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Nadal Cruises Past Baghdatis, Now For Zverev

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 4:52am

Ninth seed and 2009 champion Rafael Nadal dominated 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis in a superb performance of attacking tennis on Thursday night at the Australian Open.

Nadal improved to 9-1 lifetime against Baghdatis with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena over two hours and 12 minutes. He opened up a 5-1 lead in the first set and won the first four games in the second set, then finished with a cross-court forehand winner to improve to a 47-10 mark at Melbourne Park.

"I haven't played during the night here yet,” Nadal said during an on-court interview with fellow former World No. 1 Jim Courier. “So the conditions are different. The ball is lower so I had to adjust for a start. I have been solid with my serve. I feel my body has no injuries now. I've had lots of success and lots of memories from where I have played. I can't complain. I am trying to enjoy every moment I have on court."

Nadal will now meet #NextGenATP star and No. 24 seed Alexander Zverev in the third round. The pair met at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last year, with Nadal saving one match point in a 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 win. Zverev had led 5-2 in the deciding set.

"It will be a big challenge for me,” said Nadal. “He is a potential Grand Slam winner. He's a big talented player. He's improving in every moment he's on the tour. He can be a future World No. 1."

Zverev reached the Australian Open third round for the first time earlier in the day when he beat #NextGenATP American qualifier Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in just under two hours.

”It was difficult in the beginning for me,” said Zverev. “It was different conditions than the first round. First round on Hisense is kind of an indoor court. Court 2 is much faster. But still, I actually played well in the beginning. I felt like I was struggling a little bit from the baseline. But then I got it better. I'm happy to get a straight-sets win and be better prepared for the next match.”

Istomin Reacts To Victory Over Djokovic

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 3:36am
Denis Istomin relives the nerves and drama of his shock second-round victory over Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Istomin: 'It Means So Much To Me'

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 3:16am

In an instant, 25 years of hard graft were rewarded when Denis Istomin scored the biggest win of his career over Novak Djokovic, Mr Australian Open. It justified his persistence, dedication and perseverance as a pro.

“It means so much for me, of course, to beat the World No. 2,” said Istomin, following his five-set win on Thursday. “I just I hope that is not the only one victory of mine. I will try to keep going the same way and trying to win some more.”

The World No. 117 never expected to out-perform the six-time champion at Melbourne Park, but he did believe he could compete. “If you don't think that you have a chance, then there is no reason to come onto the court,” the 30-year-old explained. “Of course, I am also working hard, trying to do my best and I did today.”

When asked if someone had said at the beginning of the season that you were going to beat Djokovic at the Australian Open, Istomin admitted, “I would say, ‘Are you crazy or what?’ Especially in five sets, for sure. For me, it was impossible to think that I could hold it together for five sets with Novak, physically and mentally.”

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But you don’t get to a career-high No. 33 in the Emirates ATP Rankings (13 August 2012) without talent. However Thursday’s upset will rank in the history books as one of the biggest in the modern era, alongside that of Robin Soderling’s seismic victory over Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in June 2009.

To put Istomin’s victory into perspective, he’d just won one of his previous 33 matches against Top 10 opposition - over No. 5-ranked David Ferrer at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. As Djokovic opened his 2017 season with a Qatar ExxonMobil Open title defence in Doha, the 30-year-old Istomin had already packed his bags following a second-round exit at the Wind Energy Holding Bangkok Open 2017 – an ATP Challenger Tour event. He gained entry into this year’s Australian Open, his 35th major championship appearance, via a wild card invitation.

Yet it could have been so different. With his mother, Klaudiya, who has been his coach since he first picked up a racquet aged five, the amiable Istomin has travelled the globe, but 16 years ago he broke his leg in a car accident whilst travelling to an ITF Futures event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It could have jeopardised his future career.

“The doctor didn’t think I was going to play,” said Istomin, who spent three months in hospital and did not touch a racquet for two years. “It was a bad accident, but thanks to my mother, she believed in me. She was always saying, ‘Just keep going and just practise’.”

This evening, after his famous win, his mother simply said, “Good job.”

Djokovic: Hats Off To Istomin

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 2:44am

Novak Djokovic’s reaction after his shock second-round exit at the Australian Open? Quite simply “hats off” to Denis Istomin.

“Whenever he needed to, he came up with a big serve, a big play. All I can say is hats off,” said the six-time Australian Open champion. “Him playing this well, it’s amazing. He played obviously above his level. You got to give him credit for that. Many things came together for him today. He's a well-deserved winner.

“It was one of these days when you don't feel that great on the court, don't have much rhythm, and the player you're playing against is feeling the ball very well.

“That's sport.”

His loss to World No. 117 Istomin marks only the second time in the past seven years that the Serbian has been defeated by a player outside the Top 100. But it also means his bid to replace Andy Murray and return to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings took a hit. 

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Djokovic knew the danger he faced in Istomin, who won his lone ATP World Tour title in Nottingham in 2015. “I never underestimate any opponent. Doesn't matter which tournament I play or in which round. I try to give the best that I can. I have respect for everybody.

