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Updated: 10 min 58 sec ago

Australian Open 2016 Players To Watch

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 3:04pm
Leading tennis commentator Robbie Koenig breaks down the candidates most likely to go deep at the 2016 Australian Open.

Why We Love Lleyton Australian Open 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 1:06pm
Australian Open fans reveal what they love most about retiring Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt, and even give their impression of his famous 'C'mon' salute.

Nadal Left Shaking His Head After Australian Open Exit

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:55pm

Rafael Nadal was left shaking his head on Tuesday at the Australian Open after he suffered just his second first-round exit at a Grand Slam championship.

The 2009 champion and fifth seed seed insisted he felt competitive during his five-set loss to fellow Spaniard and left-hander Fernando Verdasco, but could not explain how he had failed to convert practice court form into a match situation.

"The match is a tough one to lose for me obviously," said Nadal. "It's not like last year, when I arrived here playing bad and not feeling ready for it. This year was a completely different story. I have been playing and practising great and working so much. It is tough when you work so much and arrived at a very important event and you're going out too early.

"I know I did everything that I could to be ready for it. It was not my day. There is no more things to do other than keep practising hard and keep practising the same way that I have been doing for the past four, five months."

Nadal led 2-0 in the fifth set, but Verdasco reeled off six games for a 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in four hours and 41 minutes.

"In terms of being competitive, I was competitive," said Nadal, who is now 14-3 lifetime against Verdasco. "In terms of creating damage to the opponent with my forehand, I didn't. So I was hitting forehands, and he was able to keep hitting winners. [It] cannot happen when I am hitting my forehand... That was the biggest issue for me today.

"I was not enough aggressive with my forehand during the whole match. I didn't feel it. I tried. I fought. I was ready to do it, [but] I didn't... [But] I don't know [one] hundred per cent the reason, to be honest."

The only other time that Nadal had lost in the first round of a Grand Slam champion was at Wimbledon 2013, when he lost to Belgium's Steve Darcis.

"I play majors the same way I play other tournaments all the year," said Nadal. "All my life, I have played every tournament by putting all that I have there... I try my best in every single match of the year. That's it. Sometimes you have success; sometimes you do not. Today it is obvious that I didn't.

"He played so aggressive, and the serve was huge for him today. I just [want to] congratulate him because he deserved [it], and I wish him all the best for the rest of the tournament."

Seven years ago, Verdasco arrived in Melbourne having spent the off-season working with Andre Agassi's former trainer, Gil Reyes. In the best shape of his life, he swept into the Australian Open semi-finals, but was unable to get the better of Nadal in a five-set loss. At five hours and 14 minutes, it was the second-longest match (in terms of duration) in the championship's history.

Ram Advances At 2016 Australian Open

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:12pm
Watch highlights as Rajeev Ram reaches the second round of the Australian Open with victory over Kevin Anderson.

Monfils Beats Sugita In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:06pm
Watch highlights as Gael Monfils cruises through his first-round match at the 2016 Australian Open. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv

Hewitt Fights On In Melbourne

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:04pm

He’s not done yet! Lleyton Hewitt lives to fight another day in his professional tennis career after beating fellow Australian James Duckworth 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 in the first round at the Australian Open on Tuesday night.

The 34-year-old Hewitt will end his playing career when the curtain comes down on his 20th successive Australian Open, but first the former World No. 1 will challenge David Ferrer in the second round on Thursday.

Read: The Game Changer

It was, as Hewitt phrased it, an “awkward” match-up with Duckworth, whom Hewitt has mentored in recent years and now has a vested interest in since assuming the role of Davis Cup captain at the start of the year.

But Hewitt rose to the occasion, breaking Duckworth five times, including the final game of the match to claim victory with a trademark lob after two hours and 23 minutes as the crowd in Rod Laver Arena rose to its feet.

"I felt pretty good," said Hewitt. "I was pretty pumped up before I went on. I think I was able to block out everything else once I was out there. I think I had my game face on. It might have been in the back of my mind a couple of times, but I was focused, ready and competitive to get out there and hopefully get past the line." 

Hewitt’s finest hour at Melbourne Park came 11 years ago, when he beat Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick to reach the final, before finishing runner-up to Marat Safin. The Adelaide native goes into the clash with Ferrer with a 1-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the World No. 8. It will be their first contest since the 2012 US Open, where Ferrer won in four sets.

