Stories from in and around the tennis world…
If my child was a ball kid for a tournament and they're coming home at five in the morning, as a parent, I'm snapping at that. It's not beneficial for them, it's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials, I don't think it's amazing for the fans, it's not good for the players. Andy Murray
Roger Federer’s wife, Mirka, sent the internet into meltdown with an outfit that can only be described as iconic.
While the eyes of the tennis world are on the Australian Open, Federer is enjoying the retired life, making an appearance on the other side of the world at Paris Fashion Week.
Wearing a navy turtleneck and two-piece suit combination, he looked as smart as ever, but it was Mirka who stole the show, wearing a sweater vest with a blue goat emblazoned on the front, worn over the top of a patterned dress.
Fans felt this was Mirka’s way of signalling that her husband is the GOAT — the greatest tennis player of all time, but in all likelihood, it could have been a nod Aries, the ram, which is her star sign.
The Federers were rubbing shoulders with longtime Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour and Australian film director Baz Luhrmann.
Despite being third on the leaderboard, Federer is still viewed by many as the greatest tennis player to every play the game, although he rails Rafael Nadal, who leads all-comers with 22 Grand Slams and could well be equalled by Novak Djokovic if the Serbian wins his 10th Australian Open crown this weekend.
AO opts not to celebrate Australia Day
Thousands of Australians marked the country’s national day celebrations on Thursday with rallies in support of Indigenous people, many of whom describe the anniversary as ‘Invasion Day’ as it celebrates the day a British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour on 26 January, 1788.
Organisers of the Australian Open 2023 did not recognise Australia Day, though, after protests and rallies were organised across the country.
“We are mindful there are differing views, and at the Australian Open we are inclusive and respectful of all,” Tennis Australia said in a statement after Indigenous sports stars in the country spoke up against the day.
“We acknowledge the historical significance and deep spiritual connection our First Peoples have to this land, and recognise this with a ‘Welcome to Country’ on stadium screens prior to both the day and night session daily,” the statement continued.
Many of Australia’s 880,000 or so Indigenous people out of a population of 25 million lag behind others on economic and social indicators in what the government calls ‘entrenched inequality’.
This year’s holiday comes as the centre-left Labor Party government plans a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the constitution, and requiring consultation with them on decisions that affect their lives.
Woodbridge bemoans Wimbledon doubles decision
Nine-times Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Todd Woodbridge says it is ‘heartbreaking’ to learn the All England Club has made the decision to cut the event to best-of-three sets, rather than five from this year.
Wimbledon organisers announced the decision on Wednesday, dispensing with 138 years of tradition to bring the tournament into line with the other 3 Grand Slams, as well as ATP Tour events.
“For me, it is a little heartbreaking because I am a real traditionalist,” the Australian told Channel Nine during coverage of the Australian Open. “I truly believe of all the titles the Woodies won, and I went on to win with Jonas Bjorkman, I probably wouldn’t have won as many if it was over three sets.
“Five sets lets the best team win generally in that situation.”
Woodbridge won 6 Wimbledon men’s doubles titles with compatriot Mark Woodforde before teaming up with Swede Bjorkman for another 3.
American Mike Bryan, who with sibling Bob formed the most successful professional doubles team of all time, also bemoaned the decision.
“We like a longer sample size, especially on grass, it’s tough to break serve on a slick surface,” said Bryan, who won 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles with his brother, including 3 at Wimbledon. “I think for the great doubles teams, you just want longer – a three out of five format.”
The best-of-five format has received lots of criticism, however, mostly for scheduling reasons, and Nick Kyrgios added his point of view last year.
“I think it is the stupidest thing ever,” he said, “I don’t know why it is best of five sets. No-one wants to play best-of-five-set doubles, no one wants to watch best-of-five-set doubles.”
Shortly after making these comments the Aussie pulled out of the tournament, with his partner Thanasi Kokkinakis, so that he could focus on singles where he ended up making his first Grand Slam final.
