Aussie Round Three results at the US Open

Australia went into the third round of the US Open with two players left in the main draw. Nick Kyrgios on the men’s side and Casey Dellacqua on the women’s.

Only one survived.

Casey Dellacqua is having a stellar season. A bit over twelve months ago she was hovering outside of the top 200. Now she is in the Top 30.

Dellacqua came through her third round match in three sets against Karolina Pliskova, who had knocked Ana Ivanovic out in the second round.

After winning the first set 6-3, Dellacqua lost the second, 3-6. She came back in the third to win 6-4 and progress to the next round.

Dellacqua will meet the 11th seeded Flavia Pennetta in the fourth round.

Pennetta won through easily in her third round encounter with Nicole Gibbs, 6-4, 6-0.

Dellacqua has taken a tougher route to the fourth round, playing three set matches in the second and third rounds.

Pennetta ont hé other hand had a three set opening match but the next two rounds have been in straights.

This could be a really interesting match. An on form Pennetta should be the favourite, but obviously I’ll be cheering for Dellacqua.

In the men’s side, Nick Kyrgios had a big match on Arthur Ashe court against Spain’s Tommy Robreddo. The first set was all Kyrgios, getting out to a 5-0 lead. He went on to wing he set 6-3 but the old hand from Spain would go on to teach the youngster from Canberra a tennis lesson.

Robredo won the last three sets, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

Kyrgios did play some very exciting tennis but perhaps at times the showmanship got a little in the way. His concentration  also took a wonder at times.

Never-the-less, there is still so much for us to be excited about with Kyrgios and the lessons he would have learned from the match will be invaluable to his future development.

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Who are the Aussies playing in Round Three of the US Open

Like parcel the parcel this post is getting smaller each round.

There are only two Aussies left int he main draw of the US Open.

29th seed Casey Dellacqua will take on Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Pliskova knocked out 8th seed Ana Ivanovic and this is a danger game for the Australian.

I think this may be a tough for ask Dellacqua based on her recent matches. In saying that, I will be cheering madly for her to get into the 4th round.

Kyrgios will meet Spain’s 16th seeded, Tommy Robredo.

Robredo came back from being 2 sets to love down against Simone Bolelli in the second round.

As with Dellacqua, Kyrgios is facing a danger match.

This match could go either way.

Robredo beat Novak Djokovic at Cincinnati earlier this month and if that Tommy rocks up to the USO then Kyrgios will be heading home.

There’s no guarantee though, that Robredo will be in attendance when Kyrgios meets him in the third round. Kyrgios could make his second fourth round appearance at a Grand Slam in a row.

US Open Tennis Round Two – Aussie Results

By round two of the USO, there are quite a few less Aussies than in Round One.

So, let’s have a look at how the surviving Aussies went.

Marinko Matosevic was easily the most watched Aussie in Round One and that courtesy want to Sam Groth in Round Two.

Groth went down in straight sets to the Swiss maestro, Roger Federer 4-6, 4-6, 4-6.

Matthew Ebden also existed the USO in the second round at the hands of 23rd seed, Leonardo Mayer, 1-6, 3-6, 4-6.

Bernard Tomic seemed to be suffering from a virus in his first round win and he was unable to take the court against Spain’s number four seed, David Ferer.

The only Aussie male to get  win was Nick Kyrgios who defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

On the women’s side Sam Stosur went down to Kaia Kanepi after winning the first set, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7.

Anastasia Rodionova lost to the 13th seed Sara Errani, 4-6, 6-7 (2-7).

Casey Dellacqua was the only Aussie girl with a win. She defeated Qiang Wang after losing the first set, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

 

Who the Aussies are playing in round two of the US Open

Round Two of the 2014 US Open is about to get underway and I thought I’d let you know who the Aussies will be facing.

Sam Stosur will meet Kaia Kanepi. It’s never wise to say that you expect Stosur to win a match. The reality is, it all depends on which Stosur is on the court. In saying this, Stosur has been in great form leading up to the US Open and obviously I’ll be hoping to see her take the victory.

Casey Dellacqua will take on Qiang Wang in what should be a very doable match for her. She took a little while to settle the nerves yesterday so hopefully she’ll take the win here.

Anastasia Rodionova has the biggest challenge of the Aussie women. She’ll meet the 13th seed, Sara Errani. I expect Errani to win through in straights.

The men’s side of the draw may throw up some curly matches for the Aussie men.

