French Open Day 11 Preview: Looking at the Final Four Quarter-finals - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 11 Preview: Looking at the Final Four Quarter-finals

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Andy Murray (zimbio.com)

Following yesterday’s troublesome weather at Roland Garros, six matches will take place today. All four men’s quarter-finals will get underway as well as the two women’s matches. World No.1 Andy Murray faces a tricky task against Kei Nishikori, who he leads 8-2 in their head-to-head. Elsewhere, former champion Stan Wawrinka takes on Marin Cilic in what could be a closer than expected encounter. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will also feature and their matches has already been previewed.

 

Karolina Pliskova remains the highest seed left in the women’s draw. The Czech, who had never progressed beyond the second round of the tournament before this year, will face home player Caroline Garcia in what will be a test of nerves. Simona Halep is bidding to win her first major title. The Romanian faces a tough task against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina. Recently the two clashed in the final of the Italian Open, where Svitolina triumphed in three sets.

Andy Murray vs. Kei Nishikori

These two played an epic five-set match at last year’s U.S. Open, with Nishikori prevailing 7-5 in the fifth. But Murray has dominated their career head-to-head, winning eight of ten encounters. The world #1 seems to have found the best form of his season in his last two matches, while Nishikori looked less than stellar is his last two rounds. Kei’s body is also known to break down, and it can’t be feeling 100% after playing nine sets in two matches, with his third round spread across two days. Let’s hope these two give us another thriller in a quarterfinal where Murray enters as the favorite.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Marin Cilic

Both men have yet to drop a set in this tournament, though Wawrinka’s road has been a bit more difficult as Cilic has not faced a seeded player. That being said, Cilic’s victories have been clinical, as no opponent has won more than three games in a set. Wawrinka holds an impressive 11-2 record against Cilic, with Marin’s last victory coming over seven years ago. This is Cilic’s first French Open quarter-final, and clay is his weakest surface. Stan is the smart pick, but don’t count Cilic out considering his recent form. Let’s not forget how he shocked everyone by storming through the 2014 U.S. Open draw.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Caroline Garcia

It’s easy to see this quarterfinal going either way. They have split their four previous meetings, with Garcia winning their only match on clay. But that was in 2015, and Pliskova is a much better player now. In fact, Karolina is just two wins away from becoming the new #1 player in the world. Will she find motivation in that, or feel the weight of the pressure? Unlike Pliskova, Garcia has never played in a match this late at a major, much less in her home country. How will Caroline react to that? Pliskova openly admits she does not love playing on clay, but she has a lot more big match experience than Garcia. Pliskova also has the bigger ground strokes, so if she’s on, she can dictate the outcome. This will be an intriguing match in a Davis Cup-like atmosphere.

Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina

This is the quarterfinal matchup many anticipated since the draw was released, and the winner will be the favorite to win this title. Svitolina has been the hottest player on the WTA tour in 2017, winning four titles and leading the year-to-date rankings. Halep is a former French Open finalist who has finished the past three years ranked inside the top four. When these two met in the Rome final a few weeks ago, Halep had the advantage until injuring her ankle, allowing Svitolina to come back and take the title. Elina may draw confidence from that victory, but Simona will feel she would have won if not for rolling her ankle. Halep has looked very good in Paris and has not dropped a set, while Svitolina was down 2-5 and 0-30 against unseeded Petra Martic in her last match before storming back to win. An escape like that can often free up players to play well in their next match, but Halep must still be favored in what should be a great match.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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