News & media

Keep up to date with all the breaking news, feature articles and previews as we draw closer to Australian Open 2016.

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    Rod Laver and Rafa Nadal
    Tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver – two of the greatest left-handed players in the history of the sport – joined forces in Shanghai today for the first ever international launch of the Australian Open. With less than 100 days to go until Australian Open 2016 gets under way at Melbourne Park, Tennis Australia […]
    | 13 October, 2015

    Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver launch Australian Open 2016 in Shanghai

    By Ausopen

    Tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver – two of the greatest left-handed players in the history of the sport – joined forces in Shanghai today for the first ever international launch of the Australian Open.

    With less than 100 days to go until Australian Open 2016 gets under way at Melbourne Park, Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave announced a raft of innovations for the event, which is set to be the biggest and best in Grand Slam history.

    Today’s launch is the latest in a series of Tennis Australia events throughout China to foster relations and develop the sport within the region.

    In 2016 the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific will be linked closer to Asia than ever before, with initiatives including:

    • The launch of the Australian Open WeChat account, a social media platform used by more than 600 million people worldwide
    • A friendship agreement with the Shanghai Rolex Masters ATP event, which will see the two tournaments share information and resources
    • A dynamic events calendar including today’s milestone launch, a Women in Focus lunch with Grand Slam champions Li Na and Martina Navratilova in Shanghai this Friday, and a viewing party to coincide with the men’s final
    • The opening of a Tennis Australia office in Hong Kong, with a team working on further integrating the sport and the Australian Open in greater China and the Asia-Pacific region
    • Agreements with 12 Asia-Pacific broadcasters, including six in China alone
    • Partners including Kia, ANZ, Jacob’s Creek, Rolex, Wilson, Yonex, AccorHotels and CPA Australia helping bring Tennis Australia events to life via major initiatives throughout the region
    • A documentary detailing Li Na’s outstanding tennis career set to roll out on Australian Open digital platforms in both English and Mandarin.

    Speaking at today’s Shanghai launch Mr Heaselgrave said the Asia-Pacific region was a key market for the sport.

    “The Australian Open is not just for local tennis fans; it is the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific and it is a priority for us that we continue to develop the sport and our relations in the region,” he said.

    “Every year we dedicate more resources, generate more content and develop closer ties within greater China. We have a long-term commitment to the region and are excited by what we can achieve in the future.

    “With the recent success of Li Na and the ongoing rise of Kei Nishikori, as well as Sania Mirza and Leander Paes in doubles, tennis is booming in Asia and we want to ensure we maximise the opportunity for all tennis fans in the region to pick up a racquet and to share in the excitement of the Australian Open.”

    Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal – who alongside retired Chinese champion Li Na is an official “Friend of the Australian Open” – said he was looking forward to returning to Melbourne Park, the scene of his 2009 title win.

    “Every year I look forward to play in Melbourne, I have great memories of not only winning the title but each year is a great experience for me as a player,” Nadal said.

    “It’s fantastic to play at the ‘Happy Slam’ and for us, it’s true – we love to play the Australian Open and we’re always happy to be there. It’s exciting to launch the event here in Shanghai. Tennis has become so popular in Asia and it’s great to share our sport of tennis with all our fans.”

    Australian tennis legend Rod Laver said it was exciting to see the sport – and the championship he won three times – continue to grow in profile in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “Tennis has become such a global sport and it’s great to see so many Asian fans hitting the court and following the Australian Open,” Laver said.

    “Li Na was a tremendous role model and Kei Nishikori is one of the most exciting players on the circuit; it’s great to see them leading the way.”

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    Australian Open – world’s biggest Grand Slam footprint
    Australian Open 2016 will feature the world’s biggest Grand Slam footprint with the introduction of the first Australian Open Festival at Birrarung Marr. In a move designed to further strengthen the event’s links with the city, the Australian Open Festival will cover all three terraces (lower, middle and upper) of Birrarung Marr with a host […]
    | 13 October, 2015

    Australian Open – world’s biggest Grand Slam footprint

    By Ausopen

    Australian Open 2016 will feature the world’s biggest Grand Slam footprint with the introduction of the first Australian Open Festival at Birrarung Marr.

    In a move designed to further strengthen the event’s links with the city, the Australian Open Festival will cover all three terraces (lower, middle and upper) of Birrarung Marr with a host of free, family-friendly activities including:

    • An authentic Australian Open experience playing at the TAC People’s Court
    • Free tennis for kids at the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots courts
    • The Woolworths Kid Zone with a fresh fruit frozen yoghurt and try fun ballkid challenges
    • Nickelodeon interactive playground
    • Tennis action and entertainment on the big screen
    • World-class dining from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants
    • Canadian Club’s CC Racquet Club, perched high above the Yarra River serving up cool tunes and good times
    • Some of Melbourne’s best bars and cafes
    • Free wifi.

    Federation Square will begin the fan journey from Flinders Street Station, with the Australian Open Festival creating a natural pathway to the tennis. It will also highlight the new pedestrian footbridge currently under construction, linking Birrarung Marr to Melbourne Park and set for completion by January 2017.

    “The Australian Open is known globally as the ‘Happy Slam’ and we want to celebrate that sentiment and make it even more accessible,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.

    “The vision we have is to take the entertainment we already have and expand it by showcasing the best Melbourne has to offer, such as top sporting action and the world-class food and wine which is part of Melbourne’s DNA. Add in fun activities for families and there’s something for everyone, whether you are a die-hard tennis fan or just love the atmosphere of a big event.”

    Further stretching the boundaries of Melbourne Park, the Australian Open will take over the Glasshouse at Olympic Park to create even more dining and hospitality options for discerning fans.

    The Australian Open precinct will now stretch from Federation Square, along the banks of the Yarra, through Melbourne Park and finish up at the clay courts on Olympic Boulevard, making it by far the world’s largest Grand Slam footprint.

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    Rod Laver and Rafa Nadal launch the Australian Open in Shanghai
    Two of the greatest left-handers in the history of tennis and a fast-rising Aussie star officially kicked off Australian Open 2016 on two continents today. The legendary Rod Laver and Rafael Nadal, both ‘Friends of the Australian Open’ posed with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup against the spectacular Shanghai skyline at an Australian Open business […]
    | 13 October, 2015

    Star-studded line-up launch Australian Open in Shanghai and Melbourne

    By Ausopen

    Two of the greatest left-handers in the history of tennis and a fast-rising Aussie star officially kicked off Australian Open 2016 on two continents today.

    The legendary Rod Laver and Rafael Nadal, both ‘Friends of the Australian Open’ posed with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup against the spectacular Shanghai skyline at an Australian Open business breakfast.

    Meanwhile in Melbourne, Thanasi Kokkinakis led a parade of 101 ballkids through Birrarung Marr, home of the first ever Australian Open Festival, a free fan and family-friendly initiative designed to bring the city even closer to the event.

    Speaking at the official launch event in Shanghai, 2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal – in fine form after reaching the final of the China Open in Beijing – is excited about the first Grand Slam of 2016.

    “Every year I look forward to play in Melbourne, I have great memories of not only winning the title but each year is a great experience for me as a player,” Nadal said.

    “It’s fantastic to play at the ‘Happy Slam’ and for us, it’s true – we love to play the Australian Open and we’re always happy to be there. It’s exciting to launch the event here in Shanghai. Tennis has become so popular in Asia and it’s great to share our sport of tennis with all our fans.”

    Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley announced a range of initiatives guaranteed to make the 2016 event bigger and better than ever for both fans and players.

    “Continual innovation and always pushing the boundaries to present the best possible experience for our players and our fans is what the Australian Open is all about,” Tiley said in Melbourne today.

    “We also look forward to honouring Lleyton Hewitt as he prepares for his 20th and final Australian Open appearance, and I’m delighted to announce today he will be awarded a wildcard for 2016.”

    Initiatives for Australian Open 2016 include:

    • The world’s biggest Grand Slam footprint, as the Australian Open Festival stretches towards the city and includes Birrarung Marr
    • A 10 per cent increase in prize money, increasing the total pool to AU$44 million
    • Expanded social media presence, including a new WeChat platform in China with a potential audience of more than 600 million; new Snapchat channel – australian.open; Periscope people’s press conferences and a special hashtag to celebrate Lleyton Hewitt’s final Australian Open
    • Restructured hospitality offerings open to both the general public and corporate clients, including the opportunity to dine on-court at Margaret Court Arena during the finals
    • Seven new restaurants and 12 private dining rooms on-site
    • A host of new activations at Grand Slam Oval as well as the return of the popular Heineken Stage and Jacob’s Creek Wine Bar and an exciting line-up of live bands and entertainment
    • New Jurlique Spa Lounge, where fans can book a revitalising treatment
    • Kid’s Tennis Day now on sale – featuring some of the world’s best players and favourite Nickelodeon characters including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Increased customer service for both players and fans, with staff training augmented through a new AccorHotels partnership
    • Special access to a players’ arrival viewing area for fans
    • Free mobile phone charging stations around the grounds
    • Yonex announced as the official stringer and expected to string more than 4000 racquets during the tournament
    • Most comprehensive host broadcast coverage of any Grand Slam event. Produced by Tennis Australia to include all matches across all draws and all 17 match courts – singles, doubles, mixed doubles, juniors, legends and wheelchair (more than 600 matches) plus some qualifying matches, and coverage across eight practice courts, a Grand Slam first
    • An exclusive men’s final viewing party to be held in Shanghai
    • Evonne Goolagong Cawley to be honoured at the annual Legends Lunch to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her third Australian Open win
    • Rex Hartwig, six-time Grand Slam champion (men’s doubles at the US Open in 1953, Australian Open in 1954, Wimbledon in 1954-55, and mixed doubles at the Australian Open in 1953-54) and Davis Cup stalwart to be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame on Australia Day.

    In Melbourne today, rising Aussie star Thanasi Kokkinakis, Tennis Australia president Steve Healy, CEO and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, Victorian Treasurer the Honourable Tim Pallas MP and the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle led a parade of 101 ballkids and a brass band through Birrarung Marr to highlight the new fan and family-friendly path to the Australian Open.

    “The city and the Australian Open are coming even closer together, with the new bridge linking Birrarung Marr with Melbourne Park now under construction as part of the Victorian Government’s continued redevelopment of Melbourne Park,” Healy explained.

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    Yonex named official Australian Open stringer
    Japanese sporting manufacturer Yonex has been named official stringer for the Australian Open. Former world No.1 and Australian Open champion Martina Hingis and Yonex President Kusaki Hayashida made the announcement in Tokyo this week at the WTA Japan Women’s Open. Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said Yonex was a perfect fit for the Grand […]
    | 25 September, 2015

    Yonex named official Australian Open stringer

    By Australian Open

    Japanese sporting manufacturer Yonex has been named official stringer for the Australian Open.

    Former world No.1 and Australian Open champion Martina Hingis and Yonex President Kusaki Hayashida made the announcement in Tokyo this week at the WTA Japan Women’s Open.

    Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said Yonex was a perfect fit for the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific.

    “We pride ourselves on delivering exceptional customer service to the players and making their experience in Melbourne unforgettable,” Heaselgrave said.

    “We partnered with Yonex because they have a high level of attention to detail and always strive for continuous improvement.

    “For the Australian Open to continue to grow and challenge the best sporting events in the world, we rely on aligning with the best global partners. Yonex is one of them. Together we will raise the standard of the Australian Open, ensure 2016 is the best on record and maintain the event’s reputation as the players’ Happy Slam.”

    The Yonex team will be on site at Melbourne Park for three weeks in January, providing stringing services for every stage of the tournament from the start of qualifying.

    The Yonex team is looking forward to the demands and challenges of stringing for a Grand Slam tournament, having previously managed the process for high level events such as the Beijing and London Olympics.

    The team expects to string more than 4000 racquets during the event, providing top-class stringing services to the world’s best tennis players.

    The team will also keep players up to date on the latest technology and finer details of the craft, based on a rich bank of knowledge accumulated over many years.

    The Yonex team of international experts is dedicated to raising the world standard of racquet stringing, and will use cutting-edge Japanese stringing machines to ensure precision.

    With around 700 members around the globe, Yonex has the largest stringing team in racquet sports worldwide and is looking forward to this new challenge.

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    Tennis Australia and Eurosport announced today an extension and expansion of their long-term broadcast relationship to 2021. Commencing in January 2017, the new agreement grants Eurosport exclusive media rights to the following events in more than 50 territories across Europe. Australian Open Hopman Cup, Perth Brisbane International (men’s matches) Apia International Sydney (men’s matches) World […]
    | 21 September, 2015

    Australian Open and Eurosport serve up landmark broadcast deal

    By Ausopen

    Tennis Australia and Eurosport announced today an extension and expansion of their long-term broadcast relationship to 2021.

    Commencing in January 2017, the new agreement grants Eurosport exclusive media rights to the following events in more than 50 territories across Europe.

    • Australian Open
    • Hopman Cup, Perth
    • Brisbane International (men’s matches)
    • Apia International Sydney (men’s matches)
    • World Tennis Challenge, Adelaide

    “The Australian Open is much more than just the first Grand Slam of the year,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.

    “It marks the start of the global annual sporting calendar through four weeks of world class events during Australia’s summer of tennis. As such, we are delighted to have taken our relationship with Eurosport and the Discovery Group to a new level.

    “Fans will now be able to follow in one place the exciting journey we take every year – from Brisbane and Perth, Sydney to Adelaide and culminating in Melbourne at the Australian Open. As viewing habits consolidate through multiple screens, compelling engagement through online platforms is at the heart of this new deal. We’ll deliver fans more and better content than ever before, both on and off the court, when and where they want it.”

    Peter Hutton, CEO Eurosport, said: “The Australian Open is a lynchpin in Eurosport’s extensive portfolio of leading tennis properties and has been so for more than 20 years. Eurosport is dedicated to securing exclusive content and also building and amplifying key existing partnerships, as we are doing with Tennis Australia by securing additional live rights that give the channel a whole month of exclusive top class tennis. This helps Eurosport tell a compelling story and, along with planned improvements in our on-site production, will result in an exciting viewing experience for tennis fans.”

    The new deal promises around 300 hours of live coverage on Eurosport’s TV channels and, for the first time, live online coverage of available matches from each event as produced by Tennis Australia – including up to 16 simultaneous live match courts from the Australian Open.