Nick Kyrgios will play Italian, Andreas Seppi. This could easily be a danger match for Kyrgios. Seppi defeated Hewitt in five sets at this year’s Australian Open. This will not be a foregone conclusion by any means and Kyrgios will need to be focused on his match and focused on his behaviour.

Matthew Ebden will play Argentinian, Leonardo Mayer. Mayer is the 23rd seed and I expect Mayer will win this match.

Bernard Tomic will have a very hard task in overcoming David Ferrer. Ferrer is seeded 4 here and he isn’t called ‘The Grinder’ for nothing. Tomic was looking exhausted and suffering from cramps and possibly a virus during his first round match. The thing with Ferrer, is that he can go 5 sets if he has to and if you find yourself on the other side of the net, you need to be as fit and healthy as you can be. I expect Ferrer will win, but possibly in 4.

Sam Groth won his debut match in the main draw of the US Open yesterday. He now has one of the biggest challenges a tennis player can face. He’ll take on Roger Federer in the second round.

This is the second Aussie Federer has taken on in two rounds of the final Grand Slam of the year.

I expect Federer to win through.

As I write this, Lleyton Hewitt is yet to play his first round match against Tomas Berdych.

US Open Tennis Round One – Aussie Results

Seeing as it’s USO time, I thought I’d keep you updated with how the Aussies are fairing.

There is no doubt that there’s a resurgence in Aussie tennis from the men and the women.

Here are the round one results, with the exception of Lleyton Hewitt who plays Tomas Berdych tonight (Australian time).

Roger Federer defeated Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Matosevic finally broke his Grand Slam drought at the French Open this year, beating Dustin Brown. At Wimbledon he upset Fernando Verdasco but sadly his first round match yesterday didn’t continue that winning streak.

Matosevic did at least appear to be enjoying his time in the limelight.

With basketball legend Michael Jordan watching on, Matosevic even called out, “I just want to be Michael” at one point. He also got hit on the bum by a Federer tweener, which made the cheeky Swiss laugh at his own naughtiness.

In all seriousness, Matosevic did start off a little slow before getting going but 3 sets were all Federer needed to move on to the next round.

Maddison Keys defeated Jarmila Gajdosova , 6-0, 6-4. This is such a shame for Jarmila who has been playing some good tennis this year. Gajdosova won ITF events at Nottingham, resulting in a wild card into Wimbledon and last month she took another win at Vancouver.

2011 US Open Champion, Sam Stosur defeated young American, Lauren Davis. Stosur has had a year that she would probably rather forget, although her lead up to the US Open has seen her playing some of her best tennis of recent times.

Stosur trounced Eugenie Bouchard in New Haven last week, 6-2, 6-2. She then went on the win her first quarterfinal since Hobart, defeating Kirsten Flipkins 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Sadly she lost her semifinal match against Petra Kvitova 3-6, 1-6.

Bernard Tomic survived what could have been a danger match against Dustin Brown 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Tomic looked to be suffering cramps by the end and is said to be suffering from the flu. His serve went a little AWOL in the second set and just how well he’s feeling may be up for debate. He wasn’t looking well by the end of the match and had it of gone into another set, the match may have ended quite differently. Luckily he is through to the next round.

Ash Barty went down to Barbora Zahlalova Strycova 1-6, 3-6. Barty made her way into the main draw from qualifying and it looked to be a game too many for her.

Ajla Tomljanovic is representing Australia for the first time at the US Open. At other WTA events she will continue to represent Croatia until next year when she will officially be an Aussie at all events. Sadly, her match playing for her adopted homeland didn’t end as she would have liked. Tomljanovic took the first set off fifteenth seed Carlo Suarzez Navarro before losing the last two 2-6, 1-6.

Casey Dellacqua is having a smashing season. For the first time she is seeded in the singles draw (29) and she is through to the second round after defeating Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 7-5, 6-3.

Sam Groth celebrated his first appearance in the main draw of the US Open with a win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Groth won 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Other results from day one:

Nick Kyrgios defeated Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), although Kyrgios was almost given his marching orders for hitting a ball out of the court and inappropriate language.

Matthew Ebden had a win over Tobias Kamke 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

Anastasia Rodionova defeated Camila Giorgi in three after being breadsticked in the first set, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Pan Pacs 2014: Make sure you stay in for tonight’s 100m Freestyle, Blue Ribbon Event

The 100m Freestyle has always been swimming’s Blue Ribbon event and the Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast will give us all of the excitement we’ve come to expect from this race.