The All England Club said the decision was made following a wide-ranging consultation: “This update will provide the referee’s office with greater certainty when scheduling matches during the event and we hope it will encourage even more players to enter doubles at Wimbledon as a result,” it said in a statement.
The 2022 Wimbledon men’s doubles final took more than 4 hours to complete with Australian duo Matthew Ebden & Max Purcell beating Croatians Nikola Mektic & Mate Pavic over an epic 5 sets, from two sets to one down, 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 4-6 6-4 7-6(2), to claim their first Grand Slam title as a pair in 2022.
Andy Murray’s ‘reality check’
Andy Murray has been reunited with his family after his physically draining Australian Open campaign, but it seems not everyone was delighted to see him back home.
One of his young children gave him a ‘tough’ reality check following the Scot’s incredible efforts in Melbourne, where he came through 3 marathon rounds with only his mother, Judy, present.
On Wednesday, Murray tweeted: “School drop off this morning. My 6 year old ‘daddy don’t give me a kiss and a cuddle anymore when you drop me…just stay in the car’. (crying emoji) Tough game. Back to reality!”
Murray shares 3 daughters and a son with wife Kim. The couple welcomed Sophia in 2016, Edie in 2018, their son Teddy in 2019, and another girl in June 2022 whose name has not been revealed.
Menawhile, his efforts Down Under have propelled him up to No 62 in the world, which is still a ways off where he needs to be in order to be seeded at the Grand Slams.
“I was quite clear that it was something I wanted to do last year to try and get into the seeded spots,” he said. “It didn’t quite happen.
“If I was playing at this level last year, I probably wouldn’t be ranked fifty or sixty in the world.”
Emma Raducanu made the most of a difficult Australian Open, managing to play despite the ankle injury she sustained in Auckland 10 days earlier.
She credits the team that is gradually taking shape with her recovery, with new coach Sebastian Sachs seemingly approved, Jez Green’s strength and conditioning expertise bearing fruit, and physio Will Herbert now in place.
It seems Raducanu is keen to develop a long-term partnership with her coach after chopping and changing over the past year or so and Sachs apparently is meeting the criteria.
“I think that the way I’ve been brought up, I’ve always had quite a lot of people around me and it’s more just been me picking and choosing what I want to take and what I want to leave,” the British No 1 told BBC Sport recently. “I think a part of it was, also, I didn’t have that core, small team. I didn’t have that solid set-up and the team that I really fully trusted.
“So for me this year, now I feel like I’ve definitely got that more so, and I don’t, probably, need to consult as widely any more.”
At 30 years of age, Sachs had a brief career as a player on the Futures Tour and is a also handy hitting partner.
He has already worked in a coaching capacity with Victoria Azarenka, Julia Gorges and then Belinda Bencic, who became a top-10 player and an Olympic champion under his watch.
“We kind of build off each other’s ideas, and he’s just a really good person to have in the team as well,” Raducanu said. “I think that’s been going really well so far and I really want to carry on and for it to last.”
Herbert, who helped Raducanu during her sensational run to the US Open title, has returned as physio and also delivers her fitness programme when Green is not available.
The strength and conditioning coach started working with the 20-year-old at the end of last year, and designs a programme for Herbert to deliver when he is elsewhere.
Green, who was such an instrumental part of Andy Murray’s success, has been working primarily for Dominic Thiem, but was not in Australia this year.
Raducanu’s fortunes improved in the second half of last season, winning 8 of the 15 matches she played since Wimbledon, and reaching the semi-finals in Seoul.
A wrist injury then curtailed her season and prevented her doing any meaningful work on court before the start of December.
Kosmos group files multimillion-dollar lawsuit
Kosmos Tennis, chaired by former Barcelona defenderGerard Piqué, has filed a lawsuit against the ITF at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport for ending their partnership to organise the Davis Cup.
