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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rod Laver Arena - Australian Open and Thanasi Kokkinakis celebrating !

Some celebrate too wildly  ~ and become news !

Rod Laver Arena is a stadium that is part of the National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park,  Victoria, Australia.  The arena was finished in 1988 with a seating capacity of 15,000. The venue currently attracts over 1.5 million visitors per year.  The arena features a retractable roof allowing competitors to continue play during rain or extreme heat.  It is named after Rod Laver. Rodney George "Rod" Laver MBE  is an Australian former professional tennis player who holds the record for most singles titles won in the history of tennis, with 200 career titles. He was ranked World No. 1 for seven consecutive years, from 1964 to 1970.   He is the only tennis player to have won the Grand Slam (all four major singles titles in the same year) twice, in 1962 and 1969.

It is the Australian Open, a major Tournament (part of Grand slam) held annually over the last fortnight of January in Melbourne, Australia. First held in 1905, the tournament is chronologically the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events of the year – the other three being the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. It features men's and women's singles; men's, women's, and mixed doubles and junior's championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events. The Australian Open typically has very high attendance, second only to the US Open.  Because of Australia's geographic remoteness very few foreign players entered this tournament in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, the trip by ship from Europe to Australia took about 45 days.

It was a day of high drama for the top female tennis players at the Australian Open, with eight of the top seeds losing, another vomiting on court before eventually winning, and a former champion announcing that she was pregnant.  Retired two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na has announced she is expecting her first child. Li Na, who won the title at the Australian Open in 2014 and then walked away from the game in September due to chronic injuries, made the announcement during an on-court ceremony before the night session at Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

On day 1, some made their mark clearly visible - Australian teenagers Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis were clad in fluorescent green, head to toe - socks included. Thanasi Kokkinakis is an Australian professional tennis player of Greek descent. Kokkinakis began playing tennis when he was eight years old. As of 5 January 2015 he is ranked World No. 149 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).  The teenager came of age, combining skill and belief to win the first five-set match of his career against 11th seed Ernests Gulbis.  On  paper, a contest pitting the 11th seed and last year’s Roland Garros semifinalist against a teenage wildcard ranked 147th appeared more of a mis-match than a match.   

Thanasi Kokkinakis showed he had the mental fortitude and competitive instincts to match his impressive serving and shot-making talents, saving four match points in the fourth set before ousting Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis 5-7 6-0 1-6 7-6(2) 8-6 in a four-hour epic played in front of an ecstatic crowd on Show Court 3.    For a while now, mention of Kokkinakis has frequently been in the same breath as Nick Kyrgios, a compatriot 12 months his senior. Together, they form the “Special Ks”, a duo widely regarded as Australia’s hottest tennis prospects, and a pair on track for tennis superstardom. Last year at Wimbledon, Kyrgios produced his breakout performance against 13th seed Richard Gasquet, saving several match points – to record a famous upset.

After the win, Thanasi,  ran a lap of the court to high-five his fans after that incredible five-set victory 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6, he celebrated wildly and stunned the  crowd with a quick head-stand.  Nick Kyrgios took out a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 win over Argentine Federirco Delbonis.  The young Aussie dedicated his win to his grandmother who passed away in 2014.  Kyrgios recently tattooed '74' on his finger, his grandmother's age, to pay tribute to her.

Stanislas Wawrinka the  Swiss professional, currently  Swiss No. 2 and World No. 4,  is the defending champion.  He climbed to his highest ranking so far, No. 3, on 27 January 2014 as a result of winning his first Grand Slam event, the 2014 Australian Open. He also reached the semifinals of the 2013 US Open where he lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets. Wawrinka began his ninth season on the ATP World Tour with a win at the Chennai Open in India recently, winning this tournament for the second time in his career, defeating Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final in straight sets.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Jan 2015.

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