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Getting To Know Roman Safiullin

Roman Safiullin remembers his early days playing tennis at a facility with two courts just next to an ice hockey arena. His father, Rishat, was the head coach.

“I was there taking the racquets practising in the small group. Hitting with the wall,” Safiullin told ATPTour.com. “[There were] a lot of times like this.”

Growing up, Safiullin played some football and swam, but spent 80 per cent of his time playing tennis.

“I was happy to play tennis and especially when I grew up. Then school started, so you had to choose one thing,” Safiullin said. “If you go then you go full school or you go tennis. So I chose tennis and I am still here.”

Safiullin began taking tennis seriously from the age of 12, when practice became different. “Since then, I started a kind of professional career already,” he said.

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Daniil Medvedev, Lacoste Unveil New Logo At Australian Open

Daniil Medvedev’s unique game and personality has been captured in the launch of his very own logo. As he takes his partnership with Lacoste to new heights, the 15-time tour-level champion will now have his own co-branded collection with the iconic brand.

Medvedev made a splash in Rod Laver Arena, where he debuted the logo on his new-look polo as he opened his Australian Open campaign with a straight-sets win against Marcos Giron.

“My partnership with Lacoste is special. I consider them family,” Medvedev said, discussing the new venture. “To have this special line with Lacoste is not only exciting, it speaks for the business relationship we have. It already started some years ago when Lacoste asked me to help bring a tennis shoe to the market, which we very successfully accomplished together. To now put this special Daniil M line/logo on my clothes makes me very happy and I hope to see many fans wear these products.”

Playing off Medvedev’s love for video games — his favourite games are FIFA and Rainbow Six — the logo’s design is similar to a gaming controller. It’s not the first time Medvedev has brought his passion for gaming onto the court — after winning the 2021 US Open, his “dead fish” celebration confounded many until he revealed he was paying homage to a celebration from the FIFA video game franchise.

Each aspect of the logo tells a story. The ‘D’ and ‘M’ stand for Medvedev’s initials, while the two lines at the bottom represent the two ‘I’s in his first name. At the top of the logo is a circle symbolising a tennis ball.

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Medvedev Makes Fast Start In Melbourne

Daniil Medvedev wasted little time in reaching the second round at the Australian Open Monday when he dismantled American Marcos Giron 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 to start his title quest in style.

The World No. 8 is aiming to go one step further than his previous best showing showings at the first major of the season this fortnight, having lost in the final in 2021 and 2022. Competing on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev made the perfect start, hitting 28 winners en route to a one-hour, 36-minute win.

“I am really happy with the match,” Medvedev said. “Marcos is a tough opponent, so to beat him with this score in the first round at a Slam is great. I am really happy with my level and I am looking forward to the next round.”

[ATP APP]

With his fourth tour-level victory of the season, Medvedev improved to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against the 29-year-old Giron. The seventh seed will next face John Millman after the Australian wild card defeated Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3.

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Felix Survives Opening Test At Australian Open

Felix Auger-Aliassime didn’t have things all his own way Monday, but he stepped up when needed to reach the second round at the Australian Open for the third time.

Chasing his first win of the season, the Canadian recovered from a slow start to overcome countryman Vasek Pospisil 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 59 minutes.

The sixth seed Auger-Aliassime, who struggled at times to find his best level against the World No. 99, now leads Pospisil 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The 22-year-old will next meet Alex Molcan after the Slovakian clawed past 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7(3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.

“He is a good friend and great teammate,” Auger-Aliassime said. “We recently had some amazing memories together. Winning the Davis Cup two months ago. It is always tough to play a good friend. He came out firing, playing really well. On my part it was a bit of a struggle but it is ok. It is a first round, it happens. I am just happy I was able to get back into this match.”

[ATP APP]

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Tsitsipas Kick-Starts No. 1 Bid With Comfortable Melbourne Win

Stefanos Tsitsipas is playing for a double prize this fortnight at the Australian Open. The Greek certainly started his campaign like a man on a mission on Monday at Melbourne Park, where he eased past Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(6) to reach the second round.

