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Shelton: 'I'm Taking It All In'

Ben Shelton is making the most of his first international trip. The #NextGenATP American, who had never left the United States before the start of the season, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with a 7-6(3), 7-6(3), 7-5 victory against Nicolas Jarry.

“It feels great. Definitely been a cool experience to be outside the U.S. so far,” Shelton said. “So I'm excited for what's to come and grateful that I got the chance to come here.”

The 20-year-old clearly enjoyed the moment competing in the second round of a major for the first time. The lefty drew on the crowd and soaked it all in.

“I definitely got some similar crowds at the US Open last year, so I kind of got used to that. And then playing college tennis, the crowds are a lot rowdier. They try to get in your head a lot more, and the cheering isn't as polite,” Shelton said, cracking a laugh. “In terms of dealing with crowds, I feel like I've done a pretty good job with that. I think the hardest part was just dealing with the time change and getting my legs back and just how I felt. Obviously, it's my first trip out of the country, so I have never dealt with a time change more than three hours.

“So I think it was the hardest part for me. Going from Adelaide the first week I didn't feel great, and I started feeling really good in the second week in Auckland, and now I think I'm starting to hit my stride.”

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Aussie Popyrin Knocks Off Fritz In Five

Alexei Popyrin rode a scintillating serving performance and a swell of crowd support to clinch the latest upset at the 2023 Australian Open. On Thursday in John Cain Arena, the Australian wild card scored a 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-2 victory against eighth seed Taylor Fritz to continue the trend of eye-catching results in the early rounds Down Under.

"This is the dream for me, and I don't want to wake up at all," he said in an emotional on-court interview. Just before that, he addressed the crowd as they chanted his name: "You guys were just incredible. Oh my god, this is crazy. I really couldn't have done it without you guys. This win means so much to me."

JCA stands to salute @AlexeiPopyrin99! Scenes! Limbs!

The Aussie was brilliant to defeat Taylor Fritz 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2@wwos@espn@Eurosport@wowowtennis#AusOpen#AO2023 pic.twitter.com/PqifVZCaO7

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2023

Popyrin faced just two break points in the match — and none until the fourth set — as he edged Fritz in a match of razor-thin margins. After missing out on a match point in the fourth-set tie-break, the Aussie stared down a break point as he served to open the fifth. But he erased it with an ace, one of 19 in the match, before building a 4-1 lead.

He soared through the finish with his fourth break of the match, ripping an inside-out forehand return on his second match point to seal the deal after just over four hours of play. It was his second straight five-setter, with his opening win against Chin-Hsin Tseng clocking in at four hours, 26 minutes.

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Nadal Reveals Diagnosis Of Australian Open Injury

One day after aggravating an injury during his second-round loss at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal updated his fans by revealing the results of an MRI.

"Good afternoon. I have undergone medical tests after losing yesterday," Nadal wrote. "The MRI shows a grade 2 injury in the iliopsoas muscle in my left leg. Now it's time for sports rest and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time 6 to 8 weeks."

Buenas tardes. He realizado pruebas médicas tras la derrota en el día de ayer. La resonancia magnética muestra una lesión grado 2 en el Psoas Iliaco de su pierna izquierda. Ahora toca reposo deportivo y fisioterapia anti inflamatoria. Tiempo normal de recuperación 6 a 8 semanas. pic.twitter.com/xwcKSyTzhp

— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 19, 2023

[ATP APP]

The iliopsoas muscle is located in the hip. At 3-4 in the second set against McDonald, the Spaniard chased a forehand wide and aggravated an injury that he admitted he had felt for a couple of days.

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Djokovic, Tsitsipas & Alcaraz Remaining Contenders For World No. 1

Following Casper Ruud’s loss on Thursday at the Australian Open, the battle for World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is down to three men: Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and current World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who is not competing Down Under due to injury. With his defeat to Jenson Brooksby, Ruud cannot climb higher than World No. 2.

The scenarios for the rest of the tournament are simple. If Djokovic or Tsitsipas win the title, they will depart Melbourne as World No. 1. If neither man lifts the trophy, Alcaraz will retain top spot on 30 January.

