2014/08/02

Semifinals Set for Both Men and Women at Wimbledon

 

 

(July 2, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Grigor Dimitrov ended the run of defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon, becoming the first Bulgarian man to do so. Dimitrov joins No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and another newcomer Milos Raonic in the semifinals.

The No. 11 seed ended Murray’s 16-match winning streak at the All England club which went all the way back to the 2012 Olympic Games.

“I have very good memories from that court out there,” Murray said.  It’s a special court for me.

“Yeah, I mean, you can have bad days as an athlete.  You don’t win all of the time.  Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and move on.

“But, yeah, when you don’t feel like you played as well as you can, that’s disappointing and frustrating.  Yeah, that’s happened a few times in the slams over the last year, so I’m disappointed about that.”

“I think I got early on in the match on top of him, and I think that really helped me, you know, progress in that way.” Dimitrov said.  “I think second and third set was just a little different.

“But, I mean, I can’t say much about the match because I came out to win the match.  I was really positive.  I was ready.  I had a lot of patience no matter how many sets I was supposed to play.

“But I was just composed and I was looking for every point that I had to play.”

On Friday, Dimitrov face 2011 Wimbledon champion in Novak Djokovic who reached the semifinals for a fifth straight year. Top seed Djokovic had to rally to top No. 26 Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2.

On the lower half of the draw, Federer will play No. 8 Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man in a Grand Slam semifinal since the early 1920s.

Federer dropped his first set of the fortnight to Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over his Swiss countryman.

“There was a lot on the line today playing against Stan,” Federer said.  “Quarters sort of shows the direction on how you’re playing and all these things.

“I’m really pleased to have come through.  Like you said, last year was a major disappointment for me because I always see Wimbledon as one of my main goals of the season, side-by-side with rankings and some other highlights that I choose that there are for me.

“I try to be in the best possible shape, so last year was rough.  I was very disappointed.  Went back to the practice courts.  Didn’t have any options left at that point.

“So I’m happy that one year later I’m back in the semis and with a chance to go further.”

In the battle between big servers, Raonic defeated teenager Nick Kyrgios, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Raonic hit 39 aces.

In the women’s quarterfinals, No. 3 Simona Halep beat 2013 Wimbledo runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-0, and will take on No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, who beat No. 9 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.

“It was a great match for me today,” said Halep.  “I played really well and I’m really excited that I can play semifinals tomorrow.

“I like this tournament and I feel really well here.  I’m looking forward for the next round just to play good tennis and to try my best on court.”

Bouchard has reached her third straight major semifinal.

“I’m excited to be in the semis,” said the 20-year-old.  “But, of course, you know, never satisfied, so definitely want to go a step further, or as far as I can.

“I think, you know, I played some great players when I lost in the semis.  You know, you don’t win every single time.  But, you know, I’m going to look forward to try to play a little bit like I played today.  I thought I was pretty solid out there and playing the right way on the grass.

“So that’s going to be a key.”

Thursday’s other Ladies’ semifinal will be a battle between two left-handed Czech women -2011 champion Petra Kvitova versus No. 23 Lucie Safarova.

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French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova Lose at Wimbledon

(July 1, 2014) WIMBLEDON – French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova were the victims of major upsets on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

World No. 1 and No. 2 seed Nadal fell to Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round. For the up-and-coming Kyrgios ranked 144th in the world who hit 37 aces against Nadal, it was the match of his life and the biggest upset of the tournament.

“I’m pretty happy,” said the 19-year-old Australian. “That’s the biggest win of my career obviously, and that’s something I’m never going to forget. I’m going to draw so much confidence out of that no matter where I play now. To have that under my belt, it’s massive.”

“The thing is this surface,” Nadal said. “When you have an opponent that he decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble.

“I think that I didn’t play really bad. But that’s the game in this surface.

“I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert that opportunities. And for the rest, I think he play better than me.

“So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me.”
It was the fourth straight match at Wimbledon where Nadal dropped the opening set.

Kyrgios became the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon debut in 10 years. He is also the first teenager to defeat the No. 1 player man at a major since Nadal did it at 19 when he beat Roger Federer at the 2005 French Open.

“I think I had to play a solid game that gave me the best shot,” said the 6’ 4” Australian. “That’s serving big and playing aggressive. I thought today my serve was something that got me over the line. It made me, you know, be able to put pressure on his serve as well.

