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The fact that Fernando Verdasco is still among the elite of the ATP Tour at 36 years of age is no coincidence.A look behind the scenes reveals his meticulous attention to and hard work on what he considers his most prized asset; his fitness. The result is that after so many seasons on the ATP Tour, he is still among the Top 50 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and winning Grand Slam matches, as he did on Tuesday against Evgeny Donskoy in the first round of the Australian Open, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1.The Madrid native, who has competed at 67 consecutive Grand Slam events, amazed everyone with a strength training exercise in which he dragged a two-tonne car during his pre-season training in Miami under the watch of his fitness coach Javier Bustos.“It was a seven-seat minivan,” said Verdasco. “I didn’t know we were going to do that, but we were doing weights and it was the last day of strength training after two weeks.”On that day, the squats session was going better than expected and there were no weights left. So his team prepared a surprise for him, a challenge from Dinomo and Bustos.“I had to do five repetitions of squats and I did 10,” said Verdasco. “They thought that I had plenty left in me... and then they told me we were going outside. When I got there, they said to me ‘Let’s see if you can move this car’. They hooked me up and we did quite a few repetitions… pulling the car from a standstill.”It is a mere anecdote, but it provides an example of the fact that fitness is the cornerstone of the Spaniard’s preparation. Why? The player himself explains:“I’m a player who, if I have confidence in my fitness it helps me mentally and in terms of my game," said Verdasco. "I need to feel that I’m strong, resistant, then my mind is at peace because I know that my body is ready. In these 6 or 7 weeks of pre-season, I focused on fitness training.“At the end of the day I’m 36, not 20. My body has already suffered for all these seasons and little-by-little I have to take care of it by stretching, resting, eating better... As I want to keep playing.”I’m gradually doing things better to try and be among the elite for as long as possible with the best in the world. At the moment, I believe my body is responding. I don’t know how long for, but I will try to fight as hard as possible.”[ATP APP]Among the knocks that his physique has suffered during his career, the most recent came last season with a knee effusion that affected his performances between June and October.“My knee didn’t feel right from Queens to Vienna. I had an oedema in the kneecap that I picked up in a match against Medvedev,” said Verdasco. “I knocked it when I slipped. I didn’t know it came from that, I didn’t realise until weeks later. Because I didn’t stop, the tendon and the surrounding areas became inflamed. It could have been a few weeks’ pain, but in the end it was several months.”Early this season in Doha, he also picked up a hamstring injury in his first match of 2020 against Pablo Andújar, which ended in victory.“After that match I did some tests and they told me that I had a bone oedema and we did everything possible in Doha and I withdrew from Adelaide,” said Verdasco.“We’re not machines, so it’s normal. It happens to everyone. I try to think of things to motivate me. I’ve been lucky to play more than 60 consecutive Grand Slams, fit, always competitive, I’ve never had a serious injury in the 16 or 17 years of my career.“I try to think that the pain will pass, sending positive messages to my mind that it will be soon and I always try to train, even if it is with some low-level pain.”[LISTEN AO]So far in Melbourne, his fitness is holding up. Even more so having been on court for just one hour and 37 minutes.“I’ve been doing a lot of treatment, trying to recover for the Australian Open,” said Verdasco. “[On Tuesday], I felt perfect. In addition, as it was quick, it helps me for the next match against [Nikoloz] Basilashvili in the second round, which on paper looks very tough.”