[ATP APP]

Djokovic has plenty of experience triumphing Down Under. The Serbian is a nine-time Australian Open champion and owns an 83-8 record at the tournament. The 35-year-old has not lost at the season’s first major since the fourth round in 2018 against Hyeon Chung.

Djokovic has held World No. 1 for a record 373 weeks, with a record seven year-end No. 1 finishes. He most recently held top spot last June.

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Brooksby Upsets Ruud To Extend Dream Debut

For the second day running at the Australian Open, an unseeded American has bounced a top seed from the men's singles draw. After Mackenzie McDonald's shocker against Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, Jenson Brooksby defeated second seed Casper Ruud on Wednesday in Rod Laver Arena.

The Melbourne debutant was in control throughout his 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory, with Ruud having to save three match points and battle back from 2-5 in the third set just to extend the contest. Brooksby scored the biggest win of his career by frustrating the two-time major finalist, using a steady diet of crosscourt backhands to keep him pinned to his weaker corner for much of the three-hour, 55-minute match.

"First and foremost, Casper is a warrior," Ruud said post-match. "I knew it would be great battle out there. I was pretty confident with my level and just wanted to have fun competing out there.

"I was just really proud of my mental resolve there, after the third-set battle didn't go my way, to just turn it around."

[ATP APP]

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Rublev Powers Through Resistance Into Australian Open Third Round

Andrey Rublev responded brilliantly after dropping his first set of the 2023 Australian Open to defeat Emil Ruusuvuori on Thursday in the second round. The fifth seed powered through the finish line in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 win to match his result from one year ago in Melbourne.

A six-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, including at the year's first major in 2021, Rublev remains on course to reach that stage this fortnight. He next faces 25th seed Daniel Evans, with ninth seed Holger Rune a potential fourth-round opponent. His draw has been difficult from the start, with a win against Dominic Thiem to open his campaign.

"First round was super hot, now it's super windy," the 25-year-old said in an on-court interview. "It's tough in these conditions against players like Emil who hit the ball really hard, flat... I'm happy that I was able to show a great level, no matter the conditions."

[ATP APP]

Following a disappointing third-set tie-break, Rublev quickly made amends by racing to a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Aided by a loose service game from Ruusuvuori, he re-established his dominance on Kia Arena, finishing the match with 50 winners and 16 aces.

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Holt Making Major Magic Again In Melbourne

There is something about Brandon Holt and Grand Slams that produces magic.

At last year’s US Open, the American won a wild, rain-delay-filled qualifying match to reach the main draw on his first attempt. Holt then stunned countryman Taylor Fritz in the first round. The World No. 303 was one of the stories of the majors in 2022.

Holt’s second Slam has proven just as fruitful. After trailing by a set and a break in the first round of qualifying at the Australian Open against ATP Tour titlist Radu Albot, it appeared he would be on the way home.

This was a different predicament, though. The only one with him in Melbourne is his father, Scott Holt. At Flushing Meadows, he had several family members and friends in the crowd. There were plenty of emotional moments between Holt and his family, especially his mother, WTA legend Tracy Austin.

“Just my dad. Boys’ trip! I was trying to figure out [who was going to come with me] and my dad was like, ‘I’ll come down to Australia!’ I thought about it for a few days and then was like, ‘Yeah, come down to Australia,’” Holt told ATPTour.com. “His flight was cancelled, [so] he showed up right before qualies. He showed up and I was literally down a set and a break in the first qualies match and I was like, ‘This is going to be a quick trip for him, flying here and then back home.’

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Couacaud Excited For Djokovic Challenge: 'I Hope They Enjoy The Show'

It was a stressful Tuesday and Wednesday for the Australian Open field, with extreme heat and rain causing delays at Melbourne Park. The only player who did not seem to worry was Frenchman Enzo Couacaud.

While everyone else stressed over when to eat and warm up, when they might play, and thought through every minute detail of their game plans, the No. 191 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings relaxed.

