Tennis News: De Minaur vows breakthrough is close, Italian accused of faking vax to play at AO, Serena’s ‘complicated’ return

    Borrowing a page from the playbook of four-time champion Andre Agassi, Alex de Minaur will spend Christmas Day pounding the pavement in pursuit of Australian Open glory.

    Believing it’s high time for he or Nick Kyrgios to bust the 47-year men’s home title hoodoo in Melbourne, de Minaur planned to hit the practice courts four days out from Australia’s United Cup opener against Great Britain on December 29-30.

    Agassi famously used to run up and down the mountains outside Las Vegas on Christmas Day until he threw up.

    But while that was in the cool of winter, de Minaur is upping the ante in the Sydney summer heat after flying in from his Spanish base of Alicante.

    “Back on the courts I grew up on,” said the world No.24.

    “Every year I normally tend to spend Christmas in Oz. Normally, more often than that, on the tennis court just getting extra reps in and this year I will be again.

    “As they say, no rest for the wicked. There’s nothing better than getting some good old-fashioned gains.”

    (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

    Not content with last-16 appearances at Melbourne Park and Wimbledon this year, the 2020 US Open quarter-finalist craves a deep, deep run at his home slam.

    The 23-year-old’s victory over former world No.1 Daniil Medvedev at the Paris Masters in November was a timely confidence booster entering the Australian summer.

    “I think I’m very close. My level’s there. It’s just a bit of self-belief that needs to happen for me to really cement myself right there,” de Minaur said.

    “So I’m going to do, as always, everything in my power and hopefully I can start off the year with a good run at the AO.

    “I want to get high in the rankings. My whole career has been a lot of going step by step so the next step is to really push for the top 15, top 10.

    “That’s what my real goals are.”

    Kyrgios will launch Australia’s United Cup campaign against British No.1 Cameron Norrie, the world No.14, in Sydney on Thursday night, before Zoe Hives plays Katie Swan in the first women’s rubber.

    The best-of-five-match tie resumes at Ken Rosewall Arena on Friday night, with Aussie women’s No.1 Ajla Tomljanovic playing Harriet Dart and de Minaur facing world No.27 Dan Evans in a testing start to the new season.

    If all locked up, a mixed doubles rubber will decide the tie.

    Australia then take on the Rafael Nadal-led Spanish outfit on January 2-3.

    That mouth-watering match-up will feature Kyrgios against Nadal, de Minaur against Pablo Carreno Busta and Tomljanovic against Paula Badosa.

    Italian accused of fake vaccination

    Italian WTA Tour professional Camila Giorgi is reportedly under investigation for allegedly obtaining fake documents to prove vaccination against COVID-19.

    Giorgi, who played in last year’s Australian Open, has been dragged into a wider investigation into the activities of an alleged ‘anti-vax’ doctor practising in Italy, according to a report from La Repubblica.

    Giorgi has been accused of obtaining a fake vaccination certificate, without getting the vaccine against coronavirus, from a doctor who is against the idea of vaccinations and wilfully provided multiple counterfeit certificates.

    The doctor’s client list reads as something of a who’s who of Italian celebrities and public figures.

    The media outlet claims Giorgi used the certificate to gain entry into countries on the WTA Tour that required vaccination against the virus – including Australia and the United States.

    In February, Alex de Minaur was named in reports out of Spain as being under investigation for obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

    However, de Minaur refuted those reports clearing up that he had spoken to authorities, but simply obtained a vaccination from a facility that came under investigation for issuing fake certificates.

    “Hi everyone. I wanted to write a quick message here to avoid any misunderstanding regarding a report that is in the Spanish media about my vaccination certificate,” de Minaur posted on Twitter.

    “I received my first dose of the vaccine in London last summer, and the second one at the Hospital La Paz in Madrid. News came out today that the hospital is under investigation for providing falsified Covid certificates to some of its patients.

    “I want to make it 100% clear that I received my second shot, that I have a completely valid, accurate and true vaccination record. Everyone around me, including my family, is fully vaccinated.

    “I am not ‘under investigation’ in any way as is being suggested and my name is connected to this story simply because I was a patient at the hospital (as many thousands of others were).”

    ‘She has to feel strong’

    Serena Williams’ ex-coach Patrick Mouratoglou says he can’t see Serena Williams having enough time to mount a serious comeback.

    Mouratoglou was her coach from 2012 as Williams enjoyed an incredible run in Grand Slam competitions.

    “Do I want to see her play? I want to see her play again,” he told Eurosport.

    “Yes, yes, if she enjoys herself on the court. For that, she has to feel strong. If she doesn’t feel strong, she won’t enjoy herself.

    “I want to see her play good tennis. If she can play good tennis, of course, I want to see her play. Everyone wants to see her play!”

    He believes Williams will only return to playing the game if she can give it her absolute all but fears extrernal commitments mean she will be too busy.

    “I think to be exceptional at something, and God knows she’s been exceptional, you have to be a little bit obsessive about it.

    (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

    “You have to be 100% focused on the activity, otherwise even for tennis geniuses, it’s complicated.”

    Willimas won her last Grand Slam title in 2017 when pregnant and wasn’t able to produce the same results from there on.

    “I think if she’s happy at the end of her career, that’s all that matters because nobody will remember the end of her career.

    “You remember it now because it’s fresh, but everyone will remember what a champion she was, all the Grand Slams she won, the things she brought to tennis and how she made history. The end of her career is an anecdote.”

    She played four more Grand Slam finals after that 2017 AO win over her sister Venus – losing the championship matches at 2018 and 2019 Wimbledon and the US Open tournaments.

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