Nadal in ominous early form at Aussie Tennis Open, Kygrios also through

Rafael Nadal has dispelled any fitness concerns with a commanding first-round Australian Open win over Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos.

Nadal, who lost last year's final at Melbourne Park to Roger Federer, cruised past the veteran world No.79 for the loss of just three games, marching to a 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory in just 94 minutes.

The Spaniard moved freely on his troublesome knee - which restricted his Open preparations and kept the 16-times grand slam champion to just one non-rankings match at the Kooyong Classic - this season.

Nadal pulled out of the Brisbane International saying his training was slightly behind schedule after aggravating an injury during November's ATP Finals in London.

But any doubts over his fitness were allayed by his impressive court coverage while his trademark groundstrokes were on song.

"This is a very important beginning for me. It was a good start," Nadal said.

"If I do months without playing official match it's always a little bit more difficult.

"But I started with positive feelings. That's the most important thing for me now.

"The things that I need to improve, the matches will give me that, no? (So) victories are the most important thing now."

The high point of the match for Estrella Burgess came in a marathon sixth game of the second set when the 37-year-old broke Nadal with his sixth break point.

That brought a standing ovation from the packed Rod Laver Arena crowd but the rest of the match was one-way traffic.

He only hit two aces but a quarter of his serves didn't come back.

Nadal also dominated regular play, making just 18 unforced errors for the match.

With the benefit of a favourable draw, Nadal has been heavily backed to go one better than last year's all-time classic final loss to Federer.

But he said he was not thinking of his favouritism or motivated by the chance to return to the final.

"I am not thinking all day, 'Oh, how good I am, I'm No. 1 of the world," Nadal said.

"I just think about trying to be ready for the next tournament, for the next practice.

"That motivates me. Every day for me is a good motivation to go on court in front of a great crowd here in Australia, in Rod Laver Arena."

Nadal will next face Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday after the Argentine overcame Chilean Nicolas Jarry 6-2 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal. Source: Getty


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US Open umpire Carlos Ramos breaks silence over Serena Williams controversy

The chair umpire who penalised Serena Williams in the US Open final has spoken publicly for the first time since the match, saying he is "fine."

Ramos, who is from Portugal, spoke briefly to Portuguese newspaper Tribuna Expresso this week.

"I'm fine, given the circumstances," Ramos said, according to the newspaper. "It's a delicate situation, but umpiring 'a la carte' doesn't exist. Don't worry about me."

The newspaper said Ramos received hundreds of messages of support from family, colleagues, players and former players.

He said he has avoided social media and only reads "balanced" articles about the incident. He also refrained from going out the day after the final to avoid problems, according to the report.

The International Tennis Federation has defended Ramos for his actions during the final. The US Open fined Williams for her three code violations.

The WTA later called for equal treatment of all tennis players and coaching to be allowed across the sport.

Ramos has been assigned to officiate the Davis Cup semifinal matches between the United States and Croatia, a best-of-five series which begins Friday and ends Sunday in Zadar, Croatia.

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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'Welcome to PC World' - Aussie newspaper defends cartoonist after controversial Serena Williams depiction

An Australian newspaper has defended their own cartoonist who has been caught up in controversy, after he was slammed for his depiction of Serena Williams yesterday, following her outburst during the US Open final.

The Herald Sun defended the drawing of their artist Mark Knight, which had Williams leaping over her broken racket with a baby's dummy next to it.

The image outraged many members of the public, with people taking to social media criticising the animation - saying it was racist and had sexist stereotypes.

But the Australian paper leapt to the defence of their cartoonist, publishing images of past illustrations by Knight with the headline "Welcome to PC World."

The Herald Sun wrote, "If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very dull indeed".

Mr Knight's drawing which was published on Monday, was in response to her outburst in the US Open final on Sunday, which had the umpire asking Naomi Osaka of Japan, "Can you just let her win?"

British author J.K. Rowling was among those critical of the piece, saying Mr Knight had reduced Ms Williams to a "racist and sexist trope".

Mr Knight yesterday responded to the widespread criticism, saying he had simply drawn Ms Williams as he saw her.

"I drew her as an African-American woman ... She's powerfully built, she wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis - she's interesting to draw," Mr Knight said.

"I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.

"I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy.

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"That's what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court."

The Herald Sun's editor Damon Johnston backed the illustration of Mr Knight and said in a Tweet: "@knightcartoons cartoon is not racist or sexist .... it rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend ... Mark has the full support of everyone @theheraldsun."

Front page of Herald Sun defends cartoonist Mark Knight after controversial Serena Williams animation.
Front page of Herald Sun defends cartoonist Mark Knight after controversial Serena Williams animation. Source: Herald Sun


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Martina Navratilova slams Serena Williams' US Open outburst saying she should consider 'what is the right way to behave?'

Tennis great Martina Navratilova has come out in criticism of Serena Williams, following her outburst in Sunday's US Open final.

Williams, 36, was given three separate code violations in her loss in New York, 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.

After the point penalty, Williams unleashed a furious outburst towards the match officials, delaying play for several minutes, culminating in her calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief".

Williams quickly stated that sexism was the reason for her punishment, claiming that male players get away with much worse.

Writing in the New York Times, Navratilova - an 18-time Grand Slam winner herself - pointed out the flaws in Williams' argument.

"We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with," she wrote.

"There have been many times when I was playing that I wanted to break my racket into a thousand pieces. Then I thought about the kids watching. And I grudgingly held on to that racket."

Navratilova added that she agreed that there is a double standard involving officiating between men's and women's matches, before also stating that:

"I don't believe it's a good idea to apply a standard of 'If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.'

"Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honour our sport and to respect our opponents?"

Williams was fined over $25,000 for her role in the controversy.

Serena Williams, right, talks with referee Brian Earley during the women's final of the U.S. Open
Serena Williams, right, talks with referee Brian Earley during the women's final of the U.S. Open Source: Associated Press


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Australian cartoonist accused of racism after Serena Williams tantrum depiction

An Australian cartoonist is being accused of racism, following his depiction of Serena Williams' US Open meltdown.

Williams, 36, a 23-time single grand slam champion, was given three separate code violations in her loss in Sunday'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.

After the point penalty, Williams unleashed a furious outburst towards the match officials, delaying play for several minutes, culminating in her calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief".

In a cartoon in Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, cartoonist Mark Knight depicted Williams as throwing a tantrum, including a spat out dummy on the ground next to a destroyed racket.

In the background, a depiction of Ramos can be seen asking a characterisation of Osaka saying 'Can you just let her win?'

The cartoon itself though, is being labelled racist by many critics, including author JK Rowling.

"Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop," Rowling tweeted.

Knight responded though, tweeting back, referring to a similar cartoon from earlier in the tournament showing Nick Kyrgios saying:

"Don't bring gender into it when it's all about behavior." 

Cartoonist Mark Knight's depiction of Serena Williams' US Open meltdown
Cartoonist Mark Knight's depiction of Serena Williams' US Open meltdown Source: Herald Sun


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