“I had too much food, watched too many episodes of Friends, played cards and talked a lot of crap with my coach. We get along well,” Couacaud told ATPTour.com, cracking a laugh. “Over the past few days, my personality helped me big time. I’m a super chill guy off the court. Whatever comes, I’m happy with it.

“We had to wait, [so I] played cards and had a nap. I’m easygoing, I don’t over-stress things and I think that helped me a lot not to waste energy the last couple days.”

[ATP APP]

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Why Fritz & Co. Are Drawing Locks On TV Cameras

Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula have made fast starts at the Australian Open, with the quartet dropping just three sets between them in seven matches.

It follows their success at the United Cup earlier this month, when the ATP and WTA stars joined forces to guide Team United States to the title at the inaugural mixed-teams event.

Throughout the 11-day tournament, the Americans shared jokes about being locked-in on court as they built a strong team dynamic in Sydney. Now in Melbourne, the quartet continues to support each other, with Fritz and Pegula drawing locks on the camera following wins at the major.

“[You] just have to stay locked. It's the whole thing with the United Cup guys. Just staying locked in,” said Tiafoe, who explained the term 'locked' as being 'in the zone'. “I made a joke about it with the guys at the United Cup asking them before the match, ‘Are you locked?’ It's definitely become a thing. It's so funny how true it is because staying between the lines, it's amazing how well you play. It's a funny thing with everybody.”

For ur information i was trying to draw a ? emoji.... I just forgot the very important fact that I suck at drawing

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Ruud, Djokovic Resume Title Bids; Murray & Kokkinakis Clash At Australian Open

Second-round singles action concludes Thursday at the 2023 Australian Open, where Casper Ruud and Novak Djokovic seek to build on solid opening wins at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Five-time finalist Andy Murray also returns to court, as the Scot tries to build on his epic win against Matteo Berrettini in an enticing clash against home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz are among the other names in action on Thursday, when men’s doubles action also commences. Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, and 2020 champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are among teams eyeing a fast start at Melbourne Park.

ATPTour.com runs through some key battles scheduled for Day 4 at the Australian Open.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw

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With Ruud Looming, Brooksby Ready To 'Push To The Limit'

When Jenson Brooksby walks onto Rod Laver Arena to take on World No. 3 Casper Ruud on Thursday at the Australian Open, he’ll have to battle if he is to earn his second Top 5 win.

Thankfully, the American will be ready to do just that.

“I'm feeling pretty good right now,” Brooksby told ATPTour.com. “I’ve been working on getting tougher mentally. We put in more hours in the gym as well with the strength and also with the cardio too. I lost a little bit of that toughness last year from my training. So I think that's something that is going to be key.

“I am really starting to push harder in some areas and I feel like I'm in a good spot to, mentally and especially physically, go well and push myself to the limit.”

[ATP APP]

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Meet 'Kyriakis', Through To Australian Open Second Round

Thanasi Kokkinakis is known to bring a fun, energetic vibe into any room he enters. And after Wednesday’s victory over Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open, the Australian shared a laugh with reporters during a hilarious moment at his post-match press conference.

“Hi, Nick,” a reporter opened the press conference with, accidentally calling Kokkinakis by the name of his close mate, Nick Kyrgios.

A large smile came across Kokkinakis’ face as he cracked a laugh before pausing and poking back at the reporter, “You’re done, I’m going to can that!”

Oh dear ? @TKokkinakis@NickKyrgios#AusOpen#AO2023 pic.twitter.com/BaxTfvIJCO

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2023

The fun didn’t stop there.

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Norrie Holds Off Lestienne, Hurkacz Survives In Five In Melbourne

Cameron Norrie was given a late-night scare by Constant Lestienne at the Australian Open on Wednesday, but the 11th seed showed nerves of steel to rally to victory against the free-hitting Frenchman and secure a third-round spot.

After the pair split the first two sets on Court 13, Lestienne delivered some classy all-court tennis to forge a 4-1 lead in the third set. In typical fashion, however, Great Britain’s Norrie stuck doggedly with his opponent to engineer a turnaround, ultimately sealing a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 in a three-hour, 13-minute clash that finished well after 1 a.m. local time.

