Japan’s Osaka Dominates Brady To Win Australian Open

Japan’s Naomi Osaka holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup trophy during a victory lap following her win over Jennifer Brady of the US in their women’s singles final match on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 20, 2021. David Gray / AFP

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka dismissed Jennifer Brady in straight sets to win the Australian Open and underline her growing hold on women’s tennis on Saturday.

Osaka edged a tight first set but controlled the second to win 6-4, 6-3 in 77 minutes in front of 7,381 fans at Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka preserves her 100 percent record in Grand Slam finals after winning the 2018 and 2020 US Opens and the 2019 title in Melbourne.

The reigning US Open champion, who beat her idol, Serena Williams, in the Melbourne semi-finals, has now won two of the last three Grand Slams as her status and reputation soars.

“We played in the semis of the US Open a couple of months ago and I told everyone that you’re going to be a problem,” Osaka told Brady at the trophy presentation.

“And I was right. It’s really incredible to me to see your growth over the past few months, it’s really cool for me to see.”

Osaka, 23, is only the third player after Monica Seles and Roger Federer to win their first four major finals, and will now rise to second in the world rankings.

She saved two match points in the fourth round against Garbine Muguruza and swept past Williams in straight sets in the semis.

On Saturday, Osaka wore down fellow big-hitter Brady, and then lifted her racquet above her head in celebration of her win as the crowd roared.

After sealing back-to-back Slam titles twice, Osaka has won half the majors she’s contested since beating Williams to win her first in 2018.

“Thank you for coming and watching, it feels really incredible for me,” she told the crowd, which was capped at half-capacity over coronavirus concerns.

“I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans so just to have this energy really means a lot.”

US Open rematch

The Japanese survived a seesaw start to gain control, reeling off six straight games en route to the title.

It was a rematch of last year’s epic US Open semi-final, described by some as the best match of 2020, but Osaka triumphed far more comfortably on this occasion.

Before the match, Osaka had pinpointed her return as the key, but she was helped out by a shaky Brady who lost her serve in the fourth game after two double faults.

But Brady, the 22nd seed, hit back with a break and she continued to pile pressure on Osaka’s serve.

A brilliant lob winner, showcasing her trademark athleticism, gave a pumped-up Brady a break point in the ninth game, but Osaka held on.

Brady then played a sloppy game on serve to hand over the set to Osaka, who had a 20-0 record at Melbourne Park when winning the first set.

Osaka gained a stranglehold with an early break in the second set and fired down an ace to skip out to a 3-0 lead, followed by a roar of “C’mon!”.

Brady attempted a late rally, but a calm Osaka was not to be denied.

Brady’s resilient run ended after serving 14 days’ hard quarantine before the tournament, unlike other players who were allowed out of their hotel rooms to train.

Despite the defeat, Brady will rise to a career-high 13th in the WTA rankings.

‘I’m Done’: Serena Williams Walks Out In Tears After Semi-Final Defeat

This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on February 18, 2021 shows Serena Williams of the US gets emotional at a press conference after losing her women’s semi-final match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by ROB PREZIOSO / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)

 

Serena Williams broke down in tears and cut short her post-match press conference after another failed bid to equal Margaret Court’s record Grand Slam haul, calling her defeat to Naomi Osaka “a big error day”.

The veteran American’s quest to reach a ninth Australian Open final and match Court’s 24 major singles titles ended in a 6-3, 6-4 semi-final mauling by the Japanese third seed.

Williams, 39, broke early for a 2-0 lead before Osaka reeled off five straight games to leave her shellshocked.

“The difference today was errors. I made so many errors,” said the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

“Honestly, it was opportunities where I could have won. I could have been up 5-0. It was a big error day for me.”

Pressed on what caused her to make so many mistakes, tears began to flow as she told reporters: “I don’t know. I’m done,” before walking out.

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (L) is congratulated by Serena Williams of the US after their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

In a clash of power games, it was Osaka who had the edge, hitting 20 winners to Williams’s 12, while also committing three fewer unforced errors on 21.

