Australian Open Day 4: Our Preview and Predictions! - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 4: Our Preview and Predictions!

Will tonight be the last match in the career of Lleyton Hewitt? Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka also in action on day four at the Australian Open. Our preview and predictions for Thursday in Melbourne.

Ivan Pasquariello

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Rod Laver Arena

 

Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) vs. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)[20]

Ranked outside the top 100 and with no matches prior to the Australian Open won this year, not even in the qualifying draws, Sevastova shouldn’t be able to beat Ivanovic. The Serb is facing a tough moment however, and she will certainly give something away. Probably not enough to lose the match.

Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)[3]

Hopefully Kirsten will be coming at the net to make the match more entertaining. After watching Muguruza playing in the first round, it is hard to believe she could be losing anytime soon. With Azarenka she is the favourite to reach the final in the bottom half of the draw.

Sam Groth (AUS) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)[2]

Murray has already faced Groth’s serve in Davis Cup. Already against Zverev, the Brit seemed focused and on form. Andy should win in three sets, possibly lose one set in a tie-break.

David Ferrer (ESP)[8] vs. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)

This could be Lleyton’s farewell to tennis. Something tells me he is not ready for it yet. Let’s forecast another win for Hewitt…

Julia Goerges (GER) vs. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)[9]

Pliskova faces a player that has her same style of playing, but not as much power. The Czech should win easily in two.
Margaret Court Arena

Gael Monfils (FRA)[23] vs. Nicolas Mahut (FRA)

Not an easy match for Monfils, especially having to play a compatriot and friend. The 23rd seed should come out on top, but could probably lose one set on his way to victory.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR)[14] vs. Danka Kovinic (MNE)

Victoria is on a roll this year and World No.54 Kovinic will hardly manage to keep up with Azarenka’s rhythm, let alone cause an upset.

Madison Keys (USA)[15] vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)

Angelique Kerber (GER)[7] vs. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU)

Kerber slightly tested, but should win in two sets.

Bernard Tomic (AUS)[16] vs. Simone Bolelli (ITA)

Bolelli last year played a solid season, but this season he seems back to being too inconsistent. Tomic shouldn’t have too many problems in beating the Italian, who could possibly win a set.

Hisense Arena

Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. John Isner (USA)[10]

Isner should manage to edge the Spaniard in straight sets, thanks to his serve and better state of form.

Jelena Jankovic (SRB)[19] vs. Laura Siegemund (GER)

Jankovic can lose to anyone these days, if she has a bad day on the court. The Serb should be too much of a good player anyway for the German, who won in Melbourne her first match in a Grand Slam main draw.

Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)[4]

An entertaining match hopefully, and definitively one to watch close. Wawrinka should be tested, but come out on top in four sets.

Show Court No.2

Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR)[18]

Svitolina can be inconsistent, but she should be able to advance in two sets.

Milos Raonic (CAN)[13] vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP)

A tougher test for Brisbane winner Raonic. The Canadian should manage to keep Robredo far from the baseline, cutting the rallies short to prevail in four sets.

Alizé Cornet (FRA) vs. Shuai Zhang (CHN)

The Chinese has won the match of her life against Halep in the first round, but Cornet should prove to be too solid. The French is in great form after the win in Hobart and has the confidence she needs to go far in Melbourne now.

Jack Sock (USA)[25] vs. Lukas Rosol (CZE)

This could be an interesting matchup and not an easy one for Sock. Jack already struggled in the first round against promising rising star Fritz, but Rosol isn’t someone to give matches away for free. A tough 4-set battle, possible a 5-setter, and Sock could end up losing it.

Show Court No.6

Joao Sousa (POR)[32] vs. Santiago Giraldo (COL)

Despite losing in the first round to Fognini, Sousa showed a solid game on hard courts in Auckland. The Portuguese should advance to the third round.

Feliciano Lopez (ESP)[18] vs. Guido Pella (ARG)

Not really a test for Feliciano, who should be able to close the match in three or four sets maximum.

Annika Beck (GER) vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)[11]

Here is a chance for Timea to do well in Australia, where she has the third round as her best result. A win today means she has equalled her best performance in Melbourne, but she could go further, if she were to face Jankovic next.

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)[21] vs. Tatjana Maria (GER)

Not really a tough test for the Russian, who likes to play in Australia. Makarova should win in two.

Show Court No.8

Johanna Konta (GBR) vs. Saisai Zheng (CHN)

Konta was impressive in her win over Venus Williams in the first round. All is set for the Brit to repeat herself, and she shouldn’t fail her chances, just as she did in New York few months ago.

Denisa Allertova (CZE) vs. Sabine Lisicki (GER)[30]

Lisicki should use her serve to win the match in straight sets.

Tim Smyczek (USA) vs. Viktor Troicki (SRB)[21]

Sydney winner Troicki the favourite against the American. Viktor is in splendid form and can go farther deep in the draw.

Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA)[30]

After the record marathon won against Gulbis, the French could be tired and face fatigue, especially in the heat of Melbourne. This could be an upset.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Second Major of 2022 Begins on Sunday

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A shot from the grounds of the French Open (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The second Major of the year is upon us, with its unique Sunday start.  Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam event where first round singles play is spread across three days. 

 

The men’s draw is headlined by 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, defending champion Novak Djokovic, 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the ATP’s breakout star of the last 12 months, Carlos Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old Spaniard will play his opening match on Sunday, as will top ATP names like Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev.

The women’s draw features 12 Major singles champions, five of whom have won this event: Iga Swiatek, Barbora Krejicikova, Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko, and Garbine Muguruza.  The 28-year-old Spaniard plays perpetual draw-buster Kaia Kanepi on Sunday.  The Order of Play also includes the red-hot Ons Jabeur and US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who faces France’s Kiki Mladenovic.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Ons Jabeur (6) vs. Magda Linette – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

Outside of Iga Swiatek, Jabeur is the WTA player with the most momentum heading into Paris.  Before losing to Swiatek in the final of Rome, Ons was on an 11-match win streak, coming off her title run in Madrid.  She’s now 17-3 on clay this season, and has reached the fourth round of this tournament the last two years.  She’ll be a considerable favorite against Linette on Sunday, though Magda could easily test the sixth seed.  The 30-year-old from Poland was a quarterfinalist this year at clay events in Charleston and Strasbourg, and she owns victories over some top names at Majors, including Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina.  They’ve met twice before on clay, with both matches going to Jabeur.  That includes a three-set encounter at this event a year ago.  I expect a similar result on Sunday.


Hugo Dellien vs. Dominic Thiem (PR) – 11:00am on Court Simonne Mathieu

Thiem is a two-time French Open finalist, but he is still fighting for his first win in over a year.  Since coming back from his wrist injury, he is 0-6 at all levels, with all those matches occurring on clay.  Earning that elusive win in the best-of-five format may prove challenging for an out-of-form player.  This will be Thiem’s first match against Dellien, a 28-year-old from Bolivia who has played 43 matches on clay this season at all levels.  He’s accumulated 30 wins, and advanced to two Challenger finals.  However, Hugo is yet to defeat a top 40 player this year.  While Dominic is not currently a member of that group, and is not performing at that level, taking out a Major champion at a Grand Slam event remains a daunting task.  At a tournament where Thiem has fond memories of success, I expect Dominic is earn his first win since last May.


Garbine Muguruza (10) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Second on Court Simonne Mathieu

Muguruza is a two-time Major champion, and won the third-biggest title of her career at November’s WTA Finals in Guadalajara.  But since that title run, Muguruza has struggled mightily, with a record of 7-8 in 2022.  She’s won back-to-back matches only once this season.  And in the opening round, she’s drawn one of the sport’s most dangerous floaters.  Kanepi has made a career out of upsetting top seeds at Majors.  As per Tennis Abstract, she owns nine top 10 wins at Grand Slam events, over the likes of Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, and most recently at January’s Australian Open, Aryna Sabalenka.  Kaia is a seven-time quarterfinalist at Majors, including two times at Roland Garros.  Her only previous meeting with Muguruza took place eight years ago in Melbourne, when Muguruza prevailed in three sets.  But considering Garbine’s recent form, and Kaia’s history at Majors, this match is definitely deserving of an upset alert.


Carlos Alcaraz (6) vs. Juan Ignacio Londero (Q) – Fourth on Court Philippe Chatrier

Alcaraz has rapidly become one of the ATP’s players.  Carlitos is 28-3 in 2022, with four titles.  He is No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, and is within 200 points of the two players ahead of him (Nadal, Tsitsipas).  The teenager arrives in Paris on a 10-match win streak on clay, having taken back-to-back titles in his home country.  Londero is a former top 50 player who reached the fourth round of this event in 2019.  But he is coming off multiple seasons with a losing record, and hasn’t played a match since early-April.  Alcaraz should not have much trouble dismissing Londero on Sunday, though it is always a treat to see the Spaniard’s formidable skills on display.


Leylah Fernandez (17) vs. Kiki Mladenovic – Fourth on Court Suzanne Lenglen

Fernandez has not immediately been able to follow-up on her thrilling US Open run from last summer.  Despite winning a title in Monterrey, she hasn’t reached a quarterfinal at any other event this year.  But still only 19-years-of-age, Leylah undoubtedly has some big results ahead of her.  Mladenovic was top 10 player in 2017, the same year she was a quarterfinalist at her home Slam.  But the Frenchwoman is 2-4 in Paris since, and only 2-10 this season at all levels.  While Kiki will certainly be motivated by the Parisian crowd, it would be surprising if she could upset Leylah, as the Canadian remains a dogged competitor who thrives on big stages.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Sloane Stephens vs. Jule Niemeier (Q) – Stephens was the 2018 runner-up in Paris, and reached the fourth round a year ago.  But she’s 0-4 on clay in 2022.  Niemeier is a 22-year-old German who won an ITF-level event on clay last month.

