Tag: Australian Open


Can world number two Aryna Sabalenka find her serve for the Australian Open?


A perfectly hit serve might be the most enjoyable action in sport.

The loud thump of a ball rocketing off the racquet, the sight of a ball sliding off the paint in the corner of the service box.

There is also the dejected returner, walking away knowing there was nothing they could do.

A perfectly hit serve grabs the attention, just like a well-timed cover drive in cricket or a powerful slam dunk in basketball.

More than any other shot in tennis, the serve shapes games, matches and careers. The serve dictates the way a point is played, its shape and structure.

Serves come in all shapes and sizes. They are almost like snowflakes, as they are unique to each player.

Some go for the slice, others the kick or the flat serve. Some players have a subtle, compact motion, and some are more expressive, looking more like a spring being set free.

So what happens when it disappears?

It's a question that women's world number two Aryna Sabalenka is rapidly trying to come to grips with.

For most of the 2021 season, Sabalenka's rise up the rankings was driven by her ability to dominate points with her big, right-handed serve. She is one of the most talented players in the game and the youngest player inside the women's top five.

At Wimbledon last year, the speed of Sabalenka's average first serve was nearly as fast as that of Roger Federer, with her ability to generate pace off the start of points right at the top end of the women's game.

Sabalenka plays a notably aggressive form of tennis, a risk-reward brand that is compelling to watch. The young Belarusian is unafraid to throw caution to the wind, and her massive number of winners is often accompanied by a large number of unforced errors.

But in her most recent match — in Adelaide against world number 93 Rebecca Peterson — a series of worrying signs came to the fore.

In the first set, Sabalenka sent down 11 double faults, and in the second another seven. By the third set, she had resorted to sending down underarm forehands, just to get the ball in play.

Loading

It wasn't enough, and Peterson recorded her first win against a top five-ranked opponent. For Sabalenka, it was her fourth loss in a row and sixth in her last eight matches.

The major weapon of the second best player in the world had deserted her, on the cusp of one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

What happened, and can she find her groove again in time?

Serve goes missing

Last year's US Open was a momentous one for women's tennis.

The final saw two unseeded teenagers face off for the title with the champion, Emma Raducanu, the first qualifier to win a major singles title in the open era. In an unpredictable year for sport in general, it was one of the more unpredictable outcomes.

But coming into the semi-finals, most thought it was Sabalenka's title to lose. With an early tournament wrist injury behind her, her form was strong.

Sabalenka's semi-final against unseeded 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez was tight. In the first set tie-break, a double fault handed the decisive edge and eventually the set to Fernandez.

The third set was shaping to be a classic after Sabalenka squared the match in the second. The first nine games of the set followed the form, with gruelling battles on serve and the match on a knife edge.

But then Sabalenka's serve failed.

Sabalenka lost easy points on her serve during the 2021 season.(Getty/Icon Sportswire: David Kirouac)

In the final game, Sabalenka double faulted twice and missed another first serve to boot. Instead of sending the match to a tie-break, Sabalenka lost the set and the match on serve.

After the match, Sabalenka was blunt in her assessment.

"In a couple of — I would say key moments — my serve didn't work well," Sabalenka said.

"I'm really disappointed with that."

When asked what Fernandez did to turn around the match in the third set, Sabalenka was equally clear.

"I wouldn't say that she did something. I would say that I destroyed myself," she replied.

Since then, Sabalenka's serving issues have only gotten worse.

At the season-ending WTA Tour Finals in Guadalajara, Sabalenka entered the eight-player field as the top seed, but was knocked out in the group stage with just one win to her name.

For the tournament, more than 15 per cent of her service points ended in double faults, nearly twice her lifetime average.

After her final loss in Guadalajara, Sabalenka was asked what went wrong.

"[I'm] So really disappointed with my level in the end of the season and with my serve," she said.

"I guess I will work a lot on my serve in the preseason."

When prompted about whether the issues were injury related, she was sanguine.

"I just couldn't find my rhythm," Sabalenka said.

"The whole match I was really struggling with my serve. On some moment I found it, and on some moment I couldn't do anything with my serve."

Nearly overnight, one of her biggest strengths has turned into her biggest weakness.

And things haven't gotten better in 2022.

The yips, or something bigger?

Sabalenka is far from the first player to struggle with their serve on the big stage.

In a sport where so much of the mental overlaps with the physical, getting everything working together is sometimes tough.

For some players, the issue is more physical than mental, restricted by a body worn down by the year-long grind of the professional tennis tour.

Shortening the service motion or going to a secondary serve  — such as using a slice serve  — can get a player into a match.

Quite famously, Michael Chang initially served underarm while suffering from exhaustion on the way to his 1989 French Open win, before utilising the tactic as a weapon due to its early success.

Loading

For others, the issue appears to be more mental, or seemingly a case of the 'yips'.

The phenomenon is hard to quantify, but easy to recognise. Many theories abound as to what causes it.

It often presents as a lack of control over what the body is doing. It's also not exclusive to tennis, with professional golfers and cricketers suffering among others.

Broadly speaking, the yips are involuntary movements that happen in skilled motor behaviours — think hitting a golf ball or bowling a ball in cricket. Often it's a jerk of the arm or a freeze in a normally fluid movement.

Some scientists have theorised that it is related to damaged nerves, while other researchers have suggested that it is worse for players that focus and try to correct the problems as they occur.

As the focus increases and corrections are made, anxiety can rise and the problems can intensify.

In recent years, top-level players such as Alexander Zverev and Sara Errani have struggled with the phenomenon at major tournaments.

For some, the problem resolves after mere days or weeks. For others, such as Errani, the issue tracks them for years.

Loading

For Sabalenka, the cause is a little hard to unwrap. The issues seem to have significantly worsened after she fell on her wrist at the 2021 US Open, and her subsequent battle against COVID-19.

But repeatedly in interviews she has suggested the problem is more mental, and an issue with her contact on the ball.

Loading

With a high ball toss and using heavy service motion, the room for error in her serve is high. Even when she has tried to simplify her motion, the results haven't followed.

According to Jeff Sackmann's Match Charting project, Sabalenka serves the ball wider than almost every other female player. A wide service gives players more room to get the ball in the service box.

For Sabalenka, that extra room hasn't been enough as she has struggled to find the rhythm of her service motion.

The fortnight ahead

Despite her recent struggles, Sabalenka still heads into the Australian Open as the second seed behind Australia's Ash Barty and is feared by many in the draw.

Up first in her journey to the title is Australian veteran Storm Sanders, who is looking for her first singles win at a major at the age of 27.

For Sanders, it's potentially an opportunity of a lifetime. Sanders is also playing doubles at the Open with Barty, with her involvement in the tournament expected to go into the second week.

Sabalenka is one of the contenders for the women's singles title at Melbourne Park.(Getty: Elsa)

Sabalenka remains one of the most impressive young players in the game. Women's tennis is in a particularly competitive place at the moment, with a number of challengers for Barty's number-one ranking.

