Men’s Qualy’s Draw at Aussie O Features Many Veteran Players

It’s not only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Willy Tsonga, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner playing many years into their 30’s at this year’s Aussie O. Even the Men’s Qualifying Tournament which starts tomorrow features many veteran male players. There’s Nicolas Mahut of France, a grizzled 37, Dudi Sela at 34, Dustin Brown, the Jamaican-German is now 35, Go Soeda, the Japanese is 35, Donald Young and Martin Klizan are both 30, Sergiy Stakhovsky is 34, and Ernests Gulbis is 31. Perhaps, the most interesting matchups are Gulbis, who won six matches in 2019, going against the 6-7 Maxime Cressey, the 22-year-old Californian-Frenchman, who employs a serve-n-volley game which could work well on the fast courts of Melbourne.

Then Bernard Tomic, the 27-year-old embattled Australian who has slipped in the rankings to no. 182, takes on Denis Kudla, also 27 and now no. 115. A host of young Americans have made the day-long trip to Melbourne to try and qualify, including Noah Rubin, Ernests Escobedo, Christopher Eubanks and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who got in with a no. 253 ranking. The two oldest qualifiers are Mahut, one of my favorite players and still a top doubles player and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who are 37 and 36 respectively. Both are still extremely fit and competitive.

Interesting to note are the absentees from the draw including Jack Sock, Michael Mmoh and of course, much-missed David Ferrer.

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  • Harold · January 15, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    deMinaur out of Oz. Abdominal injury

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 1:01 am

    Adelaide – Yastremska flattens Vekic and Sabalenka routs Halep, both in SS.

    Vondrousova will play Barty shortly and if the Marketa steamroller carries on I feel sorry for Ashleigh.

    A far as AO is concerned Sabalenka may exhaust herself, as she’s done before other majors.

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 1:17 am

    Halep and Sabalenka wear identical Nike skirt/shirts for their match. Do players consult about outfits, do Nike have just one design ?

    Hurts me to say it but Yas seems to be doing fine with Bajin.

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 1:45 am

    Vekic hits the ball ok but she doesn’t move very well, slow off the mark. I watched a video of Donna and Beltz in a coaching session and she was mostly doing static hitting, which she is good at, not moving around the court, which she can be quite bad at.

    Of course I am an expert at tennis coaching 🙂

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Collins thumps Bencic 6-3 6-1. There’s no stopping Danielle Rose.

    Do these results mean anything at all ? Maybe players are holding back before AO but I believe a loss is a loss and it stays in your head, particularly if it’s a thumping.

    Talking of lefthanders, Denis S lost. I expect Hartt can fill in on that one.

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Bencic was outhit by Collins so comprehensively that Belinda was laughing at the end. Match point ? Why bother ?

    Danielle’s skirt is short enough to be just this side of decency.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 7:08 am

    There will be consequences for this peasant questioning and criticizing the kings.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Shocked deminaur is out. He was ready for a semi run. Can’t wait 3 more days to see if it sufficiently heals?

  • Jon King · January 16, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Nike coordinates the outfits and then sells them as part of its tennis line. They really started it last year when I noticed some tournaments with 5-6 players wearing matching outfits. Personally, I am not a fan when both players wear identical clothes.

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Adidas have been doing this for a while. I suppose you could say at Wimbledon both players are in white – it’s a minor point really but sometimes annoying if you’re watching on a small screen and the players look similar.

  • catherine · January 16, 2020 at 8:49 am

    In Hobart Heather Watson beats Mertens and the spectators are all wrapped up in winter coats and shivering in the cold.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 9:23 am

    In weak draws, next gen men cleaning up. Don’t look now but Tommy Paul is in an ATP semifinal, Humbert the next gen lefty send Shapovalov to his next tournament, Felix AA notched a semifinal by beating up on no names, and speaking of no names the men’s and women’s qualies at the Australian have seen more or less a drubbing of experienced players going down.

    This has been a savage week.

    And that’s not even considering Ms. Bouchard is potentially on the verge of entering the tournament on her own merits, a match away from making it on her own. If that’s not something…

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Collins my goodness. Bencic was one of 2019 best hardcourt players. That was a drubbing. Maybe this no friends on tour thing should become a T shirt.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Like Collins red hot ambition. Showing a NCAA champion has the cred to shred a draw. I like anyone that does this.

    Yastremska is devastating opponents. Perhaps her new hitting partne I mean coach Bajin truly is incredible at signing up talent that are already destined for greatness.

    Muguruza saves face and withdraws. She must have felt the Jabeur match that she barely won was good enough prep and I think she’s right. She had a good run of last few weeks and with Conchita Martinez back in her corner she is back as a player.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Anyone else surprised that most of the Aussie qualies now feature players few can recognize? This is one for one turnover on tour. The replacements are here for the veterans everyone loves.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Paire doing well. He rises when faced with an existential threat from the next generation. Good for him to decide he’s not done yet.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 9:49 am

    When Collins is in her beast mode, she can take down anyone including Serena, she can actually match intensity with Serena. Collins will not back down to Serena’s intimidation.

