-loss record here:

 

                                            Murray’s Grand Slam semifinal appearances

Grand Slam Opponent Result
2008 US Open Rafael Nadal d. 62 76(5) 46 64
2009 Wimbledon Andy Roddick l. 64 46 76(7) 76(5)
2010 Australian Open Marin Cilic d. 36 64 64 62
2010 Wimbledon Rafael Nadal l. 64 76(6) 64
2011 Australian Open David Ferrer d. 46 76(2) 61 76(2)
2011 Roland Garros Rafael Nadal l. 64 75 64
2011 Wimbledon Rafael Nadal l. 57 62 62 64
2011 US Open Rafael Nadal l. 64 62 36 62
2012 Australian Open Novak Djokovic l. 63 36 67(4) 61 75
2012 Wimbledon Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. 63 64 36 75
2012 US Open Tomas Berdych d. 57 62 61 76(7)
2013 Australian Open Roger Federer d. 64 67(5) 63 67(2) 62
2013 Wimbledon Jerzy Janowicz d. 67(2) 64 64 63
2014 Roland Garros Rafael Nadal l. 63 62 61
2015 Australian Open Tomas Berdych d. 67(6) 60 63 75
2015 Roland Garros Novak Djokovic l. 63 63 57 57 61
2015 Wimbledon Roger Federer l. 75 75 64
2016 Australian Open v Milos Raonic ???

 

  • Murray has lost in the semifinals here once before, falling to Djokovic in 5 sets in 2012. He is contesting his 11th straight Australian Open and 40th Grand Slam overall.

 

  • Murray has reached his 18th Grand Slam semifinal and moved into joint-10th place with Boris Becker on the Open Era list for most Grand Slam semifinals reached. Federer (39 semifinals), Djokovic (29) and Nadal (23) are the only active players to reach the last 4 at a Grand Slam on more occasions than Murray.

 

  • By reaching the semifinals here, Murray and Johanna Konta ensured Great Britain had male and female representation in the semifinals at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 1977 Australian Open when Sue Barker and John Lloyd reached that stage.

 

  • Murray is the leading British man in history in terms of Grand Slam match-wins with a 158-37 win-loss record. He sits in 11th place on the list for the most Open Era Grand Slam match-wins behind Boris Becker (163-40).

 

  • Murray won 11 rubbers in Davis Cup last year to help Great Britain win Davis Cup for the first time since 1936. He was the first man to win 8 live singles rubbers in one year since the introduction of the World Group in 1982. Great Britain defeated Belgium 3-1 in the Final in Ghent.

 

  • 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 Federer here in 2010, and to 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. Nadal). He also won the title at Queen’s (d. Anderson) and Montreal-1000 (d. Djokovic).

 

  • 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 Alexander Zverev, but losing to Nick Kyrgios.

 

  • Murray was one of 3 Grand Slam champions through to the semifinals from the 7 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.

 

  • RAONIC is bidding to become the first Canadian man in history to reach a Grand Slam final.

 

  • Raonic is looking to become just the 2nd Canadian player – man or woman – to reach a Grand Slam final. Eugenie Bouchard is the only other Canadian player in history to reach a Grand Slam final – at 2014 Wimbledon.

 

  • Raonic is bidding to reach the final on his 6th Australian Open appearance. Boris Becker is the only man in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open final on his 6th appearance here.

 

  • Raonic is looking to become the first non-European male finalist at the Australian Open since Fernando Gonzalez finished as runner-up in 2007. The last non-European man to reach a Grand Slam final is Kei Nishikori at the 2014 US Open.

 

  • Raonic is bidding to become the first player ranked outside the Top 10 to reach the Australian Open final since No. 38 Jo-Willfried Tsonga in 2008. The last player ranked outside the Top 10 to reach a Grand Slam final was No. 11 Kei Nishikori and No. 16 Marin Cilic, who faced each other in the 2014 US Open final.

 

  • Aged 25 years 35 days, Raonic is bidding to become the youngest player to reach the Australian Open final since Novak Djokovic (aged 24 years 252 days) in 2012.

 

  • Raonic is bidding to defeat a Top 2 player for the 2nd time in his career. He has a 1-12 win-loss record against Top 2 opposition overall, with his only victory coming against No. 2 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals at 2014 Paris-1000. He has lost all 3 of his career meetings with Top 2 players at the Grand Slams in straight sets.

 

  • If he wins today Raonic will extend his 9-match Tour-level winning streak to 10 and record his best Tour-level winning streak. He has not lost a match at Tour-level since losing to No. 7 Rafael Nadal in the 3rd round at 2015 Shanghai-1000. By defeating Monfils in the quarterfinals here he equalled his best Tour-level winning streak of 9 straight wins in 2012, which took in a singles victory in the Davis Cup first round, the San Jose title and a run to the semifinals at Memphis.

 

  • Raonic is looking to become the first man to reach the Australian Open final having won a pre-Australian Open warm-up tournament since Stan Wawrinka in 2014. A warm-up winner has gone on to reach the Australian Open final on just 3 occasions since Doha champion Federer went on to win the title here in 2006.

