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Sinner Stays Sharp To Reach Australian Open Third Round

Jannik Sinner earned his second straight-sets victory of the Australian Open fortnight on Wednesday, breezing past Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in John Cain Arena.

While some first-round matches have yet to be completed due to rain, the 21-year-old Italian took full advantage of his opportunity on one of three roofed courts at Melbourne Park where he raced into the third round in one hour, 44 minutes.

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"I am very happy to be in the next round," Sinner said in his on-court interview, before thanking the fans for their support. "Very happy to play again here on this court, especially today, with the roof. Outside it's raining a lot, so hopefully it's not going to rain in the next days.

"For sure the level today was good. I served well. I returned very good also today because I think he's a very good server."

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McDonald’s Journey From Milk-Carton Lessons To Facing Nadal

Three years ago Mackenzie McDonald played Rafael Nadal for the first time. The Spaniard was ruthless on the clay of Roland Garros, dismissing the American 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in just one hour and 40 minutes.

“I lost that match. I said I wanted to play him on a hard court, so I guess this is my opportunity to do that. It’ll be fun,” said McDonald, who will face Nadal in the second round of the Australian Open. “It’ll be more fun than the French Open.”

McDonald’s journey to this moment began 24 years ago. At the age of three his father, Michael, put ‘Mackie’ in lessons with legendary coach Rosie Bareis at the Harbor Bay Club in Northern California.

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“I was super young, lots of hours. That’s some of the stuff that people don’t really see or know about,” said McDonald, who was so small at the time that Bareis would sit on a milk carton. “I was just swinging the racquet and she was sitting there dropping balls.”

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‘Amazing’ 17-Year-Old Shang Taking Australian Open By Storm

Dante Bottini first watched Shang Juncheng play tennis at the age of 15. Bottini was coaching Chilean Nicolas Jarry, who practised with the teen. His first impression of ‘Jerry’ was simple.

“Amazing,” Bottini told ATPTour.com. “Very nice. Amazing player. I mean obviously he was very young, but I already could tell that he had great potential.”

It has not taken long for Shang to prove the Argentine’s instincts right. Aged 17, the Chinese star on Monday became the first man in history from his country to win a match at the Australian Open. That came after the teen successfully qualified for a Grand Slam on his first attempt.

“I'm a little surprised that I came this fast, but at the same time, I think it's all the hard work from my team and myself that paid off,” Shang said. “I think I'm just nothing else but excited about what's coming next.”

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Roaring Rinky: Inside The Hijikata Experience

Rinky Hijikata remembers his earliest days watching tennis, supporting fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt. The former World No. 1 was known for his grit and tenacity.

“I'd be in the backyard pumping my fist, doing his signature come on. I think he was a massive inspiration for me,” Hijikata told ATPTour.com. “I try implement a little bit of that fight in my own game and hopefully I can, even if I'm half the player he was, that would be a great career.”

When Hijikata was young, he would pick up balls for his siblings Shori and Kamiyu, who used to play. His father was a coach.

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“I had a racquet in my hand all the time and would have a little hit in their drink breaks,” Hijikata said. “And then I just loved it from the moment I picked up the racquet and then it hasn't stopped since.”

Rinky Hijikata pumps up the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
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Djokovic On Leg: ‘It’s Not Ideal, But It’s Getting There’

Novak Djokovic’s dominant performance in the opening round of the Australian Open isn’t the only positive he’s drawing on following Tuesday’s match.

With his tournament preparation limited due to a left hamstring injury, which he sustained during his title run at the Adelaide International 1 two weeks ago, Djokovic admitted that he had some concerns ahead of his match against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, whom he defeated 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

“I was kind of testing my leg a little bit,” Djokovic said after his match, in which he played with his left hamstring taped. “At the beginning I was a bit tight, mentally as well, to protect something that was bothering me for the last 10 days. So it took me a little bit of time to really get into the match and start moving more freely.

