Carlos Alcaraz wins at first Swiss Indoors in 3 years

Getty Images
1 Comment

BASEL, Switzerland — Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz rallied to beat Jack Draper 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the Swiss Indoors.

Alcaraz clinched with his third match-point chance, firing a forehand winner when following in a strong serve that left-hander Draper stretched to return.

The first Basel tournament since before the COVID-19 pandemic was intended to be Roger Federer’s hometown comeback on tour. But the Swiss great ended his career last month because of a persistent knee injury.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz and 20-year-old Draper had a combined age of less than Federer’s 41 years, and both were playing for the first time at Basel where he won a record 10 titles from 2006-19.

The 45th-ranked British player broke Alcaraz’s service twice and made just three unforced errors in the first set.

Alcaraz raised his game in the second set and forced two service breaks without allowing Draper a chance.

The victory was the Spaniard’s first on tour since winning his first Grand Slam singles title, the U.S. Open, last month. He lost in straight sets to David Goffin in a first-round match three weeks ago in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Goffin lost in Basel, beaten by 44th-ranked American Brandon Nakashima 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

The Belgian former top-10 player, now ranked No. 53, got a wild card into the tournament where he lost the 2014 final to Federer.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.