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Ram/Salisbury Survive Aussie Test

Second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury narrowly avoided an upset against home favourites Marc Polmans and Alexei Popyrin during Sunday’s second-round doubles action at the 2023 Australian Open. The 2022 Nitto ATP Finals champions ousted the Aussie wild card duo 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.

Ram and Salisbury, who are No. 1 and 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings, play their best tennis when the stage is the biggest. In 2022, the American-British duo earned four team titles, including the US Open crown. Ram and Salisbury are aiming for their second Australian Open title (2020).

[ATP APP]

They will next meet Polish team Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, who rallied from a set down to take out Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).

Two French teams were victorious Sunday, including Arthur Rinderknech and Benjamin Bonzi, who fended off all six break points faced to down Nicolas Barrientos and Ariel Behar 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(2). Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin defeated Indian duo N.Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-4, 6-4.

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Tsitsipas Holds Off Sinner Charge To Reach Australian Open QFs

Stefanos Tsitsipas passed a real test of his title-winning credentials Sunday at the Australian Open, where the third seed held firm in the face of a Jannik Sinner onslaught to clinch a thrilling 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 fourth-round victory.

Having marched through his opening three matches in Melbourne without dropping a set, the Greek was presented with the biggest test of his campaign by 21-year-old Sinner. For the first two sets, Tsitsipas seemed on course to repeat his straight-sets win against the Italian in the pair’s quarter-final at the 2022 Australian Open, but his hopes of a similarly one-sided result were dashed by a remarkable change in level from his opponent.

An increasingly confident Sinner dominated the baseline exchanges in the third and fourth sets to carry the momentum into a decider on Rod Laver Arena. Yet Tsitsipas retained his composure, dialled in behind his serve and huge forehand, and clinched a decisive break in the sixth game of the fifth set en route to a gripping four-hour win.

“It was a long match, guys, I feel like I spent an entire century in this court playing tennis,” said Tsitsipas to the crowd. “It felt so long. What a great night… I’m really excited to be sharing moments like this on the court, especially in Australia. I’m trying to do my best out here, it’s not easy. I had an unbelievable opponent on the other side of the court today, playing incredible tennis in the third and fourth sets.”

The victory extended Tsitsipas’ ATP Head2Head series lead against Sinner to 5-1. The Greek, who will rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time should he lift the trophy in Melbourne, will next take on Jiri Lehecka as he bids for a third straight Australian Open semi-final appearance.

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Wolf's Monday: Cincinnati Bengals & The Biggest Match Of His Life

Monday will be a massive day for J.J. Wolf, and not just because he will compete in the fourth round at the Australian Open.

The Cincinnati native will be waking up early to watch his hometown Cincinnati Bengals play in the NFL Playoffs against the Buffalo Bills. The football game begins at 7 a.m. in Melbourne.

“I’m going to have to. There’s no way I’m missing that,” Wolf said. “I’ve got my jersey and everything, so I’ll be rocking it.”

Wolf will be wearing a Joe Burrow jersey, which his father got him for Christmas. Bengals quarterback Burrow and Wolf both attended Ohio State University for three years.

But the American’s overall focus will be on his match against countryman Ben Shelton. Both men are in the fourth round on their Australian Open main draw debuts.

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Lehecka Extends Dream Run With Stunning Felix Upset

One week ago, Jiri Lehecka had not won a match in the main draw of a Grand Slam. Now, he is an Australian Open quarter-finalist.

The Czech’s brand of heavy baseline hitting and silky net play proved too much for sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to handle Sunday on Margaret Court Arena, where Lehecka powered to an impressive 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) fourth-round victory.

“Honestly, it feels amazing,” said Lehecka. “It’s tough for me to find some words because what we’ve been through last year and now coming back to Australia. [I lost] in the first round last year, so of course if somebody had told me before the tournament that I would play like this, then I wouldn’t believe them, but I'm super happy that I’m through and I’m excited.”

