Karolina Pliskova calls for cancellation of late night matches at the Australian Open

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Dejected sixth seed Karolina Pliskova said Australian Open organisers should do away with late-night/early morning matches after crashing out in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Pliskova was trampled 6-3, 6-2 by world number one Simona Halep in a match that started just before 4:00 pm Wednesday.

She complained about her fourth-round match with fellow Czech Barbora Strycova.

That had started with dwindling spectator numbers at around 11:00 pm Monday and stretched to three sets and 2hr 41min until nearly 2:00 am Tuesday.

“I think just these late night matches they should cancel,” Pliskova told reporters after her 71-minute drubbing on Rod Laver Arena Wednesday.

“I went to sleep at seven in the morning yesterday,” lamented the world number six.

By then her quarter-final opponent Halep had been tucked up in bed all night, having played her match against Naomi Osaka in the afternoon.

“I put alarm at 12 (noon), just to try to have a normal day,” Pliskova said.

“I went to hit. Overall after was fine. But still it changed a little bit. Today was a day match. It’s completely different. Every match for me was different.”

This year had already seen a new record for the latest start to a match at the Australian Open when Daria Gavrilova’s second-round match against Elise Mertens began 11:59 pm.

Pliskova’s three-setter, however, finished early compared to the all-time record.

The latest end to a match at any Grand Slam was at Melbourne Park in 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis finished a five-setter at 4:33 am.

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Simona Halep expecting 'marathon' semi-final against Angelique Kerber after blitzing Karolina Pliskova

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World number one Simona Halep expects a “marathon” in her Australian Open semi-final against Angelique Kerber after blitzing sixth seed Karolina Pliskova in their Australian Open quarter-final on Wednesday.

The Romanian overcame a shaky start to reel off nine games in a row and 12 of the last 14 games to recover from 0-3 en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The match was over in 71 minutes – a stark contrast to her third-round victory over Lauren Davis of the US.

That lasted 3hr 44min with Halep winning 15-13 in the final set after saving three match points.

“For sure is going to be a second marathon this tournament,” said Halep looking ahead to the semi.

She has played the German 2016 Australian Open champion eight times with the series level at 4-4.

“But I’m used to that. I know her pretty well. She likes it here. But I started to like this tournament, after two years in a row losing in the first round,” added Halep, who is in the last four at Melbourne Park for the first time.

The Romanian had taken three sets to beat Pliskova in their previous meeting, a semi-final at Roland Garros last year, and started shakily, struggling to time her serve or groundstrokes.

But once she saved a break point at 0-3 to get on the scoreboard, her confidence grew against an opponent who has never gone beyond the last eight in Melbourne.

“For sure it wasn’t my best start but I knew I had to restart after three games to stop missing and move better,” said Halep, whose relentless chasing and powerful groundstrokes overwhelmed her taller, tattooed opponent.

“I started to open the court and play my style, and I served well today. Everything went pretty much my way.”

She added that she was more confident about the injured ankle she has nursed throughout the tournament.

“I was just worried about how is going to be the next day, the ankle,” she said. “But was pretty strong. After this I will take care better of it.”

Pliskova was the top-rated server on the WTA Tour in 2017 but it took her until the sixth game of the second set to record her first ace.

“My serve is not that effective on her,” said the world number six, who has never got past the quarter-final stage in a Grand Slam.

“She returns pretty well. She’s strong on the backhand side. I try to play fast, but I think she likes this. She just use my speed. Then in the end, I’m the one who is running.”

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Tennys Sandgren lashes out at "dehumanising" media over alt-right claims

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Newly-minted star Tennys Sandgren lashed out at the “dehumanising” media Wednesday after wiping his Twitter account following a backlash over his political views and links to right-wing activists.

The unheralded American, a devout Christian, came from nowhere to make the Australian Open quarter-finals, where he crashed out to South Korea’s Chung Hyeon in three sets.

His deep run at the tournament sparked scrutiny of his life, including his political stance and his seeming support of the alt-right movement in the United States.

Among his tweets was one where Sandgren appeared to back a debunked online conspiracy in 2016 which linked Hillary Clinton to a supposed child sex abuse ring at a Washington pizzeria.

He also retweeted a video from white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes.

After facing an online backlash, he decided to wipe the slate clean, deleting years of social media postings.

After his match with Chung, he read a pre-prepared, sermon-like, statement at his post-match press conference that left a stunned silence.

“You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change, and grow,” he said.

“You dehumanise with pen and paper and turn neighbour against neighbour.

“In so doing, you may actually find you’re hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.”

He added that he treated everyone as equals and accused the media of “stripping away any individuality for the sake of demonising by way of the collective”.

“It’s my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to Him and Him alone,” he added.

Sandgren, from Gallatin in Tennessee, refused to take any questions on the subject but in an interview with broadcaster ESPN said that “some things are being said about me that are untrue and not particularly fair”.
In a bid to douse the fire, he deleted all his tweets.

“It’s not something I’m really embarrassed about, but I just felt like creating a cleaner start is not a bad call. I thought it wouldn’t be a bad way to move forward,” he said.

Sandgren’s had earlier denied that he supported far-right figures and said who he followed on Twitter “doesn’t matter”.

“I don’t. I don’t (support them). I find some of the content interesting,” he said of the controversial figures.

“But no, I don’t, not at all. As a firm Christian, I don’t support things like that, no. I support Christ and following him.”

Sandgren, from Gallatin in Tennessee, is only the second man in the last 20 years to make the Australian Open quarter-finals on his debut.

Amazingly, the 26-year-old missed out on qualifying in the last four years to reach the main draw in Melbourne.

Despite falling to Chung, he conquered former winner Stan Wawrinka and fifth seed Dominic Thiem along the way to announce himself as a player to watch.

In the wake of the controversy and his tennis exploits, he said he planned to go home and “turn off my phone”.

“This has been a lot of information to digest in the last few weeks. So I need to take ample time to do so, so I can move forward correctly,” he said.

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