BNP Paribas Open Is Heating Up!
TENNIS – If the action over the last two days is any true indication for the rest of the tournament, the BNP Paribas Open 2014 is going to be mercurially hot in the coming days. Day 5 saw the fall of fourth seed Berdych to Bautista-Agut, the withdrawal of Del Potro and Wozniacki’s win over Shvedova. Cordell Hackshaw
If the action over the last two days is any true indication for the rest of the tournament, the BNP Paribas Open 2014 is going to be mercurially hot in the coming days. Day 5 at this “major” event was incredible for both casual and avid fans alike. The men’s draw featured several high octane 2nd round matches. Tomas Berdych (4), fresh off a tournament win in Rotterdam and finalist in Dubai last month, came into this tournament with considerable buzz behind him. However, the Czech was flat against his 2nd round opponent, Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain. Berdych was down an early break in the 1st set, 2-4 but got himself together to win 4 straight games and close out the set 6-4. Bautista-Agut remained undeterred from his task of scoring the upset and showed that he was the more aggressive player as he raced out to a 5-1 lead in the 2nd set and closed it out 6-2. One wanted to believe that Berdych was going to get his act together and protect his career high ranking of No. 5 in the world but one only saw him employing the wrong strategies out on court. He was missing his forehands badly and engaging Bautista-Agut in long rallies but unable to pull the trigger at the right time. Bautista-Agut was relentless and proved to be the more fit of the two. This gave the Spaniard many opportunities to find his range and take the offensive against the Czech. A few games into the 3rd set, one just knew the upset was coming. Berdych was able to erase an early break by Bautista-Agut and even things at 4-4 but in the end, his error prone forehand done him in. Bautista-Agut knocked out the 4th seed 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
With Berdych’s unexpected departure and the late withdrawal of Juan Martin Del Potro (6) because of a plaguing wrist injury, Novak Djokovic (2) saw his draw become even easier than it was before; the top half of the men’s draw is jam-packed with heavy “arsenal”: Rafael Nadal (1), Stanislas Wawrinka (3), Andy Murray (5) and Roger Federer (7). Nonetheless, in order for Djokovic to get to the final, he has to get through the early rounds and that is what he did. He took care of Victor Hanescu in straight sets 7-6(1), 6-2 albeit a bit erratic in the early parts of the match. There were several other straight sets winners: John Isner (12), Grigor Dimitrov (15), Ernests Gulbis (20), Marin Cilic (24) and Fernando Verdasco (30) are all through to the 3rd round. Tommy Robredo (16) is also through to the next round with a win over Marinko Matosevic in 3 sets as did his countryman, the unseeded Feliciano Lopez who initially looked as though he was about to squander the golden opportunity of Del Potro’s withdrawal. Lopez faced lucky loser James Ward who took the 1st set 6-3. Lopez got his head straight and closed out the match in 3 sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Richard Gasquet (8) is also through to the 3rd round when his opponent Teymuraz Gabashvili retired after dropping all 8 games played in the match.
There were several upsets most notable of which was the straight sets dismissal of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) by his countryman Julien Benneteau 4-6, 4-6. A rather disappointing result for Tsonga one is sure. He fancied his chances of getting far in this draw but instead will join Gilles Simon (21) who sent packing by Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem (5)6-7, 2-6. Philipp Kohlschreiber (22) was virtually dismantled by Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets 2-6, 2-6 as was the 25th seed Vasek Pospisil who only won two games against Mikhail Kukushkin 0-6, 2-6. Ivan Dodig (31) lost to Alejandro Gonzalez in 3 sets. Florian Mayer (26) retired in the 2nd set against Jarkko Nieminen.
