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ATP Basel: Main draw released, Federer starts with Kukushkin

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Federer is a six time winner in Basel

Federer is a six time winner in Basel

 

 

The draw for one of the two events in the penultimate week of the season has been released, and unsurprisingly Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are the top two seeds in a tournament flooded with big names.

The event in Basel marks essentially the home event for both Federer and Wawrinka, with Federer having won the title six times, including last year’s event, where he defeated David Goffin in straight sets. Wawrinka has never won the Swiss Indoors.

Federer will start against Mikhail Kukushkin, a player who he has not dropped a set to in their previous two meetings. Philipp Kohlschreiber could prove a tricky customer in the second round, if the German can negotiate a qualifier. Federer could meet last year’s beaten finalist David Goffin as early as the quarter-finals this year. The Belgian starts against the unseeded Andreas Seppi.

Second seed Wawrinka faces Ivo Karlovic, who recently became the official record holder of aces since the ATP began collecting the data. The tall Croat has only defeated the French Open champion once in five attempts. Wawrinka could face Richard Gasquet in the quarter finals. The Frenchman beat the Swiss in an enthralling Wimbledon quarter-final in July.

Third seed Rafael Nadal is scheduled to face Wimbledon 2013 conqueror Lukas Rosol, before a potential second round encounter with Grigor Dimitrov, who starts against Sergiy Stakhovsky. Nadal is in Wawrinka’s side of the draw, with that a possible semi-final.

John Isner will face Ernests Gulbis in a rematch of the Vienna second round meeting that saw Gulbis emerge victorious. Should Isner prevail, he could face a fellow American in Jack Sock, who starts against a qualifier.

Kevin Anderson faces an interesting task. He faces young up and comer Borna Coric, who suffered a disappointingly early exit in Moscow at the hands of Evgeny Donskoy.

Swiss wildcards Henri Laaksonen and Marco Chiudinelli face Donald Young and Marin Cilic, as they look to take advantage of their singles opportunities.

Basel Main Draw:

[1] Federer-Kukushkin
Qualifier-Kohlschreiber
Troicki-Baghdatis
Seppi- [8] Goffin

[4] Anderson-Coric
[WC] Laaksonen-Young
Qualifier-Sock
Gulbis- [6] Isner

[7] Cilic- [WC] Chiudinelli
Gabashvili-L. Mayer
Stakhovsky-Dimitrov
Rosol- [3] Nadal

[5] Gasquet-Vesely
Thiem-Qualifier
Dolgopolov-Qualifier
Karlovic- [2] Wawrinka

 

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Australian Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude

Wednesday is highlighted by a rematch of the French Open final from the last two years.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf 

 

Rafael Nadal is one win away from securing his world No.1 ranking, though I’m sure he’s much more concerned with being three wins away from winning his record-tying 20th Major title. But standing in his way today is an opponent who has beaten him many times before. The other men’s quarter-final features the 2014 champion and a Next Gen standout who has excelled on the ATP tour, but is yet to make a deep run at a Major. On the women’s side, we have a pair of two-time Major champions against two women looking to reach their first Slam semi-final.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)

This is a marquee quarterfinal between two top five seeds. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4, with all but one of those matches taking place on clay. Their only hard court meeting was certainly a memorable one. In the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, they played for almost five hours, and past 2:00am, in a match decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  Thiem should take a lot of positives from that encounter despite the loss, and he’s only improved his hard court game since that time.

Dominic has won four hard court titles in the past 16 months, including the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. And just two months ago, he reached the championship match at the ATP Finals, with wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This is his first time advancing to the quarters in Australia, but this run is not surprising based on his recent hard court resume. The slower courts in Melbourne this year work to Dominic’s favour, though Rafa will like that temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days. But with this being a night match, it’ll get rather cool as this match goes on. Nadal has looked good through four rounds here, and passed a stern test supplied by Nick Kyrgios two days ago. However, I think this may be Thiem’s time to shine. He was oh-so-close to beating Nadal in their last hard court match, and he’s a much-improved player since hiring Nicolas Massu as his coach. In what will surely be a highly-competitive affair, I’m tipping Thiem to pull off the upset.

Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)

Alexander Zverev (@usopen)

Can this be true? Zverev, who has historically become entangled in long matches during the first week of Majors, has won four rounds here without dropping a set. It’s even more startling when you consider he went 0-3 at the ATP Cup to start the year, where he had terrible troubles with his serve. In his post-match interview on Monday, he spoke of how finding peace in his personal life has lead to good results on court. The 22-year-old has reached his third Slam quarterfinal, and his first off clay. He’ll certainly be the fresher player today, as Stan not only battled an illness last week, but has already played two five-setters.

That includes his comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev two days ago. And Zverev is 2-0 against Wawrinka, with both victories coming on hard courts. But this is a case where experience at this stage of a Major will be crucial, and Stan has plenty of that. This is his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne, and his 18th at all four Majors. Wawrinka has proven himself to be a big-match player, and excels in the best-of-five format. As improved as Zverev’s serve has been this fortnight, Wawrinka remains the bolder and more aggressive player, which is usually critical in matches like this. With that in mind, I like Stan’s chances to return to the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in three years.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Anett Kontaveit (30)

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen – Twitter)

The 24-year-old Kontaveit has been a rising WTA star for a few years now, but she appears ready for her big breakthrough. This run has literally come out of nowhere, as an illness forced her to withdraw from the US Open and miss the rest of the 2019 season. Her coach, Nigel Sears, told the media that she was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in a substantial weight loss, and a lack of activity for three or four months. But here she is into her first Major quarter-final, thanks to some impressive play. She dropped just one game to the sixth seed, Belinda Bencic, and came back from a set down to claim a tight match over a talented teenager, Iga Swiatek.

But today Kontaveit runs into an in-form Halep, who has reunited with Darren Cahill and is yet to drop a set at this event. These two players have similar, all-around games, though Halep is a bit more consistent, and a bit more skilled defensively. And Simona is 2-0 against Anett, having comfortably won the four sets they’ve played.  Halep should be favoured to reach her second semi-final in Melbourne.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza (@WeAreTennis – Twitter)

Speaking of Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions in good form, Garbine Muguruza is back. She seems to be rejuvenated with Conchita Martinez back as her coach. When her former coach, Sam Sumyk, missed Wimbledon a few years ago to undergo a medical procedure, Conchita filled in, and coached Muguruza to the title. Garbine split with Sumyk during the offseason, and is playing her best tennis in a few years with Martinez as a full-time coach.

But guess who Sumyk coaches now? That would be Pavlyuchenkova.  This union has also paid immediate dividends, though the 28-year-old Russian has been playing great tennis since the fall. Pavlyuchenkova outplayed a game Angelique Kerber on Monday, extending her record in the fourth round of Majors to 6-1. The problem is she’s 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. And she’s 1-4 against Muguruza, with the only win coming via a Garbine retirement. Muguruza just has a bit more game than Pavlyuchenkova, and she’s been on fire since overcoming an illness last week. Garbine took out two top 10 seeds in the last two rounds, via scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-3. While Sumyk will certainly have some sage advance for how to play against Muguruza, I don’t see it being enough considering Garbine’s current level.

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(VIDEO) Roger Federer Pulls Off Houdini Act To Set 50th Djokovic Meeting

Ubitennis is joined by Rene Stauffer to discuss Roger Federer’s miraculous win over Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open.

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Roger Federer (@atptour - Twitter)

It was another dramatic day at the Australian Open as Roger Federer pulled off a miraculous comeback to edge out Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals. The Swiss saved 7 match points as he survived the three and a half hour clash to set up a 50th meeting with Novak Djokovic. Below Ubaldo Scanagatta and Rene Stauffer discuss Federer’s miraculous win against Sandgren. 