  • Jon King · January 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Collins has always been take charge, no nonsense. When she felt dissed at Florida her freshman year, she said later and took her talents to Virginia and won 2 NCAA titles.

    She is a focused, cold blooded player. I would think no one looks forward to it when they see her in their draw.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Air quality: Good to Hazardous today. Good is good. Hazardous means players bowling over. Appreciate this from Liam Broady earlier this week.

    Liam Broady
    ““The more I think about the conditions we played in, the more it boils my blood. We can’t let this slide. The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face, conditions were ‘playable’.

    “Were they ‘healthy’? Citizens were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?

    Nicolas Mahut:
    “Nicolas Mahut, the Marathon Man of Wimbledon legend, posted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing a mask, captioned: “Ready for my first round.”

    Dustin Brown:
    “In 35 years it’s the first time I had to use an asthma spray to help me breathe better.”


  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Folks: straw that broke camel’s back. The big three guys said zero about their fellow players – ZERO. Whoever their media people are, are wrong.

    I expect we will have a new champion in Melbourne – perhaps Kyrgios, who has yet to talk about players, but if he gets a microphone, I expect he will be fierce (and be suspended). He has probably focused more on raising as much money as possible for wildfire victims. But I expect he will decide enough is enough when he is in Melbourne.

    Technically, Kyrgios should do well this year. He will also get the lionshare of attention for the men’s draw from Australian media – De Minaur is out and Tomic as well.

    And good riddance to players that win the most in history without working as fiercely for their fellow players. The player’s council has been powerless and that’s because the biggest guys, while decent and wonderful on a personal level, haven’t fought the big battles for players so they survive (see: playing in middle of hazardous air).

    The placement of the big guys on pedestals was for their playing, not for their virtue, but then many fans decided these are perfect people. They aren’t.

    Time for more advocates for players. Djokovic, Nadal, Federer have done nothing on this while fiercely protecting their own interests.

    Schnur apologized on twitter today – but his core message was right. Nadal, Federer, etc ARE DEFINITELY SELFISH and it is high time everyone sees that the drive for slams is a drive to do well personally, and has nothing to do with your fellow player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Jon, Collins floated throught he second half of last year, but her intensity and fire are back now, she wants this, she needs those SF points back. She is ready to go and show her beast mode again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Kyrgios may not have the tunnel vision focus to win this major, he may have one eye on philanthropy and while that is admirable it will not help his chances. But Nick is such a wildcard, anything is possible, maybe something about these fires and his honorable reaction to it, could trigger something in his spirit and maybe he can produce his best tennis ever. Maybe Nick is coming of age.

  • Harold · January 16, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Andrew, I don’t get what your point? You preach American Tennis, and your dislike for the top 3 winning all the Majors.
    What are the Big 3 supposed to do? Say they’re boycotting Aus, unless Noah Rubin, or Shnur, or Tomic get to play quailes in perfect conditions? Should they say move the tournament schedule?

    They are all selfish, independent contractors looking out for themselves. Is tennis a fair playing field? He’ll no! That starts w/ the “ Stars” only playing on show courts, having shot spot for all their matches, while outside courts don’t.

    The fires are a natural disaster. The big 3 can’t Put on Nike firefighting kits, and stop them, or change the wind direction,

    The ATP and WTA reps should be the ones fighting for their players health. Seems all they’re worried about is prize money, so as long as the money keeps flowing, they’ll tell the players ranked from 4 to 200 to keep quiet, get a mask, an inhaler, and suck it up

  • Jeff · January 16, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Collins my goodness. What a skirt!

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Preach, Harold, preach 🙂 What you suggested they do a good start.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Jeff that is officially the skimpiest skirt of all time. Boy does Collins look good this year. She could win the whole shebang. Plowing through Kenin and Bencic like they were junior hitting partners is an intimidating statement. She is one of the few players who will stare down Serena right back and outscream her.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Australian began dramatically (in qualies). Most drama I can recall in years, but take that with many grains of salt. This will indeed be survival of the fittest at a tournament that tends to have the hardest conditions, now infused with a lot of stress.

    As to Kyrgios, he plays better with a cause and he has one. But Scoop, all right to be skeptical – his attitude is short-term, his body doesn’t hold up well. He’d have to dig deep and stay healthy, and that’s hard for anyone in the draw and especially for Kyrgios given his record.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Funny how we don’t see any players withdrawing, saying, I will not play in these conditions.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Scoop, players need a union. Qualies players are cannon fodder.

  • Harold · January 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Kyrgios get KK, in the 3rd round, and if he gets past him, Nadal in the 4th round…tough draw..

    Nobody is withdrawing..you lose in the first round you probably get a nice chunk of cash that will keep you going until the Sunshine double..

    Collins thinks she’s way hotter than she is..both on court, and IG

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Nike, hot lava pants, 1990. Enough said.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Djokovic puts air quality on player’s meeting agenda: “But Djokovic did tell reporters that he put air quality considerations on the agenda at the annual player meeting that precedes the tournament.” – Pete Bodo, ESPN

  • Hartt · January 16, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    OK, so air quality was on the agenda. What decision was made?

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Djokovic meeting hasn’t happened. It’s on the agenda. Djokovic heads the meeting.