Prior to the tournament, the Greek had spoken about his desire to carry the impressive form he showed at the United Cup, where he went 4-0 during Team Greece’s run to the semi-finals at the mixed-teams event, into the first Grand Slam of the 2023 season. The 24-year-old did just that, delivering a highly aggressive and largely consistent performance — and holding off a third-set resurgence from Halys — to seal victory in exactly two hours.

“It was challenging,” acknowledged Tsitsipas after saving four set points in the third set before completing the win. “He came up with some good tennis towards the end of the third set. I kind of lost my rhythm on the serve. I wasn’t expecting to get broken twice, so I had to find ways to kind of get out of there, this difficult situation.

“I think my fighting spirit showed that towards the end. I wasn’t going to give up and even though I faced difficult situations in the tie-break, being down in the score, I got some good crowd support and we came back and won this together.”

The 24-year-old Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals at the opening Grand Slam of the season in 2019, 2021 and 2022, is chasing his maiden major crown this fortnight. Should the third seed go all the way in Melbourne, he would also overtake the injured Carlos Alcaraz to become No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time. He will meet home wild card Rinky Hijikata or German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the second round.

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Nadal On Draper Win: 'I Needed A Victory'

Rafael Nadal had to dig deep on Monday at the Australian Open to claw through his first-round match against Jack Draper. But for the defending champion it did not matter if it was a straightforward victory or not. A win was a win.

“I needed a victory, so that's the main thing. Doesn't matter the way. The most important thing today is a victory against a tough opponent,” Nadal said. “To win against Jack, as I said before the tournament started, has been one of the toughest first rounds possible being seeded. We knew [it is] not going to be perfect, as I said the other day. [It] was not perfect.

“But to win against Jack, I need to do things well. I think I did things well. So satisfied with the victory because that's give me the chance to play after tomorrow again.”

Entering the tournament, Nadal had lost six of seven matches. Last year he struggled with an abdominal injury.

“Of course, when you break the abdominal twice, [it] takes a while to recover the confidence in the movement. I mean, [it] was difficult for me for a few months to put the ball high and go for the ball,” Nadal said. “When you break the abdominal, you start to protect yourself, putting the ball more to the left, trying to not do the movement, the full movement, with the abdominal.”

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Gasquet Soars Following Auckland Title, Mover Of Week

A two-tournament week on the ATP Tour saw Richard Gasquet lift the trophy at the ASB Classic in Auckland and Soonwoo Kwon triumph at the Adelaide International 2.

ATPTour.com looks at the movers of the week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

View Pepperstone ATP Rankings

[ATP APP]

No. 42 Richard Gasquet, +25
The Frenchman has climbed 25 places in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after he lifted his first tour-level title since 2018 in Auckland. The 36-year-old stunned second seed Cameron Norrie in the championship match to cap an impressive week at the ATP 250 event. Read Auckland Final Report & Watch Highlights.

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Nadal Outlasts Draper To Begin Australian Open Title Defence

Back at the Australian Open for the first time since his epic five-set comeback in the 2022 final, top seed Rafael Nadal won another see-saw match in Rod Laver Arena to kickstart his title defence on Monday afternoon. The Spaniard delivered in the crucial moments of a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory against 21-year-old debutante Jack Draper to reach the Melbourne second round for the 17th time.

"Last year was without a doubt one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career. I’m super happy to be back here in Australia one more time," Nadal said in his on-court interview. "I know it’s my 19th season on the professional Tour. I’m very excited about this new beginning, just super happy to be back here in Rod Laver Arena with a victory that I needed. The last couple of months haven’t been easy for me, but hopefully this victory is going to help me."

In an all-lefty matchup, Nadal clinched sets one and three with decisive, late breaks to make up for what was nearly a 6-0 second set for Draper. The Briton went toe-to-toe with Nadal and dominated for stretches, but ultimately fell victim to the 36-year-old's relentless pressure.

