US Open 2015 Women’s Draw: Serena to battle the US to get on top! - UBITENNIS
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US Open 2015 Women’s Draw: Serena to battle the US to get on top!

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US OPEN – If Serena Williams (1) is to win a 4th major title this year at the US Open to complete the calendar slam, her 5th in a row as she is the 3-time defending champion, it will not be an easy road. Her path to the final is laid with new and familiar foes. She is pitted in the quarter being nicknamed “The American Quarter” as it houses her sister Venus Williams (23), Sloane Stephens (29), Madison Keys (19), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Brengle just to name a few. There are also several non-Americans, Aga Radwanska (15) and Belinda Bencic (12), also in this section and they both have a win against Serena this year. Serena will require both mental and physical strength something she has in spades to lift her 22nd major here at the US Open to equal Steffi Graf on the all-time major winners list.

Fortunately for Serena she does not have to play all these players to get to the semifinal but she might have to get by most of them. She could face Stephens in the 3rd round then Keys or Radwanska in the Round of 16 and either Bencic or her sister Venus in the quarters. There is also the newly minted top 10 Karolina Pliskova (8) who could very much be Serena’s opponent in the last 8.

Serena is in the top half with 2006 champion Maria Sharapova (3) who is slated as her semifinal opponent if the seeds hold true to form. Sharapova is coming into this event without playing a single match since her semifinal loss to Serena at Wimbledon earlier this summer. She opens her campaign against a former compatriot Daria Gavrilova who now plays for Australia. Gavrilova took out Sharapova in a tough 3-set match in Miami earlier this year. Sharapova avenged that loss later on in Rome but the edge might be in Gavrilova’s favour since she is coming into these championships, match tough unlike Sharapova.

Sharapova’s path has a few more Russians in the midst with Svetlana Kuznetsova (30) former champion here back in 2004 as a possible 3rd round opponent and Ekaterina Makarova (13) last year’s semifinalist in the Round of 16. However, they might not prove to be much of a challenge for her as Kuznetsova has not played any tennis since the French Open and Makarova has twice had to withdraw from tournaments this summer hardcourt series with injuries. On the other end of this half are Ana Ivanovic (7), Carla Suarez-Navarro (10), Jelena Jankovic (21) and Eugenie Bouchard (25) all of whom has the potential of really doing well here at the Open and doing just as equally bad.

It should be noted that Bouchard has been seen around the grounds of the tournament hitting with tennis legend Jimmy Connors. Bouchard who recently parted ways with Sam Sumyk is coachless at the moment. Bouchard’s management team released a statement saying that this collaboration between Bouchard and Connors has “no long-term plans” and that Connors and Bouchard “have been friends for a long time” and he is only helping her this week as he too is in New York.

JIMMY CONNORS COACHING CANADIAN

JIMMY CONNORS COACHING CANADIAN BOUCHARD

The bottom half of the draw is relatively tame compared to the top half as Simona Halep (2) should have an easy time to the semifinals. The Romanian has shown herself in the last few weeks as being a serious contender for this title. She made it to two consecutive finals at Toronto and Cincinnati in the two big warmup tournaments this summer. She is definitely peaking at the right time especially since losing first round at Wimbledon and was unable to make it to the 2nd week of the French Open. Alize Cornet (27) and Sabine Lisicki (24) should not be much of a bother for Halep though they can be formidable opponent especially Lisicki who possesses a huge game albeit a very inconsistent one.

In this both half, there is the very dangerous floater in Victoria Azarenka (20) who is a two-time finalist here (2012-2013). She has come with a few points of winning this title back in 2012 and has shown throughout this year that she is ready for the big time. She is not in the same half as Serena who knocked her out of both the French Open and Wimbledon so she should be in good position to make some noise here once again. She would have to get by Angelique Kerber (11) in the 3rd round and Lucie Safarova (6) in the Round of 16. Safarova has not been consistent since her run at the French Open but she is capable of playing inspired tennis and might just play her way again to another major final.

There is always a question mark next to the name of Petra Kvitova (5) at any tournament particularly if it is not the grass courts of Wimbledon. The fact that she has now be been diagnosed with mononycleosis (mono) and lost a significant amount of weight, even more doubts is cast upon her at these championships. She lost in the 2nd round last year and the brutal hot and humid conditions in New York do not suit her. Nonetheless, she too is capable of getting her act together to play inspired tennis especially since there are no real danger in her section other than Julia Georges or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (32) in the 3rd round. Andrea Petkovic (18) or Garbine Muguruza (9) could be her opponent in the 4th round and Caroline Wozniacki (4) in the quarterfinals.

Wozniacki too is facing some doubt at these championships. She is coming off injuries and some poor results at both Toronto and Cincinnati. She has elected to play the final tune-up tournament this week before the Open in Connecticut despite claims that she is being forced to play events by the WTA to avoid penalties. This is her fourth tournament in as many weeks this summer before coming into the Open. She would have to get past American Christina McHale in the 2nd round and possibly Flavia Pennetta (26) in the next. It would be a battle if both Wozniacki and Pennetta were to get that stage with the odds being in the favour of the Italian.