“I think that was very important.”

“In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me,” the Spaniard said. “So that’s an advantage. I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5‑All in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.

“You know, that’s happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114 5-All in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.

“Congratulations to him. For me, beach,” Nadal said smiling.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Kyrgios said of the win. “I was just overwhelmed with every feeling out there. I turned to my whole box, you know, just shared that moment with them. It still hasn’t hit me what I’ve done.”
Next up in the quarterfinal for the Aussie will be another big server in Canadian Milos Raonic.

“Milos has probably got the best serve in the world,” he said. I’m just going to go out there and have fun again.”
Maria Sharapova became the favorite to win Wimbledon when Serena Williams lost on Saturday. Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the No. 9 seed dismissed the fifth-seeded Russian from the tournament 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. The match was a tale of errors.

Sharapova made 49 unforced errors, 38 more than her opponent.

“I think there were a few little key moments in each set actually that I can learn from,” Sharapova said. “I was up in the tiebreaker and didn’t follow through. You know, it was great to come back in that second.
“Had a really slow start in the third. She rode with that confidence. It was just a few points in the end of that. Maybe things would have been different if I won that game, but in the end I didn’t.”

“Before I went on court I was just telling myself, you know, Just go out there, enjoy it, and play like you are at practice,” Kerber said. “You know, not focus on her, just focus on yourself, yeah, and believe that you can beat her.”

“At the end I was trying to focus just from point to point. I was telling me, you know, You can do it. She will not make mistakes. If you would like to win the match, you need to do it, to be aggressive, just go for it.
“Yeah, and I did it. Yeah, I’m just happy that, you know, actually I won the match. I think she didn’t lost the match; I won it. That feels good.”

“The next match against Bouchard, it will be tough one,” Kerber added. “I lost against her in Paris, but I’m feeling right now better and I’m feeling better on grass.

“I never played against her on this surface, so I will be focused like today just on myself. Just try to be aggressive, play my game, and not focusing on her.”

The women’s quarterfinals set for Wednesday are No. 3 Simona Halep against 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki, and No. 9 Angelique Kerber versus No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard. The semifinal on the other side of the draw is already complete 2011 champion Petra Kvitova against No. 23 Lucie Safarova

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Nick Kyrgios Saves 9 Match Points in Win over Richard Gasquet

(June 26, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Nineteen year-old Australian, Nick Kyrgios saved nine match points before beating No. 13 Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 at Wimbledon on Thursday. For the wild card, he has reached the third round of a major tournament for the first time in his young career. He is the youngest player in the draw.

“It was an unbelievable match out there,” said the Australian.  “My first ever two sets love down, coming back and winning.  It’s an amazing feeling.  So proud of yourself the way you hung in and fought it out.

“I played some unbelievable tennis today.  He was coming up with some really good shots as well.  I think I saved nine match points.  There’s plenty of opportunities he could have taken.  I came out on top, I’m really happy.”

For the young Australian beating Gasquet represents the biggest win of his budding pro career, his first against a top 20 player.

So what was Kyrgios thinking about as he was facing match points against him?

“I was just thinking I just need a big serve every time,” he said.  “That’s what I was thinking.

“You know, a couple times where I missed my first serve.  Obviously the challenge kept me in it.  I was just thinking about going through my routine, coming up with something, going after it, playing aggressive.

The match lasted almost four hours and ended when the Aussie hit his 21st ace of the match.

“My goal is to become the No. 1 player in the world,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios will face another youngster in Jiri Vesely in the third round. Vesely took out Frenchman seeded 24, Gael Monfils in five sets 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-7 (3), 6-4.

“He had a massive win today, winning in five sets,” Kyrgios said of his next challenger.  “He’s also young.  He’s on the rise.  He’s got a really aggressive game, big serve.  Big hitter as well.

“I think the grass is suiting him nicely.  Well done to him, as well.”

“He is a very talented player and today he was a beast,” Gasquet said in his post match news conference.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed his match suspended by darkness on Wednesday night and broke Sam Querrey’s service in the 25th game of the final set to win the match 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 14-12 at Wimbledon on Thursday.

