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

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Garbine Muguruza (zimbio.com)

In draws that were already missing many big names, and now with 31 of the 64 singles seeds losing in the first four days, this tournament is completely up for grabs. Who is ready to seize this golden opportunity?

 

Petra Kvitova vs. Caroline Garcia

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This will be the first match of the day on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Since winning the title in Birmingham earlier this year, Kvitova was just 5-5 leading into the US Open. And the Open has been Petra’s worst major in her career, having never advanced past the quarterfinals. Kvitova though played well in her first two rounds, ousting veterans Jankovic and Cornet. Garcia has quietly put together the most consistent season of her career, highlighted by her quarterfinal appearance at her home major, the French Open. She recently broke into the top 20 for the first time, and has accumulated 33 wins thus far in 2017. These two have split four previous meetings, but Garcia took the most recent two, both of which were on hard courts. This feels like a probable three-setter that could go either way.

Kevin Anderson vs. Borna Coric

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From there I would recommend moving your attention to the Grandstand, where the second match on the schedule will be a clash between two in-form players. Coric may have played the best match of his career on Wednesday, upsetting number four seed Alexander Zverev in a scintillating four-set win. Is he ready to back it up? This would be another big step for Coric, as he’s yet to go farther than the third round at a major. Meanwhile, the US Open is the only major where Kevin Anderson has been past the fourth round. The South African upset Andy Murray in New York two years ago to make his first major quarterfinal. Anderson debuted in the top 10 in 2015, but his level of play dropped off in the following year and a half as he dealt with multiple injuries. Over the past few months Anderson has gotten back on track and been a much improved player. He made the fourth round at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and won seven matches during the summer hard court season. Coric is likely to have a letdown following Wednesday’s performance, so I expect Kevin Anderson to advance to his third straight fourth round at a major.

Garbine Muguruza vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
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Regarding the third matches on court of Day 5, this may be your best bet. It is a rematch of the Wimbledon semifinals, but let’s hope this one is a bit closer than that encounter. On that day, Muguruza allowed Rybarikova only two games. That semifinal was Magdalena’s 20th match of the short grass court season, so one would think Rybarikova would be better rested and ready to compete on Friday. The Slovakian has actually defeated Muguruza twice before, though Garbine’s won both of their meetings on hard courts. The Wimbledon and Cincinnati champion is playing with more momentum than ever before, and is many people’s pick to win this tournament. However, Muguruza has not historically performed well under the weight of expectations. Does she have enough confidence now to overcome that? It will be interesting to see how she does as her opponents get tougher, but she’s still the favorite to prevail in this third round contest.

John Isner vs. Mischa Zverev
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The night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium will kick off with the big-serving American against the serve-and-volleying German. They are 2-2 in their head-to-head, with Zverev taking both of their 2017 clashes. This includes an epic five-set battle at this year’s Australian Open, where Zverev outlasted Isner 9-7 in the fifth. The U.S. Open courts are playing slower than the fast courts in Melbourne, which I think will favor Isner. This will grant Isner just a little more time to set up his passing shots as Zverev rushes the net. John will also have the Friday night home crowd behind him, and he’ll have some fond memories to draw from under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Isner upset Andy Roddick in a 2009 night session match which went to a fifth set tiebreaker. Surprisingly, Isner won his first two matches of this US Open without going to a tiebreak. Meanwhile Zverev has already played two five-setters in his first two rounds. For all of those reasons, Isner should be able to overcome the older Zverev brother.

Order of play (singles matches only)

Arthur Ashe stadium (11am local time)
Petra Kvitova CZE (13) v Caroline Garcia FRA (18)
Denis Shapovalov CAN v Kyle Edmund GBR
Maria Sakkari GRE v Venus Williams USA (9)
Not before 7pm local time
Mischa Zverev GER v John Isner USA (10)
Sofia Kenin USA v Maria Sharapova RUS

Louis Armstrong (11am start)
Nicolas Mahut FRA v Pablo Carreno Busta ESP (12)
Ashleigh Barty AUS v Sloane Stephens USA
Magdalena Rybarikova SVK (31) v Garbine Muguruza ESP (3)
Sam Querrey USA (17) v Radu Albot MDA

Grandstand (11am start)
Diego Schwartzman ARG (29) v Marin Cilic CRO (5)
Kevin Anderson RSA (28) v Borna Coric CRO
Anastasija Sevastova LAT (16) v Donna Vekic CRO

Court 17
Thomas Fabbiano ITA v Paolo Lorenzi ITA
Lucas Pouille fra (16) v Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ

Court 5
Ekaterina Makarova RUS v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Aleksandra Krunic SRB v Julia Goerges GER (30)

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Emma Raducanu Unfazed By Rankings Drop Ahead Of US Open Title Defence

Emma Raducanu talked about pressure as she takes on Serena Williams in Cincinnati.

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Emma Raducanu (@marioboc17 - Twitter)

Ahead of her US Open title defence in a couple of weeks, Emma Raducanu remains unfazed about her potential drop down the rankings.

 

Emma Raducanu is set to defend her US Open title in a couple of weeks after winning her maiden grand slam title as a qualifier last year.

The Brit will have 2,000 points to defend and an early exit risks a huge rankings drop in what has been a big experience for the 19 year-old this year.