If she can find her serve again, Sabalenka is at the head of the chasing pack. But that's a big if, especially on the eve of one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Djokovic’s last-ditch effort to play the Australian Open will be heard in court this morning


The fate of Novak Djokovic's Australian Open title defence will be decided in the Federal Court today.

Key points:

  • The appeal against the cancelled visa of Novak Djokovic will be heard at 9:30am
  • The Serbian tennis star had his visa revoked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday
  • Djokovic is in Melbourne for the Australian Open which begins on Monday 

The Serbian world number one men's tennis player will make his last attempt to play in the year's first grand slam after his visa was revoked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

His appeal will be heard in the Federal Court by three judges, Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O'Callaghan.

Djokovic, a 20-time grand slam champion, had his visa revoked on Friday by Mr Hawke who said it was "in the public interest to do so".

The 34-year-old is not vaccinated against COVID-19, with suggestions he incorrectly filled out his declaration form before arriving in the country.

If the Federal Court upholds the appeal it will allow Djokovic to attempt to win his 10th Australian Open and become the all-time men's leader with 21 grand slam crowns, going past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

A botched decision, grand slam chaos and a villain turned victim

In dealing with the Djokovic saga, the federal government managed to turn the vaccine sceptic into a victim.

Read more

However, if his appeal is dismissed, he faces the prospect of not being allowed into Australia for three years.

Djokovic spent last night in detention in the Park Hotel in Melbourne, waiting for the hearing. 

He was granted an exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels — one engaged by Tennis Australia, the other by the Victorian government.

However, he was detained by Australian Border Force when he arrived on January 5 because he did not meet the federal government's requirement of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Despite one federal judge dismissing his detainment on the grounds he was unfairly treated by the ABF officers, Mr Hawke used his authority as Immigration Minister to deny Djokovic's visa for a second time.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 7 seconds1m 7s Tennis star's lawyers release documents showing why Minister cancelled visa

In a submission to the court on Friday, lawyers for Djokovic argued the reasons for their client's visa cancellation were not valid.

They said Mr Hawke had erroneously cancelled his visa on the grounds Djokovic was seen as a "talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment".

They also have argued that the federal government had provided no evidence that Djokovic could "foster anti-vaccination sentiment" and the minister was not the one to make that decision.

Lawyers for the federal government had until 10pm AEDT on Saturday to file an outline of their argument to the court. 

This has yet to be published on the Federal Court website.

Djokovic is scheduled to play fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the tournament on Monday.

Key dates in the Djokovic saga

  • On November 18, Djokovic is granted a temporary activity (subclass 408) visa. Temporary activity visas enable people to work in Australia on a short-term basis, and subclass 408 covers sporting activities.
  • On November 29, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt writes to Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, saying players wishing to enter Australia quarantine-free must be fully vaccinated and cannot count a previous infection as a reason for exemption.
  • On December 16, Djokovic undertakes both PCR and rapid antigen COVID tests, according to a statement put out by the tennis star.
  • On December 17, Djokovic participates in events having not yet received a positive COVID test result.
  • On December 18, Djokovic takes part in a media interview despite having received a positive result on the PCR test.
  • On December 30, Djokovic receives a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia stating he has been granted a "medical exemption from COVID vaccination" on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID-19.
  • On January 1, Djokovic receives an automated online confirmation via the Australian Travel Declaration website/app that he met the requirements for a "quarantine-free arrival into Australia where permitted by the jurisdiction of your arrival".
  • Just before midnight on January 5, Djokovic arrives in Melbourne on a flight from Dubai and is detained at the airport.
  • In the early hours of January 6, Djokovic is interviewed by Border Force officials before his visa is cancelled and he is transferred to a Melbourne immigration detention hotel.
  • Later that day, his lawyers file a challenge against the cancellation of his visa. An injunction is granted to allow Djokovic to remain in the country until January 10, the same day a hearing is scheduled in the Federal Circuit Court.
  • On January 10, the court finds Djokovic's visa was unreasonably cancelled and orders his release from detention. After his release, the tennis star publicly states his intention to stay in the country and compete at the Australian Open.
  • On January 13, the Australian Open draw takes place and a match between Djokovic and compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic is scheduled for the first round of the tournament.
  • On January 14, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke uses his ministerial powers to cancel Djokovic's visa on "health and good order grounds".

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Djokovic prepares to defend Australian Open legacy in Melbourne courtroom


In a shocking twist to Australia's summer of sport, the eyes of the world will not descend on Rod Laver Arena's Centre Court, but rather on the Federal Circuit and Family Court as Novak Djokovic fights to play in the Australian Open.

The Serb, who has won the Australian Open a record nine times, was a strong favourite to add another title to his resume before having his visa cancelled upon arrival in Melbourne.

Djokovic's campaign to solidify himself as the greatest to ever play the game has now been sidetracked by hotel detention, an impending court battle and the possibility he may never get the chance to win his 10th Australian Open.

The timeline of Djokovic's detention

On November 18, Djokovic was granted a temporary activity (subclass 408) visa.

On November 29, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt wrote to Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, saying players wishing to enter Australia quarantine-free had to be fully vaccinated and could not count a previous infection as a reason for exemption.

On December 16, Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19.

On December 30, Djokovic received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia stating he had been granted a "medical exemption from COVID vaccination" on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID-19.

On January 1, Djokovic received an automated online confirmation via the Australian Travel Declaration website/app that he met the requirements for a "quarantine-free arrival into Australia where permitted by the jurisdiction of your arrival".

Loading

Just before midnight on January 5, Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on a flight from Dubai.

He was interviewed for half an hour from 12:12am to 12:52am on January 6, before asking if he could rest and wait until 8am so he could receive legal advice before another interview.

He was woken by two border officials just before 6am and, according to court documents, "one of the supervisors pressured him to agree to a decision being made immediately".

Djokovic, "feeling he had no choice", agreed to an interview which concluded at 6:14am.

At about 7:42am, he was notified his visa had been cancelled.

After eight hours in immigration clearance, Djokovic was taken to the Park Hotel, where he has remained while waiting for Monday's court hearing.

It is currently scheduled for 10am Melbourne time, and the public will be able to see his virtual appearance.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 5 minutes 43 seconds5m Novak Djokovic breaks his silence after spending a second night in an immigration hotel.Djokovic's legal team prepares to attack visa cancellation

Djokovic's lawyers have prepared a barrage of arguments against his visa cancellation and detention in the hope of securing an expedited release for the tennis star. 

In documents submitted to the court, Djokovic's legal team argues that denying the star's ability to rest and consult with his representatives constitutes "procedural" unfairness.

Djokovic had recent COVID-19 infection

Lawyers for Novak Djokovic file court submissions stating he had an exemption to enter Australia due to a recent COVID-19 infection.

Read more

The lawyers also call attention to what they dub "jurisdictional errors", and say Djokovic's COVID-19 infection in December puts him clearly in line with ATAGI's advice on medical contraindications for coronavirus vaccination.

