News & media

Keep up to date with all the breaking news, feature articles and previews as we draw closer to Australian Open 2015.

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    Daria Gavrilova in action during the semifinals of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off; Jason Lockett
    Daria Gavrilova and Arina Rodionova will meet in the final of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off after both came through their semifinal matches in straight sets.
    | 20 December, 2014

    Gavrilova v Rodionova in Play-off final

    By Matt Trollope

    Daria Gavrilova has secured her place in the Australian Open 2015 Play-off final with a 6-1 6-3 victory over top seed Olivia Rogowska on Saturday.

    She will meet Arina Rodionova, who later in the day secured a 6-3 6-1 win against 16-year-old Naiktha Bains.

    > view the Australian Open Play-off women’s draw

    Gavrilova was sharp from the outset on Court 6 at Melbourne Park, moving well, hitting strongly and remaining positive throughout the contest.

    She broke serve in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, and ran away with the opening set.

    “She likes to take time away from the opponents, so I think my reactions were pretty good and I thought I played well,” Gavrilova reflected.

    Rogowska did manage to turn her fortunes around in the second set, breaking early and moving ahead 2-0.

    But the inspired Gavrilova – who had lost to Rogowska in their last meeting two years ago on the Australian Pro Tour – remained undeterred, and broke straight back.

    “That’s what I’ve improved since I came here – I just told myself to stay tough, hang in there, if you win this game you’ll have a chance to win that (second) set,” she said.

    “(I’m) just being mentally tough and stronger.”

    Indeed, she reeled off six of the ensuing seven games; in the final game, she produced a sizzling forehand passing shot winner on the run to reach match point, and sealed victory when Rogowska sent a shot long of the baseline.

    It was a similarly comprehensive win for Rodionova, whose experience, speed and power all combined to prove too much for the teenaged Bains.

    Bains, who had beaten Arina’s sister Anastasia in the first round of the Play-off, was unable to snare her second Rodionova scalp of the week, undone by errors and double faults as the second set progressed.

    It is Rodionova’s second straight appearance in the Play-off final; last year she fell to Casey Dellacqua.

    “I had a pretty easy draw compared to other years and since my sister got injured my half of the draw was pretty open. For me I kind of had to make the final so I’m just glad I made it, and now just see what happens in the final,” she said.

    “I like playing under (that kind of) pressure, I think it helps me.”

    Rodionova quickly built a 5-2 lead in the opening set before serving it out two games later, and broke serve early in the second set with a scorching backhand winner up the line to lead 2-1.

    Bains showed flashes of brilliance, advancing on the net and producing a number of athletic volley winners.

    Yet she was constantly on the back foot as Rodionova took control of points from the first shot with her power and intensity.

    “I really like her game at the net,” Rodionova observed.

    “She comes in at the right time and she knows how to volley, so hopefully that part she’ll keep working on, and yeah, good luck to her.”

    On facing Gavrilova in the final, Rodionova said she would have to put aside the fact that they are good friends and concentrate on the wildcard at stake.

    The Australian Open 2015 Play-off women’s final will be staged at Melbourne Park on Sunday from 11am, followed by the men’s Play-off final between No.2 seed John-Patrick Smith and defending champion Jordan Thompson.

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    John-Patrick Smith in action during the semifinals of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off; Mae Dumrigue
    John-Patrick Smith has advanced to the final of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off by beating Ben Mitchell in straight sets on Friday at Melbourne Park.
    | 19 December, 2014

    Third time’s a charm: Smith reaches Play-off final

    By Matt Trollope

    John-Patrick Smith has overcome the semifinal hurdle at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off by advancing to his first final at the event at Melbourne Park on Friday.

    He did so at the expense of fellow Queenslander Ben Mitchell, winning 6-4 6-4 6-4 and preventing the 236th-ranked Mitchell from advancing to his third straight Play-off final.

    Having fallen at the semifinal stage in the previous two years – last year to eventual winner Jordan Thompson and in 2012 to Matt Reid – the Queenslander said he was thrilled to be playing off for a coveted Australian Open main draw wildcard on Sunday.

    “It’s going to be good to play on a weekend finally,” he said.

    “It’d be huge (to win), I don’t want to think about it now because I don’t want to get too relaxed. I just want to go back, recover and just get ready for the next match. But yeah, it would be a great honour to play.”

    > view the Australian Open 2015 Play-off men’s draw

    As if determined to banish the disappointment of the previous two years – Smith revealed earlier this week how “devastating” it felt to return home without a wildcard in his grasp – he was sharp from the outset, breaking in the very first game to claim the ascendancy.

    Not long after he had built a set and a break lead, but in the eighth game of the second set errors began to creep into his game. He saved two break points but could not stave off a third – with a wrong-footing backhand winner Mitchell had broken back to level at 4-4, celebrating loudly.

    Yet Mitchell was unable to capitalise on his momentum; missing a sitter of a backhand winner opportunity into net that would have made scores 40-15 instead of 30-30, Smith broke straight back with a forehand winner to push ahead 5-4.

    He soon owned a two-sets-to-love lead.

    A despondent Mitchell surrendered serve in the opening game of the third, several errors proving the culprit.

    A racquet, hat and ball all felt the brunt of his frustration, and although he broke back with a running forehand winner to level at 3-3, Smith, in a repeat of the second set, broke back immediately to remain ahead.

    Faced with the prospect of serving out the match in the 10th game, Smith didn’t falter, calmly slotting a backhand crosscourt passing shot winner to seal the straight sets victory.

    “Serving that set out the sun was right in my eyes; basically the third set I was really struggling with serves, but I was really happy to get through that last game,” he assessed.

    “I was just trying to say get the ball toss in the right position and didn’t want to double fault that side. So I was just trying to make a lot of first serves and just trying to keep going forward, which I did well.”

    Sunday brings with it the chance to exact revenge on defending champion and fifth seed Thompson, who advanced to the final without hitting a ball after opponent Luke Saville withdrew due to a hamstring injury.

    And if Smith can maintain the form that has seen him progress to the Play-off final without the loss of a set, it would stand him in great stead for a major push up the rankings in 2015.

    “It’s been a year (in 2014) of what ifs; I’ve had a lot of matches where I’ve served for the match and lost, (had) match points and lost. If it wasn’t for half of those who knows where my ranking would be right now?” he said.

    “Obviously I’m going to go out there on Sunday and have a lot of fun, and hope it’s a good match.”

    For Australian Open Play-off results, follow @oztennisresults on Twitter.

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    Naiktha Bains in action during her quarterfinal victory over Maddison Inglis at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off; Mae Dumrigue
    Naiktha Bains has beaten fellow teen Maddison Inglis in a compelling three-set affair on Friday to round out the women's semifinalists at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off.
    | 19 December, 2014

    Bains rounds out semifinal line-up

    By Matt Trollope

    Naiktha Bains has beaten fellow teen Maddison Inglis in a compelling three-set affair on Friday to round out the women’s semifinalists at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off.

    With scores tied at a set apiece on Thursday before rain forced the postponement of the match, Bains proved the more consistent and intense of the 16-year-old wildcard duo, snatching a 3-6 6-0 6-3 victory.

    The win sends her through to a final-four showdown with fourth seed Arina Rodionova; the other semifinal pits Olivia Rogowska and Daria Gavrilova – the first and third seeds respectively – against one another.

