Kyrgios On Nadal Showdown: ‘I’m Super Excited’

Provided Courtesy of Tennis - ATP World Tour, Read More.

When Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios play, the tennis is almost always sensational. Throw in the Melbourne crowd and the opportunity to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, and their clash on Monday in the fourth round of the Australian Open promises to be a blockbuster showdown.

“I'm super excited, honestly. Playing one of the greatest tennis players on centre court at your own Slam, it's pretty damn cool,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously it's going to be another physical battle. Nothing comes easy with him. He had a relatively routine match [on Saturday], so he's going to be feeling good. I'm looking forward to it. That's why you play.”

Kyrgios played the longest match of his career late Saturday evening, finding a way to battle past big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov in a fifth-set Match Tie-break after four hours and 26 minutes. Immediately, as Kyrgios fell to the court in celebration, the fans knew that their home favourite was not only moving on, but that he will get a crack at top-seeded Nadal, who is chasing his second title at Melbourne Park.

“I feel good,” Kyrgios said. “I feel like my game is ready to go.”

Nick Kyrgios owns a 3-0 tie-break record at this year's Australian Open.

Nadal has won four of the pair’s seven ATP Head2Head encounters, most recently defeating the Aussie in the second round at Wimbledon last year. The Spaniard showed his toughness to win tie-breaks in the third and fourth sets at SW19, triumphing after just over three hours.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion, who is chasing Roger Federer’s record of 20 major trophies this fortnight, knows that Kyrgios at his best could challenge anyone on the ATP Tour, as he has throughout their rivalry.

“He's a very top, talented player. But there is a lot of important things that you need to do to become a champion,” Nadal said after his Wimbledon win. “He has a lot of good ingredients.

“With his talent and with his serve, he can win a Grand Slam, of course. He has the talent to do it.”

[ATP HERITAGE]

But Rafa is Rafa after all. Upsetting the Spaniard will be a tremendous task for Kyrgios. The legendary lefty is trying to reach at least the quarter-finals at the season’s first Grand Slam for the 12th time in his 13 most recent appearances, while the Aussie is trying to make the last eight at a major for the first time since the 2015 Australian Open.

Nadal is also in devastating form. The 33-year-old led Team Spain to the final of the inaugural ATP Cup to start the year, and he has not yet dropped a set in Melbourne. The 84-time tour-level champion has allowed only one set to go past 6-4, and he defeated former World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 27 seed, in only one hour and 38 minutes in the third round.

Rafael Nadal powers into the fourth round of the Australian Open.

“It was my best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt. Big difference between today and the previous days,” Nadal said after defeating Carreno Busta. “I have been serving well, starting to create damage with the forehand. Hitting serve and one shot.”

Even though Kyrgios has beaten Nadal on three occasions, his challenge will be to find a way to knock off the Spaniard in full flight. Kyrgios, who defeated Nadal in Acapulco last year, will be able to look back at that match and even his Wimbledon loss positively as he steps into Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

“Every time you put up a battle like that against Rafa, you're going to take confidence from it. Two tough tie-breaks. There's nothing in that match really. He changed up his game plan a little bit,” Kyrgios said. “I'll probably expect him to serve a little bit more to my forehand when I play him in a couple days. That's what he did at Wimbledon. He had some pretty good success there. I thought he played really well at Wimbledon. I came out a little slow. But the grass just seemed so slow. I couldn't really break him down.”

[MY POINT]

How has Kyrgios found success against Nadal? The Aussie has a short backswing on his backhand, allowing him to blunt the heavy topspin of Nadal’s cross-court forehand. Kyrgios’ booming serve also allows him to start off points on the front foot. But that’s not all, according to the 24-year-old.

“Ever since juniors I enjoyed playing lefties. I feel like I kind of know what game plan I need to bring to be successful against them. [But] Rafa is a different beast altogether,” Kyrgios said. “I kind of know his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns, can't do anything about it. Federer knows his patterns. Everyone knows his patterns. He executes them at the highest level.”

