Kyrgios became the second Australian to lift the trophy in the tournament’s 10-year history after Lleyton Hewitt in 2014 Nick Kyrgios beat Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 in the Brisbane International final on Sunday to clinch his maiden tour title on home soil and gain a big confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open. Carrying a niggling knee injury, the mercurial Australian made a slow start and was forced to save five break points before he managed to carve out own his first break in the seventh game. The 22-year-old claimed the first set before taking control of the match after his American opponent dropped serve at the start of the second set with a double fault. Kyrgios broke the big-serving Harrison again in a sublime second set display to close out the match and seal his fourth career title. He thrilled the crowd with his delightful touch at the net, while his ability to crank up the pressure with his groundstrokes threw Harrison off his game. “I’ve got fond memories of Brisbane, played Davis Cup here and had a massive win over the US,” Kyrgios said. “Coming here all week I felt right at home… I love playing in front of you guys even though sometimes you may not see it that way, but I do.” Kyrgios became the second Australian to lift the trophy in the tournament’s 10-year history after Lleyton Hewitt in 2014. The triumph lifts him four spots to 17th in the world rankings ahead of this [Read More…]
MELBOURNE: Former world number one Andy Murray and Japan’s Kei Nishikori pulled out of the Australian Open Thursday as a host of top names battle to be fit for the year’s first Grand Slam. Murray, 30, had failed to recover from a hip injury sustained last year and has not played since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last July, while Nishikori has been on the sidelines since August due to a torn tendon in his right wrist. “Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,” the three-time Grand Slam champion Murray said in a statement.“I’ll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon.” Murray, who earlier withdrew from the Brisbane International, did fly from Queensland to Melbourne, but only to catch a connecting flight back to Europe, the national broadcaster ABC reported. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he respected what was a “very hard decision for Andy.”The loss of the Scot, who may now opt for surgery on his hip, came with injury clouds hanging over a who’s who of stars before the Open begins on January 15. World number one Rafael Nadal and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic remain huge doubts having yet to play a competitive match this year.Nadal, the reigning French Open and US Open champion, pulled out of Brisbane at the weekend with a knee injury but [Read More…]
Andy Murray has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International and did not say whether he would be able to play the year’s first Grand Slam/AFP BRISBANE: Former world number one Andy Murray has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International in a major setback to his Australian Open preparations. He suffered a right hip injury in 2017 and has not played on the ATP tour since losing a tough five-setter to American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Murray said on Sunday he felt in great shape and that he was confident he would play in Brisbane. But the 30-year-old Scot issued a statement Tuesday announcing his withdrawal from the tournament, and did not say whether he would be able to play the year’s first Grand Slam. Murray said he would stay in Brisbane as he “works towards returning to the tennis circuit”. “I’m very disappointed to be withdrawing from the Brisbane International,” he added. “I came here with every intention of making a strong start to the year, but sadly my team and I don’t feel that I’m where I need to be just yet to compete at the highest level.” Murray joins top seed and world number one Rafael Nadal, who pulled out of the tournament late last week, on the sidelines.
ABU DHABI: A slow moving Serena Williams made an encouraging return to tennis after maternity leave, taking a set off the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition match Saturday, but said she has not made up her mind about defending the Australian Open title. In a match featuring a super tie-break and lasting one hour and seven minutes, Ostapenko won 6-2, 3-6, 10-5. The 36-year-old American, winner of 23 grand slam single titles, was making a comeback after taking nearly 11 months off to have her first child. Her last match was the Australian Open final, which she won despite being two-month pregnant. “It was good to be back out there. I missed playing, I missed competition, I missed the crowd, the atmosphere so much. It was really nice to be back,” said Williams after the match. “I don’t know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet. I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships,” she said, refusing to commit yet to the Australian Open, which starts in a little over two weeks. “I don’t know, but I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there. “I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with Patrick (Mouratoglou, her coach) and my team,” she said. It was the first time Ostapenko had played against Williams, whom she described as her “childhood idol”. The 20-year-old Latvian was born almost two [Read More…]
Lleyton Hewitt/File photo MELBOURNE: Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt is to come out of retirement temporarily and play doubles with compatriot Sam Groth at next month’s Australian Open, local media reported on Friday. Hewitt, a US Open and Wimbledon singles champion, officially retired from top-level tennis after his home grand slam in 2016, where he also played doubles with Groth. He did, however, play doubles during the Davis Cup and Wimbledon last year. “It’s going to be a bit of fun. That’s what the Australian Open is about,” Hewitt told News Corp Australia on Friday. ”I‘m going to really enjoy it. We’ve been hitting a lot of balls, hitting every day, and we’re not just going out there making up the numbers. “We want to give it a fair crack.” Sam Groth of Australia celebrates a point with Lleyton Hewitt/File photo Groth, who is retiring after the season-opening grand slam and is hoping for a wildcard for the singles draw, will also play mixed doubles with Sam Stosur. “Its something Lleyton and I have talked about and it’s perfect for me,” Groth said. “I was there when Rusty retired in 2016 and its great that he’ll be there with me when I bow out. He’s not just someone I know through tennis, he’s a great mate.”