The lawsuit blames the ITF for an ‘unjustified termination of the contract between both parties for the organisation of the Davis Cup for 25 years, and for damages to the company’.
Earlier this month, the ITF ended its Davis Cup partnership with Kosmos without providing details for the reasons behind the decision, adding that it will run this year’s Davis Cup on its own.
“The ITF can confirm that its partnership with Kosmos Tennis for Davis Cup is ending in its fifth year,” an ITF statement read. “The ITF negotiated a strong deal for tennis in 2018.
“The partnership increased participation, prize money and interest in Davis Cup and produced funding to support the global development of our sport.
“The ITF has ensured financial contingencies are in place and, as the custodian of the competition, will operate the 2023 qualifiers and finals as scheduled, with the Final 8 taking place in Malaga, Spain, this November.
“As well as being focused on delivering another spectacular edition of the men’s World Cup of Tennis, we are focused on the future growth of the largest annual international team competition in sport.”
Spanish media said the ITF was also considering legal action against Kosmos for allegedly not meeting the payments that had been agreed between the parties.
The ITF reached a 25-year partnership with Kosmos in 2018, when a new Davis Cup format was launched in an effort to revitalise the most prestigious team event in tennis, and make it more lucrative.
Piqué, who ended his playing career in November, became the public face for Kosmos and had pledged that the group would invest $3 billion in tennis during the 25-year partnership.
AO rocked by controversy over ball kids
Tennis Australia has been called out over not paying its ball kids for their work as it seems they work for free.
Ball kids get $15 per hour at the US Open, while at Wimbledon they get a flat rate of $351 per week, but at Melbourne Park where they take part for the love of the sport and the experience.
Tennis Australia does offer its ball kids a gift bag and food allowance for the two-week event, but no monetary compensation.
They were previously paid $40 until Tennis Australia reclassified the job in 2008 and made it a volunteer position.
Naturally the news sparked outrage on social media, particularly when the ball kids faced working in some of the most brutal conditions, such as 37 degree heat, before they were tasked with drying off courts with towels during rain delays.
There were also some extremely late matches, such as one of Andy Murray’s matches which ended after 4am.
Murray said he would be fuming if he was the parent of a ball kid who came home at 5am after taking part in his match.
“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” he said in his post-match press conference, which still went ahead despite the clock approaching 5am. “We come here after the match and that’s what the discussion is. Rather than it being like, epic Murray-Kokkinakis match, it ends in a bit of a farce.
“Amazingly people stayed until the end. And I really appreciate people doing that and creating an atmosphere for us at the end. I really appreciate that.
“But if my child was a ball kid for a tournament and they’re coming home at five in the morning, as a parent, I’m snapping at that.
“It’s not beneficial for them, it’s not beneficial for the umpires, the officials, I don’t think it’s amazing for the fans, it’s not good for the players.”
Kyle Edmund happy to be back
Five years have passed since Kyle Edmund, a young man from Beverley, stood on the threshold of succeeding Andy Murray as the new face of British men’s tennis, which was before he suffered chronic knee problems since the middle of that 2018 season, and he is still on the road to recovery.
He made his first trip to Melbourne Park for 3 years, after he missed most of the last two seasons because of the problems in his left knee that required 3 operations.
His ranking plummeted down at 583, a far cry from his career high of 14 on 10 August 2018, the season he made a thrilling run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Now aged 28, he was in the AO draw because he received a medical protection to his ranking, but was match rusty and drew Jannik Sinner, the Italian 21-year-old, seeded 15 and reached the quarter-final last year, as he did at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“When I think back to 2018 it’s always good memories, walking around the grounds, or in the player area, or on the court,” he said ahead of the start of his AO campaign. “But it just feels so long ago because so much has happened since then.”
Edmund lost to Sinner in 3 straight sets but it was still a personal triumph, simply grateful to be back on court and feeling healthy enough to compete.
“I know I have the game to play at the highest level and, hopefully, the work I’ve done in my rehab and strength, will allow me to stay fit to be able to compete,” he said.