 

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Novak Djokovic Books 50th Meeting With Federer At Australian Open

The world No.2 is closing in on a record eighth title at Melbourne Park.

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic withstood 18 aces from Milos Raonic to set up a semi-final showdown with Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

 

Besides an issue with his contact lenses the 16-time grand slam champion was in solid form throughout his 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(1), win over the world No.35. Who was contesting a grand slam quarter-final match for the first time since Wimbledon 2018. Despite Raonic’s renowned thunderous serve, Djokovic’s defensive abilities enabled him to thwart the threat posed in convincing manner. In total, the world No.2 fire 29 winners to 14 unforced errors. Although it wasn’t entirely straight forward with the him only being able to convert two out of 16 break point opportunities.

“I felt great on the court. I was very focused.  The first couple of sets went the way I wanted them to go. One break was good enough. I was comfortable serving, which is very encouraging.” Djokovic evaluated of his latest performance.
“Playing against Milos I knew that two key elements in the game would be the return and how efficiently I hit my spots with my serve.’
“I was fortunate to get out of trouble in the third (set) and played a perfect tiebreak. It was a great performance.” He added.

Heading into the match Djokovic said there was one thing which separates Raonic from fellow fast servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic. That was that he found it easier to read the serve of the Canadian. This was evident during the opening set with the Serbian having numerous chances to break his rival, who had only faced seven break points in his four previous matches in Melbourne.

In Djokovic’s case eight break points came and went for him before he secured a breakthrough at the best possible time. Leading 5-4, back-to-back forehand errors from Raonic enabled the second seed to break for the first time and subsequently take the 6-4 lead after 54 minutes of action.

Gaining in momentum, the former world No.1 struck again four games into the second frame. This time it was a winning forehand pass from Djokovic that granted him yet another break for a set and 3-1 lead. Raonic continued to battle hard, but he was unable to find a way to break down the solid game of his rival. A 190km/h serve out wide forced the Canadian to return the ball into the net and grant Djokovic the two-set lead.

Closing in on the victory, he continued to face resistance from Raonic. Who mixed up his tactics to pose more of a threat. However, proceedings were then halted at 4-4 in the third set after Djokovic encountered an issue with his contact lenses. Unexpectedly triggering a medical time-out.

“I was to apologise to Milos because it was definitely not something you see very often.” Said Djokovic. “It was not intentional or tactical. It was just something I had to do because during those games I couldn’t see much. And I had to change my lenses. “

Returning to the court, Djokovic continued to weather the storm in what turned out to be a one-sided end to the match. A faltering Raonic resulted in him valiantly winning 11 out of the last 12 points played. Storming through the third set tiebreaker, he clinched victory after a backhand shot from his rival crashed into the net.

Djokovic’s win means that he will take on Federer next. The Swiss star suffered an injury scare during his marathon five-set encounter with Tennys Sandgren, which lasted just over three-and-a-half hours. Something he later described as ‘pain and problems’ but not an injury in his press conference. Despite questions over Federer’s current form, Djokovic is taking nothing for granted.

“I have tremendous respect for Roger and everything he achieved in this sport. He’s one of the all-time greats and has been one of my two biggest rivals.” He said.
“I’ve been saying this many times, but I will say this again: The match-ups against Roger and Rafa (Nadal) has made me the player I am today. I am very grateful for many great matches against those guys.”

Djokovic leads Federer 26-23 in their head-to-head and has won all four of their grand slam meetings since 2015. It will also be the fifth time the two have locked horns in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Out of those encounters, Djokovic has won four of them.

-2016 Australian Open SF: Djokovic won 61 62 36 63
-2011 Australian Open SF: Djokovic won 763 75 64
-2008 Australian Open SF: Djokovic won 75 63 765
-2007 Australian Open SF: Federer won 62 75 63

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