    To support the extensive live match coverage Tennis Australia will produce and make available to Eurosport quality original programming content from October each year, including match highlights, player, tournament and city profiles, best-of, behind the scenes and more.

    In 2016 tennis fans will enjoy the most comprehensive Australian Open coverage on Eurosport, with all available matches live on Eurosport Player, Eurosport’s home of online broadcast.

    This follows the best ever coverage for Roland Garros and US Open tournaments on the channel in 2015. Roland Garros attracted record ratings in France and the most watched tennis match ever on British Eurosport. Up to 15 courts were also available on the Eurosport Player.

    About Tennis Australia:
    Tennis Australia is the national body for tennis in Australia and runs the Australian Open and the Emirates Australian Open Series. In 2015 Tennis Australia took over the host broadcast operations of the Australian Open and Emirates AO Series for the first time, making it the largest host broadcast operation in the southern hemisphere, producing live coverage of all 411 main draw matches over 14 days – a first in tennis. The Australian Open was covered by more than 65 television networks in more than 200 countries, reaching 900+ million homes every day.

    About Eurosport Group:
    Eurosport Group is the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination. Eurosport is dedicated to delivering the most comprehensive live sports experience through compelling content and technical innovation. Eurosport reaches 222 million cumulative subscribers across 91 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Eurosport – the flagship channel – is the No.1 pan- European TV channel, broadcasting more than 5,000 hours of live sport every year into 137 million homes in 54 countries, providing expert commentary in 20 different languages. Eurosport.com is Europe’s No.1 online sports news website with up to 23 million visitors every month.

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    Belinda Bencic celebrates with the trophy after winning the WTA Rogers Cup; Getty Images
    Todd Woodbridge believes that in Belinda Bencic, the women's game may finally have a player ready to step out from among the pack of hopefuls and make her mark at the top.
    | 19 August, 2015

    Todd Talks: big things for Bencic?

    By Todd Woodbridge

    All the talk in women’s tennis is currently about Serena and her prospects of winning the Grand Slam.

    But perhaps a more pressing issue is who is going to take over when she is gone?

    It’s been a long time coming but finally we may have a player – in 18-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland – who is ready to step out of the pack of hopefuls and make her mark at the top of the women’s game.

    The Williams sisters have driven the women’s tour over the past 15 years but the WTA is in need a a new star, and quickly.

    There have been a few fleeting starlets recently, but the reality is it’s tough at the top and it takes a special resilience to be able to absorb all the pressures that come with being a Grand Slam champion and world No.1.

    With Serena potentially only having a few seasons left and Venus not the force she once was, you could almost hear the sigh of relief from the WTA when Bencic stormed through a tough field to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto last week.

    Twelve months ago Eugenie Bouchard looked set to challenge for the top mantle, but the pressure and expectations seem to have been too much for her. She has much work to do if she is going to get over the huge slump she is currently mired in.

    What does Bencic need to do from here?

    Firstly, she must never read the press – whether it be good or bad.

    Secondly, she should not rest on her laurels – she is working hard, but she can still work harder.

    Thirdly, winning a Premier-level event is great. But the next step is to follow up this performance at a Grand Slam event – not necessarily immediately, but within the next two seasons.

    Finally, she should find a way to keep Martina Hingis in her camp.

    Hingis has been around Bencic as a hitting partner, mentor and most recently Fed Cup team mate and there is nobody more qualified to advise than she is. She knows everything the game can throw at you – be it good and bad – and she has come out the other end still loving the game of tennis.

    Andy Murray did much the same in hiring Ivan Lendl; Murray was already good, but now he is great.

    I’ll watch with interest the team of people Bencic chooses and in the end it will be the decisions made over the next 12 to 18 months on and off the court than will determine how good she can become.

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    Patron services at Australian Open 2015
    Tennis Australia has joined forces with AccorHotels as an Official Partner of the Australian Open in a move to deliver an enhanced customer service experience for tennis fans.
    | 04 August, 2015

    Australian Open joins forces with AccorHotels

    By ausopen.com

    Tennis Australia has joined forces with AccorHotels as an Official Partner of the Australian Open in a move to deliver an enhanced customer service experience for tennis fans.

    The three-year partnership will see AccorHotels provide a dedicated concierge service to Australian Open fans, customer service training to staff in the media and player information hubs, host key events in both Australia and Asia, and provide exclusive benefits to members of its Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program.

    Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said, “We are delighted to welcome AccorHotels as an Official Partner.

    “AccorHotels leads the world in customer service and we’ve jumped at the chance to work closely with their team to deliver five-star service to our fans, our players and the more than 600 media covering the event from all corners of the globe.

    “This unique partnership will also deliver on our Asia Pacific focus as we continue to stage major events across the region,” Heaselgrave continued.

    “The Australian Open is a pinnacle sporting event in the world and we are honoured to be named as Official Partner for the event as well as the Official Partner for the Australian Open Asia Pacific Wildcard event,” said Simon McGrath, AccorHotels Chief Operating Office, Pacific.

    “This year the Australian Open attracted more than 700,000 people to Melbourne Park and reached a global viewing audience of 370 million worldwide. We are delighted that our partnership will also extend to China for the Australian Open Wildcard event, which will deliver AccorHotels branding and hospitality across the region.

    “The Australian Open attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Australia each year and we are proud to be associated with an event of this calibre,” McGrath continued. “AccorHotels has a strong history of supporting sporting excellence in Australia and this partnership is the perfect way for us to promote Australia as a great travel destination and share our passion for customer service, while giving our loyalty members unique access to one of the world’s landmark sporting events.”

    AccorHotels is the largest hotel operator in Australia, with 200 hotels including over 30 in Victoria alone and more than 645 in Asia Pacific. The group will host seven information hubs at Melbourne Park during the event.

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    A general view over Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open 2015 men's singles final; Getty Images
    Australian Open 2016 will offer greater accessibility and flexibility for fans and corporate attendees thanks to the introduction of a tiered ticketing structure.
    | 03 August, 2015

    New tiered ticketing for Australian Open 2016

    By ausopen.com

    Australian Open 2016 will offer more accessibility for the general public and greater flexibility for the corporate market than ever before.

    For the first time ever the tiered ticketing structure allows fans to buy tickets based on where they’d like to sit and which session they want to attend, instead of having to purchase multiple-session packages.

    The initiatives include:

    • three categories of seating (Category 1, 2 & 3) in Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena
    • categories and prices set according to demand for each session
    • individual session tickets in each category are available for purchase, including high-demand sessions such as semis and finals

    Ground pass prices will remain the same and, as in 2015, include access to Hisense Arena and all outside courts.

    The average ticket price increase is five per cent across all categories in Rod Laver Arena, based on a comparison between new Category 1 and the previous Gold package, and between Categories 2 and 3 and the 2015 public ticket price.*

    “We’re very excited about these changes to the Australian Open ticketing structure, and for us it’s all about giving our fans more access and flexibility,” Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said.

    “Tennis fans are a sophisticated audience and they’re used to having a say in where they sit in the stadium at other major sports and entertainment events.

    “We’ve listened to feedback and introduced a structure that allows fans to decide which session they want to attend and how close to the action they want to be.

    “We’ve also compiled a menu of brand new hospitality options so every Australian Open experience can be tailored to individual requirements. In 2016, with any ticket, whether it be a ground pass or Rod Laver Arena Category 1, you can add a restaurant booking – with everything from fine dining to Melbourne café culture on offer – along with opportunities such as behind-the-scenes tours.