Of the knee issue, he added: “It’s something I’m always going to have to manage, but having the time out was really long, so to be able to play again is something I’m very thankful for.”
Edmund dipped his toe back in the water last summer, playing mixed doubles at Wimbledon in what was his first match since October 2020.
He then entering five events in North America, including the US Open, before stepping away again to do more training.
“I was able to play but not really at the standard or physically the level I wanted to,” he says of his truncated 2022 campaign.
Edmund returned to the tour to play the two ATP events in Adelaide, and, although he lost in the 1st-round at both, he pushed 28th-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic in two close sets in the second one, while the first saw him lose, again, 6-3 6-2 to Sinner.
While he is not yet able to produce the fireworks of 5 years ago, it is just good to see Kyle Edmund back competing.
Evert cancer-free as Navratilova battles on
Few players are linked as closely as Chris Evert and Martina Navratliova.
Evert, who last year had many chemotherapy sessions and bravely fought ovarian cancer, announced last week that she is cancer free and there is a 90% chance it will not come back.
Meanwhile, Navratliova, who is fighting throat cancer and is combating breast cancer for a second time reported: “I’ve had two surgeries and four biopsies. And radiation and chemotherapy are waiting.”
The 18-time Slam champion is still making daily appearances on the Tennis Channel.
It has also been revealed that Navratilova’s wife of 8 years Julia Lemigova was exploring adoption before the cancer diagnosis.
The former Miss USSR, 50, opened up about their adoption dream while chatting to pal Alexia Echevarria in the mid-season teaser for the coming season of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami, which airs on Peacock TV.
“I’ve started calling the adoption agencies,” Lemigova told Echevarria, before adding, ‘not so successfully’.
Navratilova and Lemigova celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary last month, but just weeks later, Navratilova revealed she is battling both Stage 1 throat and breast cancer.
“This double whammy is serious but still fixable,” the 66-year-old tennis legend said in a statement. “I’m hoping for a favourable outcome. It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all have I got.”
Navritalova has beaten cancer before, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, and getting the tumour surgically removed after a routine mammogram revealed she had a ductal carcinoma in situ.
Lemigova, a former Russian model who was crowned Miss USSR in 1990, made history on the current season of Real Housewives of Miami as the first openly lesbian Housewife in the Bravo franchise.
Sam Stosur retires
Sam Stosur officially hung her rackets up after more than 20 years on the professional tour last Saturday at the AO.
“I did way more than what I thought I’d do as a kid, even though you kind of dream things,” Stosur told ausopen.com. “I’m super proud of the achievements I had, the wins, and again, I feel like I’ve gone about it in a way that’s been good for me, and respected by a lot of people.”
Stosur’s last match came alongside Matt Ebden in mixed doubles at Melbourne Park, where the Australian pairing fell 4-6 6-3 [10-6] to Demi Schuurs & Nikola Mektic in the 1st-round.
It was somewhat symbolic for it to have ended here, for the Australian Open mixed doubles event was the very first Grand Slam title she won, the first of many.
Combining with Scott Draper, Stosur capped a brilliant 2005 summer with that mixed doubles crown, after back-to-back WTA singles finals on the Gold Coast and in Sydney.
Sixteen years later, Stosur was still thriving in that same event, as she and Ebden progressed to the AO 2021 mixed doubles final. They repeated the feat at Wimbledon in 2022, with Stosur aged 38.
Stosur ends her career with 8 Grand Slam trophies – 1 in singles, 4 in women’s doubles, and 3 in mixed.
Her career was derailed by illness, when she suffered a debilitating set of ailments connected to Lyme disease, stemming from a tick bite, but she regained her health, resumed competing in 2008.
In 2009, she overpowered Elena Dementieva en route to her first Grand Slam singles semi-final at Roland Garros, ending the year at world No 13 after capturing her first career singles title in Osaka.
