French Open Day 5 Preview: Four Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 5 Preview: Four Must-See Matches

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Stan Wawrinka (zimbio.com)

Today at the French Open will see grand slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro resume their campaigns. Wawrinka is currently of a five-match winning streak and triumphing at the Geneva Open last week. On the other hand, Del Potro’s preparation for Roland Garros has been blighted by back and shoulder problems. Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, title contender Elina Svitolina faces Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the quarterfinals last year. Here are the four matches to follow on day five.

 

Stan Wawrinka vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov

Wawrinka’s season is following a familiar pattern: after underperforming for most of 2017, Stan successfully defended his Geneva title last week in his home country. He appears to be finding his form just in time for Roland Garros, where he won the title in 2015 and made the semis last year. Dolgopolov has struggled in recent years, now barely ranked inside the Top 100. But much like Stan, Dolgopolov is a dangerous opponent capable of hitting opponents off the court. And he can play on the clay, having won the title in Buenos Aires earlier this year by defeating Kei Nishikori in the final. Dologopolov is actually 2-1 against Wawrinka, but they have never met on clay and haven’t played since 2014. Expect a lot of winners and errors from both men in what should be an interesting second round contest.

Elina Svitolina vs. Tsvetlana Pironkova

Court 2 may be the place to be on Thursday as that’s where the next three of our must-see matches will take place, with this one first on at 11:00am local time. Svitolina is one of the favorites to win this tournament, but this could prove to be a tough second round draw. Pironkova’s game of slices and spins can frustrate opponents and has brought her much success. She made the quarterfinals of last year’s Roland Garros, and previously made the quarters and semis at Wimbledon, twice defeating Venus Williams on her strongest surface. This will be the first meeting between these two players, and should be a fun matchup to watch.

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Nicolas Almagro

Del Potro’s first round win was his first win at Roland Garros in five years, of course having missed many years due to wrist injuries. Del Potro has recently been dealing with back and shoulder issues, and many expected him to miss the French Open again this year. Almagro is a former world #9 who is at his best on clay, with three prior appearances in the French Open quarterfinals. But Almagro has also been hurt, having retired against Nadal in Rome two weeks ago with a left knee injury. Del Potro is 3-0 against Almagro, but all meetings have been on hard courts. If both players remain healthy, this should be a good match with a lot of good shot-making that favors Del Potro.

Anastasija Sevastova vs. Eugenie Bouchard

While Bouchard is certainly the more well-known of the two, she has struggled in recent years. Sevastova has quietly risen into the Top 20 rankings, making the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Open and more recently the semifinals in Madrid. Bouchard had to pull out of the Nuremberg Cup last week with a right ankle injury, and like many others was questionable to play at the French Open. They split their two previous meetings last year, and have not yet faced each other on clay. Sevastova will be the favorite to advance in this one.

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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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