Earlier in the day, Ferrer was a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 winner over Peter Gojowczyk. The Spaniard, a two-time semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, hit half the number of unforced errors as his opponent (26 to 52) and broke serve five times to wrap up victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

Looking ahead to the clash with Ferrer, Hewitt said, "He's like a brick wall out there. He competes as well as anyone on tour. He moves great. Everyone thinks he just makes balls, but he's a pretty aggressive baseliner out there. He doesn't get back too far behind the court.

"I give myself a fighting chance. It's going to be tough, I know that. But I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough to go out there and give him a good run. I've prided myself my whole career on preparing as well as possible and doing all the one percenters to try and get the best result possible. I'll do that again. If it doesn't go my way the next match, then so be it. Everything in my control. I'm going out there to give it my best shot."

Hewitt was joined in the second round by 16th seed Bernard Tomic, who rallied from a set down to beat Denis Istomin 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in just under three hours. The 23-year-old Tomic reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2012 (l. to Federer) and 2015 (l. to Berdych).

"I played up and down," said Tomic. "He was playing very good, playing freely, playing very relaxed. He's beaten very good players in the past. I knew he would come out like that.

"I served very well. That was the most important thing. But I went through lapses where I played very well and played very bad. A few things I need to work on tomorrow to try to recover as much as I can."

Groth Beats Mannarino In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:03pm
Watch highlights as Sam Groth defeats Adrian Mannarino in the first round on Tuesday in Melbourne. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv

Muller Edges Fognini In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:02pm
Watch highlights as Gilles Muller edges Fabio Fognini in four tie-breaks in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv

Isner Beats Janowicz In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:02pm
Watch highlights as John Isner faces Jerzy Janowicz in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv

Baker Reflects On Return To Tennis

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 11:57am
Brian Baker reflects on his first-round exit to Simone Bolelli at the Australian Open, which marks his return to professional tennis for the first time in three years.

Verdasco Stuns Nadal In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 11:09am
Watch highlights as Fernando Verdasco stuns Rafael Nadal in five sets in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv

Sock Holds Off Fritz In Opener

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:58am

In a first-round contest between the next generation of American talent, Jack Sock held off his 18-year-old countryman, Taylor Fritz, to reach the Australian Open second round with a battling 6-4, 3-6, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on Tuesday night.

On his Grand Slam debut, World No. 155 Fritz, who qualified into the main draw, tested Sock, who had been forced to retire from the Auckland final on Saturday due to flu. The 23-year-old Sock rallied down two-sets-to-one though, and hit back to claim victory in two hours and 27 minutes, withstanding 55 winners from Fritz.

Sock goes forward to face Lukas Rosol as he bids to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time. Rosol edged Taro Daniel 7-6(2), 7-5, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-1.

Former champion Stan Wawrinka was granted a place in the second round when Dmitry Tursunov retired from their clash; the Swiss was leading 7-6(2), 6-3. The 33-year-old Tursunov was playing his first tour-level singles match since the 2014 US Open, having been sidelined with a left foot injury.

The 30-year-old Wawrinka, who won his first major title at Melbourne Park in 2014 (d. Nadal), came into the Australian Open after winning his 12th title in Chennai (d. Coric) in the first week of the season. The Swiss is just three victories shy of the 400-wins milestone and goes on to face Radek Stepanek.

No. 23 seed Gael Monfils set an all-French second-round clash with Nicolas Mahut as he defeated Yuichi Sugita 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. Monfils was playing his first match of the season and advanced in 83 minutes, hitting 36 winners to just 14 from Sugita. Mahut rallied from a set down to beat Marco Cecchinato 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Monfils won the pair’s one previous meeting, four years ago in Metz.

Playing his first tour-level match in almost two and a half years, Brian Baker was beaten in the first round by Simone Bolelli, 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 7-6(5). The American saved three match points serving at 5-6 in the third set, but ultimately fell to Bolelli in three hours and 39 minutes. The 30-year-old Baker had not played on Tour since the 2013 US Open (l. to Hewitt 1st Rd), having undergone knee surgery.

Last week’s Apia International Sydney champion, Viktor Troicki, saved two match points as he battled back from two sets down to beat Daniel Munoz de la Nava 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3. The Serb was on the brink of defeat serving at 4-5 in the fourth set, but held on to claim victory in three hours and 29 minutes.

