Michael Venus wins epic back-and-forth rally at the net as Kiwi wins opening ASB Classic doubles match

Michael Venus has rebounded at the ASB Classic to win his opening doubles match against fellow Kiwi Artem Sitak and Wesley Koolhof last night, although it wasn't smooth sailing.

Venus, who lost his first round singles match, and South African partner Raven Klaasen were forced to work for their win, taking the match 6-1 6-7 10-7.

Venus and Sitak have built a small rivalry at the Classic - Sitak drew first blood last year when the Kiwi pair had different partners but last night Venus managed to exact some revenge.

"Any time you're playing at home you want to play well and it's the same for both of us," Venus said post-match.

"Unfortunately one of us was going to be disappointed tonight and that was me last year.

"I'm excited to get the win tonight with Raven and start our partnership off like this."

After dropping the opening game, Venus and Klaasen roared back to win the opening set with three breaks and six consecutive games won.

However Sitak and Koolhof got their chance in the second set when they went up 3-1 after Venus double-faulted on break point.

Venus and Klaasen weren't done though, forcing a tiebreak to wrap up the second set, but it was all in vain with Sitak and Koolhof comfortably taking it out 7-2.

In the super tiebreak to decide the third set and match, Koolhof put a volley into the net at 7-7, giving Klaasen the opportunity to serve for the match with the next two points.

He did.

"We needed to refocus and at the start of the super tiebreak," Venus said.

"Raven really lifted me with good points to keep us in it and then we got over the line in the end."


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'I love playing in Auckland!' John Isner confirms entry for 2019 ASB Classic

Popular American tennis star John Isner has confirmed he's returning to Auckland for next year's ASB Classic but organisers are hopeful another top 10 player could join him.

Isner was confirmed today to make his eighth appearance at the tournament where he'll look to add to his 2010 and 2014 titles.

"I love playing in Auckland," he said.

"It's such a great place to play, the crowds are awesome and it's one of the best stops on the tour. It's where I won my first ATP title, and I'm looking forward to playing there again in 2019."

Tournament director Karl Budge said despite Isner's common turnout for the event, getting him back is still a big achievement.

"When you have guys like Isner coming back year on year, particularly off the back of the season that he has had…he is a man in demand now.

"For him to show his loyalty again to the ASB Classic shows just how well regarded the tournament is."

Budge also admitted he's aiming on bringing Juan Martin del Potro back to Auckland after getting the Argentine here at the start of the year.

"We spoke again on Monday," Budge told Radio Sport.

"He is a guy that doesn't make decisions at this time of year. Every year when I have been tournament director he has said no to me at this time.

"[But] in that November period once he is off tour, stopped playing and started to think about what [he] should do before Melbourne his views seem to change."

Women's star Venus Williams was confirmed for 2019 last month as well.

John Isner (USA)
John Isner. Source: Photosport


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US Open umpire who gave Nick Kyrgios pep talk gets two tournament ban

The chair umpire who climbed out of his seat to talk with Nick Kyrgios during a US Open match was suspended for two tournaments by the ATP.

Mohamed Lahyani will not officiate at his next two scheduled events — the China Open in Beijing, which starts on October 1, and the Shanghai Masters the following week, the men's tour said in a statement today.

The ATP says Layhani's actions during Kyrgios' second-round victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Flushing Meadows on August 30 were "deemed to have compromised the impartiality that is required of an official."

According to the statement, he is one of seven full-time ATP chair umpires.

As a full-time employee, he is subject to tour discipline, even though what he did came at the US Open, which is under the jurisdiction of the US Tennis Association.

Kyrgios, a 23-year-old Australian, did not appear to be putting forth much effort while dropping the first set and falling behind 3-0 in the second against Herbert.

During a changeover, Lahyani left his chair — a rare sight in Grand Slam tennis — to speak to Kyrgios, leaning with hands on knees while saying, "I want to help you."

The 30th-seeded Kyrgios wound up beating Herbert 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-0, then lost to Roger Federer in his next match.

Herbert said at the time he thought Lahyani should be sanctioned in some way.

"This was not his job," Herbert said. "I don't think he's a coach, he's an umpire, and he should stay on his chair for that."

Kyrgios, meanwhile, laughed at the idea that he had received coaching or a pep talk from Lahyani.

The next day, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Lahyani had gone "beyond our protocol," but would be allowed to continue to work matches during the US Open because of his "exemplary track record as an international tennis official."

Lahyani then was assigned to umpire doubles matches during that tournament.

"Mohamed is a world-class and highly respected official. However, his actions during the match crossed a line that compromised his own impartiality as a chair umpire," Gayle Bradshaw, ATP executive vice president of rules and competition, said in today's statement.

"Although well-intended, his actions were regrettable and cannot go without disciplinary action on our own Tour. We know that he will learn from this experience and we look forward to welcoming him back in October."

Lahyani will be able to resume umpiring at the Stockholm Open on October 15.

His suspension was first reported by The New York Times.


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Serena was wrong: New report disproves Williams' 'sexism' claims made during - and after - US Open final meltdown

Serena Williams' claims of sexism from tennis officials have been debunked in spectacular fashion, with an investigation from the New York Times finding that men are hit with nearly three times the amount of conduct violations as their female counterparts.

Williams, 36, a 23-time single grand slam champion, was given three separate code violations in last week's US Open final, resulting in Naomi Osaka being awarded a crucial point penalty which gifted her game seven of the second set, then an even more crucial game penalty to gift her the next game, and a 5-3 second set lead.

In a fiery on court scene, Williams protested that she was a victim of sexism, telling tournament referee Brian Earley, "there are men out here who do a lot worse than me, but because I'm a woman you are going to take this away from me?

"That is not right."

However, the New York Times report finds Williams' claims are well wide of the mark.

In the 20-year period between 1998 and 2018, men have accrued 1,517 separate code violations, while women feature incurred 535.

The only real exception comes in terms of players being cited for coaching, with women being given violations 152 times, compared to men's 87.

Williams' first code violation was for coaching, before also notching up citations for racket abuse, and verbal abuse, calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief".

As a result of her outburst, Williams was slapped with a fine of NZ $25,700. 

She claimed over $2m in prize money for being the runner-up.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her women's singles US Open finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Source: Getty


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'I just don't understand' - Serena Williams doubles down on claims of sexism in US Open final

Serena Williams is holding her ground on claims of sexism against chair umpire Carlos Ramos, following her explosive outburst at last week's US Open final defeat.

Williams, 36, a 23-time single grand slam champion, was given three separate code violations in her loss in the US Open final, resulting in Naomi Osaka being awarded a crucial point penalty which gifted her game seven of the second set, then an even more crucial game penalty to gift her the next game, and a 5-3 second set lead.

She would later add that the incident was sexist, and that male players are able to get away with worse on-court infringements.

Appearing on Australia's The Project, Williams spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal.

"I just don't understand … if you're a female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do," Williams said. 

Williams also hit back at Ramos' claims that she'd received coaching from trainer Patrick Mouratoglou - which he'd admitted to - denying her own involvement.

"He said he made a motion."

"I don't understand what he was talking about. We've never had signals."

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her women's singles US Open finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Source: Getty


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