Kvitova ends Anisimova’s run at Aussie Open

AP Photo
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — It took two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova being on top of her game to bring a very abrupt ending to 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova run of upsets at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

It took 59 minutes to win 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova – No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka – were not.

Kvitova broke Anisimova’s serve five times – including the opening game – and never faced a break point. She got 86 percent of her first serves into play, and won all but five of the points when she did.

She’s now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney last week, and is into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.

Up next will be either five-time major winner Maria Sharapova, or local hope Ash Barty. That fourth-round meeting was the next match on Rod Laver Arena.

It’s no concern of Kvitova’s who wins that one.

“Doesn’t matter who I’m going to face in the quarterfinals,” she said. “I’m there – and that’s (what’s) important.”

Among other matches on Day 7, 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer was taking on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kvitova had to miss the Australian Open in 2017 because she was still overcoming injuries to her left hand she sustained in a home invasion the previous month at her place in the Czech Republic. She lost in the first round here last year.

Anisimova beat her 6-2, 6-4 in 70 minutes in their only previous meeting, but Kvitova came out ready this time.

She took the first three points of the match to immediately have Anisimoa under pressure, facing triple breakpoint.

The teenager saved two, but Kvitova’s powerful backhand service return had her scrambling and the first game was gone.

Anisimova won the first two points on Kvitova’s serve, but the former Wimbledon champion of 2011 and ’13 responded by winning the next four to hold.

A double-fault gave Kvitova three break points in the next game, and she forced an error on the backhand side to convert it. So quickly, it was 3-0.

Anisimova was still taking big swings at the ball and hitting cleanly, but the left-handed Kvitova was consistently in the right place to hit winners – including two important forehands down the line.

The first set was over in 32 minutes and Anisimova could only shrug, like she was asking what was happening.

In contrast to the first game, Anisimova held serve to open the second set. But that was her last. She was still in the contest in the fifth game when she was one point from holding again, but Kvitova won 10 straight points to take the match away from her again.

“It’s always pressure out there when you’re the favorite. You never know how the younger players are playing,” Kvitova said. “They’re here with nothing to lose, they’re fearless.

“I started pretty well (and) the nerves went a little bit out for me,” she added. “I’m really enjoying the time on court, and playing tennis.”

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.