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Perfect 10: Djokovic Returns To No. 1 With 22nd Major At AO

A familiar tale, but a groundbreaking one all the same.

Novak Djokovic claimed a record-extending 10th Australian Open title Sunday in Melbourne, where he rode the challenge of Stefanos Tsitsipas to prevail 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the final of the hard-court Grand Slam. With his victory, the Serbian tied Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam crowns.

The 35-year-old’s triumph also sealed his return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since last June. Djokovic will replace Carlos Alcaraz in top spot on Monday after notching his 10th tour-level victory in a row against Tsitsipas, who would have claimed top spot himself with victory in Sunday’s final.

Despite so much riding on the match, Djokovic confidently assumed control early on Rod Laver Arena. Although the Greek raised his game in the second and third sets to ensure some absorbing rallies whipped up an intense atmosphere in the crowd, the Serbian was clinical at key moments to seal a two-hour, 56-minute victory and improve his record in Australian Open finals to 10-0.

[ATP APP]

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Hijikata/Kubler Capture Australian Open Crown

Australian wild cards Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler ended their fairytale run at the Australian Open in style Saturday when they defeated Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski 6-4, 7-6(4) to capture their first Grand Slam title.

Competing in front of vocal home support, Hijikata and Kubler hammered returns and were strong on serve, winning 88 per cent (38/43) of points behind their first deliveries to become the fifth unseeded team to win the Australian Open trophy.

“I have got to thank Rinky,” Kubler said during the trophy ceremony. “He was the reason we teamed for this tournament. I wasn’t sure and then Rinky asked me and I said yeah and decided to play. Two weeks later and we have this trophy, so a big thank you to Rinky.”

“I could never have imagined this,” Hijikata said. “I am glad you said yes Kubs to playing with me a few months ago. It is just unreal. Thank you so much mate, it has been unreal.”

With their 85-minute victory, the Australians followed in the footsteps of Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, who won the 2022 Aussie Open title as wild cards. Hijikata and Kubler are the third Australian team to win a men’s doubles trophy since last January, with Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell triumphing at Wimbledon.

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Vying For No. 1, Tsitsipas & Djokovic To Headline Big Changes In Top 10

Big changes are coming Monday when the new edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is released following the Australian Open, starting at the very top.

The winner of Sunday's men's singles final between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas will rise to World No. 1, ending Carlos Alcaraz's 20-week rain as the ATP Tour's leading man. The Spaniard will slip to No. 2 regardless of the result in Melbourne, with the runner-up at No. 3.

[ATP APP]

Tsitsipas could become the first Greek and the 29th man overall to top the Pepperstone ATP Rankings since they debuted in 1973; he is assured of matching his career high of No. 3 behind his run to his second major final. Djokovic is bidding to add to his record 373 weeks as World No. 1 by returning to the top spot for the first time since last June.

The Serbian would make the biggest jump to No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — rising four spots from No. 5 — if he wins is 10th Australian Open title. Tsitsipas would match the biggest move to No. 1 — three places — if he claims his first Grand Slam crown.

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Djokovic v Tsitsipas: The Rivalry

The 13th ATP Head2Head matchup between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas will play out on Sunday in the 2023 Australian Open final, with the contest doubling as a straight shootout for No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Ahead of the title match, ATPTour.com breaks down six classic matches between the pair.

[ATP APP]

2022 Rolex Paris Masters SF, hard, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4)
Djokovic extended his winning streak to eight straight matches against Tsitsipas with this gutsy victory, claiming the final four points of the match after falling behind by a mini-break in the decisive tie-break. In a high-quality contest that ebbed and flowed, Djokovic was at his best early and late, though Tsitsipas nearly snatched victory after edging ahead 4/3 in the tie-break.

The pair combined for 63 winners and just 23 unforced errors with clean hitting at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Djokovic's dominant serving made the difference, as he won 84 per cent (41/49) of his first-serve points and did not face a break point in the first or third set.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic embrace after a five-set thriller at Roland Garros in 2021.
Novak Djokovic rallies from a set down to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.
Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in the semi-finals of Roland Garros in 2020.
Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his second win over Novak Djokovic at the 2019 ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai.
Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2018 ATP Masters 1000 event in Toronto.
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Final Preview: Djokovic, Tsitsipas Square Off For Melbourne Title, World No. 1

The Australian Open has been a home away from home for Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas throughout their respective careers. In Sunday's final, both men will chase major milestones in Rod Laver Arena, on a court that helped each rise to stardom.

