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Tennis roundup: Federer in good shape but Murray doubtful for Aus Open

Last updated on: January 02, 2018 22:13 IST

Federer in fine fettle as Switzerland beat Russia in Hopman Cup

Roger Federer

IMAGE: Roger Federer’s Australian Open preparation gained momentum. Photograph: Hopman Cup/Twitter.

Roger Federer subdued a feisty Karen Khachanov while Belinda Bencic outlasted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to help Switzerland beat Russia 3-0 in the Hopman Cup on Tuesday.

Federer won 6-3, 7-6(8) as his Australian Open preparation gained momentum but the 19-time Grand Slam champion was pushed hard in the second set by the 21-year-old in front of a record crowd of 13,943 at the Perth Arena.

Playing with little inhibition and plenty of power, Khachanov broke Federer early on before the Swiss switched gears to march ahead and take the opening set in 29 minutes.

Federer, who beat Khachanov in straight sets at Halle last year in their only previous meeting, showed his experience in the second-set tie breaker that swung back and forth and clinched the contest on his third match point.

"It was nice to see him free swinging the entire match, which isn't easy to do," Federer said of his opponent.

"I remember those days, match point down, you go for it, you don't care. That is what you have to remind yourselves sometimes when you're older, to go for it. He mixed up the play well, so it was a tough match for me."

"The tiebreak was close, it was good to play that early on in the season, to play those nervy situations with the pulse up high, you're sweating loads. The match had a bit of everything, so I'm very happy with the performance."

Bencic had a tougher outing against world number 15 Pavlyuchenkova but prevailed 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 before teaming up with Federer to win the mixed doubles dead rubber.

Earlier, the United States scored a 2-1 win over Japan after Naomi Osaka was too ill to participate. Osaka's withdrawal gave CoCo Vandeweghe a 6-0, 6-0 victory in their singles match.

Japan drew level after Jack Sock retired while trailing against Yuichi Sugita but Osaka's absence meant the Americans were awarded a 4-0, 4-0 win in the deciding mixed doubles rubber.

Andy Murray

IMAGE: Andy Murray during a warm-up session at the 2018 Brisbane International. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Former world number one Andy Murray's lingering hip issues forced him to withdraw from the Brisbane International on Tuesday with the Briton admitting he is unsure whether he could recover in time for the Australian Open later this month. 

Murray has not played a competitive match since a Wimbledon quarter-final loss last July due to the complaint and despite coming through a one-set exhibition in Abu Dhabi last week, he was unable to train on Tuesday and announced his withdrawal.

"I'm very disappointed to be withdrawing from the Brisbane International," Murray, seeded second in Brisbane, told tournament organisers before going into further detail of his predicament in an emotional post on social media.


"Having been recommended to treat my hip conservatively since the US Open, I have done everything asked of me from a rehab perspective and worked extremely hard to try get back on the court competing," Murray said on his Instagram account.

"Having played practice sets here in Brisbane with some top players unfortunately this hasn't worked yet to get me to the level I would like so I have to reassess my options. Continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover.

"Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that. However, this is something I may have to consider but let's hope not."

The world number 16 had been due to play his first tournament match of the season on Thursday with a second-round encounter against American Ryan Harrison at Pat Rafter Arena. He will be replaced by German lucky loser Yannick Hanfmann.

Murray, who said on Sunday that he planned to trim his schedule in 2018 to prevent a recurrence of his injury issues, will remain in Brisbane for the rest of the week before planning his next move.

"In the short term I'm going to be staying in Australia for the next couple of days to see if my hip settles down a bit and will decide by the weekend whether to stay out here or fly home to assess what I do next," the 30-year-old added.

"Sorry for the long post but I wanted to keep everyone in the loop and get this off my chest as it's really hurting inside."

Brisbane tournament director Cameron Pearson wished the three-times grand slam winner well.

"I'm really disappointed for Andy, as I know how much he was looking forward to getting his season started in Brisbane," he said.

"As a two-time former champion, he has great memories of playing on Pat Rafter Arena and thrilling his fans. I wish him all the best to be ready to play the Australian Open."

Murray's latest injury setback will also come as a blow to Australian Open organisers ahead of the year's first major in Melbourne starting on Jan. 15, along with those of fellow "Big Four" members Rafael Nadal (back) and Novak Djokovic (elbow).

Kyle Edmund battles past Shapovalov in Brisbane opener

Kyle Edmund was taken the distance before he outlasted talented Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in the opening round of the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

Edmund, who prevailed 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-4, struggled with his serve right from the start of the match but managed to save five out of six break points to overcome his opponent in two hours and 30 minutes.