While Mr Hunt may have notified Tennis Australia that COVID-19 infection is not a valid medical exemption, Djokovic's lawyers argue that as "Tennis Australia facilitated [Djokovic's] medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirement and completed the Australian Travel Declaration on his behalf", the circumstances were beyond Djokovic's control.

That, in tandem with the online message Djokovic received on January 1, suggested Djokovic could argue he was misled by authorities before coming to Australia, Melbourne lawyer David Galbally QC said.

"I think there are difficulties with his arguments, but the court will look that he was led to believe that he was entitled to come here," he said.

Mr Galbally said the court might be cautious in using its discretion, with the possibility that a decision might "open the floodgates" to other applicants in the event Djokovic was successful.

Djokovic 'didn't have guaranteed entry'

Government lawyers made their own submission late on Sunday night, saying the automated online email Djokovic received was not an assurance "his so-called 'medical exemption' would be accepted", and his responses could be questioned and verified on his arrival.

"There is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia. Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation of a visa," the submission said.

"The email from the department stated that the applicant's responses to his Australian Traveller Declaration indicated that he met the requirements for 'quarantine free' travel into Australia.

"But that says nothing about the power of the minister (or her delegate) to interrogate those responses, the evidence upon which they were based, and conclude that a cancellation power was enlivened under the Act upon his arrival into Australia."

It also challenged Djokovic's claim for a medical exemption from Australia's vaccination requirements on the basis he contracted COVID-19 in mid-December.

"There is no suggestion that the applicant had 'acute major medical illness' in December 2021. All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19," the government submission said.

Czech player deported

Djokovic has not been the only player caught up in a border entry drama.

Over the weekend, Czech player Renata Voracova was deported from Melbourne following her own visa cancellation, while Australian Border Force (ABF) confirmed it was now investing another tennis player and an official who were also granted medical exemptions.

However Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said it was Djokovic's vaccination status and not his visa status that was the issue. 

“The border force has been very clear that he was not able to meet the requirements to provide the evidence he needed for entry," Ms Andrews said.

“Every single person who comes into Australia has to prove that they have been vaccinated or prove that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. That is one of the entry requirements here.”

Australian Open faces no-win situation over Djokovic case

Novak Djokovic awaits a court decision on his appeal against a visa rejection — but the Australian Open is also in limbo, and win or lose, the tournament could be in strife, writes Andrew McGarry.

Read moreDjokovic fights for his legacy

The federal government has been quick to point out that at no point during the visa saga has Djokovic been forcibly detained.

Ms Andrews said Djokovic was "free to leave any time" by getting a flight home.

Djokovic's insistence on staying and fighting in court suggests the 34-year-old still intends to compete in the 2022 Australian Open.

But the window for Djokovic to play is rapidly closing.

The Open begins on January 17, and lawyers for Djokovic say they have been advised Tennis Australia will need a definitive answer by Tuesday for scheduling purposes.

While Djokovic might not be deported immediately should Monday's court hearing not go his way, the additional time it would take to launch an appeal would make it all but impossible for him to compete.

An appeal from the government to adjourn the hearing to January 12 was refused on Saturday evening.

In court documents, Djokovic's lawyers drew attention to the tight timeframes, saying the Minister for Home Affairs should take appropriate steps to ensure the world number one was released immediately, as soon as 5pm on Monday.

Given his dominant form and three grand slam wins in 2021, Djokovic's victory in court would see him become a strong favourite to win the tournament regardless of his weekend spent in detention.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 15 seconds1m 15s Scott Morrison says everyone is welcome as long as they're double-vaccinated

But the consequences of a failed appeal would be dire for Djokovic, and all but end his reign as king of the Australian Open.

Should Djokovic be forcibly removed from Australia, he could be banned from re-entry for three years.

Under a ban of that length, the Serb would be 37 by the time he could compete again at Rod Laver Arena.

Only Australian Ken Rosewall in 1972 has ever won a grand slam at that age.

In a sign of the times, perhaps the most crucial clash of the tennis season will come between Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews and Novak Djokovic over a video conference at 10am on Monday.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Australian Border Force cancels tennis player Renata Voráčová’s visa ahead of Australian Open


A female tennis player from the Czech Republic is among three people connected to the Australian Open to have their visas cancelled.

The ABC can reveal Renata Voráčová, who has already played in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne, is being detained in the same immigration hotel as Serbian star Novak Djokovic.

She was detained by Australian Border Force officials yesterday and taken to the Park Hotel in Carlton. Djokovic was detained after his arrival late on Wednesday night.

Australian Open faces no-win situation over Djokovic case

Novak Djokovic awaits a court decision on his appeal against a visa rejection — but the Australian Open is also in limbo, and win or lose, the tournament could be in strife, writes Andrew McGarry.

Read more

A government source familiar with the case has confirmed Voráčová was informed by ABF officials she must soon leave the country, but it is still unclear if she intends to challenge the decision.

Voráčová is believed to have entered Australia last month with a vaccine exemption granted by Tennis Australia because she had recently contracted and recovered from COVID-19. 

Late on Friday an ABF spokesperson told the ABC that the third "individual has voluntarily departed Australia following ABF inquiries".

Sources have told the ABC the third person who has already left Australia was a European tennis official, although this is yet to be formally confirmed by the federal government.

In Voráčová's case, Czech diplomats are in contact with the 38-year-old player, and the country's embassy has launched a formal protest with Australian authorities.

"We can confirm that Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová is in the same detention as Djokovic, together with several other players," the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We submitted through our embassy in Canberra a protest note and are asking for an explanation of the situation.

"However, Renata Voráčová decided to drop out of the tournament due to limited possibilities for training and to leave Australia."

Voráčová made her grand slam debut in doubles in 2002 in New York but has won only one match in 12 appearances at the highest level and is currently ranked 81.

The ABC has approached the Home Affairs Minister's office for comment.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Tsitsipas uncertain for Australian Open after ATP Cup knockout


A wounded Stefanos Tsitsipas gave conflicting messages over his Australian Open participation after a painful loss for the world number 4 sent Greece packing from the ATP Cup in Sydney.

Key points:

  • Greece were knocked out of the ATP Cup on Monday night after consecutive losses
  • Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut defeated world number 8 Casper Ruud of Norway
  • Poland, Argentina, and Chile also claimed big wins and will now play off for a semi-final spot

Tsitsipas battled valiantly for almost three hours before succumbing to the dogged and diminutive world number 13 Diego Schwartzman, who gave Argentina an unbeatable 2-0 lead in Monday night's tie after defeating the Greek star 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3.

Greece's defeat followed a 2-1 loss to Poland on Saturday, when Tsitsipas withdrew from the singles before contesting the decisive doubles.

The Greek star is returning to the court after undergoing elbow surgery in November.

"I don't know what my future plans are for this tournament. I'm not really sure," he said when asked about his Australian Open hopes immediately after Monday night's match.

"I'd love to play, but I really don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow.

"That was one of the biggest concerns — if I'm going to play this match today — how is the recovery going to be tomorrow, which was the issue with the doubles.

"If I finished the doubles, next day I couldn't serve. I was unable. I was in a lot of pain.