On the ladies’ side, there were several battles for a place in the Round of 16. Caroline Wozniacki (10) looked to have been completed outclassed by Yaroslava Shvedova. Shvedova lead in the 1st set 4-2 but it seemed she grew uncomfortable with the lead or momentum in her favour. Wozniacki fought her way back and took the set to a tiebreaker where she saved set points to take it 7-6(7). Again Shvedova raced out to an early lead in the 2nd set 4-0 but became erratic and allowed things to get back on serve. However, she was able to close out the set 6-3 but the effort proved to be too much for her. In the decisive set, the wheels came off completely and Wozniacki avenged her lost to Shvedova last year in Madrid and took this match 7-6, 3-6, 6-1. Alizé Cornet (22) won another war of attrition against Carla Suarez-Navarro(14). They were both uncomfortable with playing very aggressive from the baseline or moving forward as they were “miles” behind the baseline. Although when they did become aggressive or came forward, it was at times in spectacular fashion. Carla Suarez-Navarro looked to be taking charge of the match often but then soon relinquished this hold. She took the 1st set 7-6(4) and had 3 match points in the 2nd set. However, Cornet was determined to fight to the end as she saved match points and soon wore down her Spanish opponent to take the match 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 in nearly three and a half hours.
Aga Radwanska (2) took care of business when she picked apart Annika Beck’s game 6-0, 6-0 to move through to the Round of 16. She would be joined by Jelena Jankovic (7) who defeated Magdalena Rybarikova (31) and Simona Halep (6) who quelled the late surge of Lucie Safarova (26) to take the match in 3 sets. Doubles team Sara Errani (9) and Roberta Vinci (13) will have to hope for the doubles title as their singles’ dream were dashed by Eugenie Bouchard (18) and qualifier Casey Dellacqua respectively. American Lauren Davis continued her good fortunes of defeating an ailing Victoria Azarenka in the 2nd round as she excused her compatriot Varvara Lepchenko from the tournament in straight sets for a place in the Round of 16.
As have been the norm here, the doubles events continue to be a hot ticket. The ladies draw not to be outdone by the men’s saw a bit of drama when Flavia Pennetta pegged both her opponents Kristina Mladenovic and Kimiko Date-Krumm. Her blow to Date-Krumm resulted in play being halted for some time as Date-Krumm was treated for possible injury to her eye. Pennetta was very apologetic about the matter and rushed for ice to soothe her opponent’s pain. In the end, play continued and Date-Krumm/Mladenovic took out Pennetta/Zahlavova-Strycova in the super-breaker 10-5; revenge is the best medicine for pain. The wildcard entry of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sam Stosur also won their match to move to the 3rd round. On the men’s side, Andy Murray and his partner Jonathan Marray lost in straight sets to the 2nd seed Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the 2nd round. The monster combo of John Isner and Sam Querrey took out Jeremy Chardy and Gilles Simon in the 1st round. Neither Jerzy Janowicz nor Philipp Kohlschreiber found doubles success after singles failure in their pairing as they lost to 4th seed in Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek. All in all it was a great day for tennis and Day 6 promises to be even better.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Alcaraz and Sinner Meet Again in the Semifinals
Both ATP semifinals will be played on Friday, as well as the second WTA semifinal.
For the third consecutive big event in the United States (US Open, Indian Wells, Miami), Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will collide. At the US Open, they played an epic five-hour five-setter that went into the early hours of the morning. At Indian Wells, they contested a high-quality semifinal. Both of those matches went to Alcaraz. Will he prevail again on Friday?
And are we on the verge of a rematch from the Indian Wells final between Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev? Fellow Russian Karen Khachanov will be Medvedev’s opposition on Friday. And in the remaining WTA singles semifinal, Petra Kvitova plays Sorana Cirstea for the right to face Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s championship match.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Friday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.
Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – 1:00pm on Stadium
Medvedev is now 27-3 this season, and has claimed 22 matches within the past seven weeks alone. Daniil has easily advanced to this semifinal, averaging just over an hour on court across his three matches thus far. He is vying for his fifth final in as many tournaments.
Khachanov is 13-5 on the year, and this is his third significant hard court semifinal since last summer. At the US Open, he defeated both Pablo Carreno Busta and Nick Kyrgios in five sets to reach the semis. At the Australian Open, he beat both Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda to advance to this stage. And this week, he took out both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Francisco Cerundolo, who was a Miami semifinalist a year ago.
