Excitement Rises As ATP and WTA Draws Are Released For Brisbane - UBITENNIS
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Excitement Rises As ATP and WTA Draws Are Released For Brisbane

Tennis season is right around the corner, the excitement is building up and the fans just can’t wait. Brisbane, the biggest ATP and WTA tournament of the week has released their main draws, with great first round clashes and intriguing match-ups to happen.

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Week 1 of the 2017 season has kicked off with qualifications for the many ATP and WTA events, the main of which are happening in Brisbane. Stars like Angelique Kerber, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal chose to start their season here, in one of the best tournaments of their level.

 

ATP

Even though Brisbane lost Roger Federer this year, they still put together an incredibly solid field. World No. 3 Milos Raonic is the first seed of the tournament, but the event’s biggest headliner is definitely 5th seed Rafael Nadal. They were drawn into the same quarter, making for a blockbuster quarterfinal. The unseeded players in this section are also quite dangerous floaters. Sam Querrey upset Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon last year, Mischa Zverev ended 2016 in incredible form, and Alexandr Dolgopolov, Nadal’s first round opponent, is a former Top 20 player.

Whoever comes out of the first quarter won’t have it easy, facing most likely 4th seed Dominic Thiem or 7th seed Grigor Dimitrov. The quarter features a first round clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Steve Johnson, which definitely ranks among matches to watch. Other unseeded players are Australian wild card Sam Groth, and three French musketeers Stephane Robert and both of the doubles team Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Especially Sam Groth is someone to watch. He was slowed down by a foot injury for the majority of last season and is ready to return to his top form this year.

Third quarter features 3rd seed Kei Nishikori, two wildcards; Jordan Thompson and Elias Ymer, and Gilles Muller facing one of the intriguing players in qualifying. The star of this section is definitely the match of the first round, 8th seed David Ferrer against Bernard Tomic. Ferrer had a subpar 2016 season, so Tomic is definitely not without a chance here, especially with the home crowd motivating him. That said, Kei Nishikori seems to have a strong hold on the semifinal spot, so whoever faces him will have to put out their best game.

The match headlining the final quarter will be between the Frenchmen Lucas Pouille and Gilles Simon, whose styles should combine for a very competitive match that will also be pleasing to the eye. The winner of this match will most likely have to face 2nd seed Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. The Swiss got involved in some controversy, after his girlfriend Donna Vekic received a wild card into the main draw thanks to him. Before this quarterfinal happens, the winner of the Frenchmen clash will have to face Kyle Edmund or a qualifier, and Stan Wawrinka will be challenged by Viktor Troicki or a qualifier.

The qualifiers looking to get into the main draw are also of great quality, featuring some of the greatest talent in tennis, such as Yoshihito Nishioka, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and even Australia’s own Alex De Minaur, who defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in his opening round.

WTA

World No. 1 Angelique Kerber is at the top of the draw in Brisbane, a WTA Premier event, meaning that the winner receives 470 points. The German definitely won’t have it easy, her first match being against Australian wild card Ashleigh Barty or a qualifier, and it will only get worse from there. Kerber’s quarterfinal will be one of the quartet of Svitolina, Puig, Bouchard or Rogers. The match between No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina and Rio gold medalist Monica Puig is definitely among the matches to show. The winner will definitely be a favorite against both Bouchard or Rogers.

Kerber’s potential semifinal could be 3rd seed Karolina Pliskova. Other than her first round opponent Yulia Putintseva, there aren’t many players that have the quality to reach the semifinals of this event. The other seed in this second is No. 8 Roberta Vinci who faces Lesia Tsurenko. Both players have been struggling in the second part of 2016 and are finding themselves. Ekaterina Makarova and Misaki Doi are also players that haven’t been showing that they are of that quality. Completing the section is a qualifier and controversial wild card Donna Vekic.

Third section of the draw holds the best clash of the first rounds, 4th seed Garbine Muguruza against Aussie Samantha Stosur. Last time these players met was in the Roland Garros semifinals with Muguruza being the winner. The winner faces a tough challenge from either Irina-Camelia Begu or Daria Kasatkina, both players working towards securing a seed at Australian Open. 5th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova will be in good position to possibly upset Muguruza in the quarterfinals, enjoying a much softer draw. Starting off against Louisa Chirico, the Russian will face a qualifier in the possible second round. This should give her some edge over whoever her opponent will be in the quarterfinal, as her matches should be easier.

The final quarter is anchored by second seed and World No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova. The Slovakian is aiming for a Top 4 seeding at Australian Open, which would mean overtaking Simona Halep. The gap between the players is currently 353 points, which is definitely doable. Cibulkova’s first hurdle in the second round will be either Shuai Zhang or Laura Siegemund, two players who did extremely well in Australia last year, so the stakes for them are very high as they will have to scramble to defend their points. The other quarterfinalist will either be 7th seed Elena Vesnina, unpredictable Alize Cornet, Christina McHale or Sara Errani. It seems to be one of the toughest quarters to predict, but the winner of the first match should be the favorite.

The qualifiers are very exciting players, and have potential to make an impact in the main draw. The main seed Kateryna Bondarenko is still in, and with the right draw can definitely make it past the first round. Other exciting prospects include 7th seed Francesca Schiavone, Bethanie Mattek-Sands or 4th seed Carina Witthoeft. Perhaps the player everyone should look out for should be young Australian wild card Destanee Aiava. The 16 year old has clinched an Australian Open main draw wild card earlier this year, and is now proving herself on the WTA level. Starting off with a confident 6-0 6-4 win over Samantha Crawford, who reached semifinals in Brisbane last year. She then went on to demolish doubles specialist Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2 6-0. All that separates Aiava from the main draw is Carina Witthoeft, former World No. 49.