Williams said she had been hitting well all tournament and had no explanation for the loss other than “too many mistakes there, easy mistakes”.

Osaka’s victory left her still stranded on 23 Grand Slam crowns, one short of Court’s tally, with her last major title coming in Melbourne four years ago when she was pregnant.

Williams has lost four Slam finals since and as she walked off court put her hand over her heart, almost as if saying farewell.

Asked about it afterwards, she suggested the gesture was more about acknowledging the crowd, who were allowed back into Rod Laver Arena after a five-day snap lockdown and gave the American a rousing send-off.

 

This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on February 18, 2021 shows Serena Williams of the US gets emotional at a press conference after losing her women’s semi-final match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by ROB PREZIOSO / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)

“I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said

But Williams later posted a heartfelt message to her Australian fans on Instagram.

“Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens … I am so honoured to be able to play in front of you all,” she said.

“Your support — your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and everyone single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”

Osaka, who is 16 years younger than Williams and grew up watching her, said she was honoured to be on the same court.

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (L) gives a hug to Serena Williams of the US after their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

“I mean, it definitely means a lot. I think, of course, every time I play her, I feel like it’s something I’ll definitely remember a lot,” she said, adding that talk of the American retiring made her “sad”.

“I want her to play forever,” she said. “That’s the little kid in me.”

 

Serena Williams of the US leaves the court after losing to Japan’s Naomi Osaka in their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

Australian Open To Allow 7,500 Centre Court Fans

A general view of the Rod Laver Arena as Spain’s Rafael Nadal hits a return against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles quarter-final match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 17, 2021. PHOTO: Brandon MALONE / AFP

 

The Australian Open will allow 50 percent capacity at Rod Laver Arena, the centre court, from Thursday after state authorities eased a five-day coronavirus lockdown, organisers of the Grand Slam tennis tournament said.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Australian Open for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement.

A maximum of 7,477 fans will be allowed at each of the day and night sessions from Thursday, Tiley said.

READ ALSO: Tsitsipas Upset Ends Nadal’s Record Title Bid At Australian Open

The announcement comes ahead of the five-day state-wide lockdown ending at midnight on Wednesday with state health authorities expressing confidence the snap restrictions had been enough to contain a Coronavirus outbreak.

“Last week we had our first real experience of live sport with fans in the stands and the atmosphere was electric,” said Tiley.

The restrictions were ordered last Friday after a small cluster of the UK coronavirus variant emerged.

The Australian Open’s Melbourne Park complex had been operating on the capacity of a restricted ground of 30,000 spectators per day in the first week of the tournament before the snap lockdown.

The five-day stay-at-home order now appears to have contained the outbreak, which centred on a hotel near Melbourne airport, to 19 people.

No new cases were reported Wednesday.

AFP

Osaka ‘At Ease’ After Storming Into Australian Open Semis

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

World number three Naomi Osaka warned Tuesday that she’s feeling confident and “at ease” after storming past Hsieh Su-wei in straight sets to book an Australian Open semi-final against either Serena Williams or Simona Halep.

The Japanese three-time Grand Slam champion overcame the Taiwanese world number 71’s unorthodox style 6-2, 6-2 in an all-Asian quarter-final at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka hit 24 winners in a dominant display lasting just 66 minutes against her 35-year-old opponent, who made history by becoming the oldest woman in the Open era to debut in the quarter-finals of a Slam.

After being thrown off her rhythm early by the canny Su-wei, a focused Osaka took control and then cruised to victory in stark contrast to her fourth-round match where she needed to save two match points in a tense battle against last year’s runner-up in Australia, Garbine Muguruza.

“I think my confidence was raised after I played Muguruza the other day just because she’s such a quality opponent, and my back was against the wall,” Osaka said about coming back from 3-5 and 15-40 on her serve in the third set.

“I’m at ease with how my game is right now.