“It's a tennis match. On a given day, you can lose. Nothing is impossible. There is over a hundred players playing in the main draw. I guess the quality of tennis keeps rising each year. Everybody becomes more professional. I guess they improve. They get better on the court.”

After dropping the first set, Djokovic looked set to turn the match around as he clinched the next two sets and had break point chance early in the fourth set. But after Djokovic failed to capitalise, Istomin seized the momentum.

“It seemed like in the third set I felt comfortable,” reflected Djokovic. “I had a break point in the opening of the fourth set. Missed an easy forehand. The match turned around. Maybe late in the fourth set something could have happened. But I didn't really have a clear chance, to be honest. What can I do? I did try my best till the last shot, but it didn't work.

“I'm not used to losing in the Australian Open second round,” admitted Djokovic, who has a 58-7 record at Melbourne Park. “I've always played so well. Throughout the past 10 years, I've won six titles here. This court has been so nice to me. I enjoyed it very much.

“Of course, it's disappointing. But the end of the day I have to accept it.”

It is the first time that 29-year-old Djokovic has gone three Grand Slam championships without picking up a title since between 2013 Roland Garros and 2014 Wimbledon.

Fans React To Istomin Win Over Djokovic

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 2:33am
Fans at Melbourne Park give their verdict on Denis Istomin's stunning win over Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open second round.

David To Meet Ace Goliath At Australian Open; Thiem Advances

ATP news - Fri, 20/01/2017 - 1:44am

David Goffin, the 5’11” No. 11 seed, will take on big-serving 6’11” goliath and No. 20 seed Ivo Karlovic for the first time on Saturday in the Australian Open third round.

Goffin cruised past 38-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-0, 6-3, converting seven of his 13 break point opportunities. The 37-year-old Karlovic struck 19 aces (now 94 for the tournament) in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Australian wild card Andrew Whittington to reach the third round for the third time (also 2008, 2012).

Eighth seed Dominic Thiem was made to work for his 6-2, 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-4 second-round victory against Jordan Thompson, the Australian wild card, on Thursday at Melbourne Park. The Austrian could not convert his first match point opportunity with Thompson serving at 5-6, 30/40 in the third set, and saw a 5/2 lead evaporate in the subsequent tie-break.

Thiem will next challenge Frenchman Benoit Paire, who hit 67 winners – including 21 aces – in a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Italian Fabio Fognini in three hours and 28 minutes.

Elsewhere, No. 13 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who earned up his fifth ATP World Tour title at the Aircel Chennai Open in the first week of the 2017 season, hit 39 winners to overcome 20-year-old Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

Bautista Agut will now meet David Ferrer, the No. 21 seed and 2011, 2013 semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, who booked his place in the third round for the 11th time with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over American Ernesto Escobedo in two hours and 46 minutes. Ferrer leads 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series with victories in 2013 at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Sock's Sense Of Belonging

ATP news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 11:20pm
Hard work is paying off for Jack Sock, who discusses his Top 10 ambitions and greater sense of belonging among the best players on the ATP World Tour.

Istomin Records Biggest Win, Edges Djokovic In Melbourne

ATP news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 10:56pm

World No. 117 Denis Istomin played the match of his life on Thursday when he sensationally beat six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.

The Uzbekistani wild card ended Djokovic’s 15-match winning streak at Melbourne Park with a 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over almost five hours on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. He will next play No. 30 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who cruised past #NextGen ATP Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round.

"It is unreal," said Istomin. "To beat Novak in five sets, it's a great win. I'm still feeling a little bit tired. I didn't expect to be doing what I'm doing now and what I did on the court. I like the way I am playing. I feel just tired. I am not thinking, 'I just beat the World No. 2'."

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Djokovic, who saved six break points in a 16-minute opening game, saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break before failing to convert two of his own chances at 7/6 and 8/7. The second seed regained control, but dropped to a 1-4 deficit in the fourth set only to stage a comeback.

Istomin, leading 5-4, held one set point opportunity on his Serbian opponent’s serve at 30/40 and later took a 5-1 lead in the tie-break, prior to requiring a further three set points to take the pair’s sixth meeting to a deciding set.

Istomin broke decisively to 30 for a 3-2 lead in the decider and the Tecnifibre-sponsored player held his nerve to complete a memorable win in four hours and 48 minutes. Djokovic, who is now 58-7 at the first major of the year, committed 72 unforced errors as he saw his perfect start to 2017 come to an end.

"All the credit to Denis for playing amazing," said Djokovic. "He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments. He stepped it up, played aggressive. Served very well, very precise. There's not much I could do. Of course, I was not pleased with my performance overall. But I have to congratulate my opponent today."

Djokovic had only previously once lost to a player ranked outside of the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings over the past seven years - when he fell to No. 145-ranked Juan Martin del Potro in the opening round of the 2016 Rio Olympics. It was also his earliest loss at a Grand Slam championship, since his 2008 Wimbledon second-round exit to Marat Safin.

