Australian Open: First week memories
Australian Open: First week memories
Monday, Jan. 15
Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and CoCo. Vandeweghe — all semifinalists at least at the 2017 US Open — led a string of seeds sent tumbling out. Men’s eighth seed Jack Sock soon joined them in a calamitous day for American players with only three of the 15 in action progressing. With Venus departing, it became the first time since 1997 that no Williams sister made the second round, with Serena not playing after giving birth to her first child.
Tuesday, Jan. 16
Consummate media performer Roger Federer urges his fellow professionals to act themselves and not like “robots” with the press to keep tennis interesting for the sporting public. With some of the greats of the modern game in their twilight years, he understands the need for more players to step up, and open up. “I would like to see more players just being really themselves in front of the press, being more relaxed about it, not worrying so much about making mistakes. You’d rather see that than robots left, right and center,” he said. The Swiss great said he always tried to “give it a little bit something extra” during his interviews to keep everyone happy.
Wednesday, Jan. 17
The ear-busting grunting and screeching of rising Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka grates on the center court crowd in her match against Aussie favorite Ashleigh Barty, with fans mocking the 19-year-old, earning a rebuke from the umpire. Long a divisive issue in tennis, Twitter lit up the following day with many calling for more to be done stamp out the racket. The women’s governing body, the WTA, said grunting “is a natural part of the game,” although it did acknowledge fan concerns. “Excessive grunting is being addressed through a commitment to an ongoing educational outreach,” it added, whatever that means.
Thursday, Jan. 18
Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather dished up a day of 40 degrees Celsius and it played havoc. Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils copped some of the worst of the scorching conditions in an afternoon match. The Serb called it “brutal” on court while Monfils complained he was suffering heatstroke. Caroline Garcia said her feet were on fire, but ice queen Maria Sharapova said she “loved summertime.” No matches were called off with the weather not considered severe enough to enforce the tournament heat policy.
Friday, Jan. 19
Fifteen-year-old sensation Marta Kostyuk was the youngest woman into the Australian Open third round since “Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis in 1996, but her fairytale unraveled against fourth seed Elina Svitolina. She lost 6-2, 6-2 and was seen sobbing on her mum’s shoulder. Despite the loss, she relished the “free” tennis lesson from her fellow Ukrainian. “I had the chances, but because I thought, like, she is incredible, she’s a god, I cannot do anything against her, that’s the problem.” Kindly Svitolina predicted Kostyuk had a big future ahead.
Saturday, Jan. 20
World No. 1 Simona Halep said she was “almost dead” after one of the longest Australian Open women’s matches ever. “I never played a third set so long. I’m almost dead,” said the Romanian after finally edging across the finish line 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 against Lauren Davis in 3hr 44min. “My muscles are gone. I don’t feel my ankle any more.” The longest match at Melbourne Park was in 2011 when Francesca Schiavone of Italy beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 in 4 hours 44 minutes.
Sarfraz Ahmed happy after Pakistan fight back against Australia in Abu Dhabi
- Pakistan captain scores 96 after criticism having made just 74 runs in previous six Test innings.
- Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs.
ABU DHABI: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said he was happy that he responded to pressure from all sides with a brilliant 96 on Tuesday on the first day of the second Test against Australia.
The 31-year-old added 147 runs for the sixth wicket with opener Fakhar Zaman — who also scored 96 — to lift Pakistan from a precarious 57 for five to 282 all out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs with eight wickets in hand.
After his below-par 15-run innings and weak wicketkeeping in the first Test which ended with his team unable to turn a strong position into a victory, Sarfraz faced calls for his sacking as Test captain.
“Yeah the pressure was there, definitely,” said Sarfraz, who had made just 74 runs in the his six previous Test innings.
“A lot of it. You know it’s coming from all corners. Somebody is saying leave Test cricket, somebody is saying leave captaincy, some are saying leave him out of the team.
“When all this happens and you score runs then it’s a bit of relief and then to do it in a situation where you were 57 for five and in a really bad shape...”
Sarfraz said Pakistan had fought back admirably having seen Australia spinner spinner Nathan Lyon had rocked Pakistan in the morning, reaching lunch with figures of four for 12.
“It’s good that we scored 282 and then got two wickets, including that of Usman Khawaja because he can play a long innings, so I think it has become even for both the teams now,” said Sarfraz.
Sarfraz praised Zaman, who is playing his first Test.
“Fakhar played a brilliant knock and I got very good confidence from him because I like that the other batsmen rotate the strike and he did that and played brilliantly in his first match.
“He deserved credit for doing so well.”
The first Test in the two-match series ended in a draw in Dubai last week.