“I felt like today I told myself just to be really intense from the beginning.

– ‘I didn’t want three sets’ –

“I felt like I knew what to expect and that I couldn’t afford to be lazy with my footwork or anything.

“I didn’t want to play three sets today.”

Osaka, 23, will play either 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams or world number two Halep for a place in Saturday’s final.

“Serena… someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court,” said Osaka, who beat Williams in a tempestuous 2018 US Open final.

“Halep, I don’t really like playing her. She’s someone that’s really tough, someone that gets the ball back every time.

“For me, it’s definitely a mental and physical battle.

“This is kind of where guts come in. I think everyone’s very nervous, everyone wants to win.

“So managing that is definitely important.”

Osaka has gone on to win the title each time she has reached the quarter-finals of a Slam and stayed on track for a second Australian Open title, having first won it in 2019.

The defending US Open champion, however, downplayed her prior achievements, preferring to focus on being consistent.

“The fact is if I don’t reach the finals, I lose in the fourth round or the third round,” said Osaka, who is playing in her 18th Grand Slam since starting in 2016.

“For me, I’m happy to be more consistent. I think I’m being more consistent since New York, so that’s the ultimate goal for me.”

Osaka is riding a 19-match unbeaten streak dating back 12 months, but exited Melbourne Park early last year after her title defence ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.

Nadal Stays On Track For Slams Record As Back Injury Eases

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after victory against Britain’s Cameron Norrie during their men’s singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 13, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) 

 

 

World number two Rafael Nadal said his minor back injury was improving by the day as he accelerated his pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title with a victory over Cameron Norrie at the Australian Open Saturday.

The Spanish second seed has altered his service motion due to lower-back tightness that has plagued him all tournament, although it didn’t stop him emphatically demolishing his first two opponents in straight sets.

Britain’s 69th-ranked Norrie proved a tougher assignment, with Nadal pressed much harder before emerging a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 winner in an empty Rod Laver Arena as Melbourne went into a five-day coronavirus lockdown.

 

Cameron Norrie
Britain’s Cameron Norrie walks off the court after losing against Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their men’s singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 13, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) 

 

It put him into a Slam last 16 for the 49th time, behind only Roger Federer (67) and Novak Djokovic (53).

“Today is better. First day I feel an improvement, and that’s the most important thing for me today, more than any other thing,” he said of his back.

“Today is the first day that I started to serve again my normal serve. It was an important victory for me. The biggest victory is the back is better for the first day.”

Nadal next faces fiery Italian Fabio Fognini, who beat Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets.

The Spaniard is bidding to win his 21st major title and claim sole ownership of the men’s record, which he currently shares with Federer.

 

Spain’s Rafael Nadal changes his headband between the games against Britain’s Cameron Norrie during their men’s singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 13, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP)

 

– Tough nut –
His victory keeps him on course to meet Djokovic in the final, although the defending champion is under an injury cloud after suffering what he called an abdominal “muscle tear” in the third round on Friday.

It remains unclear whether the top-seeded Serb will be able to play his fourth-round match against Milos Raonic on Sunday.

The odds were heavily stacked in Nadal’s favour against Norrie, as he has never lost an Australian Open match to a player ranked as low as the Briton at 69.

He also holds a stellar record against fellow lefties, winning 103 of 117, with the last loss coming against Denis Shapovalov in Montreal in 2017.

Nadal signalled his intent by opening with a serve to love, but Norrie proved a tough nut to crack, going blow-for-blow in a baseline battle and breaking the second seed.

But Nadal quickly refocused to fight back and take the set 7-5 when Norrie sent a forehand long.

The Spaniard created plenty of break point opportunities and finally converted an overhead to go break for 4-2 in the second set.

Another break sealed the set as Norrie, who was aiming to reach a Grand Slam last 16 for the first time, wilted under Nadal’s relentless firepower.

Little separated them in the third set until Nadal made his move in the 11th game, forcing a match point with a screaming forehand and booking the win when Norrie send a backhand wide.

