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Gonzalez is hot Chilean, whatever the final result at Australian Open

Gonzalez is hot Chilean, whatever the final result at Australian Open

Win or lose against Roger Federer on Sunday, Fernando Gonzalez will return to Chile next week a sporting hero.
Gonzalez, dubbed the "Red Hot Chilean" by local media during his run at the Australian Open, is the first player from his country to contest a Grand Slam final since Marcelo Rios in 1998.
His Australian matches have been shown live on television in Chile, and the home town attention will intensify. His next tournament is the Movistar Open in Vina del Mar, followed by a home ground Davis Cup match against defending champion Russia.
"I am really happy at this moment," Gonzalez said after trouncing Germany's Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in Friday's semifinal. "I am going to play my first Grand Slam final, and next week I play at home again and then we have Davis Cup. So I have to do well tomorrow and the next few weeks."
Gonzalez said he still remembers waking early to watch Rios play Petr Korda in the '98 Australian Open final. He said that like many Chileans, he was shattered when Korda, whose career disintegrated soon afterward following a drug scandal, beat Rios in straight sets.
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COACH WANTED, AGAIN: Scott Draper has confirmed he is returning to his golf career, after turning down an offer from Lleyton Hewitt to become the Australian player's fulltime coach.
Draper, Hewitt's former Davis Cup teammate and now an aspiring golf professional, joined Hewitt for the Australian Open after longtime coach Roger Rasheed quit two weeks before the tournament began.
Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam titlist who lost to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in the third round, was disappointed Draper turned down the job.
"Lleyton was really hoping that I'd say yes," Draper said. "Despite being disappointed, he completely understood and was very positive about my decision."
Draper said former No. 1 Hewitt, who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, was still considering his next move.
"We spoke about his future plans and he is unsure at the moment," Draper said. "He has a lot to think about."
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ALL IN THE FAMILY: Cara Black, who won the Australian Open doubles title with Liezel Huber on Friday, is one of three tennis-playing siblings who drew their inspiration and training from their father and coach, Don.
Cara Black has five Grand Slam titles, including two mixed championships with brother Wayne. Another brother, Byron, won 22 career doubles titles, including the 1994 French Open, and played Davis Cup with Wayne for Zimbabwe.
Don Black, who died in October 2000, built four grass courts in the family's backyard avocado farm. Cara Black said Friday that her father, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 1953 and 1956, devised their training sessions specifically for doubles.
"He encouraged us to come to the net and be aggressive players and mix up our game a lot," said Black. "There was a certain drill that we used to do on the wall, a fast volley drill _ try and hit a hundred volleys as quick as we can and he would time us. I think that's definitely helped all our reflexes."
Black said her net game helps complement Huber.
"Liezel is the power hitter out of us, and I'm maybe just the finesse at the net, moving around a lot and try to pick off from her big groundstrokes and her serves," said Black.
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FAMILIAR FACES: Bob and Mike Bryan are getting quite used to facing Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi in doubles. They play Saturday in the Australian Open men's final, the 10th time they've met, the seventh time in a final, and their fifth time in a Grand Slam.
The teams are tied 2-2, but Mirnyi and Bjorkman have won the last three matches against the American twins.
The foursome first played at the Australian Open two years ago, where the Bryans won in the semifinals. That tournament marked Bjorkman and Mirnyi's first match as a team in a major.
The defending champion Bryans are through to their fourth consecutive Australian Open final and are attempting to win their second Australian title.
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MIXED DOUBLES: Belarus pair Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka and Canada's Daniel Nestor and Elena Likhovtseva of Russia each scored upset wins against seeded opponents on Friday to reach the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open.
Serving at 6-5 in the second set, Nestor and Likhovtseva came back from 0-40 and survived two more break points to defeat seventh-seeded south Africa's Leizel Huber and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 6-2, 7-5.
Huber doesn't leave Melbourne Park empty-handed, having won the women's doubles title earlier Friday with Zimbabwe's Cara Black.
Mirnyi and Azarenka's broke their opponents serve twice in each set on their way to their 6-2, 6-3 win against fourth-seeded Jonas Bjorkman, from Sweden, and Francesca Schiavone of Italy.
Mirnyi will be hoping that Bjorkman has no hard feelings about the match, because the pair are due to face the defending champions, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, in the men's doubles final Saturday.


Updated : 2021-04-11 15:46 GMT+08:00