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Tennis

Novak Djokovic claims 10th Australian Open title, 22nd Slam

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 6 minute read Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic climbed into the Rod Laver Arena stands to celebrate his 10th Australian Open championship and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title Sunday and, after jumping and pumping his fists with his team, he collapsed onto his back, crying.

When he returned to the playing surface, Djokovic sat on his sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel and sobbed some more.

This trip to Australia was far more successful than that of a year ago — when he was deported because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 — although difficult in its own ways: a bad hamstring; some off-court tumult involving his father. Yet Djokovic accomplished all he could have possibly wanted in his return: He resumed his winning ways at Melbourne Park and made it back to the top of tennis, declaring: “This probably is the, I would say, biggest victory of my life.”

Only briefly challenged in the final, Djokovic was simply better at the most crucial moments and beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). As a bonus, Djokovic will vault from No. 5 to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, a spot he already has held for more weeks than any other man.

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Sabalenka beats Rybakina for Australian Open women’s title

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

Sabalenka beats Rybakina for Australian Open women’s title

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The serves were big. So big. Other shots, too. The points were over quickly. So quickly: Seven of the first 13 were aces.

And so it was immediately apparent in the Australian Open women’s final between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina that the one who could manage to keep her serve in line, get a read on returns and remain steady at the tightest moments would emerge victorious.

That turned out to be Sabalenka, a 24-year-old from Belarus, who won her first Grand Slam title by coming back to beat Wimbledon champion Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Melbourne Park on Saturday night, using 17 aces among her 51 total winners to overcome seven double-faults.

It was telling that Sabalenka's remarks during the post-match ceremony were directed at her coach, Anton Dubrov, and her fitness trainer, Jason Stacy — she referred to them as “the craziest team on tour, I would say.”

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Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan walks onto Rod Laver Arena ahead of the women's singles final against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Djokovic tops Paul; faces Tsitsipas in Australian Open final

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

Djokovic tops Paul; faces Tsitsipas in Australian Open final

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic put aside some shaky play in the early going and took over his Australian Open semifinal against unseeded American Tommy Paul on Friday, winning 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 to close in on a 10th championship at Melbourne Park and 22nd Grand Slam title overall.

Djokovic’s parents and brother are in town for the tournament for the first time since he claimed major trophy No. 1 there back in 2008, but his father stayed away from this match after getting caught up in a flap connected to spectators who brought banned Russian flags on site earlier in the week.

Forget about that potential distraction. Forget about the heavily taped left hamstring that was an issue last week. Forget about how Djokovic produced twice as many unforced errors, 24, as winners, 12, in the opening set. Forget that he dropped four games in a row in one stretch. As usual, Djokovic summoned what it took to extend his Australian Open winning streak to 27 matches, the longest in the Open era, which dates to 1968.

There was a pause in that string of victories a year ago, of course, when Djokovic was deported from Australia before competition began because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. He still has not gotten the shots, but the strict border controls established by the country during the pandemic have been eased.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a forehand return to Karen Khachanov of Russia during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Rybakina tops Azarenka to make Australian Open women’s final

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

Rybakina tops Azarenka to make Australian Open women’s final

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina reached her second final in the past three Grand Slam tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Rybakina added to what already was an impressive run through a string of top opponents. Azarenka, the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, joined a list of players eliminated by Rybakina over the past two weeks that includes No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko — both owners of major titles — and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.

As usual, Rybakina did it with her powerful serve, delivering it at up to 117 mph (189 kph) and accumulating nine aces Thursday to bring her total to a tournament-high 44, and stinging groundstrokes that she used to close points seemingly at will. The performance was particularly noteworthy against a returner and defender as established on hard courts as Azarenka, a former No. 1 and a three-time runner-up at the U.S. Open.

In Saturday’s final, Rybakina will take on either No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus or unseeded Magda Linette of Poland. Sabalenka took a 9-0 mark in 2023 into Thursday’s second semifinal, while Linette made it to that stage of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 30 appearances.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand return to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan during their semifinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Paul beats Shelton in all-US quarterfinal at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

Paul beats Shelton in all-US quarterfinal at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tommy Paul reached his first Grand Slam semifinal and ended the surprising run of Ben Shelton by winning their all-American matchup at the Australian Open 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 on Wednesday.

Paul, a 25-year-old from New Jersey, is the first man from his country to make it to the final four at Melbourne Park since Andy Roddick in 2009. Roddick was also the last man from the U.S. to win a Grand Slam singles championship, at the U.S. Open 20 years ago.