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

 

Related article:

“The Journey Starts Today” An Interview with Nick Kyrgios

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Defending champion Nicolas Mahut, and Wild Cards Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios to play Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

HOF championships

NEWPORT, R.I., May 23, 2014 -  Defending champion Nicolas Mahut of France has committed to the player field for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., where he captured both the singles and doubles titles last year. In addition, two wild cards have been awarded to Marcos Baghdatis, an exciting player formerly ranked in the world top-10, and Nick Kyrgios of Australia who achieved the world No. 1 ITF Juniors ranking in 2013. The three new entries to the field will join No. 1 American John Isner and Australian great Lleyton Hewitt in the tournament, which will be played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., July 5 – 13. The tournament, which is held directly after Wimbledon, is the only event played on grass courts in North or South America, and the only ATP World Tour event in New England.
“Tennis season has finally arrived in New England and we are gearing up for a great tournament this summer at the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” commented Tournament Director Mark Stenning. “Nico Mahut was unstoppable in Newport last summer and we are glad to welcome him back as defending champion. Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios are exciting players to watch, and we know the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships fans will enjoy seeing them compete.”

Nicolas Mahut won both the singles and doubles titles at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships last year, following an epic couple of days of competition in which inclement weather forced him to play four matches in 24 hours. Mahut entered the Newport tournament last year ranked world No. 127. Since winning in Newport, he has consistently climbed the ATP World Tour rankings and is currently world No. 38, having reached a career high of world No. 37 earlier this month. Mahut’s victory in Newport last year was his second career title, having won his first just weeks prior at the Topshelf Open at s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. With countryman Michael Llodra, Mahut was a finalist at the French Open in doubles last year. Inclusive of his 2013 Newport titles, he has won two singles titles and eight doubles titles.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has been a staple of the ATP World Tour since the early 2000s. He has achieved notable wins against some of the world’s best players including Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and Andy Murray, and has been involved in many long, exciting matches. He is recognized for the energy that he brings to each match, and for his ability to draw fans in. In 2006, Baghdatis reached a career high of world No. 8 and won his first career title with a victory at the China Open. He has finished the season ranked in the world top-50 six times in the past eight years, and has won four ATP World Tour titles. Baghdatis made his Davis Cup debut for the Cyprus Davis Cup team in 2000 as a 14-year-old. He has been a dedicated and successful player for his country ever since, and has been instrumental in advancing the team from the lowest division of Davis Cup to move up two levels into the Euro/Africa Group II. With 43 straight wins, he is one of the most successful Davis Cup players of all time.

Nineteen-year old Australian Nick Kyrgios had a break through season just about this time last year, and has been going strong ever since. Kyrgios was given a wild card into the 2013 French Open, at which he won his first career ATP level match, defeating then world No. 52 Radek Stepanek in three tiebreak sets. Also last year, Kyrgios won the Australian Open junior title and the Wimbledon junior doubles title. He achieved the world No. 1 ITF Juniors ranking. This season, Krygios won back-to-back Challenger Tour titles in April. Earlier this year he represented Australia in Davis Cup competition. Next week, he is set to play in the French Open again, and has been training with Roger Federer in advance of the tournament. He is currently ranked world No. 161.

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Nick Kyrgios and Ashleigh Barty Awarded French Open Wildcards

Nick Kyrgios from Australian open twitter feed

(May 13, 2014) Nick Kyrgios and Ashleigh Barty have been given wildcards into the French Open main draw. Roland Garros begins on May 25 in Paris.

Nineteen-year-old Kyrgios won back-to-back ATP Challenger events in the United States in April. At world No.159, Kyrgios is currently the only teenager ranked inside the men’s top 200.

The Canberra local will hope to use his wildcard entry to emulate a memorable main draw debut at Roland Garros last year, when he defeated world No.52 Radek Stepanek in the first round.

Davis Cup captain and men’s wildcard selector Pat Rafter said Kyrgios was a deserving recipient of a French Open berth.

“Nick has shown over the past 12 months that he can compete at Grand Slam level and also handle the pressure of big occasions like Davis Cup competition,” Rafter said.

“Nick really deserves this opportunity after being sidelined by injury and then returning to win back-to-back Challenger titles on clay.”

After celebrating her 18th birthday last month Ashleigh Barty will enter the French Open eligible to compete unrestricted on the WTA tour for the first time.

