Five Players That Need To Improve Ahead Of The Clay Court Season - UBITENNIS
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Five Players That Need To Improve Ahead Of The Clay Court Season



Richard Gasquet (Zimbio)

Richard Gasquet (Zimbio)

On the ATP World Tour, the clay court season is fast approaching and we are going to look at five players that need to step up their game.


Richard Gasquet

The world number 22 has had a rocky start to 2017, a great start to the season included a final in Montpellier and a semifinal in Marseille, beating the likes of Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire en route to a great French indoor hard court season. Despite this though injuries prolonged Gasquet’s progress in America as he had to pull out of both Indian Wells and Miami due to Appendicitis. How long the Frenchman will be out of action is questionable, however when he does return to the court he needs to make major improvements as his potential on the clay is at a high standard. He has a massive amount of points to defend and will need to work that backhand on the European clay to have a chance of staying in the top 30 in the world.

Points To Defend: 585 

Gilles Simon

Another Frenchman who needs to improve on the clay is Gilles Simon. The consistent baseliner is currently number 84 in the race to London and his best performance was reaching the quarterfinals in Marseille in February. Simon missed Miami and suffered a crushing defeat to Jan-Lennard Struff in Miami on relatively slower conditions. Again this is Simon’s favourite time of year with long rallies, where he can dictate play across the court being his preference. This should be a part of the season which could determine where Simon ends up at the end of the season, he needs to step up his game.

Points To Defend: 360

David Ferrer

The Spaniard is having a tough time in 2017, he has only won three matches at the start of the year with his last win coming at the Australian Open against Ernesto Escobedo. Losses against Jordan Thompson and Diego Schwartzman hasn’t helped his confidence either. Also the world number 32 has suffered several injuries in the past year which have left to his severe downfall in the rankings. Ferrer is currently 142 in the race to London, which is below the likes of Jerzy Janowicz, who we have barely seen on the main tour. If Ferrer wants to become relevant again he needs to bring his clay court agression to Europe and pull off some big results. Can he be seeded for Roland Garros?

Points To Defend: 450

Feliciano Lopez

Speaking of Spaniard’s who have had a terrible time in 2017, Feliciano Lopez. The big serving Spaniard has had a dreadful start to the season only winning two singles matches in the new year. This has lead to him being ranked 218th in the race to London. This has also impacted his doubles play, where he hasn’t faired much better with his partner Marc Lopez. The world number 36 isn’t known for his clay court prowess but needs to improve if he wants to avoid an awful draw come Roland Garros. He will need to play the best he can and improve tactically if he wants to successfully defend his doubles title in Paris as well.

Points To Defend: 270

Kyle Edmund

The Brit has had a decent start to the season, reaching two quarterfinals in Brisbane and Delray Beach. Despite this he should be progressing a lot better and needs to start producing bigger performances on the big stage. Edmund has massive potential and it is no secret that he has the game to get into the top 10 in the world, however players like Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios. He has been in the second week of a slam before and can play on all surfaces. Can the clay be the start of something big for Edmund?

Points To Defend: 187


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Miami Open Daily Preview: Two Matches Between Top 10 Seeds Headline Fourth Round ATP Action



Taylor Fritz earlier this month at Indian Wells (

All ATP fourth round singles matches will take place on Tuesday in Miami.


And in a rarity, two of those fourth round matches include meetings between top 10 seeds.  2022 Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz takes on 2022 Bercy champ Holger Rune.  And in a battle of the gingers, Andrey Rublev faces Jannik Sinner.  Other ATP matches on Tuesday include three of the four top seeds: Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Also on Tuesday, the WTA quarterfinals begin.  American No.1 Jessica Pegula will look to avenge a loss her doubles partner Coco Gauff experienced earlier in the tournament to Anastasia Potapova.  And Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina plays Italy’s Martina Trevisan, who took out another Major champ, Jelena Ostapenko, on Monday.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Jannik Sinner (10) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – 11:00am on Grandstand

Rublev is a modest 13-7 this season, but was a semifinalist in Miami two years ago.  He comfortably defeated Miomir Kecmanovic in the last round by a score of 6-1, 6-2.

Sinner is a strong 18-4 this season, and is coming off a semifinal run at Indian Wells.  He was the runner-up at this tournament two years ago.

These two have split four prior meetings, the last three of which occurred on clay.  Their only hard court matchup took place three years ago in Vienna, with Sinner retiring after just three games.  But considering Jannik’s impressive form this season, he should be favored to advance on Tuesday.

Taylor Fritz (9) vs. Holger Rune (7) – 12:00pm on Stadium

Dating back to the end of September, Rune is now 33-8.  The 19-year-old achieved four consecutive finals to end last season, winning two of them (Stockholm, Bercy).  This is his Miami Open debut.

Fritz is 19-5 in 2023, and is vying for his fifth consecutive quarterfinal of the year.  This would mark his seventh Masters 1000 quarterfinal, all achieved since the start of 2021.  But Taylor is 0-2 in the fourth round of this tournament, losing in the past two years to Bublik and Kecmanovic.

In their first career meeting, it’s hard to pick a winner.  Fritz has become a pretty reliable performer, while Rune remains quite a streaky player, with impressive highs and some immature lows.  Both possess similar weapons on court, and neither have dropped a set through two matches.  I’ll give the slight edge to Holger based on his recent hard court success.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Martina Trevisan (25) vs. Elena Rybakina (10) – Rybakina has now won nine matches in a row.  Trevisan was only 3-8 on the year ahead of this quarterfinal run.  This is another first career meeting.