    > view the Australian Open 2015 Play-off women’s draw

    Having in the first round beaten second seed and Arina’s sister Anastasia, Bains said she was looking forward to a shot at another win over a Rodionova.

    “They’re sisters so they’re probably going to be talking, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ll just take it as (another) match – it doesn’t really matter who I’m playing. So yeah, (I’ll) try and beat them both,” she laughed.

    “(Coming into the event) I just took one match at a time. The first match I knew was going to be tough, but I managed to get through that and then just (kept) taking one match at a time. Now I’m in the semis, so again I’ll just take tomorrow as one match and then see what happens.”

    Bains had been playing excellent tennis to storm through the second set, but said she didn’t feel disrupted by the overnight suspension of play.

    When the match resumed in the third set on Friday it progressed game for game, with both players producing a high level that begat several searching rallies.

    The contrast in styles was an attractive one; Bains, stronger on the forehand and with more shape on her shots, was countered by Inglis’ strength off the backhand wing and flat, relentless ball-striking.

    And as Inglis went about her business in her reserved manner, Bains vocally urged herself on.

    “I was pretty fiery that (third) set … she plays within herself, doesn’t really show much emotion, whereas I like to, so I think that helps, gets under people’s skin sometimes,” she laughed.

    After being so difficult to separate, Bains was the player to draw first blood, her willingness to mix up the play with strategic moonballs and slices proving effective.

    Having staved off several break points herself, she broke Inglis in the eighth game as the West Australian became error-prone and frustrated.

    Serving for the match, Bains benefitted from four consecutive Inglis mistakes to wrap up victory.

    “I managed to come up with some big serves to save (break points) and did what I needed to do on those points … my serve helped me out I think,” she reflected.

    For Australian Open Play-off results, follow @oztennisresults on Twitter.

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    Novak Djokovic with members of the Parkes, NSW community as part of the AO Tennis Blitz during Australian Open 2014; Tennis Australia
    Kendall finished 2014 as Australia’s most enthusiastic tennis town for the second year in a row, and will be represented at Australian Open 2015 by world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
    | 19 December, 2014

    Kendall cheering for Novak Djokovic at Australian Open 2015

    By Tennis Australia

    Kendall, situated on the New South Wales coast, will be cheering on world No.1 Novak Djokovic at Australian Open 2015.

    Kendall finished 2014 as Australia’s most enthusiastic tennis town for the second year in a row, narrowly edging out Casino, also in NSW, to top the AO Tennis Blitz town leaderboard.

    Kendall won the choice of which world No.1 player to throw their support behind, selecting Djokovic over fellow world No.1 Serena Williams. Last year Kendall also finished in top spot and supported Rafael Nadal as he made his run to the final.

    “It is fantastic to win the AO Tennis Blitz for the second time running and the whole town is thrilled,” said Wendy Hudson from the Kendall Tennis Club and major driver of the town’s AO Tennis Blitz effort.

    “Due to our involvement in the competition last year we are in the process of building new courts so to win again can only help with the club’s profile and future development.

    “Novak is renowned for being a fun guy and embracing his town last year so we are all looking forward to cheering him on throughout the tournament.”

    There was a fierce rivalry between the top two towns during the final weeks of the online ‘Hit the Target’ competition and multiple first place changes over the course of the competition. The top 20 town-player match-ups are as follows:

    1 Novak Djokovic – Kendall (NSW)
    2 Serena Williams – Casino (NSW)
    3 Roger Federer – Esperance (WA)
    4 Maria Sharapova – Inverell (NSW)
    5 Rafael Nadal – Warrnambool (VIC)
    6 Simona Halep – Melton South (VIC)
    7 Stan Wawrinka – Templestowe (VIC)
    8 Petra Kvitova – Barraba (NSW)
    9 Kei Nishikori – Sunbury (VIC)
    10 Ana Ivanovic – Biloela (QLD)
    11 Andy Murray – Melbourne (VIC)
    12 Agnieszka Radwanska – Grafton (NSW)
    13 Tomas Berdych – Moulden (NT)
    14 Eugenie Bouchard – Mornington (VIC)
    15 Juan Martin del Potro – Henley Beach (SA)
    16 Caroline Wozniacki – Applecross (WA)
    17 Milos Raonic – Coolum Beach (QLD)
    18 Angelique Kerber – Ivanhoe (VIC)
    19 Marin Cilic – Harrison (ACT)
    20 Dominika Cibulkova – Mosman (NSW)

    The AO Tennis Blitz aligns all main draw players, 128 men and 128 women, with the top 256 ranked towns with Australian Open players based on their world ranking on the date of acceptance into the event. For more information on how points were awarded to towns please visit tennis.com.au.

    By taking part in the online game Hit the Target, Jim Rutherford (Kendall, NSW) and Rachel O’Connor (Warrnambool, Vic) have won a once in a lifetime opportunity to hit on centre court on Saturday 17 January 2015.

    Rosswood Tennis Club (Dandenong North, Vic) won the Ultimate Club Challenge national prize, consisting of a $5000 tennis grant and a trip to Melbourne for eight of the club’s most deserving volunteers or members for an Australian Open 2015 experience.

    The full list of state and territory winners who have all been awarded with a $5000 tennis grant is as follows:

    • Applecross Tennis Club, Applecross, WA
    • Casino Town Tennis Club, Casino, NSW
    • Hervey Bay and District Tennis Association, Hervey Bay, Qld
    • Katherine Tennis Club, Katherine, NT
    • Launceston Regional Tennis Club, Launceston, Tas
    • Rostrevor Tennis Club, Rostrevor, SA
    • The Pines Tennis Club, Chisholm, ACT

    The following schools have won the Ultimate School Challenge for their state or territory and have been awarded with a $5000 tennis grant:

    • Spreyton Primary School, Spreyton, Tas
    • Moulden Primary School, Moulden, NT
    • St Francis School, Lockleys, SA
    • Applecross Senior High School, Ardross, WA
    • Ayr East State School. Ayr, Queensland
    • Camden Haven High School, Laurieton, NSW
    • Moreland Primary School, Coburg, Vic
    • Mother Teresa School, Harrison, ACT

    The Win a Wildcard final will take place on Sunday 21 December from 10am at Melbourne Park. One lucky pair will be awarded a wildcard into the mixed doubles event at Australian Open 2015.

    Top 100 town leaderboard and top 100 men’s and women’s player-town list is attached. For full town leaderboard visit here.

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    The Australian Open Official Program; Mae Dumrigue
    Packed with opinions from the stars of the tennis world the Australian Open official program is a fun and informative reference tool as well as a great read ahead of the Australian summer of tennis.
    | 19 December, 2014

    Australian Open Official Program on sale now

    By ausopen.com

    In his first and exclusive article for the Australian Open 2015 Official Program, Lleyton Hewitt shares his thoughts and memories of the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific.

    “When they announce your name and you step out of the tunnel to the sound of 15,000 passionate Australian fans, there’s no better feeling,” writes Hewitt who has played the Australian Open 18 times, more than any other man.

    Packed with opinions from the stars of the tennis world the Australian Open official program is a fun and informative reference tool as well as a great read ahead of the Australian summer of tennis.

    Among the highlights include:

    • Marat Safin taking time out from his career in Russian politics to speak about his epic win over Hewitt 10 years ago in the Australian Open 2005 final
    • An exclusive article on the stunning rise of Nick Kyrgios, including childhood photos that show just how far he’s come in a short amount of time

    The Australian Open 2015 Official Program features the most extensive coverage of any publication in the world; every member of the men’s and women’s top 100 are featured in the player profiles, where you will find their latest statistics, personal insights and analysis of their recent highs and lows.