    “Whether you are a die-hard tennis fan or use the biggest event on Australia’s sporting calendar to entertain guests, we’ve opened the door for everyone to design their own unique Australian Open 2016 experience.”

    Ticket price fast facts

    • men’s final ticket is $395 for Category 3, up $5 from $390 in 2015
    • women’s final ticket is $195 for Category 3, down $95 from 2015
    • starting price for Rod Laver Arena Category 3 ticket is $75, the same as 2015
    • maximum increase in Rod Laver Arena ticket price for Category 3 is $5, or the same as the 2015 tournament price
    • Rod Laver Arena Category 3 ticket prices have either decreased or remain the same for 12 of the 25 sessions

    * the 2015 Gold package comprised Category 1 equivalent seating for all 25 sessions at a cost of $7,195. Under the new pricing structure the cost will be $6,800, although there is no longer a requirement to purchase every session to have prime seating access guaranteed to the high-profile sessions.

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    Novak Djokovic in action at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome; Getty Images
    With history on the line for Novak Djokovic at the French Open, who presents an obstacle to his success? Todd Woodbridge argues that the biggest threat may come from within.
    | 19 May, 2015

    Todd Talks: Djokovic under intense pressure

    By Todd Woodbridge

    A piece of tennis history hangs in the balance over the next three weeks – can Novak Djokovic place himself among tennis’s immortals by winning at Roland Garros and completing a full set of Grand Slam titles?

    If you go by form it’s a fait accompli. Novak has dominated the sport this year and arrives in Paris on a 37-match win streak, his last loss being to Roger Federer in Shanghai in October.

    If you were to put a short list together of players who may challenge Djokovic, it is a list of the usual suspects.

    Federer, the world No.2, is playing as classically as ever but as his loss to Djokovic in the Rome final showed, he doesn’t hold the intimidation fact he once did.

    Andy Murray is as fine-tuned and confident as he has ever been coming into Paris, but the reality is he has a better chance of knocking off Novak at Wimbledon where the parochial crowd can become involved.

    Rafael Nadal continues to struggle with confidence and he could walk out with all nine Roland Garros trophies under his arm, but that wouldn’t worry Novak this year.

    So who can beat him? The biggest threat comes from within.

    There’s a fine line between being prepared and overdone, and my sense is he now has placed enormous pressure on himself due to the brilliance of his season so far.

    Regardless of who you are it wouldn’t be human not think about the streak and when the inevitable loss may come. Perhaps it may have been better to have lost a match over the last month, just to release the pressure valve a little and redirect some attention to the others.

    Even the greatest can be affected by their own expectations. I vividly remember watching Roger Federer is his quest to win an Olympic singles gold; he fell short in the final and on that day he was flat. Sometimes knowing how close you are can cause you to expend an enormous amount of emotional energy.

    So the biggest factor over the next couple of weeks for Djokovic will be coping with his nerves. Both physical and mental strength are tested more on clay than any other surface, and it will be absorbing viewing.

    Fortunately for Djokovic, no player is presently better equipped to deal with this.

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    Petra Kvitova (L) shakes hands with Serena Williams after defeating the world No.1 in the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open semifinals; Getty Images
    At some point someone needs to take over the mantle of world No.1 from Serena Williams. But who? Todd Woodbridge believe the signs point to Petra Kvitova.
    | 12 May, 2015

    Todd Talks: Petra poised for top spot?

    By Todd Woodbridge

    At some point someone needs to take over the mantle of world No.1 from Serena Williams. But who? My choice is Petra Kvitova.

    As one of the game’s sweetest ball strikers she is an underachiever in my eyes. There is so much untapped ability there that I find myself frustrated she hasn’t excelled outside of the All England Club.

    I commentated on her two Wimbledon victories in 2011 and 2014 and not even Serena has played finals more perfectly than what I witnessed.

    At last though it seems that there has been an absolute commitment and dedication to achieving her full potential. At the end of 2014, her decision to hire Alex Stober – a former ATP physiotherapist and trainer to Li Na – was a stroke of genius.

    There are many similarities between Kvitova’s situation and with what Martina Navratilova did when she made the decision to fully commit to a rigorous fitness and dietary regime; it transformed Navratilova into one of the greatest female athletes of all time.

    News this week that Kvitova and Stober have ended that relationship is a shock, as Stober had already improved her athleticism with a strong off court fitness regime; over a short time it has been obvious that Kvitova’s confidence and self believe are stronger.

    If she is going to challenge she must stick with this regime, because the time is now for her to put the foot down on the accelerator. Otherwise, mother time will pass her by.

    Although Serena has been brilliant this season and is the clear favourite going into Paris, the clay at Roland Garros has never been easy for her, and of the other women in the draw I feel it’s Kvitova who is well placed for a third Grand Slam title.

    With her win in Madrid last week there is renewed confidence – I hope Kvitova fires in Paris because when her strokes flow, nobody is better to watch.

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    Kei Nishikori practises at Australian Open 2015 as coach Michael Chang watches on; Getty Images
    Todd Woodbridge believes the coaching partnership between world No.5 Kei Nishikori and former great Michael Chang could reap dividends at Roland Garros.
    | 02 May, 2015

    Todd Talks: Nishikori primed for success

    By Todd Woodbridge

    In 1989 Michael Chang became the youngest ever men’s Grand Slam champion when he defeated Stefan Edberg in the final of Roland Garros at the age of 17 years and four months.

    I spent this past weekend running clinics and a Fast4 corporate challenge with Michael in Shanghai, China as part of the Australian Open’s long term strategy of growing the game and the event in the Asian market.

    Over my ATP singles career I played Michael on 17 occasions, the most I ever faced one individual. At just 175cm in height he was small in stature but had one of the strongest hearts and minds in the sport – throw in the fact he was the quickest mover, and you can see why he was successful.

    Chang is now coaching world No.5 Kei Nishikori and sees an enormous amount of himself in the Japanese talent.

    Being an American-born Chinese, Chang scoffs at the suggestion that Asian players are not physically strong enough to succeed at the top. He points out that his size never held him back – instead, it is all about the mental belief and body language.

    Chang’s counsel to Nishikori has been to remind him to be different, to stand out from the normal cultural behavioural patterns, and to be a leader by showing aggression on the court – both in the power of his game and, more importantly, his personality.

    Over the weekend we watched closely as Nishikori defended his title in Barcelona. The Barcelona clay is quite firm under foot with a faster, higher bounce, very similar to the clay of Roland Garros.

    Looking ahead to the French Open, Novak Djokovic is the clear favourite; should he falter, it seems of all the young contenders ready to grab an opportunity in an era of Big Four dominance, it is Nishikori who is primed to deliver.

    Nishikori goes into the Roland Garros as a US Open runner-up and with career wins over Djokovic, Federer and Murray. The only scalp he is yet to take off the top four is Rafael Nadal, a nine-time champion in Paris.

    In life and sport we build teams around us in the hope of achieving success. Andy Murray made the right choice in choosing Ivan Lendl, and major titles followed.

    I see Nishikori’s choice in selecting Michael Chang as equally perfect and wouldn’t be surprised to see Nishikori lifting the trophy in Paris in a few weeks time.

