Challenger Tour: Tim Smyczek continues title defence in Dallas, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans reach quarter-finals - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Tim Smyczek continues title defence in Dallas, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans reach quarter-finals

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Tim Smyczek managed to replicate his 2015 form at the Australian Open, but still has some way to go to retain the Dallas crown (Image via Zimbio.com)

Technically there were two major shocks in Dallas on Wednesday, though one was only a shock in ranking. Dan Evans and Grega Zemlja both defeated seeded opponents to reach the quarter-finals, whilst Tim Smyczek recovered from a second set slip to move within three matches of defending his crown.

 

Though Dan Evans beating eighth seed Bjorn Fratangelo 6-2, 6-3 must go down as shock, it isn’t really. Evans now leads the head-to-head 4-0 after the result in Dallas. The Briton broke twice in the first set and once in the second to oust the twenty-two year-old American in just over an hour.

Second seed Kyle Edmund joined Evans in the quarter-finals as he eased past Irishman James McGee 6-3, 6-4. The players traded breaks early in each set, but it was Edmund who managed to find the additional break required in both to move forward.

Tim Smyczek had raced into an early lead against compatriot Ryan Harrison, with the defending champion scoring a bagel in the opening set. Harrison, to his credit, fought back and broke the fourth seed in the final game of the second set. Smyczek eventually recovered recovered in the third to win 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

Francis Tiafoe followed his excellent win against Sam Groth with a good win over tricky Russian Mikhail Vaks. The qualifier matched Tiafoe through the first set before Tiafoe pounced in the last game. Vaks produced his own break in set two, but gave two up, allowing the American to set up a meeting with sixth seed Tatsumo Ito, who ensured that Henri Laaksonen’s poor start to the season continued. The Swiss has only one win on the year, from his first round encounter with Marek Michalicka.

Marinko Matosevic continued his comeback from injury, benefiting from an error-strewn display from Argentine Marco Trungelliti to win 6-4, 6-3, though Matosevic did appear to receive treatment for a groin injury. Finally, Grega Zemlja scored the other upset as he beat seventh seed John-Patrick Smith 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Zemlja did not earn quite as many aces as he enjoyed in his first round meeting with Jason Jung (33) but did enough to oust the Australian.

Benjamin Becker takes on Ernesto Escobedo in the final second round match in the evening session.

Quarter final Analysis and Picks (in bold):

Grega Zemlja vs Kyle Edmund: The Briton is in good form having not dropped a set in his opening two matches, and will be a stronger returned than Zemlja has faced through his first two matches. Edmund is looking to gain some points and regain his Top 100 ranking. Given that he earned no points in this week last year, he looks on course to do just that.

Francis Tiafoe vs Tatsumo Ito: Tiafoe appears to very much be the danger-man of this draw. Unseeded, he has already taken out top seed Sam Groth, and negotiated an in-form qualifier. Ito has had a mixed start to the year, and will have to be at his very best to battle with Tiafoe.

Benjamin Becker OR Ernesto Escobedo vs Dan Evans: A hugely important match takes place before we even know who Evans faces, and the personalities could be very different. He could end up facing a tour veteran, or a young up-and-comer. I’m inclined to back Evans over either player though.

Marinko Matosevic vs Tim Smyczek : The Australian was lucky against Radu Albot and beat a clearly below-par Marco Trungelliti. Defending champion Tim Smyczek is likely to be a step too far at this stage of his comeback, with the American in decent but not amazing form as his second set collapse against Ryan Harrison evidenced. Be wary as well Matosevic received treatment for an apparent groin injury in the second set against Trungelliti and if that continues to bother him, it could be a very short match.

 

Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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