2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Tuesday Night


Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.

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Daniil Medvedev Finds Another Way of Playing Professional Tennis


At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.

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Aslan Karatsev of Russia Continues an Unlikely Run at Australian Open


He is the mystery man who few in the sport had heard of just days ago. But Aslan Karatsev of Russia has landed in the semifinals of the Australian Open.In one of the most unlikely runs in the history of modern tennis, Karatsev on Tuesday became one of the few players to make the final four of a Grand Slam after surviving the qualifying tournament when he beat an ailing Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in four sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.Karatsev, 27, who was born in Russia, moved to Israel as a child, then returned to Russia as a teenager to pursue better tennis training, according to The Times of Israel. He had been playing in the tennis hinterlands for several years with little success. He had never qualified for a Grand Slam before this tournament. He won three straight matches at the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha to win a spot in the main event and came in ranked No. 114 in the world. He has never been ranked higher than No. 111.Dimitrov appeared to have the match under control after the first set but suffered what looked to be back spasms in the third set and appeared to be on the edge of retiring for the rest of the match.Just four other players have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam after getting through the qualifying event.Ahead of the Australian Open, he played doubles for Team Russia in the ATP Cup, a team event in which players represent their countries. Russia won the competition, but not because of Karatsev, who lost all three matches in which he played with two different partners.His teammates noticed that he was playing as well as they had ever seen, and yet none of them would have predicted anything like this.“We felt like he could do something amazing,” Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s top player and the No. 4 seed in the Australian Open. “To be honest, being in your first Grand Slam main draw? Making quarters is something exceptional. He’s not over yet.”He certainly is not.Karatsev will take on the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.

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Hsieh Su-Wei จะเผชิญหน้ากับ Naomi Osaka ที่ Australian Open