Her 6-0 6-3 demolition of Vera Zvonareva in the Charleston final was perhaps the finest performance of her career, and contributed to her sparkling 20-3 record on clay in 2010.
Wins over Simona Halep, Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic propelled Stosur into her first major singles final in Paris, where she eventually fell to Francesca Schiavone.
In the 2011 US Open final, she beat Williams again, becoming the first Australian female Grand Slam singles champion in 31 years.
Stosur peaked at World No 4 in singles, and was a Top 10 mainstay from 2010 to 2012.
She reached at least the quarter-final stage at 7 majors, and the semi-final stage 4 times alone at Roland Garros, including a resurgent run to the last four in Paris in 2016.
She also seemed a genuine threat for the 2017 Roland Garros title, having won the WTA Strasbourg title, and she stormed into the 4th round in Paris, taking the first set 6-2 over eventual champion Jelena Ostapenko, only to begin feeling the effects of a right-hand stress fracture that would sideline her for months.
Stosur admitted she never hit the ball the same following that freak injury, but while her singles results tapered off, she continued to thrive in doubles.
There were few more emotional moments than watching her combine with good friend Zhang Shuai to win her first Australian Open women’s doubles title in 2019, 13 years after holding match points, yet losing, with Raymond in the 2006 decider.
“I’ve had some really great moments in singles, doubles and mixed obviously here, throughout my whole career,” she said. “No way did I think, 21 years later, I’d still be here.”
Lauded for her supreme fitness and conditioning, she mostly avoided serious injury throughout her playing days during which she played more than 1,000 singles matches across all professional levels yet retired from just 3, and only one in the past 16 years.
She enjoyed playing on big stadiums in front of thousands of people, recognising that not only was she playing for her own career, but also to entertain others.
“I just always had this desire that I was going to be a tennis player,” Stosur said. “I played tennis because I loved to play tennis, and I wanted to do this as a life, and I’ve got so much more out of it than what I ever would have expected.”
Jabeur and painful periods
Ons Jabeur opens tackled a tricky subject, saying how difficult, and painful, it is to play tennis during her period, admitting that on numerous occasions she has lost a match because the first day coincided with a match day.
After losing to Iga Swiatek during last year’s French Open, rising Chinese star Qinwen Zheng said it was hard for her to play when menstrual cramps were causing her great pain.
Zheng’s comments were praised by her colleagues and that led to other WTA players speaking more openly about the topic.
Since then, Wimbledon has changed its strict all-white dress policy for female players and, from this year, WTA players will be allowed to wear coloured underwear.
Although Jabeur is praising that move, she also says that seeing a WTA player in a black underwear at Wimbledon will basically be telling who is on their period.
“You feel it, at Wimbledon specifically, because you’re playing in all whites,” she said. “That doesn’t help.
“They now allow you to wear black [underwear] but if you do that then everybody would know.
“Some women get more pain, even in their back, and I cannot tell you how many times I played with the first day of my period, and how I was suffering and crying of pain.
“I have lost matches because of it.”
Jabeur, who is married, told The Guardian that she wants to have a kid one day, but is being patient with her husband as she knows that getting pregnant would sideline her for at least a year.
“It’s crazy because some people are like: ‘I don’t need to watch women’s tennis. It’s boring’,” she said. “But how would you know? Honestly, women make a lot more sacrifices than men.
“Unfortunately, if I want to have a baby tomorrow I cannot as I am on tour. This is a huge sacrifice for women,” Jabeur added.
Dokic hits out at ‘evil and disgusting’ body-shaming trolls
Player-turned commentator Jelena Dokic, who rose to a career-high world ranking of 4 in 2002, has been conducting on-air interviews at Melbourne Park after players win their matches, but the 39-year-old, who has been open in the past about her experiences with family violence and mental health, said she had repeatedly come in for online abuse over her weight.
“The ‘body shaming’ and ‘fat shaming’ over the last 24 hours has been insane,” she wrote on Instagram, adding it came from all over the world, but particularly Serbia.