 

  • Raonic is looking to become only the 4th No. 13 seed to reach a Grand Slam final. A No. 13 seed has reached a Grand Slam final on 3 occasion – Pat Rafter at the 1997 US Open, Andre Agassi at 1999 Roland Garros and Alex Corretja at 2001 Roland Garros.

 

  • By defeating No. 21 seed Troicki, No. seed 4 Wawrinka and No. 23 seed Monfils here, Raonic has defeated 3 seeded players at a Grand Slam for the first time. The only other time he has recorded back-to-back match-wins over seeded opposition at a major was in beating No. 22 Michael Llodra and No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny at the 2011 Australian Open.

 

  • By reaching the semifinals here, Raonic has become the first 13 seed to reach the last 4 at a Grand Slam since David Nalbandian at the 2003 US Open. He is the first No. 13 seed to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open since seeds were introduced.

 

  • By reaching the semifinals here, Raonic has equalled his best Grand Slam result. He also reached 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.

 

  • By reaching the semifinals here, Raonic has become the first Canadian man to reach the Australian Open semifinals. Bouchard is the only other Canadian player – man or woman – to reach the semifinals here, falling at this stage in 2014. Raonic and Bouchard are the only Canadian players to reach multiple Grand Slam semifinals.

 

  • 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.

 

  • The Australian Open is Raonic’s most successful Grand Slam in terms of matches won. He has a 19-5 win-loss record here, compared to 11-5 at the US Open, 10-5 at Wimbledon and 8-4 at Roland Garros.

 

  • By reaching the semifinals here, Raonic has recorded his best Australian Open performance. His previous best Australian Open result was reaching the last 8 here last year as No. 8 seed (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 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. today’s opponent). He finished the year in the Top 20 for the 4th straight year and plays here at No. 14.

 

  • 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 has played Davis Cup since 2010 and helped Canada reach the quarterfinals last year. Canada will face France in the 1st round in Guadeloupe on 4-6 March.

 

  • 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.

 

 

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Raonic Knocks Out Fourth Seed Wawrinka to Gain Berth in Australian Open Quarterfinals; Murray Advances

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

(January 25, 2016) Thirteenth seed Milos Raonic held off fourth seed and 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Monday 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.

The Canadian employed an aggressive net game to take down the Swiss for the first time in their head-to-head encounters.

“I got to try to dictate, try to find my way forward and keep him out of rhythm,” he said.

Raonic dominated play in the first two sets and then the Swiss fought back to send the match to decider and get his first victory in Rod Laver Arena.

Raonic hit 82 winners in the 3-hour and 44-minute match which included 24 aces

Raonic is 8-0 this year. Earlier in the month, he defeated No. 3 Roger Federer in the final of the Brisbane International.

Raonic credits the new member of his coaching team, former No. 1 Carlos Moya with the improvement of his game and composure.

“I think it’s just about a calm, and understanding how I can be more efficient with my game,” Raonic said. “Today was a good example of that.”

“I’m very happy with the way I played, the way I competed, the way I turned things around after sort of having the momentum against me going into the fifth,” Raonic said.

“I’m happy the situation I’ve put myself in. At the same time, as happy as I am, my mind’s already on what’s the process for my next challenge.”

“Tough match in general, for sure,” Wawrinka said. “I think Milos start really well. He was pushing, playing well. Wasn’t really feeling great there, not playing my best. Wasn’t moving to do something else. I’m surprised to still have went five sets.

“For me, I tried to fight like always, tried to find solution. I think he went a little bit down with his speed, with his movement. I took the opportunity to push him to the fifth set.

“But for sure I’m disappointed. I know I tried what I could today.”

“He’s a really good player, you know,” the Swiss continued. “He’s been top five already, making semifinal in Grand Slam, winning a lot of tournament. Since two years, he’s really good.

“Today he did what I was expecting. Maybe he change few things in his game, but in general he’s the same tough player to play.”

 

Next up, the 25-year-old will face No. 23 Gael Monfils. The Frenchman, who is now in the Melbourne quarterfinals for the first time, beat unseeded over Andrei Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in two hours and 37 minutes.

“It was tough,” Monfils said. “I think I knew pretty much he will come and step in, try to play very fast. That’s what he did. I was a bit nervous so I could not hit through him for a while. Then suddenly I think I serve a bit better and I put more pressure. I grabbed the first set.

“Unlucky I felt in the second. I lost a bit the momentum because at this period I thought I had him. It was a bit tough for me to grip my racquet. Then it was a bit tougher to play.

“He had a good second set. Then I think I serve pretty good, try to focus on my first shot after the serve. Till the end, you know, I was fighting. I think he give me a good fight, so I was happy to come through.”

Talking about his next match against Raonic, Monfils said: “Milos is in good form. Coming in with a win in Brisbane. As we know, a big serve. Actually I think also a little bit he improve a lot his movement, hitting big from the baseline, a good return.”