"So I'm really hoping to be able to walk on court tomorrow and practice some serves without pain. That's my biggest goal right now, to have 100 per cent recovery on my elbow.

Loading

"I have done lots of things in the last couple of weeks to try and protect it as much as I can and get it to 100 per cent again.

"So focus on my health and well-being more than any other thing right now."

However, Tsitsipas subsequently told the official tournament website: "It was good to see myself perform at such a level. I didn't expect it.

"It worked out better than I thought. I was able to hit balls that I was scared to hit two weeks ago, so I'm heading towards the right direction.

"It gets better and better every single day almost. We have plenty of time before the Australian Open begins, and I think if I take the right precautions and follow what my doctor says, then I can see myself performing at 100 per cent at the Australian Open."

Elsewhere at the ATP Cup, Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut also took a leading scalp, continuing his impressive start to the year beating world number 8 Casper Ruud to seal Spain's tie against Norway.

There were further group stage victories on Monday for Poland over Georgia, and Chile against Serbia.

Fellow top 10 talents Matteo Berrettini (number 7) and Daniil Medvedev (number 2) have also been upset at the $10 million teams tournament, where ATP points are up for grabs.

Poland and Argentina will play for a spot in the semi-finals when they meet in their final group game on Wednesday.

While Argentina, Spain and Poland also won their doubles matches to seal 3-0 whitewashes, Chile dropped a match in defeating Serbia. The South American side will now face a winless Norway on Wednesday, while Serbia take on group leaders Spain.

The four group winners in the 16-team tournament advance to the semi-finals on Friday and Saturday, with the winners meeting in the final on Sunday.

AAP/ABC

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Another big name is out as Dominic Thiem withdraws from Australian Open


Former Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem is out of the first grand slam of 2022.

Key points:

  • Dominic Thiem has not played since June due to an injury
  • The Austrian was planning on making his return to tennis in Australia
  • Thiem's best performance at the Australian Open was in 2020 where he made the final

The Austrian announced on social media his decision, citing his lack of preparation for his withdrawal. 

Thiem, 28, has not played since the Mallorca Open in June, with a wrist injury ruining his 2021 campaign. 

The world number 15 was planning his return to tennis at the ATP Cup in Sydney, however the former US Open champion caught a cold while training in Dubai.

This cold forced him to return to Austria, where his team elected to change his planned return to tennis.

"I will not play this year at the Australian Open in Melbourne, a city that I love and where I have great memories of unforgettable matches," he said. 

"I will miss the Australian fans but I will be back in 2023.

"We believe this is the right decision in order to have a good return to competition."

Thiem said he would start the year in Argentina at the Cordoba Open at the end of January. 

"I am now feeling well again, my wrist is in optimal condition and I am practising normally and with very good intensity." 

His withdrawal is another setback for Australia Open organisers, who have already lost big names from the tournament. 

Roger Federer withdrew from the men's draw, while it is still unclear if world number 1 Novak Djokovic will be in Melbourne. 

On the women's side of the draw, Serena Williams announced she would not be in Melbourne because of medical advice, while 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu is also out.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Nick Kyrgios booed off court after retiring with wrist injury in Acapulco


Mexico

Defending champion Nick Kyrgios has slammed the crowd at the ATP World Tour event in Acapulco after being booed off the court when he was forced to retire from his first-round match because of injury.

Key points:

  • Nick Kyrgios lost the first set 6-3 to Ugo Humbert before withdrawing with a wrist injury
  • Kyrgios said he found the crowd’s booing “disrespectful” in light of his injury troubles
  • The Australian has been struggling with injury since exiting the Australian Open last month

Kyrgios pulled the pin after losing the first set 6-3 to France’s Ugo Humbert, with his decision met with a chorus of boos as he departed the tournament that he won 12 months ago.

The Australian wore an ice pack on his injured left wrist while attending his post-match media conference, where he let his feelings be known about the crowd’s behaviour.

“I couldn’t give a f***,” Kyrgios said.

“I literally couldn’t give a f***. I’m not healthy, I tried to come here, I tried to play. I’ve been doing media for the tournament … helping out.

“I tried to play, I tried to give the fans a little bit of tennis … they [were] disrespectful, so I honestly couldn’t give a f***.”

External Link:

@TennisTV video tweet: "Unfortunately defending champion @NickKyrgios has had to pull out with a wrist injury, sending Ugo Humbert through to round two. Get well soon, NK"

Kyrgios, who was the sixth seed in Acapulco, received treatment for his wrist injury during a medical timeout in the first set.

He informed the trainer he was “going to pull out” as he had his wrist taped, eventually doing so four games later.

Kyrgios said he had been troubled by the injury in the wake of the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he reached the fourth round last month.

“I’ve been dealing with a wrist injury the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“After the Australian Open I took a week-and-a-half off and then I started hitting again. I started feeling my wrist. I didn’t play last week in Delray [Beach].

“I still came here, I still thought I’d be able to play but my wrist is not ready to play.

“I could feel it on every backhand. It’s unfortunate. After the memories I had last year, it was tough for me to come here and pull out.”



Photo:

Kyrgios was booed of the court after withdrawing with his injury. (AP: Rebecca Blackwell)

Kyrgios had been a late scratching from last week’s Delray Beach tournament, while he had also withdrawn from the New York Open earlier this month because of a shoulder injury.

The world number 23 will slide down the rankings as a result of his early exit in Acapulco.

Kyrgios may now be in doubt for Australia’s Davis Cup tie against Brazil in Adelaide beginning on March 6.

In other Australian results in Acapulco, John Millman lost 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to American Taylor Fritz, and Alex Bolt went down to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘Aussie Kim’ Clijsters loses first match in latest tennis comeback


United States

She may not have had quite as many comebacks as Dame Nellie Melba, but Kim Clijsters has shown plenty of promise in her latest return to professional tennis — despite a loss in her first WTA Tour match since 2012.

Key points:

  • Kim Clijsters has won 41 WTA Tour titles, three US Opens and an Australian Open in singles — plus doubles crowns at the French Open and Wimbledon
  • She retired for the first time in 2007 after 10 years on tour, came back in 2009 before retiring again in 2012
  • The popular Belgian player has now returned again to professional tennis as a mother-of-three

The 36-year-old was always one of the most popular players on the tour, and the crowd gave her a huge reception as she lost 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza at the Dubai Championships.

The Belgian, a four-time winner of singles major titles, is now a mother of three.

She announced in September 2019 she was returning to the tour for a second time.

Known affectionately in Australia as “Aussie Kim” because of her former relationship with Lleyton Hewitt, Clijsters had rivalries with fellow Belgian Justine Henin and an early-career Serena Williams in her first stint on tour.

She initially retired in 2007, got married and had the first of her children.

Clijsters returned about two years later and won her second and third US Opens and an Australian Open.

She retired again after the 2012 US Open.



Photo:

Kim Clijsters retired for the second time after the 2012 US Open, but now she’s back for another shot at the WTA tour. (Reuters: Jessica Rinaldi)

For her re-introduction to the tour, Clijsters had a tough opponent in Muguruza, a fellow former world number one who lost in the final of the Australian Open less than a month ago.