As Kyrgios said, he plays for challenges like facing Nadal on a stage like Rod Laver Arena. The question is, even if he brings his best, will he have enough to beat Nadal?

Monday Preview: Medvedev, Thiem & Zverev Aim For Melbourne Breakthroughs

Provided Courtesy of Tennis - ATP World Tour, Read More.

Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev have 34 ATP Tour titles and more than $53 million in prize money between them. What they don’t have is an Australian Open quarter-final. The trio of talented young stars all seek to record their best result in Melbourne when fourth-round action continues on Monday.

Fourth seed Medvedev looks to continue his pattern of success against No. 15 seed Stan Wawrinka. The Russian leads 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head rivalry and earned both wins in Grand Slams (2017 Wimbledon & 2019 US Open). Both matches were competitive four-setters, but saw Medvedev wear down the Swiss in the latter stages each time.

The 24-year-old has picked up where he left off last year, posting a 7-1 record this season and striking winners with ease. Medvedev has comfortably handled the pressure of being viewed as a title contender in Melbourne, blocking out expectations and focussing on each match in front of him.

“Stan is a big hitter, great serves. I'm going to work a little bit on my return, maybe will work just to be aggressive myself, to not let him [hit shots he wants] all the time because that's when he's the most dangerous,” Medvedev said. “I will just have to give my best on the court. That's how I have my opportunities to win.”

[ATP APP]

After two lengthy battles to start his campaign, Wawrinka received a reprieve on Saturday when No. 19 seed John Isner retired in the second set of their third-round match due to injury. The 2014 champion (d. Nadal) is a player who needs matches to feel comfortable and often raises his level in the latter stages of big events. If his heavy backhand is firing, it could pose problems for Medvedev’s flat groundstrokes.

“It's great to be back in the second week, that's for sure,” Wawrinka said. “Feeling way better. [Ready] to have a good practice tomorrow and to be ready for the next one.”

Fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem carries a flawless 5-0 record in his ATPHead2Head series with No. 10 seed Gael Monfils of France. The Austrian’s intense pre-season training helped carry him through second and third-round matches that saw him spend more than six hours combined on court. Thiem is pleased with how his level has improved with each match and believes he can elevate his game even further.

“It's always fun to play against him. Such a great athlete. Such a great sportsman. We had fun and great encounters in the past. I expect similar [on Monday],” Thiem said. “[It’s] going to be a nice atmosphere, as well. He's such a good shot-maker, always amazing rallies against him. He got back into the Top 10 [of the Fedex ATP Rankings] last year, playing great as well in the beginning of this year.

“I'm expecting a tough encounter. [The] second week of a Grand Slam is special. Every opponent is playing outstanding tennis. It's going to be a really good and tough match.”

[LISTEN AO]

Although Monfils has only reached the quarter-finals once in 13 previous trips to Melbourne, his flashy shotmaking was in full flight during the first week. He also appears to be playing with an even greater sense of urgency. Monfils believes he can win a Grand Slam title, but knows his opportunities are limited at age 33. Reaching the finish line in Melbourne will require him to beat opponents that he has historically struggled against, but he’s eager for the challenge.

“Dominic beats me most of the time we play. Always tricky and [he] improved a lot on hard courts. I think he's playing great at the moment,” Monfils said. “I just have to be myself, try to figure out with my coach a good way to beat him.

“I feel fine physically, so that will help. I think it’s a challenge that I will face.”

Alexander Zverev, the No. 7 seed, aims to continue his dominance against No. 17 seed Andrey Rublev. The German holds a 3-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head rivalry and won all six sets that they’ve played. Zverev has yet to drop a set in Melbourne and looks poised to produce the Grand Slam breakthrough that his fans have been eager for.

“[Rublev] is one of the most hard-hitting players on tour. Out of every position, he can hit a winner,” Zverev said. “He improved a lot. I think he improved his serve a lot. He improved his movement a lot. He's somebody that is very young still, but is always working and always improving.”

Rublev has already achieved his best result in Melbourne and extended his unbeaten streak this season to 11 matches. The Russian captured titles in Doha (d. Moutet) and Adelaide (d. Harris) this month, and is growing in confidence with each match. Although he’s shown no signs of fatigue so far, fitness could potentially play a factor as he gets ready for his 12th match in three weeks.