In addition to the Grand Slam glory at stake — Djokovic is playing for a record-tying 22nd men's singles major title, Tsitsipas for his very first — the final will also determine the new No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Djokovic, who has spent a record 373 weeks as World No. 1, is bidding to return to the top spot for the first time since last June. Tsitsipas, in his first Australian Open final, is chasing a historic debut at the pinnacle of the men's game, with the opportunity to become the first Greek to hold the honour.

[ATP APP]

"These are the moments I've been working hard for. To be able to play finals like this, but finals that have bigger meaning that just a final," Tsitsipas said after his four-set semi-final win against Karen Khachanov. "It's a Grand Slam final, I'm fighting for the No. 1 spot. It's a childhood dream to be capturing the No. 1 spot one day. I'm close. I'm happy that this opportunity comes here in Australia and not somewhere else, because this is a place of significance."

With the sizable Greek and Serbian populations in Melbourne, a raucous atmosphere can be expected in the stands on Sunday. The tennis we've seen from the two competitors this season guarantees there will be fireworks on the court, too. Neither man has lost a match in 2023, with Djokovic 11-0 and Tsitsipas 10-0.

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Goffin Leads Belgium’s Star-Studded Challenger

After a six-year absence from Belgium, the ATP Challenger Tour shifts its attention this week to the indoor hard court event, the BW Open. David Goffin’s misfortune at the Australian Open that led to his participation has been a massive boon to the tournament, which has been close to a sell-out in its debut year.

Tournament director Vincent Stavaux, who has worked as an agent for players such as Justine Henin, Marin Cilic, Pablo Andujar, and Kristof Vliegen, is at the forefront of Belgium’s return to the Challenger calendar. Stavaux explained that his aim is to provide a warm experience for players and fans. And the Challenger 125 event is making a strong impression.

“For me the most important thing is that we have a good hotel, good food, and a nice facility,” Stavaux said. “We try to welcome players in the best conditions. For the first edition, we have players that are saying that they’ve never seen so many people attending the first-round matches at a Challenger. We have just a few tickets left for Saturday, the rest of the days are sold out. Fans are close to the court, even in the highest places you are still very close, it makes it a really special atmosphere.”

 

The Mons, Belgium Challenger, which ended in 2016, earned back-to-back selections as one of the ATP Challengers of the Year (2015, 2016), a player-voted system that recognises the season’s top events. Now the only Belgian Challenger event lies some 60 kilometers from Mons, in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve (population 31,000), where fans have flocked to the Centre Sportif de Blocry to watch world-class tennis.

Practice sessions ahead of the 2023 BW Open.
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From 'Crisis' To 'Smooth Sailing', Novak Charts Winning Course At AO

As Novak Djokovic steps on court to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s championship match in Melbourne, one specific statistic from his career may well put him at ease — Nine Australian Open finals played, nine Australian Open finals won.

To increase that record to 10 from 10, Djokovic will look to pull through any difficult moments as calmly as he did against Tommy Paul in Friday’s semi-finals, where he recovered from losing four games in a row in the opening set to seal a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

“I'm of course very satisfied and pleased to be in another Grand Slam final,” said Djokovic after riding out his rough patch to reach his 10th championship match at the hard-court major. “I mean, this is exactly what I've imagined and hoped that will happen when I came to Australia, with the intention to be in a position to fight for another Australian Open trophy.

“I think that the experience of being in this particular situation and circumstances before helps. I think also the fact that I never lost the Australian Open finals definitely serves as a great confidence booster prior to Sunday.”

Unlike in many of his past Australian Open final appearances, however, It is not just the Norman Brookes Trophy on the line for Djokovic this year in Melbourne. He could equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam crowns with victory over Tsitsipas, while whichever player wins is also set to claim the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from Carlos Alcaraz.

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Djokovic Passes Paul, Sets No.1 Showdown With Tsitsipas In Australian Open Final

Novak Djokovic stands on the brink of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title after he overcame a sluggish start to defeat Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

The Serbian struggled to find his best level at times during his maiden tour-level meeting with the American, but that did not apply to his trademark razor-sharp returning. Despite dropping four straight games from 5-1 to let Paul back into the opening set on Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic ultimately converted seven of 11 break points to move within one win of equalling Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22 major crowns.

Djokovic’s two-hour, 20-minute win set a championship match clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who earlier defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. Sunday’s final at Melbourne Park will also be a straight shootout for No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with the winner set to leapfrog Carlos Alcaraz into top spot on Monday.

"Of course it [adds extra significance]," said Djokovic when asked about the World No. 1 scenario. "Winning Grand Slams and being the No. 1 in the world are probably the two biggest peaks that you can climb as a professional tennis player. Let's see what happens."