เมลเบิร์นออสเตรเลีย – สนามเทนนิสกลายเป็นกระจกบ้านที่สนุกสนานเมื่อผู้เล่นข้ามตาข่ายคือ Hsieh Su-Wei ราชินีแห่งการยิงลูกสูงสุดที่บิดตัวบิดมุมฉากและการยิงด้วยมือสองข้างจากทั้งสองฝ่ายสามารถตีเธอได้ ฝ่ายตรงข้าม นาโอมิโอซาก้าแชมป์แกรนด์สแลม 3 สมัยได้ยินเสียงถอนหายใจเมื่อวันอาทิตย์ที่ผ่านมาเมื่อได้รับแจ้งว่ารางวัลของเธอในการป้องกันสองแต้มในการแข่งขันกับการ์บีนมูกูรูซาคือการพบกับ Hsieh ซึ่งมาถึงตำแหน่งของเธอในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในขณะที่โอซาก้าพยายามดิ้นรนเพื่อแก้ไขปัญหา “เธอ เป็นหนึ่งในผู้เล่นที่สำหรับฉันถ้าเป็นวิดีโอเกมฉันจะเลือกตัวละครของเธอเพียงเพื่อเล่นเธอ” โอซาก้าแชมป์ปี 2019 กล่าว“ เพราะใจของฉันไม่เข้าใจตัวเลือกที่เธอเลือกเมื่อเธออยู่บน ศาล ” โอซาก้าวัย 23 ปีกล่าวเสริมว่า“ มันไม่ใช่เรื่องสนุกที่จะเล่นกับเธอ แต่มันสนุกมากที่ได้ดู” Hsieh วัย 35 ปีประสบความสำเร็จมากกว่าในประเภทคู่ผสม ซึ่งเธอและคู่หูของเธอ Barbora Strycova มาถึงเมลเบิร์นพาร์คในฐานะเมล็ดพันธุ์ที่ดีที่สุดและออกมาในรอบที่สอง แชมป์แกรนด์สแลมสามสมัยในประเภทคู่ Hsieh ไม่เคยผ่านเข้ารอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในประเภทเดี่ยวในการจับรางวัลใหญ่ 37 รายการในแกรนด์สแลมก่อนหน้านี้ “เธอคงจะทุบฉันตายในสนาม” Hsieh พูดอย่างร่าเริง “ฉันพยายามเล่นเกมทำงานของฉันดูว่าจะเกิดอะไรขึ้น” Hsieh มีใบหน้าที่มีความสุขสงบ แต่เบื้องหลังรอยยิ้มนั้นซ่อนความเป็นคู่แข่งเหล็กเอาไว้ เธอเล่นโอซาก้า 5 ครั้งและการแข่งขันสี่รายการดำเนินไปสามเซ็ตรวมถึงชัยชนะครั้งเดียวของ Hsieh ในรอบสามที่ไมอามีในปี 2019 เมื่อโอซาก้าเป็นอันดับ 1 ของโลกถามว่าอะไรทำให้การเล่น Hsieh เป็นเรื่องท้าทายโอซาก้ากล่าว คุณได้ดูเธอเล่นหรือไม่ ” เธอหัวเราะ “ มันเหมือนกับว่า ‘อะไรนะ? “” เธอกล่าวเสริม “ฉันรู้ว่าสำหรับฉันเมื่อใดก็ตามที่ฉันเล่นเธอฉันก็ต้องรอทุกอย่าง” ความขัดแย้งระหว่าง Hsieh ของไต้หวันและโอซาก้าของญี่ปุ่นเป็นการศึกษาที่แตกต่างกัน โอซาก้าสร้างความเร็วและ Hsieh เปลี่ยนเส้นทาง โอซาก้าเป็นแม่เหล็กทางการตลาดที่เพิ่ม Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer และ Workday เข้ามาในพอร์ตโฟลิโอสนับสนุนก่อนการแข่งขัน Australian Open Hsieh ไม่มีผู้สนับสนุนส่วนหนึ่งในแง่ของการออกแบบ “ ฉันค่อนข้างจะเป็นคนเรียบง่าย” Hsieh กล่าวซึ่งกิจวัตรการแข่งขันในการซื้อชุดเทนนิสลดราคาถูกคว่ำลงโดยการปิดล้อมทั่วทั้งรัฐเมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้ว เกมที่ทรงพลังในโอซาก้าเป็นเกมที่ได้รับความนิยม แต่สไตล์ที่ประณีตยิ่งขึ้นของ Hsieh จะไม่มีวันหลุดโลก เธอเป็นศิลปินที่เปลี่ยนสภาคองเกรสด้วยวิสัยทัศน์ที่ผิดปกติซึ่งทำให้ศาลมีรูปร่างเช่นเดียวกับกระทะ Bundt ที่ให้รูปร่างกับแป้งที่เทลงไป “ ฉันคิดว่าเธอมีมือที่น่าทึ่งและดวงตาที่น่าทึ่ง” เซเรน่าวิลเลียมส์กล่าว โค้ช Patrick Mouratoglou “เธอเห็นบอลเร็วเห็นเยอะและคาดหวัง” นั่นเป็นเหตุผลว่าทำไมเธอถึงมีความเคลื่อนไหวทางเศรษฐกิจเขากล่าวเสริมว่า “แล้วทำไมเธอถึงเล่นยากจัง” ในช่วงสามสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมาความพยายามอย่างหนักในการเตรียม Hsieh ที่มีไหวพริบสำหรับการแข่งขันของเธอตกเป็นของ Andrew Whittington ซึ่งผ่านเข้าสู่รอบรองชนะเลิศประเภทชายคู่ใน Australian Open 2017 และทะลุ 200 อันดับแรกในประเภทเดี่ยว Whittington ใช้เวลาเกือบหนึ่งชั่วโมงในการให้อาหารแก่ Hsieh ด้วยบริการที่แข็งแบนและจัดวางอย่างดีซึ่งเป็นเอกลักษณ์ของโอซาก้า Paul McNamee โค้ชของ Hsieh สั่งให้ Whittington ไม่เก็บอะไรไว้ หลังจากที่ Hsieh ล้มเหลวในการเข้าถึงไม้ของเขาด้วยลูกบอลไปที่มือหลังของเขา McNamee ก็ก้าวออกไปข้าง ๆ Hsieh และบอกว่าเธอจะเห็นว่ามันเสิร์ฟโอซาก้าได้มาก Hsieh พยักหน้าอย่างเคร่งขรึม วินาทีต่อมาเธอยกลูกบอลขึ้นจากสนามด้วยจรวดของเธอหันหลังกลับไปที่ตาข่ายและยิงสายรุ้งที่มองไม่เห็นไปที่ Whittington ซึ่งทำได้แค่หัวเราะ McNamee อธิบายว่า Hsieh เป็นจิตวิญญาณอิสระและกล่าวว่า “คุณไม่ต้องการบรรจุวิญญาณนั้นคุณต้องปล่อยให้มันลุกขึ้นและเป็นอิสระ” McNamee กล่าวเสริมว่า “ฉันได้เรียนรู้มากมายจากความสุขของความเงียบขณะทำงานกับ Su-Wei” ในช่วงนาทีสุดท้ายของการฝึกซ้อมตลอดทั้งชั่วโมง Whittington ได้เปิดตัวบริการจาก Hsieh รวมถึงบางส่วน เขาเตรียมพร้อมสำหรับคำถามเหล่านั้นมากกว่าคำถามที่เธอถามเขาในตอนท้ายของการฝึกซ้อม “บริการของฉันช้ามากไหม” เธอพูด. เป็นกรณีที่หายากเมื่อเธอไม่ได้ล้อเล่น เมื่อรู้สึกถึงช่องโหว่ของ Hsieh Whittington จึงรีบดำเนินการอย่างรวดเร็วเพื่อให้มั่นใจว่าบริการของเธอนั้นดี เช่นเดียวกับลูกศรที่เหลือในกระดานปาเป้าของเธอมันคมอย่างหลอกลวง Hsieh นำ 71 เปอร์เซ็นต์ของบริการแรกของเธอลงเล่นในทัวร์นาเมนต์นี้ ความจริงใจของ Hsieh ความไม่รู้สึกตัวของเธอคือ“ สิ่งที่ทำให้เธอมีเอกลักษณ์และยอดเยี่ยมมากที่จะร่วมงานด้วย” Whittington กล่าว Whittington นำไม้เทนนิสเข้ามาในเซสชั่นตีมากกว่า Hsieh ซึ่งโดยทั่วไปจะเดินทางด้วยกัน McNamee อธิบายว่า Hsieh ใช้เวลาสามปีโดยไม่หักเชือก นักร้องที่ใช้ไม้ตีเป็นไม้ค้ำยัน Hsieh เสียใจที่การปิดล้อมจะปิดแฟน ๆ จนถึงวันพุธและอาจนานกว่านั้น “ ฉันคิดว่าฉันแค่อยู่เหมือนเดิมสนุก ๆ พยายามมองโลกในแง่ดี” เธอกล่าว “ถ้าฉันไม่ชนะฉันหวังว่าการกักกันจะสิ้นสุดลงเร็ว ๆ นี้ฉันจะได้สนุกกับมันสักหน่อย” แม้ว่าโอซาก้าจะมาพร้อมกับชัยชนะ แต่เธอก็สงสัยว่ามันจะน่าพอใจ ในรอบสามของ Australian Open 2019 โอซาก้าเอาชนะ Hsieh, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 มันไม่ใช่ความทรงจำที่น่ายินดี “ ฉันจำได้ว่าฉันมีอารมณ์มากมายเพียงเพราะฉันรู้สึกว่าฉันไม่สามารถควบคุมหลาย ๆ อย่างได้ในขณะที่ฉันเล่นกับเธอ” โอซาก้ากล่าว มันเป็นจุดแข็งที่สุดของ Hsieh เธอสามารถสร้างผู้เล่นที่ดีที่สุดและทรงพลังที่สุดอย่างทำอะไรไม่ถูก