Beginning with the women, it’s almost impossible to look past Australia’s Cate Campbell to take out victory.

Cate Campbell www.abc.net.au
Cate Campbell
http://www.abc.net.au

 

The elder of the Campbell sisters, Cate set a sizzling 52.62 to claim top honours in the Prelims. Sister, Bronte posted a 53.5 and fellow Aussie, Mel Schlanger was just behind with 53.65.

As the rules of the Pan Pacs only allow for each country to enter their top two in the final, Schlanger will contest the B final.

The top three women all broke Natalie Coughlin’s 2010 Pan Pacs record time of 53.67.

Speaking after the race, Campbell said that she always knew the Prelims were going to be quick.

“I knew that I had to post a good performance. I’m happy just to make it through”, she said.

“That’s my fastest since World’s where I was in the form of my life”.

Campbell went on to say that she had underestimated just how tired she still was from Glasgow, however, judging by today’s results she seems to be handling the tiredness well.

The USA’s Missy Franklin, who is battling a back injury, swam the fourth fastest time of 53.75 and compatriot Simone Manuel posted the fifth fastest time with 53.91.

Missy Franklin www.bbc.co.uk
Missy Franklin
http://www.bbc.co.uk

 

Canada’s Chantel van Landeghen will swim the A final with the ninth fastest time of 54.73. Miki Uchida of Japan also made the final with the tenth fastest time of 54.86 and Victoria Poon of Canada also made the final with the twelfth fastest time of 55.06.

Australians Britta Elmslie (54.29) and Emma McKeon (54.96) were bumped out along with the USA’s Abbey Weitzeil (54.50) and Shann Vreeland (54.55) due to the two swimmers per country rule.

Putting in a tip for tonight almost seems pointless as it’s impossible to see anyone taking the top spot from Cate Campbell and I suspect younger sister, Bronte will join her on the dais.

A 1-2 for Australia with Franklin rounding out the placings.

The Men’s 100m Free should be just as exciting as the women’s with James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy taking on Americans Nathan Adrian and Michael Phelps.

 

 

James Magnussen www.swimswam.com
James Magnussen
http://www.swimswam.com

Adrian finished the fastest with a time of 48.05, with Magnussen second with 48.25.

Adrian and Magnussen were paired for their Prelim.

Phelps swam 48.45 for the third fastest time with McEvoy the fourth fastest with 48.49.

Although the times may not have been perfect, with just two swimmers from each country making the finals, Team USA almost have to swim their best just to secure a birth in the finals.

“The depth we have is incredible”, said Adrian.

Nathan Adrian www.swimmersdaily.com
Nathan Adrian
http://www.swimmersdaily.com

 

In reflecting on his performance in the Prelims, Michael Phelps was happy with the quality of his stroke but he knew nothing could be left to chance.

“The first 50 were really good. I knew I had to win that heat if I wanted a chance to swim in the final”, he said.

Phelps was also a lot happier with his turns, after missing his turn at the US Nationals two weeks ago.

Michael Phelps www.theguardian.com
Michael Phelps
http://www.theguardian.com

 

Putting issues with his back aside, Magnussen seems confident and relaxed going into the final.

“I’m happy to race anybody on my day. I’m looking forward to the challenge”, he commented.

After this morning’s Prelims, Magnussen suspects the Americans may not have left anything in the tank, but underestimating Adrian or Phelps could prove costly.

In saying that though, this year only Magnussen and McEvoy have broken the 48 second barrier posting times of 47.59 and 47.65, respectively.

The rest of the field will consist of Brazil’s Joao de Lucca who swam the sixth fastest time of 49.02 and compatriot Nicolas Oliveira who swam eighth fastest with a time of 49.13.

Thirteenth fastest Katsumi Nakamura will swim the A final for Japan with a time of 49.30 and Shinri Shioura, also of Japan, was fifteenth fastest with 49.53.

Due to the two swimmers in the final rule, USA’s Ryan Lochte (48.90), Anthony Ervin (49.11), Jimmy Feigen (49.14) and Conor Dwyer (49.19) all missed the A final.

Australia’s Tommasio D’Orsogna also missed out with a time of 49.18.

My tip for tonight is a Magnussen win, with Adrian a close second and I’m going to tip Phelps to just pip McEvoy for third.

Tonight’s final for the Men’s 100m Freestyle should be an absolute cracker.