She was broken in the opening game and struggled throughout the first set, throwing in five double faults.

External Link:

WTA tweet: .@Clijsterskim ends a phenomenal rally at the net. #DDFTennis

Muguruza broke again for a 5-2 lead and was two breaks up at 3-0 in the second set before Clijsters found her stride.

Her powerful groundstrokes put Muguruza back on the defensive, and Clijsters showed she had the confidence to come to the net and finish points.

The Belgian excited the crowd by levelling the set at 4-4, but Muguruza then converted her second match point in the tiebreaker, before graciously leading the crowd in an ovation for her opponent.

“I had a good feeling out there,” Clijsters said. “Second set, I felt I was really in the match.”

“I felt like for a while I was dominating some of the points.

“I think that’s a good feeling to have, knowing the way I started the first set and then the way I was able to get back into that second set. With the type of tennis I played, it’s something that is the positive about this match.

“I’ll take that with me for the next matches.”

Muguruza will play either Veronika Kudermetova or Dayana Yastremska in the next round.

“I think this is just special because I didn’t know how [Clijsters was] going to play,” Muguruza said.

“I’m sure she’s going to get better and better, for sure, give us a lot of trouble.”

Barbora Strycova and Elise Mertens also advanced in Dubai.

Strycova ousted Amanda Anisimova of the United States 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-4 and Mertens eased past Wang Qiang of China 6-3, 6-0.

ABC/AP

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘Perspective is a beautiful thing’: Barty’s niece makes things better for Aussie star


Melbourne 3000

It would have been a nervous day for anyone — playing under the weight of expectations in front of an adoring home crowd, with the prospect of ending a 40-year wait for an Australian woman to make the final of the country’s biggest tournament.

The day may not have ended the way she hoped, with a semi-final loss to Sofia Kenin, but Ash Barty walked into a packed press conference at Melbourne Park with some precious cargo, and a smile that belied her disappointment.

“It’s my newest niece, my sister just had her, 11 or 12 weeks ago,” Barty said in introduction to the press corps.

“This is what life’s about, it’s amazing.”

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Ipswich’s most famous daughter was accentuating the positive, despite the end of her Australian Open dreams for 2020.


Video: Ash Barty goes down to Sofia Kenin in Australian Open semi-final

(ABC News)

The player widely tagged one of the most popular on tour, has become well known for her calm demeanour on court.

The hidden messages in Ash Barty’s Wimbledon press conferences
There’s a Whole New World of interest in Ash Barty’s Wimbledon press conferences as the straight-faced world number one drops Disney references into her answers.

Not only that, but the 23-year-old has some form about taking a light-hearted approach with the media.

At Wimbledon last year, she made a habit of sneaking some positive quotes into her press conferences — which on closer inspection proved to have been taken from various Disney movies.

When she made an early exit from that tournament, the self-confessed Disney-lover threw in a famous line from Annie to indicate the loss wasn’t the end of the world.

The Aussie crowd favourite acknowledged there was a level of sadness, but even then had to balance it with the positives from her start to the new tennis year.

“Yeah, it’s been disappointing but it’s been a hell of a summer,” she said.



Photo:

Ash Barty was all smiles as she said goodbye to the media in Melbourne — thanks to her niece Olivia. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

“If you had told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, and made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I’d take that absolutely every single day of the week.”

At one point Olivia let out a cry, and Barty looked at her, saying “I hear you, sister!”.

But when a reporter questioned if the little girl had given her any comfort after her match, Barty showed a level head — and a sense of where her priorities lay.

“Perspective is a beautiful thing, life is a beautiful thing,” she said.

“She brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court.

“I got to give her a hug, and it’s all good. It’s all good.”

Then it was off to spend time with her team, including her youngest supporter.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘That’s life’: Ash Barty rues missed opportunities in Australian Open semi-final loss


Melbourne 3000

It says a lot about Ash Barty that less than an hour after she waved goodbye to Rod Laver Arena following her Australian Open semi-final loss to Sofia Kenin she was able to so quickly put the result into context.

“That’s just sport, that’s life,” Barty reflected, as she nursed her adorable baby niece Olivia at her post-match media conference at Melbourne Park.

Such rational perspective from Barty extended to her assessment of her performance, in which she had set points in both the first and second, yet still fell to the 14th-seeded American 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 with a spot in Saturday night’s final on the line.

She was up 6-4 in the tiebreak, but lost four consecutive points to surrender the first set to Kenin, who displayed cool temperament in what was her maiden appearance in a semi-final of a major.

Barty gained an early break in the second and had two set points when she served at 5-4, but again Kenin refused to lie down.


Video: Ash Barty goes down to Sofia Kenin in Australian Open semi-final

(ABC News)

Kenin saved both before winning the game en route to completing a straight-sets triumph amid the searing high 30-degree heat on centre court.

Barty had hit 33 winners to Kenin’s 16 across the match, but she let herself down with 36 unforced errors. She also managed to land just 50 per cent of her first serves in.

The Australian did not sugar-coat her display, knowing she had wasted her chances in her bid to become the first local player to make the women’s final in 40 years.

“I think [it was] a match where I didn’t feel super comfortable,” Barty said.

“I felt like my first plan wasn’t working. I couldn’t execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to [plan] B and C. I think I had to dig and find a way.

“I’m two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing.

“Knowing I had to fight and scrap, I still gave myself a chance to win the match.”



Photo:

Kenin (left) faced set points in both the first and second before beating Barty. (AP: Lee Jin-man)

At the same time, though, the reigning French Open champion acknowledged she was simply beaten by a player who made the most of her chances.

“I put myself in a position to win the match today and just didn’t play the biggest points well enough to be able to win,” Barty said.

“I have to give credit where credit’s due. Sofia came out and played aggressively on those points and deserved to win.”

‘It’s like a dream come true for me’

Barty pointed out what is perhaps Kenin’s greatest asset on the court — her aggression.

You see it in the style of her game, where she makes sure to hit as many balls back as she can, and the manner in which she pounds her ground strokes.

Even her persona between points and they way she tosses a spare ball away after winning a service game is painted with brutal aggression.



Photo:

Kenin was appearing in her first semi-final at a major. (AP: Dita Alangkara)

Kenin, who was born in Moscow but grew up in Florida, is coached by her father Alexander and after showing talent from early age, she always dreamt of being a contender at the majors.

Her victory over Barty did not come as a shock to the 21-year-old, nor will she play down her chances of beating two-time major winner and former world number one, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, in the final.

“Not everyone gets to live this moment, live this dream,” Kenin said.

“I’m just really grateful for it. I’ve worked so hard. I’ve put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness.

“All the efforts I’ve been doing, it’s got me here. It’s just paying off and it’s like a dream come true for me.”

Barty not overawed by public expectation

It has been 42 years since an Australian has won the women’s title and you have to go back to 1976 to find the most recent local to claim the men’s crown.