[ATP APP]

As the Spaniard reclaimed the initiative in the third set, finding his forehand from all parts of the court, Draper began to struggle with cramps and required treatment during several changeovers.

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Kyrgios Withdraws From The Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the Australian Open on Monday due to a knee injury. The Australian was scheduled to face Roman Safiullin on Tuesday, but will be replaced in the draw by lucky loser Denis Kudla.

"Obviously this coming around is just bad timing. But that's life. Injury is a part of the sport. I guess I can draw some inspiration from someone like Thanasi [Kokkinakis] who has had a bunch of injuries and has bounced back," Kyrgios said. "Look, I'm not doubting I will be back to my full strength and playing the tennis I was playing prior to this event.

"Yeah, I'm devastated obviously. It's like my home tournament. I've had some great memories here. Obviously last year winning the title in doubles and playing the best tennis of my life probably. Then going into this event as one of the favourites, it's brutal. All I can do now is just look forward, do what I need to do and come back."

[ATP APP]

Kyrgios earned one of the best results of his career at the 2022 Australian Open, where he partnered close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis to the doubles title. The 27-year-old maintained his form throughout the year, advancing to the Wimbledon final in singles and triumphing at the Citi Open among other results.

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Ruud Ready To Reset Fortunes Down Under

Casper Ruud’s 2022 Australian Open ended before it began. During practice ahead of the season’s first major, the Norwegian hurt his ankle, forcing him to withdraw from the tournament.

As the world’s best players kicked into high gear at Melbourne Park, Ruud sat on a plane home doing exercises to take care of his ankle.

“My ankle was still a little swollen and stiff, so I had to do all these exercises while on the plane to keep the blood flowing and keep it moving a little bit so that it wouldn’t swell up completely,” Ruud told ATPTour.com. “But it was fine. It’s always sort of nice to come home no matter how you do, but it was tough to accept that I couldn’t even play a point and then watched the whole tournament from home for two weeks in a row.”

Ruud remembers the flight being ‘a little boring’. Instead of preparing for a match, he was doing exercises with a rubber band.

“For sure it’s frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world,” Ruud said. “That’s the good thing with tennis, that there’s a new chance coming right around the corner. Whether it’s an ATP tournament or a Grand Slam, there’s always something going on.”

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New Tennis Fan Hatzi Is Kyrgios' Biggest Supporter

Nick Kyrgios’ girlfriend, Costeen Hatzi, played a key role in his career-best season on the ATP Tour.

In 2022, the Australian finished runner-up at Wimbledon and collected the Australian Open doubles title with his mate Thanasi Kokkinakis, a moment that was featured in the Netflix series Break Point.

In episode one of the docu-series, Hatzi is seen constantly by Kyrgios’ side. Whether it’s at the dinner table, practice sessions, sitting in the players’ box, or hanging out with the Aussie, Hatzi has been an important figure in the 27-year-old’s career since meeting him in the latter half of 2021.

[ATP APP]

“We met online and we’ve been hanging out every day since… We’ve been together for about two-and-a-half months,” Hatzi shared in Break Point.

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Shang Makes History With Win In Australian Open Debut

Shang Juncheng made history for China on Monday in his Grand Slam debut, as the #NextGenATP star became the first man from the Asian nation to win an Australian Open match in the Open Era.

In a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 victory against Germany's Oscar Otte, the 17-year-old qualifier used his attacking game to dictate play in Melbourne. After saving two break points in the opening set, he did not face another as he sealed the win on his third match point.

[ATP APP]

The youngest player in the men's singles draw, Shang showed poise beyond his years as he stayed the course after letting slip two match points on return at 5-4 in the fourth set. With Otte again serving to stay in the match at 6-5, the lefty finished the job with his fourth break of the match.

Juncheng Shang ??? Take a bow!