Grigor Dimitrov (18) vs. Marcos Giron – Dimitrov is only 12-11 lifetime at Roland Garros, though he was a semifinalist in Monte Carlo this season.  This is a rematch from last year’s French Open, when Giron defeated Dimitrov after Grigor retired during the fourth set.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) vs. Juan Pablo Varillas (Q) – Auger-Aliassime is still looking for his first main draw win at Roland Garros.  He is 8-6 on clay this year.  Varillas is a 26-year-old from Peru who has won 19 matches on clay this season at all levels.

Maria Sakkari (4) vs. Clara Burel – Sakkari has some scar tissue to overcome at this event, as in last year’s semifinals, she was one point away from defeating eventual champion Barbora Krejicikova.  Burel is a 20-year-old from France who is a former junior No.1.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Sebastian Ofner (Q) – Zverev has reached the second week of this tournament four consecutive times.  Ofner is a 26-year-old from Austria who prevailed at a Challenger event in Prague last month.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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REPORT: French Open Qualifying Match Under Investigation Over Irregular Betting Patterns

An unusual number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries.

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A first round match at this week’s French Open qualifying tournament is being looked into after an abnormally high number of bets was placed, according to a leading French newspaper.

 

L’Equipe have cited police sources saying that the clash between eighth seed Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela has flagged up irregular patterns. Miralles defeated his Israeli rival 6-3, 6-0, in less than an hour. It is understood that the focus of the investigation is on the second set which lasted less than 20 minutes. A total of 32 points was placed in that set with Sela only winning seven of those.

According to the source, an unusually high number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia. Prompting judicial authorities to look into the possibility that the match could have been fixed but at present no formal investigation has been confirmed.

“There is no business,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) was quoted by Le Parisien as saying on the matter.

37-year-old Sela is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400 but managed to get into the qualifying draw with the use of a protected ranking. He has only played in two singles tournaments so far this season with the other being at the Australian Open where he also lost in the first round of qualifying.

Sela confirmed in January that 2022 would be his last as a professional. A former top 30 player, he has reached the final of two ATP events in China (2008) and Atlanta (2014). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and has beaten three top 10 players during his career.

Meanwhile, Miralles sealed his place in the French Open main draw on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat Luca Nardi 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that either player has been involved in match-fixing. According to statistics from L’Equipe, there has been a 177% increase in online bets concerning the French Open over a five-year period to 128M euros in 2021.

This year players who lose in the first round of qualifying at the French Open will earn €14,000, which is a 40% increase on 2021.

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‘Time To Accept The Situation And Fight’ – Rafael Nadal Targets French Open Despite Foot Concern

After recently returning to the Tour following a rib injury, a flare up of another issue threatens to spoil Nadal’s Paris dreams.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Just over a week before the start of the French Open Rafael Nadal once again finds himself nursing a long-term condition that sidelined him from the Tour for months last year.

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion looked to be in visible discomfort during parts of his clash with Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Italian Masters on Thursday. After clinching the opening set, Nadal fell 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, to the Canadian who registered his first-ever win over a top 10 player on clay and his 10th overall. He now faces a race against time to be ready for the French Open which he has won a record 13 times.

“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it, it is nothing new. It’s something that is there,” Nadal told reporters in Rome.

35-year-old Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, which is a degenerative disease that causes a deformity of one of the bones in the central part of the foot. Due to the condition last year he was only able to play in one tournament over a six-month period. In September that year he underwent treatment on his foot but not surgery.

“My day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes,” the former world No.1 said of his condition. “It can be frustrating that a lot of days I can’t practice the proper way.”

The setback occurred during what was only Nadal’s second tournament since returning to action following a rib injury. At last week’s Madrid Open he reached the quarter-finals before losing to compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal’s recent misfortunes follow what has been a blistering start to the season for him. He started 2022 by winning 20 matches in a row before losing to Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells. His win-loss for the season currently stands at 23-3 with three titles won, including the Australian Open.

During his visit to Roland Garros this year Nadal will be joined by his doctor who will be keeping a close eye on his foot. As to how much the condition could hinder his campaign in the French capital, the Spaniard admits that he doesn’t know due to its unpredictability.

First thing that I need to do is to not have pain to practice, that’s it. And the negative thing is today it’s not possible for me to play. But maybe in two days things will be better, that’s the thing that I have with my foot,” he explained.

Nadal is the most successful player in French Open history with a total of 105 main draw wins. In fact, the only players to have ever beaten him at the tournament are Novak Djokovic twice and Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

“It’s time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it. Honestly, I can’t say anything more now,” Nadal continued.
“I still have a goal (to be ready for the French Open) in one week and a couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming about that goal.”

Nadal has played just five matches on clay this season heading into the French Open.

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