French Open Day 1 Preview: Three Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 1 Preview: Three Must-See Matches

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

The first day of the French Open promises to be one filled with joy and anxiety. Petra Kvitova will grace her presence on court Philippe Chatrier is what will be her first match since suffering an injury to her hand in a knife attack last year. Meanwhile, world No.1 Angelique Kerber will be out to prove a point against the tricky Ekaterina Makarova. 32 singles matches will take place on Sunday, but these are the three to watch.

 

Petra Kvitova vs. Julia Boserup

The opening match on Philippe-Chatrier will see the emotional return of Petra Kvitova, who has not played all year while recovering from a home invasion in December where a robber entered her apartment. The assailant held a knife to Kvitova’s throat, and Petra suffered deep lacerations to her left hand while defending herself. The left-hander was told she may never play again, but she surprised friends and fans alike this week with her announcement that she would return earlier than planned at this year’s French Open. The two-time Wimbledon Champion is one of the most popular players in the locker room, and it will be inspiring to see her walk out onto Court Philippe-Chatrier. Petra has admitted she is not yet 100%: she still cannot even make a full fist with her left hand, and has not completed two full sets of tennis during practice. Considering her condition and the considerable emotions she’ll be feeling, how will she fare against the 86th-ranked player from the USA? This is one case where the outcome means a lot less than the mere presence of Kvitova back on the court.

Angelique Kerber vs. Ekaterina Makarova

The number-one ranked Kerber has been playing like anything but the top player in the world, with a 19-12 record on the year and no titles. A letdown following her breakout 2016 was expected, but her lack of confidence has been startling. In the absence of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, there will be even more focus on Kerber’s performance. Kerber lost in the first round of last year’s French Open to Kiki Bertens. Will that result haunt her, or can she find solace in having no points to defend? While Makarova has recently found more success in Doubles than Singles, she is a very rough first round draw who has made many deep runs at majors. But Makarova has never been past the fourth round on the red clay of Roland Garros, and Kerber is 4-0 lifetime against Makarova. This battle of left-handers could go either way, and a tough first-round win could propel either woman into the second week with a wide-open women’s draw.

Dominic Thiem vs. Bernard Tomic

Thiem comes into this French Open with a lot of momentum, and good memories from last year where he reached the semifinals. After losing to Rafael Nadal in the final of both Barcelona and Madrid, Thiem finally defeated Nadal in Rome. Subsequently, he lost his next match to Novak Djokovic, only winning one game in two sets. The Austrian has already played 41 matches in 2017, as he has not decided to reduce his playing schedule in light of his deep runs in many tournaments. While this amount of match play must boost Thiem’s confidence, it’s also likely to soon tire him out. Tomic is fun to watch when motivated, but is not a strong clay courter – he should be an easy win for Thiem. But let’s watch to see if Thiem, one of the top contenders for the French Open title, shows any signs of fatigue.

Sunday’s order of play (starting at 11:00 local time)

PHILIPPE-CHATRIER COURT

Julia Boserup (USA) v Petra Kvitova (CZE) [15]
Angelique Kerber (GER) [1] v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Stephane Robert (FRA) v.Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [11]
Lucas Pouille (FRA) [16] v Julien Benneteau (FRA)

SUZANNE-LENGLEN COURT

Horacio Zeballos (ARG) v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Christina McHale (USA) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [8]
Dominic Thiem (AUT) [6] v Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Venus Williams (USA) [10] v Qiang Wang (CHN)

COURT 1

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) v Gilles Muller (LUX) [26]
Marco Trungelliti (ARG) v Quentin Halys (FRA)
Camila Giorgi (ITA) v Oceane Dodin (FRA)
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) v Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [6]

COURT 2

Monica Puig (PUR) v Roberta Vinci (ITA) [31]
Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) v Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
Tommy Robredo (ESP) v Daniel Evans (GBR)
Viktorija Golubic (SUI) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

COURT 3

Marius Copil (ROU) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) [19]
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) [23] v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) [22] v Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Evgeniya Rodina (RUS)

COURT 6

Louisa Chirico (USA) v Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
Taro Daniel (JPN) v Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
Amanda Anisimova (USA) v Kurumi Nara (JPN)
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) v Steve Johnson (USA) [25]

COURT 14

Madison Brengle (USA) v Julia Goerges (GER)
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) [20] v Florian Mayer (GER)
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) v Kateryna Kozlova (UKR)
Robin Haase (NED) v Alex De Minaur (AUS)

COURT 17

Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) [30] v Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
Marina Erakovic (NZL) v Shelby Rogers (USA)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) v Tennys Sandgren (USA)
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) v Dusan Lajovic (SRB

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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