Djokovic bids, The Grand Slam tennis season returns with the 100th edition of the Australian Championships – known as the Australian Open since 1963 – which got underway at Melbourne Park on Monday.
Reigning champions Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters are both back to defend the titles they won 12 months ago as the world’s best players gather Down Under to compete for the first Grand Slam title of the year.
Djokovic, top seed in the men’s singles, begins his campaign against Paolo Lorenzi on Tuesday. The world No. 1 is bidding for his third Australian Open title, a result that would stretch his recent run at Grand Slams to three straight triumphs following wins at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011.
Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both former finalists at Melbourne Park, are in the same half of the draw as Djokovic and could meet the Serb in the semifinals.
Djokovic’s chief rival, Rafael Nadal, whom he beat six times out of six in 2011, had no problem with his opening match against qualifier Alex Kuzmetsov, defeating the American 64 61 61. Nadal, seeded No. 2, has gone all the way at the Australian Open once before, in 2009, and will be hoping to repeat that success over the next fortnight.
Federer, who takes his place in the bottom half of the draw with Nadal, also moved comfortably into the second round with a defeat of another qualifier, Alexander Kudryavtsev, 75 62 62. The Swiss maestro, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, enters this year’s Australian Open on a 20-match unbeaten streak although there are some doubts over his fitness after he was forced to pull out of Doha two week’s ago with back problems.
After missing large parts of last season through injury, Clijsters – already through to the second round – has seen her ranking drop to No. 12 and therefore misses out on being one of the top seeds. This has seen the four-time Grand Slam winner placed in a difficult section of the draw with world No. 5 Li Na and world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, although it was the Chinese 29-year old that Clijsters defeated in last year’s Australian Open final.
Wozniacki is still chasing her maiden Grand Slam title and made an encouraging start by beating Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova 62 61 in the first round, while Victoria Azarenka, the No. 3 seed, was responsible for one of five British defeats on Monday when she eliminated former US Open junior champion Heather Watson.
The in-form Petra Kvitova, seeded No. 2, is many people’s tip for the title after her impressive breakthrough year in 2011 when she triumphed at Wimbledon before going on to help Czech Republic lift the Fed Cup trophy. The lefthander meets Vera Dushevina in the first round on Tuesday. The opening day ended in glory for Aussie teenager Bernard Tomic, who upset No. 22 Fernando Verdasco from twosets down in the first match on Rod Laver Arena.Follow all the action on the official website www.australianopen.com.
New ITF publications now available
South Africa reign in Windhoek;
South Africa was the victorious team at the 2012 ITF/CAT Southern African Junior Championships last week, with Zimbabwe coming second and Mauritius third. The Championships, for players aged 12 & under, 14 & under and 16 & under, took place in Windhoek, Namibia, and featured 38 girls and 51 boys.
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe all competed for the team trophy and qualification to the ITF/CAT African Junior Championships, to be held in Cairo, Egypt, from 10-14 April 2012. The girls’ 16 & under category celebrated local player Sedi Jacobs (NAM) in the singles final but the teen eventually lost to Theresa van Zyl (RSA) 62 60. The boys’ 16 & under was contested between Loyd Harris (RSA) and Courtney Lock (ZIM), with Harris coming out on top 64 26 64.
In the individual results, Nadine de Villiers (RSA) won the gold medal in the 14 & under girls, beating Randy Randrianasoloson (MAD) 64 63, while Lee Barnard (RSA) took the bronze. In the boys’ 14 & under, gold went to Chisomo Lumeta (MAW) after beating Jandre Lessing (RSA) 62 63, and Calvin Jordan (RSA) took third place. Kimberly Bhunu (ZIM) won the girls 12 & under, while Zambia dominated the 12 & under boys section. Yannik Mwiinga (ZAM) beat fellow Zambian Barnabas Kalaba (ZAM) 63 64.
The latest editions of The ITF Year and the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas yearbook are now available to buy from the ITF Store.
The ITF Year 2011 is a comprehensive colour record of the ITF’s activities in 2011. The 11th edition of the federation’s official yearbook contains features by leading tennis writers on the 2011 season, plus full results of Grand Slam tournaments, Davis Cup and Fed Cup, the ITF Men’s and Women’s professional circuits, ITF Junior circuit, Wheelchair Tennis and ITF Seniors tournaments. There are reports on the ITFs development activities and Technical Centre, historical records of major tournaments, biographies of the greatest players and other useful ITF and tennis information.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas: 2011 is a full-colour 128-page coffee-table book telling the story of last year’s competition. It is written by tennis journalist Clive White, and includes photos from top international tennis photographers as well as a foreword by Albert Costa, who captained Spain to the title in December.
Additionally, the Winter 2011 edition of the ITF’s quarterly flagship magazine, ITFWorld, is now available to read online. The magazine, which features Fed Cup champion Petra Kvitova on the cover, carries articles on the season-ending events and profiles the 2011 ITF World Champions, as well as a report on the new Tennis 10s rule change in effect from 2012.
Burundi win East African Junior Champs
Burundi were crowned champion at the 2012 ITF/CAT East Africa Junior Championships, which finished at the weekend in Bujumbura, Burundi. Victory means the nation qualifies for the ITF/CAT African Junior Championships, to be held in Cairo, Egypt on 10-14 April 2012. Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania joined Burundi in battling it out for the team trophy, with Kenya and Tanzania taking second and third place respectively.
The boys played a round robin format followed by a knock out competition. In the individual results for the boys, Hailemekayel Birgza (ETH), in 12 & under, Saidi Nkurunziza, in 14 & under and Guy Orly Iradukunda (BDI), in the 16 & under category, were victorious. Due to the low number participating, the girls played a round robin competition throughout the tournament. Kotecha Sneha (KEN), in the 12 & under category, Mariam Mujawimana (BDI), in the 14 & under, and Yahia Samah (SUD), in the girls 16 & under, won the gold.
The Championships coincided with the opening ceremony of the ITF/CAT East African Training Centre. Dave Miley, ITF Director of Development, Tarak Cherif, President of the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT), Patrick Gichira, VicePresident of CAT, officials from other East African National Federations as well as many local dignitaries, attended the ceremony.
Beach Tennis dates announced
Tennis Europe has confirmed that the fifth edition of the European Beach Tennis Championships will be held from the 31st August to the 2nd September 2012. The team event, organised by Tennis Europe, will take place at the IBS Beach Planet resort in Borgo Maggiore in San Marino. The European Beach Tennis Championships is one of the highlights on the ITF Beach Tennis Tour. The 2011 edition saw the Italians victorious as 120 players from 19 nations competed for the much sought-after title. As one of the top performing nations in Europe, the Sammarinese team will be a strong contender in 2012 looking to maximize their home advantage as they play host to the top players from around the continent.
The News Bulletin of the International Tennis Federation www.itftennis.com 16 January 2012 Issue 3.