The Australian was born in Croatia and has a Serbian father.
“And yes a lot of them are women too,” she added. “So much for women supporting women!”
Dokic, who last year revealed she nearly committed suicide, said the abuse was ‘evil and disgusting’.
“The most common comment being ‘what happened to her, she is so big’?“ she wrote.
“I will tell you what happened, I am finding a way and surviving and fighting. And it really doesn’t matter what I am doing and what happened because size shouldn’t matter.
“What matters is your online abuse, bullying and fat shaming. That’s what matters because those of you that do it are just evil, bad, mean and ignorant people.”
Dokic sprang to prominence at Wimbledon in 1999 when she stunned World No 1 Martina Hingis in the first round.
After withdrawing from the Australian Open at late notice, Ajla Tomljanovic is set to be sidelined for several months after the 29-year-old cited the need for a ‘minor procedure’ on her injured knee, revealing that she had undergone surgery.
“This morning I had a minor procedure done on my knee that went very well,” Tomljanovic wrote on social media. “Sadly I won’t be around the next few months, but I’m happy I did the necessary steps to get fully healthy. Great things take time and rehab starts very soon! I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Tomljanovic left Aussie fans heartbroken with her withdrawal, which was shortly before her men’s counterpart Nick Kyrgios revealed a knee injury of his own.
The withdrawal of the two Australian No 1s, both whom having featured in Netflix’s Break Point series which premiered just before the Grand Slam, has contributed to fans declaring a ‘Netflix curse’ at the tournament, as one by one the 10 players featured in the series all fell prematurely.
Representing the biggest hope for Australia after the retirement of Ash Barty in 2022, Tomljanovic was left bitterly disappointed by the timing of her injury.
In an emotional press conference, she said she had felt like a ‘contender’ in the weeks leading up to the Australian Open, only for it to be ruined at the last moment.
“If you ask me, this is probably the worst timing ever,” she said. “I’m sure I would have said that even if it happened in six months [but] if I’m taking a 15-second pity party, this shouldn’t have happened now.
“It’s the time when I’m feeling my best self in every way; coming into a slam truly feeling like I deserve to be even a contender. I mean, I feel that way. I’m not coming out here and faking that.
“So, in a way, am I going to have to start from scratch? Probably not. It feels a little unfair, but life’s unfair. Part of our job, injuries will happen.”
Tomljanovic’s untimely injury setback came after the 29-year-old enjoyed her finest Grand Slam season in 2022, when she reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the second straight year before backing up to also make the Last 8 at the US Open in September.
Nadal sidelined too
Rafael Nadal is expected to be sidelined for between 6 and 8 weeks with the injury he suffered at Melbourne Park when the Spaniard’s reign as champion ended prematurely in the 2nd-round with defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.
Nadal pulled up suddenly late in Wednesday’s second set and clutched at his left hip.
He opted to finish the match after an off-court medical timeout, but his movement was severely hampered.
The 36-year-old underwent a scan in Melbourne on Thursday morning that showed a grade two tear of his iliopsoas muscle.
An update from Nadal’s team said he would return to Spain for a period of rest and treatment, with the normal recovery time for the injury from 6-8 weeks.
Garcia ‘uncomfortable’ after reaction to bulimia comments
World No 4 Caroline Garcia said would not have opened up about her battle with bulimia had she known the reaction her revelation would provoke within the tennis world ahead of the Australian Open.
Garcia, who capped an impressive second half of the 2022 season by winning the WTA Tour title, told L’Equipe she had turned to food to ‘fill a void’ when things were not going her way on court, prompting an outpouring of support from the tennis community.
“I think if I did know it was going that much, maybe I would not have said it,” said the 29-year-old. “After, when I saw how much it went all around the tennis world, I was feeling a little bit uncomfortable with it.
“I don’t regret saying it. It’s what happened. I’m not ashamed about it.