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Speed of Courts at Issue in Australian Open


MELBOURNE, Australia — The chatter about the speed of the tennis courts at the Australian Open this year started innocently enough.It was just before the ATP Cup, the team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event. Dominic Thiem of Austria, the winner of last year’s United States Open, mentioned he had been practicing at John Cain Arena, and the ball seemed to be coming off the blue hardcourt pretty darn fast.Days later, Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and eight-time champion of the Australian Open, said the court at Rod Laver Arena, which he refers to as his second backyard, felt strikingly fast. Then, after his second-round defeat of Frances Tiafoe of the United States, Djokovic said it was playing faster than at any other time since he began playing here 15 years ago, which is not a bad thing for perhaps the game’s most precise and effective ball striker. He said it again after beating Milos Raonic in the fourth round Sunday night. On Friday night, Thiem, the No. 3 seed, came back from two sets down to beat the fan favorite Nick Kyrgios of Australia in the third round, and spoke of all the challenges he had faced — a hostile crowd, Kyrgios’s booming serve and “the fastest Grand Slam Court I have ever played on.”Few players have disagreed.Their comments have caught Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open and the keeper of the courts at Melbourne Park, a bit off guard. Last year at the Australian Open, some players complained the courts were too slow.Machar Reid, the head of innovation for Tennis Australia, knows the most about the condition of the courts. He said pretournament tests produced results similar to last year, the first year the Australian Open contracted with GreenSet, which supplies the acrylic coating of the courts, essentially the paint.“What we aim for is consistency, year after year, not just here but for all the facilities in the country, so the players are playing on a similar surface no matter where they are,” Reid said in an interview last week. “All our indications are that the courts are the same.”Without getting overly technical in evaluating the tests against the experiences of multimillionaire athletes who have hit countless shots on countless courts and are sensitive to the tiniest changes in conditions, it is worth noting that tennis players consistently suffer from the Goldilocks syndrome.Tennis courts are always either too fast or too slow, too slick or too sticky. Players can shift their opinion midway through a match if the weather changes. They are not an easy lot to please.Men seem to obsess and complain about the speed more than women, perhaps because they hit harder. A serve traveling at 130 miles per hour is plenty difficult to return on a normal court. On a too-fast court it is tough to get the racket on it.The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s world governing body, classifies tennis courts into one of five categories for its Court Pace Rating: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast. A surface receives its classification after various tests that include measuring how high a ball bounces when it hits the surface at different speeds and how easily it slides when it is dragged across it, as well as other factors.The red clay of the French Open is the slowest Grand Slam surface. Playing on the grass of Wimbledon in certain conditions can feel like playing on an ice rink, with the ball skidding and barely rising above a player’s shins. The slightly cushioned hardcourts at the United States Open and the Australian Open are plenty fast, but the ball generally pops up. The speed can be adjusted from year to year depending on the grittiness of the acrylic coating — think of it as adding sand to paint.All the courts at Melbourne Park were polished and given a fresh coat of the GreenSet acrylic before this year’s tournament. Reid said Tennis Australia aims to provide a court that lands right in the middle of the I.T.F. classification scale because the organization believes that kind of court produces the best tennis.A court rated in the fastest category would too heavily favor the big servers and prevent points from developing. A slow court would encourage players to stay back and turn each point into a defensive chess match. A medium court allows tennis to hit that delicate balance between athleticism and strategy.The problem is tennis tournaments don’t take place in a static environment. No matter what the numbers say, how “fast” a tennis court plays is the result of an incalculable and ever-changing interaction of the ball, the surface of the court and the climate.Changes in the weather can have a drastic effect on how a ball moves. Cooler weather can make a tennis ball feel like a rock on the racket and lessen its bounce. When the temperature rises, the ball becomes livelier. There have been a few hot days in the past month, but the weather has been rather cool for the Melbourne summer.Then again, racket and string technologies are always improving, allowing players to hit harder, with more topspin than ever. Also, courts generally speed up with increased play, and the courts at Melbourne Park have experienced significantly more play than normal this year. Players began practicing on the courts three weeks before the Australian Open. Five separate competitions took place the week before the tournament started.And yet it’s a mystery whether the courts are truly faster and how big a factor that will play in the outcome of the tournament.Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, whose game is laced with power, described the court at Rod Laver Arena as one of the slowest at Melbourne Park and not that different from the courts at other Grand Slam events.But Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, one of the game’s great baseline defenders, described the courts as “really, really quick.” Schwartzman, the No. 8 seed, lost in the third round to Aslin Karatsev, a hard-hitting Russian ranked 114th in the world and playing in his first Grand Slam singles tournament. Karatsev dispatched Schwartzman in three sets.“He’s a guy who was doing very powerful shots every single time, and the court was not helping,” Schwartzman said. “I prefer it a little bit slower, to have better conditions so you can think a little bit more in the match and you can have choices, different choices, different shots.”In the fourth round, Karatsev came back from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the No. 20 seed.“I played here before, and it was slower,” Karatsev said. “But for me, it’s good. I think the fast surface for me, it’s always good.”On Sunday, Thiem, the big hitter who started all this chatter, lost badly to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at Rod Laver Arena, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.“It was very, very fast, probably the fastest Grand Slam I’ve played so far,” Thiem said. “But that wasn’t the issue.”After the tournament, Reid said, he will evaluate the reams of data produced by the Hawk-Eye system, which takes hundreds of measurements per second of the ball and the court position of each player. It should provide some insight into whether the courts were faster this year. Or maybe it won’t.

