Australian Open Day 5: Our Preview and Predictions! - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 5: Our Preview and Predictions!

Roger Federer faces Grigor Dimitrov, Kyrgios tries to replace Hewitt in the hearts of the Aussie fans against Berdych. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova should win easily. Friday is expected to be a fantastic day of tennis in Melbourne. Who will be the winners in day five at the Australian Open? Our preview and predictions here!

Ivan Pasquariello

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In bold the players we believe will the favourite to win their third round match.

 

Rod Laver Arena

Belinda Bencic (SUI)[12] vs. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)

An interesting match, but an encounter Belinda Bencic will hardly let go. The Swiss has a shot at reaching the 4th round in Australia for the first time (she hadn’t gone further than the 2nd round prior to this year) and she seems to have the relaxed attitude of the winner. She should win in two sets against former World No.29 Bondarenko.

Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS)[5]

Maria has never played Davis before on the WTA tour. The Russian looked almost perfect in her first matches here in Melbourne. Maria will hardly be challenged by a player like Davis, who tries to send every ball back and be consistent, but who struggles to keep up with pure aggression.

Roger Federer (SUI)[3] vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)[27]

We hope is going to be a very entertaining match, like the one the two played in Brisbane few days ago. Federer has looked flawless so far in Melbourne, especially on his serve. When the Swiss is in such state of grace is hard to beat him for anyone, unless they are called Novak Djokovic. Roger should win again, to collect his 5th win against Grigor, but most likely in four sets.

Serena Williams (USA)[1] vs. Daria Kasatkina (RUS)

Serena looks better and better as the tournament progresses. She hasn’t been challenged yet and she will hardly be against the young Russian. Serena wins in two.

Nick Kyrgios (AUS)[29] vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE)[6]

Tomas and Nick have never met before on the tour. So far, both players have advanced fairly easily in the draw. If they weren’t to play one another, both would have serious chances of moving forward, but they have been pitted to play one another already in the third round. Considering the way Nick is enjoying the support of the crowd and hasn’t showed any sign of pressure, I believe the Australian will manage to pull the win out of his hat and officially advance deep in the rankings to make Aussie fans happy. It could be a five-setter. We hope so.

Margaret Court Arena

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)[26] vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)[7]

It’s time to see if Nishikori can go far this year in Melbourne. The Japanese has so far put together two convincing performances. Kei could let a set go, but should win in four sets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)[9] vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)

Jo is finding his calm bubble in Melbourne. Free of any pressure, away from the eyes of the French fans, Tsonga is swinging his racquet free, causing major trouble to all of his opponents. Compatriot Herbert should surrender in three sets, maybe winning one set because of a short lack of attention from the 9th seed. After all, to play against a compatriot and friend is never easy on the tour.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)[4] vs. Monica Puig (PUR)

An interesting set for Radwanska against Sydney finalist Puig. Monica has an interesting game, but she is not used to play against talented players who can mix up like the Pole. The World No.4 should win in straight sets.

Novak Djokovic (SRB)[1] vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA)[28]

Djokovic has only once got close to lose to the Italian in a Slam, and that was in 2012 at the French Open. Andreas didn’t manage to win then, he will hardly manage to do so today, as the Serb is simply unbeatable at the moment. Djokovic in three.
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)[10] vs. Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS)

Suarez Navarro is having a dream draw in Melbourne. Next for her, to reach the fourth round, yet another player ranked outside the top 100, the third in a row. World No.109 Kulichkova could win a set, but she is hardly set to cause an upset in Melbourne. The Spaniard will not even need her best tennis, just as she did in the second round, to win.

Hisense Arena

Dominic Thiem (AUT)[19] vs. David Goffin (BEL)[15]

This could be the match of the day on Hisense Arena. Two talented players, two clean hitters and great competitors. Goffin leads the Head-2-Head by 3-2, but has lost both the last two matches he played against the young Austrian (last year in Marseille David retired in the first set with back pain). The Belgian should use the confidence he gained in winning in Kooyong to gain the edge and win in 4 or 5 sets.

Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)[13]

The Italian should be able to mix up the pace and win in straight sets.

Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs. Gilles Simon (FRA)[14]

Simon has been playing solid tennis in Melbourne this year. He should win the match in straight sets.

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)[28] vs. Daria Gavrilova (AUS)

An interesting matchup on the women’s side. Gavrilova was impressive against Kvitova and she has the game to challenge the French. Kristina should win, but Daria can use the confidence of her first wins to seize yet another chance and possibly another victory. Let’s virtually bet on the Russian.

Show Court No.2

Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) vs. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)

The grit and determination of Putintseva should allow her to sail into the fourth round. The Kazakh has beaten Wozniacki and then confirmed herself in the second round. Both players had never reached the third round in a major before, with Gasparyan who had never won a match in the main draw of a Slam. The first ever fourth round appearance in a major should go to Putintseva.

Marin Cilic (CRO)[12] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)[24]

Cilic has won both the previous Head-2-Head against Bautista Agut, but the Spaniard enters the tournament after having won the title in Auckland. Roberto has however fought for five sets in both the first and second round and that should give the physical advantage to the Croat. Cilic should win in four sets.

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US Open: Shelby Rogers Delivers; Serena Still A Threat To Win 24th Major

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Serena Williams - US Open (photo Twitter @usopen)

After all of these years of playing in the U.S. Open, Shelby Rogers is finally a seeded player.

 

The Charleston, S.C., native has been playing America’s premier tennis event almost continuously since her debut in New York in 2010. She’ll turn 30 years old in a few weeks and has worked her way up the rankings to 31st in the world.

That’s a big achievement from the little girl who hung on the fences more than two decades ago to watch her older sister Sabra play high school matches that eventually led to an Al-American career for Sabra at Emory University. Sabra became a psychologist and, of course, is one of  Shelby’s biggest fans.

LOOK OUT FOR ROGERS?

Rogers took the direct route. She didn’t play high school tennis, but left the classroom before high school to train in tennis, study online and play the junior circuit. She turned pro in 2009 at age 16.

Monday evening at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, It took Rogers awhile to start living up to her ranking. But once she turned the corner after dropping the first set in nine games, Shelby started looking like a seasoned top 30 player.

Rogers sort of blew The Netherlands’ slim Arantxa Rus away, taking a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the opening round of the U.S. Open. Rogers especially played the deciding 28th game of the match like the veteran pro she is. She hit one long forehand and netted one ball in that game, but otherwise she rode her big serve to victory in the clinching game. At 40-30, she delivered a huge first serve down the middle that Rus couldn’t put into play.

WOMEN’S RACE TO TOP PRIZE WIDE OPEN

The way things are on the women’s tour these days, with no true leader while once-amazing top-ranked Iga Swiatek tries to regain her dominance, anything is possible.

Yes, even finally a 24th Grand Slam title for Serena Williams.

But this is about Shelby Rogers. She is playing the best tennis of her career nearly a decade and a half after her life as a professional tennis player started.

With any kind of luck, Rogers could leave New York ranked among the top 25 players in the world, or maybe higher if she continues to serve and play the kind of big-ball tennis she played  in the last 19 games Monday night.

WHO’S NEXT IN LINE

So, what’s after Swiatek, who started the year on fire with a long unbeaten streak that went through the French Open and rewarded her with as many points as the confined totals of the Nos. 2 and 3 players. Of course, Ashleigh Barty’s retirement after winning the Australian Open opened the door for Swiatek’s rise to the top.

And then Wimbledon’s grass took care of Swiatek.

Nos. 2-5 Anett Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur are all outstanding players, but none currently fit in the great column. They appear to be waiting in line for Swiatek or another Barty-like player to step forward to rule the women’s tour.

WHAT ABOUT UKRAINE’S DARIA!

Then there are almost totally unknown players such as Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. I hadn’t given Snigur much chance at all on the pro tour until her shocking U.S. Open first-round victory over multi-Grand Slam tournament winner and seventh-ranked Simona Halep. 

