Osaka wants Alcaraz’s forehand, gets nod from Murray

It was a heartwarming exchange between two former world No.1s that caught the eye of tennis fans on Twitter on Wednesday.
During Naomi Osaka’s 65-minute straight-sets win over Madison Brengle in the second round, Andy Murray had this to say about the Japanese star’s game.
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“Anyone hit the ball cleaner from the baseline than @naomiosaka,” tweeted Murray, along with a fire emoji.
After her match, Osaka retweeted the Scot’s post and repaid the compliment by saying: “Anyone put their heart on their sleeve and fight harder than @andy_murray?”
“For me it was a really cool moment,” Osaka told reporters when asked about Murray’s tweet.
“It's a little bit shocking, because when you're playing, you never really think about the TV is broadcasting it and other people are watching. So, yeah, definitely really surreal. I hit with him once like three years ago (in Brisbane), and it was like a memory that's really like dear to me. It was really cool just to have someone like him talking about my game.”
The 24-year-old Osaka explained that she has been drawing inspiration from other players recently by following their matches and named a couple of her favourites to watch as of late.
“I watched Kyrgios' match last night, and honestly, now I'm feeling like it's not an Australian Open if you don't watch a night match of Kyrgios on John Cain. Like, this guy is literally always on that court,” said Osaka.
“But, yeah, I thought his serve was awesome. I don't think my serve percentage was as good as his, but it was really nice to see him back and having the crowd so hyped up.
“I really like watching Alcaraz. I don't know if I'm saying his name right. He's really good. His forehand, I wish I could trade my forehand for his forehand.”

Perks of having an Aussie coach in Melbourne

Amanda Anisimova began this season by hiring Simona Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill on a trial basis and judging by her current 7-0 winning record so far in 2022, things are going rather swimmingly with her new Australian mentor.
Anisimova, who takes on Osaka in round three, says Cahill helps put her in a calm headspace, which directly translates into finding her best tennis when she’s on court.
It also doesn’t hurt to have an Australian coach on board during the Australian Open.
“He definitely has some connections in Australia. That’s a bonus. For now, we’ve been going to Chin Chin a lot and he’s been able to make a lot of the reservations. I always have the request to eat downstairs. So that’s been going well,” joked Anisimova, referring to a popular restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD.
It seems Cahill is also getting Anisimova interested in AFL and while she wants to go catch a game, she is also keen to avoid crowds during this period where Covid-19 is rampant in Australia.

Tutto bene for Matteo

Two days after a diarrhea-struck Matteo Berrettini scraped through his opening round and thanked his stomach medication when signing the camera lens, the No.7 seed returned to action and needed four sets to overcome American wildcard Stefan Kozlov before moving into the Australian Open third round.
Upon victory, the Italian was happy to scribble “Oggi tutto bene!” – today, everything is fine – on the camera lens post-match and is bracing himself for a tough last-32 clash with in-form Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz on Friday.
Berrettini was quite poetic when describing the challenge Kozlov posed to him on Wednesday.
“He's a really tricky player. I didn't know – I never play him, even in juniors,” said the 25-year-old.
“He's trying to kind of like falling asleep, you know, with his game. Like he's not hitting the ball I think on purpose sometimes not that hard, so then your feet are going to go slower, and then, yeah, I think he did his web, like a spider, and I fell into it.”
Well that’s one way to put it!