Swimming.org.au

 

Tinkoff-Saxo – an impressive Tour de France team

Vincenzo Nibali has proven a worthy winner of the 2014 Tour de France. He was clearly the best rider over the three weeks. No one was able to stick with him, either on the cobbles or over the mountains. The departure of Froome and Contador may have robbed us of some exciting attacks over the course of this three week sojourn through France but there is little doubt Nibali is a deserving winner.

For me, the team I enjoyed the most this Tour de France was Tinkoff-Saxo.

Now, this is not to say that Astana, did not ride an excellent, intelligent race. Of course they did.

Nor is to say that AG2R, the winners of the teams classification weren’t also exciting.

It was almost impossible to not excited for the performances of Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, especially in light of Pinot’s efforts to overcome his fear of descending.

But the team I was most impressed with was Tinkoff-Saxo, for nothing other than, unlike Sky they did not crumble when they found themselves without their Plan A and they hadn’t bothered preparing a Plan B.

Perhaps their fluoro yellow wasn’t a highlight and obviously the abandonment of their leader, Alberto Contador was another low point, but this team did what their closest rival, Team Sky could not. They successfully reinvented themselves.

Tinkoff-Saxo went to the Tour de France with one plan and that plan was to put Alberto Contador into a nicer yellow jersey than any other Tinkoff rider. Who honestly would have thought that this was not a done deal after Contador’s closest rival, Chris Froome crashed out on Stage 5, before he even found the cobbles.

Sure, Bertie had lost a fair bit of time over the dreaded cobbles, but it would only have been a matter of time before the Spaniard electrified the peloton over the mountains with one of his classic attacks.

The wonderful thing about Grand Tours is that they are so unpredictable and in a strange turn of events, Contador found himself hitting the deck, battling on with his team trying to pull him back to the peloton, all the while in the rain with a broken shin bone.

The sight of Bertie putting his arm around Mick Rogers and telling him that his Tour was over will not be forgotten by many Australian fans anytime soon.

Tinkoff-Saxo would turn this calamity into success.

Writing in the Irish Times, Nicolas Roche spoke about the team’s lack of a Plan B. Their leader was out. Long live the leader.

What Tinkoff-Saxo did for the remainder of the Tour was nothing short of a brilliant display of teamwork and camaraderie.

They showed their class and experience through Australian Michael Rogers and Irishman, Nicolas Roche and they showed fight, grit and determination through Rafal Majka.

They did everything that Sky couldn’t.

The masterstroke by Tinkoff-Saxo was of course their response to Contador’s abandonment on Stage 10. Wisely, the remaining team members ensured that they rolled in to La Planche des Belles Filles within the time limit but so far behind that they would be of no bother to any teams with eyes on the GC.

This is not to say, that Sky were necessarily wrong in looking to Ritchie Porte as Plan B leader. But what it says, is that Tinkoff-Saxo developed a Plan B based on their realistic chances for success.

Porte was supposed to be Sky’s man for the Giro but illness forced him out. We’ll never know sitting in our lounge rooms on the other side of the earth, just how healthy Porte was going into the Tour de France, but we do know that to win the Tour you need to be very well prepared. You need to have built your whole year around this race. After all, this is the formula that has brought the British team success over the last two editions.

Seeing Porte win a Tour de France is definitely top of most Aussie cycling fan’s bucket lists, including mine. But that win will come from the same level of preparation that Nibali put into wining this year’s and the same level of preparation the previous winners have put into their victories.

The Tour is not a race that you can just roll up to and hope to win. Sky should know that.

Tinkoff-Saxo did.

That’s why they played a better game of poker and once their hand went from a Royal Flush to not even holding a pair of twos they came out on top.

Tinkoff-Saxo finished the Tour with three stage wins, two to Rafal Majka and one to Michael Rogers. Majka would also go on to the win the King of the Mountains.

Stage 11, their first full stage without Alberto also saw Nicolas Roche awarded the most combative rider for his breakaway exploits.

Tinkoff-Saxo also made a statement about leadership within the team. Contador is their leader. He is their leader whether he is on the bike travelling the roads of France with his team or whether he is sitting in a hospital bed in Madrid. That was never questioned.

Leadership at Sky seems to be something that is raffled, divvied up. Most of Froome’s teammates were nowhere to be seen when he came a cropper on Stage 5. Once he was gone, they found a quick replacement that worked for a bit but once it fell apart, they too fell apart.