“From what I’ve seen so far of him, he’s playing well,” Raonic said of his next opponent. “He’s very entertaining and he’s very difficult to play. He can give you complete ends of the spectrum within one game.

“So it’s very much of an internal match for me. I just have to take the game to him. I have to make him feel uncomfortable. Not let him get into his sort of playing comfort. If I can sort of keep up with the efficiency moving forward, I’ll have definitely some opportunities.”

Raonic has become the first Canadian to reach the quarterfinals of all four majors.

 

Andy Murray moved past local favorite Australian Bernard Tomic in the night session in Melbourne. The Scot  won 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the fourth round.

“I didn’t think it was that straightforward,” Murray said. “It was a tricky match. You know, I mean, I got up a break I think in all of the sets. Each time he obviously got it back. So there were quite a few momentum shifts in all of the sets.”

Murray will play David Ferrer next.

“Last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, yeah things sort of changing all of the time in my head,” Murray said. Two nights ago his father-in-law Nigel Sears was rushed to the hospital. Murray’s wife is expecting a baby near the end of the tournament. “It’s been a stressful few days, but I’ll try to rest up the next few days to get ready for the next one.”

No. 8 David Ferrer moved into the final eight of Melbourne for the sixth time, by defeating No. 10 John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Ferrer has not dropped a set in the tournament.

 

 

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Third Seed Muguruza Ousted, Azarenka Advances at Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza became the latest upset victim among the top women’s seeds at the Australian Open on Saturday. The third seed lost 6-3, 6-2 lost to world No. 48 Barbora Strycova.

“Clearly not my best, for sure,” said the Spaniard who made 32 unforced errors in the third round match. “I think today is a very bad day, you know, at the office.”

“I just couldn’t find the court, my shots. Yeah. Didn’t really find my game.”.

For the Czech Strycova, she’s reached the fourth round only once before in her career – when she earned a place in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

“I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world,” she said.

“What went well? I think everything. No, I was serving very well, and the plan was like to play my game, mix it a little bit, but to play deep.

“And it’s not easy against Garbine, because she plays fast and also very deep. Today I think she didn’t have the best day and I felt good on court, and that’s why I think I won today. That I felt pretty well in hitting the ball so good.”

Next for the Czech will be two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who defeated 18-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1.

“I will go to that match with confident,” Strycova said. “I don’t know. I have to play my best tennis and to mix it and try to somehow win and focus on every point.

“But Victoria is very, very good. I saw her hitting some balls yesterday and she’s hitting the ball very well. But we don’t know how it goes. She is 1-All in the first set.

“If I play her, I will just enjoy myself and try to do my best and like I did today.”

Azarenka hit 24 winners against Osaka who came into the main draw as a qualifier.

“It wasn’t easy for sure, especially when you don’t know who you play.”

“She’s a little unpredictable and she surprised me with her game.”
The bottom half of the women’s draw has been decimated with upsets leaving No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player left.

No. 47 Johanna Konta, who upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round, continued her run in Melbourne. She became the first British woman to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open since1987, with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2.

The Sydney-born Konta became a British citizen in 2012. She’ll face No. 21-seeded Ekaterina Makarova who knocked out No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 . Makarova reached the semifinals last year.

Konta defeated Makarova in their only meeting last year.

“I mean, again, like I always say, you know, new day, new match,” Konta said. “The only thing I can go into the match with is I know she’s left handed, and I have obviously seen her on the other end of the court.

“But in terms of circumstances and scenarios, we are at a completely different venue, different surface, different time of the year.

“So I’m really just going to focus on, again, things on my end and see where the match takes me.”

On the men’s side Milos Raonic continues to advance under the radar. The Canadian defeated Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

He dedicated his win to the victims of a shooting incident at La Loche Community School in Saskatchewan in which four people were killed.

“Unfortunately in Saskatchewan in a very small community there was a shooting at a high school, so I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today’s victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I’m sure the world is behind you.”

No. 10 seed John Isner pounded 44 aces past 18th seed Feliciano Lopez to avenge a loss to the Spaniard back in 2012, with a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

“It’s a big win,” Isner said. “It’s a very tough opponent, especially for me, the way he plays. It certainly has given me trouble before in the past.

“Also been a little while since I’ve been in the Round of 16 at this tournament. It feels great. I’m very relieved to get through, want to keep on going.”

The victory puts the American in the round of 16 for just the second time in Melbourne. He also achieved that milestone in 2010.

“I’m proud of the fact that I was able to, especially in the third and fourth sets, play some very good tennis. Really I went out there and I had a game plan and executed it very well in the third and fourth sets.

“Not in the first two sets, which is why I was frustrated out there at times. A lot of things I focused on about this match. I did some of them very well. I’m proud of that. You know, I was very well-prepared, so it’s a good feeling to get through.”

He’ll play No. 8 seed David Ferrer for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

“My last match in 2015 he beat me, as well, in Paris,” Isner said of Ferrer. I’ve got to play aggressive. I mean, he’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He’s not going to get tired. We all know that.”

 

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