The last time I had thought about Snigur was when she upended Charleston’s Emma Navarro in the Junior Wimbledon semifinals and then won the Junior Grand Slam tournament.

At Junior Wimbledon in 2019, I thought Navarro, who also is now on the WTA Tour and is currently ranked 145th in the world, would roll past Snigur the way she had in the 2019 Junior French Open quarterfinals. But Snigur is so deceptive with her ground strokes that strike like lightning, she dominated Navarro at that Junior Wimbledon.

So, maybe the currently 124th-ranked Snigur may be ready to make a mark on the tour after scoring her first tour victory by defeating Halep.

NO NOVAK, BUT RAFA IS THERE

Without Novak Djokovic, the men are about as unpredictable as the women, with the exception of one player. Rafa Nadal, of course, entered this U.S. Open, with a perfect 19-0 record this year in Grand Slams.

Daniil Medvedev is the defending champion at the U.S. Open, but even though he is ranked No. 1 in the world, it’s a long road to the final for the Russian. Medvedev hasn’t always been predictable.

And already, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas has been eliminated by a complete unknown, Daniel Elahi Galan.

Wow! The Greek star probably was about as much of a favorite as Medvedev.

And poor Dominic Thiem was cast on an outside court. And he lost. Just a couple of years ago, Thiem was winning the U.S. Open.

My top five picks in order would be: Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Medvedev and Andy Murray. Yes, Andy looks pretty fit.

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James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.

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Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.

 

The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

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Does WTA Need A Top Rivalry To Drive The Sport?

Iga Swiatek is the WTA’s dominant world number one but does she need a rival in order to drive the sport to new heights.

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Iga Swiatek (@TennisHandshake - Twitter)

The WTA has a dominant world number one and a variety of talented players on the tour but the one thing it’s lacking at the moment is a top rivalry.

 

First of all it was supposed to be Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, then Ash Barty and Osaka and also Barty and Iga Swiatek.

However none of these match-ups created a top rivalry over a long period to generate an overwhelming amount of interest.

After Barty’s shock retirement, many people were left disappointed at the fact that her and current dominant world number one Iga Swiatek could not compete for the sport’s biggest titles in a fierce rivalry.

Now Swiatek sits at the top of the WTA rankings with almost a 4,000 point lead at the top. The rest of the field are very talented and that in itself is an intriguing aspect of the WTA’s appeal.

But the one thing the women’s game lacks is a top rivalry to generate a hype that the ATP clearly has right now.

As Mark Petchey said it’s an issue that needs solving soon as every sport has one, “Rivalries drive the sport. What they do is make sure that it manifests itself in a big polarisation of a large fan base, against another one,” Petchey was quoted as saying by Tennis365.

“You look across the board, over F1, look at the tribal nature of AFL, of Premier League football here. It’s a huge part of what you need to have a successful sport. That is the one thing that is missing from the women’s tour at the moment, is a superb rivalry, with a little bit of edge.

“That’s why I say I’m sad that Ash pulled up stumps, because I think that rivalry could’ve developed with Iga in that way. Would it have been quite as intense as the Rafa-Novak and Roger-Novak rivalries? Probably not. But it would have been there. Going into every major saying that you’re not looking forward to a specific clash potentially when the draw comes out, does hurt the tour a little bit. 

“You can’t keep saying ‘oh, anyone can win it’. Because you’re just not tagging anybody… you’re not setting the scene for something amazing that’s going to happen, a nice little volcanic eruption right at the back-end of a major. They need some people to be a bit more consistent and getting through, because that’s what will be a massive driver for the WTA.”

It’s hard to argue with those points of view from Petchey as rivalries are what are talked about for decades after players have retired.

It will be interesting to see whether Swiatek will continue to dominate the rest of the field or whether someone can build a rivalry with the Pole heading into the remainder of the season.

The next big WTA event of the year will take place at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on the week of the eighth of August.

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