Ten remaining qualifying spots were up for grabs on Saturday at the Australian Open and Dennis Novak wasted no time securing his place in the main draw. The top-seeded Austrian battled past Japanese Hiroki Moriya 7-6(5), 6-2 for his second main draw appearance in Melbourne.Mohamed Safwat became the first Egyptian player in 24 years to qualify for a Grand Slam by defeating sixth-seeded Russian Evgeny Donskoy 7-5, 6-4. Four players also enjoyed the milestone moment of reaching their first Grand Slam main draw: Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, Dutch Tallon Griekspoor, Chilean Alejandro Tabilo and Spaniard Mario Vilella Martinez.Three players received lucky loser spots into the main draw due to withdrawals: Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, Russian Evgeny Donskoy and Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Kovalik and Gunneswaran lost their final-round qualifying matches on Friday.The 16 qualifiers and three lucky losers were all placed into the main draw on Saturday.Qualifier & Lucky Loser Placements(Q) Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) v. (16) Karen Khachanov (RUS)(Q) Ernests Gulbis (LAT) v. (20) Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)(Q) Tallon Griekspoor (NED) v. (29) Taylor Fritz (USA)(Q) Christopher Eubanks (USA) v. (Q) Peter Gojowczyk (GER)(Q) Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) v. (Q)Daniel Elahi Galan (COL)(Q) Ilya Ivashka (BLR) v. Kevin Anderson (RSA)(Q) Pedro Martinez (ESP) v. Dominik Koepfer (GER)(Q) Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) v. Yuichi Sugita (JPN)(Q) Marco Trungelliti (ARG) v. Tennys Sandgren (USA)(Q) Mohamed Safwat (EGY) v. Gregoire Barrere (FRA)(Q) Max Purcell (AUS) v. Jannik Sinner (ITA)(Q) Dennis Novak (AUT) v. Hubert Hurkacz (POL)(Q) Quentin Halys (FRA) v. Filip Krajinovic (SRB)(Q) Norbert Gombos (SVK) v. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)(LL) Jozef Kovalik (SVK) v. (27) Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)(LL) Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)(LL) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) v. Tatsuma Ito (JPN)
Tennis - Aljaz Bedene, Alexander Bublik, Corentin Moutet and Jeremy Chardy are in the second round as well
Tennis - Popyrin advanced to the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday
Going into the Australian Open, the fear that was poor air quality from bushfires might disrupt matches. On Thursday, it was rain carrying dust that put matches on hold. The dirty rain required tournament workers to pressure wash the courts in order to get them ready for play. Only one match took place when action resumed on the outer courts, with Ernests Gulbis and Aljaz Bedene being brought back inside after just four games when more showers hit Melbourne Park.[ATP APP]The roofs have been closed in Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, and Melbourne Arena. Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, fifth seed Dominic Thiem, and seventh seed Alexander Zverev headline the day session. Top seed Rafael Nadal, 2014 champion and No. 15 seed Stan Wawrinka, and No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios feature in the night session.
In tennis, 30/30 is just like a fork in the road. One trail leads to almost guaranteed prosperity, while the other is basically a coin flip to decide if you are going to get out alive.An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the current Top 10 from the 2019 ATP Tour season uncovers the vastly different fortunes resulting from winning or losing the point when serving at 30/30.Roger Federer led the Top 10 last season with the highest percentage of service holds from 30/30, at 86.1 per cent (174/202). Surprisingly, Federer performed just as well in this specific metric on clay as he did on grass.Federer defeated Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in his opening round of the 2020 Australian Open on Monday. Federer was taken to 30/30 three times during the match and won all three of those games.2019: Federer Holding From 30/30 Surface Win Percentage Grass 89.4% (42/47) Clay 89.2% (33/37) Hard 83.9% (99/118) Federer’s metrics led the Top 10 group of players on clay and grass, while Novak Djokovic led the Top 10 holding from 30/30 on hard, winning 85.0% (96/113). Across all surfaces, the Top 10 averaged a 79.9 per cent (1840/2303) success rate serving at 30/30.2019: Holding Serve From 30/30 Rank Player Win Percentage 1 Roger Federer 86.1% 2 Rafael Nadal 83.2% 3 Matteo Berrettini 82.8% 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas 81.8% 5 Roberto Bautista Agut 80.9% 6 Novak Djokovic 80.6% 7 Dominic Thiem 78.8% 8 Daniil Medvedev 78.0% 9 Gael Monfils 75.3% 10 Alexander Zverev 73.0% - Total/Average 79.9% If the server won the 30/30 point and surged to 40/30, their percentage chance of holding serve jumped above 90 per cent. But if they lost the 30/30 point and fell to 30/40, they now were statistically more likely to be broken than to hold.2019 Top 10: Holding Serve From 30/30, 40/30 & 30/40 Score Win Percentage 30/30 79.9% (1840/2303) 40/30 93.3% (2368/2539) 30/40 49.0% (608/1240) Federer again led the pack holding from 40/30 at 97.1 per cent, only losing seven service games out of 240 last season from this dominant score line. Roberto Bautista Agut was second out of the Top 10 holding from 40/30, at 96.1 per cent (224/233) with Rafael Nadal in third place at 94.8 per cent (202/213).When the Top 10 lost the 30/30 point and dropped to 30/40, that’s when their average hold percentage dipped slightly under half, at 49.0 per cent (608/1240). The five players to battle over the 50 per cent mark were: Player Win Percentage Roger Federer 58.8% (60/102) Rafael Nadal 58.3% (56/96) Matteo Berrettini 56.6% (73/129) Novak Djokovic 56.2% (59/105) Dominic Thiem 50.4% (62/123) 30/30 is a crossroads between pleasure and pain. Making a first serve is always a good start.