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    ausopen.com streamlined site
    Ausopen.com has adopted its streamlined form following the conclusion of Australian Open 2015, emphasising tournament information that fans most want to access in an easy-to-navigate design.
    | 06 March, 2015

    ausopen.com adopts “year-round” format

    By ausopen.com

    Ausopen.com has adopted its streamlined form following the conclusion of Australian Open 2015.

    The “year-round” version of the site emphasises tournament information that fans most want to access, in an easy-to-navigate design that can be viewed across all desktop and mobile platforms.

    It features easy access to ticketing, membership and event information, job applications and tournament news.

    “We want to give fans another experience which simplifies their access to information that we know they are after at this time of year, including tickets, and it was important that the site could be viewed across a range of devices,” explains Kim Trengove, Manager Digital & Publishing at Tennis Australia.

    Fans can still access information – such as scores, draws and player profiles – from the 2015 tournament from a link on the homepage.

    Ausopen.com will remain in its current, more streamlined format outside of tournament dates, switching to the official Australian Open 2016 tournament website – developed by Australian Open technology partner IBM – ahead of the tournament in January.

    “This will serve to keep fans up to date with the most relevant tournament news, special offers and updates on ticketing and membership information throughout the year,” Trengove says.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Premium ticket collage
    Get ready to secure your tickets to another edition of unforgettable Grand Slam tennis at Australian Open 2016 - and why not do it in style?
    | 06 March, 2015

    Secure your place at Australian Open 2016 in style

    By ausopen.com

    With more than 700,000 spectators attending the 2015 tournament, the Australian Open continues to be one of the hottest tickets in sports and entertainment.

    And should you want an enhanced experience, a Premium Ticket Package is the perfect option.

    As well as reserving some of the finest stadium seats from which to take in the world-class action, you will also enjoy access to several stylish environments where you can wine, dine and relax.

    What’s more, with Premium Ticketing and Hospitality packages for Australian Open 2016 going on sale soon, you can be among the first to secure your tickets at one of the world’s biggest sporting and entertainment events.

    For expressions of interest, please contact the Premium Ticketing team on 1300 309 166 or email [email protected]

    And get ready for another edition of unforgettable Grand Slam tennis.

    Australian Open 2016 will be staged on 18-31 January at Melbourne Park.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website



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    Roger Federer in action at Australian Open 2015
    Dan Imhoff gazes into his crystal ball and predicts what will happen in the men’s game after the season’s first major.
    | 02 February, 2015

    Fearless ’15 predictions: The men

    By Dan Imhoff

    1. Federer will fall from No.2 but rise for Wimbledon No.8
    With a tour-leading 73 match wins last season, Roger Federer will have a tough time bettering that in 2015. But it is the big ones the Swiss great plays this game for after all, so expect him to rebound from a train-wreck of an Australian Open campaign to break clear of Pete Sampras with an eighth trophy on the turf at the All England Club. It’s a little soon to be cramming his second set of twins courtside to witness that final, so he won’t be hanging up the racquet any time this season.

    2. Djokovic will claim his first French Open
    This one’s sure to ruffle a few feathers among the Rafanatics, but the Serb will finally land the one slam missing from his collection. As a more accomplished mover and strategist with the red dirt under foot than Sampras was in Paris, he will rightfully pass the American great as a player owning each of the four majors on his mantelpiece.

    3. Murray will challenge Djokovic for the top ranking
    Having recovered the confidence lacking in 2014 on his sluggish return after back surgery, Murray’s typical brick-wall retrieving, combined with a fresh team beginning to gel, will bring a fresh approach and renewed belief to see him regularly pushing deep at all four majors. Consistent results as opposed to any huge breakthroughs are what will see him better the fluctuating seasons of Rafael Nadal and Federer.

    4. Kyrgios will crack the top 25
    Already having surged to No.35 in the world after his quarterfinal run at Melbourne Park, the 19-year-old has scant points to defend outside Wimbledon. He won just one tour match outside the slams last year, so it is not unreasonable to expect he will be seeded in time for the Indian Wells-Miami stretch. Improved match conditioning will see him notch more match victories, while he’ll change up the design of those sculpted tracks shaved into his noggin at an increasing rate of once a month. Expect him to be Australia’s highest-ranked player, man or woman, by year’s end.

    5. Cilic won’t back up his watershed 2014 moment
    The affable Croatian won’t repeat his 2014 US Open with a spate of ongoing injury lay-offs and the added pressure of defending a Grand Slam title proving too much, seeing him drop back out of the top 10.

    6. Raonic and Nishikori will remain slamless
    If Djokovic, Nadal and Federer remain fit in 2015, the big-serving, lumbering Canadian will not go close to landing a maiden Grand Slam title, having a one from 15 record against these three. Nishikori has already conceded he may be a few years off breaking through, but he will have the best season of the two. Watch him to again fire at Flushing Meadows.

    7. Dimitrov will reach first slam final
    While Dimitrov too may be some way off cracking the Grand Slam duck, he will follow up his breakthrough at Wimbledon from 2014 by going one better this time around on either the grass or on the hardcourts at Flushing Meadows to contest his first final. His record against the Big Three is almost as bad as Raonic’s – one from 13 – so he will likely have to buck this trend against at least one of them to reach a decider.

    8. Nadal will not win a slam for first time in 11 years
    Back, knee, shoulder, foot, wrist and appendix. The injury list mounts. This one is purely dependent on which joint decides to pack it in next for the Spaniard. Granted, if he is even close to fully fit, he will rack up double digits in Roland Garros crowns and inch closer to Federer’s 17-slam record. But having missed or been severely hampered at each of the other three majors at least once in his career, odds are it will eventually happen at his go-to slam.

    9. Hewitt will rack up more wildcards than match wins
    The stalwart of Australian men’s tennis for the past decade has announced he will hang up the racquet after his Melbourne Park campaign in 2016. It’s a year-long farewell tour, where he will likely skip the claycourt swing to rest those weary feet on the sands of the Bahamas before arriving early on the practice courts at SW19 to scatter a few pigeons in the opening rounds at Wimbledon. The soon-to-be 34-year-old’s ranking will plummet, and match wins away from the grass will be scarce.

    10. It will be a torrid return for Del Potro
    Another round of wrist surgery is not out of the question for Delpo, so even if that is a success and he plays pain-free again, he will then have the enormous mental burden of wondering whether one of his two suspect wrists will again fail him. There’s as much chance of him switching to a single-handed backhand as there is of Murray cheering for the England football team, and it is likely to be a limited schedule for 2015. Injury-free though, and if the confidence returns, the Tower from Tandil will stifle the hype over Raonic and co and show he is still the player to best shake up the Big Four in the majors.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Serena Williams poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, following her women's singles victory at Australian Open 2015.
    With a record-breaking Australian Open 2015 having come to an end, we celebrate the champions who hoisted the silverware across the various events at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic (SRB) Women’s singles: Serena Williams (USA) Men’s doubles: Simone Bolelli (ITA) / Fabio Fognini (ITA) Women’s doubles: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) / Lucie […]
    | 02 February, 2015

    Meet your Australian Open 2015 champions

    By ausopen.com

    With a record-breaking Australian Open 2015 having come to an end, we celebrate the champions who hoisted the silverware across the various events at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

    Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic (SRB)

    Women’s singles: Serena Williams (USA)

