Wimbledon Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Andy Murray (zimbio.com)

The two Mondays of play at Wimbledon are my favorite tennis days of the year.  The second Monday is full of excitement and big name matchups, as it’s the only major where all round of 16 matches take place on the same day.  Today we have the first Monday at Wimbledon, when the players first step onto the grass.  The main courts are perfectly green and pristine, with two weeks of memorable stories about to unfold.

 

Andy Murray vs. Alexander Bublik

As is tradition, the defending champion Andy Murray will be first on Center Court.  Sir Andy will make his first appearance at the All England Club since being knighted, and he must be excited after announcing that he and his wife are expecting their second child.  However, many questions surround Murray’s chances over the coming fortnight.  Since finally becoming the world number one at the end of last year, Murray has struggled in 2017, winning only one title amid injuries and illnesses.  After regaining his form and getting to the semifinals in Paris, he lost in the first round at Queens Club to Jordan Thompson.  Brett Haber of Tennis Channel in the U.S. reported that Murray was limping his way to the practice court on Saturday.  On Monday he faces a player ranked outside the top 100, so this should be a straightforward affair.  But all eyes will be on Murray’s condition.

Rafael Nadal vs. John Millman

The 10-time French Open champion also arrives at SW19 with some questions surrounding his chances.  Nadal has not advanced past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011, and hasn’t played a match on grass in two years.  Rafa himself has speculated as to how his knees will feel on the grass.  But Nadal’s form on the hard courts and clay in the first six months of 2017 must provide him with huge confidence, so perhaps this is Rafa’s best opportunity in some time to make another deep run at The Championships.  Much like Murray, Nadal’s opponent is ranked outside the top 100, so this match is must-see solely to observe Nadal’s performance.

Marin Cilic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber

Cilic has recently been playing some of the best and most consistent tennis of his career.  He’s coming off his first quarterfinal appearance at the French Open, and made the final at Queens Club where he lost an epic match to Feliciano Lopez in a prolonged third set tiebreak.  The Croat has made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in each of the past three years.  His opponent is a long-time member of the top 50 in the world over the past decade, though he just recently dropped out of the top 50.  But Kohlschreiber is very comfortable on the grass, and more than capable of competing with higher-ranked players.  Andy Murray needed to save seven match points against the German earlier this year in Dubai, and the former Wimbledon quarterfinalist defeated Steve Johnson just a few weeks ago on the grass in Stuttgart.  Surprisingly, Kohlschreiber holds a 6-3 record against Cilic.  This could be a tricky opening round for Cilic, who is the biggest threat for the title outside of the top five.

Ana Konjuh vs. Sabine Lisicki

Konjuh is a 19-year-old Croatian who you may recall held three match points against Agnieszka Radwanska at last year’s Wimbledon before losing 9-7 in the final set after she turned her ankle by stepping on the tennis ball.  Konjuh avenged that loss by defeating Radwanska on her way to her first major quarterfinal at last year’s U.S. Open.  She’s now ranked within the top 30, and perhaps she’s the next youngster who will make a shocking run at a major.  Lisicki has defined her career by her Wimbledon performances, as it’s the only major where she’s found success.  She notably reached the 2013 final, and holds victories at SW19 over Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.  This will only be Lisicki’s second tournament of 2017, as she’s been sidelined by a shoulder injury.  Lisicki’s play becomes inspired while playing on the grass courts at Wimbledon, but will her recent lack of play and tough first round draw be too much to overcome?

Victoria Azarenka vs. Cici Bellis

This will be Azarenka’s second tournament back after giving birth to her son Leo last year.  While it will surely take her some time to rediscover the great form she had found in early 2016 prior to her pregnancy, she returns to a wide open women’s tour.  She is a two-time former Wimbledon semifinalist, and one of the most ferocious competitors in the world.  Meanwhile, this will be Bellis’ Wimbledon debut.  Cici turned pro less than a year ago, but has quickly risen the WTA rankings, where she currently sits at number 40.  Her season includes a victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, and just recently she reached the semifinals at the grass court event in Mallorca.  This should be a fascinating battle between a two-time major champion and a WTA rookie.