The World No. 71 Lehecka fell in the first round at all four majors last season but has upset a series of top opponents across the first week in Melbourne. The 21-year-old, who finished his 2022 season on a high by reaching the championship match at the Next Gen ATP Finals, also upset 21st seed Borna Coric in the first round and 11th seed Cameron Norrie in the third round.

“Of course, all the guys I have beaten over here, all of them are incredible players and I must have played my best tennis," said Lehecka. "[I had] to show all the cards I have to beat them. Coric in the first round, [Christopher] Eubanks in the second round and Norrie, now Felix. It sounds crazy, but it’s true, and I’m very happy and so excited to continue the journey.”

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Korda Beats Hurkacz In Epic 5th-Set Tie-break To Reach First Grand Slam QF

Sebastian Korda earned the biggest win of his career Sunday when he battled past 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz in five gripping sets to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The 29th seed advanced to the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time with a back-and-forth 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(10-7) victory against the Polish star. Korda will play Karen Khachanov for a place in the semi-finals.

"Awesome. I couldn't have done it without you guys. You guys pushed me through," Korda told the crowd. "I wasn't feeling too much energy towards the fourth and the fifth, but you guys really picked me up and without you guys I don't think it would have been possible today, so thank you!"

[ATP APP]

The American claimed an upset in the third round when he ousted back-to-back Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in a nearly flawless straight-sets display. He backed up that triumph with a gritty performance inside Rod Laver Arena against the the 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist.

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Khachanov Cruises Past Nishioka, Into Australian Open Quarter-finals

Karen Khachanov cruised into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday with a scintillating performance against Yoshihito Nishioka.

The 18th seed defeated the Japanese lefty 6-0, 6-0, 7-6(4) to reach the last eight at the year's first major for the first time. Khachanov, who will next play 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz or 29th seed Sebastian Korda, has now advanced to the quarter-finals at all four Grand Slams, the 50th man in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.

"First two sets I didn't know what was going on, but it's never easy when you are going with the score too easy. You feel it," Khachanov said. "Then at one point Yoshi tried to turn it around, he pumped the crowd and it's normal. I tried to stay focussed all the match from the beginning until the end. But it's not easy to win with this score, three sets, so the third set it was a really tough one and I'm playing well, so I'm really happy to go through."

[ATP APP]

Entering the match, Nishioka had won all nine sets he played through three rounds. But the 31st seed struggled to find any rhythm inside John Cain Arena, where Khachanov stormed through the first two sets in 46 minutes.

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The Moment That Changed Everything For Jiri Lehecka

Jiri Lehecka made his main draw debut at all four Grand Slams in 2022, his breakthrough season. But the Czech was unable to make his mark at the majors, falling short in the first round on each occasion.

What would the 21-year-old have said if told before the start of the season he would reach the fourth round at the Australian Open?

“I wouldn’t believe you,” Lehecka told ATPTour.com with a smile. “But deep in my mind, I always knew that results like this are possible for me.”

The World No. 71 has played mature beyond his years at Melbourne Park, defeating two ATP Masters 1000 champions — Borna Coric and Cameron Norrie — en route to the Round of 16. And the Czech shows no signs of slowing down.

“I felt like my game was there, but that I just needed to focus on some small details that can get me through these tough matches,” Lehecka said. “That’s something that I think we worked hard on a lot and focussed on every day and every practice. Now for me, the most important thing is just to stay focussed on the right things."

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Inside Yoshihito Nishioka's Renaissance

One year ago Yoshihito Nishioka lost in the first round of the Australian Open. It was his lowest low.

The Japanese lefty was struggling to find motivation and fell to No. 123 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Nishioka was prepared to call it a career.

“Last year was like a nightmare,” Nishioka told ATPTour.com. “My ranking dropped [to] around 120 or something, but then I got a feeling like ‘Oh, I cannot come back anymore [to the] Top 50.’ I said in two years I will retire if I cannot make it. Then the Japanese fans were very surprised with that. It was real, I was thinking like that.”