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Serena Williams Turns Back Time at Australian Open


MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams became a time traveler on Sunday, pulled back to the past to essentially face down her much younger self.Across the net from her in the fourth round of the Australian Open stood the 22-year-old Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who turned pro at 14, like Williams, and whose strategy called to mind Williams’s game plan at the same age: If at first you don’t succeed, hit harder.Williams, 39, stared down Sabalenka, and after two gripping hours, Sabalenka blinked. In the 10th game of the deciding set, Sabalenka mustered one point on her serve as Williams, a seven-time champion, seized the break and a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Simona Halep, who dispatched the 19-year-old Iga Swiatek in three sets.Williams’s longevity makes it easy to forget that before she was the game’s grande dame, she was its whiz kid, collecting nine WTA singles titles, including one Grand Slam, before she was out of her teens.Sabalenka, a nine-time winner on the WTA Tour, and Swiatek, the reigning French Open champion, are the latest in a long string of polished phenoms threaded through Williams’s career. One of the biggest stars to emerge, Naomi Osaka, saved two match points to beat Garbiñe Muguruza on Sunday. Still, from Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles to Maria Sharapova and Sloane Stephens, Williams has watched many young talents come and go and, on occasion, stray far from tennis.A sport with a history of suffocating its young has not stifled Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion in singles whose love for the game seems to have deepened over time. Against Sabalenka, she studied a page of written notes during changeovers like she was back in high school. She fiddled with her “Queen” necklace. She dug balls out of the corners and ran from side to side like she was on the school blacktop at recess.Darren Cahill, one of Halep’s coaches, described Williams’s movement as the best he has seen from her “in a long, long time” and said, “If you can stay in more points and get more balls back, stay alive, then she’s got the power to turn those points around.”What Williams is doing is also inconceivable to the younger Americans, three of whom followed her into the second week. Marveled one of the three, the 28-year-old Shelby Rogers: “What she’s been able to accomplish is absolutely incredible because some days I wake up now and I’m like, ‘OK I’m not 21 anymore.’”Williams’s serve usually allows her to win her share of easy points. But against Sabalenka, her main weapon continually misfired. Williams put 52 percent of her first serves in play and recorded eight double faults, including one in the fifth game of the third set, which gave Sabalenka two break points.With the state of Victoria in Day 2 of a hard lockdown, no fans were in the stands, but the restrictions placed on the local populace did not extend to Williams’s inner circle, which includes her husband, coach, agent, hitting partner and older sister Venus, 40, who lost in the second round.Williams didn’t need to be told by the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, that her entourage qualified as “essential workers,” a classification that made it possible for them to attend the match. Her team is elemental to her success, and she looked over often to where everyone was seated. When she was down 15-40 in that fifth game, Venus raised both hands as if signaling a touchdown and they locked eyes.Williams’s most recent Grand Slam championship came at Venus’s expense at Melbourne Park in 2017, when she was two months pregnant with her firstborn daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian. Since becoming a parent, Williams has found her voice as an advocate for working mothers everywhere, speaking openly of the hardships, both physical and emotional, that she and others on the WTA Tour — and in the wider world — confront daily while balancing their jobs and child-rearing.But in that telepathic moment between the sisters, Serena was not tennis’s earth mother. She was transported back in time to her early years as a pro when she looked to Venus for direction.“When I hear her voice, it just makes me calm and confident,” Williams said. “Yeah, I think there’s something about it that just makes me feel really good.”She got her first serve in on the next three points and won them all, earning an advantage with a 126 mile-an-hour ace. Williams closed out the game on a frazzled Sabalenka’s forced error.Sabalenka fought back, winning the next three games to draw even at 4-4. At that point, she said “I felt like I should win it. I felt like I was fighting really well.”But so was Williams. She held, and with Sabalenka serving to stay in the match, Williams got enough balls back to fluster her younger opponent, whose service game ended with a double fault and two forehand unforced errors.“I just needed to play better on the big points,” Williams said. “I knew that I could. I still hadn’t reached my peak. I was like, ‘OK, Serena, you got this. Just keep going.’”After 23 major singles titles and hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money and endorsements and motherhood, how does Williams find the motivation to keep chasing a tennis ball?The answer could be found in how Williams spent her off day. After her Saturday practice, she put her daughter down for a nap and then made work calls to the United States, finalizing orders and obsessing about fabrics for her S by Serena fashion line, which she described as her “second career.”There’s a method to Williams’s multitasking. She has been doing it her whole life, she said. She never played a full tennis schedule as a junior and has never played a full schedule as a pro.“I still went to college, I still did a lot of other things,” Williams said. “I had other careers. It was impossible to burn out.”Convention holds that Williams continues to play because she has Margaret Court’s career record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles in her sights. But the truth might be simpler.“I like my job,” she said. “I like what I do. It’s pretty special I get to come out and still get to do it.”