With a world ranking of 182 Barty’s focus for the year so far has been to contest the qualifyingrounds of high-level ITF events.

In February she joined the Australian Fed Cup team in Hobart, winning the doubles rubber against Russia to help the Aussie side to victory. She was then named in the team to take on Germany in last month’s semifinal tie, teaming with Casey Dellacqua to win the doubles rubber against a powerhouse German pair.

Barty will head to her third French Open looking to build on her maiden Grand Slam victory in the first round of the tournament last year.

“It’s really exciting to be awarded a wildcard into the French Open,” she said.

“I’ve obviously played at Roland Garros a few times now, including when I was a junior, so I’m familiar with the site and there’s just no better clay than at Roland Garros. It’s pretty special when you get there.

“I’ll give it a real go, you never know what’s going to happen. I’ve just got to go out there, keep my chin up and see how I go on the day.”

A reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation allows Tennis Australia to select two Australian players to receive wildcard entries into Roland Garros each year. Rafter and Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik head the team of wildcard selectors.

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“The Journey Starts Today” An Interview with Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios from Australian open twitter feed

(January 17, 2014) MELBOURNE – There were probably few outside of the tightly knit Australian tennis community who knew Nick Kyrgios‘ name before Thursday night. But even devastating cramps did not tempt the 18-year-old to succumb to early defeat, still mustering up the energy – from God knows where – to stick it out to five sets with world No. 28 Benoit Paire.

While Kyrgios may not have won the match, he has won the hearts of thousands of viewers from all around the world and is motivated even more to go from strength to strength.

We caught up with Kyrgios to hear about his Australian Open debut, the transition to pro tour, his inspiration on court and his reaction to fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic‘s retirement from his first round match against Rafael Nadal earlier on in the week.

 

Alana Mitchelson: You must be pretty proud of your performance last night?

Nick Kyrgios: Last night was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my first Grand Slam best-of-five match. It was a bit unfortunate to lose but all credits to him, you know, he outlasted me. He played some really good tennis and I respected him as well. But the crowd was unbelievable. It was an experience that just keeps me motivated to keep improving.

AM: What was going through your mind as you started cramping up?

NK: My body was hurting a little bit towards the end and I knew that I was getting dominated in the last couple of sets. I knew I had to pull out something. But at that time I was just trying to relax and keep my body as efficient as possible so that I wasn’t going to fully cease up. I was good enough to finish the match and I gave it everything I could. That’s all you can do.

 

AM: Was there a reason why you didn’t call for a trainer to maybe have a massage? It might have given your legs a bit of a rest.

NK: That was running through my mind as well. Obviously there are rules, you can’t call for cramps, and I know there are a lot of ways around that but I thought I could have managed it myself and I thought I did everything I could. I don’t think I would have gotten too much out of that because I couldn’t really move my quad at one stage and I couldn’t really bend it or straighten it. So I just kept moving on with the game and it ended up feeling okay towards the end of the fifth set, but it was a bit too late. He had a lot of momentum and he just carried it through.

 

AM: After what happened with Tomic’s match earlier in the week, were you worried about how the crowd would react if you had called a time-out?

NK: I wasn’t thinking about Tomic at all at that stage when I was thinking about throwing the towel in. I was always going to finish the match to the very end no matter what happened out there. But obviously what happened to Bernie’s not ideal. I’m feeling for him. I hope he’s recovering as quick as possible because we need him for the Davis Cup tie coming up.

 

AM: What was your reaction to how the crowd reacted to Tomic retiring?

NK: That’s a tough question. I don’t really know. I’m sure Bernie had a legitimate reason for why he retired. He’s one of the best tennis players we’ve got. I’m sure he would have been feeling something out there, he’s not going to just retire. He loves being on that Rod Laver Arena. He’s played some unbelievable matches there and to have the opportunity to play Rafael Nadal as well, you’re not going to pass it up like that. I’m assuming that something is wrong.

 

AM: What has been your favourite part of this whole experience of playing at your home slam at men’s standard for the first time?

NK: Especially, it being the Australian Open, just playing at home and having your family and your friends and just everybody supporting you and getting behind you. I mean, last night sounded like a Davis Cup tie playing at home. Everybody just went nuts. They were really motivating me and pushing me to bring out some of my top tennis. It’s almost just motivated me to keep playing at this level continuously because it’s what you dream of when you’re a little kid.