Highlights: Berrettini battles past Kozlov to reach third round

Covid wreaking havoc

French No.29 seed Ugo Humbert was sent packing by his compatriot Richard Gasquet in the first round on Tuesday, and announced a day later that he tested positive for Covid-19 and will spend another week in Melbourne isolating.
Several players have contracted the virus in the build-up to the Australian Open and are still feeling the after effects of it.
No.5 seed Andrey Rublev tested positive during the off-season in Barcelona after competing in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi last month. He had relatively mild symptoms for three days and spent nine days in isolation.
The Russian, who is typically a workhorse in practice and in matches, admits it has been tough for him physically since he recovered from the virus.
“When I started to play longer practice matches, not only one set, but two sets in one practice, then I started to feel that I’m really tired,” he told Eurosport after his straight-sets win over Gianluca Mager on Tuesday.
“The last week here was really tough. After every tennis practice I was completely destroyed and I started to feel like yes, I’m still recovering from Covid, but the first match went really well and I’m happy.”
Many players still in the draw have recently recovered from a bout of Covid-19 like Rafael Nadal, Sebastian Korda, Emma Raducanu, Nick Kyrgios and Gasquet.
“Covid for me hit me pretty hard,” revealed Kyrgios after his opening round win over Liam Broady. “I was training five hours a day feeling extraordinary, and then it hit me and I was bedridden. Couldn't really breathe well, coughing. I was pretty bad for someone that you assume is in the peak of his physicality, I got hit pretty bad.
“Anyone that's been through it, I hope honestly for the best. Obviously physically I don't feel 100 percent, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. Like everyone is dealing with that at the moment. The whole world is dealing with it. So I'm just going to take it day by day.”
He’ll definitely need his energy for his upcoming blockbuster showdown against No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev.

Upset of the day

Adrian Mannarino snapped his 12-match losing streak against top-20 opposition at the Grand Slams with an impressive 6-4 6-2 6-3 upset of Polish No.10 seed Hubert Hurkacz to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for a second consecutive year.
The French lefty, who next takes on No.18 seed Aslan Karatsev, saved 9/10 break points against Hurkacz, who committed 40 unforced errors throughout the match.

Shot of the (year?) day

Spanish No.19 seed Pablo Carreno Busta pulled off the rarest shot in the book when he hit the ball on his opponent’s side of the net.
Tallon Griekspoor badly framed an overhead which resulted in the ball bouncing from Carreno Busta’s side back to the Dutchman’s. Carreno Busta sprinted up to the net, ran around it and hit the winner from Griekspoor’s side. Take your time to replay this more than once. It’ll likely be a candidate for point of the year honours at the end of this season.

Marathon of the day

Korda, whose preparation period ahead of the Australian Open included a week of isolation in Adelaide, put in a heroic effort in the second round on Wednesday to outlast French lefty Corentin Moutet 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(10-6) in a chaotic four hours and 47 minutes.
Moutet served for the victory in the fourth set but Korda managed to break him, and kept his cool as the Frenchman suffered through cramps and had several arguments with the umpire when he attempted to get treatment mid-game.
The crowd assembled at Court 8 was wild and Moutet after stopped to take a selfie with a fan during the match, right before the deciding set tiebreak started.
Chants of “Sebi Korda, Sebi Korda, ole, ole, ole” continued well after the match was over and the 21-year-old American was happy he could stay focused to get himself across the finish line.
“The crowd was so good,” said Korda, who next takes on Carreno Busta.
“Basically from the first point of the match they were chanting. They were getting wild and it was really nice.
“I think he started cramping up a little bit and then I stayed calm. He was constantly fighting with cramps or with the umpire, with the crowd, and I think I handled it really well and just focused on myself and played really well towards the end.”

Stats of the day

- Naomi Osaka has an astonishing 85 winning percentage across both the Australian and US Open tournaments, triumphing in 46 matches at the hard-court Grand Slams and losing eight.
- Osaka has also won her last 15 consecutive matches in the city of Melbourne (WTA tournaments and Australian Open included).
- With his 6-2 6-1 7-5 win over Dusan Lajovic on Wednesday, the 18-year-old Alcaraz is the youngest to reach the Australian Open third round in men’s singles since Bernard Tomic achieved that feat in 2011.
- Carreno Busta’s five-set win over Griekspoor snapped the Dutchman’s 29-match winning streak, which had started last September.
- Top seed Ashleigh Barty has dropped just three games across her first two matches at this Australian Open. The Queenslander hasn’t been broken in her last five matches, holding serve in 48 consecutive service games.
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