“I think it’s happening to a lot of athletes and a lot of, also, regular people because we are still human, and we go through a lot of emotion.”
Garcia took a break from tennis in March last year to undergo ankle surgery, and returned in fine form, winning in Cincinnati, Bad Homburg and Warsaw while also reaching the semi-final of the US Open.
Ken Rosewall honoured on the Australian Open 2023 coin
Ken Rosewall has been revealed as the face of the Australian Open 2023 coin, honouring the 70-year anniversary of his 1953 men’s singles triumph.
In a fitting ‘grassroots to Grand Slam’ moment, lucky Tennis Hot Shots players from Ascot Vale Tennis Club unveiled the coin at Melbourne Park.
Rosewall remains the youngest man to have won the Australian Open men’s singles title, winning at just 18.
Claiming subsequent titles in 1955 and 1971, Rosewall also won in 1972 aged 36, marking 19 years since his inaugural title, which is another record that remains to this day.
Renowned for his enviable backhand as illustrated on the AO 2023 coin, Rosewall amassed an impressive 18 major titles across 3 decades, including 9 men’s doubles titles and a mixed doubles title at the US Open in 1956.
“It’s a wonderful honour to be recognised on the Australian Open coin,” the Aussie legend said. “Seventy years seems like a long time, but it feels just like yesterday that I was a young hopeful stepping out on court for a shot at my first major title.
“Tennis is a fantastic sport that brings so many opportunities and it’s great to see so many kids, and adults, picking up a racquet and getting out on court.
“The Australian Summer of Tennis is such a wonderful time of year that brings back so many fond memories and it’s an honour to be back here in Melbourne for what promises to be yet another fantastic Australian Open.”
A Member of the Order of Australia, Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee (1975), International Tennis Hall of Fame and Australian Tennis Hall of Fame, Rosewall holds the distinction of being named an Australian Living Treasure for his outstanding contributions to Australian society.
Rafael Nadal, and others, lashed out over the quality of the official Dunlop balls used at the 2023 AO, but Tennis Australia has extended its contract with the ball manufacturer for a further 5 years.
Nadal told the media that had no problems with the court surface in Melbourne, but the ball was a different story.
“No, the speed of the court I think [is] not big difference [to 2022],” he said. “The ball, yes. I don’t know.
“They say [it] is the same, but the ball is worse quality, without a doubt. We can’t talk about that any more. It’s what we have. We need to play with it.
“I think it’s a ball that doesn’t get the same spin as usual. After a couple of hits, the ball loses the pressure. It’s more difficult to hit with the right spin. But I think it’s easier to play when you play flatter on the shots.”
The AO is the only Grand Slam to use Dunlop balls, with the French and US Opens opting for Wilson and Wimbledon using Slazenger balls.
Dunlop took over as the official ball supplier to the Australian Open from Wilson in 2019.
Its new contract will take this tenure through to at least 2028, but comes with gripes from players about the standard of product on offer this year in Melbourne who claim they are quick to lose pressure and wear down easily, therefore leading to the longer rallies and matches that have been a feature at this year’s AO.
Commenting on the contract renewal, Tennis Australia said: “Dunlop has a long history of producing high-quality tennis balls with consistency, durability and little variance. Dunlop is the most-used ball on the international tennis tour.
“Player satisfaction is vital and we will continue to gather feedback from the playing group and ensure it is factored in to the design, manufacturing and testing process.”
Dunlop is one of 24 third-tier official partners of the Australian Open, with Chemist Warehouse and Chubb extending their deals ahead of this year’s event.
American Jessica Pegula criticised the Australian Open’s treatment of players as controversy erupted after Andy Murray’s 2nd-round clash with Thanasi Kokkinakis that finished at 4.05am.
The match did not get underway until after 10pm, and finished well into Friday morning after going to 5 sets.
Altogether the match lasted 5 hours and 45 minutes, falling just short of the Australian Open’s longest match ever of 5 hours and 53 minute, which was the final between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal in 2012.
