US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Juan Martin del Potro (zimbio.com)

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will return to the court on Saturday. Despite not playing their best in their first two rounds, they’ll still be heavily favored in their matches. Let’s focus instead on what should be some of the more competitive matches on Day 6.

 

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Coco Vandeweghe
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This will be the second match of the day on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Radwanska leads the head-to-head 5-1, and surprisingly has won all of their hard court meetings in straight sets. Vandeweghe has never even won a set on a hard court against Radwanska, including their meeting a few weeks ago in Toronto. That being said, Coco has been the more in-form player in 2017, with six more wins on the year than Agnieszka. Vandeweghe’s year was highlighted by her run to the semifinals at the Australian Open, though she’s never played well at her home major: her appearance in this year’s third round is her best showing yet. Coco is obviously a strong hard court player, but can she figure out how to defeat Radwanska on this surface, and get a big win in front of a supportive American crowd?

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Daria Kasatkina

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Meanwhile on Louis Armstrong Stadium, this will be a battle of two 20-year-olds, and could be a preview of a rivalry for many years to come. These youngsters already faced off earlier this year in the United States, as this is a rematch from the final in Charleston. Kasatkina prevailed on the green clay that day, but obviously Ostapenko went on to win a much bigger title on the red clay in Paris just two months later. Jelena won the other two times they played, but they have never met on a hard court. This matchup is reminiscent of the Alexander Zverev/Borna Coric contest from Wednesday: two 20-year-olds taking the court, but one has achieved much more than the other. Can Kasatkina, like Coric did on Wednesday, make a statement by upsetting the more accomplished player?

Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Juan Martín Del Potro
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Over on the Grandstand we’ll see one of the most popular players on tour against one of the hottest players on tour. After returning to the court last year following multiple wrist surgeries, Del Potro was warmly welcomed back, and ascended to some great heights. After upsetting Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Wimbledon, he defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. He would then bring more glory to his country by helping to win Argentina’s first ever Davis Cup title, winning scintillating five-setters over Andy Murray and Marin Cilic in carrying his team to victory. 2017 however has seen Del Potro struggle to get any momentum going. He has not titles on the year, and has yet to advance past the third round at a major. On the other hand, Bautista Agut is putting together the strongest season of his career. The 29-year-old is currently at his career-high ranking of number 13. He has two titles on the year, including just last week in Winston-Salem. The two have split their previous meetings – both were on hard courts, and both were tight encounters. At his best, Del Potro is the better player, and should be able to dictate the outcome with his ground strokes. Unfortunately since Del Potro has not been at his best of late, Bautista Agut should be favored on Saturday.

David Goffin vs. Gael Monfils

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Back on Louis Armstrong, we’ll have two of the speediest players in the world. It will be interesting to see how much either of them have left in their tanks though, as both men played five sets just 48 hours ago. These two have also split their previous meetings, both of which were hard court battles last year that went to a final set. Goffin was red hot for the first several months of 2017, before an extremely unfortunate incident at the French Open where he injured his ankle by sliding onto the tarp folded up at the edge of the court. Goffin has only played nine matches since then, with this week being the first time in three months that he’s won back-to-back matches. Monfils meanwhile has underperformed through all of 2017 after having the most consistent year of his career in 2016. He’ll surely be feeling some pressure in this match, as he’s defending semifinal points from last year’s US Open. If Monfils and Goffin’s legs have recovered from their second round matches, this should be an extremely entertaining affair.

Madison Keys vs. Elena Vesnina

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This will be the final match of the day under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Following multiple procedures on her wrist earlier this year, Keys has found her game again this summer. She won the title in Stanford, beating Garbine Muguruza in the semis and Coco Vandeweghe in the final. Muguruza then gained revenge in Cincinnati, but Keys pushed her to a final set tiebreak. Earlier this year, Vesnina achieved the biggest title of her career, which happened to be on American hard courts in Indian Wells. However, Vesnina has been unable to follow-up, as since Indian Wells she’s had more losses than wins. Keys won both previous matches she’s had against Vesnina, and will be the favorite here. Still this is a step up in competition for Keys from her first two rounds, and will help reveal just how serious a contender she may be to win her first major in New York.

SINGLES ORDER OF PLAY – Day 6, September 2

Play starts at 11:00 local time unless otherwise stated
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [1] v Shuai Zhang (CHN) [27]
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [10] v CoCo Vanderweghe (USA) [20]
Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] v Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
From 19:00
Roger Federer (SUI) [3] v Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [31]
Elena Vesnina (RUS) [17] v Madison Keys (USA) [15]

Louis Armstrong Stadium

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) [30] v DOminic Thiem (AUT) [6]
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) [12] v Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
David Goffin (BEL) [9] v Gael Monfils (FRA) [18]

Grandstand
Victor Troicki (SRB) v Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [11] v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) [24]
Elina Svitolina (UKR) [4] v Shelby Rogers (USA)

Court 17

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [33] v John Millman (AUS)
Jennifer Brady (USA) v Monica Niculescu (ROU)

Court 5

Lucie Safarova (CZE) v Naomi Osaka (JPN)
Damir Dzumhur (BIH) v ANdrey Rublev (RUS)

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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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