Australian Open to introduce shot clock

The 2018 Australian Open will be the first grand slam to use the controversial shot clock in January.

The clock, which counts down 25 seconds from the end of the point in which time the player has to serve, was successfully trialled at the recent Next Gen ATP Finals. 

The clock is visible courtside, allowing players to monitor the remaining time. The chair umpire will have control over when to start the countdown, allowing for some leeway after a long point. 

It’s inclusion is not supported by everyone, with world number one Rafael Nadal already having expressed his opinion.

"You cannot expect to play 50 shot rallies and in 25 seconds be ready to play the next tennis point," the Spaniard told Eurosport in August. 

"I think that's not possible for a great show. But if you don't want a great show, of course it's a great improvement."

Former Wimbledon champion Novotna dies

Jana Novotna, who won the won the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles title in 1998, has passed away following a long battle with cancer.

The 49-year-old Czech "died peacefully, surrounded by her family", according to the Women's Tennis Association.

Novotna's Wimbledon victory came after she lost two previous finals at the All-England Club in 1993 and 1997.

She famously captured the hearts of fans after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and being consoled by the Duchess of Kent.

In all, Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.

"It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, the former WTA World No.1 doubles and No.2 singles champion. After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49," read a statement on the WTA website.

"Known for her brilliant, athletic game, Novotna won 24 WTA singles titles in 14 years on the professional women's circuit, along with 76 doubles titles.

"Having reached the Wimbledon singles final twice previously, she famously defeated the Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to win the title in 1998. Altogether, she won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles. She was a three-time Olympic medallist and a member of her country's victorious Fed Cup championship team in 1988.

"Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, her career successes made Jana Novotna an inspiration to those who knew her and to many up and coming WTA players on the professional women's tennis circuit. In more recent years, she made the transition into professional coaching."

Steve Simon, WTA CEO, said: "Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her. Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the WTA. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family."

After losses to Graf in '93 and Martina Hingis in '97 in two Wimbledon finals, Novotna finally claimed a deserved win over Nathalie Tauziat to clinch the title that eluded her for so long, having also defeated Hingis in the semi-finals.

Goffin stuns Federer in London

David Goffin battled back from a set down to defeat Roger Federer in their semi-final match-up at the ATP Finals in London on Saturday.

The Belgian World No 7 secured a surprise 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory after one hours and 47 minutes, and will face the winner of the evening match between Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock in Sunday's final at the O2 Arena.

Federer entered the match as the strong favourite on the back of three straight wins in the group stages, and looked to be in cruise control after racing into a one-set lead courtesy of two early breaks.

But Goffin was able to lift his level in the second set, nearly halving his unforced error rate to put his opponent under pressure.

A single break in each of the last two sets was enough to see Goffin claim the big win. 

Federer was starved of opportunities and given just one break point chance of his own in each set, but failed to convert either of them, as Goffin stayed rock solid on serve.

"I have no words. I cannot describe how I'm feeling. So much joy, so much happiness," said the Belgian.

"Honestly, I don't know [what worked]. I think it was just the feeling of the day. I was a little bit nervous when I started the match but I started to feel the ball really well. The serve was there right to the end. It was my day."

Goffin will now have the opportunity to claim the ATP Finals crown on his debut in the competition. While he played as an alternate for Gael Monfils in 2016, this was the first year he qualified outright.

As for Federer, his season comes to an end. It was still an incredibly successful year for the Swiss, who claimed Grand Slam victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and finished with a total 52 wins and just five losses.

Burn-out responsible for Konta slump

Johanna Konta admits that she suffered burn-out at the end of her breakthrough season and that culminated in her missing out on the WTA Finals.

Konta failed to qualify for October’s finals, in Singapore after losing four successive matches - starting with a first round elimination at the US Open.

The British player had reached the Wimbledon semi-finals and won the Miami Open, yet as she reflects on her season, the 26-year-old believes she simply ran out of steam.

“There's always going to be multiple factors and I think it was combination of burning out a little bit and not finding the right balance of rest and training,' she told the Daily Mail.

“It's always an accumulation of things - this was a season when I experienced a lot of things I hadn't done before.

“It was my first season starting as a top 10 player and with that comes more responsibility and more strains on your time and that's an adaptation process for anyone. I felt I did the best I could and next season I will try and do better with handling everything.

“It was the first time I had really gone through something like that and I don't want to read into it anything more than I have to. It's a great thing from me to learn from.