“Sascha won so many tournaments,” Rublev said “He was No. 3 in the [rankings], won so many ATP [Tour] titles. He won the Nitto ATP Finals. It's going to be tough, but interesting.”

Read More: Rublev Upsets Goffin, Extends Winning Streak

The final match on Monday’s schedule will see top-seeded Rafael Nadal square off with No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios. Nadal leads their ATP Head2Head rivalry 4-3, but Kyrgios has won two of their past three matches on hard courts. The 2009 champion (d. Federer) enjoyed the most comfortable run to the second week of anyone left in the draw, dropping an average of seven games per match.

Kyrgios scored an epic fifth-set match tie-break win over No. 16 seed Karen Khachanov to earn the right to face Nadal. Although he admitted in his on-court interview that his legs “feel like they’re 40 kilos,” the fiery 24-year-old always gets up for prime-time matches against the world’s best players. He’ll have the Rod Laver Arena crowd on his side as he looks to create more second-week magic Down Under.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Leganes: Toothless hosts fail to bounce back from Copa embarrassment

Provided Courtesy of SoccerNews.com - The Latest Soccer & Transfer News , Read More.

Atletico Madrid failed to bounce back from their Copa del Rey humiliation to Cultural Leonesa as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by a Leganes side that began the day bottom of LaLiga. The embarrassing Copa defeat to third-tier Cultural put Diego Simeone’s future in question, with some suggesting Atletico have become […]

The post Atletico Madrid 0-0 Leganes: Toothless hosts fail to bounce back from Copa embarrassment appeared first on Soccer News.

The post Atletico Madrid 0-0 Leganes: Toothless hosts fail to bounce back from Copa embarrassment appeared first on Soccer News.

Inter CEO Marotta ´optimistic´ of finalising Eriksen deal in next few days

Provided Courtesy of SoccerNews.com - The Latest Soccer & Transfer News , Read More.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta is “confident” the Italian club will finalise a deal for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen before the January window closes. The Serie A side confirmed earlier this week an offer has been lodged for the Denmark international, who is into the final six months of his contract. Eriksen travelled with Spurs […]

The post Inter CEO Marotta ´optimistic´ of finalising Eriksen deal in next few days appeared first on Soccer News.

The post Inter CEO Marotta ´optimistic´ of finalising Eriksen deal in next few days appeared first on Soccer News.

Slow Start, Fast Finish For Federer

Provided Courtesy of Tennis - ATP World Tour, Read More.

Roger Federer became the first man to reach 15 Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday, sprinting from a set down to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.

Two days after surviving a final-set tie-break against John Millman, the six-time champion broke serve on seven occasions to move clear of 14-time quarter-finalist John Newcombe. Federer has now reached the last eight at 57 Grand Slam events.

“It was a tough start, I thought Marton played clean,” said Federer. “I guess it was the rest of the Millman match, that guy gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe it took my confidence away a little bit and I think it just took some time."

It is the second time in three years that Federer has beaten Fucsovics in the fourth round in Melbourne, having also ended the Hungarian’s run in 2018. With his two-hour, 11-minute victory, Federer improves to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against the 27-year-old.

“The morning after John’s match and this morning, I lay in bed for like an hour and I was like, ‘When are we going to stand up?’… I’m good. I was able to recover and play a good match, so I am sure I am going to feel better with every day that goes by after that match.”

With a semi-final spot on the line, Federer will face two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren for the first time. Sandgren battled past 12th seed Fabio Fognini 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-4 in three hours and 27 minutes.

“He was not going to be a baseball player, that’s for sure, with that name. It’s unreal actually,” joked Federer in his on-court interview with John McEnroe. “I am looking forward to playing against him. I have never played against Tennys. I have played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys.”

