Simona Halep fights pain and sleeplessness to ease past Naomi Osaka into Melbourne quarter-finals

Karan Dewan 22/01/2018
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Simona Halep said she was close to playing “100 per cent” despite her aching body giving her sleepless nights as she reached the Australian Open last eight Monday.

Halep has spent a shade under eight hours on court in four matches so far, including an epic 3hr 44min against Lauren Davis on Saturday which the Romanian won 15-13 in the final set.

“First day after the (Davis) match was pretty OK,” the top seed told reporters after a 6-3, 6-2 victory over unseeded Naomi Osaka of Japan in 81 minutes.

“Last night was really tough. I couldn’t sleep. I had pain everywhere.

“But I slept before the match two hours, and worked perfect, perfect hours. I was, like, fresh after that. I felt good.”

Halep, who last made it this far in 2015, said she had more confidence in her troublesome ankle that she rolled in her first-round match.

Simona Halep celebrates winning her match against Naomi Osaka.

Simona Halep celebrates winning her match against Naomi Osaka.

“Ankle is still sore. But, you know, I’m not thinking about that any more,” she said. “I saw that I can win matches with it.

“Maybe I get used to the pain and I’m not thinking that much that something can happen. Just taking every point.

“I’m trying to play 100 percent, which I was close today, to run normal and to run a lot. But I still feel it. It’s there, but I can handle it.”

The big-hitting Osaka had her chances, notably in the fifth game of the first set when she squandered five break points on the Halep serve.

The Romanian compounded Osaka’s disappointment immediately with a break of her own and said it was a turning point.

“Yeah, after I took that game and those points, I felt more confident. I felt that now I can push the pedal and just go through the match,” she said.

Halep served out to take the set in 42 minutes and immediately broke the Japanese player again to start the second.Ā 

The players matched each other with 22 winners apiece but Osaka’s 31 unforced errors ultimately proved her downfall against the consistent Halep.

The top seed is guaranteed to meet a Czech opponent for a place in the semi-finals, either sixth seed Karolina Pliskova or Barbora Strycova, the 20th seed.

“Well, both of them are very tough. Even if I played with big hitters this tournament, Pliskova is always dangerous. She’s playing great these days,” said Halep.

“With Strycova, I played a few times. Was tough because I have to run a lot.

“So I’m looking forward to playing the quarter-finals again,” said Halep who reached the same stage in 2014 and 2015.

“Third time lucky, maybe.”ā€‹

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Roger Federer 'excited' to see if Nick Kyrgios keeps up his good form in 2018

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Roger Federer is “excited” to see what’s in store for Nick Kyrgios this year, and whether the young Aussie will be able to back up his early-season good form throughout 2018.

Kyrgios bowed out of the Australian Open last-16 in four close sets to Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday night, in a thrilling showdown that lived up to expectations.

“I enjoyed the match last night. I watched it all. It was close. I thought that Nick was serving unbelievable again, and Grigor was doing an unbelievable job of staying with him. He was playing very well. I was impressed at Grigor’s grit of staying in there with him for as long as he did,” Federer told reporters on Monday following his straight-sets win over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

“It was a tough match, and, sure, we can expect more. But, you know, now we’ll see what happens. Davis Cup is next for him, so, yeah. It’s not one match or one week. It’s every week of the year. I’m excited to see what’s next for Nick now.”

Kyrgios has shown signs of maturity recently, and looks to have found passion and motivation for a sport he often struggles to connect with. But the 22-year-old remains without a coach and told the press on Sunday that he is enjoying the freedom of not having someone guiding him and isn’t looking to hire a mentor anytime soon.

Federer feels hiring a coach would be beneficial to Kyrgios.

“I didn’t have a coach for only about a year and a half. Maybe not even after I split up with Peter Lundgren, I believe, back at end of 2003. Had a trial with Tony Roche in September of ’04, I remember,” said Federer, a 19-time Grand Slam champion.

“I think at one point it’s good to have coaches, you know, to be honest, because they remind you day by day the little things if that’s what you’re looking at. Other guys do an entire organisation for you. Some guys are really there to inspire you and motivate you. Everybody needs different type of coaching, you know. That can come from any angle. Doesn’t almost necessarily need to be a tennis coach, per se.

“But I’m sure Nick has got some people in his team that where he gets what he needs for the matches to be honest.”

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Kyle Edmund unlocking his fun side has been key to his progress, says his coach Fredrik Rosengren

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Bringing out the fun side of Kyle Edmund has been key to his Australian Open breakthrough, according to coach Fredrik Rosengren.

The veteran Swede began working with Edmund last autumn and in their first grand slam together the 23-year-old has reached his maiden quarter-final.

He will take on third seed Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday, and anyone who has not seen Edmund play for a few months may be taken aback by the Yorkshireman’s new demonstrative nature.

Naturally an introvert, Edmund is learning to embrace the gladiatorial nature of professional tennis, with impressive results.

Rosengren said: “I always believe it has to be fun out there, you have to enjoy the challenge, it’s not always about winning or losing. Sometimes you can be part of a great match but you lost.

“So we talked about it a lot, but at the same time he can’t (pump his fist) because I told him to. It has to come from his heart. I’m very happy to see that he’s happy out there and is not afraid of showing his emotions. I 100 per cent believe it helps him in his game.”

Rosengren’s emotions are always evident, with the 57-year-old – who is known as Fidde – a live-wire presence in the stands.

Kyle Edmund during a practice session with coach Fredrik Rosengren.

Kyle Edmund during a practice session with coach Fredrik Rosengren.

“I’ve been sitting there for 30 years,” said Rosengren, who has coached five top-10 players, including Swedes Robin Soderling and Magnus Norman.

“I’m always into it because I love my work. This is the party time. I have worked with so many great players and so many great characters and this makes my job so fantastic. It makes me jump off the bed every morning to have the privilege to work with different kinds of people.

“And if I can improve Kyle as a person also, then it’s almost even better because he has a life afterwards.”

Edmund made steady progress up the senior rankings after a fine junior career but trod water in his results in 2017 and split from previous coach Ryan Jones before Wimbledon.

He trialled Rosengren and British coach Mark Hilton, who had guided Dan Evans into the top 50 prior to his doping suspension, before deciding to hire them both.

The priority during the off-season was changing Edmund’s serve, which had not been as big a weapon as it should have been, and harnessing the power of his forehand.

Asked for his first observations of Edmund, Rosengren said: “That’s a a hell of a forehand, one of the best forehands out there, but at the same time you have to use the forehand right. For me it was a little bit like Kyle learning to take the right club out of the bag. Sometimes he used the driver on the putting green.

“One main thing I saw was his service level was very up and down so we said we have to try to change the serve. I think everyone who has been watching him the last weeks can see how he raised his serve level. I’m very happy, and also that Kyle wanted to change.”

The other thing holding Edmund back was his failure to win close matches. In 2017, he played 25 deciding sets and won only seven of them. This season already he has won four out of five.

The victory over US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in round one in Melbourne, the biggest scalp of his career, leaps out but Rosengren has been even more impressed with his following three wins against Denis Istomin, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andreas Seppi.

He said: “Everybody told me about this. You have to take away the pressure. I’ve been amazingly happy. He showed me so much courage and it’s so great to see. I tried to tell him, ‘stay on the court, enjoy the moment’, so he really feels like he’s a great player, because he is a great player.”

The one deciding set Edmund has lost this season came against Dimitrov in Brisbane, when he matched the Bulgarian before turning his ankle late on. Their other previous meeting in Washington last summer also went the distance. ā€‹

* Provided by Press Association Sport

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