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Barbora Krejcikova reaches the second round in Abu Dhabi

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Former Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova cruised past Romanian qualifier Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 14 minutes in the opening round of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.

 

Krejcikova won 80% of her first service points and converted five of her seven break points. The Czech now leads 2-0 in her two head-to-head matches against Ruse after winning their previous match in Buchrest in three sets. 

Krejcikova reached the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open and won five of her seven matches this year. She claimed her seventh Grand Slam doubles title in Melbourne alongside Katerina Siniakova. 

After a trade of breaks Krejcikova earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the opening set 6-1. Both players exchanged breaks in the first two games of the second set. They held their next service games before Krejcikova sealed the win with a break in the ninth game to close out the second set 6-4. 

Liudmila Samsonova rallied from one set down to beat Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-0. Samsonova won 86% of her first service points. 

Liu earned the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Samsonova pulled back on serve to draw level to 3-3. Liu won the final three games with a break in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-3. Samsonova earned five breaks in the second and third sets to seal the win. 

Liu replaced Paula Badosa, who was forced to withdraw from the match due to a respiratory illness. 

Brazil’s world number 14 Beatriz Haddad Maia came back from one set down to beat Marie Bouzkova 4-6 6-3 6-0 in two and a half hours. Haddad Maia will face Yulia Putintseva.

Haddad Maia broke in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Bouzkova pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Bouzkova closed out the first set with her second break in the 10th game. Haddad Maia broke serve in the third and ninth games to seal the second set 6-3.The Brazilian player broke three times to take a bagel win in the third set. 

Karolina Pliskova cruised past Ysaline Bonaventure 6-1 6-3 after 47 minutes. Bonaventure replaced Garbine Muguruza. Pliskova set up a second round match against this year’s Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina. Zheng Qinwen beat qualifier Rebecca Marino 6-3 6-3. The Chinese player faced just one break point at 4-2 in the second set and saved with a forehand winner. She will face Jelena Ostapenko for the second time in the past seven months. Zheng beat Ostapenko 6-3 3-6 6-4 in in the first round of the the US Open last year.

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Marc Andrea Huesler overcomes Luca Van Assche in Montpellier

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Marc Andrea Huesler had to dig deep to beat French 18-year-old Next Gen player Luca Van Assche 6-3 3-6 6-3 reaching the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Huesler came off a good Davis Cup campaign, where he scored two wins against German players Oscar Otte and Alexander Zverev to help Switzerland qualify for the Davis Cup Group Stage.  

Huesler saved five of the six break points he faced and fired 13 aces. The Swiss 26-year-old player won 86% of his first serve points. 

Huesler saved a total of four break points in in the first and third games. The Swiss player earned break in the sixth game for 4-2 and held his next two service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Van Assche saved two break points to hold serve after five deuces before breaking serve in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. 

Huesler converted his only break point in the second game to win the third set 6-3. 

Huesler set up a match against last year’s Paris Bercy Masters 1000 champion Holger Rune. Huesler leads 2-0 in his previous two head-to-head matches against Rune, as he scored straight-set wins in Bastad and in the Sofia Open final. 

“It’s always different, every tournament starts from scratch. Today I felt the pressure was a bit more on my side because obviously I want to win. I want to start off the year well indoors as well. I am really happy I got it done”, said Huesler. 

Lorenzo Sonego beat Benjamin Bonzi 6-3 6-4. Sonego won his third ATP Tour title on French Indoor hard court in Metz. 

Sonego fired 5 aces and won 70% of his first service points. The Italian player started the match with an early break. He saved a break point tìin the sixth game before earning a double break to close out the first set 6-3. 

Sonego saved three consecutive break points at the second set. Bonzi went down 0-40 in the sixth game, but he held serve. Sonego sealed the win on his second match point with a passing shot winner. 

“I enjoy playing in Montpellier. I like the atmosphere. I was focused on my game. I played well on serve and on return. I want to enjoy every moment on court”, said Sonego. 

Quentin Halys needed three sets to see off Clement Chidekh 7-5 2-6 7-5. 

Marton Fucsovics overcame Geoffrey Biancaneaux 7-5 5-7 6-0 to set up a second round match against Jannik Sinner. In their recent Australian Open clash Sinner came back from one set down to beat Fucsovics 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-0.  

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Jelena Ostapenko overcomes Danielle Collins in a thrilling match in Abu Dhabi

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Number 5 seed Jelena Ostapenko battled past Danielle Collins 7-5 1-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 16 minutes in a rollercoaster match to advance to the second round at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. 

 

Ostapenko has extended her winning streak to six consecutive matches on Emirati soil. The Latvian player clinched her fifth WTA Tour title in Dubai in February 2022. 

The 2017 Roland Garros champion beat Collins for the second time in as many meetings after beating Collins 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 in the 2018 Milami semifinals.

Ostapenko continued her good period of form after reaching the quarter finals at the Australian Open. She will face a second round against either Zheng Quinwen or qualifier Rebecca Marino. 

Collins earned her first break with a return winner to take a 4-3 lead, but she made a double fault, as she was a break point down when she serving for the set. Ostapenko reeled off four consecutive games to seal the first set 7-5. 

Collins bounced back in the second set by earning a double break with three consecutive return winners to seal the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set. 

Ostapenko converted her fifth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Collins pulled back on serve in the eighth game after three double faults from Ostapenko to draw level to 4-4. Ostapenko won 12 of the last 15 points to close out the third set 7-5. 

“Danielle is a great player. It’s always a tough match against her because she plays really well and she’s such a fighter. The match is never over until we shake hands. I am really glad that, even I did not play  my best tennis, I was fighting and I managed to win the match. These kind of matches give confidence”, said Ostapenko. 

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