The 35th-ranked Paul was a star as a junior, taking the 2015 title at the French Open and getting to the final at Flushing Meadows that year. As a pro, he owns one tour-level title, at Stockholm in 2021 and, until this week, had made it as far as the fourth round at just one Grand Slam tournament — at Wimbledon a year ago.

His semifinal opponent will be 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev. Djokovic entered their match on Wednesday night with a 43-10 career record in major quarterfinals; Rublev’s mark at that stage was 0-6.

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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Ben Shelton of the U.S. takes a drink during a break in his quarterfinal against compatriot Tommy Paul at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Canada’s Dabrowski eliminated from Australian Open after women’s doubles loss

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Preview

Canada’s Dabrowski eliminated from Australian Open after women’s doubles loss

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski is out of the Australian Open after a third-round loss in women's doubles action.

The Ottawa native and her Mexican partner Giuliana Olmos lost 7-5, 6-2 to American Caroline Dolehide and Anna Kalinskaya of Russia in a match played Tuesday night in Melbourne.

Dabrowski and Olmos leapt out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Dolehide and Kalinskaya stormed back for the victory.

The Canadian and her teammate hit four aces across the match but struggled with break points, winning just two of a possible eight.

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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski is out of the Australian Open after a third-round loss in women's doubles action.

The Ottawa native and her Mexican partner Giuliana Olmos lost 7-5, 6-2 to American Caroline Dolehide and Anna Kalinskaya of Russia in a match played Tuesday night in Melbourne.

Dabrowski and Olmos leapt out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Dolehide and Kalinskaya stormed back for the victory.

The Canadian and her teammate hit four aces across the match but struggled with break points, winning just two of a possible eight.

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu downs Britain’s Dart in Thailand Open first round

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Preview

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu downs Britain’s Dart in Thailand Open first round

The Canadian Press 1 minute read 11:34 AM CST

HUA HIN, Thailand - Top-seed Bianca Andreescu is off to a winning start at the Thailand Open tennis tournament after posting a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Britain's Harriet Dart on Tuesday.

Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., was consistent on either side of the court, winning 56.0 per cent of service points and 56.1 per cent of return points.

She had two aces to Dart's none, and committed just one double-fault to Dart's five.

Both players struggled when facing break point. Andreescu defended just one of the four break points she faced, but converted six of her eight break chances.

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11:34 AM CST

Bianca Andreescu reacts during her second round match against Cristina Bucsa of Spain at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. Andreescu is off to a winning start at the Thailand Open tennis tournament after posting a 6-3, 6-4 win over Britain's Harriet Dart on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Ng Han Guan

Auger-Aliassime loses four-set match to Lehecka, eliminated from Australian Open

Stephanie Myles, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Auger-Aliassime loses four-set match to Lehecka, eliminated from Australian Open

Stephanie Myles, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - A golden opportunity to make his second consecutive Australian Open quarterfinal went all wrong for Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.

The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime was defeated 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) by No. 71 Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, an unseeded player who already had upset No. 21 seed Borna Coric and No. 11 Cameron Norrie earlier in the week. The Montreal native said he has had a tough week.

"I gave everything I had. I had some good moments. But too many parts of my game were not at the level they need to be in order to win against players like him and the other players in the draw," said Auger-Aliassime after the loss. "It's O.K. I mean, it's how it is.

"I'm proud of my effort. I gave everything. But my level isn't where I want it to be."

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Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023

Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada plays against Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

No. 1 Swiatek, No. 7 Gauff both lose at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

No. 1 Swiatek, No. 7 Gauff both lose at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 5 minute read Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It all came so seemingly easy for Iga Swiatek last season — two Grand Slam trophies, eight titles overall, a 37-match winning streak, a lengthy stay at No. 1 in the rankings.

Those accomplishments made everyone else expect constant greatness from Swiatek, which she can't do anything about. They also changed the way she approached big moments, and a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open's fourth round Sunday made Swiatek wonder whether she needs to reassess her outlook.

“I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments, and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard. So I’m going to try to chill out a little bit more,” Swiatek said. “I felt the pressure, and I felt that ‘I don’t want to lose’ instead of ‘I want to win.’”

So there will not be a showdown between Swiatek and No. 7 seed Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park. Instead, it will be Rybakina taking on 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, a 7-5, 6-3 winner against Gauff, with a semifinal berth at stake.

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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays a backhand return to Iga Swiatek of Poland during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Canadian wheelchair tennis player Shaw to play in quad division at Australian Open

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Canadian wheelchair tennis player Shaw to play in quad division at Australian Open

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Canada's Rob Shaw wouldn't mind seeing the wind pick up next week at Melbourne Park when he takes to the court at the Australian Open.