Order of play

Centre Court 1pm:
(1) Andy Murray (Gbr) v Alexander Bublik (Kaz), Johanna Larsson (Swe) v (11) Petra Kvitova (Cze), Daniil Medvedev (Rus) v (5) Stan Wawrinka (Swi)

No 1 Court: 1pm:
Elise Mertens (Bel) v (10) Venus Williams (USA), (4) Rafael Nadal (Spa) v John Millman (Aus), (6) Johanna Konta (Gbr) v Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe)

No 2 Court: 11:30am:
(12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) v Cameron Norrie (Gbr), Marina Erakovic (Nzl) v (2) Simona Halep (Rom), Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) v (7) Marin Cilic (Cro), Maryna Zanevska (Bel) v Heather Watson (Gbr)

Court 3 11:30am:
(20) Nick Kyrgios (Aus) v Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra), Ashleigh Barty (Aus) v (4) Elina Svitolina (Ukr), (21) Ivo Karlovic (Cro) v Aljaz Bedene (Gbr), (13) Jelena Ostapenko (Lat) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Blr)

Court 4 11:30am:
Rogerio Dutra Silva (Bra) v Benoit Paire (Fra), Peter Gojowczyk (Ger) v Marius Copil (Rom), Ying-Ying Duan (Chn) v Ana Bogdan (Rom)

Court 5 11:30am:
Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus) v (30) Karen Khachanov (Rus), Norbert Gombos (Svk) v Andreas Seppi (Ita), Madison Brengle (USA) v Richel Hogenkamp (Ned), Marketa Vondrousova (Cze) v Shuai Peng (Chn)

Court 6 11:30am:
Simone Bolelli (Ita) v Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe), (26) Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Cro) v Carina Witthoeft (Ger), Jiri Vesely (Cze) v Illya Marchenko (Ukr)

Court 7 11:30am:
Denis Shapovalov (Can) v Jerzy Janowicz (Pol), (22) Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Cze) v Veronica Cepede Royg (Par), Lukas Rosol (Cze) v Henri Laaksonen (Swi)

Court 8 11:30am:
Camila Giorgi (Ita) v Alize Cornet (Fra), Julien Benneteau (Fra) v Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr), Damir Dzumhur (Bih) v Renzo Olivo (Arg), Donna Vekic (Cro) v Natalia Vikhlyantseva (Rus)

Court 9 11:30am:
Carlos Berlocq (Arg) v Nikoloz Basilashvili (Geo), Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spa) v Naomi Osaka (Jpn), (21) Caroline Garcia (Fra) v Jana Cepelova (Svk), Facundo Bagnis (Arg) v Radu Albot (Mol)

Court 11 11:30am:
Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) v (24) Sam Querrey (USA), Francesca Schiavone (Ita) v Mandy Minella (Lux), Viktor Troicki (Ser) v Florian Mayer (Ger), Francoise Abanda (Can) v Kurumi Nara (Jpn)

Court 12 11:30am:
Nao Hibino (Jpn) v (17) Madison Keys (USA), (9) Kei Nishikori (Jpn) v Marco Cecchinato (Ita), (8) Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) v Andrea Petkovic (Ger), (26) Steve Johnson (USA) v Nicolas Kicker (Arg)

Court 14 11:30am:
Joao Sousa (Por) v Dustin Brown (Ger), Malek Jaziri (Tun) v (14) Lucas Pouille (Fra), Naomi Broady (Gbr) v Irina-Camelia Begu (Rom), Sabine Lisicki (Ger) v (27) Ana Konjuh (Cro)

Court 15 11:30am:
Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) v Irina Khromacheva (Rus), Andreas Haider-Maurer (Aut) v (18) Roberto Bautista Agut (Spa), Katerina Siniakova (Cze) v Maria Sakkari (Gre), Jennifer Brady (USA) v Danka Kovinic (Mne)

Court 16 11:30am:
Thiago Moura Monteiro (Bra) v Andrew Whittington (Aus), Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) v (31) Roberta Vinci (Ita), Tommy Haas (Ger) v Ruben Bemelmans (Bel), (15) Elena Vesnina (Rus) v Anna Blinkova (Rus)

Court 17 11:30am:
Kai-Chen Chang (Tpe) v Qiang Wang (Chn), Donald Young (USA) v Denis Istomin (Uzb), Dmitry Tursunov (Rus) v (28) Fabio Fognini (Ita), Yulia Putintseva (Kaz) v (18) Anastasija Sevastova (Lat)

Court 18 11:30am:
Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra) v Laura Robson (Gbr), (31) Fernando Verdasco (Spa) v Kevin Anderson (Rsa), Marton Fucsovics (Hun) v (16) Gilles Muller (Lux)

Court TBA (not before 5pm)
Victoria Azarenka (Blr) v Catherine Cartan Bellis (USA), (25) Carla Suarez Navarro (Spa) v Eugenie Bouchard (Can)

 

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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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Fate Of Madrid Open To Be Decided This Week

Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament looks to be in serious danger of getting the axe following recent developments.