    Men’s doubles: Simone Bolelli (ITA) / Fabio Fognini (ITA)

    Women’s doubles: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) / Lucie Safarova (CZE)

    Mixed doubles: Martina Hingis (SUI) / Leander Paes (IND)

    Boys’ singles: Roman Safiullin (RUS)

    Girls’ singles: Tereza Mihalikova (CZE)

    Boys’ doubles: Jake Delaney (AUS) / Marc Polmans (AUS)

    Girls’ doubles: Miriam Kolodziejova (CZE) / Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)

    Men’s wheelchair singles: Shingo Kunieda (JPN)

    Women’s wheelchair singles: Jiske Griffioen (NED)

    Men’s wheelchair doubles: Shingo Kunieda (JPN) / Stephane Houdet (FRA)

    Women’s wheelchair doubles: Yui Kamiji (JPN) / Jordanne Whiley (GBR)

    Quad wheelchair singles: Dylan Alcott (AUS)

    Quad wheelchair doubles: David Wagner (USA) / Andrew Lapthorne (GBR)

    > for full event draws, visit the Australian Open 2015 tournament website

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    Novak Djokovic poses in the locker room following his victory over Andy Murray in the Men's final of AO 2015.
    Novak Djokovic's form was patchy but he still won his fifth AO title because of his amazing mental fortitude. It also established him as arguably the best hardcourt player of his generation.
    | 01 February, 2015

    Mental toughness Novak’s greatest weapon

    By Matt Trollope

    Novak Djokovic. Mental giant.

    Of all the takeaways from this year’s Australian Open, this is arguably the most significant as the world No.1 cemented his place in tennis history with an Open-era record fifth Australian Open crown on Sunday night.

    Throughout the fortnight at Melbourne Park, Djokovic failed to convince. He never played with the sustained consistency and intensity for which he is famed. He scratched his way to victories against Fernando Verdasco and Gilles Muller in rounds three and four. He overcame listless play and swathes of errors in the semifinals to see off defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

    There were times he gasped for air. Times he appeared to be struggling with physical ailments. He frequently fired exasperated or desperate looks at his entourage throughout the latter rounds of the tournament. He was bothered by a nasty grazed thumb after a fall in the final against Andy Murray.

    Yet when it counted, he was impenetrable.

    In the semis, Wawrinka simply couldn’t stay with the streaking Serb, falling to a 6-0 defeat in the fifth set. Ditto Murray, who after winning the second set and breaking serve to move ahead 2-0 in the third, lost 12 of the next 13 games – and the last nine straight – and wilted while the top seed recovered from a physically shaky patch of play and began to relax and swing freely.

    Winning final sets to love against some of your toughest rivals in the two biggest matches of the tournament? It’s extraordinary.

    “I can’t say how proud I am. That (result) is going to serve definitely only as a great deal of inspiration for the rest of my career,” he said.

    “In these particular matches and circumstances, mental strength probably plays the most important role. In winning those matches, you need to be able to find that inner strength, mental, physical, emotional, especially when you’re down in the finals and when you’re playing a top rival.

    “There’s a lot of things that can influence your state of mind. Of course, it’s not always possible to be 100 per cent concentrated for three-and-a-half hours. But it’s important to keep going because you fall many times, but mental strength allows you to keep going.”

    Djokovic’s mental strength was something that was being called into question last season. He fell in the Roland Garros final to clay-court nemesis Rafael Nadal, making it his third straight loss in his last three Grand Slam final appearances. Appearing to be slightly psychologically tortured, there was also the theory that impending marriage and fatherhood were potential distractions for the 27-year-old.

    A five-set victory in the 2014 Wimbledon final over Roger Federer dispelled all such chatter and banished those lingering mental demons.

    Six months later, he holds another major crown.

    “I think it has deeper meaning, more intrinsic value now to my life because I’m a father and a husband. It’s the first Grand Slam title I won as a father and a husband. Just feel very, very proud of it,” he explained.

    “I try to stay on the right path and committed to this sport in every possible way that I have had in the last couple of years and try to use this prime time of my career really where I’m playing and feeling the best at 27. This is why I play the sport, you know, to win big titles and to put myself in a position to play also for the people around me.

    “Getting married and becoming a father in the last six months was definitely something that gave me a new energy, something that I never felt before. And right now everything has been going in such a positive direction in my life. I’m so grateful for that. So I try to live these moments with all my heart.”
    With an all-time-high crowd attendance of more than 700,000 fans and an Open-era record sixth women’s crown for Serena Williams securing her a 19th major victory, Australian Open 2015 has been defined by both the creation and re-writing of history.

    With his four-set victory over Murray, it’s worth considering Djokovic’s place within it. A sparkling record of five titles at Melbourne Park from five finals moves him into second place behind six-time winner Roy Emerson on the all-time list of Australian Open winners. It’s his eighth major championship, drawing him level with legends Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Ken Rosewall and Fred Perry.

    And it arguably establishes him as the best hardcourt player of his generation, a title he now lays claim to over another legitimate contender in Murray; Djokovic has now defeated his Scottish rival in all three Australian Open finals they have contested.

    “(Tonight) it was a similar situation (against Murray) two years ago in Australian Open final, 2013, where two sets went over two hours, was a similar battle. Then I felt that I had some physical edge over him in that match. That was in back of my mind. That was something that kept me going,” Djokovic revealed.

    “And obviously the importance of the moment, being in finals of Grand Slam. I didn’t want to give up. I try never to give up. Even though I went through this moment (of physical distress), I believed that I’m going to get that necessary strength. I’m going to have to earn it, and that’s what I did.”

    He believed, and he emerged victorious. Such a result will only serve to bolster his confidence further. And moving forward, this could mean many more Grand Slam wins.

    Novak Djokovic, the mental giant, may one day also be considered a giant within the tennis pantheon.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Andy Murray in action at Australian Open 2015
    The changing of the guard in the men’s game has still to materialise but some players' stars are definitely rising, while others fell well short of expectations.
    | 01 February, 2015

    Winners and losers: the men

    By Michael Beattie


    Andy Murray
    Even before Sunday’s final, Andy Murray’s Australian summer had put clear water between himself and the frustrations of 2014. He arrived with unbeaten singles runs at Abu Dhabi’s Mudabala World Tennis Championship and the Hopman Cup in Perth, and moved through the gears with each passing round in Melbourne to give himself another shot at his first Australian Open title.

    He may be back to his snarling, scrambling best on court – just ask Tomas Berdych – but Murray has been every bit as impressive off it, advocating more female coaches in the sport and pleading with the Australian public to take it easy on Nick Kyrgios as he finds his way in the men’s game. He may have lost his fourth Australian Open final from four attempts, but it’s good to have the real Andy Murray back.

    Nick Kyrgios
    Talk about holding court. The undisputed people’s champion of week one, Kyrgios barnstormed his way to a second Grand Slam quarterfinal, riding some huge serving, hard hitting and the swell of Aussie support in the stands though to his debut appearance at Rod Laver Arena.

    He fell to Murray in the last eight, but what a journey to get there: from the bad-tempered five-setter with Federico Delbonis in the first round, his court jester asides with the crowd as he disarmed Ivo Karlovic, the statement of intent against Malek Jaziri and the comeback from two sets down against Andreas Seppi that shook Hisense Arena to its very foundations.