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“The great sign was that the longer the match went, the better I felt, the better I moved. It's not ideal, but it's getting there. Today was a really good test. Haven't had too much training in the last few days.”

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Nadal, Tsitsipas, Medvedev Eye Third-Round On Australian Open Day 3

Defending champion Rafael Nadal headlines a star-studded schedule Wednesday at the 2023 Australian Open, where the Spaniard seeks to carry the momentum from his opening win into a second-round clash against Mackenzie McDonald.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime are among the other ATP Tour stars in action from the top half of the draw on Day 3 at the first Grand Slam of the season, while 10 rescheduled bottom-half matches will also be played. They include home hope Thanasi Kokkinakis’ interrupted match against Fabio Fognini, in which the Australian is just two games short of victory.

ATPTour.com runs through some of the key matchups on show at Melbourne Park.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw

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Ruud Passes Machac Test

If Casper Ruud lifts his maiden Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open this fortnight, he will rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.

With incentive high, the Norwegian made the perfect start to his title and No. 1 quest Tuesday when he defeated Czech Tomas Machac 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach the second round in Melbourne.

"Thank you to everyone who stayed and came out to support me," Ruud said. "It is great to be back. I could not play here last year unfortunately, so I am very eager to have a good tournament. This was a good start. I think Tomas played well, very aggressive and played some great points in the third-set tie-break. It was frustrating but I managed to stay strong and earn the win."

Making his fourth appearance at the hard-court major, Ruud was made to work hard throughout his first ATP Head2Head meeting against Machac under the roof on Margaret Court Arena. The second seed was pulled around the court by the 22-year-old, who opened his shoulders to fire 52 winners.

However, after seeing his two-set advantage halved at the end of the third set, Ruud was not to be denied, overcoming the World No. 110 in a number of cat-and-mouse exchanges to triumph after three hours and 15 minutes.

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Djokovic Up & Running In Melbourne With Rapid Carballes Baena Win

Novak Djokovic made a lightning-fast start to his bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title on Tuesday, when the Serbian cruised past Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.

Playing his first match at Melbourne Park for two years, Djokovic maintained a high level throughout to claim a comfortable win despite an admirable effort from the World No. 75 Carballes Baena. The fourth seed converted five of nine break points to seal a two-hour, two-minute triumph and book a second-round meeting with Hugo Dellien or qualifier Enzo Couacaud.

“I really feel very happy that I’m back in Australia, back here on the court where I had the biggest success in my career,” said Djokovic, who has now won 22 consecutive matches on Rod Laver Arena since 2019. “This court is the most special court in my life, and I couldn’t ask for a better start to the tournament.

“I guess the more you win on a certain court, the more confident and comfortable you feel every next time you step on it. That’s probably one of the reasons. I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of matches on this court, particularly in the night sessions. If I had to choose one court and conditions, it would be night session on Rod Laver Arena, all night long.”

The win extended Djokovic’s winning streak on Australian soil to 35. Should the 35-year-old lift the trophy this fortnight, he will equal Rafael Nadal’s record tally of 22 Grand Slam crowns, while a 10th Melbourne triumph would also see Djokovic return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since last June.

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Murray Finds Major Magic But Admits: ‘I’ve Questioned Myself At Times’

Grand Slam wins may have become less frequent in recent years for Andy Murray, but the Scot still has what it takes to beat the best on the big stage.

“I think the last few years, I've certainly questioned myself at times,” admitted former World No. 1 Murray after outlasting Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open for his first Top 20 victory at a Grand Slam in more than four years. “There's certainly a lot of people [that] questioned me and my ability, whether I could still perform at the biggest events and the biggest matches.

“I felt very proud of myself after the match. That's not something that I generally felt over the years at the end of tennis matches.”

Murray defied a stirring Berrettini comeback from two-sets-to-love down on Rod Laver Arena, saving a match point before dominating the deciding-set tie-break to seal a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(10-6) win. After a series of tough defeats in similarly close encounters at the majors in recent times, the three-time Grand Slam champion believes Tuesday’s victory is just reward for some hard off-season graft.