[ATP APP]

Fucsovics made the quicker start under the lights, claiming the opening break of the match at 3-3. Three errors from Federer handed the Hungarian triple break point, with Fucsovics ripping a forehand up the line to convert his third opportunity. The 6’2” right-hander took the opening set with a comfortable service hold, as Federer missed the court with an attempted cross court forehand return.

An emphatic reaction followed from Federer, who held serve to love before striking winners up the line off both wings to break for a 2-0 lead. Federer soon clinched a second service break, as the forehand winners continued to flow, and levelled the match with a swinging serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.

Federer took the momentum into a crucial third set, landing a huge backhand down the line to win the opening point. The Swiss mixed the pace well and showed great touch en route to a 4-0 lead, as Fucsovics struggled to find a way past his opponent. Despite dropping serve in the sixth game, the six-time champion moved one set away from the quarter-finals with a short backhand volley.

For the third straight set, Federer earned an immediate service break. The World No. 3 attacked his opponent’s forehand, extracting multiple errors as he closed in on the last eight. Federer booked his meeting against Sandgren with a powerful serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.

[LISTEN AO]

“I was looking to mix it up a little bit more. It gets really slow in the night time, especially when it is cool like this, so I just had to figure it out and I finally found a way," said Federer. "I had a good start to the second set and from then on, things got a little bit easier.”

Fucsovics was aiming to become the first Hungarian player to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. The World No. 67 upset 13th seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round, before straight-sets wins against Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner and Tommy Paul.

Bet $1, Win $100 if Zion Williamson Scores a Point vs. the Celtics

Provided Courtesy of Action Network, Read More.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has scored 37 points in his first two games, but he only needs to score 1 point on Sunday vs. the Celtics for you to win $100 at BetMGM.

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Cavani rejects Manchester United

Provided Courtesy of SoccerNews.com - The Latest Soccer & Transfer News , Read More.

Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain has reportedly rejected a lucrative offer to join Manchester United. United’s need for a new forward has become desperate with Marcus Rashford out for a few months. There is no more Romelu Lukaku to fall back on, or even Alexis Sanchez. The only option at manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s disposal […]

The post Cavani rejects Manchester United appeared first on Soccer News.

The post Cavani rejects Manchester United appeared first on Soccer News.

Novak’s Work For Serbian Tennis Far From Done

Provided Courtesy of Tennis - ATP World Tour, Read More.

With 77 tour-level trophies and five year-end World No. 1 finishes in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Novak Djokovic’s career has been defined by consistent success.

The 32-year-old will be hoping to add another important trophy to his collection at this year’s Australian Open, where he is chasing a record-extending eighth trophy. Such a win would not only narrow the gap on great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam titles race, but it would also add to the growing interest in tennis back home in Serbia.

“It obviously helps when you have a success on a global level,” said Djokovic. “Of course, it has a very positive impact in your country. Serbia didn't really have a successful or long tennis tradition before Bobo Zivojinovic and Monica Seles. That was probably the first generation of successful tennis players coming from our country.

[ATP APP]

“Then really all of a sudden, I don't believe in coincidences in life, but it looked very much like a coincidence because there was no system or structure that supported our breakthrough to professional tennis, but in one moment we had three No. 1's of the world [with] Ana Ivanovic [and] Jelena Jankovic on the women's side. Four actually, doubles, Nenad Zimonjic, as well. Janko Tipsarevic [was in the] Top 10.

“It was an amazing decade for our tennis. That obviously helped the popularity of the sport in our country. There was a lot of interest, a lot of young people choosing to grab a tennis racquet.”

With huge success across several disciplines in the sport over the past decade, children in Serbia have enjoyed a range of successful role models to idolise. But the lack of structure and high costs has made it difficult for families to view tennis as a sustainable option in a country where team sports have proven particularly popular.

“The problem that we have is still the infrastructure, but it's also the system that hasn't really followed the success as well as it should have,” said Djokovic. “I do consider myself also responsible to try to do something when I'm not playing.

“Through the tennis club that we are running in Belgrade, through my free time, I try to help the federation… to establish some system that will be a long-standing, long-term system that will allow kids and parents to have an easier access to tennis, cheaper access to tennis, racquets, tennis courts, things like this.