 

AM: How have you been coping with being more so in the spotlight and receiving more media attention?

NK: I’m honestly not too fussed by all that stuff. It’s obviously tough having the spotlight on you and a lot of expectation, a lot of pressure. I think you’ve just got to embrace all that. You can’t really block it out because that’s when it starts to get to you. You just embrace it and you do everything you can to work through it. It’s tough when they’re firing questions at you when you’ve lost a five setter over about four hours yesterday, but you can’t let emotions cloud your responses.

 

AM: And your Twitter followers completely skyrocketed last night. What was that like, to just casually glance down at your phone and see you had 14,000 followers overnight?

NK: It was pretty crazy. But my phone’s running pretty slow at the moment. So it’s great that I’m getting all of the support, but my phone doesn’t really work properly right now. But it’s obviously good to have all the support out there and it’s motivating to keep working hard.

 

AM: You’re the only teenager in the top 200. How do you feel playing people who are older and more experienced than yourself? Are you intimidated by that at all? It didn’t seem to worry you last night.

NK: Nah, it’s not intimidating. You don’t really have too much to lose against those top guys. Receiving a wildcard, as well, you have an opportunity to just go out there and have an absolute crack at it. It’s obviously a good feeling being the only teenager in the top 200. All those facts are just motivating to keep going, to really make those top guys known to you.

 

AM: Who on the men’s tour do you have the most respect for?

NK: The most respect? Probably Roger Federer. He’s done an enormous amount for the game and he’s a perfect role model for anyone who does play tennis and who doesn’t play tennis. Just the way he conducts himself on and off the courts, it’s unbelievable the charity work he does. He’s the perfect person.

 

AM: Have you ever had the chance to have a chat to him?

NK: I haven’t had a running conversation with him but I’ve said ‘hi’ to him a couple of times and he’s said ‘hey, how are you?’ and stuff like that but I haven’t really had deep conversations with him.

 

AM: How were you first introduced to tennis?

NK: My mum took me down to the local tennis courts in Canberra, where I’m originally from, and I wasn’t too keen on it at all (laughs). But she just said to have a go and I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun out there and I think that carries on to today. I love having fun out there and really enjoy myself.

 

AM: Can you tell me a bit about your Greek heritage?

NK: My dad’s my Greek side. He was in Greece and he came to Australia in 1957 with his mum. I did a bit of Greek school when I was young but I was just real naughty. I never really did anything in class. That’s why, to this day, I can understand a little of it but I can’t speak it. Probably should’ve listened a bit more in class. It’s really good having such a strong Greek community in Melbourne come out and support me and Thanasi this week and I can’t thank them enough.

 

AM: Can you tell me a bit about your success as a Junior? When you’re playing with all of those other Australian kids across different states and you see just how much talent there is out there, how did you keep motivated to feel you might have a shot at this and to pursue tennis as a career?

NK: Yeah, I think we’re producing a lot of good Junior players in Australia at the moment. We’ve got a lot of guys in the Junior Australian Open as well. We all push each other, we all train together and I think moving from the Junior to the senior ranks is one of the toughest transitions. You’ve just got to stay positive. Tennis can beat you down mentally with all the travel and stuff, so you’ve just got to keep pushing, stay positive and push each other. I think it’s good that we all have each other as well.

 

AM: Like you said, you are going through that transition phase now. For some, it can be a quick process to shoot up in the rankings but for others it can be years and years. So how does that make you feel, knowing it could be next year or it could be 10 years?

NK: Yeah, you can’t really think about it too much like that because that’s sort of frightening. You’ve just got to take it each day at a time. The journey starts today and you’ve only got to worry about what you’re going to do today. You’ve got to get better at something every day I think too. You either take a step forward or you take a step back every day, so you’ve just got to keep bringing the right attitude every day.

 

AM: Is it nice that you and Thanasi Kokkinakis are making this transition into pro tour together?

NK: Yeah, I think having Thanasi there is really good because he’s a close friend as well and when I’m struggling I’ll talk to him or when he’s struggling he’ll talk to me. But we push each other. We’re sort of competing against each other as well. Whenever one of us makes that push, the other one follows. He’s done a great job. He’s really impressed me the last couple of years, especially last year, and he was playing some unbelievable tennis this week as well. It’s not really surprising that he’s doing that, you know, he’s a great player. It’s really good that we’re working together.