[BREAK POINT]

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Bursting With Belief, Tsitsipas Ready For Final Step At Australian Open

Getting over the line to claim Grand Slam glory is one of the toughest tests in the game, but Stefanos Tsitsipas believes he has never been more ready to achieve that feat ahead of his maiden Australian Open final.

“I'm playing great tennis, I'm enjoying myself. I just see no downside or negativity in what I'm trying to do out there,” said the Greek after his 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 semi-final victory against Karen Khachanov on Friday in Melbourne. “Even if it doesn't work, I'm very optimistic and positive about any outcome, any opponent that I have to face.

“This is something that has been sort of lacking in my game. I genuinely believe in what I'm able to produce. That is more than enough. I go about [it] this way... I strive for it every single day. It might not go the way I want it to, but I put 110 per cent out there.”

Sunday’s championship match against Novak Djokovic or Tommy Paul will be an opportunity for Tsitsipas to banish any lingering disappointment from his first Grand Slam final, at Roland Garros in 2021. He led Djokovic by two-sets-to-love before falling to defeat on the Paris clay, but the Greek believes his improved ability to deal with difficult moments on court stands him in better stead this time around.

“I think it starts with confidence, your capabilities, what you can do out there,” he said. “I think frustration also builds when you start panicking or you feel completely off and completely not OK with your game. It has this tendency to build up over time, especially when you're unable to find some sort of solutions within yourself.

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Khachanov Keeps 'Head High' After Second Slam SF Run

Karen Khachanov backed up his semi-final showing at the 2022 US Open by matching his best Grand Slam result in Melbourne. After a 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday in the Australian Open final four, the 18th seed spoke of "mixed feelings" after falling short of his first major final.

"Obviously I'm super happy, super proud of the [recent] results... second consecutive semi-final," he said in his post-match press conference. "I fought hard. I was losing actually in the third set. He was serving for the match. He had two match points. I never give up.

"I think it was very close, a very good-level match. He took over in some important moments, some important points. He got the win, so simple as that."

[ATP APP]

The 26-year-old moved up seven places to No. 13 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this fortnight, closing in on his career high of World No. 8 from 2019. After taking some time to recover, he is keen to build on the lessons and experience he gained from his latest deep run.

"I definitely go with my head high," he said. "[I will] rest a couple of days, think with my team for [my upcoming] schedule... have a team meeting to discuss those particular situations and moments on what we need to work.

"Hopefully I keep believing that I can pass this step next time, if I am in this situation, hopefully. That's it."

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Tsitsipas Shows Resolve To Reach First Melbourne Final, World No. 1 Within Grasp

Stefanos Tsitsipas will play for his first Grand Slam title and the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking after he booked his place in the Australian Open final with a gritty win against Karen Khachanov. In a 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 semi-final victory on Friday, the Greek dominated with his all-action game, keeping his opponent under constant pressure in the three-hour, 21-minute match.

What looked on course to be his fifth straight-sets win of the fortnight was complicated by a late Khachanov surge. The first-time Melbourne semi-finalist denied Tsitsipas' attempt to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third set, and in the tie-break he saved two match points with fearless forehand winners, sparking a run of four points to steal the set.

But as he did after failing to serve out the opening set, the Greek responded, seeing home a 3-0 lead in the final set to advance.

"I thought about how hard I've worked to get into this position, and it takes a little bit more," Tsitsipas said of his mentality entering the fourth set. "I wasn't able to deliver that in the third set; I was extremely close to getting it.

"It's one of these moments that if you stick around, if you dedicate yourself even more and if you concentrate on these important moments event more, it pays off quite well. And always having that ambience in the background somewhere feels so good when I'm able to hit the ball and get such a reward back from the fans."

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Brazilians Matos/Stefani Claim Australian Open Mixed Doubles Title

Brazilians Rafael Matos and Luisa Stefani sunk their teeth into the Australian Open mixed doubles trophy on Friday, still yet to taste defeat as a duo. With a 7-6(2), 6-2 final victory against the Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza, Matos/Stefani improved to 7-0 as a team and claimed what is a first Grand Slam title for both in any discipline.

The champions began their partnership in 2023, going 2-0 at the United Cup before extending their perfect start in Melbourne.

"Luisa, thank you so much for these two weeks, actually this month," Matos said during the trophy ceremony. "It was special playing with another Brazilian player... I think we worked really good these two weeks, we were focussed on what we wanted, and we did it!"