Tennis Australia copped heat from players and fans in the aftermath, with many calling for changes to be made to ‘ridiculous’ scheduling that constantly sees matches starting late at night at Grand Slams but TA boss Craig Tiley dismissed the criticism, saying there is not much that can be done when so many matches need to be crammed into the schedule.
“At this point, there’s no need to alter the schedule,” he told Channel 9. “We will always look at it when we do the [post-tournament] debrief, like we do every year. But at this point … we’ve got to fit those matches in the 14 days so you don’t have many options.
“Over the last three days, we’ve had extreme heat, over five breaks of rain, we’ve had cold … we’ve had three late nights with scheduling to try and catch up with matches.”
Murray’s older brother Jamie Murray had earlier questioned why two matches were held back-to-back after 7pm, writing on Twitter: “Time for tennis to move to only one match at the night sessions at grand slams.
“This is the best outcome for ALL singles players. We can’t continue to have players compete into the wee hours of the morning. Rubbish for everyone involved – players/fans/event staff etc.”
Wilson signs Marta Kostyuk, as first head-to-toe Wilson Advisory Staff Member
Wilson Sporting Goods Co has partnered with Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, as the first complete Wilson ambassador, across rackets, footwear and clothing.
Just over one year ago, Wilson got into the technical apparel business, matching its level of industry-leading excellence in sports equipment with sportswear, and Kostyuk becomes the first Wilson Advisory Staff member to wear and play Wilson, head-to-toe, as she continues her rise to the top.
“Wilson is committed to equipping athletes with all they need to succeed on and off the court, and there is nobody better to join forces with than Marta Kostyuk,” said Jason Collins, Global General Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “Marta has an extremely sharp game, and we look forward to not only expanding Wilson’s impact in the sport of tennis, but also supporting her as she grows her competitive edge and personal brand.”
The 20-year-old Ukrainian touted the Blade v8 racket, custom Wilson Sportswear and the Rush Pro 4.0 tennis shoes on-court at the Adelaide International Tennis Tournament 2, where she made the quarter-finals.
The Wilson sportswear design team will continue to develop custom apparel for Kostyuk that mirrors the innovative quality available to consumers.
“Growing up in a tennis family, Wilson has always been a trusted staple in my game for as long as I can remember,” said Kostyuk. “It feels surreal to officially be playing and wearing Wilson; a partnership that I know will inspire and evolve, just as the game does.”
The partnership launches in tandem with Wilson’s latest tennis sportswear collection for both women and men, inspired by the first Major of the season.
Sir Andy Murray’s Cromlix hotel moves to self-management
Sir Andy Murray’s Cromlix hotel in Dunblane is moving to self-management next year to give the tennis star’s family more of a say in the running of the business.
Murray and his wife Kim bought the hotel in his hometown in 2013, and it has been run by Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) on their behalf for almost a decade.
It is understood the Murray family now want to take a more hands-on approach to managing the hotel.
From 3 January 2023 Cromlix closed for 3 months to upgrade and refurbish its 15 bedrooms, bathrooms, and communal areas, as well as improve its 34-acres of grounds with new landscaping and planting.
It has also welcomed 3 new senior appointments to its team, with Barry Makin joining as General Manager, Emily Shields named new Head of Sales and Marketing, and Neville Ablitt appointed as non-executive Director.
Makin was formerly General Manager at the Scotsman Hotel and Hotel Indigo in Edinburgh, and has extensive experience in the industry.
Shields was Senior Event Sales Manager at the Royal Yacht Britannia, and has held roles at Dundas Castle in Edinburgh, the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and the Dorchester in London.
She will be tasked with driving occupancy throughout the year and managing the relaunch of the property.
Ablitt has worked in the 5-star luxury hotel sector for over 3 decades, both in an executive and non-executive capacity.
Cromlix will reopen on 22 March, but its reservations team will be available in the interim to handle bookings and enquiries.