Karen Khachanov (14) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas survived a tight three-setter against an in-form Cristian Garin on Monday, while Khachanov easily dispatched of up-and-coming 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka.  Stefanos is 6-0 against Karen, which includes a four-set victory at this year’s Australian Open.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Tommy Paul (16) – Alcaraz is now 16-1 this season, and has claimed his last 17 completed sets.  Paul is 16-5, and was a semifinalist in Melbourne, as well as a finalist in Acapulco.  Tommy took their only previous encounter, last summer in Montreal, in a three-set match that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Anastasia Potapova (27) – Pegula has now reached the quarterfinals or better at seven of the last nine WTA 1000 events.  This is Potapova’s first quarterfinal at this level in over two years.  At the last WTA 1000 event, in Indian Wells, Pegula came from behind to beat Potapova 7-5 in the third.

Quentin Halys vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – Medvedev is 25-3 on the year, and received a walkover on Monday from Alex Molcan.  Halys upset Alex de Minaur on Saturday, and had never won a main draw match at Masters 1000 level prior to this fortnight. 

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Makes Comeback Hint

Could Juan Martin Del Potro make his return to Tennis at the US Open this year?



Juan Martin Del Potro (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro has made a hint that he may return to tennis this year.


The 34 year-old had initially retired from the sport having been able to sort out his knee injury.

Del Potro had his perfect retirement match in Buenos Aires last year when he lost to Federico Delbonis.

Since then Del Potro has been seeing doctors about fixing his knee problem as well as attending several sporting events including last year’s US Open.

However it now seems the Argentinian seems keen on returning to the tour and hasn’t ruled out a potential return at the US Open later this year.

Speaking to Argentinian outlet C5N, Del Potro gave his biggest hint yet that he may return to the tour, “I still have time, I will start training, see how my leg and knee react and if I can do it or not,” Del Potro claimed.

“I love tennis, it will never be a problem to pick up a racquet and see how I feel. The physical problem and my knee are things I work on every day. I’m going to leave that window open, at least until the US Open, as I said. This is the most special tournament for me.”

Del Potro’s only Grand Slam title came at the US Open in what was one of 22 titles that he won throughout his career.

Should Del Potro make his return in New York later this year then it will be his 38th Grand Slam appearance with his current record at Grand Slams being 97-36, a win percentage of 73%.

This year’s US Open will take place from the 28th of August until the 10th of September with Carlos Alcaraz as the defending champion.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Major Champions Sabalenka and Krejcikova Meet Again on Monday



Barbora Krejcikova on Sunday in Miami (

All WTA fourth round singles matches will take place on a busy Monday in Miami.


2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova will meet for the third time in as many events.  Krejcikova prevailed in three sets in Dubai, while Sabalenka prevailed in three sets at Indian Wells.  Who will win the rubber match on Monday?

Meanwhile, ATP third round action concludes on Monday.  Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are the top seeds on the bottom half of the draw, and are just a few rounds away from a semifinal which would renew a bitter rivalry that started five years ago in this very city.  But many formidable foes, like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz, and Frances Tiafoe, stand in their way.  However, Medvedev’s path has become a bit easier, as he has received a walkover on Monday from an injured Alex Molcan.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Magda Linette (20) – Not Before 1:00pm on Stadium Court

Pegula is 17-5 in 2023, and was a semifinalist here a year ago.  Linette is 12-6, and reached her maiden Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, a feat Jessica is still trying to achieve.  Magda currently sits at a career-high ranking of 19th in the world, and would improve on that with a deep run at this tournament.

In their first career meeting, the American should be favored.  Her consistency, paired with her penetrating groundies, have made her one of the WTA’s toughest outs across the last few seasons.  But Linette has plenty of finesse and defensive skills that could drag more errors out of Pegula, so this could be an interesting contest.

Barbora Krejcikova (16) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium Court

Overall Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 3-1, with all matches taking place on hard courts.  Three years ago in Linz, Aryna was victorious in three sets.  Two years ago at the US Open, she was again victorious, this time in straights.  They’ve also both met many times in doubles, as both are Slam champs in women’s doubles as well.

Sabalenka is now 19-2 on the year, and has dropped only 10 games in her four sets played so far in Miami.  Krejcikova is 15-5, and has also advanced to this stage without dropping a set.

I expect another tight battle on Monday between two of the WTA’s top five performers of the year.  But with her huge serve and groundstrokes clicking, and with all the confidence she’s currently playing with, Sabalenka must be considered the favorite.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Cristian Garin (Q) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas is 11-3 this season, and is yet to play a match this fortnight, as he received a walkover in his opening round from Richard Gasquet.  Having now qualified for both Indian Wells and Miami, Garin has won nine matches between the two events.  But he is 0-2 against Stefanos at tour level, though both matches were on clay.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (5) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (25) – Auger-Aliassime survived a prolonged two-set battle against Thiago Monteiro on Saturday, which lasted nearly three hours.  Cerundolo was a shocking semifinalist here a year ago.  Felix has already defeated Francisco twice this year, at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Elise Mertens – Rybakina is 18-4 on the year, and the Indian Wells champ is currently on an eight-match win streak.  She’s already won two three-setters this past week in Miami, and Elena is 2-1 against Elise, having taken both of their hard court encounters.

Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Adrian Mannarino – Hurkacz saved five match points against Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday night, winning the longest three-set match of the year at tour-level.  Mannarino took out breakout American Ben Shelton in three sets on the same evening.  Hubi is 2-1 against Adrian.

Lorenzo Sonego vs. Frances Tiafoe (12) – Tiafoe loves playing in Miami, as he’s vying for his fifth consecutive fourth round appearance at this event.  Frances overcame a stern test from Yosuke Watanuki on Saturday, but has split two previous matches against Sonego, both of which took place this past fall.

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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