    Complemented by a specially-commissioned cover illustration from Australian artist Stuart Price, the program is also a collectible for many keen fans and is now available in Australian newsagencies.

    There is spectacular pictorial coverage with souvenir shots of Australian Open 2014, as well as documentation of the tournament through the years. The program also includes fascinating statistics and facts, with a complete guide to all tournament information including maps, fan guide and what’s new for 2015.

    Feature stories are another highlight of the souvenir publication, with many of the world’s top tennis writers contributing to the 230-page publication.

    The Australian Open official program is AUD$19.95 and is on sale now at newsagencies around Australia. It will be sold at Melbourne Park from 17 January 2015 with a free Daily Schedule and, for onsite patrons only, a free copy of the January edition of Australian Tennis Magazine.

    The Australian Open 2015 Official Program cover

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    Justice Crew with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Nickelodeon
    Australian pop band sensation and ARIA chart toppers Justice Crew are set to headline the third annual Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon on Saturday 17 January 2015. Justice Crew will join the world’s top tennis players, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Patrick Star, Diego and a host of other […]
    | 18 December, 2014

    Justice Crew to serve it up at Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon

    By Ausopen

    Australian pop band sensation and ARIA chart toppers Justice Crew are set to headline the third annual Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon on Saturday 17 January 2015.

    Justice Crew will join the world’s top tennis players, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Patrick Star, Diego and a host of other entertainers when they take to the court next month. Nickelodeon’s comedic duo Luke and Wyatt will host the extravaganza.

    “We’re so excited to be a part of this year’s Kids Tennis Day – we’re going to serve up an ace performance!” said John Pearce from Justice Crew.

    “It’s going to be a memorable moment for us to perform alongside tennis royalty and not to mention our Nickelodeon buddies – Raph, Donnie, Leo and Mikey from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

    “Kids Tennis Day is Australia’s biggest tennis family day and continues to bring new kids and families to the sport for a fun day out,” said Craig Tiley, CEO Tennis Australia.

    “In 2014 a record 13,000 fans attended Kids Tennis Day. It’s a fantastic occasion to see kids of all ages and abilities out on court playing ANZ Tennis Hot Shots and more importantly having fun.”

    From 8am to 1pm kids and families will have the chance to play on the same courts as the world’s best and get court up in an array of fun tennis activities.

    Entry is free for children under the age of 16 and adult tickets are $15 via Ticketek. Ground passes will be available to purchase should the Rod Laver Arena Spectacular sell out.

    Highlights for Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon in 2015 include:

    • Rod Laver Arena Spectacular – exhibition match from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm featuring some of the world’s top tennis players and Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Patrick Star and Diego
    • ARIA chart toppers Justice Crew to perform at Rod Laver Arena Spectacular
    • Garden Square to feature SpongeBob SquarePants’Stories from Bikini Bottom,” Dora’s Dance Party, Go, Diego, Go! The Iguana Sing Along live stage shows and SlimeTime Live
    • Celebrity and legends exhibition matches on Nickelodeon’s ‘Wreck It or Racquet It’ court
    • Watch the world’s best practice – Practice sessions will be open to the public
    • ANZ Tennis Hot Shots red, orange and green stage sessions for all ages and abilities, using smaller racquets, low compression tennis balls and mini nets, will be run by Tennis Australia coaches
    • ANZ Tennis Hot Shots kids lunchboxes available for purchase, which includes a free special gift
    • New for 2015 – Grand Slam Oval – to be open from 8am to 12pm offering kids and families the opportunity to experience sponsor activations and the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots Fan Zone
    • The chance to be photographed with the coveted Australian Open trophies
    • Free Australian Tennis Magazine 4 Kids with a free Sharpie pen available on the day
    • Peter’s Ice creams to sell SpongeBob SquarePants ice creams
    • Speed Serve – test the speed of your serve
    • Australian Open 2015 qualifying – Play to commence at 12pm
    • Nickelodeon and ANZ Tennis Hot Shots prizes and giveaways
    • Face painting and activity zones

    In the lead-up to Kids Tennis Day, the Emirates Australian Open Series events will each host their own events:

    Sun 4 Jan 2015  Hopman Cup Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon – Perth Arena, Perth
    Sun 4 Jan 2015 Suncorp Kids Tennis Day at the Brisbane International – Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane. Special guest appearance by Justice Crew
    Sat 10 Jan 2015 Hobart International Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon – Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
    Sun 11 Jan 2015 World Tennis Challenge Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon – War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide
    Mon 12 Jan 2015 Apia International Sydney Kids Tennis Day presented by Nickelodeon – Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, Sydney


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    Sheppard and Megan Washington will kick off the star-studded live music line-up at Australian Open 2015.
    | 18 December, 2014

    Sheppard serves up Australian Open live music bill

    By ausopen.com

    Sheppard and Megan Washington will kick off the star-studded live music line-up at Australian Open 2015.

    They will be joined on the Heineken Live Stage on Grand Slam Oval by tournament favourites Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens and The Preatures.

    Most famous for their five-time platinum debut single “Geronimo” and fresh from last month’s ARIA Award win for Best Group, frontman George Sheppard today said it was an honour to be playing at the Australian Open.

    “Being asked to perform at such an iconic event as the Australian Open is definitely a privilege. We are all such big tennis fans and can’t wait to see who wins this year,” he said.

    Kate Miller-Heidke will headline the all-female entertainment on women’s final night. She will be joined by gold record selling singer-songwriter Lanie Lane and Melody Pool in turning on the entertainment for fans watching the match live on the big screens on Grand Slam Oval.

    Australian music legends Diesel and Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows will wrap up the Australian Open on Sunday 1 February with a massive performance prior to the men’s final.

    Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said today he was delighted with the music line-up and hinted that the yet-to-be-released act for Heineken Day – the middle Saturday of the tournament that saw 80,219 fans flock to Melbourne Park in 2014 – would not disappoint.

    “The Australian Open is the biggest sporting event in the world in January and we know our fans come to experience the great carnival atmosphere as well as the top tennis action. It’s only fitting we have an all-Aussie music line-up to entertain the crowds, and 2015 promises to be the best ever,” he said.

    “Heineken Day was the busiest of the 2014 tournament and we are confident that this tradition will continue in 2015 and that fans will be thrilled by the act we will announce early in the new year.”

    Mushroom Group Executive Director Matt Gudinski was also excited by this summer’s line-up. “Mushroom is once again proud to be involved in such an amazing event as the Australian Open, which combines two of the nation’s favourite things; sport and music,” he said.

    This year’s line-up caters for all genres, with a mix of classic artists like Daryl Braithwaite and Ross Wilson celebrating Australia Day, Boom Crash Opera and Jon Stevens as well as independent and emerging artists, the Preatures, Megan Washington, Kate Miller Heidke, Pierce Brothers, Lurch & Chief, Husky and more.