[ATP APP]

Matos became the fifth Brazilian man to win a major title, while Stefani is now the second woman from the nation to secure Grand Slam glory. Stefani, who has won 18 of 20 women's doubles matches since returning from knee surgery in September, was not able to compete in the Melbourne women's doubles draw after partner Caty McNally withdrew.

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With New Mindset, Khachanov Has Sights Set On A Slam Title

Last September, all eyes were on Carlos Alcaraz in New York as he hoisted the US Open trophy to the sky. Elsewhere, Karen Khachanov was taking in a moment that could well have belonged to him. In this relentless sport, where everything happens at breakneck speed, achievements are sometimes quickly forgotten or undervalued. But Khachanov was just two sets away from contesting his first major final that fortnight.

That same player now wears a broad grin on his face as he strolls through the corridors of Melbourne Park, where another chance at history has come knocking. The towering, 6-foot-6 player has deployed his furious style of tennis with undeniable confidence under the Australian sun to reach a second straight semi-final at a Grand Slam.

[ATP APP]

The sweet moment in the career of the World No. 20 has come in the company of Jose Manuel ‘Pepo’ Clavet, one of the most renowned coaches in Spanish tennis. With over 30 years of experience fine-tuning the talent on Tour, names such as Feliciano Lóopez, Alex Corretja and Carlos Moya have all spent time under his watchful eye.

The Madrid native has been in Khachanov's corner since 2020. His student is on a promising trajectory and is now set to do something big at the Australian Open. Since teaming up, they have made the second week of every Grand Slam at least once — a trait of a truly elite player. They won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and have set themselves one clear goal: to take Khachanov back into the Top 10, where he has not been for more than three years.

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Paul Set For Top 20 Breakthrough Behind Australian Open Run

American men's tennis is on the rise, and few are climbing higher than Australian Open semi-finalist Tommy Paul.

During his run to his first Grand Slam semi-final, the 25-year-old has soared 16 places up the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings to No. 19, setting himself up to crack the Top 20 for the first time in Monday's edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

[ATP APP]

Paul just missed out on a seed at the Australian Open as the World No. 35, but has dropped only four sets in his five Melbourne matches thus far. He knocked off 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on his path to the last four, where he will meet nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.

If Paul can pull off the upset, he will further rise to No. 15 by reaching the final and into the Top 10 at No. 9 with a title. Taylor Fritz, at No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, will remain the American No. 1 into February, while Frances Tiafoe makes it three men from the United States in the Top 20 at No. 15.

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New Player Advisory Council Meets In Melbourne

Andrey Rublev and Grigor Dimitrov were among eight new player members who convened on the eve of the Australian Open for the first meeting of the new ATP Player Advisory Council.

The ATP Player Advisory Council is a group of ATP members elected by their peers to serve and act as the voice of the player body in tour-wide decisions.

The newly elected members are:

1-50 Singles: Andrey Rublev & Grigor Dimitrov 51-100 Singles: Pedro Martinez & Bernabe Zapata Miralles 1-25 Doubles: Wesley Koolhof 1-75 Doubles: Harri Heliovaara At-Large: Pedro Cachin & Matt Ebden Coach Representative: Daniel Vallverdu Alumni Representative: Nicolas Pereira

The first ATP Player Advisory Council meeting of the year took place in Melbourne on 12 January.

Bulgaria’s former World No. 3 and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Dimitrov said: "I've been asked so many times in the past but I just never felt it was the right time and the right fit for me at the time. I think now I'm in a position where I've got a few years behind me, I have the experience on the court, I have experience with the players and I'm looking forward to it.”

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Nys/Zielinski Channel Bryan Brothers For Australian Open SF Win

After losing the second set in Thursday's Australian Open doubles semi-finals, Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski drew inspiration from six-time Melbourne champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. The Monegasque/Polish pairing then powered through the deciding set in a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 win against Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, advancing to what will be a maiden major final for both men.

"Our energy came a little bit down [in the second set] and I told Jan, the beginning of the third set we have to come back like Bryan/Bryan energy, from the first point," Nys said in an on-court interview.

"I'm really happy we did it because it actually made the difference. Even though it's the first semi-final for us, we managed to bring that big energy in the third set. I'm really proud of the team."

FIRST. GRAND. SLAM. FINAL.

?? @HugoNys/@zielaczekk ?? hold off Chardy/Martin 6-3 5-7 6-2 for the biggest win of their careers!@wwos@espn@eurosport@wowowtennis#AusOpen#AO2023 pic.twitter.com/b7HK2QzdUW

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2023

The unseeded duo lost serve for the only time in the final game of the second set, but quickly made amends by building a 4-0 lead in the deciding set. They finished the match with 14 aces and an 89 per cent win rate on first serve in Rod Laver Arena.