Raducanu enters the last grand slam of the year without form or momentum on her side having only won back-to-back matches at three events this year.

Speaking in Cincinnati, Raducanu told the press that she is prepared to start from the bottom again if she has to, “If I lose 2,000 points so be it, I’ll start again from the bottom,” Raducanu told reporters.

“I know I can do something that no one else has done. I qualified and won the US Open, so I can start from the beginning, I can start from zero and I’m not afraid of that.

“I just think that everything that’s happening right now has probably just meant to be in my journey and I need to go through those development stages at some point because I did miss them. I went from playing 25ks to winning the US Open.”

Raducanu’s rise has been incredibly quick and the Brit will be anticipating that anything can happen over the next few months in terms of her development.

Defending the grand slam is huge pressure and it will be interesting to see if returning to the US Open will inspire her to raise her level.

Before Raducanu goes to the US Open, she competes in Cincinnati and faces 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in her opening round.

Williams is currently on her farewell tour and Raducanu admits it’s going to be an unforgettable experience to play her, “I think it’s gonna be an exciting match. I’m looking forward to it,” Raducanu said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to play probably the best the best tennis player of all time. It’s probably going to be my last opportunity to ever play her. I think that, for our careers to have crossed over, I think I’m really fortunate that I get to play her.

“Whatever happens, I think it’s gonna be a really good experience for me and something that I will remember for the rest of her life.”

The match will now likely take place on Tuesday after originally been scheduled for Monday evening.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off

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Andy Murray practicing this past week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America.  This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.

 

Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round.  And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.

Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time. 

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.


Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court

Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup.  Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours.  And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle.  Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery.  Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years.  Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts.  Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring.  Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.


Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak.  However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19.  And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday.  Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses.  At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead.  And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match.  Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets.  Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country?  Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example.  But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose.  Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.

Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago.  Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June.  They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May.  Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row.  Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.

Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events.  Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Simona Halep Cliches Third National Bank Open Title With Topsy-Turvy Win Over Haddad Maia

The two-time Grand Slam champion battled with her own consistency on the court en route to her latest title.

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Image via https://twitter.com/NBOtoronto/

Simona Halep overcame a poor start and lacklustre second set performance to oust Beatriz Haddad Maia and win the National Bank Open on Sunday.

 

Halep looked far from her best at times on the court as she battled to a hard-fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, win over her Brazilian rival who beat world No.1, Iga Swiatek, earlier in the tournament. During the roller-coaster clash, which lasted more than two hours, she hit a total of 16 winners against 31 unforced errors. The triumph avenged her loss to Haddad Maia two months ago in the final of the Birmingham Classic.

“I’m really exhausted, today has been a tough battle,” Halep said during the trophy presentation.
“I have won in Montreal two times but never here (in Toronto) so today is a special day. I fought really hard because I wanted to win in front of you guys (the crowd).”

Seeking her third title at the tournament in her career, Halep erratically started her latest final. A nightmare opening service game saw the Romanian produce four double faults, as well as a forehand error, to go down a break early on. Paving the way for Haddad Maia to surge to a 3-0 lead. After that blip, Halep soon found her footing on the court as she staged a valiant fight back. Winning six games in a row to clinch the first set. She closed out the opener with a blistering backhand winner to the corner of the court.

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with history-maker Haddad Maia breaking early on yet again. The 26-year-old is the first Brazilian player to reach the final of a WTA 1000 event. However, this time the world No.24 was able to maintain the advantage at the expense of a dramatic lull in form from her opponent. After storming to a four-game winning run, Haddad Maia eased her way to a 5-1 lead. Then serving to level the match, she triumphed with the help of back-to-back forehand errors from Halep.

Historically, the previous 20 finals at the Canadian Open have been won by the player who takes the opener. The last player to break this trend was Martina Hingis back in 2000 against Serena Williams.

Eager to avoid a Hingis-like fightback, Halep held her nerve to prevail during what was a rollercoaster decider. Three straight breaks of serve occurred before the world No.15 managed to hold and move ahead 4-1. Closing in on the title, Halep secured victory on her second championship point after a Haddad Maia forehand slammed into the net.

“Two months ago I wasn’t thinking that I would be lifting this trophy,” said Halep.
“Patrick (her coach) thank you for believing in me and being by my side since two months ago. Hopefully, I made you proud today even if I didn’t play great but I fought. Hopefully, we will have many more titles together.”

There is also a silver lining for runner-up Haddad Maia who will break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday. The Brazilian is currently enjoying a breakthrough season where she has won two Tour titles. She is the first player from her country to reach the final of three or more WTA events within the same year since 1969.

“I want to congratulate Simona and her team. You work very hard to be here and it’s very nice to share a moment like this with you in front of this crowd (in Toronto),” she said.
“Today I pushed myself as much as I could. I didn’t control my emotions very well today but even if I wasn’t playing my best tennis I was trying to fight. That was what I have done since the first round.”

30-year-old Halep has now won 24 titles on the WTA Tour and her ninth at a WTA 1000 event. It is the first time in her career she has managed to win the same tournament for the third time after previously triumphing in 2016 and 2018.

Halep will now rise to sixth in the rankings on Monday which will be her highest position in over a year.

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