Shaw, the lone Canadian wheelchair tennis player in the field, competes in the quad division for players with varying levels of upper and lower limb impairment.

"I don't have the same mobility skills as some of my competitors and I'm not one of the fastest in the division," Shaw said. "And because of that, I sort of make up for it by ensuring that no one gets into a rhythm."

Blustery conditions can sometimes help on that front.

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Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Canada's Rob Shaw poses in this handout photo received January 20, 2023. Now up to seventh in the world in the men's quad singles category, Shaw, from North Bay, Ont., will be in the field when wheelchair tennis competition begins next week at the Australian Open. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Alexis Shareck/Tennis Canada *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime advances to fourth round of Australian Open

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime advances to fourth round of Australian Open

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to move on to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The Montreal native fired nine aces and won 85 per cent of first-serve points, in addition to breaking on six out of 20 chances.

He also had 38 winners to Cerundolo's 22 in a match played Friday afternoon in Melbourne.

After cruising through the third set, the sixth seeded Auger-Aliassime was met with quite the challenge from Cerundolo in the fourth.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada plays a backhand return to Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ng Han Guan

Murray edges Kokkinakis after 4 a.m. at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Preview

Murray edges Kokkinakis after 4 a.m. at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The times on the clock shifted from p.m. to a.m., the day from Thursday to Friday, and Andy Murray never wavered, never relented, no matter that he faced a two-set hole at the Australian Open, no matter that he is 35 and possesses an artificial hip, no matter that this was the longest and latest-finishing match of his long, illustrious career.

His explanation was simple: “I have a big heart.”

The three-time major champion and 26-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis stared down exhaustion and each other for 5 hours, 45 minutes of compelling theater in a second-round contest at Melbourne Park until Murray emerged with a 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 victory that ended a little after 4 a.m.

“The match was obviously very up and down. There was frustration in there. There was tension. There was excitement and all of that stuff,” Murray told reporters gathered in a stadium hallway after his 11th career comeback to win after dropping two sets, the most among active players.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia reacts after losing a point to Andy Murray of Britain during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez knocked out of Aussie Open by No. 4 Caroline Garcia

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez knocked out of Aussie Open by No. 4 Caroline Garcia

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Canada's Leylah Fernandez was eliminated from women's singles play at the Australian Open after dropping a second-round match to Caroline Garcia of France 7-6 (5), 7-5 on Thursday.

Garcia dominated with the serve, delivering 11 aces in a spirited match that lasted one hour and 52 minutes at Rod Laver Stadium.

The tournament's fourth seed also converted two of three breakpoint opportunities, while Fernandez capitalized on just one of nine.

""I felt after the first set it was a little bit of a robbery from my side," said Garcia, who won the WTA Finals in November in Texas. "(Fernandez) was pretty much up the whole time, I couldn’t really find my rhythm, but I just tried to play one point at a time, stay in the present and it was very important for me."

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Leylah Fernandez of Canada plays a backhand return to Caroline Garcia of France during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Fernandez was eliminated from the women’s singles competition at the Australian Open after falling to Garcia 7-6, 7-5.; THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Dita Alangkara

Nadal MRI shows hurt left hip flexor; recovery of 6-8 weeks

The Associated Press 1 minute read Preview

Nadal MRI shows hurt left hip flexor; recovery of 6-8 weeks

The Associated Press 1 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal injured his left hip flexor during his loss at the Australian Open and could need about six to eight weeks to fully recover, his manager said Thursday.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion had an MRI exam at a hospital in Melbourne under his doctor's supervision on Thursday, a day after being injured during a straight-set exit against Mackenzie McDonald in the second round at Melbourne Park.

Nadal was the defending champion and seeded No. 1 in Australia.

The 36-year-old now will head home to Spain to rest.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

American Jenson Brooksby beats No. 2 Ruud at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

American Jenson Brooksby beats No. 2 Ruud at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Jenson Brooksby eliminated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday in Rod Laver Arena, meaning a pair of 20-something Californians have knocked out the top two players in the men’s bracket.

The 22-year-old Brooksby’s surprise came in the same round and on the same court that 27-year-old Mackenzie McDonald defeated No. 1 seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal on Wednesday at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

Brooksby is ranked 39th and making his Australian Open debut. He was supposed to enter a year ago but came down with COVID-19 the day before he was supposed to fly to Australia.