“I think I'm proud of the work that I put in the last few months,” said Murray, who fell to Berrettini in four sets at the 2022 US Open. “I trained really, really hard over in Florida getting ready to play here. I'm really proud of how I fought through that match at the end, like I said, when it could have got away from me, how I played in the tie-break at the end.

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Zverev Survives In Five At Australian Open

With his back against the wall, Alexander Zverev found a way to reach the second round at the Australian Open Tuesday when he clawed past Peruvian lucky loser Juan Pablo Varillas in five sets.

Trailing by two sets to one, the German rose to the occasion, rallying past the World No. 103 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4 to earn his first tour-level win of the season.

Zverev tore several lateral ligaments in his right foot during his Roland Garros semi-final clash against Rafael Nadal in June and only returned to Tour at the United Cup last month. Competing in his third match of the year, the World No. 12 refused to go away against Varillas, striking 69 winners to seal victory in four hours and nine minutes.

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"I am extremely happy because I missed this over the past seven months," Zverev said. "This match alone pays off for all the hard work and suffering that I have had. To win in front of this kind of crowd again. I can't wait for the rest of the tournament. No matter what happens from now, the tournament is already a success for me."

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Murray Saves MP, Holds Off Berrettini In Five-Set Australian Open Epic

The marquee matchup of the Australian Open first round far exceeded the hype, as Andy Murray edged 13th seed Matteo Berrettini in an instant classic decided by a fifth-set tie-break. With a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(10-5) win, Murray earned his first Top 20 victory at a Grand Slam in more than four years, requiring four hours, 49 minutes to secure the statement result in Rod Laver Arena.

“I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow, but right now I’m just unbelievably happy, very proud of myself," Murray said in an on-court interview. "I’ve put a lot of work into the past few months with my team here to give me the opportunity to perform on stadiums like this and in matches like this against players like Matteo, and it paid off tonight.”

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Murray upset the returning Melbourne semi-finalist with a gutsy display full of shotmaking and clever tactics — along with a small slice of luck, as Berrettini netted a backhand passing shot on match point at 5-4 in the fifth with the court gaping.

The 35-year-old blunted his the Italian's powerful forehand by combining slice with power, making his opponent uncomfortable as he attacked the Berrettini backhand throughout the match. With neither man able to break serve after Berrettini made his lone breakthrough to lead 3-2 in the third set, the result hinged on late drama in the final two sets.

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Fritz Aces Opening Test At Australian Open

One year after making his first Grand Slam fourth round at the Australian Open, Taylor Fritz made a strong start to his 2023 Melbourne campaign with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday.

Fritz, who also reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals last season, fired 32 aces in the victory as he progressed to the second round for the fifth straight year in Melbourne. He won 84 per cent of his first-serve points in the match.

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Playing in his first Grand Slam as a Top 10 player, the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalist was down an early break before play was suspended to close the roof in John Cain Arena. From 2-4 in the opening set, the eighth-seeded American won four games to take command.

"It gave me a chacce to regroup a little bit," he said of the delay. "I came out, it's the first match, first Slam of the year, it's my first time being a Top 8 seed. I came out a little nervous but kind of regrouped. I felt like maybe closing the roof wasn't the best for me because I wanted it to be a little bit faster on the court. I felt like it slowed everything down.

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Getting To Know Netflix Break Point Star Thanasi Kokkinakis

An entertaining and charismatic on-court presence, Thanasi Kokkinakis overcame a heartbreaking series of injury setbacks to become an ATP Tour champion for the first time in 2022 with a dream run in his hometown of Adelaide.

Just a few weeks later, Kokkinakis was holding another trophy — the 2022 Australian Open men’s doubles crown — alongside his close friend and fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios. The duo’s emotional run at their home Grand Slam features in the first episode of Netflix’s new behind-the-scenes series Break Point. ATPTour.com runs down five things you may not know about one half of the duo known as the ‘Special Ks’.