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2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Sunday Night


Daniil Medvedev, the fourth seed, struggled in his third round matchup against Filip Krajinovic, losing the third and fourth sets in spectacular fashion. Medvedev cycled between yelling at himself in Russian, his coach in French, and Krajinovic’s well placed volleys in English. In the fifth set, Medvedev settled back in and won six straight games.For McDonald to pull off an upset, he will need to exploit Medvedev’s natural volatility. Medvedev should be able to keep McDonald at bay if he can keep calm and use his varied shots to pull the American around the edges of the court.Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. SundayRafael Nadal vs. Fabio FogniniRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has struggled with a small back injury throughout the first week of the Australian Open. However, this has not stopped him from rolling past his opposition without dropping a set. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots have consistently pushed his opponents around the court, depriving them of the time necessary to impose their own ideas upon a rally.Fabio Fognini, the 16th seed, has had a roller coaster week. He struggled in a five-set contest against a fellow Italian, Salvatore Caruso, but then dispatched the 21st seed, Alex de Minaur, in just three sets. Fognini, who won a doubles title at the Australian Open in 2015, has been to the round of 16 in Melbourne four times, and will have a difficult time overcoming Nadal.Rod Laver Arena | 3 a.m. MondayAshleigh Barty vs. Shelby RogersAshleigh Barty, the world No. 1, has moved through to the fourth round without dropping a set. In her third round victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova she played smart tennis, not going for big shots and allowing Alexandrova to overplay and extracting 30 unforced errors.Shelby Rogers, an unseeded player, has reached two major quarterfinals, but has never won a WTA tournament. Her inconsistency on tour can partially be blamed on ruptured cartilage in her knee, which required surgery in 2018.Barty and Rogers faced off in the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic last week, with Barty winning in a third-set tiebreaker. For Rogers to reverse her fortunes, she’ll need to play aggressively without over-hitting, a tough needle to thread.

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An American Made Week 2 at the Australian Open. He Avoided Djokovic and Nadal.


Isner, 35, is the lone American in the top 30. In the 1990s, just as tennis was becoming a truly global sport, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier were mainstays of the top 10. Canada, which is about one-tenth of the size of the United States, has three men in the top 20. Also, the Australian Open takes place on a hardcourt, the surface that most Americans grow up playing on.“I think I’m more than capable, but it’s a matter of not what I do against Novak but what do you do every day,” Tiafoe, 23, said after he had lost his hard-fought four-set, three-and-a-half-hour battle with Djokovic. “Those matches, losing matches, I don’t think I should.”Fritz came a step closer to beating Djokovic on Friday night, pushing him to five sets as Djokovic struggled through an injury he described as a torn muscle on the right side of his midsection. Fritz appeared to have Djokovic beaten early in the fifth set but fell short as Djokovic began pounding serves and ripping forehands into the corners, as he had early on in the match.An hour after it ended, Fritz remained distraught over too many missed first serves and errors off his forehand. He had taken Djokovic to a tiebreaker in the first set and had then lost seven of the next eight points.“It’s very motivating that we’re so close, but at the same time, we are so far,” Fritz said. “These guys are so good.”And so it was that McDonald, perhaps the most unlikely of all of his countrymen, became the last hope to put an American into the second week of the year’s first Grand Slam. McDonald showed promise three years ago when, not long after leaving U.C.L.A., he made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon, where he lost to Milos Raonic of Canada.Less than a year later, he sustained a torn hamstring tendon while playing doubles at the French Open and underwent surgery. After the operation, he couldn’t leave his apartment for three weeks, and he couldn’t walk for the better part of two months. Slowly, week by week, he began to allow his leg to bear more weight.