Nishioka told himself he would focus for two years to try to make the most of his tennis.

“If it doesn’t work, if [I’m not] successful, then I will quit,” Nishioka recalled himself thinking. “After a couple months, I was doing very well and then I got the confidence. Then I got a new coach and he supported me a lot, others [on the] team also [were] very supportive. Now, I’m finally around Top 30.”

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Andy Murray: 'I Can Still Do Some Damage'

The last time Andy Murray exited the Australian Open at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut, there was speculation that the former World No. 1 had made his final appearance at Melbourne Park. Skip ahead four years to the Scot’s four-set defeat to the Spaniard Saturday and Murray’s immediate playing future looks brighter as a 35-year-old than it did when he was 31.

Although Murray understandably showed some fatigue against RBA after coming into the match following back-to-back five sets wins – including a five-hour, 45 minute epic against Thanasi Kokkinakis that finished after 4 a.m. Friday, the five-time Australian Open finalist appears to be in good physical condition for a man who has undergone back surgery, two hip surgeries and who has played 954 tour-level matches.

“You never know exactly when the end is going to be,” said Murray, who underwent a second hip surgery after the Australian Open in 2019. “I would like to go out playing tennis like this, where I'm competing with the best players in the world in the biggest events and doing myself justice.

“There were maybe times the last year or so where I didn't really feel like I was playing well, and I didn't enjoy the way that I was playing. Those sacrifices and that effort that I put in allowed me to get through those matches and play at a high level that I think was entertaining for the people watching.

[BREAK POINT]

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Djokovic On Injury Issues: 'It's A Roller Coaster'

Novak Djokovic remained on track to capture a record-extending 10th Australian Open title Saturday when he defeated Grigor Dimitrov to reach the fourth round. However, question marks remain over the Serbian’s fitness as he once again struggled with a hamstring injury.

“It kind of always starts well in the past few matches, including this one, and then some movement happens and then [the leg] gets worse,” said Djokovic, who received two medical timeouts during his three-hour, seven-minute win. “The pills kicked in, some hot cream and stuff. That works for a little bit, then it doesn't work again. It's really a roller coaster.

“It requires a lot of energy that is being spent from my side mentally and physically, to deal with the match with my opponent and also not the ideal physical state. But it is what it is. It's a kind of circumstances that you have to accept. I'm just very grateful that I'm actually able to play. The way it looked just before the tournament started, I thought that it wouldn't be possible. I'm still here and still holding on.”

[ATP APP]

Djokovic entered the event with a left hamstring injury suffered en route to the title in Adelaide. The 35-year-old, who will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he wins a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title in Melbourne, was pleased with how he battled against the 27th seed.

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Tsitsipas Meets Sinner, Felix & Korda Aim To Continue Australian Open Runs

The Australian Open has produced an opening week of upsets, with four of the Top 10 seeds falling before the fourth-round stage. With the pressure mounting, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime will look to overcome tricky tests against Jannik Sinner and Jiri Lehecka, respectively, and stay alive in Melbourne on Sunday.

ATPTour.com looks at what to watch on Day 7 as players look to reach the quarter-finals.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw

[ATP APP]

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [15] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

Tsitsipas is the highest seed left in the draw, following Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud’s early exits. Despite seeds tumbling around him, the Greek has had no such problems, not dropping a set en route to the fourth round.

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Physically Pushed, Djokovic Downs Dimitrov

Novak Djokovic was once again pushed physically at the Australian Open on Saturday, but he found a way to keep alive his quest for a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park.

