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Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Reveals Scare; American Draws at Aussie Open; More

SERENA REVEALS EMERGENCY SURGERY AFTER GIVING BIRTH

She gave it her all to come back physically to play this month’s Australian Open, but withdrew after a lead-up exhibition match, saying she just wasn’t 100 percent. Now this week Serena Williams told the story of harrowing emergency surgery following the birth of her first child.

The younger Williams sister told Vogue magazine about giving birth via emergency cesarean section, then a day later undergoing multiple operations for a pulmonary embolism, subsequently spending the next six weeks bedridden.

“I look at my baby, and I remember that this was one of my goals before tennis took over, when I was still kind of a normal girl who played with dolls,” Williams told Vogue. “We’re not spending a day apart until she’s eighteen.” She has yet to set a comeback tournament, with the WTA tour’s next U.S. event set for Indian Wells on March 7.

 

 

FEDERER STARING DOWN NO. 1 AT AUSSIE OPEN

Federer after winning the Hopman Cup exhibition last week with Swiss compatriot Belinda Bencic

It’s been more than five years since Roger Federer was at the top of the men’s game, but starting next week at the Australian Open, the Swiss GOAT will have a chance to do the almost-unthinkable at age 36 — return to No. 1 in the world.

If current No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who is battling knee problems, does not go deep and Federer reaches the final or wins in Melbourne, he could re-take the top spot on the ATP rankings, eclipsing Andre Agassi (age 33) as the oldest player to rank No. 1 in the Open Era (since 1968).

“It’s the ultimate achievement in tennis in some ways,” said Federer last year of the No. 1 ranking. “But at this age, I think I’ll make mistakes if I start chasing it.” Why chase it when you can make it come to you? Federer is the odds favorite to win a sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title during the next fortnight.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Sebastian Korda

The top-ranked U.S. junior boy (and No. 7 in the world) is Bradenton’s Sebastian Korda, son of former Grand Slam winner Petr Korda…USTA members, act quick to get a 25% discount off a Tennis Channel Plus service…Or how about winning a Delray Beach Open VIP ticket package worth $1,500?…Apple has taught Siri a number of new tennis responses ahead of the Australian Open…The custody battle that kept former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka out of the US Open will also force the 2013-12 champion to miss the Australian Open…Other high-profile Aussie Open withdrawals include Serena Williams (maternity), Andy Murray (hip surgery, hoping to be back by Wimbledon), and Kei Nishikori (wrist)…James Blake was named the new tournament director for the Miami Open…Lower-level pros shared some harrowing stories from the ITF/Futures circuit with The Telegraph…Former Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli says she is returning to tennis after coming out of an abusive relationship to “prove to myself that I’m alive.”…The Australian Open draw ceremony was not without controversy as the player representing the women’s side was last seen at the tournament being handed a suspension for dopingSerena Williams will reportedly play the exhibition event celebrating World Tennis Day on March 5 at Madison Square Garden, featuring the Tie Break Tens format, with the remainder of the eight-woman tournament field to be announcedBillie Jean King today said it’s time to take Margaret Court’s name off Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open — “I’m a gay woman. If I were playing today, I would not play on it.”

 

U.S. Players Exit ATP/WTA Events, But Rolling in Australian Open Qualifying

Alison Riske

Unseeded Alison Riske was the last American out of the Hobart International quarerfinals on Thursday, coming up short 7-6(5), 6-1 to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The 29-year-old Buzarnescu, who last year didn’t reach a tour-level main draw until the US Open, began last year at No. 377 on the WTA rankings, but will now climb into the Top 50.

All Americans at the ASB Classic in Auckland exited on Wednesday when top-seeded Jack Sock lost 6-3, 6-3 to unseeded German Peter Gojowczyk, No. 3 seed Sam Querrey lost 6-4, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) to Czech Jiri Vesely, No. 4 seed John Isner lost 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-2 to Hyeon Chung of Korea, and unseeded Steve Johnson fell 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to No. 5 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, all in second-round matches.

Americans still in contention in second-round qualifying action at the Australian Open are Julia Boserup, Bernarda Pera, Irini Falconi, Danielle Collins, Caroline Dolehide and Kayla Day on the women’ side, and on the men’s side Taylor Fritz, Bjorn Fratangelo, Kevin King, Denis Kudla, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefan Kozlov, Ernesto Escobedo and Tommy Paul.

 

Tough U.S. 1st Rd. Match-ups Dealt at Aussie Open

The Thursday draws at the Australian Open produced some difficult match-ups for American men and women, especially the unseeded women, where seven of the 12 start against seeded players. No. 5 Venus Williams opens against Swiss Belinda Bencic, who has a career win over her sister Serena.

The American men’s side was equally unkind as almost half of the unseeded players start against seeded players, including a former No. 1 and a former US Open winner:

WOMEN

(5) Venus Williams (USA) vs. Belinda Bencic (SUI)
(10) CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Timea Babos (HUN)
(13) Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
(17) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Qiang Wang (CHN)
Madison Brengle (USA) vs. (9) Johanna Konta (GBR)
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. (12) Julia Goerges (GER)
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. (14) Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)
Taylor Townsend (USA) vs. (19) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)
(WC) Kristie Ahn (USA) vs. (20) Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs. (28) Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
CiCi Bellis (USA) vs. (30) Kiki Bertens (NED)
Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Jana Cepelova (SVK)
Alison Riske (USA) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Jennifer Brady (USA) vs. Paula Parmentier (FRA)
Christina McHale (USA) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)
Nicole Gibbs (USA) vs. qualifier

MEN

(8) Jack Sock (USA) vs. Yuichi Sugita (JPN)
(13) Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
(16) John Isner (USA) vs. Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. (12) Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
Donald Young (USA) vs. (14) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Jared Donaldson (USA) vs. (21) Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Dudi Sela (IRS)
Steve Johnson (USA) vs. qualifier
Tennys Sandgren (USA) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA)
(WC) Tim Smyczek (USA) vs. (WC) Alexi Popyrin (AUS)

 

They Said It

“I’m very optimistic because, having spoken to the surgeon, he was very happy about how it went. He felt that my hip will be feeling better than it did a year ago.”
Andy Murray speaking to The Guardian following hip surgery last Monday, hoping for a return by Wimbledon

“If the world was like Roger, you wouldn’t have any violence, you wouldn’t have any wars. You would have only peace. He is a credit to everything he does.”
Nick Bollettieri on Roger Federer, speaking to The Express

“Linda is where I get my intensity from. If you see someone very purposefully (walking) the street (during the Australian Open) that will be my mum.”
Jim Courier on bringing his mother to the Australian Open for the first time, speaking to NT News

 

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Friday
12am — ATP Auckland (live), Tennis Channel
6am — ATP Auckland/Sydney (repeat), Tennis Channel
6pm — ATP Auckland doubles final (live), Tennis Channel
8:30pm — ATP Auckland singles final (live), Tennis Channel

Saturday
7am — ATP Sydney men’s final (delay), Tennis Channel

Sunday
6pm — Tennis Channel Live at the Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel

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