It was Istomin and Djokovic's third meeting at the Australian Open, following 2010 and 2014 clash that both ended in straight sets wins for Djokovic.

Cahill doubles up as Melbourne City beats Mariners

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 10:14pm

Tim Cahill's double and Roy O'Donovan's red card set Melbourne City on their way to a comfortable 2-1 A-League win over Central Coast.

Serena routs Safarova to reach third round as Radwanska shocked

ABC Tennis news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 9:23pm

Serena Williams charges into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with an emphatic win over Czech Lucie Safarova after third seed Agnieszka Radwanska was knocked out early.

Serena routs Safarova to reach third round as Radwanska shocked

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 9:23pm

Serena Williams charges into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with an emphatic win over Czech Lucie Safarova after third seed Agnieszka Radwanska was knocked out early.

Raonic All Business Down Under

ATP news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 8:57pm

Milos Raonic submitted another business-like performance on Friday at the Australian Open, sending Luxembourg's Gilles Muller home after a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) second-round win. The third-seeded Canadian struck 21 aces and limited the big-serving Muller's count to seven.

”I played well, I was efficient,” said Raonic, who admitted he was suffering from flu. “I got the breaks [and] I faced some scares. I played well in those situations [and ] I stepped up at the end of that third set. He stepped up, as well. I'm happy I was able to finish it out there.

”Then this morning, I felt pretty bad waking up. I didn't warm up much. I just came out with the sort of idea of put everything into the match, try to solve it [and] understand the importance of the mental side of things in that situation.”

Raonic also saved all four break points faced and broke Muller just enough – once in each of the first two sets. The third-seeded Raonic had been 0-2 against Muller in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, although the two hadn't played since 2012. Muller also entered the Australian Open off his best result ever: His first ATP World Tour title at the Apia International Sydney last weekend.

But Raonic needed less than two hours to reach the third round, where he'll face Frenchman Gilles Simon. The 25th seed needed only 96 minutes to beat Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

”I know a lot about (Simon's) game,” said Raonic. “I've watched him play a lot. I've played him in quite a few important matches. He's going to be there, really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won't have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots. I've got to serve well and I've got to be aggressive and I've got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.”

Sixth seed Gael Monfils improved to 4-0 lifetime against World No. 69 Alexandr Dolgopolov after striking 17 aces in a 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 victory in just under two hours. He goes on to meet No. 32 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who overcame Donald Young 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.

Fifteenth seed Grigor Dimitrov recovered from a set deficit to beat #NextGenATP player Hyeon Chung of South Korea 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Chung, who missed three months last season because of an ab injury, looked fit as he chased balls from side to side, answering everything Dimitrov slapped his way during the first set. Dimitrov hit only three winners to 14 unforced errors in the opener.

Watch Now: Train With Dimitrov, Part One

But the Bulgarian ripped away momentum with a break to start the second set, and improved play followed. Last week's Brisbane champion won 13/15 net points during the next two sets and broke twice in the fourth set to advance in two hours and 34 minutes.

In the third round, Dimitrov will meet 18th seed Richard Gasquet, who had little trouble beating Argentine Carlos Berlocq 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. The Frenchman has won five of his six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Dimitrov, but Dimitrov won their last meeting, 6-4, 6-4 on the Shanghai Rolex Masters hard courts last October.

Watch Now: Pushing The Limits With Dimitrov, Part Two

Smith belts century to lead Australia to ODI victory

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 8:54pm

Australia takes a 2-1 lead in its five-game one-day international series against Pakistan with a seven-wicket win at the WACA.

WA para-athlete 'pumped' to run lightning fast at Bolt event

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 8:02pm

Ella Azura Pardy is one name you need to know before Usain Bolt's Nitro Athletics event in Melbourne next month.

Defending champ Djokovic out of Australian Open in stunning upset

ABC Tennis news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 6:21pm

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is dumped out of the Australian Open in the second round by world number 117 Denis Istomin.

Defending champ Djokovic out of Australian Open in stunning upset

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 6:21pm

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is dumped out of the Australian Open in the second round by world number 117 Denis Istomin.

Gavrilova fights past Konjuh, into Aus Open third round

ABC Tennis news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 5:31pm

Local favourite Daria Gavrilova is into the third round of the Australian Open after a tough three-set win over Ana Konjuh.

Gavrilova fights past Konjuh, into Aus Open third round

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 5:31pm

Local favourite Daria Gavrilova is into the third round of the Australian Open after a tough three-set win over Ana Konjuh.

Aussie Whittington thumped by Croatian giant Karlovic

ABC Tennis news - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 5:31pm

Ivo Karlovic easily accounts for Aussie wildcard Andrew Whittington, winning their second-round Australian Open clash in straight sets.

Aussie Whittington thumped by Croatian giant Karlovic

ABC Sport - Thu, 19/01/2017 - 5:31pm

Ivo Karlovic easily accounts for Aussie wildcard Andrew Whittington, winning their second-round Australian Open clash in straight sets.