"Everyone wants to start well but the year is so long that if there's positivity you feel good but even if you don't start well it doesn't mean the year is going to be a bad one," the Briton said.

"It's always good to come to Brisbane, I made the quarters last year, got a good win this year so it's definitely helped my game going into the year."

Edmund next plays Chung Hyeon after the South Korean world number 58 withstood a barrage of booming serves from fifth seed Gilles Muller before winning 6-3 7-6(1).

American Michael Mmoh won his first match on the ATP Tour after seven previous defeats, with a clinical 6-3, 6-4 victory over Federico Delbonis. The teenager takes on eighth seed Mischa Zverev in his next match.

Denis Istomin had to dig deep to stun seventh seed Damir Dzumhur, winning 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes.

Sharapova forced to dig deep by Riske in Shenzhen Open

Maria Sharapova

IMAGE: IMAGE: Maria Sharapova returns. Photograph: WTA/Twitter

Maria Sharapova was made to work hard for a victory at the Shenzhen Open, coming from behind to beat unseeded American Alison Riske 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.

The five-times grand slam champion fired 34 winners and saved seven out of 10 break points to get past her spirited opponent and set up a quarter-final clash with Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas who beat local hope Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4.

Twice a finalist at Shenzhen, Riske used power and precision to breeze through the first set and went up 2-1 in the second to leave Sharapova in trouble. The Russian then reeled off five of the next six games to level the contest at one set apiece.

Sharapova did not let the momentum slip in the deciding set, winning the final four games of the match to prevail in two hours and 22 minutes.

"I'm glad I got this kind of match," Sharapova said. "These are the kind of matches you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open in terms of match play."

Earlier, Kristyna Pliskova, the twin of former world number one Karolina Pliskova, stunned French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-1, 6-4 and stormed into the second round.

World number seven Ostapenko, who beat returning multiple major champion Serena Williams in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, was undone by Pliskova's powerful serves.

"My serve was great today, especially in the first set," the world number 61 said after her second career win over a top 10 opponent. "I feel like it's fast here, so that can be tricky for both of us, and the first of us playing fast won the point."

Pliskova next takes on Romania's Ana Bogdan, who comfortably defeated Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2.

Muguruza injury jinx continues

Garbine Muguruza

IMAGE: Garbine Muguruza in action during her match against Aleksandra Krunic. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

World number two Garbine Muguruza's wretched run of injury problems at the Brisbane International extended to a fourth consecutive year on Tuesday when the Spaniard succumbed to leg cramps in the third set of her opening match.

The top seed started well in her second round encounter against unseeded Serbian Aleksandra Krunic, converting her seventh set point in a marathon 12th game to claim the opener before roaring to a 5-2 lead in the second.

The reigning Wimbledon champion was coasting but the 53rd-ranked Krunic mounted a stirring fight back and reeled off four of the next five games to force a tiebreak, which she claimed by a 7-3 margin to send the contest into a deciding set.

Mugurza regrouped to break the Serb in the first game of the third and was serving at 2-1 up before she collapsed on the baseline and retired immediately when she was helped off the court to receive treatment for cramping in both legs.

The early exit cost Muguruza a chance to replace Romania's Simona Halep at the top of the world rankings ahead of the Australian Open later this month but the Spaniard's immediate concern will be to get fit for the first Grand Slam of the year.

"I cramp very few times, but I do remember that the last time I cramped up was actually at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the conditions. I don't know, but it's rare for me," Muguruza told reporters.

Muguruza's run of injury woes in the tournament dates back to 2015 when she withdrew on the eve of the event with an ankle problem, before a left foot injury ended her 2016 campaign and a right thigh problem led to her semi-final retirement last year.

The Spaniard admitted that the cramping started early in the second set but she was otherwise happy with her performance and the general quality of the match despite being unable to continue through the pain.

"I'm pleased because we were playing very good points and good rallies. She was playing very good," the 24-year-old added.

Krunic, meanwhile, advances to a quarter-final meeting with either Romania's Sorana Cirstea or Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova but was disappointed with the manner of her victory over Muguruza.

"I'm not happy with what happened today and I want to wish Garbine a fast recovery. I hope she gets better for the slam," she said in a courtside interview.

Wozniacki races to victory in Auckland Classic opener

Caroline Wozniacki capped 2017 with the biggest win of her career when she claimed a maiden WTA Finals triumph in October and the Dane has carried that momentum into the new season with a ruthless display to kick off her Auckland Classic campaign.