    Having played his last major as a teenager, Kyrgios is already a dozen wins into his Grand Slam career yet still in search of his second ATP Tour win. Just another brilliant absurdity in the #NKrising story – this kid is the real deal.

    Honourable mentions
    Tim Smyczek, for his sportsmanship as the match of his life slipped from his grasp; Gilles Muller, the 2008 US Open quarterfinalist who beat two seeds to reach the second week of a slam for just the second time in his career; and Novak Djokovic, who has dragged himself through to a fifth Australian Open final, finding a way to win against defending champion Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals.


    Thanasi Kokkinakis
    With Kyrgios joining seven of the eight top seeds in the quarter-finals, breakthrough performances were rare commodities in the men’s draw. But the sight of 18-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis high-fiving every front-row member of the crowd following his first-round win after ousting No.11 seed Ernests Gulbis in five sets was a joy to behold. That he backed it up by pushing fellow Aussie Sam Groth to a decider was every bit as impressive, if for his powers of recovery alone.

    With the Special Ks in town, the future of Australian men’s tennis looks every bit as bright as the gaudy fluoro gear they both pitched up in this year.

    Honourable mention
    James Duckworth – another Aussie who made good use of his wildcard, winning his opening match against Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic.


    Federer and Nadal
    With 31 Grand Slams between them, the bar is so high for these two that anything but the semifinals feels like a let-down – not in judgment of their talents, but in the context of the grand narrative that has dominated men’s tennis for the past decade.

    Nadal’s get-out-of-jail win over Tim Smyczek in the second round and quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Berdych come with the increasingly regular mitigation: injury-induced lack of playing time leading up to the tournament. The Spaniard had considered withdrawing altogether as he struggled to get match fit. All the same, it was tough to watch battle with himself as much as his opponent.

    There was no lucky escape for Federer, who arrived brimming with confidence after his Brisbane International title coincided with his 1,000th tour win. Andreas Seppi had won just two sets in 10 previous defeats against the 17-time Grand Slam champion but undid Federer in the third round, the standout shock of the men’s draw.

    Allez les Bleus indeed. The 12 Frenchmen who made it to the main draw combined for eight wins in Melbourne, one of which was handed to Edouard Roger-Vasselin by Tommy Robredo’s retirement, while another was guaranteed – and even that turned out to be a tough first-round five-setter for Gael Monfils against compatriot and wildcard Lucas Pouille.

    Former finalist and French No.1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the first to go, withdrawing before the tournament even began with the arm injury that also restricted his involvement in the Davis Cup final still causing him problems. The last men standing were Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet, who reached the dizzy heights of the third round before being run into the ground by David Ferrer and blasted off court by Kevin Anderson, respectively. At least Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut reached the doubles final…

    (Dis)honourable mentions
    Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. Did exactly what the seeding expected of them, but hopes that this Australian Open would provide further evidence that the next generation was set to storm the Big Four hegemony were dashed by the time the quarterfinals were over.

    > Re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Martina Hingis (L) and Leander Paes pose with the trophy after winning the Australian Open 2015 mixed doubles title
    Martina Hingis partners Leander Paes to the mixed doubles title – beating Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-3 – 12 years after Paes won the same trophy with Martina Navratilova.
    | 01 February, 2015

    Paes lands ‘Martina’ double

    By Michael Beattie

    Twice retired, 16 times a Grand Slam champion: Martina Hingis has a major title to her name in this third chapter of her career, partnering Leander Paes to beat Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic of France, 6-4 6-3.

    The Swiss former world No.1, who won seven Australian Open singles and doubles titles before her first break from the sport in 2003, collected a second mixed doubles crown in Melbourne to go with her 2006 triumph, won during her second spell in professional tennis.

    It is the second time Martina and Leander have lifted the mixed doubles trophy, only this time the Indian – now a winner of 15 men’s and mixed doubles titles – was partnering the 34-year-old having won in 2003 with the player she was named after, Martina Navratilova.

    “Martina – thank you for lending me Leander!” Hingis joked, drawing a smile from Navratilova in the stands. “I know you won your last (Australian Open) title together. Not even in my wildest dreams that 20 years later I’d be standing here again.”

    Hingis and Paes opened their campaign against Australia’s ‘Win a Wildcard’ winners Sam Thompson of Donvale and Werribee’s Masa Jovanovic. The Melburnians, who went down 6-2 7-6(2), no doubt took heart from their Swiss-Indian No.7 seeds’ run to the title.

    Defending champions Nestor and Mladenovic had earned their berth the hard way, beating top seeds Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares in the semifinals. The final pitted the Canadian and Frenchwoman’s power and angles against the craft and movement of Hingis and Paes, both showed great reflexes at net in the opening exchanges.

    It took a while for the Indian to find his best form early on, and a sloppy service game kept the French-Canadian pair in contention after slipping 3-0 down. But the No.7 seeds’ i-formation line-up caused plenty of problems for their opponents, who were driven to distraction by the 41-year-old’s roving at the net, backed up by some sterling defensive work from Hingis.

    Mladenovic took a wild swing at a backhand drive volley to hand a set point at 4-5, and Nestor double-faulted to give up the first set in 29 minutes.

    The Frenchwoman profited from a lucky net cord as her return foxed Paes’ attempted intercept to break for a 2-1 lead in the second, but the 21-year-old fell to a break in the very next game. She did Nestor no favours at net in game six with some poor volleys and in a flash the No.3 seeds were 4-2 down, but Hingis could not maintain the pressure as the Canadian secured the break back with an unplayable return.

    Still, Hingis and Paes were on top, moving their opponents around the court with some deft touches and fine returns. When Nestor was unable to protect Mladenovic’s serve in game eight the writing was on the wall, and Hingis sealed victory with a backpedalling smash that Mladenovic could not field.

    “It’s a great honour to keep coming back to Australia,” said Paes, who paid tribute to the workers behind the scenes after winning his seventh mixed doubles title, five years on from his last victory – a triumph he put down to finally playing with Hingis at a major.

    “There are a few people who got us together,” the 41-year-old said. “All you guys back home who put us together to win our first Grand Slam, thank you.”

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Serena Williams (L) and Maria Sharapova pose with their trophies after the Australian Open 2015 women's singles final, won by Williams.
    Alix Ramsay says predicting shifts in the women's game is no easy task, but that if A0 2015 has taught us anything it is that Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will take some shifting.
    | 01 February, 2015

    Fearless ’15 predictions: The women

    By Alix Ramsay

    Women’s tennis – the future landscape, the boss said. Tell us about that. Given that it is the last day of the tournament and everyone is exhausted (not only does the water go the wrong way down the plughole in Australia, they appear to have 35-hour days here in Melbourne), none of us can remember our own names at this point; predicting the future might be an ask too far. Right, then: the future landscape… Well, scanning the horizon, it looks pretty flat apart from two large peaks and a small hillock. Now read on…

    1. Serena and Shazza is the only show in town
    What the past two weeks have taught us is that, in their pomp, the current world Nos.1 and 2 are streets ahead of everyone else. The other women can have their moments but when it comes to sheer, dogged, you’re-not-having-this-point-if-it’s-the-last-thing-I-ever-do determination and champion’s spirit, neither woman can be matched. There will be times during the year when they are not at the physical best – that is an occupational hazard for any player – and there will be times when they are not fully match-tough, but when it comes to the business end of a slam, you will have to kill them to beat them. And then, in time honoured fashion, Serena meets Shazza and Serena wins. It seems to be one of the laws of nature.