Medvedev leads their head-to-head 3-1, which includes a straight-set victory at the beginning of this season in Adelaide. And based on his current run on hard courts, I like Daniil to achieve his first final in Miami.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium
Alcaraz is 18-1 in 2023, while Sinner is 20-4. Neither has dropped a set this fortnight, so both are feeling fully fresh and quite confident heading into this blockbuster matchup.
Overall Carlitos is 3-2 against Jannik, and 3-0 on hard courts. Sinner’s two victories have come on grass (Wimbledon) and clay (Umag). Since holding a match point against Alcaraz in the fourth set of last summer’s US Open quarterfinal, and failing to convert, the Italian has lost four straight sets to the Spaniard.
Both men have made previous appearances in the Miami final, with Sinner losing to Hubert Hurkacz in 2021, and Alcaraz defeating Casper Ruud in 2022. Carlitos needs to defend his title in order to maintain his No.1 ranking. And considering how well he’s played since returning to the tour in February, I favor Alcaraz to eliminate Sinner again on Friday.
Other Notable Matches on Friday:
Petra Kvitova (15) vs. Sorana Cirstea – Kvitova has now advanced to the quarterfinals or better at the last three WTA 1000 tournaments held in the United States. Cirstea has been playing some of the best tennis of her career since hiring Thomash Johansson as her coach. Petra leads their head-to-head 6-4, which dates all the way back to 2008. They met twice on hard courts in 2022, and split those two encounters.
Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens (6) vs. Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (2) – This is a quarterfinal, and the winners will come back later in the day to face Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez in the semifinals.
Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera vs. Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend – This is a semifinal. Prior to this event, Linette and Pera had not teamed up since last year’s Wimbledon. This is only Fernandez and Townsend’s second tournament as a team.
Friday’s full Order of Play is here.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Elena Rybakina Plays Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals
Due to rain on Wednesday, only one WTA semifinal will be played on Thursday.
Elena Rybakina is just two wins away from completing the “Sunshine Double,” which is winning both Indian Wells and Miami. But in Thursday’s WTA semifinal, American No.1 Jessica Pegula stands in her way. The other semifinal is still to be determined, and will not be played until Friday, as Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova will contest their rain-delayed quarterfinal on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the ATP quarterfinals will be completed on Thursday. Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev faces American Chris Eubanks, who has been the breakout story of this tournament thus far. Also, Karen Khachanov takes on Francisco Cerundolo, who is vying for his second consecutive semifinal in Miami. And delayed from Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz battles Taylor Fritz in another ATP quarterfinal.
You can find a preview of the Alcaraz/Fritz and Kvitova/Alexandrova quarterfinals in yesterday’s daily preview here.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Thursday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.
Chris Eubanks (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – 1:00pm on Stadium
Medvedev leads the ATP with 26 wins this season, as well as with three titles. Daniil has not dropped a set to this stage, though he’s only played two matches thus far due to a walkover earlier this week.
Eubanks has already won six matches this fortnight after coming through qualifying. And the 26-year-old achieved a career goal of breaking into the top 100 with this quarterfinal run. Chris became emotional on-court after clinching that feat on Monday, and followed it up with another upset the next day, over Adrian Mannarino. The American is projected to become ranked 85th in the world on Monday, but a win on Thursday would propel him into the top 60.
In their first career meeting, of course the self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” Medvedev is a strong favorite. But I’m quite interested to see how Eubanks performs in the biggest match of his career. During a rain delay on Monday, Frances Tiafoe provided Eubanks with some advice in the locker room, which Chris credited with helping him come back in the second-set tiebreak once play resumed. He’s played more freely since that comeback, and Eubanks may feel as if he has nothing to lose on Thursday.
Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium
Rybakina is 20-4 this season, and is currently on a 10-match win streak. If her 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer counted, she’d currently be ranked third in the world. Elena easily dispatched of Martina Trevisan in the last round.