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1. He Has Shown Great Resilience In The Face Of Injuries
Kokkinakis was just 19 when he first cracked the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2015, but since then he has endured a series of injury setbacks that have limited his time on court. Each time, however, the Australian has put in the hard yards to come back and in January 2022 he won his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of Adelaide.

“I proved that the mind is probably the most important thing,” Kokkinakis told ATPTour.com when asked how he had overcome adversity to find success. “Obviously you’ve got to have some skill and a work ethic to balance it out, but if you’re strong with your mind and you keep pushing, you never know. The fortunate thing with tennis is you’re only a week away from turning your career around, so that’s the biggest thing.”

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Harris Emphatically Opens New Chapter

Lloyd Harris reached a career-high No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in September 2021. The South African had just made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and a month earlier defeated Rafael Nadal.

Less than a year later, Harris was at his lowest low — he had torn the Triangular FibroCartilage Complex in his right wrist. After taking some time to contemplate the injury, he underwent surgery in June.

“I think the hardest thing was to accept it mentally. Physically there was a problem. I was limited,” Harris said. “I was in a lot of pain and playing with a lot of pain. I knew what had to be done, and it was hard for myself to accept it. But as soon as I did the surgery, I think I went to a new page in the book.”

Just before going into surgery, Harris’ medical team discovered he had torn another tendon off the bone that runs across his wrist. Both were repaired in the operation.

“I actually felt happy. I was excited that we're going to get rid of that pain, and I could get back to playing and enjoying the game I love,” Harris said. “Actually I feel like I learned so much and could reflect so much. I think it just makes me better as a player and a person, through all the things I've been through in the past few months. It was really hard work, but it's part of it.”

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Outdoor Play Suspended At Australian Open Due To Extreme Heat

Update: Conditions have improved at Melbourne Park. Outdoor matches will be called at 4:50 p.m. local time for 5 p.m. resumption of play.

Play has been suspended on the outside courts at the Australian Open Tuesday afternoon when the AO Heat Stress Scale reached 5.

Play continued until the end of an even number of games or the completion of a tie-break. No new matches will be called to the outside courts. Play has also been suspended on outdoor practice courts. On Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena, play has continued under closed roofs.

Under the tournament’s Extreme Heat Policy, the Referee will continually review the conditions and the policy to determine when play on outdoor courts can be resumed. Once that decision is made, players will be given at least 30 minutes’ notice before play resumes.

The AO Heat Stress Scale takes into account air temperature, radiant heat (strength of the sun), humidity and wind speed, which affect a player’s ability to disperse heat from their body. Those factors are measured in real time across five different locations across the Melbourne Park precinct.

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Rublev Handles Thiem In Melbourne Opener

Andrey Rublev won his fifth straight ATP Head2Head meeting with Dominic Thiem as he expertly navigated a challenging opening-round draw on Tuesday at the Australian Open. In a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win, the fifth seed followed a familiar game plan as he controlled the match with his booming forehand and serve.

Thiem competed well in his first Australian Open since 2021, but was undone by late breaks in each of the first two sets. Rublev, who saved the only two break points he faced in the second set, left no doubt in the final set, which he dominated from the start.

"When you see that you have to play against Dominic, it's never easy," Rublev said of the marquee matchup. "Plus we are really good friends. I know that he's going through a not easy time, so I just want to wish him all the best, to wish him to come back on the same level that he belongs as fast as possible."

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With brutally hot conditions in John Cain Arena, Rublev was especially pleased to finish the match in an efficient two hours, 10 minutes.

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Inside Berrettini's Bounce Back From A Season Of Setbacks

Editor's Note: This article was translated from ATPTour.com/es.

A tennis player’s most feared adversary is perhaps one that never wields a racquet. Injuries are the most unpredictable blight any sportsman can suffer throughout his career, and Matteo Berrettini has recently had first-hand experience of them.