Australian Open: Osaka-Muguruza Clash Features Insistent Butterfly

A butterfly lands on Japan’s Naomi Osaka as she plays against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

Naomi Osaka had to deal with a butterfly landing on her nose Friday but was otherwise little bothered as she breezed into the last 16 of the Australian Open and a showdown with last year’s runner-up Garbine Muguruza.

The third seed, champion in Melbourne two years ago, gently carried the insect intruder to safety at the side of the court before closing out an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory over Tunisian 27th seed Ons Jabeur in 1hr 18min.

Japan’s Osaka, who has dropped just 13 games in her opening three matches, is great friends with “free spirit” Jabeur and said playing against her on John Cain Arena was “really fun”.

But she wasn’t happy with how she performed.

 

 

A butterfly lands on Japan’s Naomi Osaka as she plays against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

 

“I felt like I wasn’t playing that well, like my unforced error rate was probably really high today,” she said. “But I’m really happy with how I fought.”

Osaka will face an entirely different style of play when she meets two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza for a place in the quarter-finals.

“For me I feel like Ons is a very different player, but that’s just judging from the matches I’ve watched of Muguruza,” she said.

“I think Ons is definitely more of a free spirit, and I think for me Muguruza might be a bit more like my taste. Like she’s not as unpredictable as Ons is.”

 

 

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza hits a return against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE —

 

Osaka added that she was excited to finally play the Spanish 14th seed, having watched her win Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon a year later.

Muguruza, who lost in the final to Sofia Kenin a year ago, beat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-1, 6-1 to set up the fourth-round clash.

“I’ve practised with her once, but it was on grass, and I was younger,” she said.

“But I just remember being really impressed by her, and for me, I’ve watched her win Wimbledon and win the French Open when I was younger, and I’ve always wanted to have the chance to play her. So for me, this is really exciting.”

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

When they do play on Sunday, it will be in front of an empty stadiums after it was announced Friday that Melbourne would go into five days’ lockdown from midnight to try and stamp out a fresh coronavirus cluster.

“I feel like while I’m here, I’m really embracing the crowd,” said Osaka, but added that with no fans to spur her on she would instead just “focus within myself”.

Venus Hobbles Out Of Australian Open In Agony

Venus Williams of the US leaves after losing against Italy’s Sara Errani in the women’s singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 10, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

Venus Williams hobbled out of the Australian Open Wednesday after a straight-sets loss to Italian qualifier Sara Errani, departing from her record 21st appearance at Melbourne Park as a disconsolate figure.

The seven-time Grand Slam winner rolled an ankle late in the first set and offered little resistance after that, crashing 6-1, 6-0 in 75 minutes.

“I’m not happy to win like that,” Errani, ranked 134, said. “I’m so sad for her. It isn’t easy playing someone injured.”

Williams, 40, appeared to roll her right ankle mid-point while attempting a volley, down 5-1 in the opening set, screaming in agony and seeking medical attention.

The American had her ankle strapped as she cut a dejected figure, but decided to gamely fight on.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Passes Tiafoe Test, Serena Sublime At Australian Open

Williams, who also had strapping to her left knee reapplied, was noticeably hampered and could barely exert force on serve as the match petered out.

An amazing 27 years after making her professional debut, two-time Australian Open finalist Williams had beaten Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in the first round.

Errani next plays Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan who upset eighth seed Bianca Andreescu.

Osaka Powers Past Garcia Into Australian Open Third Round

Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning against France’s Caroline Garcia during their women’s singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 10, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka thwarted Caroline Garcia on Wednesday with an effortless straight sets victory, as she stormed into the Australian Open third round.

Osaka, the third seed, faced a tricky contest against the Frenchwoman, who was ranked a career-high of fourth in late 2018, but never gave her a sniff in the 6-2, 6-3 victory in 61 minutes.