Playing in her home major as the world’s top-ranked player, it was inevitable expectation was going to build that Barty would break the drought and this only intensified the further she went in the tournament.

But throughout her Melbourne Park campaign, Barty maintained she was not feeling any pressure.



Photo:

Barty said hometown pressure was not an issue in her semi-final loss. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

When asked whether the occasion of playing her first Australian Open semi-final in front of a vocal and supportive home crowd proved too much, Barty explained stage fright was not an issue.

“Not at all. I’ve been in a grand slam semi-final before,” she said.

“Yes, it’s different at home, [but] I enjoyed the experience. I love being out there. I’ve loved every minute of playing in Australia over the last month.

“I could have had an opportunity to go one more match, but we didn’t quite get that today.”

How Barty conducted herself in the wake of her loss to Kenin was as impressive as her rise to world number one.

Perspective will always be one of her strengths and this is why she will bounce back from her Australian Open disappointment to fight another day.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Tennis greats call for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after Evonne Goolagong Cawley


Melbourne 3000

Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe have earned a rebuke from Tennis Australia (TA) for an on-court protest at the Australian Open calling for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Key points:

  • Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe were on an outside court when they unveiled a banner reading “Evonne Goolagong Arena”
  • Navratilova wrote a open letter saying it would be fitting if Margaret Court Arena was renamed after the seven-time major singles champion
  • Tennis Australia held a ceremony at the Australian Open to mark 50 years since Court completed her singles Grand Slam

Navratilova and McEnroe have been critics of Margaret Court — who holds the record for most major singles titles with 24 — because of her views on race, homosexuality and the transgender community.

TA has previously ignored calls for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, while it held a ceremony on Monday evening to mark 50 years since she won all four major tournaments in the same year to complete the Grand Slam.

TA said the ceremony was a recognition of her sporting achievements only and has moved to distance itself from her views.

Navratilova and McEnroe were on an outside court at Melbourne Park when they unveiled a banner reading “Evonne Goolagong Arena”.

External Link:

@MtTimCallanan: "John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova staged a mini protest on Margaret Court Arena this morning unfurling this banner"

Navratilova, who had been playing a legends’ doubles match on the court, reportedly attempted to make a speech via the microphone on the unoccupied umpire’s chair, only for the live video feed to be cut soon after she began talking.

TA released a statement, saying the pair had breached protocols.

“We embrace diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view,” the statement read.

“But the Australian Open has regulations and protocols with respect to how any fan, player or guest can use our facility, the event and the global stage it provides. This is to ensure the integrity of our event.

“Two high-profile guests have breached these protocols and we are working through this with them.”



Photo:

Martina Navratilova wants Melbourne Park’s Margaret Court Arena renamed. (AAP: Scott Barbour)

Tennis.com also published a letter penned by Navratilova, in which she expressed her view that Margaret Court Arena must be renamed.

“Nobody disputes her achievements on the tennis court, and her place in the sport’s history remains as distinguished as it gets,” Navratilova wrote.

“Nobody wants to take away or diminish her career, least of all me. Margaret, Billie Jean [King] and Rod [Laver] were my childhood heroes. I wanted to be like them.

“So, it pains me to say this, but Margaret Court Arena must be renamed.

“As a worthy replacement, my vote goes to Evonne Goolagong. Evonne is the embodiment of what a role model or hero truly is.

“Her heritage, her success against the odds, her Hall of Fame career and her exemplary life off-court, in which she has given so much of herself to so many causes, are all attributes we can celebrate wholeheartedly.”



Photo:

Evonne Goolagong Cawley was among the best players in the world during the 1970s and early 1980s. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

Navratilova said it would be fitting if the stadium was named after Goolagong Cawley, who won seven major singles titles and was ranked number one during her decorated career.

“Why not pick someone whom every child can look up to and want to emulate — a champion who inspires and motivates young and old to do their best and be their best every day?” Navratilova wrote.

“For me, that person is Evonne Goolagong.”

McEnroe slams Court’s ‘offensive views’

McEnroe, in a video released on Monday, described Court as Australia’s “crazy aunt”.

External Link:

@Eurosport_UK "Please win two more Grand Slams so we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past where she belongs" John McEnroe aka the Commissioner of Tennis is back and he's got a request for @SerenaWilliams

He urged Serena Williams, who has claimed 23 major singles titles, to win two more majors this year so “we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past where they both belong”.

In the latest of his regular, light-hearted “Commissioner of Tennis” videos for Eurosport UK, McEnroe also criticised TA’s decision to recognise Court’s tennis achievements.

“The air quality in Melbourne is not the only nightmare Tennis Australia is having, Margaret Court is another one,” McEnroe said in the video posted to Twitter by the broadcaster.

Court is the pastor of the Victory Life Centre, a Christian church in Perth.

In an interview on ABC Radio Perth last week, she said she initially had to push for the 50th anniversary events.

She said her religious views should not affect what she achieved in tennis.

“I teach what the Bible says about things and you get persecuted for it,” she said.



Photo:

Court was recognised for her tennis achievements on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night. (AAP: Scott Barbour)

Court attracted criticism in 2017 when she wrote an open letter stating she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.

That kicked off a push for the arena to be renamed in honour of Goolagong, to the point that Google Maps briefly mistakenly renamed it.

In 2013, Court wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s child in a same-sex relationship.

“It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father,” Court wrote.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘Well that sucked’: John Millman reflects on four-hour epic against Roger Federer


Australia

Only hours after an epic five-set loss to Roger Federer at the Australian Open, a simple tweet — consisting of no more than three words — summed up just how John Millman is feeling right now.

Key points:

  • John Millman was just two points away from victory when Roger Federer launched an astonishing fightback in the fifth-set tiebreak
  • Millman had come back from two sets to love down to force a deciding fifth in the third-round match
  • Federer said he had enormous respect for Millman after being pushed to five sets

“Well that sucked …” Millman tweeted this morning to his more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

It was blunt and to the point, and did little to hide the Australian’s disappointment after he went down fighting in a gripping 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8) third-round loss to Federer on Rod Laver Arena this morning.

External Link:

@johnhmillman tweet: "Well that sucked…"

The see-sawing contest lasted longer than four hours and finished at 12:49am (local time) and by the time the two players embraced at the net after Federer had sealed his triumph, Millman had attracted a fresh wave of supporters not only in Australia but worldwide.

The 47th-ranked Millman may stew for a while about the fact he was only two points away from an upset result when he led Federer 8-4 in the 10-point tiebreak that decided the fifth set and the match.

Federer, who holds the men’s record for most major singles titles with a mammoth 20, had to draw on his more than two decades of experience at Grand Slam tournaments to claw his way back into the tiebreak and win the next six points to claim his win.

As impressive as Federer was in stealing victory from the jaws of defeat in front of a captivated crowd, Millman produced a stunning performance of which he can be justifiably proud.

He trailed two sets to one before winning the fourth to level the match, while he had Federer on the ropes early in the tiebreak as his legion of fans dared to dream.