“I'm trying to take my whole season as a whole, looking at the good and the difficult periods.”

 

Murray and Lendl split for a second time

Andy Murray has confirmed that he has split with coach Ivan Lendl for a second time.

Lendl first teamed up with Murray back in 2012 and the duo enjoyed a successful working relationship, with the British player winning Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympic gold.

The former world number one returned to Murray’s team in 2016 and they immediately resumed their successful partnership after sealing a second Wimbledon title.

But as Murray plots his return from injury in 2018, the 30-year-old has confirmed that he will not have Lendl by his side when he makes his comeback.

"I'm thankful to Ivan for his help and guidance over the years," Murray said.

"We've had great success and learned a lot as a team. My focus now is on getting ready for Australia with the team I have in place and getting back to competing."

Eight-time Grand Slam winner Lendl added: "I wish Andy well going forward. We had a great run and a lot of fun."

Murray has been out of action with a hip problem since his quarter final defeat at Wimbledon in July, but he is aiming to return at January’s Brisbane International - the warm-up tournament for the Australian Open.

 

Goffin completes semi-final line-up in London

Belgium's David Goffin secured the final place in the semi-finals for the season-ending ATP Finals after dispatching Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Friday.

With Roger Federer, Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov having already secured their places in the last four in London, it was left to the match between Goffin and Thiem to complete the semi-final line-up.

Both players came into the match on the back of one win and one loss, and while many anticipated a potentially tight and thrilling battle, Goffin's victory turned out to be a fairly straightforward one.

The Belgian World No 8 had the measure of the World No 4 from Austria, racing to a comprehensive 6-4, 6-1 win in just 72 minutes.

The result was made all the more surprising by the fact that it was Thiem who started the strongest of the two.

The Austrian looked to be in total control of the match after an early break to love saw him race into a 3-0 lead.

But Goffin returned the favour with a break of his own in the fifth game to get back on level terms, and he never really looked back from there.

Another break followed in Thiem's next service game as Goffin turned a 0-3 deficit into a 4-3 lead.

He held on to serve out the set from there, and then put himself on the brink of victory with two more breaks in the second set for a 4-1 lead.

Thiem fought bravely during a marathon sixth game, earning four break points and taking Goffin to deuce no less than eight times as he tried his utmost to get at least one break back and put some pressure on his opponent.

But Goffin proved equal to everything his opponent threw at him, and when he managed to hold serve after all that pressure, Thiem's resistance finally faded. 

Another break followed for Goffin in the next game as he wrapped up the match and advanced to the last four.

Saturday's semi-final action in London sees Goffin take on Federer, while Sock faces Dimitrov.

Justice for Nadal after doping accusation

World number one Rafael Nadal successfully sued the former French Sports Minister for accusing him of doping.

In a television interview in 2016, Roselyne Bachelot said the Spaniard’s extended break from tennis in 2012 was to cover up a doping ban. 

After appearing in court with Nadal’s lawyers, Bachelot has now been ordered to pay $14 000 in damages by a Paris court. Nadal revealed on Facebook that the money will be donated to charity. 

"As you can see in the media, today is a happy day for me, my team and my fans," wrote the 32-year-old.

"The French justice has resolved the case in favour of my honesty and integrity as a sports player. I want to thank all of you who believed in me. As I said before, the money from the fine will be donated to a French NGO."

Nadal recently withdrew from the year-end ATP World Tour Finals after just one game due to a knee injury.

Sock seals place in ATP Finals semis

Jack Sock will face Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals after a “rollercoaster” win over third seed Alexander Zverev.

Sock triumphed 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to clinch second place in the Boris Becker Group, ahead of Germany’s Zverev.

The American had been unfancied before the start of the tournament after only securing his spot with a win at the Paris Masters, yet he proved too strong for hot prospect Zverev in an absorbing contest at London’s O2 Arena.

"That was a rollercoaster match," said Sock.

"He played well in the second, I didn't have the hottest start in the third, but I kept in there and kept fighting."

Sock’s strategy of slicing his backhands drew errors from Zverev in the first set and saw him go in front.

However, the 20-year-old fought back in the second with an early break and comfortably levelled the match at 1-1.

The third set was a topsy-turvy affair - Zverev fighting back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4, while Sock was docked a point for firing a ball into the stands for a second time.

But Sock then composed himself and took the next two games to extend his run in the tournament.

"Sometimes you have to let it [the frustration] out, blow it off and keep playing," added Sock.