The 27-year-old Norrie, who reached the final in Auckland last week, struck 58 winners including 17 aces to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead against Lestienne to 2-0. Despite the defeat, Lestienne will take confidence from his Grand Slam debut this week in Melbourne, where he defeated Thiago Monteiro before posing plenty of problems to a four-time tour-level champion.

Now into the Australian Open third round for the second time, Norrie will next take on 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals finalist Jiri Lehecka. The 21-year-old Czech downed American wild card Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to seal his maiden appearance in the third round of a major.

[ATP APP]

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ATP & ITA Unite To Accelerate Professional Development For US Collegiate Players

The ATP and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) have today announced a groundbreaking collaboration to accelerate the professional development pathway for players in the American Collegiate system.

The collaboration will see ATP Challenger Tour playing opportunities allocated to the highest-ranked ITA College players for the first time. This forms part of a long-term strategy to promote the rise of young talent in the professional game and builds on opportunities offered to the world’s top-ranked ITF Junior players through the Accelerator Programme, which came into play at the start of the 2023 season.

Players ranked in the Top 20 of the ITA final singles rankings at the beginning of June, who have finished their education, will be granted up to eight Accelerator Spots at Challenger 50 and 75 tournaments, with opportunities split between main draw (Top 10) and qualifying (11-20). Players who reach the quarter-finals or better of the individual NCAA Division I Tennis Championships will also qualify for the Accelerator Programme if not already eligible via their ITA ranking. These opportunities will be available from 1 July each season, beginning in 2023, for a period of 12 months.

In addition, players who remain in education and qualify for the programme will receive six opportunities over six months (July–December), enabling them to benefit from the programme during their college off-season and parts of their individual fall season.

Providing further opportunity, eligible college players who achieve direct acceptance into Qualifying of ATP Challenger events via their Pepperstone ATP Ranking will be eligible for promotion into the main draw.

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Tsitsipas Soars Through In Melbourne

Stefanos Tsitsipas wasted little time in reaching the third round at the Australian Open on Wednesday when he moved past Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 to continue his title quest.

The Greek, who is a three-time semi-finalist in Melbourne, was in control throughout the one-hour, 32-minute clash against Hijikata. He constantly overpowered the World No. 169 with his fierce ballstriking, hitting 30 winners on Rod Laver Arena.

“It felt good out there,” Tsitsipas said. “The ball was coming out of the racquet really well. I really enjoyed myself, I was great for the entire match. I always enjoy playing on the Rod Laver Arena, I have some good memories here.”

[ATP APP]

The World No. 4 successfully drove his backhand through the court to force Hijikata into errors and was strong on serve at the key moments, saving all five break points he faced to improve to 6-0 on the season. Tsitsipas will next meet Botic van de Zandschulp or Tallon Griekspoor.

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'GOAT Wins Don’t Come Easy': McDonald’s Special Moment Against Nadal

Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday earned the biggest win of his career inside Rod Laver Arena, where he upset of 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Australian Open. When the American returned inside, it hit him.

“I was in the locker room, and I was, like, ‘Hey, that's actually really big for me’, because I haven't beaten someone of that calibre,” McDonald said. “But honestly for me right now… I don't feel like much has changed too much. I'm going to keep going about how I'm doing things. I think I'm working really well with my coach.

“Even there I feel like I can take some learning lessons away from that match. I'm grateful I had that opportunity to play on that court and play against him, and I feel like I can just learn from it.”

Defeating the defending champion at any tournament is big. Taking out Nadal is a career-defining moment. But McDonald is not allowing himself to over celebrate the moment. It is that same level-headedness that helped him complete his victory against the hobbled Spaniard in the first place.

“It’s never over until it's over type thing. He didn't even want to roll over and quit. He kept fighting until basically the end, even though he maybe didn't have all his game,” McDonald said. “But I would say once I broke him maybe in that third set at the end there, it felt like he hadn't really seen any chances on my serve in that set, so I think I could have gone away with it there.”

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Medvedev Manages Millman Test To Reach Australian Open Third Round

Daniil Medvedev is heating up once again at the Australian Open.