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Trust Me, Sports Without Fans Is Not Sports


MELBOURNE, Australia — For roughly the past two decades, the analytics crowd has peddled the idea that sports is essentially math, that what unfolds on the field of play is predictable and intelligible if viewed through a proper algorithm. Occasionally that crowd has even been right. And in many ways the pandemic sports environment was an analytics aficionado’s dream, a chance for games to unfold in a laboratory, free of the noise, both literal and figurative, that can turn an expected outcome into a beautiful mess.Now, nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, we really do know the roar of the crowd is as vital to sports as a ball or a net. The artificial crowd noise that Major League Baseball, the N.F.L., the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. have piped in, both for those in the stadiums and arenas and for people watching at home, is a terrible facsimile that makes the spectator-free games feel nothing like sports at all. What stage actors refer to as the “fourth wall” — the metaphorical barrier between performers and spectators — doesn’t exist in sports. A crowd’s passion can seemingly help power comebacks. Its scorn can smother one, too. For five glorious days at the 2021 Australian Open, I got to experience that noise again, because government officials allowed up to 30,000 fans, about 50 percent capacity, to attend the tournament each day. It was both a joy and a revelation to rediscover the power of what the quantum physicists call the “observer effect” — the fact that any observation, however passive, alters an outcome — even in a half-capacity crowd of tennis fans. Sports felt like Sports once more.Then on Friday, the coronavirus did what it has done so relentlessly for the past 11 months: It shut down the party. A recent outbreak was what much of the world would consider a nuisance. But in Australia, which has managed the pandemic more effectively than any other major economy, it qualified as a critical mass.The cluster of coronavirus cases grew to more than a dozen, and the state government of Victoria, where Melbourne is, declared a “snap lockdown” of five days, beginning at midnight Friday.Everyone, except those deemed essential workers, must stay home, though two hours of outdoor exercise and one hour to go to the grocery store or pharmacy are permitted. Players and people considered essential in running the Australian Open will be allowed at Melbourne Park. Spectators, sadly, must stay away until perhaps the singles semifinals, scheduled to start Thursday.“The players will compete in a bubble not dissimilar to what they have done throughout the year,” said Craig Tiley, the chief executive of Tennis Australia, which organizes the tournament.No one is happy about it.“It’s been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here,” Serena Williams said after she beat Anastasia Potapova in straight sets in the third round Friday. “But, you know what, at the end of the day we have to do what’s best. Hopefully it will be all right.”I am here to tell you it won’t be. After what I witnessed during the first five days, it’s going to be terrible, without the essential dynamics that make sports the ultimate in improvisational theater.Nick Kyrgios, the tennis antihero everywhere except Australia, where he is beloved, rode the fans to a miracle Wednesday night. He saved two match points in the fourth set against Ugo Humbert, the rising 22-year-old Frenchmen. Then he edged Humbert in the fifth set in front of an explosive crowd that never gave up on its hometown hero.Kyrgios is the rare tennis player who brings in rugby fans. They screamed their heads off to keep Kyrgios alive and Humbert, the No. 29 seed, on edge until the very last point.“Half-packed and it felt like it was a full stadium,” Kyrgios said. “I got goose bumps toward the end.”Humbert lost those two match points, even though he was serving. He heard the fireworks from the seats a few feet away. As he watched Kyrgios both encourage it and soak it all in, his eyes appeared to fill with fear. There was another set to play, but the crowd was not going to let Humbert get out alive.It is not a stretch to say that Humbert wins that match easily on a quiet court.Kyrgios and his crew were back at it Friday night, when he took on Dominic Thiem of Austria, the reigning United States Open champion. The roars started as Kyrgios broke Thiem in the first game. As the crowd bellowed, Kyrgios waved his arms and cupped his ear, signaling to his fans that if he had any chance against the machine-like No. 3 seed, they were it.And so began three-plus hours of interactive drama, with all the seat-banging, taunting and fist-pumping needed for someone who has barely played in a year to stay competitive with one of the best players on the planet. As the match stretched into the fifth set and past 10:30 p.m., a strange clock watching began, because fans were supposed to be home and observing lockdown by midnight.In the end it wasn’t enough, as Thiem prevailed in five sets, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but it’s hard to believe it would have been close without it. “It’s not the same sport without the crowd,” Kyrgios said.So, here is one big reveal of the past week: All those star athletes who have always insisted they are so locked in that they do not hear the crowd? Well, it seems pretty clear they have been lying.Here was Novak Djokovic, who has won this championship eight times. He has described Rod Laver Arena as his backyard. He was getting ready to play a game the other day, when a clump of women with a Serbian flag stood up and serenaded him with the “Ole-Ole” tune, culminating with, “Novak Djokovic is hot, hot, hot!”Djokovic gave up on trying to play cool. He stepped back from the court, started giggling, then shook his head to regain his focus.Here was Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, trying to serve out the third set for what would have likely been the biggest win of her career, an upset of Simona Halep, the No. 2 seed. She was in front of a hometown crowd that carried her all night but couldn’t will her to victory.“I felt that rush of people just cheering for you,” Tomljanovich said, her voice breaking following the loss. “I’m afraid to say it, but it could be the highlight of the year with the atmosphere and the crowd.”She is not the only one. I do not know what I am dreading more about the end of this assignment — the last freezing month of a winter in the Northeast, or the largely empty version of sports that the pandemic has wrought.It’s something, yes, but it is not sports.

