Sydney – World number one Simona Halep and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will headline a strong field in the women’s draw of the Sydney International, organisers said on Monday.
Eight of the world’s top 10 have signed on for the January 6-12 event as they use it to warm up for the Australian Open Grand Slam the following week.
Also playing will be defending champion and Wimbledon winner Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens, and Daria Kasatkina.
The only two members of the top 10 not taking part are Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina.
Final sets played to advantage have long been part of tennis tradition, especially at Wimbledon. The most historic tennis of all is John Isner’s first-round, three-day, 70-68 in-the-fifth win in 2010 over Nicolas Mahut. Isner was crushed in his next match, as have been most of the winners in extra-long matches. But that isn’t usually a problem, because marathons rarely occur in the late stage of a tournament. Or they mostly didn’t, until this year.
The three non-tiebreaker Grand Slams produced 29 matches that went into overtime in 2018. Only four were in the late stages of the majors (including one women’s semi in Australia), which is fairly typical. But three were played by men at Wimbledon, which is unusual. They accounted for half of the tournament’s six extra-time mens’ matches: Kevin Anderson’s 13-11 upset of Federer in the quarterfinals, Novak Djokovic’s 10-8 win over Rafael Nadal in the semis, and Anderson’s 26-24 mastery of Isner in the other semi. In addition to the outsized role fatigue played in those matches, the schedule on site, as well as for broadcasters, was disrupted in a way that was unfair to Anderson as Djokovic and Nadal.
Thus Isner blew his chance to play a Wimbledon final, and while Anderson did not, the effort cost him four toenails (they fell off after the six-and-a-half hour match) as well as any chance to win against resurgent Novak Djokovic. Also, Wimbledon got stuck with a lousy final, and it was subject to a barrage of criticism, the opening salvos fired by Isner and Anderson soon after the completion of their epic match.
“If one person can’t finish the other off before 12-all, then do a tiebreaker there,” Isner said. “I think it’s long overdue.” Anderson was even more forceful. He said: “I personally don’t see the added value or benefit (to playing advantage sets) compared to, say, at the US Open where we’re playing tiebreaks in the fifth set.”
By the end of the tournament, Wimbledon officials were probably having second thoughts. Was it really worth it, staging mini-reprisals of that magical — and publicity generating — Isner-Mahut match? How long before the format produced another final like the 2009 edition, in which Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14? It was a great moment, but created with plenty of collateral damage.
Since the year 2000, the fifth set lasted for longer than 20 games in 28 men’s matches. Only once did the winner win his next round. And that’s really the problem with Wimbledon’s “12-all solution.” If you’re doing the math at home, 12-all equals 24 games. The survival rate is proven to be low.
During the latest Nintendo Direct presentation, it was announced that Mario Tennis Aces will receive an update that includes additional characters and the new Co-Op Challenge mode. The version 2 update is coming September 19.
As for the new characters, Birdo, Shy Guy, Koopa Paratroopa, and Petey Pirahna will join the roster of tennis aces. It was stated in the Direct that the these characters can be acquired by playing online, though it wasn’t clear what that meant. More content is scheduled to drop for Mario Tennis Aces until June 2019.
If you’re looking for new ways to play, Co-Op Challenge mode will bring up to four players together online to complete different objectives. Challenges are said to be limited-time and you can earn cosmetics such as outfits, character color schemes, and hats.
Mario Tennis Aces released back in June exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. In our review, author Justin Clark stated, “Off-beat stages and creative use of characters from the Marioverse ensure that you’ll never lose sight of simply having fun, but don’t let the adorable exterior trick you; Aces takes its unorthodox tennis very seriously.” You can also check out gameplay of Diddy Kong in Mario Tennis Aces from a previous update.
Birdo comes to Mario Tennis Aces next week as a playable character
The inimitable Birdo is heading to Mario Tennis Aces on Switch next week as a new playable character, and to celebrate Nintendo has released a trailer showcasing the glamour that’ll be coming to court as a result.
When Mario Tennis Aces debuted on Switch back in June, it featured an already sizeable line-up of familiar playable characters, plucked from all across the Mushroom Kingdom. However, their ranks have continue to swell post-launch, with regular content updates so far welcoming Blooper, Koopa Trooper, and Diddy Kong to the character roster.
That’s not the end of it though; Nintendo recently announced that a second batch of familiar faces are on the new way to Mario Tennis Aces over the next couple of months as part of the game’s Version 2 update. These include the aforementioned Birdo (categorised as an All-Round class character), Shy Guy, Koopa Paratroopa, and Petey Piranha .