    Australian Open 2015 live entertainment line-up Heineken Live Stage on Grand Slam Oval Performances daily, 19 January – 1 February 2015

    Mon 19 Jan Megan Washington
    Tue 20 Jan Sheppard
    Wed 21 Jan Boom Crash Opera
    Thu 22 Jan Pierce Brothers
    Fri 23 Jan Jon Stevens
    Sat 24 Jan Heineken Saturday – To be announced 1 January 2015
    Sun 25 Jan Lurch & Chief
    Mon 26 Jan Daryl Braithwaite & Ross Wilson
    Tue 27 Jan Husky
    Wed 28 Jan Gossling
    Thu 29 Jan The Preatures
    Fri 30 Jan The Potbelleez
    Sat 31 Jan Melody Pool, Lanie Lane, Kate Miller-Heidke
    Sun 1 Feb Steven Motlop, Diesel, Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows

    Australian Open 2015 will take place at Melbourne Park from 19 January to 1 February.

    Rod Laver Arena (RLA) and Margaret Court Arena (MCA) single session tickets and Australian Open ground passes, which will allow access to Hisense Arena, are now on sale at www.ticketek.com.au.

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    Olivia Rogowska in action during her first round win at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off; Elizabeth Xue Bai
    Olivia Rogowska began her Australian Open 2015 Play-off campaign in formidable fashion on Tuesday, scoring a 6-1 6-0 win over 15-year-old Seone Mendez.
    | 16 December, 2014

    Ruthless Rogowska into Play-off quarters

    By Emily Collin

    Olivia Rogowska began her Australian Open 2015 Play-off campaign in formidable fashion on Tuesday, scoring a 6-1 6-0 win over 15-year-old Seone Mendez.

    Even Rogowska herself couldn’t fault her performance, describing her opening match as “pretty much perfect.”

    The 23-year-old’s precision hitting and ability to quickly change the direction of the ball often forced Mendez well behind the baseline, which in turn enabled Rogowska to continue building momentum throughout the match.

    > follow the Australian Open 2015 Play-off Day 2 live stream

    “I think I executed my game plan really well today, and I’ve been working on some things in the off season and it showed on the match court today,” she said.

    Mendez, a highly touted junior who spends much of her time training in Spain, displayed glimpses of her ability, but was unable to keep pace with her more experienced opponent.

    “I was extra prepared today, sometimes these juniors come out swinging and have nothing to lose and I have the pressure, expecting to win,” said Rogowska.

    Rogowska, winner of the Play-off in 2011, achieved a career-high ranking of No.102 in 2014 and while she is determined to build on this achievement, she is also wary of getting too caught up in the numbers.

    “Last year I freaked out about some ranking points, but this time around I’m just trying to focus on forehands and backhands and hopefully the points come,” she said.

    In the quarterfinals Rogowska will face eighth seed Alison Bai who toughed out a lengthy battle with Isabella Holland.

    > view the women’s Australian Open Play-off draw

    With a final score of 1-6 6-2 7-5, Bai was pleased with her ability to stay mentally strong in the crucial moments of the deciding set.

    “I was believing in myself and focusing on the basics, I was saying at the end if I’m going to lose this match I’m going to go out swinging and not walk off the court with any regrets,” said Bai.

    In the first major upset of the tournament, 16-year-old Naithka Bains has advanced to the second round after Anastasia Rodionova retired injured when down 6-4 3-1.

    It was clear from the outset that Bains was not intimidated by her more experienced opponent, her consistency and athleticism helping her to combat Rodionova’s power.

    Although Bains would no doubt have preferred to close out the match on her own terms, she will enter her second round match with a huge boost of confidence.

    > check out Australian Open match results

    In other results on Tuesday, Maddison Inglis upset No.7 seed Alexandra Nancarrow, who looked a shadow of the player who rose more than 500 places in the rankings during a stellar 2014 season on the ITF circuit in Europe.

    Appearing still hampered by an ankle injury sustained during the recent Asia-Pacific Tennis League, Nancarrow fell 6-3 6-1 to the talented 16-year-old, who goes on to face Bains in the quarterfinals.

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    Jordan Thompson in action during his first round win at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off; Elizabeth Xue Bai
    Defending Australian Open Play-off champion Jordan Thompson advanced after opponent Harry Bourchier retired with injury, while top seed Luke Saville won in four.
    | 16 December, 2014

    Thompson triumphs as Bourchier retires

    By Tom Parker

    Fifth seed Jordan Thompson defeated Harry Bourchier 7-6(2) 6-4 5-2 ret. in his first match of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off after Bourchier withdrew following an injury.

    Just after winning the Australian 18/u Championships on Saturday, the unseeded Bourchier first called the trainer 2-1 down in the third and fought through the injury until the end of the set’s seventh game when he decided he could no longer compete.

    > catch all the action via our live stream

    The 18-year-old played a similar brand of tennis that won him Saturday’s national title throughout the first two sets, consistently matching and often overcoming Thompson from the baseline.

    However, after conceding the final eight points of the second set, Bourchier appeared to be struggling with his right hip early in the third.

    From the trainer’s first appearance onward, Bourchier continued to be burdened by the injury and Thompson chose to lengthen the points as a result.

    Thompson, who won the Australian Open Play-off 12 months earlier, held to love in the fourth game, but Bourchier showed his fighting spirit, holding serve a game later.

    However, Thompson soon gained complete control of the match, holding easily at 4-2 and breaking to win what would be the final game of the match.

    > check out the men’s singles draw

    Thompson was disappointed by how it ended and commended Bourchier on his strong start to the match.

    “Even though, I think, it was only one game away that’s never the way you want to finish a match, he’d been playing great and had a great last week and earned his spot in the draw,” he said.

    The New South Welshman was short of match practice on the Melbourne courts and was thus motivated by his performance on the Plexicushion.

    “Yes (I am happy), first match I’ve played on these courts since the Australian Open, so nearly 12 months,” he said.

    Saville progresses in four

    Top seed Luke Saville had a more difficult time in his opening round match, losing the second set, before settling to win, 7-6(4) 6-7(3) 6-2 6-4.

    His opponent, Chris O’Connell, was the more consistent of the two early in the encounter as the server won each of the first ten games.

    Saville broke to love at 5-5 and was well positioned to take the first set, before O’Connell broke straight back after a number of unforced errors from the Australian No.10.

    The tiebreak was evenly matched early on before Saville asserted his authority to win the final three points.

    Despite only converting one of his five break point opportunities in the second set, O’Connell levelled the match at one set all.

    An efficient serving display from Saville in the third was unmatched by O’Connell and while the 20-year-old O’Connell battled hard serve at 4-4 in the fourth, an eventual break for Saville followed by a service hold saw the top seed clinch the match in just over three hours.

    Saville was ecstatic with the win, emphasising the difficulty of the matchup.

    “He’s a good player. Probably one of the tougher draws I could have got. I’m happy to be through,” he said.

    “I was a little bit passive today in my attitude but the good thing in tennis is you’ve got another chance if you keep winning.”

    > view more Australian Open Play-off results

    It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the top players on Monday at Melbourne Park.

    Eighteen-year-old wildcard Blake Mott upset No.7 seed Maverick Banes in four sets, while 17-year-old Marc Polmans – a finalist in the 18/u event – dealt a similar blow to third seed Alex Bolt, also scoring a four-set upset win.

    Also advancing were second seed John-Patrick Smith and No.8 seed Gavin Van Peperzeel, both straight-sets winners in their opening round matches.

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    World No. 1s Novak Djokovic (L) and Serena Williams will headline the fields at Australian Open 2015; Getty Images
    UPDATE: All of the world's top 100 men and 99 of the top 100 women will give Australian Open 2015 one of the strongest fields in the tournament's history.
    | 12 December, 2014

    Stellar fields set for Australian Open 2015

    By ausopen.com

    Stellar men’s and women’s fields will descend on Melbourne Park for Australian Open 2015, the year’s first Grand Slam event.