“I stayed focused throughout the match and I tried to play within myself,” Osaka, who hit 23 winners, told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.

“She’s a tough opponent because you don’t know how she might play.”

The three-time Grand Slam winner is riding a 16-match unbeaten streak — including the US Open final — dating back 12 months, and is building momentum having not played before arriving in Australia since her triumph in New York.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Passes Tiafoe Test, Serena Sublime At Australian Open

The 2019 Australian Open champion cruised through the opening set to draw first blood and snuffed out any challenge from 43-ranked Garcia with a break in the sixth game of the second before finishing it off in style with her 10th ace.

Osaka is eyeing redemption after her title defence last year ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.

She faces 27th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the third round.

Djokovic Passes Tiafoe Test, Serena Sublime At Australian Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates beating France’s Jeremy Chardy during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

Eight-time champion Novak Djokovic was made to sweat at the Australian Open on Wednesday as Serena Williams made serene progress in her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Women’s favourite Naomi Osaka also charged through but fellow major-winners Stan Wawrinka, Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova were all second-round casualties.

Djokovic was given a stern examination by America’s Frances Tiafoe and dropped his first set of the tournament before recovering to win 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

“I was fortunate to get through the third set today, it was anybody’s game,” said the defending champion, after his win in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The top seed looked in control after taking the first set, but lightning-quick Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago, refused to go quietly.

READ ALSO: Osaka Powers Past Garcia Into Australian Open Third Round

The American bounced back to take a close second set but imploded as tensions rose in the fourth, receiving a code violation for an audible obscenity as Djokovic took charge.

“I thought we both played on a pretty high level. I mean, he pushed me to the very limit,” said Djokovic.

The Serb is targeting a record-extending ninth title and his 18th Grand Slam trophy overall as he snaps at the heels of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who top the all-time list with 20 each.

He avoided the fate of 2014 winner Wawrinka, who blew three match points in the fifth-set tiebreaker in his four-hour epic with Marton Fucsovics, who won 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11/9).

“I had some chance to finish the match, I didn’t finish,” said the 35-year-old Swiss, a three-time Grand Slam winner.

“I hesitated a little bit when I had the match point and I lost it.”

– ‘Here to have fun’ –

Osaka, whose three Grand Slam titles include the 2019 Australian crown, had no such trouble in her evening match against France’s Caroline Garcia, winning 6-2, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

Earlier Williams, 39, continued her quest to equal Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 Grand Slams with a 6-3, 6-0 romp past 99th-ranked Serbian Nina Stojanovic.

Williams hit 27 winners in her 101st Australian Open match while again sporting her unique, one-legged catsuit inspired by track legend ‘Flo-Jo’.

“I’m here to have fun and it’s great to be playing in front of a crowd,” said the American great.

Serena Williams of the US reacts after a point against Germany’s Laura Siegemund during their women’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

With Australia virtually virus-free, the tournament is welcoming the biggest Grand Slam crowds since the pandemic, although attendances are well down on previous years.

Williams’ elder sister Venus, 40, was a major casualty on day three when she painfully rolled her ankle in the first set against Sara Errani before hobbling through a 6-1, 6-0 defeat.

And Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion who missed the entire 2020 season with a knee injury, saw her comeback come to an abrupt end 6-3, 6-2 against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei.

“You need to find a way to get through and the crowd helped me fight,” said Hsieh after beating the Canadian, who was coming off a draining three-setter against Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Elsewhere Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion and Melbourne runner-up in 2019, committed 44 unforced errors in her 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 defeat to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea as the big names tumbled on day three.

However, reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem, runner-up to Djokovic last year, was all smiles as he beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

“It was great, to be honest,” Thiem said of his performance on Margaret Court Arena.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzmann of Argentina also hurried into the last 32, brushing aside Frenchman Alexandre Muller 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and 32 minutes on 1573 Arena.

Germany’s volatile US Open finalist Alexander Zverev will close out the night session against America’s Maxime Cressy.