In 2022, the Italian underwent wrist surgery, fought COVID-19 and recovered from a problem with his left foot. Berrettini was sidelined from the ATP Tour for several months.

However, the current No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings has been working hard to return this season with a vengeance. One of the professionals that has helped him with his recovery, physiotherapist Ramon Punzano, revealed to ATPTour.com details of the last year, his relationship with Berrettini, and the strengths that have made him one of the best players in the world.


Ramon Punzano (far right) celebrates with Team Italy at the 2023 United Cup. Credit: Tennis Australia

Matteo Berrettini
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Fils, 18, Finds Inspiration From Countrymen To Win Challenger Title

It was a French affair on the ATP Tour and Challenger Tour this week. And Arthur Fils was following the results of his countrymen Arthur Cazaux and Richard Gasquet, who were competing for titles on the other side of the world.

Set to play in his first Challenger final in Oeiras, the 18-year-old Fils had seen the results from Cazaux, who won the Nonthaburi Challenger on Saturday and Tour-veteran Gasquet, who collected the title at the ATP 250 in Auckland. He used that as inspiration to claim a title of his own in Portugal.

“I saw Luca [Van Assche] win the Maia Challenger not that long ago, I saw that overnight Arthur Cazaux did it, I saw that Richard Gasquet did it today. I said, ‘Okay you have to win this one!’” Fils said, while cracking a laugh during his post-match press conference.

Fils, who enjoyed a standout junior career, hopes to be part of France’s next crop of great players. In 2021, he was a finalist at the Roland Garros boys’ singles event, only losing to countryman Luca Van Assche, who earned his maiden Challenger title in December. That same year, Fils teamed with close friend Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard to capture the Roland Garros boys’ doubles crown.

Following his triumph in Portugal, Fils joined an exclusive list of French Challenger champions aged 18 and under: Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean, Gael Monfils, Fabrice Santoro, Corentin Moutet, and Van Assche. Now at a career-high 195 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Fils is the first teenage Challenger champion of 2023 and the youngest French player in the Top 200.

Arthur Fils triumphs at the Challenger 75 event in Oeiras, Portugal.
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Two Arthurs, Two Titles: French Youngsters Cazaux & Fils Claim Challenger Trophies

More than 6,000 miles apart, French youngsters Arthur Cazaux and Arthur Fils combined to be crowned champions on the ATP Challenger Tour this week.

While Cazaux advanced through qualifying in Nonthaburi, Thailand, 18-year-old Fils won his maiden Challenger title at the Oeiras Indoor 2. Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo also triumphed Sunday on home soil.

Fils, who was playing in his first Challenger final, seemed unfazed as he earned a 6-1, 7-6(4) victory to end Belgian Joris De Loore’s 11-match winning streak.

 

Shortly after beating Top-60 players Jaume Munar and Fabio Fognini last season to qualify for the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris, the 2021 Roland Garros boys’ singles finalist has built on his momentum and worked hard in the offseason to prepare for 2023.

Arthur Fils at the Challenger 75 event in Oeiras, Portugal.
Arthur Cazaux in action at the Bangkok Open 2.
Juan Manuel Cerundolo wins his second Challenger title of 2023.
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Berrettini Battles Murray; Rublev Meets Thiem On Australian Open Day 2

The bottom half of the men's singles draw opens play Tuesday at the Australian Open, with a full slate of marquee matchups and star names on Melbourne's Day 2 schedule.

Novak Djokovic begins his campaign for his record-extending 10th title in Melbourne against Roberto Carballes Baena, while Matteo Berrettini meets Andy Murray in the day's other ATP matchup on Rod Laver Arena. Andrey Rublev faces wild card Dominic Thiem in another popcorn encounter, while Top 10 seeds Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz and Holger Rune are also in action.

ATPTour.com looks at some of Tuesday's biggest clashes.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw

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