    “All of the world’s top 100 men and 99 of the top 100 women will be here for the Australian Open in January,” Tennis Australia’s CEO Craig Tiley said today.

    “This is one of the deepest and strongest fields in the history of the tournament. Fans will be thrilled to welcome back some former top ten stars, all returning after some time out of the game with injury. This includes 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva and dynamic Serbian Janko Tipsarevic will all be back.

    “With little more than a month to go, our preparations for Australian Open 2015 are well on track and we are looking forward to another fantastic tournament. I’ve spoken with many of the players and they can’t wait to return to Melbourne.”

    A US Open champion in 2009, del Potro is on the comeback trail from wrist surgery, while former world No.8 Janko Tipsarevic will make a welcome return after a foot injury wiped out his 2014 season.

    Also returning are popular American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and former top 40 star Romina Oprandi, both using protected rankings to enter the main draw.

    The only absentee from the women’s draw is world No.58 Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic, who has withdrawn due to a hip injury.

    Eight wildcard entrants will be added to both the men’s and women’s draws, along with 16 male qualifiers and 12 female qualifiers.

    Australia’s top 32 men and women will also battle it out for a wildcard entry in the Australian Open 2015 Play-off commencing 15 December at Melbourne Park.

    Australian Open qualifying rounds will begin Wednesday 14 January, with the main draw commencing on Monday 19 January.

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    Todd Woodbridge (R) and TAC CEO Janet Dore on The People's Court at Southbank in Melbourne; Tennis Australia
    In a Grand Slam first, more than 300 tennis fans will be given the chance to play on the People’s Court at Australian Open 2015 thanks to a new partnership between Tennis Australia and the Transport Accident Commission.
    | 08 December, 2014

    Tennis fans win on People’s Court

    By ausopen.com

    In a Grand Slam first more than 300 tennis fans will be given the chance to play on the People’s Court at Australian Open 2015 thanks to a new partnership between Tennis Australia and the Transport Accident Commission.

    Court 9, generally a match or practice court during the event, will be transformed into the People’s Court, with competitors enjoying a total Australian Open playing experience complete with a chair umpire, ballkids, statistician and court services.

    Just like every Australian Open competitor all registered players will receive an official player towel as well as a highlights video of their on-court performance to share on social media.

    The TAC has joined forces with the Australian Open and will present the People’s Court as a positive way to promote the road safety message that distraction could lead to disaster.

    Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said that he was looking forward to being part of this great initiative which was launched today at Southbank.

    “We are delighted to join forces with the TAC to give fans the opportunity to experience the excitement and atmosphere of playing on the same court as the world’s best players,” Tiley said.

    “The People’s Court will reward tennis fans with the ultimate Australian Open experience and also raise awareness of the dangers of distractions for both drivers and pedestrians.”

    Transport Accident Commission CEO Janet Dore said the People’s Court promotion and other TAC activities at the event were all about driving home the dangers of getting distracted on the roads, particularly for pedestrians.

    “Any tennis player knows a courtside distraction at the wrong moment can put you off your game but when you’re out using the roads, a momentary distraction can be deadly,” Dore said.

    “We’re proud to be partnering with Tennis Australia to use the power of the nation’s biggest sporting event to engage with the public on this important issue.”

    Register for the chance to play on People’s Court before 30 December via the website www.peoplescourt.com.au. There will also be wildcard entries drawn each day of Australian Open 2015.

    Fans searching for a distraction free-zone at Australian Open 2015 can head to the TAC Enchanted Garden at Grand Slam Oval. There they will be encouraged to disconnect from technology and relax within a tranquil oasis.

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    Luke Saville; Getty Images
    South Australian Luke Saville and Victoria's Anastasia Rodionova are expected to head the men's and women's fields at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off.
    | 06 December, 2014

    Saville, Rodionova to lead Play-off fields

    By Tennis Australia

    South Australian Luke Saville and Victoria’s Anastasia Rodionova are expected to head the men’s and women’s fields at the Australian Open 2015 Play-off.

    The event, staged on 15-21 December and the centrepiece of the December Showdown, gives the next generation of Australian players the chance to compete for a coveted wildcard into the first Grand Slam of the year.

    Each year the December Showdown gathers the country’s best players at Melbourne Park to compete in the 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s national championships across 16 days of sizzling tennis action, featuring more than 1500 matches.

    The 20-year-old Saville currently sits at a career high ranking of No.158 after qualifying for Wimbledon and scoring a first round win over promising top-40 player Dominic Thiem (AUT).

    Townsville’s John-Patrick Smith (Qld) will be back to fight it out as will 2014 Australian Open play-off winner Jordan Thompson (NSW), alongside Alex Bolt (SA), Matt Ebden (WA) and Matt Reid (NSW).

    Joining 187th-ranked Rodionova in the women’s field is Daria Gavrilova (Vic), Storm Sanders (WA) and Arina Rodionova (Vic), along with Jessica Moore (WA) and Alexandra Nancarrow (ACT) who have both enjoyed rankings rises following successful Australian Pro Tour seasons.

    Tournament director Francis Soyer said he was anticipating a competitive couple of weeks of play at Melbourne Park.

    “December Showdown is a fantastic experience for some of Australia’s emerging talent to get a feel for match conditions and what it takes to become a professional tennis player,” he said.

    “The Australian Open Play-off continues to draw some of Australia’s best male and female players to play-off for the ultimate prize – direct entry into their home Grand Slam.

    “The calibre of the 2014 field is strong and we wish the players the best of luck on their pursuit for tennis glory.”

    Australian Open 2015 Play-off field

    Women’s field  Men’s field 
    WTA rank ATP rank
    188 Anastasia Rodionova (Vic) 158 Luke Saville (SA)
    232 Daria Gavrilova (Vic) 200 John-Patrick Smith (Qld)
    263 Arina Rodionova (Vic) 201 Alex Bolt (SA)
    344 Jessica Moore (WA) 236 Matthew Ebden (WA)
    348 Storm Sanders (WA) 265 Matt Reid (NSW)
    402 Alexandra Nancarrow (ACT) 268 Benjamin Mitchell (Qld)
    489 Alison Bai (ACT) 274 Jordan Thompson (NSW)
    572 Abbie Myers (NSW) 321 Dane Propoggia (NSW)
    702 Naiktha Bains (Qld) 345 Maverick Banes (Qld)
    747 Priscilla Hon (Qld) 447 Gavin Van Peperzeel (Qld)
    804 Maddison Inglis (WA) 463 Andrew Whittington (Vic)
    958 Kimberly Birrell (Qld) 571 Blake Mott (NSW)
    959 Olivia Tjandramulia (Qld) 684* Greg Jones (NSW)
    1168 Sara Tomic (Qld) 1043 Mark Polmans (Vic)
    37 (ITF junior) Seone Mendez (NSW) 1425 Akira Santillan (Qld)
    18s singles winner 18s singles winner

    * indicates protected ranking

    During the two-week period the December Showdown will also feature a number of new initiatives:

    • Dylan Alcott (Vic), world No.2 quad wheelchair tennis player, will attempt a 24-hour Tennis Challenge to raise money for the Starlight Foundation and Variety – the children’s charity at the National Tennis Centre from 7am Thursday 11 December to 7am Friday 12 December
    • The AO Tennis Blitz Win a Wildcard competition will see 11 pairs from around Australia travel to Melbourne Park to compete in the final for a coveted mixed doubles wildcard into Australian Open 2015. The final will take place on Sunday 11 December. For more information click here.
    • More than 1600 children will visit Melbourne Park over the next two weeks as part of the December Showdown Schools Experience. Children will have the chance to watch the tennis, enjoy a behind the scenes tour and an on-court experience as part of the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program.
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    Australian Open meteorologist Bob Leighton (L) and tournament director Craig Tiley at Melbourne Park; Tennis Australia
    At the beginning of another highly anticipated summer there is good news on the weather front for tennis fans, with warm, dry, sunny conditions forecast.
    | 02 December, 2014

    Fine summer ahead for tennis fans

    By Tennis Australia

    At the beginning of another highly anticipated summer there is good news on the weather front for tennis fans.

    Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley today joined meteorologist Bob Leighton to preview a spectacular fortnight of world-class tennis at the Australian Open this January.

    “It’s not going to be as hot as January this year, and we don’t expect a heat wave,” Bob Leighton said.

    “At this stage it’s looking like a normal summer, perhaps slightly warmer, with only one day hitting around 40 degrees, and little or no rain forecast.”

    The addition of a third retractable-roof stadium, the stunning new-look Margaret Court Arena, has effectively ‘weather-proofed’ the Australian Open, and in line with the new facilities the Australian Open heat policy has been updated to ensure conditions are fair for all players.

    “The heat policy, as always, will be applied at the Referee’s discretion,” Craig Tiley said today.

    “The decision on implementing the heat policy will take into account the forecast once the ambient temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, and the Wet Bulb Global Temperature (WBGT) reading exceeds 32.5.

    “When conditions exceed these levels the Referee is taking into account the forecast and state of play when making his discretionary call. We’ve been gathering data for a number of years now and the forecast process is more sophisticated than ever before.

    “We believe this update will clarify and streamline the communications process for both players and support staff. We’ve consulted the playing group and this is seen as the fairest way to implement the policy by many of the top players.”

    The other major difference from previous years is that matches currently in progress will continue until the end of an even number games in that set or completion of tie break.  At the completion of the even number of games in that set or completion of tie break, play will be suspended.

    “The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam with three-retractable roof stadiums, so it’s important to update our policies to reflect the new infrastructure and conditions the players compete in,” Tiley said.

    We are incredibly fortunate to have such fantastic facilities and fans will enjoy the amazing atmosphere of MCA, which is ticketed this year, and increased access to Hisense on a Ground Pass.”

    Australian Open Fast Facts:

    • Australian Open 2009 was the warmest event on record, with the average daily maximum 34.7°C, nine degrees above normal
    • The coolest Australian Open was in 1986, when the maximum temperature averaged just 22.5°C, 3.5 degrees below normal
    • On 29 January, 1963, 108mm of rain fell on Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, making it the wettest day in Australian Open history
    • Fans at Australian Open 2015 are expected to consume more than 200,000 bottles of Mount Franklin water and 150,000 ice creams.
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    Australian Open tickets; Getty Images
    The Australian Open Fan Marketplace gives fans a safe and secure platform to buy and resell tickets for Australian Open 2015.
    | 02 December, 2014

    Australian Open Fan Marketplace open for business

    By ausopen.com

    With just 48 days until the highly anticipated start of Australian Open 2015, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets now so they don’t miss out.

    Last year saw the launch of the Australian Open Fan Marketplace. In an Australian first the Marketplace gave fans a safe and secure platform to buy and resell tickets and was one of a number of innovations that were developed locally by Ticketek and Tennis Australia to deliver world class ticketing solutions to tennis fans.

    Launched this week, 2014, AO Fan Marketplace is the only recommended site to buy previously purchased tickets for AO 2015 and Tennis Australia is urging fans to beware of all other websites and ticket resellers.

    “Fan Marketplace offers a safe, secure and fair way for our fans to sell and buy tickets,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said today. “This is a service for genuine fans, with no inflated prices or profiteering.

    “The Australian Open was the first major event to embrace the initiative, and with demand for tickets growing every year, it’s important for us to take a lead and help our fans avoid unauthorised ticket sellers.”

    Australian Open Fan Marketplace is powered by Ticketek to ensure all tickets are verified before being listed. By linking to the original ticket transaction, Ticketek can facilitate a direct refund back to the seller, as well as issue new tickets and barcodes to the buyer.

    CEO of Ticketek’s parent company Nine Live, Geoff Jones, today issued a strong warning, urging buyers to beware of unauthorised sellers.

    “We see first-hand the impact unauthorised tickets sellers have, and the disappointment patrons experience when arriving at events with tickets that cannot be honoured. Fan Marketplace is an important step forward in the fight against scalping and we are delighted to work with Tennis Australia to give fair access to tickets for true fans,” he said.

    “There is no cost to list tickets for sale on Fan Marketplace and ticket prices will be set at face value to ensure they are accessible to all tennis fans.”

    The new-look Margaret Court Arena, now featuring one of the world’s fastest retractable stadium roofs, will be ticketed for the first time in Open history with 14 sessions of play scheduled across the first eight day and six night sessions. Tickets for Margaret Court Arena are just $60 per session.

    In another new initiative 9,600 seats in Hisense Arena will be available to Grounds Pass holders allowing fans to get closer to the action for less.

    Following on from the success of A Night with Roger Federer and Friends at AO 2014, World No.3 Rafael Nadal will take on a series of tennis superstars, including compatriot Fernando Verdasco, as part of Rafa’s Summer Set on Wednesday 14 January.

    This one night only charity event will give patrons their first look at Margaret Court Arena in tennis mode, and with ticket sales supporting the Rafa Nadal Foundation and the Australian Tennis Foundation charities.

    Kids Tennis Day will see the world’s best tennis players will joined by Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer on Saturday, 15 January 2015 at Melbourne Park.

    More than 13,000 fans attended the sold-out event in 2014, highlighted by the Rod Laver Arena Spectacular with Kids Tennis Day ambassador Roger Federer, international stars Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka and Eugenie Bouchard along with Australian favourites Lleyton HewittSam Stosur and Pat Rafter.

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    Novak Djokovic with members of the Parkes, NSW community as part of the AO Tennis Blitz in 2014; Fiona Hamilton
    The New South Wales towns of Casino and Kendall are vying for the status of Australia’s most tennis-loving town, as communities across the country clamber to take top spot ahead of Australian Open 2015.
    | 01 December, 2014

    Casino, Kendall top AO Tennis Blitz leaderboard

    By Tennis Australia

    The New South Wales towns of Casino and Kendall are vying for the status of Australia’s most tennis-loving town, as communities across the country clamber to take top spot ahead of Australian Open 2015.

    Currently topping the AO Tennis Blitz town leaderboard, Casino could have the opportunity to choose either the No.1 male or female player to cheer for at Australian Open 2015 – Novak Djokovic (SRB) or Serena Williams (USA).

    In 2014 all 256 main draw players had an Australian town support them during their Australian Open campaign, essentially gaining their own dedicated cheer squad for their fortnight at Melbourne Park.

    Kendall cheered on men’s top seed Rafael Nadal (ESP), while the Queensland town of Cooroy got behind No.1 women’s seed Serena Williams. Men’s champion Stan Wawrinka (SUI) was supported to his maiden Grand Slam title by Macclesfield/Echunga in South Australia, and women’s winner Li Na (CHN) was aligned with Watervale (SA).