Photo:

Federer (left) was full of praise for Millman after they went the distance on Rod Laver Arena. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

But for the time being, the 30-year-old — one of the more popular players on the ATP Tour — cannot help but reflect on what might have been.

“I played some alright tennis to get there to that stage,” Millman told his post-match media conference in the early hours of the morning.

“I could have gone away easily in that fourth set. Roger was playing pretty well, [he] had the momentum.

“I thought I turned it around pretty well. Yeah, [I] left everything out there.”

Millman’s ‘got great attitude’

Millman’s display did not surprise Federer, who famously lost to the lanky Queenslander in a fourth-round encounter at the US Open in 2018.

The Swiss was full of praise for Millman after the match, highlighting what a difficult opponent he had been to face as the Australian Open moved closer to its pivotal second week.

“I think the biggest problem for me was … I was just not getting into those neutral rallies, finding the ways to unlock him,” Federer said.

“That’s [to] his credit. He’s a great player. He’s got great attitude, and that’s why I mumbled something to him at the net, just saying ‘I have so much respect for you and it’s such a pity. I’m so sorry but well played’, and all that stuff, because I really feel that way for John.”



Photo:

John Millman’s game plan left Federer frustrated during their gripping encounter. (AP: Dita Alangkara)

The fifth-set tiebreak had especially left an impression on the 38-year-old Federer — who is bidding for a seventh Australian Open crown in Melbourne — as he noted the high quality of Millman’s play.

“It was a tough tiebreaker throughout because I didn’t feel like I was playing badly,” he said.

“He punished me every single time. He was really coming up with the goods and was able to stretch the lead.

“Once he had the lead, I was always able to hold on with my serve and win my points, which was really important.

“Then of course, there were crucial points, 8-7, 8-8, 9-8. I’m happy they all went my way. Things were extremely difficult, not just in the breaker [but] throughout the match for me against John.”

As Federer lives to fight another day ahead of facing Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarter-finals, Millman will re-group and turn his attention to the remainder of the 2020 season.

But as he rightly takes immense pride from his showing against Federer, he knows the emotional pain of such an agonising defeat may take some time to subside.

“I left it all out there, [I] didn’t win,” Millman said.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Tennis players livid after ‘slap in the face’ email from Australian Open officials


Australia

Tennis players have lashed out at officials after being asked to play in smoky conditions during qualifying for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.

British player Liam Broady led the condemnation after describing an email from the ATP and the Australian Open as “a slap in the face”.

External Link:

LiamBroady tweet: We can't let this go.

The 26-year-old world number 234 said the email described conditions as “playable”, but Broady questioned whether they were “healthy”.

Broady, who was beaten by Belarus’s Ilya Ivashka in straight sets on Tuesday in the first round of qualifying, tweeted his grievance in a message with the heading, “We can’t let this go” and called for the establishment of a players’ union.

“Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?” Broady wrote.

The Brit cited examples of “multiple” players needing asthma medication, despite never having suffered from asthma, and women’s player Dalila Jakupovic being forced to retire.

German player Dustin Brown appeared to confirm Broady’s claims after he was knocked out by top seed Dennis Novak in qualifying on Wednesday.

‘I couldn’t breathe anymore’
Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic says she could not walk anymore and was “really scared” she would collapse after a coughing fit in Melbourne amid heavy bushfire smoke choking the city.

“In 35 years, its the first time I had to use an asthma spray to help me breathe better …” Brown wrote, quoting Broady’s tweet.

Brown, currently ranked 203 in the world and in his 19th year on the tour, said that the doctor on court told him that he had “a virus coming on” before adding the hashtag “well said, Liam”.

Broady’s 21-year-old compatriot Jay Clarke said his “body literally failed” on Tuesday when he lost in three sets to Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.

“I pride myself on being one of the fittest players on the circuit I play,” Clarke said.

“My body literally failed me on that day and I wasn’t the only one. 25 seconds between points felt like five!”



Photo:

Players are unhappy at having been asked to play in smoky conditions. (AAP: Michael Dodge)

Broady says lower-ranked players not treated equally

Broady also alluded to the inequality between players outside the top level of the sport, saying that players are not being treated equally.

“On tour, we let so many things go that aren’t right, but at some point, we have to make a stand,” Broady wrote.

“All players need protection, not just a select few.”

Despite playing in Tennis Australia’s bushfire fundraising match on Wednesday night, the game’s leading players have not commented on the conditions for players in the qualification tournament, aside from Novak Djokovic, who proposed delaying the tournament last week.

World number 23 Lucas Pouille said in French on Twitter that players had the option to not play.

“I keep reading that it is dangerous to play, reading messages from players saying that it is scandalous to play,” Pouille wrote in French.

“My question is this, why are you going on court?”

Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Second music festival cancelled as bushfire smoke threatens people’s health


Melbourne 3000

A music festival in Victoria’s north-east has been cancelled at the last minute due to poor air quality from bushfire smoke, which is prompting health concerns for the entire state.

Key points:

  • Air quality has improved slightly in Melbourne but is expected to worsen on Thursday when easterly winds pick up
  • Fire-affected communities in East Gippsland and north-eastern Victoria are experiencing hazardous air quality
  • P2 and N95 masks are running low across the state

A Day on the Green was scheduled to take place today at All Saints Estate at Rutherglen, with a line-up including Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Magic Dirt.

Roundhouse Entertainment promoter Michael Newton said in a statement that the event was cancelled due to “hazardous” air quality at the site and in surrounding areas.

He said the decision was “extremely” disappointing but was made “to protect the health of patrons … staff and artists”.

“The Bureau of Meteorology has advised that wind conditions are not likely to assist in improving this unsafe situation over the coming hours,” he said.

“We are also concerned about traffic, given the fires in the area.”

External Link:

@ADayOnTheGreen: COLD CHISEL – RUTHERGLEN SHOW CANCELLED. We are deeply disappointed we are unable to proceed but our first priority is to the health and safety of our patrons, staff and artists. Full refund will be provided. More info https://t.co/tLNIIlVlDf?amp=1

Mr Newton said they had to wait until the last minute to make a final call but the conditions were not good.

“Our guys have been up here all week working on the site but it wasn’t until I got here yesterday that I fully realised how bad it was,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“It was quite humbling to see them work through the conditions as they have. I just cannot imagine what it must be like for the firefighters and people closer to the action.”

All those who purchased tickets will be contacted by Ticketmaster and given a full refund.

The cancellation follows the Falls Festival event at Lorne over the New Year period being called off due to extreme weather conditions.

Friday’s A Day on the Green show in the Yarra Valley and Saturday’s show at Mt Duneed Estate near Geelong are expected to go ahead.

The chief executive of All Saints Estate, Eliza Brown, said she had been expecting 6,500 people for the event and businesses in Rutherglen would take a big financial hit.

“Not only is it tickets sales, it’s accommodation, food, petrol people filling up with petrol down the main street,” she said.

“All that money doesn’t come into the community.”

The bushfire smoke blanketing Melbourne set off a handful of smoke alarms in the city on Monday and saw air pollution worsen to “very poor”.

