It’s new and exciting for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, entering a Grand Slam tournament with the No. 1 in front of their names.Both reached the top of the rankings for the first time near the end of 2016, ending long reigns by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.And so they’ll open their Australian Open campaigns on Rod Laver Arena on day one – both against Ukrainians.Murray, a five-time runner-up, opens his pursuit of a first Australian title against Illya Marchenko in the last-day match on the main show court. Kerber opens the night session against Lesia Tsurenko. She’ll be followed on court by Roger Federer, who is returning from six months on the sidelines.The ‘one-round-at-a-time’ clichÈ is well worn in tennis. For Kerber, though, it’s pertinent. Seeded seventh last year, the left-handed German had to save a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi. Spurred on by that, she went on to beat Serena Williams in the final and claim her first Grand Slam title. She added a second major at the US Open and ascended to the No. 1 ranking.”I think this point where I was match point down, that was the important point for my career,” Kerber said yesterday, speaking of her first-round escape against Doi. “You never know (if) I lost the match, what would have happened.”WITHOUT PRESSUREIt gave her the freedom to play without pressure, and that made all the difference.”When I’m looking back, I was feeling that I got a second chance to stay in the tournament,” she said. “I was playing since then without expectation … just enjoying everything.”Kerber can hang on to the top ranking by reaching to the final here, but she’s already feeling there’s more to defend than her title.”It’s a new challenge for me, for sure,” she said, but we are starting from zero here. I have to be ready from the first round again.”I will try to not put too much expectation and pressure on myself. I mean, I will try to do it like last year – that was the way I had my success.”Record-chasing, six-time champions Djokovic and Williams, seeded No. 2 and anchoring the bottom half of the men’s and women’s draws, won’t be in action until day two. Djokovic is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. Serena Williams is chasing an Open-era record 23rd major title.
Despite the recent cancellation of Liberia’s representation to the on-going handball competition in Lome, Togo due to the outbreak of Ebola virus in the country, the chief of mission of Liberia’s delegation, to Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic in the People’s Republic of China, Fred Pratt has said that Liberia is still course, preparing for the games.Pratt told the Daily Observer yesterday that final documentations for Liberia’s participation have already been sent by the Organizing Committee to be filled in and subsequently returned before this weekend.Though, he did state what information is being requested but sources said it concerns personal information, including the current healthy status of athletes and other members of the delegation.Pratt said the two Liberian teenaged athletes, Tracy Chayee, 16 and Momolu Sambai, 17, are “very well and training and will serve as ambassadors to hoist the Liberian flag in China at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.” The games will run from August 16-28.Miss Chayee will run the 400m Hurdles while Momolu Sambai will compete in the 50m freestyle swimming event.The chief of mission disclosed that the team will depart the country on Tuesday, 12 August 2014, noting that bulk of the expenses will be underwritten by Olympic Solidarity of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).He indicated that prior to the departure each member of the 7-man delegation will produce an ‘Ebola Clarence’ certificate from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.Meanwhile, it has been realized since the deadly Ebola virus is not contacted merely by contact, except, “contact with someone who is acutely infected, and by the dead body of someone who has died by the virus,” it does not make sense for sports officials to cancel sporting programs.Knowing that someone who is acutely infected will not be active, strong, healthy or enthusiastic in going outside of his/her home and since such person will be helpless, broken down, there is no need why sports should be suspended in the country, knowledgeable sports lovers told the Daily Observer. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)