The seventh seed overcame some early struggles on serve against home favourite John Millman on Wednesday in Melbourne, where he registered a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win to sail into the third round at the hard-court Grand Slam.

“I think it was a great match,” said Medvedev. “Even the score in the second and third doesn’t reflect everything that went on the court. First set he managed to break me three times. That’s not that often that it happens, so I’m a little bit disappointed with myself, but he played amazing. So big credit to John.”

With the win, Medvedev advanced to the third round for the fifth year in a row at Melbourne Park. The 26-year-old, who reached the championship match in 2021 and 2022 at the first Grand Slam of the year, is bidding to become the fourth man in the Open Era to reach three consecutive Australian Open finals.

[ATP APP]

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Nadal On Australian Open Injury: 'Sometimes It's Difficult To Accept'

Rafael Nadal arrived in Melbourne in a tough moment, having lost six of his previous seven matches. But as always, the Spaniard had a positive attitude and was ready to battle as deep as possible at the Australian Open.

The top seed’s left hip prevented him from doing so. After falling behind Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday in the second round, the lefty hurt his left hip running for a ball at 3-4 in the second set. From there, the match was the American’s for the taking, and take it McDonald did by a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 margin.

“Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes it's difficult to accept. Sometimes you feel super tired about all this stuff in terms of injuries. Can't come here and say, lying, that the life is fantastic and staying positive and keep fighting. Not now. Tomorrow starts another day," Nadal said. “Now it's a tough moment. It's a tough day, and you need to accept that, and keep going.

“In the end, I can't complain about my life at all. So just in terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, I mean, that's another one. Just can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying.

“Yeah, it's hard for me. But let's see. I mean, hopefully it’s nothing too bad. In the end [it] has been three positive weeks in terms of practice. So I really hope that [this] doesn't put me out of the court for a long time, because then it's tough to make all the recovery again. It’s not only the recovery. It's all the amount of work that you need to put together to come back at a decent level.”

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McDonald Upsets Hobbled Nadal At Australian Open

Mackenzie McDonald upset a hobbled Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday in the second round of the Australian Open, eliminating the top seed after two hours and 32 minutes.

"I'm really happy with how I started that match," McDonald said. "I thought I was playing really well, serving great, returning well too. I was really taking it to him."

At 4-3 in the second set, Nadal moved to his left to chase a forehand on the first point of the game when he pulled up in pain with an apparent upper left leg injury. At 5-3, the defending champion left the court with a physio for a medical timeout. 

Although the 22-time Grand Slam champion battled on, he was clearly not 100 per cent physically for the rest of the match. It is the earliest exit at a major for Nadal since he lost in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open in five sets against countryman Fernando Verdasco.

"It was actually pretty tough to stay mentally engaged a little bit there, but I found a way to just pull it out, so I'm happy," McDonald said. "He's an incredible champion. He's never going to give up, regardless of the situation. Closing it out against a top guy like that is always tough.

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Felix Finds A Way From Two Sets Down

Felix Auger-Aliassime was already upset once by Alex Molcan, less than one year ago in Marrakech. On Wednesday at the Australian Open, the Canadian narrowly avoided falling to 0-2 in the pair's ATP Head2Head with a comeback victory at the Australian Open.

The sixth seed stormed back from two sets down for a 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win in Margaret Court Arena, staying alive as he bids to improve upon his quarter-final run from last year in Melbourne.

[ATP APP]

Molcan dominated the first two sets and much of the third with his variety and precision, with Auger-Aliassime hitting 39 unforced errors in the first three sets. But the Canadian's booming serve bought him time to recover, and he sparked into life after breaking for the first time in the match to lead 5-3 in the third set. Prior to that pivotal game, he had not seen a break point.

From 3-3 in the third, Auger-Aliassime won seven straight games as he began to inflict damage with his forehand and seize the momentum. While Molcan regrouped to claim the opening game of the final set, the Canadian's serve and his aggressive ground game proved too much down the stretch. He finished the match with 23 aces and 59 total winners.

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