Pegula is 19-5 on the year, and 10-3 in Miami. This is her second consecutive semifinal at this event, and she’s the No.3 player in the world without Rybakina’s Wimbledon points counting. She saved multiple match points to come back and defeat Anastasia Potapova during Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Pegula is 2-0 against Rybakina, with both matches taking place on hard courts during 2022. A year ago at this same tournament, Jess prevailed in straight sets. And last fall in Guadalajara, Pegula outlasted Rybakina in a final-set tiebreak, another match in which the American saved multiple match points. As confident as Elena currently is, with her big serve and groundstrokes dictating play, it’s hard not to favor the reigning Wimbledon champ. But based on their recent history, as well as Pegula’s rising confidence after saving match points in the last round, I give Jess the slight edge in Thursday’s semifinals on home soil.
Other Notable Matches on Thursday:
Francisco Cerundolo (25) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – Cerundolo was in danger of falling out of the top 40 with an early loss in Miami, defending the best result of his career at this level, but has impressed by returning to the quarterfinals, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on the way. Khachanov upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, and is looking to reach his first Masters semifinal since 2019. Last summer in Canada, Karen defeated Francisco in three sets.
Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Indian Wells Champs Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz Collide
On Wednesday in Miami, 2023 Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz faces 2022 champ Taylor Fritz for the first time.
Alcaraz is just three wins away from defending his Miami title, which he needs to do in order to remain World No.1. Wednesday’s other ATP quarterfinal sees Indian Wells semifinalist Jannik Sinner take on Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the first Finnish quarterfinalist at a Masters 1000 tournament in a decade.
In the WTA singles draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova are one round away from a big-hitting semifinal. But first, they must get past Sorana Cirstea and Ekaterina Alexandrova, respectively.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.
Ekaterina Alexandrova (18) vs. Petra Kvitova (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium
Kvitova is 14-5 this season, and has now reached the quarterfinals of both Indian Wells and Miami this month. Petra has also now advanced to the fourth round or better of this event for the fifth straight time, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.
Alexandrova had a losing record this year before arriving in Miami. She defeated Belinda Bencic two rounds ago, and advanced in the last round after Bianca Andreescu’s upsetting ankle injury. This is Ekaterina’s second WTA 1000 quarterfinal, after first achieving that feat last year in Madrid, when she advanced to the semifinals.
Their only previous encounter occurred three years ago at the Australian Open, when Kvitova comfortably prevailed 6-1, 6-2. Ekaterina does not possess the same offensive weaponry of Petra, so on a hard court, the two-time Wimbledon champion is a considerable favorite to win again on Wednesday.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium
Alcaraz is 17-1 on the season, despite missing all of January due to injury. His only loss came to Cam Norrie in the final of Rio, a match in which Carlitos reaggravated his leg injury. He’s yet to drop a set during this tournament.
Fritz is 20-5 in 2023, and has now reached the quarterfinals or better at his last five events. This is Taylor’s first quarterfinal in Miami, and his third consecutive quarterfinal as Masters 1000 events in North America. Like Alcaraz, he’s also yet to lose a set in Miami, but he’s 1-4 in his last five Masters quarterfinals.
This is the first career meeting between the World No.1 and the American No.1. Fritz certainly has the firepower to threaten Alcaraz on this day. But based on Carlitos’ recent sharp form, the 19-year-old is the favorite to advance to the semifinals.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Sorana Cirstea vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now a stellar 20-2 on the year, and has allowed her opponents this past week an average of just 2.5 games per set. Cirstea is having an excellent March, having advanced to her second consecutive WTA 1000 quarterfinal, a stage she hadn’t reached since 2017. This is another first-time career meeting.
Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner is vying for his second consecutive Masters semifinal, and has not dropped a set thus far in Miami. This is Ruuuvuori’s maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the only Masters event where he had ever previously advanced beyond the third round. Jannik is 4-0 against Emil, with all of those wins in straight sets, except a match in Miami a year ago that went to a third-set tiebreak, and saw Sinner save three match points.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Alcaraz and Sinner Meet Again in the Semifinals
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