“Hopefully this is the first of many many good years here to come,” Brooksby said.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Jenson Brooksby of the U.S. reacts after winning the first set against Casper Ruud of Norway in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Hampered by bad hip, Rafael Nadal loses at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 6 minute read Preview

Hampered by bad hip, Rafael Nadal loses at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 6 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal bowed his head during changeovers and rested his elbows on his knees, the very picture of resignation.

What already was a poor start to 2023, following a year marred by all manner of health issues, reached a low point at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The defending champion and No. 1 seed at Melbourne Park, Nadal injured his left hip and lost to Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the second round, abruptly ending his bid for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam trophy.

“It's a tough moment. It's a tough day,” said Nadal, a 36-year-old Spaniard. “I can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this moment, because I would be lying.”

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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S., plays a forehand return to Rafael Nadal of Spain during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

Auger-Aliassime digs deep for major comeback at Aussie Open

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Auger-Aliassime digs deep for major comeback at Aussie Open

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - They took different paths, but Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov have both advanced to the third round of the Australian Open.

It appeared, after uninspired 6-3, 6-3 setbacks, that sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime of Montreal was going to become the second major upset of the 2023 Australian Open.

But Alex Molcan, the 25-year-old Slovakian singles star, sputtered and then collapsed, as Auger-Aliassime stormed back with spirited 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victories to avoid an early exit at Melbourne Park.

The tournament already lost its top seed and defending champion earlier in the day when Spain's Rafael Nadal, hampered by a hip injury, fell 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald.

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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada reacts during his second round match against Alex Molcan of Slovakia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Andy Murray edges Berrettini in 5 sets at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Preview

Andy Murray edges Berrettini in 5 sets at Australian Open

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Metal hip, bloody knee and all, Andy Murray produced his biggest victory in years.

Murray built a huge lead, let it disappear completely, then needed to save a match point against Matteo Berrettini — who is nearly a full decade younger and ranked more than 50 places higher — before managing to pull out a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10-6) triumph across more than 4 1/2 hours on Tuesday in the Australian Open’s first round.

This was three-time major champion Murray’s first defeat of a top-20 opponent at a Grand Slam tournament since 2017. That was before Murray thought he would need to retire — and indeed was given a career send-off at Melbourne Park in 2019, when he exited in the first round a year after his first hip operation.

After a second surgery inserted a metal hip, Murray decided to try to continue playing. This sort of evening was likely what he had in mind when he pressed on.

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Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his first round match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

At Australian Open, some players say they ignore the bracket

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Preview

At Australian Open, some players say they ignore the bracket

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 4 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Awaiting a new topic during a pre-Australian Open news conference, Caroline Garcia — someone skilled and smart enough to reach the U.S. Open semifinals and win the season-ending WTA Finals in 2022 — was worried the next query could involve naming possible opponents.

“I don’t want to know the draw!” Garcia blurted out, raising her left hand as if to literally deflect the subject. “I don’t know my draw!”

She is hardly the only athlete making that claim at Melbourne Park during the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, where the second round begins Wednesday. Actually, it is a rather common refrain among tennis players as they move from stop to stop on the tour, even ones as successful as No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek.

They insist it is important to remain blissfully unaware of any potential path to a title and offer various reasons, ranging from superstition to an insistence on — yes, you probably guessed it — that old cliché about “playing one match at a time.”

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Iga Swiatek of Poland plays a backhand return to Jule Niemeier of Germany during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Fernandez bounces Cornet in Aussie Open, Sebov loses in Grand Slam debut

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Fernandez bounces Cornet in Aussie Open, Sebov loses in Grand Slam debut

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Leylah Annie Fernandez shook off some rust and early jitters before she settled down and bounced Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-2 in first-round women's single action at the Australian Open on Monday night.

The 20-year-old Montreal athlete trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the first set before finding her groove en route to a 55-minute, 7-5 victory over her 32-year-old rival from Nice, France.

It took less time for Fernandez to win the second set, as she appeared to get stronger during the match while her competitor stalled after a strong first set.

Fernandez had 24 service winners, one ace, no double faults and 19 unforced errors, most of them in the first half of the first set. Cornet had two aces, 26 unforced errors and six double faults.

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Leylah Fernandez of Canada plays a backhand return to Alize Cornet of France during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Andreescu’s ‘Aha moment’ made Australian Open win possible

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 6 minute read Preview

Andreescu’s ‘Aha moment’ made Australian Open win possible

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press 6 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Bianca Andreescu traces the path that brought her back to the tennis tour after a mental health break — and, on Monday, put her back in the win column thanks to beating a seeded opponent at the Australian Open — to what she calls “an ‘Aha’ moment” on a beach in Costa Rica during a spiritual retreat nearly a year ago.