The tantrum-prone Nick Kyrgios could also provide fireworks out on his favourite John Cain Arena against France’s 29th seed Ugo Humbert.

‘I Have To Pee!’ – Shapovalov Throws A Toilet Tantrum

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov receives a medical timeout as he plays against Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP)

 

Denis Shapovalov claims he’s got the smallest bladder on tour and the Canadian was not impressed when an umpire at the Australian Open denied his request for a toilet break.

The world number 11 had dropped the fourth set of a five-set epic against Italian teenager Jannik Sinner that finished in the early hours of Tuesday and desperately needed to relieve himself.

“What happens if I go?” asked the 21-year-old, “Do I get a fine? I don’t care!” he ranted at German umpire Nico Helwerth, who turned down his request.

“What do you mean, I can’t go? Are you going to disqualify me? I have to pee!”

He stepped up his tirade when it became clear the umpire would not relent.

“I’m going to piss my pants!” he said. “I’m going to piss in a bottle.”

 

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov reacts as he plays against Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP)

 

After coming through the high-pressure first-round match 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in  just under four hours, he explained that he needed to use the bathroom more than other players.

“First of all, I was just blowing off steam, just kind of cooling my head, getting rid of it,” he said.

“But also I do think it’s a dumb rule. Especially for me, I’ve got the smallest bladder ever, so I literally got to take a piss every set. So it’s difficult, especially when you’re on that court for so long.

“Before the match I’m trying to hydrate as much as possible, so yeah, I gotta pee, man.”

 

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov celebrates beating Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) / 

 

The tournament rules that state players are entitled to just one toilet break during a best of three sets match and two for a five-setter.

“I do think that we should be able to take more breaks and go to the washroom because we are forced — not forced, but we could be on the court for three, four hours,” added Shapovalov.

“So I think even taking those little breaks … I think we deserve it.”

Shapovalov next plays Australian Bernard Tomic.

Serena Williams Inspired By Brady After Australian Open Romp

Serena Williams of the US reacts after a point against Germany’s Laura Siegemund during their women’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

A “vintage” Serena Williams said Monday she gained inspiration from ageless NFL great Tom Brady after an impressive start to her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam on day one of the Australian Open.

The 39-year-old, playing an unparallelled 100th match at the tournament, looked sharp and hit 16 winners against Germany’s Laura Siegemund in the 6-1, 6-1 romp in 56 minutes.

As she completed her first-round victory, fellow American Brady was lifting his seventh Super Bowl title having spearheaded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an upset 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It’s unbelievable… it’s unreal,” Williams said of the 43-year-old Brady, who collected his fourth Super Bowl MVP in his first season since leaving New England Patriots.

“I just was watching as much as I could.

“You can’t say it was the system he was at formerly. It’s definitely Tom Brady… he’s Tom Brady. He’s amazing.”

Williams showed no signs of the shoulder injury that ruled her out of the semi-finals of last week’s Yarra Valley Classic.

She has also been battling a lingering Achilles injury first sustained at last year’s US Open, but has been in strong form so far in Melbourne as she chases Margaret Court’s record Grand Slam tally.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Imperious As Covid-Delayed Australian Open Finally Underway

Like Brady, Williams wound back the clock by thrashing her opponent in a one-sided contest.

“This was a good start, it was vintage Serena,” she said.

“Wasn’t sure how my serve would be after the shoulder (injury), but it’s feeling good.”

The 10th seed, competing in her 20th Australian Open, turned heads with her attire — a multi-coloured, one-legged catsuit inspired by late sprint queen Florence Griffith Joyner, popularly known as ‘Flo-Jo’.

She remains the fastest woman in history, holding the 100m best of 10.49sec set at the 1988 Seoul Olympics — a remarkable feat that was always under the shadow of suspicions that it was fuelled by drugs.

“I was inspired by Flo-Jo, who was a wonderful track athlete, amazing athlete when I was growing up,” Williams said.

“Watching her fashion, just always changing, her outfits were always amazing.