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ในฐานะผู้เล่นที่ทำกำไร“ Hard Quarantine” ที่ Australian Open


เบรดี้กล่าวว่าเธอนอนหลับมากกว่าปกติในช่วง 14 วันโดยมักจะไม่ตื่นจนกระทั่งเวลา 11.00 น. เธอทำงานวันละสองครั้งตอนเที่ยงและประมาณ 17.00 น. Michael Geserer โค้ชของ Brady กล่าวว่าขณะที่ Brady ใช้ลูกเทนนิสซึ่งเป็นจักรยานที่อยู่กับที่ และน้ำหนักงานที่สำคัญที่สุดของเธอคือจิตใจ “ เราไม่สามารถจำลองการปฏิบัติในศาลได้ แต่เราพยายามปรับตัวให้เข้ากับสถานการณ์ใหม่นี้ให้มากที่สุด” Geserer กล่าว “ สิ่งที่สำคัญที่สุดคือวิธีคิด เราไม่ได้บ่น เราเอาไปเลย “Geserer กล่าวว่าเขาชื่นชมทัศนคติเชิงบวกของ Brady” เธอมีวันที่เลวร้าย แต่เธอก็พยายามทำให้ดีที่สุดจากวันที่เลวร้ายของเธอ “เขากล่าว” นั่นก็สำคัญเช่นกัน: คุณจะไม่ได้เล่นเทนนิสที่ดีที่สุดของคุณ แต่เธอก็พยายามหาทางชนะ “สำหรับ เบรดี้ซึ่งเติบโตมาจากการจัดอันดับเมื่อฤดูกาลที่แล้วเมื่อเธอคว้าแชมป์ WTA ครั้งแรกและเข้าถึงรอบรองชนะเลิศ US Open การคุมขังที่ถูกบังคับได้พิสูจน์ให้เห็นถึงการหยุดพักที่น่ายินดี “การออกมาจากเขตกักบริเวณพูดเพื่อตัวเองฉันมีจิตใจที่สดชื่นขึ้นมาก “Brady กล่าว” เป็นปีที่ยาวนานสำหรับฉันเมื่อปีที่แล้วฉันไม่ได้พักผ่อนจริงๆลึก ๆ ฉันโชคดีนิดหน่อยที่ถูกขังไว้ 14 วันครั้งหนึ่งมันช่วยให้ฉันปรับความคิดของฉันได้ – และร่างกายด้วย “ขณะที่เธอกลับไปออกกำลังกายเมื่อถูกกักบริเวณจบลงเบรดี้รู้สึกโล่งใจกับความรู้สึกของเธอที่อยู่ในสนาม” สองครั้งแรกที่ฉันได้รับฉันพยายามที่จะรู้สึกถึงลูกบอลและเพียงแค่รู้สึกว่าฉันอยู่ในสนาม และเคลื่อนไหวไม่พยายามพูดเกินจริงเพราะฉันไม่ต้องการเสี่ยงต่อการบาดเจ็บ” เบรดี้กล่าว “ ฉันกลัวว่าจะเจ็บปวดมากซึ่งจริงๆแล้วมันไม่ใช่เลย”

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