    During the tournament tennis fans from towns Australia-wide travelled to Melbourne Park to support their players, and sent messages of encouragement via social media to let their players know their town was right behind them.

    The world’s top tennis players welcomed the support, with many taking to social media to express their appreciation for their adopted towns. Many players were keen to learn where in Australia their town was located, with Novak Djokovic asking tournament organisers if he could drive a tram from Melbourne to Parkes, in central western New South Wales.

    Tennis Australia Director of Participation Craig Morris said he was thrilled to be rolling out the AO Tennis Blitz town initiative for the second year.

    “The AO Tennis Blitz came to life during the Australian Open this year and towns and suburbs across the country felt a real connection to their player,” he said.

    “We had a group of Alice Springs locals come down and meet Andy Murray (GBR) after a practice session. They were thrilled to see him in action and get the chance to show their support in person.

    “The mayor of Warrnambool Cr. Michael Neoh tweeted every day his support for Maria Sharapova (RUS) using the hashtag #warrnapova and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) was given a lesson on how to pronounce his aligned town by a Numurkah local.

    “The great thing about this is that towns feel as though wherever they are in Australia, they are part of the Australian Open.”

    Towns have earned points via a range of tennis-themed initiatives, including the Ultimate Club Challenge and Ultimate School Challenge, which encouraged clubs and schools to host tennis days, the Win a Wildcard campaign, which will see one lucky pair granted a wildcard entry in to the mixed doubles at Australian Open 2015, and the Hit the Target online game.

    Towns have until 12 December 2014 to earn points for their town and work their way up the leaderboard. For more information visit tennis.com.au.

    The final standings on the AO Tennis Blitz leaderboard will be announced on Monday 15 December.

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    Kai-Chen Chang (L) and Ze Zhang; Getty Images
    Kai-Chen Chang and Ze Zhang have secured their spot in the main draw of Australian Open 2015 after winning the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off tournaments in Shenzhen.
    | 01 December, 2014

    Chang, Zhang awarded Australian Open wildcards

    By Tennis Australia

    Chinese Taipei’s Kai-Chen Chang has won the right to compete at the Australian Open 2015 after emphatically defeating Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn in the final of the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP) in Shenzhen. 

    After both player’s survived long three set matches yesterday, it was Chang who started the match as the aggressor in humid conditions, dominating from the baseline and hitting thunderous winners off both wings.

    Tanasugarn tried to change her game plan in the second set but Chang continued to play better and better, clinching victory 6-3 6-0.

    It is a huge turnaround in fortunes for Chang who battled injury throughout 2013 and 2014.

    “I would like to thank Tennis Australia for organising the event here in Shenzhen. I am so excited to win and can’t wait for the Australian Open,” she said.

    “The conditions were different today to the match Tammie and I played last week and I am really glad I played my best tennis today in this very important match.”

    After finishing runner up in 2013, Ze Zhang (CHN) clinched an Australian Open wildcard by winning the men’s event at the AWP, posting a 6-4 6-4 victory over compatriot Zhe Li.

    Zhang started the final extremely well, racing to a 5-2 lead and exploiting the weaker forehand wing of Li. Li broke back though, forcing Zhang to serve out the set for a second time; he managed to complete the task on his third set point.

    It was a similar scenario in the second set with Zhang again racing to a 5-2 lead before closing out the match.

    Ecstatic with his victory, Zhang described the difficulty in serving out the title.

    “I was so nervous serving for the match at 5-4. I really wanted to win the wildcard this week and this result gives me confidence leading into the Australian Open. I can’t wait to get there for both the singles and doubles events,” he said.

    Two junior singles wildcards were also awarded on Sunday in Shenzhen. Top seed Wubing Yu (CHN) saved four match points in the boys’ final before defeating second seed Renta Tokuda (JPN) 6-4 3-6 7-6(4), while fourth seed Xinyu Gao (CHN) defeated top seed Duzhima Duzhima (CHN) 6-3 6-1 in the girls final.

    Both players will now participate in the main draw of the junior singles in the second week of the Australian Open.

    All winners were presented with their accreditation by Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge in the awards ceremony on centre court.

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    Kai-Chen Chang and Tamarine Tanasugarn; Getty Images
    Former top 100 players Kai-Chen Chang and Tamarine Tanasugarn will contest the final of the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Shenzhen.
    | 30 November, 2014

    Comeback queens reign supreme

    By Tennis Australia

    The Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP) women’s final will be contested by former top 100 players Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) and Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) after each came through three-set semifinals.

    Chang was the first through to the final with a 6-0 3-6 7-5 victory over second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN).

    The Taiwanese was in sublime form in the first set and hitting aggressively from the baseline before Hozumi stormed back in the second set; a titanic battle ensued in the third set.

    Chang is looking to return to Grand Slam singles after battling injury for the majority of 2013 and 2014.

    > follow all the latest news from the AWP in Shenzhen

    Tanasugarn, who has also battled recent injuries, called on all of her experience to defeat rising Chinese star Shilin Xu (CHN).

    Producing several winners off both wings, Xu raced away with the first set 6-3, before Tanasugarn mixed up her play in the second set with a variety of slice and spin in a bid to counter Xu’s aggression.

    In the end, the former top 20 player raced away to win 3-6 6-1 6-2, and said she relished the potential opportunity to compete at Grand Slam level again.

    “I have really enjoyed the week here in Shenzhen and would love to finish with the title tomorrow. Chang and I only played last week at the WTA event in Japan and it was a tight three set battle so it should be a great final,” she said.

    In the men’s event it will be an all Chinese singles final in Shenzhen after Ze Zhang and Zhe Li booked their places in Sunday’s final

    Zhang produced a convincing 6-3 6-3 win over Indian qualifier Purav Raja, started the match extremely well by moving Raja around the court with aggressive baseline play.

    Meanwhile, Li has had an outstanding week in defeating the two seeds en route to the final, and on Saturday enjoyed the support of a parochial home crowd who spurred him on to defeat third seed Hyeon Chung (KOR) 6-3 7-5.

    Li said it would be the highlight of his career to compete in a Grand Slam singles event.

    “I have worked all my life to try and compete at Grand Slam level and now I am only one match away,” he said.

    “It would be a dream come true. I just need to treat tomorrow as any other match but obviously there is a big prize. Zhang and I have played so much, he has beaten me more than I have beaten him so I will need to play my best tomorrow.”

    In doubles, four players won the rights to Australian Open accreditation on Saturday when the finals were completed.

    In the men’s final, fourth seeds Ze Zhang (CHN) and Hsin-Hee Lee (TPE) recovered to defeat Purav Raja (IND) and Ruben Gonzales (PHI) 2-6 6-1 10-8 while in the women’s decider, Chinese national champions Zhaoxuan Yang and Qiuyu Le defeated Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) and Chen Liang (CHN) 6-2 6-3.

    Both pairs were ecstatic when presented with accreditation by Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge.

    After watching the finals, Woodbridge took the opportunity to pass on some doubles advice to both champions which will no doubt serve them well when they compete at the Australian Open in January.