SYDNEY: Jason Day ended a frustrating run of par golf by making three late birdies to snatch the outright lead after the third round of the 102nd Australian Open on Saturday.The former world number one’s patience finally paid off when he made back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes after parring his first 13 holes.He did drop a shot when he bogeyed his penultimate hole for the second day in a row but made amends with a birdie at the last for a two-under-par 69 and a three-round total of 10-under-203.Sweden’s Jonas Blixt charged up the leaderboard into a share of third place at seven-under after a flawless 66, and was joined by the 2015 Australian Open champion Matt Jones, who signed for a 68.Australia’s Cameron Smith, who teamed up with Blixt to win this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, was in fifth place at six-under after firing a third consecutive round of 69 while the defending champion Jordan Spieth shot a 70 to finish eight shots off the pace.
SYDNEY: Jason Day reeled off four birdies in a row to charge up the leaderboard at the Australian Open on Friday, after world number two Jordan Spieth birdied his final hole for the second day in a row.Playing in the afternoon when the wind was at its strongest, Day defied blustery conditions to shoot a second round three-under par 68 and reach the halfway point at eight-under.That left the Australian just one stroke behind outright leader Lucas Herbert, who made the most of his early tee-off time and carded a 66.Spieth, still rusty after taking an extended break since the Presidents Cup, battled his way to an even-par 71 to be one-under overall but was still hopeful of catching up with the frontrunners over the weekend.“On this golf course, more than just about any that we play, I feel like you can make up more ground and come from behind,” he said.Day, chasing his first victory of 2017 and his maiden win at his national open, briefly joined Herbert in a share of the lead when he drained a 20-foot putt on the 15th hole for his fourth successive birdie.The former world number one slipped a shot behind when he bogeyed the 17th but scrambled a par on the last after finding a fairway bunker with his drive.With a seven-stroke advantage over Spieth, Day is now a strong favourite to win the Stonehaven Cup but he said he fully expected the American to claw his way back into contention.Herbert followed [Read More…]
Long-time rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will achieve a career first in Prague this weekend when they play side-by-side in the Laver Cup, a Ryder Cup golf style event featuring Team Europe against Team World. Nadal and Federer, who are back at the top of the sport’s rankings after sweeping the four Grand Slam titles in 2017, are expected to be selected by Europe team skipper Bjorn Borg to play doubles as well as singles. It will be the two legends’ first appearance on the same side of the court in a rivalry which has spanned the best part of two decades. “I would love to play with Rafa and see that forehand do damage on the other side,” said Federer, this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon champion. “I’m sure that the crowd would go absolutely crazy and just because of that it would just be great to play.” Joining Federer and Nadal in the Europe team are fellow top 10 players Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem with former number four Tomas Berdych making up the squad. Team World, skippered by John McEnroe, features four Americans — Frances Tiafoe, Sam Querrey, John Isner and Jack Sock as well as Australian crowd puller Nick Kyrgios and Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov. Tiafoe, who gave Federer a scare at the US Open, was a late call-up for Juan Martin del Potro. The three-day tournament runs from Friday to Sunday and will feature three sets per match, the last of which is [Read More…]
NEW YORK: The World Team Cup, a men’s event offering high prize money and ranking points, could begin as soon as January 2019, sources have said following meetings between tennis stake holders in New York this week. According to two sources familiar with the discussions, there are plans to hold it over 10 days at the start of each year.The event would include a maximum 24 nations of up to five players per team, with as many as 1000 ATP Tour ranking points on offer to players who win all their matches. The competition could be held in multiple cities, most likely in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, forming an integral part of the build-up to the Australian Open, which begins in mid-January. The new event, which was discussed by stake holders including the four grand slam tournaments, the ATP and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), would represent a major shake-up in the tennis calendar. With most leading players traditionally choosing to use the week before a grand slam event to practise, rather than compete in a regular Tour event, it is most likely to be played in the first week of January, the sources said. That slot in the calendar is presently occupied by the Brisbane International and the Hopman Cup, a mixed team event sanctioned by the ITF, which is held in Perth.Britain’s Andy Murray, the world number two, has been one of the most vocal supporters of the proposed event, which was first mooted in May [Read More…]
This piece is being written amidst first round action, but a lot has already happened to have a decisive impact on the year’s final major even before the first point had been played at the US Open. World No 2 Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, who was unseated from the summit by Rafael Nadal only a couple of weeks ago, joined the likes of Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori in an elite group of players absent from Flushing Meadows. For Murray and Djokovic, the two men that dominated men’s tennis in 2016 and have been the two most successful over the past five years, 2017 was as pear-shaped as it could get. That it came off the back of a historic year for both – Murray finishing the year as World No 1 and Djokovic completing the career Grand Slam in Paris – has made it an even bigger shock. Even so, what has arguably made their absence all the more conspicuous is the return to the top of men’s tennis for Nadal and Roger Federer – who have shared three majors and four ATP Masters 1000 titles between them this year, and barring a major upset should be the top two of men’s tennis post-US Open, regardless of the final outcome. Federer and Nadal, the two most decorated men’s tennis players, have not only defined tennis’ most illustrious era but also created the sport’s most high-profile rivalry. It was under the shadows of these two [Read More…]