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Murray overcomes Kyrgios and his antics at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Nick Kyrgios does what he wants and says what he wants on a tennis court, seemingly no matter the ramifications, and amid all the near-napping, cursing and racket smashing, he troubled Andy Murray for moments at the U.S. Open.

Only for brief moments, though.

In the tournament’s most-anticipated first-round matchup, the No. 3-seeded Murray hit 18 aces, saved 11 of 14 break points and, perhaps most importantly, stayed steady in the face of Kyrgios’ various distractions, putting together a 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory Tuesday night.

“Obviously, for me, it’s important when you’re playing against him,” Murray said, “to just concentrate on your side of the court.”

This was Kyrgios’ first match since he was essentially put on probation by the ATP, with the threat of a 28-day suspension and $25,000 fine if he misbehaves at one of the tour’s sanctioned events over the next six months. Those parameters don’t apply at the U.S. Open, however, because Grand Slam tournaments are sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation.

That stemmed from some trash-talking last month against Stan Wawrinka in Montreal, where a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios saying that his pal, Australian pro Thanasi Kokkinakis, had been with Wawrinka’s girlfriend. Kyrgios was fined a total of $12,500 the next day by the ATP, which later said it would monitor his behavior.

“I thought I’ve been dealing with that pretty well. Obviously it’s been tough. But I think I’ve moved on from it,” the 20-year-old Kyrgios said at Tuesday’s post-match news conference, referring to the whole Montreal episode and its aftermath. “I’d like to think that I’m going to learn from it. I think I have. I think I’m on the right path. I don’t think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were.”

When that was greeted by silence from reporters, Kyrgios nodded and said: “Thought so.”

Later, asked what he meant by saying he had learned something along the way, Kyrgios replied: “Keep your mouth shut at times.”

Against Murray, Kyrgios was not exactly concerned with containing himself.

He was given a warning by chair umpire Carlos Ramos for swearing too loudly. He complained to Ramos that spectators were being allowed to wander to their seats during a game. He spiked his racket against the court and later whacked it against a wall behind the baseline. He won a point with the help of a shot between his legs. He whiffed on a leaping overhead attempt. Most oddly, Kyrgios leaned all the way back in his changeover chair during breaks, closing his eyes and resting against his towel or clutching it like a kid’s blanket, looking as if he were about to doze off.

“Just taking a nap, I guess,” he said afterward. “It’s good for you.”

Boris Becker, a six-time major champion as a player and now No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s coach, sat courtside for the match. In an on-air interview during ESPN’s broadcast, Becker said Kyrgios could stand to talk a little less and “should be famous for his on-court performance and not his antics.”

What happened in Montreal has been a chief topic of conversation in tennis over the past few weeks, and Murray was asked to weigh in before facing Kyrgios, who is ranked 37th and is talented enough to have stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year and beaten Roger Federer this year.

“We all make mistakes … and for him, it’s unfortunate that’s its happening in front of millions of millions of people,” said Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion. “And I think it’s wrong, a lot of the things that he’s done, but I also think that he’s still young, and everyone’s different. People mature and grow up at different rates.”

Asked Tuesday about the tour’s handling of the matter, Wawrinka, a two-time major champion who could face Murray in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, said: “I don’t care much about that anymore.”

Kokkinakis, similarly, told reporters: “I’ve moved past it. I’m sure you guys will at some point, too.”

Kokkinakis stopped playing Tuesday because of cramps against 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet, one of a record 12 mid-match retirements in the first round at Flushing Meadows, where the temperature has topped 90 degrees and the humidity has been heavy.

The previous mark for most players quitting because of injury or illness during any round of any Grand Slam tournament in the professional era, which dates to 1968, was nine in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open.

Ten men and two women have dropped out so far, including five Tuesday: Kokkinakis, Marcos Baghdatis, Ernests Gulbis, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Marina Erakovic.

“For sure,” Wawrinka said, “it’s surprising to see so many players pull out.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Tsitsipas is youngest man in Slam SFs since ’07

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The Latest on Tuesday at the Australian Open (all times local):

4 p.m.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2007 after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open to follow up on his stunning upset of Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas is the first player from Greece to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and at 20 years, 168 days, is the youngest man to make the semifinals at a major since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open. He’s the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003.

The No. 14-seeded Tsitsipas will play either 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal or first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe.

“I’m just living the dream,” said Tsitsipas, who had beaten six-time Australian Open winner Federer in the fourth round.

The No. 22-seeded Bautista Agut advanced the hard way, spending more than 14 hours on court through his first four rounds. He had three five-setters starting with a victory over five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, followed by another against Australian John Millman and, after advancing through the third round in straight sets, his fourth-round win over 2018 finalist Marin Cilic went the distance as well.

2 p.m.

Li Na saw much of herself in a young player on the women’s tour early last year.

The two-time Grand Slam champion didn’t hesitate to anoint Japan’s Naomi Osaka as the player with a bright future.

So, Li, to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July along with fellow former Australian Open champions Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, was not surprised when Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and is already a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park this time.

Li was a trailblazer in women’s tennis, becoming the first player from China to win a WTA title – in 2004 – and the first from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the 2011 French Open. She also won the Australian Open in 2014 after losing two previous finals here.

“When I first saw Naomi Osaka play, I thought she was really calm, very mature on court. She was so focused on her game itself, no pressure, point by point. That quality and the player’s focus really impressed,” she said through a Chinese translator.

1:45 p.m.

Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai have combined for an upset 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) women’s doubles quarterfinal win over top-ranked Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Day 9 at the Australian Open.

Krejcikova and Siniakova won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles last year and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open to finish 2018 with the No. 1 ranking.

“They’re a great team – won 2 Slams last year, so we did well,” Stosur said. “We came back from a break in both sets – looking forward to tomorrow.”

Stosur, who had a career high No. 4 ranking in singles and won 2011 U.S. Open title, has two major women’s doubles titles but lost the only final she reached at Melbourne Park in 2006.

“It would be amazing,” Stosur said of winning at home. “I guess we’re close now, in the semis. It only gets harder here.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas was playing Roberto Bautista Agut in the first of the singles quarterfinals on Tuesday, and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing the last night match on Rod Laver Arena against Frances Tiafoe.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Sore, tired Djokovic expects to be OK for QFs

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday at the Australian Open (all times local):

2 a.m.

Record-chasing Novak Djokovic is feeling sore and tired following his late-finishing win over Daniil Medvedev, but thinks he will be OK for his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Kei Nishikori.

“I didn’t feel so great, you know, in the last 20 minutes of the match or so,” Djokovic, aiming for a record seventh men’s title in Australia, said after overcoming a couple of tumbles and a series of energy-sapping baseline exchanges in the 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 win.

Immediately after the match, he said in a TV interview that he had never felt fresher.

At a later news conference, he was more circumspect about his preparation for Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

“It was not the fall. It was not particularly the fall. It was just, you know, a little bit of fatigue, a little bit of back,” he said. “Nothing major. But there are a couple of things that have surfaced, so to say, you know, after a match like this.

“We’ll see tomorrow how the body reacts, but I’m confident I can recover and I can be ready for next one.”