 

AM: Do you think there’s a little bit of a rivalry forming there between the two of you? I’m thinking back to the Australian Open Junior final last year and the 18s final before that again.

NK: Yeah, I’m sure there’s a bit of that there as well. That’s completely normal I think. Tennis is an individual sport. You’re going to always want yourself to perform the best. But I think it’s important that we stick together.

 

AM: Who gives you the most inspiration when you’re on the court. Obviously you have a lot of passion within you for the sport but there must be certain people in your life who really inspire you.

NK: Yeah, I think that person is Christos and he’s my brother. He amazes me how positive he is and how much motivation he has. He’s always in the gym pushing himself and he’s always motivating me – always keeping it positive, getting me up for training when I’m struggling for matches. He’s always been there. He’s always been on the side of the court. He was there last night from the start to the end. He’s really that person you described I think.

 

AM: What’s the funniest thing to have ever happened to you on a tennis court?

NK: Oh, probably the funniest thing that happened this week was last night when I saved the set point, second set, and they reckon it was the shot of the tournament so far. The crowd was loving it and I just got the crowd involved. That was probably my best moment because it looked pretty funny on the highlight.

 

AM: Thanks for your time and good luck with everything.

NK: Yeah, no probs. Thank you.

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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Casey Dellacqua leads Stanmore Wyverns to Asia-Pacific Tennis League Conference Finals

 

Casey Dellacqua

Casey Dellacqua

By Dave Gertler

(November 21, 2013) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA  – Round four of the Asia-Pacific  Tennis League’s New South Wales Conference was headlined by four-time Grand Slam doubles finalist Casey Dellacqua, who has  spent the off-season in Sydney gearing up for what will be  a  physically demanding 2014 season.

 

The Asia-Pacific Tennis League is the premier national team tennis competition in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. With five separate State conferences and four to six  separate men’s and women’s teams within each  conference,  the ATL brings rising stars from the ITF and Challenger  tours together with elite ATP and WTA players, both active  and retired.

 

The format of the ATL is similar to World Team Tennis,  teams  competing in fast-paced singles and doubles rubbers, whose  shortened format features first-to-four sets, super  tie-breaks and playing service lets. Spectators enjoy both elite-level tennis and other entertainment including courtside music and team mascots.

 

Australian household names like Pat Rafter (Sunshine Coast Breakers),  Wally Masur, Casey Dellacqua (Stanmore Wyverns) and Nick  Kyrgios (Canberra Velocity) have been involved in five  rounds leading to the Conference Finals. The League Finals will take place during the second week of the Australian Open, on the outside courts of Melbourne Park.

 

“I haven’t hit a ball for a few weeks,” said Dellacqua after the day of ATL matches at City Community Tennis Centre, Prince Alfred Park. “A lot of my focus has been  more about the physical side, so my body’s pretty sore  but  it was good to get out here today and pick up the racquet,  have some fun and get out there with a couple of the girls  and enjoy myself.”

 

Her team, the Stanmore Wyverns, relied on her to win her doubles in straight sets, after they were pushed hard in other rubbers by host club UTS City Lizards. The final match score was Wyverns 3-7-35 to Lizards 3-6-35, meaning the match was decided by one set.

 

While Dellacqua and Wyverns No.2 singles player Monique Adamzcak both won their singles convincingly, Stephanie Bengson and Lucie Kriegsmannova fought back for the Lizards in stand-out singles rubbers against Julia Moriarty and Angelique Svinos respectively, levelling match score at 2-2.

 

The rubber between Bengson and Moriarty was particularly crucial as it was the hard-fought set Moriarty won, in the only three-setter of the day, which would ultimately clinch the win for the Wyverns.

 

The doubles combination of Kriegsmannova and Bengson then went on to defeat Moriarty and big-hitting Deeon Mladin in a match full of reflex volleying exchanges and big serving.

Moriarty/Mladin only won two games in straight first-to-four sets, the 4-2, 4-0 score not indicative of the quality of the highly-entertaining points.

 

Doubles pair Dellacqua/Adamzcak needed to win their match  in  straight sets against UTS City Lizards’ Jess Engels and  Renee Beck, which is exactly what they did, sealing the  match for the Wyverns and confirming their place at the ATL  Conference Play-off, to be played next Friday 29 November  at  Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.