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There will be a final decision regarding this year’s Madrid’s Open within the next couple of days but hopes of the tournament going ahead are low, according to its tournament director.

 

Feliciano Lopez has spoken out about the current situation in an interview with the L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday. The mixed tournament has been thrown into doubt after the local council said it would be “inadvisable” for the tournament to be played in September because of the “health risks involved for the public, organization, and players.” Spain is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases amid concerns of a second wave. On Friday there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

“We were confident two months ago that the tournament would take place. The situation has worsened in the last two or three weeks in the Madrid region, not just in the city of Madrid, but in the whole region,” Lopez told L’Equipe.
“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.”

A decision is set to be made within “two or three days” by tournament owner Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder. Tiriac is a Romanian billionaire businessman who is also a former tennis player. He won the 1970 French Open doubles title with compatriot Ilie Nastase.

Weighing up its chances, Lopez admits that he ‘isn’t optimistic’ that the Madrid Open will be able to go ahead. The event is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

We are not very optimistic now. We were very positive a few weeks ago. We have a very good protocol, everything is ready, we worked hard to make the event take place, because it is also very important to offer tournaments to the players today.” Said Lopez.
“Last week, we had meetings with the government. Their recommendation is to cancel all events now during the summer. Of course, the decision is ours, it will be Ion’s. We have to work with everyone, the government, the ATP, the WTA and make the best decision for everyone. But we must also listen to the recommendations of the authorities, see how the situation is developing this week.”
He added.

Held on clay at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open has been a combined event for the men and women since 2009. Last year Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens won the singles titles with them each taking home €1,202,520 in prize money.

Besides having the responsibility of the Madrid Open, world No.56 Lopez is continuing his career on the Tour at the age of 38. Questioned about the remaining 2020 season, the Spaniard admits there is a lot of uncertainty for all players. Tournament across Asia have already been cancelled due to the virus and recently the Italian Open was told at present they can’t allow fans to their tournament, which takes place the week after Madrid’s slot.

This season is already completely lost. But what will happen next year, when we still don’t have a vaccine? The situation will be exactly the same as now if we don’t have a vaccine! When is it going to end, I don’t know.” Lopez concluded.

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‘Think Of Others For Once’ – Nick Kyrgios Issues Warning To Rivals As He Withdraws From US Open

The world No.40 has once again took a swipe at Novak Djokovic’s ‘money-grabbing’ Adria Tour.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said he is pulling out of the US Open in respect of those in his home country as well as America who has lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The former top-20 player published a video outlining his reason for withdrawing from the event on the social media accounts of athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted. During the video he once again made a swipe at Novak Djokovic and others over their ‘selfish’ involvement in the controversy-stricken Adria Tour. Which was criticised for a lack of anti-COVID measures before an outbreak of the virus among players and coaching staff occurred. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Vikor Troicki all got infected.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about,” he said.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”

Kyrgios has stated that he isn’t critical of the decision made by the United States Tennis Association to hold the event this year. Which will have on offer 90% of the prize money that was available during the 2019 tournament. Under strict measures, the tournament will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history with players kept in what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’

“I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely,” he stated.
“No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.’
“I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.”

The announcement comes shortly after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty announced that she wouldn’t be playing due to coronavirus concerns. Another Australian player, Alexi Popryin, have previously said he would not attend the event. Furthermore, Chinese world No.29 Wang Qiang has pulled out due to ‘travel and safety concerns.’

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that,” said Kyrgios.

The withdrawal ends Kyrgios’ streak of seven consecutive main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows. His best rest was reaching the third round on four separate occasions (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Overall he has won eight out of 15 matches played in New York.

This year’s US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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