In watching Tinkoff-Saxo at this year’s Tour de France it is clear that the wise words of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic” must have been engraved somewhere in the team’s mind.

One of the most positive things to come out of this year’s Tour de France is that there are any number of teams we may strongly argue performed the best and they all performed differently.

For my mind, it was Tinkoff-Saxo.

Long live the tour and long live tour controversies!

 

A version of this article first appeared on The Roar 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality over quantity

Tennis is a sport of skill. It is not a sport where the winner is decided based on the quantity of games they play.

Tennis tests a player’s physical capabilities as well as their mental strength.

Tennis is not a first past the post affair.

Tennis does not always reward those who’ve played the longest, toughest matches. In fact, it often favours those who’ve efficiently played their way through the tournament.

For each tennis player, how they feel on a particular day and just how kind a draw they’ve received can influence their progress to the next round or their progress to the nearest airport.

Sometimes tennis can offer lucky escapes for players and give them the chance to regroup and fight another day, even if their previous wins can be more easily attributed to a lucky bounce or two or an opponent more intent on hitting self destruct, rather than the fluoro yellow ball.

With so many factors influencing and impacting on the score line it’s clear that the only way to pay those who make their living travelling the international tennis circuit is fairly and evenly and that means supporting equal pay between the men’s and women’s competitions at Grand Slam events, and for that matter at any other event where men’s and women’s competitions are running concurrently.

Cue the moans from those who love to argue that women don’t deserve equal pay at Grand Slams because they only play best of three sets, not best of fives.

I wonder if these people have ever stopped to hear themselves. Are they aware of just how sexist they are or do they truly believe that women do not make valuable contributions to society and should probably stay indoors, tethered between the stovetop and the ironing board?

For those of you who mount the women should have to play best of five sets in order to qualify for equal prize money I wonder if you even watch the sport?

Are you aware that the women’s game is filled with its own nuances and is played quite differently to the men’s, hence service games are not relied upon in the same way as men’s tennis, as an example?

Has it ever occurred to you that these women spend the same amount of time in the gym, training and preparing, as there male counterparts and that alone is reason enough for them to be given equal pay?

There is of course a glaring and fundamental flaw with the argument that if women want equal prize money then they should also play best of five sets and that flaw has been drawn out in the opening paragraphs of this article.

Tennis is a sport whose outcome is influenced by many factors and it is a sport of quality over quantity.

Let’s flip the quantity argument, as I like to call it, on its head.

If prize money in tennis should be calculated by who many sets or games a player plays, and this is essentially what those arguing against equal prize money are advocating, then that should be applied across the board. Right?

So, looking at the men’s draw so far in this year’s Wimbledon, it is clear that the final should be contested by Novak Djokovic who has played 18 sets, 173 games and 4 tiebreakers and Milos Raonic who has played 17 sets, 176 games and 5 tiebreakers.

Dimitrov has played 17 sets, 164 games and 4 tiebreakers and he should be put into some kind of third place showdown with Roger Federer who has only played a poultry 16 sets, 147 games and 1 tiebreak. In fact with stats like that in this system of rewarding tennis players the Swiss maestro would go from GOAT to chump.

Naturally the women should have wrapped up their competition by not bothering to enter because obviously this type of tennis regime requires us to see women as second class citizens who if they can’t play best of five just shouldn’t bother turning up.

To break the final four women’s results down in the same way as the men, we see the following.

Eugenie Bouchard has played 10 sets, 106 games and 1 tiebreaker. She’s played the most games of the final four women but fewer sets.

Petra Kvitova has played 11 sets, 102 games and 1 tiebreak. Lucie Safarova has played 10 sets, 99 games and no tiebreak and Simona Halep has played 11 sets, 93 games and no tiebreak.

If we’re going to suggest that she who has played the most sets plays for the title then we should see Kvitova play off against Halep.

Is this even tennis? Tennis based on a formula of quantity over quality makes for a convoluted scoring system that has little to do with tennis talent.

Fans of equal pay for women athletes have a lot to cheer about when watching Grand Slam tennis. There is no doubt that there is still a way to go, evidenced by those pesky voices that continue to criticise equal pay for equal work, but compared to a lot of other sports, tennis is trail blazing ahead.

Let’s not drop the ball on why we have equal prize money in Grand Slam tennis.

These are the best female tennis players in the world and like the best male tennis players in the world, they have earned every last penny of their equal prize money.

 

 

 

*Note, this was written prior to the women’s semi-final results.