Struggling with the hamstring injury that has plagued him since Adelaide, Djokovic looked in discomfort throughout his clash against Grigor Dimitrov. However, the Serbian dug deep and overcame the 27th seed 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

"Every point and game mattered," Djokovic said. "The turning point for both players was right from the start. Making an early break was important. I didn't know how I was going to feel physically. I was going up and down. Grigor is someone that I truly admire and respect. He is one of my best friends on Tour. We go back a long time. He is one of the most talented players you will see. He is such a great athlete." 

[ATP APP]

In a tight clash, the former World No. 1 scrambled to win the first set, saving three set points before he converted his fifth set point with a diving forehand volley. After winning the set, the 35-year-old dragged himself to his feet and received a medical timeout, with coach Goran Ivanisevic watching on, concerned.

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Bautista Agut Ends Murray's Australian Open Run

Andy Murray spent more than 10 hours on court across his opening two matches at the Australian Open, pushing his body to win five-set epics against Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Saturday’s third-round task against Roberto Bautista Agut proved a step too far, with the Spaniard defeating the five-time Australian Open finalist 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

In 2019, the pair met on Margaret Court Arena for an emotional encounter, with Murray losing what he feared would be the final match of his career. Competing in the same stadium four years on, Bautista Agut once again had the answers to triumph after three hours and 29 minutes.

"Always playing Andy is very tough," Bautista Agut said. "He knows very well how to play a Grand Slam match. I am happy with how I handled the nerves and tension through the match, to play good tennis. I am very happy with the win.

"I am feeling good on the court. I am competing well and I am doing everything I can off court to make sure I play good matches. Today was very tough."

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Shelton's Dream Australian Open Debut Continues Into Fourth Round

Ben Shelton’s dream debut at the Australian Open keeps getting better. The #NextGenATP American advanced to the fourth round on Saturday when he defeated home favourite Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4.

"It feels great," Shelton said. "I said on the court that it's a pinch-me moment. Unreal experience out there on the court today with that Aussie crowd. It was a lot of fun to be out there, and I'm happy to be moving on."

The 20-year-old saved all four break points he faced to become the fifth man to reach the Round of 16 on his Australian Open debut in the past 10 years. The fourth player to accomplish the feat, J.J. Wolf, did so earlier in the day and will also be Shelton's next opponent. 

[ATP APP]

One year ago, Shelton was No. 569 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and still in college at the University of Florida. The lefty was not yet in the top spot of his team’s lineup.

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De Minaur Leads Aussie Charge

Home favourite Alex de Minaur equalled his best result at the Australian Open Saturday when he cruised past Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-1 to reach the fourth round for a second consecutive year.

After winning a tight first set, in which he twice squandered break advantages, the Australian pulled away, committing just 12 unforced errors in the second and third sets combined to seal victory after two hours and 10 minutes.

[ATP APP]

With his fourth victory of the season, De Minaur now leads Bonzi 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. He will look to keep his run going when he takes on nine-time champion Novak Djokovic or 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.

The 23-year-old’s best result at a major came at the US Open in 2020, when he advanced to the quarter-finals.

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Koolhof & Skupski Survive Tsitsipas Brothers' Test At Australian Open

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski were in danger of suffering an early exit at the Australian Open on Saturday, but the top seeds found a way through to the third round.

Koolhof and Skupski battled past Greek brothers Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(10-7) after two hours and 45 minutes. They are pursuing their first major trophy as a pair.

“We won a lot of titles last year. The only thing [that] was missing was a Grand Slam win,” Koolhof said. “We made it to the final of the US Open, but our goal is to get at least one Grand Slam this year, so why not here?”

[ATP APP]

The Tsitsipas Brothers played well inside Kia Arena, where they happily involved the Greek fans. But Koolhof and Skupski rallied in the final-set tie-break.

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Rune Rolls Ankle & Humbert At Australian Open

Holger Rune suffered a scare when he turned his right ankle and tumbled to the court on Saturday at the Australian Open. The Dane quickly shook it off, though, and raced past Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time. 

It was a scary moment in the first game of the second set when Rune fell to the court and braced his fall with his wrist. But after receiving a visit from the physio, the 19-year-old quickly regained his composure and showed no ill effects inside John Cain Arena.

