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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Ash Barty Reveals ‘Excitement’ After Mixed Doubles Medal In Tokyo

Ash Barty has revealed her excitement after her and John Peers won Australia’s first Olympic tennis medal for 17 years.

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Ash Barty and John Peers (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Ash Barty revealed her excitement at winning Bronze in the mixed doubles in Tokyo with John Peers.

 

The world number one along with doubles specialist John Peers claimed Australia’s first tennis medal at the Olympics since 2004.

Despite benefiting from a bronze medal match withdrawal from Novak Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic, that hasn’t taken away the happiness of claiming an Olympic medal.

Speaking to the Channel 7 programmes Sunrise Barty proudly spoke about the achievement, “It’s been an amazing week for both John and I,” Barty was quoted as saying by Tennis Australia.

“We’ve played some great tennis, probably the best we’ve ever played together. To walk away with a medal and contribute to the team total here in Australia has been incredible.

“Johnny and I, we put ourselves in a position all week to play good tennis and I feel like we really deserve this one. We were so close to being in that gold medal play-off and I think for both of us, it’s been awesome. We’ve played great. I felt like we really deserved this one for Australia.

“No, I think for us it’s excitement. I just hope as athletes, as a whole Australian team that’s here – all 480 odd of us – we can bring a smile to people’s faces at home when they’re sitting on the couch enjoying watching us trying (to) go out there and do Australia proud.”

As for John Peers it was an achievement of a lifetime, inspired by the traditional Olympic spirit, “Any chance you get to represent your country and to do it alongside Ash, to be able to say we’re the first mixed doubles medallists at an Olympics for Australia is something really special,” the 33 year-old commented.

“There was so much uncertainty leading into the Games and to be able to see the way the Australian team’s come together and sort of really bonded has really shown the Australian spirit, the way that all the athletes get behind each other.

“To be able to show the Olympics is going on in uncertain times is just something really special and unique and hopefully it can be the turning point for the world, and Australia, to come out the other side.”

Both will be hoping that this week will be the start of something special for Australian tennis as they will look to capitalise on this success in three years time in Paris.

Next for John Peers will be Washington next week where he and Filip Polasek are the top seeds.

While Ash Barty will be starting her preparations for the US Open in Cincinnati which starts on the 16th of August.

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Czech Republican Trailblazers Inspire Krejcikova and Siniakova To Olympic Gold In Tokyo

Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova reflect on Czech Republic’s Olympic past after Olympic gold.

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Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova admit that former Czech Republican trailblazers inspired them to win doubles gold in Tokyo.

 

The top seeds claimed gold with a 7-5 6-1 win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.

After edging a tight opening set, the Czech Republican duo eased to victory to claim gold in Tokyo.

It was a historic gold as the pair went one better than trailblazers Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova who won silver in Seoul 1988 and Atlanta 1992.

After the victory today Krejcikova paid tribute to those before them and said that they were inspired by those who came before them, “The motivation we got from the previous medallists is really big,” the Roland Garros champion told the ITF website.

“I think we got really inspired by them. I think we really need to thank them because without them we just wouldn’t have the motivation and the inspiration.

“It’s really big. We’re really happy and really grateful that we could be here. We did such a great job during these 10 days and we have this beautiful gold medal. It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

While Katerina Siniakova also outlined how special it is to win the gold medal as the top seeds remain the team to beat in the Women’s doubles game, “It’s really special this one,” Siniakova admitted.

“I really enjoyed my whole time here. It was really tough and I’m so glad we kept fighting and in the end we have this one, this gold medal. It’s really amazing. I feel so honoured I got to represent my country.”

The Czech Republican will be favourites to win their fourth grand slam at the US Open in late August.

As for Bencic and Golubic, it has been a successful tournament especially for Bencic who won Olympic gold yesterday.

After the match Bencic admitted it’s not just about Olympic medals and that its about the memories created, “It’s not just about the medals or the titles, it’s about the memories you create that will last forever,” Bencic claimed.

