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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Iga Swiatek beats Emma Raducanu to extend her winning streak to ten consecutive matches in Stuttgart

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Two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek held off 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 3 minutes to extend her winning streak to 10 consecutive matches at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal match against 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who came back from a break down in the third set to beat this year’s Dubai champion Jasmine Paolini.

Raducanu came back from 0-40 down to earn the first break of the opening set. Swiatek converted her third break point in the second game in a seven-deuce second game. Raducanu saved the only other break point at deuce in the sixth game. Swiatek won the first four points and five of the first six points to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Swiatek earned five break points in the second, sixth and in the 12thgame, but she converted only one opportunity. Raducanu converted her only break point in the first game. Swiatek won nine more points than Swiatek. 

Swiatek broke Raducanu in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. This break was decisive, as both players held on their next serve in their next games. 

Swiatek earned six break points in the third, fifth and ninth games, but she converted one chance. The Pole did not face a single break point and won eight more points than Raducanu.

“Raducanu started playing at the beginning pretty loose, like she had nothing to lose, and I totally get that. Sometimes it is like that. I knew I was questioning if she is going to be able to keep the same intensity throughout the whole match. It was not about service games or return games. I was just waiting for my chances to break back and I was sure that I am going to get them”, said Swiatek.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Sebastian Ofner in Barcelona to extend his winning streak

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Sebastian Ofner 6-4 7-5 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive matches after claiming his third title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. 

Tsitsipas earned an immediate break in the first game. Ofner broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break  in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and served out the first set 6-4 with a hold at 15. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner won three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas came back by winning four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to seal the second set 7-5.

Tsitsipas has a record of 17 wins to 5 defeats in Barcelona. The Greek player reached three finals at this tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2023.  

“I feel pretty good, but it is still early in the tournament. The conditions here are very different to Monte-Carlo and I felt it today when I was playing. My job is to adapt and to ensure I can bring my A game again in Barcelona this week. Today was a great test to see where I stand. I am hoping to keep on improving and getting good wins like this under my belt”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitssipas set up a third round match against Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Musetti saved three break points in the first game of the opening set. The Italian player earned two break points with a backhand down the line. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game. Both players went on serve un the 12th game when Carballes Baena saved a set point. Carballes Baena went up a 5-1 lead with two mini-breaks in the tie-break. Musetti won three consecutive points to reduce to 4-5. Carballes Baena won the final two points to take the tie-break 7-4. 

Carballes Baena converted his fourth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Musetti broke back in the fifth game. Carballes Baena saved a break point in the sixth game. The Spanish player sealed the win with a break on his second match. 

Last week’s Monte-Carlo finalist Casper Ruud beat Alexandre Muller 6-3 6-4 to claim his 25th tour-level win of the season. Ruud has drawn level with Jannik Sinner for the most wins in 2024 on the ATP Tour. 

Ruud set up a third round match against Jordan Thompson, who beat Jaume Munar 6-4 2-4 6-4. Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to claim his milestone 400th match win on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut set up a third round match against Cameron Norrie. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins his milestone 400th match on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut came back from one set down to beat Australian Open doubles finalist Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 1 minute at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. 

Vavassori earned an early break in the first game. The Italian player earned three break points in the seventh game, but Bautista Agut saved them. The Spanish player broke straight back in the eighth game. Vavassori broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and saved two break points before closing out the first set 6-4 on his second set point. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games of the second set. Vavassori earned a break point in the fifth game, but he did not convert it. Bautista Agut broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-3. 

Bautista Agut broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1. 

Bautista Agut reached the 400th milestone win on the ATP Tour.  The Spanish player has become the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins. He achieved 20 wins against members of the top 10, ten wins against top 5 players and four against world number 1s. Bautista Agut is one of the nine players, who have beaten Novak Djokovic as World number 1 more than twice. 

“For me it’s just a number. The important thing is that I have done great work over these years, that I have a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of “, said Bautista Agut. 

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