Here, then, is how the 22-year-old Canadian described that epiphany in an interview with The Associated Press at Melbourne Park: “I am meant to play the sport and use it as a platform to be an inspiration for others.”

Andreescu, who beat Serena Williams in the 2019 U.S. Open final as a teenager, went through a series of health issues, including catching COVID-19, that derailed her career in 2020 and slowed her in 2021, too. She also split from her longtime coach. All in all, there was a lot going on — after beating No. 25 seed Marie Bouzkova 6-2, 6-4 at Court 3 on Monday, Andreescu used the word “hectic” to describe that period — and she went six months without playing a match from October 2021 to April 2022, including sitting out last year’s Australian Open.

“That was when I started to ask myself the question: Is this worth it? Is this life worth it? Because I was very stressed out with many things: People in my life; the way I was looking at myself in the mirror,” Andreescu said. “Just holding a tennis racket, I didn’t feel happy anymore. Or content. Because usually, going on the court is my getaway place — and it stopped feeling like that.”

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Bianca Andreescu of Canada waves as she walks onto the court ahead of her first round match against Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Nick Kyrgios pulls out of Australian Open with injured knee

The Associated Press 1 minute read Preview

Nick Kyrgios pulls out of Australian Open with injured knee

The Associated Press 1 minute read Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Australian Open because of an injured knee, a day before he was scheduled to play his first-round match.

Kyrgios was the runner-up at Wimbledon last year in singles and the men's doubles champion at the Australian Open and considered the host country’s strongest chance to win a title at Melbourne Park this year.

Kyrgios announced his withdrawal on Monday, Day 1 of action at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

He spoke at a news conference at Melbourne Park, accompanied by his physical therapist.

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

Australia's Nick Kyrgios, left, and Serbia's Novak Djokovic shake hands following an exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Canada’s Andreescu, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime win Aussie Open openers

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Canada’s Andreescu, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime win Aussie Open openers

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., who missed last year's Australian Open to take a "mental health break," made a strong return to Melbourne Park on Sunday with a straight-set win over No. 25-ranked Marie Bouzkova of Czechia 6-2, 6-4.

Andreescu, who took one hour 41 minutes to complete the win, had a 23-14 edge in winners. She will play Cristina Bucsa in the second round after the Moldovan defeated Eva Lys of Ukraine 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., opened with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Dusan Lajovic of Serbia. Shapovalov will next play Japan's Taro Daniel, a 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Mexican qualifier Ernesto Escobedo.

Shapovalov cruised through the first set, then struggled in the second set and half of the third before finding his groove and finishing off the resilient Lajovic.

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

Bianca Andreescu of Canada plays a backhand return to Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Jessica Pegula is first player to Australian Open’s 2nd round

The Associated Press 1 minute read Preview

Jessica Pegula is first player to Australian Open’s 2nd round

The Associated Press 1 minute read Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Jessica Pegula began her bid for a first Grand Slam singles title by overwhelming Jaqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.

The third-seeded Pegula, a quarterfinalist in Melbourne in each of the past two years, needed just 59 minutes to beat the 161st-ranked Romanian player, who was appearing in her third Grand Slam event.

“Today is just one of those days everything was working,” the American said.

Pegula will play either Czech qualifier Brenda Fruhvirtova or Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023

Jessica Pegula of the U.S. plays a backhand return to Jaqueline Cristian of Romania during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Sebov’s lengthy struggles pave way to berth in first Grand Slam

Stephanie Myles, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Sebov’s lengthy struggles pave way to berth in first Grand Slam

Stephanie Myles, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023

MELBOURNE, Australia - It's been a long, solitary road for Katherine Sebov of Woodbridge, Ont., who has been toiling in anonymity at the lower levels of tennis for years, trying to break through.

On Friday in Melbourne, in the qualifying round for the Australian Open, her perseverance finally paid off.

Sebov, who turned 24 on Jan. 5 and came in at a career-high No. 191 in the WTA Tour rankings, qualified for the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career after defeating No. 21 seed Simona Waltert of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying.

On Monday, she will face No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia of France in the first round of the big show.

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Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023

Canada's Katherine Sebov has made it into the main draw of the Australian Open after the Toronto native defeated Switzerland's Simona Waltert 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday, January 12 in the final round of qualifying for the first Grand Slam event of the season in Melbourne, Australia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephanie Myles

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