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SF Preview: 'Dominant' Djokovic Meets Surprise Package Paul

There are few things new to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, where he is now two wins away from a record-extending 10th singles title. But he will experience a first in Friday's semi-finals when he takes on American Tommy Paul.

The opponents will open their ATP Head2Head series in the Rod Laver Arena evening session, with Djokovic playing his sixth straight match under the lights on Melbourne's main stage. Paul, who was on the field courts for his first three contests, made his Laver debut on Wednesday in the quarter-finals.

[ATP APP]

While Paul is unseeded, he was the first man to miss the cutoff as the World No. 35. He is now up to No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, and Djokovic is expecting an elite-level test.

"I watched him play quite a bit, especially during this tournament. He's been playing probably the tennis of his life," said the Serbian. "Very explosive, very dynamic player. Quick, very solid backhand. Likes to step in, dictate the point with the forehand. Great, great service motion. I think he can hit all the spots with the serve. Very complete player."

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SF Preview: Can Tsitsipas Break New Ground At 'Home Slam'?

Stefanos Tsitsipas finds himself in the Australian Open semi-finals for the fourth time, with a golden opportunity against Olympic silver medalist Karen Khachanov on Friday. While the Greek has thrived in Melbourne throughout his career, Khachanov had not been beyond the third round Down Under until this year.

With the large Greek population in Melbourne and its similar climate to his native Athens, Tsitsipas has called the Australian Open his "home Slam". He has been a second-week regular at the event since his breakout run in 2019, but has never been able to reach the title round, falling one match short against Rafael Nadal in '19 and Daniil Medvedev each of the past two years.

[ATP APP]

But the 24-year-old's play this fortnight, during which he has won four of his five matches in straight sets, makes him a hot favourite to rectify that against Khachanov. He'll be further fuelled by his 5-0 ATP Head2Head record against the 18th seed, their most recent meeting last season in Rome.

Asked if this could be the year for his Grand Slam trophy breakthrough, Tsitsipas' reply was brimming with confidence — much like his game.

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Kyrgios Targets Indian Wells Return After Surgery

Nick Kyrgios plans to return to ATP Tour action at March’s BNP Paribas Open after his manager Daniel Horsfall confirmed a positive outcome to the Australian star’s knee surgery.

“The surgery was a great success,” Horsfall told Australian newspapers The Herald and The Age after Kyrgios had an operation Monday to repair a small tear in his left lateral meniscus. “We couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome of it. Now we will be pushing ahead for a speedy recovery and are aiming to see everyone at Indian Wells.”

The injury forced Kyrgios’ withdrawal from Team Australia’s inaugural United Cup lineup in late December. The 27-year-old subsequently also missed the 2023 Australian Open, where the home favourite was considered a strong title prospect in the singles and would have defended his 2022 men’s doubles crown alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Kyrgios enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022, notching a 37-10 match record, reaching his maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, and lifting his seventh ATP Tour title in Washington. He will hope a quick recovery allows him to recapture that form at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, to be held from 8-19 March, where he is a two-time quarter-finalist.

“For now, Mumma K [Nick’s mother, Nill Kyrgios] will have her work cut out for her having everyone around the home for a little while,” added Horsfall light-heartedly. “Nick will stay back in Canberra. His plan is to eat delicious food and play a lot of Pokémon.

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Ben Shelton's Journey Of Discovery Is Just Beginning

Ben Shelton was in no mood to be downcast after falling to Tommy Paul Wednesday in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

Having reached the last eight in just his second Grand Slam appearance, the #NextGenATP American reflected happily on his performances at Melbourne Park this fortnight — as well as the valuable lessons learned from his stellar run.

“I think it was a great experience,” said Shelton after Paul prevailed 7-6(6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in an all-American quarter-final clash. “It was fun to be out there, my first quarter-final of a Grand Slam.

“I thought I played alright. Some things that I could do better, things that I would maybe do next time if I could do differently, but I'm pleased with the result, this being my first time at the Australian Open. So, [I’m] taking a lot of positives away from it.”

This fortnight, Shelton defeated Zhang Zhizhen, Nicolas Jarry, Alexei Popyrin and J.J. Wolf in a dream Melbourne Park debut. The 20-year-old, who a year ago was ranked No. 569 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and still a University of Florida college player, had never left the United States prior to this trip to Australia. That made it a journey of discovery for the American both on and off the court.

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