    2. Keys to success
    At last, America has cause for hope. Young Madison Keys has brought a smile to the face of America – her run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park was a real sign that she is a keeper. For years, the Land of the Free has been looking for someone to follow in the footsteps of the Williams sisters; many have tried, none has succeeded. Until Madison, that is. She has a huge serve and a clumping forehand and now, coached by Lindsay Davenport, she has a wealth of experience to call on when she needs it. While Lindsay teaches her how to focus and think like a serial winner, Madison’s raw power is pushing her on and up the rankings. Watch this space.

    3. Growing up is hard to do
    The likes of Genie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens still have a long way to go before they can cut it with the big girls. My dear old dad used to call their like “promising youngs” (ever the optimist, Dad regarded himself as a “promising young” until the day he died), but at some point the new generation have to grow up and become proven pros. Genie was given a lesson in how it’s done in the quarterfinals by Shazza and as for Sloane – she of the alarming personal revelations in Elle magazine but the terse, snarky responses in post-match pressers – was summarily dismissed in the first round by Victoria Azarenka. There is more to being a champion than having nice ground strokes and a bit of attitude.

    4. Mighty atoms
    Simona Halep is a fighter, as is Dominika Cibulkova. Yet last year’s French Open and Australian Open finalists have a small problem – they are small. Halep is 1.68m (5ft 6in) and Cibulkova is an even more diminutive 1.60m (5ft 3in). And Halep lost in the quarterfinals to Ekaterina Makarova, while Cibulkova took a pasting from Serena in the last eight. The amount of work both women have to do to deal with the sheer power that so many of the bigger women can generate with apparent ease means that every round in every tournament is a potential banana skin waiting to send them skidding towards the exit. They will have their moments, will these mighty atoms, but they will struggle to claim the major prizes.

    5. London Calling
    Petra Kvitova left Melbourne in a hurry, bundled out in the third round by Madison Keys. Now, Petra at her peak is a wonder to behold. Her lefty serve and thundering power have taken her to two Wimbledon titles – even she was amazed at the shots she was pulling off in her thrashing of Genie Bouchard in SW19 last year. When she won Wimbledon in 2011, she was overwhelmed by what she had achieved but when she won again last July, she was ready; she knew had what it took to win a Grand Slam. She may not be the most consistent of performers but don’t take your eyes off her when she gets back on the grass in a few months’ time.

    6. Oh, Ana…
    What can you say about Ana Ivanovic? She has the power, she has the talent and she has the looks to be a world-class superstar. Alas, she does not have the brain for the job. Not that she lacks smarts – in fact, she probably has too much brain power for her own good. When the situation gets tight, Ana gets to thinking and the more she thinks, the more she frets. And the quicker she loses. She didn’t make it past the first round here and you do wonder how far she will go in the three slams to come this season.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website

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    Serena Williams poses with the trophy after winning the Australian Open 2015 women's singles title; Fiona Hamilton
    On a night where she surpassed Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with her 19th major crown, Serena Williams has Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 titles within her grasp.
    | 31 January, 2015

    Serena scaling the mountain

    By Alix Ramsay

    Chris Evert sounded ever so slightly miffed. In her post-playing career as a TV pundit, she had just watched Serena Williams break the record she had held for the best part of 30 years by beating Maria Sharapova in Saturday night’s Australian Open final and claiming her 19th major trophy.

    Well, that was a nice way to treat a fellow living legend. Evert had racked up 18 of the big pots by 1986. Four years later, her old mate and biggest rival, Martina Navratilova had matched that – at Wimbledon in 1990 – but she had not beaten it. But just four months after she and Martina had welcomed Serena into the “18 club” at the US Open – and got her an 18-carat Tiffany gold bracelet to mark the occasion – she waltzes off and up the honours board and is now setting her sights on Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 major titles.

    Still, Evert knew she was watching history being made. If the world No.1 stays fit and focused, who knows how many of these trophies she can stash away?

    Certainly, Sharapova cannot stop her. The Russian is far and away better than anyone else in the chasing pack, but after her 6-3, 7-6(5) defeat, her 16th on the bounce to the new champion, she does not seem to have the physical wherewithal to take on the great Serena.

    Not that this win was easy for Serena. Struggling with a heavy cold, she bolted from the court after the first-set rain delay with a severe coughing fit. She had been hacking away as she returned to the court, but once there, she was in real trouble.

    “I had a really bad cold and a really bad cough,” she said. “I ended up throwing up, actually. I think that helped me – when I got everything out of me, cleared my chest out. I just got a really bad cold and a really bad cough. Usually when that happens, you stay in bed and don’t play matches every other day and practice every day.

    “I’ve never done that before. I guess there’s a first time for anything. I think in a way that just helped me – I felt better after that. My chest was really stuck at that point.”

    Fully cleansed, she set about Sharapova as only she can – welting her serve and racking up the aces (18 in all). Shazza did what she could, giving everything she had in the second set, but it was still not enough. She fended off a couple of match points, leathering the ball as hard as she could, and doing it with nerves of steel, but Serena was not to be stopped.

    Even when she was called for hindrance – yelling ‘come on’ before Sharapova had had time to hit her return – she did not flinch. There were times when she was nervous, sure enough, but any outside distractions were not going to get in the way of her winning another slam.

    Now, when she had been called for the same offence in 2011 US Open final against Sam Stosur, she went nuts. And she lost. This time, she went back to the baseline and served again. Although, when she won the next point, she waited, she looked at the umpire and then she said, very pointedly, ‘come on’ – the umpire may have been in charge, but Serena was the real boss in RLA.

    “It just goes to show you I have more fun on the court,” she said. “I would have never done that three years ago, four years ago. I would have stayed so in the zone, so focused. I’m like, ‘okay, I’m going to have a little fun with this. I’m really enjoying myself’. That’s what I want to do. Every match I want to go out and just enjoy myself. Whether I win or lose, I just want to have fun. So I just kind of made a little sarcasm after that. And I didn’t want to get another hindrance call, so I was really careful not to do that anymore.”

    And when one poor hack asked her, in all innocence, whether she had ever been called on the hindrance charge before, Serena had a little more fun. Rolling her eyes and then looking around the packed interview room, she left a pregnant pause and then answered: “Do you follow tennis?” as everyone giggled.

    With 19 titles to her name, she is already thinking about the 20th. The French Open has not been her happiest hunting ground – a paltry two trophies won there. Tsk, tsk – and her recent record at Wimbledon has not been too clever either.

    “When I think about Paris, I don’t think about 20,” she said. “I just think about winning there. It’s the one slam I only have two titles at. And Wimbledon I’ve been struggling. So I think, okay, now that I got this under my belt, I’m a little more comfortable with my ranking now. Now I can really move. Like I did so bad last year at Roland Garros, and Wimbledon as well. So those are the two I really have my eye on, because I would like to do better at those. And I know I can do better. I’m not going into it not as number 20, but I want to win Roland Garros.”

    And if she gets her wish and turns around her recent results at both events, she will be up to 21 titles, just one step away from Steffi Graf’s record. There will be an awful gnashing of teeth in the TV commentary booth if she manages to equal that particular record.

    > re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website