The 17-year-old is the youngest player in the men's singles at #AO2023 and becomes the first male Chinese player to win an #AusOpen main-draw singles match in the Open Era.@wwos@espn@Eurosport@wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/SzwIwU86oY

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Net Profit: Rafa's Winning Formula At Melbourne Park

There is an invisible alliance between first serves and net points.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Rafael Nadal’s victory at the 2022 Australian Open uncovered the Spaniard was most successful coming forward when the point started with his first serve. Nadal came to the net 167 times in seven matches at Melbourne Park last year, with an eye-opening 50 per cent of them (84) occurring when Nadal started the point with a first serve.

2022 Australian Open: Nadal Net Points Played

Point Started Total %
1st Serve 84 50%
1st Serve Return 35 21%
2nd Serve 25 15%
2nd Serve Return 23 14%
TOTAL 167 100%

It’s important to note that the analysis includes net points played at all rally lengths, not just immediately following a serve or return. It’s logical to discover that Nadal’s pin-point first serve facilitates most net points, but it goes against the grain that Nadal came to the net second most when returning first serves. Nadal is known to take up an extremely deep return position well behind the baseline when returning first serves, but that clearly does not stop him from finding his way forward to the net to finish points.

Another hypothesis is that the server immediately hits a drop shot to take advantage of his deep return position. That theory gains legs when you see that Nadal only won 54 per cent (19/35) of points when the point started for him with a first serve return. That’s well below the win percentage of the three other scenarios.

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Sinner Cruises Through Melbourne Opener

Jannik Sinner made a confident start at the Australian Open, where the 21-year-old is aiming to back up his run to the quarter-finals from one year ago. The 15th-seeded Italian ran away with a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win against Kyle Edmund to open Monday's play in Melbourne — though he needed six match points to close out a marathon final service game.

"I think I played very solid today," Sinner said in his post-match interview in John Cain Arena. "I had some difficult times to finish it off, but I think my level was very good today."

[ATP APP]

Sinner, who reached three quarter-finals and one fourth round (Roland Garros) at the Grand Slams in 2022, continued his consistent play in the early stages of the majors with a convincing win in under two hours.

After a 50-minute opening set, Sinner found a new gear to improve to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head against Great Britain's Edmund — with their first meeting coming earlier this month in Adelaide. The Italian saved five of six break points, including two in the final game, while breaking serve seven times from 10 chances.

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Musetti: 'Putting Experience In Luggage That I Carry'

After a standout season in 2022, Lorenzo Musetti is poised to take his young career even higher. And the 20-year-old is already learning valuable lessons on the road.

“An important part of our career is to try to put experience in our luggage that we carry,” Musetti told ATPTour.com.

The Italian is rapidly rising to the top of the sport and is gaining profitable experience against the world’s best. After collecting two Tour-level titles this past year, he qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals and is now at a career-high No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

[ATP APP]

Perhaps no time last season was more memorable than when Musetti won a thrilling three-set battle against Carlos Alcaraz to claim the ATP 500 event in Hamburg.

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'Fighter' Carballes Baena Ready For New Movie Against Djokovic

Roberto Carballes Baena was practising inside John Cain Arena Thursday afternoon with Italian star Jannik Sinner. The pair trained for two hours before taking a five-minute break ahead of point play. During that brief stop, the Spaniard checked his phone, on which he noticed an unpleasant surprise.

Carballes Baena received a Twitter message that he would be facing nine-time champion Novak Djokovic in the first round of the Australian Open.

“For sure it is something that when I saw the draw, it was tough in one way,” Carballes Baena told ATPTour.com. “But in the other way it’s a very good experience for me. I think [Rod Laver Arena is] one of the best courts in the world so I will try to enjoy, I will try to give my best and I will try to do a good match.”

It is not the first time Carballes Baena has faced Djokovic at a Grand Slam. The Serbian triumphed 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 against him in the first round of the 2019 US Open.

“The first five, 10 minutes I was a little bit nervous. It was very different. It was like a movie. It is like they have a [clapper] and you have to start to play now. But after five or 10 minutes you start to focus on your game, try to give your best,” Carballes Baena. “I think maybe I know him a little bit more than the first time. I saw him so many times on TV but I didn’t play against him. I know that he’s very good in everything but I think I have more of an idea how to play.”