 

Behind The Scenes At Sydney 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:31am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the Apia International Sydney, featuring interviews with Tournament Director Alistair Macdonald and Bernard Tomic.

Emirates ATP Rankings 18 January 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:30am
Check out the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 18 January 2016.

Looking Ahead To Australian Open 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:23am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot looks ahead to the Australian Open, featuring interviews with Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Gilles Simon.

Looking Ahead To Australian Open 2016AN OPEN PREVIEW.mov

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:23am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot looks ahead to the Australian Open, featuring interviews with Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Gilles Simon.

Baker Reflects On Return To Tennis

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 8:58am

Brian Baker returned to professional tennis at the Australian Open on Tuesday, when he made a first-round exit to Simone Bolelli in the first round.

Playing his first tour-level match in almost two and a half years, the American was beaten by Bolelli, 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 7-6(5). Baker saved three match points serving at 5-6 in the third set, but ultimately fell to Bolelli in three hours and 39 minutes.

The 30-year-old Baker had not played on tour since the 2013 US Open (l. to Hewitt in 1R), having undergone right knee surgery.

Read Baker Interview

Sweet Revenge! Verdasco Stuns Nadal In Five

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 7:55am

He’s waited seven years, but revenge tasted sweet for Fernando Verdasco on Tuesday night in Melbourne as he stunned Rafael Nadal 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in four hours and 41 minutes in the first round of the Australian Open.

On the very same court, Rod Laver Arena, in 2009, Verdasco had been on the losing end of a five-hour, 14-minute marathon against Nadal in the semi-finals that lingered into the Melbourne night — the longest match in Australian Open history at that time.

It looked as though Nadal would once again edge his countryman in the decider as he assumed a 2-0 lead in the fifth. But Verdasco reeled off the last six games to claim a memorable victory.

“I was just closing my eyes and everything went in!” Verdasco told Jim Courier an on-court interview for the host broadcaster. “In the fourth set I started serving better than the second and third. He started playing less deep and strong. I started coming inside the court, being aggressive and it went well.

“Winning against Rafa in five sets here, coming from two sets to one down, is an unbelievable feeling.”

When Verdasco took the more-than-hour-long first set in a tight tie-break, fans figured they might be in for another match for the ages. Nadal, the No. 5 seed, stormed back with service breaks in the third and ninth games of the second set, and added another to open the third in moving ahead two sets to one.

Verdasco would break Nadal to kick off the fourth set and even had a chance to serve out the set 5-4. But Nadal would battle back to force a tie-break. However, Verdasco found the range on his forehand again and bullied Nadal into submission as he took the match into a decider.

"Of course, I have thought many days, many times about that semi-final," said Verdasco. "It was my longest match ever. It was my first time in a Grand Slam semi-final. I didn't really think I would have another five-set match against Rafa here in Australia.

"Of course at the beginning of the fifth I was for a second thinking about that semi-final. I was like, 'Please, I don't want to lose with a double-fault at 5-4, 30-40.' He started by breaking my serve. After that, I started playing really good, hitting very hard serves, forehands, and not making many mistakes. I'm very happy with the way that I finished the match.

"It's a big difference. That was the semi-finals; now it's the first round. It's just the beginning of the tournament. Hopefully I will keep it up playing like today and hopefully do a good tournament." 

It is the first time in 11 visits that Nadal has suffered a first-round exit at Melbourne Park. The 29 year old has a 45-10 tournament record, lifting the trophy in 2009 (d. Federer) and finishing runner-up in 2012 (l. to Djokovic) and 2014 (l. to Wawrinka). It also marked only Nadal's second defeat in the first round of a Grand Slam, with the other loss coming against Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013.

"He had a lot of success hitting every ball at full power in the fifth," said Nadal. "I have to congratulate him.

"But I am not happy about the way that I played the first set. In the fourth I was not very bad, but he played better than me, too. I had my chances in the fourth, too. He played better than me. He played more aggressive than me. He took more risks than me, and he won. Probably he deserved it."

Verdasco goes on to face Dudi Sela in the second round.

 

Rajeev Ram Upsets Anderson Australian Open 2016

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 7:47am
Rajeev Ram talks about one of the biggest wins of his career, over Kevin Anderson at the Australian Open.

Murray Beats Zverev In Australian Open 2016 First Round

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 7:28am
Watch highlights as Andy Murray beats Alexander Zverev in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Watch more videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/australianopentv