The top seed has a chance to usurp world number one Simona Halep with a victory in New Zealand and the 27-year-old needed just 58 minutes to race past American Madison Brengle with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph in their first round encounter on Tuesday.

The world number three is still searching for her first grand slam triumph but after emerging victorious in the elite eight-woman event in Singapore, her raised levels of play could see her make that breakthrough in Melbourne later this month.

Wozniacki is also searching for a first triumph in Auckland after reaching the final in 2015 and despite being tested by Brengle early the contest, the Dane pulled away once she found her rhythm and claimed the last seven games to seal victory.

"I thought I played pretty well, especially considering it's the first match back of the year," Wozniacki told reporters. "It took me a couple of games to kind of just get the rhythm and then I started playing better and better.

"I'm just trying to get my legs moving, trying to make the right decisions, wait for the right shots to play aggressive and go for it, and find the right balance of offence and defence."

The win set up a second round encounter against Croatia's Petra Martic, who overcame Czech player Marketa Vondrousova 7-6(2), 6-3 in their first round tie to advance.

Elsewhere, former world number two and 2013 Auckland champion Agnieszka Radwanska was forced to dig deep to remain on a semi-final collision course with Wozniacki when the Pole eked out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia.

"I'm just very happy to win my first match of 2018, and I think it was good timing to come back and do it here in Auckland after five years," Radwanska, who has seen her ranking drop to 28th after a poor 2017, said in her on-court interview.

Third seed Barbora Strycova was also taken the distance in her first round encounter against Italy's Sara Errani, the Czech emerging with a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 victory to set up a second round tie against Sweden's Johanna Larsson.

The day did not pass without three upsets, however, with defending champion and fifth seed Lauren Davis losing 6-1, 6-2 to fellow American Sachia Vickery, while sixth seed Yulia Putintseva and seventh seed Mona Barthel both suffered straight set losses.

The Australian Open is the first grand slam of the season and runs from January 15-28 in Melbourne.

Briton Konta pushed to the brink again in Brisbane

Britain's Johanna Konta was pushed to the brink for the second time in as many rounds before advancing to the quarter-finals while world number two Garbine Muguruza of Spain succumbed to leg cramps in her opening clash at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

Konta, who overcame local hope Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes at the Pat Rafter Arena, set up a meeting with the winner of the match between Ukraine's Elina Svitolina and Croatia's Ana Konjuh.

The Briton faced 13 break points in the first set and struggled with her rhythm as the big-hitting Tomljanovic stormed into an early lead.

Konta, who had similar struggles with her serve in her opening match against American Madison Keys, a US Open finalist, on Monday, responded with a better performance to level the contest.

The world number nine raced to a 5-2 lead in the deciding set before Tomljanovic showed signs of fighting back. However, Konta held on to finish the job.

"She made that very difficult, so that's a credit to her and she played incredibly freely at the end of the third set," Konta said after the match.

"There wasn't a lot in it so I'm very happy to have just stayed tough and just come through that.

"To be honest, it's a great thing to have two tough matches early on. It's a boost, the match fitness, and it boosts a lot of the competitive scenarios that we're going to face the whole year. I'm sure my next match will be the same."

Muguruza's wretched run of injury problems at Brisbane extended to a fourth consecutive year with the Spaniard unable to continue while leading 2-1 in the deciding third set against Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic.

Meanwhile, France's Alize Cornet defeated Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1, 7-5 to move into the quarter-finals and was joined by seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia who beat Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-1.

Thiem battles past Donskoy in season-opener

Dominic Thiem

IMAGE: Dominic Thiem serves. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem started his season with a hard-fought 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Russian Evgeny Donskoy in the first round of the Qatar Open in Doha on Monday.

The world number 5 won a staggering 92 per cent of his first serve points to hold off a battling Donskoy, who pushed the 24-year-old to the brink in the opening set, and regained control in the second set to charge to victory.

"It was a good victory because (of a) tough opponent... after a pretty long period without any matches," Thiem said. "After a good start, it got pretty close in the first set... at the end I'm satisfied with most parts of my game."

Thiem will play either Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene or Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in the second round.

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco also had to fight for victory after losing the first set against Israel's Dudi Sela but the seventh-seed staged a comeback to win the final 10 games of the match and record a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win.

Verdasco will face Andrey Rublev in the second round after the Russian was handed a win as German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe retired with the score at 6-1 in the 20-year-old's favour.

Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Italy's Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 6-3 on Monday, will play the winner of the match between second seed Pablo Carreno Busta and Borna Coric.

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