 

Dellacqua, whose focus is on improving her singles ranking in 2014, said she’d also like to go one step further in doubles, having made it to the finals of all four Grand Slams – Roland Garros in 2008 with Francesca Schiavone, and the other three in 2013 with Ashleigh Barty. “Ash and I will continue to play,” said Dellacqua, ‘We’ve obviously had a great year but we’d like to go one step further and win a Grand Slam. We made three finals, so it’d be nice to win one.”

 

Earlier in the day, the men’s round 4 action saw a strong display of tennis between Stanmore Wyverns and Sydney Olympic Rebels. Seventeenth ranked Australian Adam Feeney had a solid win over 21-year-old Simon Ede, and Jonathon Cooper had a surprise win over his former coach and ATP 105-ranked player Todd Reid. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Wyverns won the other two singles rubbers, and both doubles, to win the match 4-9-45 to 2-6-34.

 

The event was held at City Community Tennis, which has been nominated as a finalist for the 2013 Newcombe Medal for Most Outstanding Tennis Community in Australia.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama. Follow him on Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

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Kyrgios and Konjuh Win Australian Open Junior Singles Titles

 

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Nick Kyrgios has been crowned the 2013 Australian Open Junior Boys’ champion after overpowering good friend and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(4) 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes on Saturday afternoon at Melbourne Park.

 

“Yeah, obviously I’m really happy with that performance today. I knew that I had to play some really good tennis,” Kyrgios said. “So, yeah, it’s great start on the year.”

 

The two mixed up their play, hitting largely from the baseline but also willing to try a drop shot and come into the net to volley. Both played a largely aggressive offensive game with big groundstroke shotmaking.

 

It was a tight contest in the first set with neither player able to gain an advantage. Kokkinakis had several break point opportunities late in the set but Kyrgios was able to effectively shut them down with his big serve. The set culminated in a tie-break situation as neither player was able to get a lead. Kyrgios got the mini-break in the first point of the tie-break and ran with it, closing out the first set 7-6(4).

 

Kyrgios converted a break point opportunity in the fourth game of the second set to go ahead a set and a break 3-1 against his good friend. Kokkinakis was struggling with a back problem during the match and it looked to be getting to him as time wore on. Kyrgios then picked up his serve in his final game to win the tournament with an ace 7-6(4) 6-3 in the same week he became the ITF world number one junior. He produced 36 winners to Kokkinakis’ 20.

 

Kyrgios said the key to winning today had been to maintain composure and not get caught in the moment. He explained his thoughts on being down break points and set points in the first set: “I was just trying to stay as composed as I could and take my time. I thought I played the big points

well. I didn’t really get angry at myself leading into that point or anything like that.”

 

Kyrgios was asked what he will do to ensure he doesn’t fade into oblivion as many former Junior Australian Open champions have done in the past.

 

“Obviously going to keep working hard, day in, day out. That’s what it’s all about. Keep improving on and of the court. I’m going to try and play a lot more futures and challengers and boost my ATP ranking up as well.”

 

“Obviously I’m going to take a lot of confidence out of this. Still a long way to go, it’s a long journey, anything can happen, but right now I’m really happy. I’m just going to keep working hard.”

 

In the girl’s singles final Croatian number three seed Ana Konjuh signalled herself as a future star in women’s tennis after defeating Czech number two seed Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4 in just over one hour.

 

“Well, you know, I feel really great. I won doubles and singles. I’m first time here. Just the feeling is incredible.”

 

Konjuh also won the girls’ doubles title on Friday with Canadian Carol Zhao to cap off an impressive tournament for the young Croatian. The win in the singles will move Konjuh to the top of the ITF Junior rankings from Monday.

 

Konjuh says she’s happy to be the world number one but says her focus for 2013 will be to improve her WTA ranking.

 

“I’m going to play the junior Grand Slams: Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open. I’m just going to play 10,000′s, 25′s and 50′s. I just want to go now for WTA ranking.”

 

Konjuh has also been selected to represent Croatia in Fed Cup for the first time and will play alongside Petra Martic, Donna Vekic and Tereza Mrdeza.

 

“No, it’s another great experience. I’m going to get a chance to play with some pro players. I just happy to be there.”

 

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

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

 

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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