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Nicolas Jarry for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Nicolas Jarry on Friday night in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Sunday features three championship matches: the finals in men’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles.

On Sunday in Rome, Sascha Zverev will play for his first Masters 1000 title in over two years, while Nicolas Jarry will play in his first-ever final above ATP 250 level.  Zverev leads their head-to-head 4-2, but they are tied at 2-2 on clay.  Which man will walk away with the title?


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Nicolas Jarry (21) – Not Before 5:00pm on Center Court

Zverev is 27-9 this season, and lost only one set on his way to this championship match.  That came in the semifinals against another Chilean, Alejandro Tabilo.  This is Sascha’s first ATP final since September of last year, and he’s playing for his first Masters 1000 title since 2021 in Cincinnati.  Zverev will soon go on trial in his home country of Germany, as he faces charges of domestic abuse.

Just like eventual champion Andrey Rublev in Madrid, Jarry arrived in Rome on a four-match losing streak.  And he had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a Masters 1000 tournament, so this result is quite surprising.  But 28-year-old Jarry is a tall presence (6’7”) who thumps the ball.  As per Tennis Channel, he was averaging 89 mph on his forehand during his three-set semifinal victory over Tommy Paul.  Nico has claimed a trio of three-setters on the way to the biggest match of his career, most notably upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.

Zverev certainly has a huge edge in experience at this level, and in finals.  This is his 33rd ATP final, where he holds a record of 21-11.  And it’s his 11th Masters 1000 final, where he is 5-5.  Jarry has only previously appeared in six finals, all at 250-level, where he is 3-3.  But clay is the Chliean’s specialty, as all seven of his career finals have come on this surface.

Yet sometimes experience has a negative impact, particularly when you have suffered some painful losses.  Zverev has lost four of his last six Masters 1000 finals, and he is infamously 1-6 in Major semifinals.  So he has a lot of recent scar tissue from high-profile matches.

In that way, Jarry may benefit from a lack of experience.  While he’ll certainly be nervous on this big occasion, Nico has displayed plenty of confidence and composure against more experienced players throughout this event.  And he owns two prior victories over Zverev.  But when these two met in another final, five years ago in Geneva, Sascha saved two championship points to prevail.  That’s a result that sticks with both players throughout their rivalry.

However, I’m picking Jarry to pull off the upset and win the biggest title of his career on Sunday.  Zverev has a history of getting tight and playing more defensively in crucial moments.  Jarry’s aggressive mindset can take full advantage of such passive play.  And with so many top ATP players currently battling injuries, Zverev will likely feel a lot of pressure to win this title ahead of Roland Garros, especially as the much higher seed on this day.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (1) vs. Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic – The top seeds are playing for their sixth Masters 1000 title as a team, and own a record of 5-1 in finals at this level.  Arevalo and Pavic are vying for the first Masters 1000 title of their new partnership for 2024.  Both teams are yet to drop a set this fortnight. 

Coco Gauff and Erin Routliffe (3) vs. Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini – This is the first tournament for the team of Gauff and Routliffe, though both have won big doubles titles with other partners.  This is the biggest final to date for the Italian team of Errani and Paolini, though Errani won five WTA 1000 doubles titles alongside Roberta Vinci a decade ago, while Paolini won the WTA 1000 event in Dubai earlier this year in singles.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Criticises Gender Pay Gap And Responds To Critics Ahead Of Roland Garros

Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap in tennis as Rome’s prize money for the women’s tournament was significantly lower than the men’s tournament.

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Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap after the tournament in Rome significantly payed less to it’s female athletes than it’s main counterparts.

Although Roland Garros and the tournament in Madrid offered the same pay to the winners of both female and male competitions, the same cannot be said for Rome this week.

The winner between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will get 250,000 Euros less than the winner of the men’s final between Alexander Zverev and Nicolas Jarry.

It’s a statistic that is damning on the sport and Emma Raducanu has criticised the figure as she states that the women’s game is technically better than the men’s game, “A lot of women’s players are technically better,” Raducanu told The Times.

“They rely on speed, agility and brain rather than brute strength. The prize money gap is huge on the ATP tour, which I don’t necessarily think is fair, but equally playing three sets in the slams is a lot better than the men’s five, which is brutal.”

Meanwhile as for Raducanu, the Brit is preparing for Roland Garros qualifying next week as she missed out on a wildcard into the main draw.

Despite Raducanu’s gradual improvement over the last few weeks the trolls on social media have failed to go away as the former US Open champion continues her commercial commitments.

Speaking out on the critics Raducanu stated that they don’t see the work of an athlete behind the scenes, “There are those who see me doing a shoot or posing for a commercial and they don’t see the seven hours before that at the training centre, doing physio, gym, hitting balls,” Raducanu explained.

“But if on a rare evening I go to a premiere and I get photographed, that’s my downtime.”

Next week’s appearance in Paris will only be Raducanu’s second Roland Garros having reached the second round two years ago.

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