“To share this with Viki is unbelievable. The whole week I never felt like I was in a normal tournament or playing alone. She was alongside me the entire way. I always tell her we won this gold medal together as well.

“When we will be 80 years old and have a coffee, we will talk about these moments and I cannot wait for that.”

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold

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Karen Khachanov celebrating victory earlier this week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

48 hours after ending Novak Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam, a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf, Sascha Zverev looks to win another gold medal for Germany.  But a big-hitting Russian stands in his way, one who owns a winning record against Zverev on hard courts.

 

The last day of tennis in Tokyo will also host two gold medal matches in doubles.  In women’s doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have won three Majors, and now go for a gold medal against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.  For Bencic, it’s an opportunity to win a second gold medal in as many days.  

In addition, a pair of teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee will face off for gold in mixed doubles.  Will Elena Vesnina be able to recover from a devastating loss in Saturday’s women’s doubles bronze medal match?  Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova held four match points, only to lose the last six points of the match and fail to reach the podium.

Sunday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.

Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – Second on Centre Court

Overall they have split four previous encounters, but Khachanov leads 2-1 on this surface, which includes their two most recent meetings.  And neither of those have been close.  At the 2018 Paris Masters, it was 6-1, 6-2.  At the 2019 Rogers Cup, it was 6-3, 6-3.  The event in Paris was the biggest title run of the Russian’s career, and a week where he also defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.  However, he hasn’t won a title, or even reached a final, ever since.  And prior to his run to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Khachanov was only 16-14 on the year.  But it is worth noting he’s 4-0 lifetime in ATP finals, with his other three victories coming at 250-level events.

Zverev is certainly the far more accomplished player.  He owns 15 career titles, which includes four Masters events, as well as the 2018 ATP Finals.  And he’s reached the semifinals or better at Majors three times, something Khachanov is yet to achieve.   Though I do wonder just how much scar tissue was created by his loss in the final of last year’s US Open, where he was up two sets before eventually losing in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Both he and Dominic Thiem played a considerably nervy match, and this will be Zverev’s first best-of-five final since that painful loss.

And that could be a significant factor on this day: the men’s singles gold medal final is the only match at the Olympics that is best-of-five.  Zverev possesses a much stronger record in best-of-five, and a far superior record in five-setters.  As per Tennis Abstract, Sascha is 16-9 in fifth sets, compared to Karen’s record of 6-7.  And Khachanov’s two most recent five-set wins were not pretty.  A few weeks ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, against Sebastian Korda, 13 out of the 18 games in the fifth set were breaks of serve.  And last summer at the US Open, he was only able to come back from two sets down thanks to the cramping of Jannik Sinner. 

So who is the favorite to win gold?  Their head-to-head favors Khachanov, while recent form and best-of-five experience favors Zverev.  And the German has been serving excellently throughout this tournament, striking 40 aces and only three doubles, especially impressive for a player who has suffered from double fault issues in the recent past.  However, Zverev had a much easier road to this final than Khachanov.  Other than Djokovic, Sascha faced no one ranked inside the top 40, while Karen beat three top 30 players.  The Olympics are an event which often produces surprising tennis results.  And these are two men who are known to get tight in big matches.  But considering the way Zverev has been serving, and the confidence boost his upset of Djokovic should provide, I give Sascha the slight edge to become an Olympic champion.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] – Vesnina not only lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, she and Kudermetova also served for the championship a few weeks ago at Wimbledon, before losing 9-7 in the third.  And Vesnina and Karatsev were defeated in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, the same event where Pavlyuchenkvoa lost in the women’s singles final.  Who will realize redemption on Sunday?

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic – The Czechs are of course the favorites, with three Major titles as a team.  The Swiss are a new team formed exclusively for this event.  But don’t count them out, especially with Bencic coming off a gold medal victory in singles on Saturday evening.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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