  • Hartt · January 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Tom Tebbutt has an article on the Tennis Canada site about Genie Bouchard and Leylah Annie Fernandez, who are both in the AO qualies.

    I thought this was encouraging from Bouchard:

    “Turning 26 next month, Bouchard is more philosophical these days when it comes to the approach to her career. “I don’t really think about the past or the future, I’m just focused on every single match,” she said. “What I need now is matches so badly because I didn’t have a lot last year. By winning today I get another one and that’s what I’m just looking forward to.”

    There is no doubt she looks more muscular on the court, able to better summon the power tennis that has always been the trademark of her game. Asked if she is physically stronger, she replied, “definitely. I made a point in the off-season to get really physically strong and I feel the difference on the court.”

    A lot of that is related to a lot of hard hours she put in working in Las Vegas with Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi’s long-time strength coach and fitness trainer.”

    Seventeen-year-old Fernandez is excited to be in the qualies. Last year she was RU for the girls’ title, and then went on to win the RG juniors title.

    Because she is so young, her situation may be at the extreme end, but it is an example of why the $ in qualies is so important to the players. The prize $ for making the 2nd round is $32,000. Her total prize $ for her career is $56,348, so obviously the $ at the AO makes a huge difference to players like Fernandez.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Sounds like Shapovalov ran out of steam in Auckland, and Humbert was dialed in given some big wins earlier this week. I noticed Shapovalov might need to get some more strength training, these emotional matches are draining the guy.

    I thought Humbert might win because, even though no one mentions him, he is one of France’s best players and a riveting lefty along with Moutet. He hit a great ball in Milan. I wonder if these two guys will make history for France, but for now just one of two rising lefties from France.

    It would be interesting if the ATP, because of Shapovalov and Moutet and Humbert, possibly have three next gen players that are left handed in the top ten. These two guys are poised to do well, but as we’ve seen with Lucas Pouille, when it comes to France “a good slam means nothing”


  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    Hartt, I don’t want to jinx the Canadians – even without Andreescu, the surface suites them and they are playing good tennis, they’ve prepared well, all systems go.

  • Harold · January 16, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    How many people can actually fit into the top 10? Seems like everyone’s destiny is top ten..

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    That was funny! It’s fluid for sure. Something to appreciate: so long as a player makes the top ten, they are always a top ten player (NOT!!!)

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Or Shap didn’t want to burn too much energy in Auckland and high tailed it to Melbourne, which is the highest priority right now. Shap is a contender to win AO, he’s playing great right now.

  • Hartt · January 16, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Scoop, I hope you are right about how Shapo is playing right now. And I have to admit I wasn’t too disappointed that he is out of Auckland.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Hartt, we have seen it time and time again, these top players who are major contenders subconsciously tank the week before after a couple of matches and want to rush over to the Slam venue to adapt to the different conditions. Then there are those lower ranked “scavengers” like Harris, Paul, who know they really have not shot to win a major and when they get to the cusp of winning their first ATP title, they go for it. Kind of surprised Isner is pushing so hard for this title after Winston Salem always hurt his US Open chances. But of course, Isner has gotten off to very bad starts the last two years and he does not want to do that again.

  • Hartt · January 16, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Canadian youngster Leylah Annie Fernandez just beat Japanese player Mayo Hibi in SS. By making it to the finals of qualies Fernandez will earn $50,000. As I mentioned earlier her career earnings were a little over $56,000, so this is huge for the 17-year-old, who is at the beginning of her pro career.

    She is very slight, but can generate a surprising amount of power, and is fairly consistent. Interestingly, she won MP with a volley, because she rarely went to the net in this match. That is a part of her game that she can develop.

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Men’s qualies: US men, Canadian men, experienced players tumble. Not a good showing.

  • Jon King · January 16, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    Thats great for Leylah Annie Fernandez! She won a junior slam, very good player. Her dad is a good guy, they train just south of us in Boynton Beach.

  • Hartt · January 17, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Jon, yes, that was a very good result for Leylah Annie Fernandez. She was the RU for the AO girls a year ago and, as you said, won the RG juniors last season. Am glad to hear her dad is a good guy.

    From what I’ve read, her father is spending considerable time with his other daughter, and Leylah Annie has another coach in addition to her father. That coach spoke to her briefly over the fence during today’s match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Where does Fernandez train? Delray?

  • Andrew Miller · January 17, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Adelaide: Rublev d. FAA barely, Harris d. Tommy Paul. Rublev may have two tour titles in 2020 even before Aussie begins, but still not the right time to peak.

    Auckland: Paire d. Hurkacz, gets Hurkacz back for the loss in Winston-Salem. Hurkacz has kept up his level in lower level ATP events. Paire to face HUMBERT who beats Isner. An all French final! Paire seems to savor these wins over the young guys.

  • Andrew Miller · January 17, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Trevisan (Italy) d. Bouchard, who has nonetheless had a good few weeks. Trevisan heads to main draw.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Trevisan must be the sister of Mateo Trevisan, a junior I saw a few years ago who did not make it. Must be a good player to beat Bouchard who has been hot lately and is driven.

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