"I'm feeling better than I expected. I was a bit worried. My ankle is good but my wrist was hurting a bit, but the doctor checked me and he said it was fine, it's nothing to worry about," Rune said. "Of course it was painful, but I tried to focus on something else. I'm playing on such an amazing stage in the third round of a Grand Slam, so I didn't think about it. I just kept going."

[ATP APP]

For much of the match, the ninth seed was in control despite the big-serving Frenchman's efforts. Rune won the rallies of 0-4 shots by a 71-55 margin against the powerful lefty.

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Rublev Takes Banana From Evans, Gives Nothing In Return

Andrey Rublev unleashed a torrent of hard-hitting winners against Briton Daniel Evans Saturday to muscle his way into the fourth round of the Australian Open. The fifth seed clocked triple the number of winners (60-20) than his opponent en route to a dominant 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win.

Evans, a gritty opponent who can get under the skin of even the most unflappable players, had proven a difficult challenge for the combustible Rublev in six prior meetings, which the players had evenly split.

But on Thursday Rublev mixed devastating first-strike tennis with one of his stronger mental performances as he denied Evans a path into the match. Hitting a Serve+1 forehand 90% of the time, Rublev dominated points of 0-4 shots, winning 66 to Evans' 44.

Not even an act of kindness from Evans could soften up the 25-year-old, who recently passed $15m in career earnings. Early in the match when Evans heard Rublev call for a banana, he tossed one to his opponent.

"I didn't ask him for it, but I asked a ball boy. He had two so he threw one to me and I caught it. It helped with some energy," Rublev said with a smile.

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Challenger Tour Takes On Tenerife

Far from the season’s first Slam in Melbourne, Australia, lies the beautiful island Tenerife, where the ATP Challenger Tour makes a visit this week and two more stops within the next month.

Tenerife, which is the largest of Spain’s Canary islands, is a piece of tennis paradise. The Challenger 100 event is staged around towering palm trees at the Abama Tennis Academy, where centre court spectators can enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean while soaking in world-class tennis.

Boasting a comfortable climate year-round, Tenerife is home to a thousand experiences that range from relaxing at the beach and whale watching, to visiting the impressive volcanic structure Mount Teide, which stands over 12,000 feet. It’s a stunning destination that tennis fans can add to their bucket list.

 

The Tenerife Challenger is one of several pro events spearheaded by MEF Tennis Events, which is an Italian-based company that started in 2007 and specialises in the organisation, management, and marketing of sporting events. MEF Tennis Events is managed by Marcello Marchesini, who is also the tournament director in Tenerife. When the opportunity came to expand running tournaments from Italy to the Canary Islands, it was a no brainer.

Semi-final action at the Challenger 100 event in Tenerife.
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Michael Mmoh: From Cowboys & Bucs To Riding His Aussie Open Luck

Michael Mmoh was sitting in his hotel room on Tuesday watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL playoffs. The American had lost in the final round of Australian Open qualifying and his hopes of taking a spot in the main draw appeared slim, so he booked his flight home.

“I was fully locked in on that game. Then all of a sudden I got a call from the ATP guy. Right when I saw the notification, I answered it right away. Like, literally,” Mmoh said Thursday. "I have never answered a phone call so fast in my life. First ring, and I was on it.”

The 25-year-old was told to be on site and get ready, since there was a possibility of a withdrawal that would see him enter the draw. Once David Goffin withdrew, the American was next on Court 13 to play Frenchman Laurent Lokoli. In the match ahead of them, Linda Fruhvirtova was leading Jaimee Fourlis 6-0, 2-0.

[ATP APP]

“I literally just grabbed my bag, grabbed a bunch of match clothes. Luckily everything was kind of in there already. Went straight to the site,” Mmoh said. “Also luckily, that match slowed down a little bit…

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