“The Nike team actually thought of this design of inspiration from Flo-Jo.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is so brilliant’.”

Williams, the seven-time Australian Open champion, will play Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic in the second round on Wednesday.

Djokovic Imperious As Covid-Delayed Australian Open Finally Underway

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hits a return against France’s Jeremy Chardy during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

Novak Djokovic served a reminder of why he is the greatest Australian Open champion in history as he demolished France’s Jeremy Chardy in straight sets in round one on Monday.

The eight-time winner’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory showed that normal service had resumed at Rod Laver Arena after the year’s first Grand Slam was delayed by three weeks over the coronavirus.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep also enjoyed convincing wins as the tournament finally got underway in front of limited crowds after a troubled build-up.

“It feels great, so great to see people back in the stadium,” Djokovic said. “This is the most I’ve seen on a tennis court in 12 months.”

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Form and fitness are highly unpredictable at the Australian Open after the coronavirus wiped out five months of last season and badly disrupted preparations for the first Grand Slam of 2021.

But Djokovic left little doubt about his readiness to pursue a record-extending ninth title in Melbourne, breaking in the first game and completing the victory in 91 minutes.

The Australian Open was postponed to allow players to quarantine and play warm-up events, which were suspended for a day last week after a coronavirus case at a tournament hotel.

After the tortuous build-up, third seed Osaka struck the first serve on the centre court against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and strode just 68 minutes later as a 6-1, 6-2 winner.

“I was really nervous coming into this match. I just wanted to play well,” Osaka told a smattering of spectators on the socially-distanced court.

– ‘Vintage Serena’ –

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam in style with a 6-1, 6-1 romp past Germany’s Laura Siegemund in 56 minutes.

“This was a good start, it was vintage Serena,” said the 39-year-old, turning heads in a brightly coloured, one-legged catsuit.

Later, the 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu won an emotional first match after 15 months out against Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

The 20-year-old Canadian last played at the WTA Finals in October 2019 at Shenzen, China, where she suffered the knee injury that scuppered her entire 2020 season.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek, 19, beat Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round and continue her Grand Slam winning streak.

But Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open winner, was the first significant casualty of the women’s championship when the 23rd-seeded German lost 6-0, 6-4 to 63rd-ranked American Bernarda Pera.

The tournament known as the “Happy Slam” for its relaxed atmosphere has taken on a different appearance this year with fewer spectators, mandatory mask-wearing and fans unable to circulate freely around the grounds.

Monday’s total attendance was 17,922 — a far cry from a year ago, when 64,387 came through the turnstiles on day one.

It’s the fourth Grand Slam tournament affected by the coronavirus after last year’s Wimbledon was cancelled, the French Open was postponed and the US Open was held behind closed doors.

– Racquet smash –

In the men’s draw, US Open champion Dominic Thiem was made to work hard in the first set by Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin before coming through 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3.

“He’s very experienced and the first set was super-challenging,” said Thiem, beaten by Djokovic in five epic sets in the Australian Open final last year.

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev dropped a set and smashed a racquet before grinding to a 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 win against American Marcos Giron.

“He played incredible,” said the German, who lost to Thiem in the final in New York and the Melbourne semi-finals last year.

“He had me on the ropes, particularly in the second set tie-break.”

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios scored a point with a tweener as he beat Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva in straight sets.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, reached the second round for a 16th straight time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win against Portugal’s Paulo Sousa.

Milos Raonic, the 14th seed from Canada, also enjoyed serene progress through to the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Federico Coria of Argentina, while Denis Shapovalov outlasted Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in five sets.

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov got through in three sets against Croatia’s Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion.

But Gael Monfils, the French 10th seed, was stunned 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 by Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, the world number 86, in three hours and 46 minutes.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori also fell at the first hurdle with a straight-sets defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.

Top women’s seed Ashleigh Barty, defending champion Sofia Kenin and 20-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal all begin their challenge on Tuesday.