Worsening air quality forecast for Thursday

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the compromised air quality led to a 51 per cent increase in asthma and pollution-related calls yesterday.

An MFB spokeswoman said firefighters were called to a small number of false alarms across the city due to the “smoky air conditions”.

She said the MFB was recommending building managers set their air systems to recycle to prevent smoke filtering into buildings.



Photo:

Smoke from Tasmania, East Gippsland and Victoria’s north-east created a haze over Melbourne yesterday. (ABC News: Gemma Hall)

The smoke affected air quality in Geelong, which was upgraded to “hazardous” levels yesterday afternoon but improved to “poor” by the evening.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Steven McGibbony said smoke was still lingering over Melbourne today but had cleared up “substantially”.

But he said conditions would worsen again on Thursday when an easterly wind is expected to push smoke from East Gippsland towards the city.

“Visibility was down to 300 metres yesterday in some areas but is up around 10 kilometres this morning,” he said.

External Link:

@jayawtanitrades: Smoke blanket is slowly going away in Melbourne! Air quality yesterday was hazardous and I could feel it.. started coughing all of a sudden for a couple of hours straight. Yesterday vs today images below. God bless Australia. More than 500 million animals have died

Visibility in Horsham and Mildura dropped to about 2 kilometres this morning.

An EPA spokesman said health warnings issued on Monday urging children under 14, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory issues to limit time outdoors still applied.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton yesterday recommended vulnerable people wear P2 or N25 masks if they had to be outside.

But stores appeared to be running out.

A staff member at Bunnings Collingwood said the store sold out of all P2 and N95 masks on Friday.

“We received a whole heap more on Saturday but they flew off the truck,” he said.

The smoke also prompted tennis great Novak Djokovic to suggest Australian Open organisers consider delaying this year’s event if the problem persists.

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Kyrgios to donate to bushfire victims for every ace, as Australian Open flags concert, exhibition fundraiser


Brisbane 4000

Tennis Australia says plans are in place to support those affected by the country’s bushfires after star Nick Kyrgios’s proposal for a charity exhibition match to raise funds ahead of this month’s Australian Open gained rapid support.

Key points:

  • Nick Kyrgios will donate $200 for every ace he hits this summer to raise funds for bushfire-hit communities
  • Kyrgios says it’s been hard to see the “hazardous” smoke blanketing his home town of Canberra
  • Lleyton Hewitt says Australian Open has the platform to provide significant support to communities

The world number 30 posted his idea to Twitter late on Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon the concept was gathering pace.

“The more exposure it gets I think we have the potential to do something pretty special there,” Kyrgios told media ahead of the inaugural ATP Cup, where he’ll represent Australia in Brisbane starting this evening.

“All the heartbreak this summer; it’s pretty tragic what’s going on, especially with my hometown, Canberra, being under a bit of smoke, the most hazardous smoke in the world at the moment.

“To see Canberra like that, it’s pretty tough to see.”

Kyrgios later tweeted that he would donate $200 for every ace he hit this summer, while Australian teammate Alex de Minaur responded saying he’d go to $250 per ace, because: “I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate.”

The big-serving Canberran nailed 597 aces in 2019, and while he’s not expected to match that figure in a single summer, he is certainly likely to fetch a healthy sum for donations.

External Link:

Nick Kyrgios tweets I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer

External Link:

Alex de Minaur tweets I like this I will go $250 per ace, just because I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate

External Link:

John Millman tweets I’m not at your level boys but I want to get involved. $100 for an ace over the Australian summer

External Link:

ATP Cup tweets Each ace served across the @ATPCup at all three venues will deliver $100 to the @RedCrossAU bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts

External Link:

Dylan Alcott tweet: Getting involved and donating $100 per ace I serve this summer. Also might pimp my wheelchair and put some monster truck wheels on so I can bang a few extras down. Thoughts? #AustralianFires

The ATP Cup, which will be played between Sydney, Perth and Brisbane from Friday, announced in a tweet that every ace served in its inaugural competition will see the tournament donate $100 to the Red Cross.

Many of the game’s headline acts, including world number one Rafael Nadal and number two Novak Djokovic, are in Australia to play in the newly minted teams event ahead of the year’s first grand slam at Melbourne Park.



Photo:

The ATP Cup says it will donate $100 to the Red Cross for all aces hit during the inaugural tournament. (AAP: Darren England)

Last year Kyrgios, John Millman, Nadal and Milos Raonic played an exhibition match in Sydney in a Team Australia vs Team World Fast4 format.

The deadly fires continue to burn across large parts of the country and Tennis Australia chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Tennis Australia “wanted to help these communities in a meaningful way”.

“For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts,” he said.

“We … will announce a number of fundraising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks.

TA put an official announcement out later on Friday that an “AO Rally for Relief” would take place on at Rod Laver Arena on January 15 — ahead of the Australian Open — to raise funds for bushfire relief and recovery efforts.

TA said top players were throwing their support behind the idea, with names to be revealed in coming days.

The Australian Open would also feature “AO Music for Relief” – with proceeds from a concert by Jessica Mauboy on the Melbourne Park live stage on January 19 to be donated to the Australian Red Cross appeal.

Other participating artists will be announced in days to come.

Tennis Australia also announced $1 million funding for communities to repair and rebuild damaged tennis facilities.

Lynn, LaMelo lead Big Bash, NBL efforts
External Link:

Chris Lynn tweets Hey Guys, for every six I hit in this years Big Bash League I will donate $250 towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country

The rush for donations has not been restricted to tennis, with Big Bash League star Chris Lynn promising to donate $250 for every six he hits for the Brisbane Heat.

“It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country,” Lynn tweeted.

NBL star and likely NBA draftee LaMelo Ball also joined in, declaring that he would pledge a month’s worth of his salary with the Illawarra Hawks to support bushfire victims.

External Link:

Illawarra Hawks tweet: "It's sad to see what is happening on the South Coast of Australia. People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out."

“It’s sad to see what is happening on the South Coast of Australia,” he said in a team statement.

“People have lost their homes and everything they own.

“My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out.”

Australian ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said the Australian Open’s status as one of the country’s biggest events meant they had a platform to provide significant support.

“Christmas and the new year should be a happy time for these families and lots of these people are doing it pretty tough out there,” he said.

“So I think all of us feel like we would like to help in some way.”

Meanwhile, next week’s Canberra International Challenger event will be moved to Bendigo.

The move is being made due to the ongoing smoke over Canberra and the bushfire crisis.

Players are being offered busses from Canberra, and those still flying in to Melbourne have been asked to catch a train to Bendigo.

They are also being asked to delay travel to Bendigo until Sunday, if possible.

Meanwhile, Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced the W-League fixture between Canberra United and Sydney FC on Sunday, January 5 in Canberra has been postponed due to the extremely hazardous air quality.

The WNBL has suspended Sunday’s clash between the Canberra Capitals and Perth Lynx due to heavy smoke “impacting the air quality inside the venue”. It is unknown when the game will be replayed.

AAP/ABC

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




Recent Posts