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Annacone Pulls Back The Curtain On Fritz's Unforgettable Indian Wells Win

The third episode of Netflix’s Break Point takes fans behind the scenes of a dramatic moment for American Taylor Fritz before the biggest match of his career.

The California native suffered a freak ankle injury during his warmup for the 2022 BNP Paribas Open final. Struggling to put any weight on his right foot, Fritz described it as ‘one of the worst pains I have ever felt’.

Fritz’s coaching team, which consists of Michael Russell, Paul Annacone and physio Wolfgang Oswald, advised the American to not play the championship clash to ensure no further damage to his ankle.

Fritz elected to play and defeated all-time great Rafael Nadal in straight sets to win his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title. Annacone spoke with ATPTour.com about his fond, and perhaps stressful, memories from that day.

“I remember we were walking back into the players’ lounge before the match and Taylor turned to us and said, ‘Guys, I’m really sorry I’m such a pain in the a**, but I just won’t be able to sleep at night if I don’t walk on the court,’” Annacone recalled. “I think Michael and I said, ‘Taylor, it’s your body. Do what you think you need to do, but we’re telling you what we think you should do.’”

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Shelton Shining, Trying To Make Mark On First Trip Out Of The United States

Bryan Shelton competed in the Australian Open main draw six times in singles during his career. But perhaps his most notable moment in Melbourne came off the court. One year, the American was in the lobby of the Como Hotel when he met a woman named Lisa, the sister of colleague Todd Witsken.

This year, Bryan and Lisa’s son, Ben Shelton, is playing in the Australian Open for the first time.

“I think that would be a cool place to see,” the younger Shelton told ATPTour.com of the Como Hotel, cracking a laugh.

Shelton is one of the hottest prospects on the circuit. The lefty was even invited to participate in Australian Open Kids Tennis Day alongside superstars like Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek, Nick Kyrgios and more.

What might surprise you is that the No. 92 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is on his first trip outside the United States. Why?

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Nadal Faces Draper Test; Tsitsipas, Felix In Action On Australian Open Day 1

The opening day of Grand Slam action for 2023 features a host of star names looking to make an early statement at the Australian Open. Top 10 stars Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev are all in action, when a trio of home favourites are also hoping to make their mark on Monday in Melbourne.

ATPTour.com looks at some of the biggest clashes on the Day 1 schedule.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw

[ATP APP]

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Jack Draper (GBR)

Defending champion and top seed Nadal arrives at Melbourne Park in a relative slump by his own lofty standards. The Spaniard has lost six of his past seven matches and faces a difficult proposition first up in Melbourne in fast-rising Briton Jack Draper. Yet Nadal knows as well as anyone how to rouse his best level at a Grand Slam — the 36-year-old is chasing a record-extending 23rd major title this fortnight in Australia.

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Kyrgios On Break Point: 'It's So Important For Tennis'

When fans tuned into Break Point - Netflix’s groundbreaking new tennis series – for the first time following its release on Friday, they were greeted with an opening episode centered around Nick Kyrgios.

The first episode followed the 27-year-old’s progress at the 2022 Australian Open, focusing on his dramatic run to the doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis. Speaking about the Netflix series ahead of this year's Australian Open, Kyrgios hopes and believes the show will be a success.

“It's massive opportunity for my brand to get out there,” Kyrgios said when asked about the series. “It's just so important for tennis. I think we've got so many great personalities, so many young personalities, and so many colourful athletes. Frances, Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz, these guys are great tennis players and great people as well.

“I think when the big three kind of settle down and end up retiring, it's so important that these guys are on showcase globally. Tennis is one of the most global sports in the world. We need it to be successful.”

Kyrgios will lead home hopes at the Australian Open in the next fortnight, starting his campaign against Roman Safiullin. With his focus on the first major of the season, the World No. 21 admitted that he has yet to watch Break Point.

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