In the run-up to the Australian Open, Ashleigh Barty secures home victory in Yarra Valley, while Jannik Sinner, Daniel Evans and Team Russia comes out on top in Melbourne
Australia kicks off the tennis tournament season
After a heavily criticized quarantine-period, which saw many players locked up in their rooms, desperate for playing time, practising their serves against mattresses, the tennis-season officially kicked off in Australia with a de-masked audience at the arenas.
After a series of exhibition-games featuring Djokovic, Sinner and others, this year’s first ATP and WTA-tournaments got to a start: Great Ocean Road Open, Murray River Open, Yarra Valley Open and, not least, the ATP Cup – all played at the Melbourne Park Arena.
Russia wins easily against Italy
Team Russia, not surprisingly, won the title in this second edition of the ATP Cup, after beating Team Italy rather uncomplicatedly in the final. Andrey Rublev had no major problems beating a lacklustre Fabio Fognini, whose great talents never really came to show on the Melbourne Area. Fognini is undoubtedly one of the greatest talents of the sport and beats all the world’s top players on good days. He didn’t have a good day on Sunday, however, and the young Russian hammered through his defence with hard hitting forehands, winning very comfortably 6-1, 6-2.
Much pressure was therefore on the Italian no. 1, Matteo Berrettini, currently no. 10 in the world. Berrettini has one of the best serves and one of the best forehands in the world, but he probably has the weakest backhand of the top 20 players. He’d played masterly against Spain’s Bautista Agut in the semifinals but when faced with Daniil Medvedev in the finals, knowing he had to win for Italy to have a chance at the title, he got it all wrong. The first serve failed him and the backhand was even weaker than usual, and a brilliant-as-usual Daniil Medvedev did not have to waste too much energy to secure a 6-4, 6-2 win for Russia. Medvedev even smiled at the end of the match as he celebrated the victory with his Russian teammates, Russia is by far the strongest team in the world right now, and that’s not only because Nadal did not play for Spain.
Jannik Sinner wins an all-Italian final
Italy may have lost the ATP Cup bleakley, however an Italian player was bound to win in the Murray River Open, where the phenomenal Jannik Sinner faced 10-year older countryman Stefano Travaglia in the finals. Although Sinner was visibly tired after two matches the day before, including a thrilling win in three sets against Russian Karen Khachanov, Travaglia didn’t manage to convert his many chances into actual points, and in the end lost 7-6, 6-4 to the upcoming 19-year old champion Jannik Sinner.
Brilliant Daniel Evans beats Auger-Aliassime
In the Murray River Open, Daniel Evans inflicted the seventh ATP final-loss on the 20-year old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. Evans hardly put a foot wrong in the entire match, as he imposed his hugely entertaining tennis on the Canadian. Switching effortlessly between luring backhand slices, explosive attacks and extremely precise passes, aided by good serving, Daniel Evans could finally claim his first ATP-victory with the numbers 6-2, 6-3.
Home-run for Ashleigh Barty
It was not her first victory, but Ashleigh Barty nevertheless impressed as she won in her first tournament in 11 months, in the Yarra Valley Open, beating the Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza 7-6, 6-4. Muguruza played well, but there was little she could do against the innovative and sparkling tennis of the Australian all-sports supertalent.
With the smaller tournaments out of the way, the stage is now set for the major event this season: the Australian Open, where Nadal and Djokovic will try and face off the increasingly tough challenge posed by the next generation, while Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka will have to find a way to deal with potential jokers like Iga Swiatek and Bianca Andreescu – all matches with the audience cheering them on. It’ll be great!
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Australia kicks off the tennis tournament season.’ Who do you think will win the Australian Open? Who are you most looking forward to see step onto the court? Let us know!
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