“For an average family in Serbia, it's really expensive to play tennis. That's the reality. They will most likely choose — if it comes down to economics — basketball, football, handball or volleyball. Those are really successful sports in our country… We still have a lot of work to do to get actually, on the grassroot level, more players.”

[LISTEN AO]

Serbian tennis fans continue to be inspired by Djokovic, who led his nation to the inaugural ATP Cup title earlier this month. But there are two children who don’t have to switch on the TV or attend an event to be inspired by the 16-time Grand Slam champion. Could Djokovic’s children, Stefan and Tara, lead the future of Serbian tennis?

“So far, it’s been great in terms of the tennis relationship with me and my son. He’s willing to play with me,” said Djokovic. “He’s exposed to tennis a lot when he travels with me and on the TV. He knows what’s going on. He knows Roger and Rafa, a couple of the other guys.

“His favourite shot so far is the forehand. I’m trying to get him to hit a few backhands, but he’s been telling me that he’s born with the backhand…

“I’m a father first. I can’t really put myself in the role of the coach. I really want him and my daughter to express the honest desire to take the racquet and a ball and just hit… I would be more than happy to support them in a tennis career, but it’s still too early to talk about it. That’s what my wife says.”

Barty overcomes Riske, into Aussie quarters

Provided Courtesy of www.espn.com - TENNIS, Read More.

Ash Barty has progressed to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open after downing American 18th seed Alison Riske in three sets.

Repeat Business: Sandgren Books Another QF In Melbourne

Provided Courtesy of Tennis - ATP World Tour, Read More.

Two years ago, Tennys Sandgren shocked fans with an improbable run to the Australian Open quarter-finals. On Sunday, the World No. 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings completed another inspired effort to reach the last eight in Melbourne by upsetting No. 12 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-4.

”Playing him is just a war,” Sandgren said in his on-court interview. “He’s so good and you can never count him out at any stage. I was expecting a fight and we had a fight.”

The American continues to thrive at the start of the year. In addition to his pair of quarter-final runs at this event, Sandgren also captured his maiden ATP Tour title 12 months ago in Auckland (d. Norrie). Fourteen of his 36 tour-level wins have come in the month of January.

Next up for the baseline battler is third-seeded Swiss Roger Federer or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Sandgren has never faced either player.

"It'll be an incredible match," Sandgren said. "Marton is playing phenomenal and Roger is Roger."

Sandgren and Fognini traded comfortable service holds in the opening set to force a tie-break. It was Fognini who blinked first at 5/5, handing the American a pair of forehand errors and an early lead.

The second set proved to be high on drama, lengthy rallies, and wild shifts in momentum. Sandgren raced through 14 of the first 16 points and appeared all but certain to take a two-sets lead. But Fognini stunned the crowd by using his full arsenal to claw back from 0-4. He showcased incredible defence at 4-1 to win a 26-shot rally and earn one break back, then leveled the score two games later by ripping a forehand winner.

[ATP APP]

Just when it seemed that Fognini would complete an improbable comeback, Sandgren stepped up at 5-5 and broke the Italian once more with a gorgeous backhand passing shot on the run. A comfortable hold in the next game put the unseeded 28-year-old firmly in command.

The third set saw both players trade a pair of early service breaks before refusing to budge further, setting up another tie-break. Fognini earned a mini-break advantage at 1/1 by pushing Sandgren out wide and drawing a forehand error. The No. 12 seed continued to repeat the tactic and was rewarded handsomely as Sandgren struggled with the play. A final forehand into the net from the American at 6/2 allowed Fognini to close the gap.

[LISTEN AO]

The Italian was eager to produce his third fifth-set clash of the week, but Sandgren delivered his finest moments of the match in the final two minutes. With Fognini serving at 4-5, 40/15, a pair of forehand winners from the American brought the score to deuce and a forehand volley winner gave him match point. A sensational drop volley winner brought the crowd to its feet as Sandgren took a bow after three hours and 27 minutes.

Sandgren moved to 2-2 in his ATP Head2Head with Fognini and has won their past two matches.

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