    For draws, scores and player information, check out our dedicated guide to the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

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    Purav Raja; Getty Images
    Indian qualifier Purav Raja has continued his giant-killing run at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP), upsetting two-time champion Wu Di of China.
    | 29 November, 2014

    Raja upsets Wu in wildcard play-off

    By Tennis Australia

    Indian qualifier Purav Raja has continued his giant-killing run at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP), upsetting two-time champion Wu Di of China.

    After defeating Japanese top seed Hiroki Moriya, Raja beat 2012 and 2013 AWP champion Wu on Friday, and will now face Chinese No.1 Ze Zhang in Saturday’s semifinal.

    Zhang was in sublime form in crushing Indian Yuki Bhambri 6-2 6-1 in just under an hour, and pleased the home fans with thunderous serving throughout the match which set up numerous forehand winners.

    > follow all the latest news from the AWP in Shenzhen

    Zhang said he was excited by the prospect of playing in another Australian Open main draw: “this year I enjoyed the experience of playing Fernando Verdasco in round one. I won the first set but really struggled in the heat after that. I would love the opportunity to play in Melbourne again.”

    Eighteen-year-old Hyeon Chung (KOR) earned a semifinal spot with a hard fought 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over doubles partner and Davis Cup teammate Ji-Sung Nam.

    Chung will start favourite in his semifinal against unseeded Chinese player Zhe Li, who caused another upset when he defeated highly fancied second seed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-4. Li roared with delight after clinching match point and will enjoy strong support from the vocal home crowd tomorrow.

    Shenzhen local Shilin Xu kept Chinese hopes alive in the women’s singles event with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory over Miharu Imanishi (JPN).

    Xu is only two wins away from a Grand Slam singles debut at the tender age of 16. Xu will face Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) on Saturday in the third match on centre court; Tanasugarn was sublime form in routing Japanese opponent Nao Hibino 6-0 6-0.

    When asked about the prospect of playing an opponent 21 years her junior, Tanasugarn said she would be ready for the challenge.

    “Xu is a rising player and very exciting for Chinese tennis,” sher said.

    “Hopefully I will play my best as I would love the opportunity to compete at the Australian Open again.

    “I have mainly been focused on doubles this year but I made the semifinals in Toyota last week and am really inspired by the efforts of Kimiko Date-Krumm in her mid 40s.”

    The second semifinal will see Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) take on second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN).

    Chang defeated experienced Japanese opponent Rika Fujiwara convincingly 6-1 6-3 whilst Hozumi won an entertaining match against  Su Jeong-Jang (KOR) 6-3 7-6 (2).

    Chang received a wildcard into the event with her ranking having slipped to 452nd following a battle with injury. She will be aiming to defy her current ranking when she takes on the 146th-ranked Hozumi on Saturday.

    Four players will win the rights to Australian Open entry tomorrow when the doubles finals are played.

    In the men’s final, fourth seeds Ze Zhang (CHN) and Hsin-Hee Lee (TPE) take on Purav Raja (IND) and Ruben Gonzales (PHI) while in the women’s decider, Chinese national champions Zhaoxuan Yang and Qiuyu Le do battle with top seeds Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) and Chen Liang (CHN).

    The accreditation for all winners will be presented by Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge here in Shenzhen.

    For draws, scores and player information, check out our dedicated guide to theAustralian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

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    Hyeon Chung; Getty Images
    Former junior whiz Hyeon Chung of Korea has romped to victory in the first round of the men's event at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Shenzhen.
    | 28 November, 2014

    Korean teen makes impressive debut

    By Tennis Australia

    Korean teen Hyeon Chung has made an impressive singles debut on Day 2 of the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

    The 18-year-old and tournament third seed romped to a 6-2 6-0 victory over China’s Cai Zhao. continuing the form that has seen him win four titles – three Futures and a Challenger – in 2014; a fifth could beckon in Shenzhen this week.

    Chung’s junior pedigree is first class; he defeated rising stars Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric – both now top-100 ranked players – at the Wimbledon Junior Championships in 2013.

    Chung’s opponent on Friday will be fellow Korean and doubles partner Ji-Sung Nam; Nam defeated Chinese opponent Xi Qi emphatically 6-1 6-1.

    Second seed Yoshihito Nishioka moved one step closer to the Australian Open with a hard fought victory over fellow Japanese opponent Sho Katayama 3-6 6-1 6-4. Katayama lead 3-0 in the third set before the left-handed Nishioka surged home to take the deciding set.

    Nishioka is no stranger to Grand Slam tennis after qualifying for the main draw of the US Open earlier this year, and will take on experienced local Zhe Li (CHN) in Friday’s quarterfinals.

    Li won an exciting encounter against Bumpei Sato (JPN), during which Sato served for the first set at 5-4 before Li was spurred on by the home crowd, breaking back and clinching the first set in a tiebreak. Li broke early in the second set and eventually triumphed 7-6(4) 6-4.

    In the women’s draw, former top 100 player Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) opened women’s singles matches on centre court on Thursday with a 6-3 6-3 victory over compatriot Ya-Hsuan Lee (TPE).

    Chang reached a career high ranking of 82nd in 2010 and is currently on the road back after an injury lay off.

    Chang’s quarterfinal opponent will be experienced Japanese campaigner Rika Fujiwara; Fujiwara caused the upset of the day when she defeated third seed Kai Lin Zhang (CHN) 6-3 4-6 7-5.

    The match was punctuated by a rain delay at 6-5 in the third set with the match needing to be moved to centre court for completion. Fujiwara maintained her composure though winning the required 12th game to seal victory.

    Second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN) opened her tournament campaign with a convincing 6-2 6-1 victory over Indian qualifier Ankita Raina.

    Hozumi will next take on Korean wildcard Su Jeong Jang, after Jang defeated Chinese local Zhaoxuan Wang 6-3 7-6 (5).

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    Rafael Nadal in action at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    A capacity crowd is expected to join 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal (ESP) for a blockbuster one-off entertainment event at Margaret Court Arena this summer.
    | 27 November, 2014

    Rafa set to rock Margaret Court Arena

    By Tennis Australia

    A capacity crowd is expected to join 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal (ESP) for a blockbuster one-off entertainment event at Margaret Court Arena this summer.

    Nadal will be joined by a superstar line-up of tennis personalities for Rafa’s Summer Set on Wednesday 14 January.

    The raging bull of tennis and arguably the most competitive player to step foot on a tennis court, Nadal will set the stadium alight in January when he takes on a formidable line-up of opponents including countryman Fernando Verdasco.

    The 2009 Australian Open champion will face off against Verdasco and fellow stars of the sport in an entertaining showdown as he prepares for the first Grand Slam of the year.

    The event will also feature one of Melbourne’s top DJs spinning the decks as Margaret Court Arena transforms into a do-or-die battleground.

    Tickets to Rafa’s Summer Set will be on sale at 1pm tomorrow via Ticketek. Tickets are priced at $56 for adults, $51 for concession, $29 for juniors under 16 and $156 for families.

    Nadal said the event would be a great opportunity for all fans to experience the new-look Margaret Court Arena in tennis mode for the first time.

    “I’ve heard that the new roof on Margaret Court Arena is now finished and the pictures I’ve seen are amazing. The Australian fans are always fantastic and I hope they’ll come and experience the finished stadium at this special event,” Nadal said.

    The event will also support the Rafa Nadal Foundation, which assists and provides opportunities for socially disadvantaged young people, and the Australian Tennis Foundation.

    A range of Premium Ticketing packages is available. For more information contact +61 3 9914 4177 or 1300 309 166, or email[email protected].