US Open Day 7 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 7 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Venus Williams (zimbio.com)

As we begin the fourth round in the singles draws on Sunday, Arthur Ashe Stadium is the place to be for the most high-profile encounters. Here’s a look at the five matches scheduled for the biggest tennis stadium in the world on Day 7.

 

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Denis Shapovalov

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Can the dream run for the 18-year-old Canadian continue? Shapovalov has already won six matches in Flushing Meadows, having come through three rounds of qualifying last week. He’s the first men’s qualifier to advance to the fourth round at the US Open in almost a decade, and the youngest player to do so since Michael Chang in 1989. Just a months ago, he was ranked 143rd in the world. With a win on Sunday, he’ll skyrocket into the top 50. Carreno Busta has also ascended to new heights in 2017. He reached his first Masters 1,000 semifinal in Indian Wells, showing he’s capable of great play on American hard courts. He followed that up by winning a clay title in Estoril, and advancing to his first major quarterfinal at Roland Garros with a thrilling victory over Milos Raonic in five sets. His season took a turn from there, as he missed the entire grass court season due to an abdominal injury he suffered on that French Open run. Pablo went just 3-4 this summer heading into the Open, but re-found some form in New York with the help of a kind draw. He has yet to drop a set, though he’ll now face some tougher competition, and on a much bigger stage. I’m interested to see what the crowd is like for this first match of the day: the crowd is usually sparse at 11:00am, and Shapovalov has shown he likes to feed off a crowd’s energy. Hopefully the Next Gen sensation draws people to their seats at the early hour, as this has the potential to be a good one.

Maria Sharapova vs. Anastasija Sevastova

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Much like Shapovalov (and not just in name), Sharapova has surprised and delighted many through three rounds at this year’s US Open. After a terrific opening night victory over second seed Simona Halep, she hasn’t looked as sharp against lesser competition in her last two matches. While Sharapova has survived despite dips in her level of play, she won’t be able to afford as many dips against Sevastova. For those not familiar with the sixteenth seed, the Latvian actually retired back in 2013 due to recurring injuries. She returned to the tour two years later, and had her best-ever major showing last year in New York, going all the way to the quarterfinals. She’s continued to play well in 2017, with one title and 34 wins on the year. Sharapova has only played 12 matches in almost two years, and has dealt with injuries since she returned to tennis in April. It’s hard to imagine her advancing too much farther in this tournament. She’s not the most athletic player on tour, and she usually requires a lot of match play to get into good form. While I would not be surprised to see Sevastova reach her second straight US Open quarterfinal, you cannot dismiss the chances of such a fierce competitor as Sharapova.

Venus Williams vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

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Who would have expected Venus Williams to be the most consistent WTA performer at Grand Slam events in 2017? She already has 18 wins at majors this year, highlighted by reaching the finals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. After struggling a bit in Toronto and Cincinnati, the 37-year-old champion has looked better with each passing round in New York. This may be her first true test though, and may be a good indicator of how serious a contender Venus is for this major title. She is 4-3 lifetime against Suarez Navarro, and they have split their four hard court meetings. The Spaniard has seen her ranking drop this year due to a barely-above .500 winning percentage. After reaching a career-high ranking of number six last year, she is actually not even seeded at the Open. Still she is a former US Open quarterfinalist with a beautiful backhand, and will not be an easy out. Venus is favored here, and should look to use the support of her home crowd to lift her game.

Garbine Muguruza vs. Petra Kvitova

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The night session will kick off with this battle of Wimbledon champions. Both have played very impressively this week. Muguruza has only dropped nine games in three matches. Kvitova has had a tougher draw, but has played some of the best tennis of her season. Petra has only once made the US Open quarterfinals, while this is actually the first time Garbine’s advanced past the second round in Flushing Meadows. Muguruza appears to be a different player right now: she’s playing with a ton of confidence after winning Wimbledon as well as Cincinnati. Considering Kvitova is not yet fully recovered from the awful hand injury she suffered during a home invasion, Muguruza should prevail. If both continue their strong play from earlier this week, this will be a prime time slugfest in New York.

Sam Querrey vs. Mischa Zverev

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Querrey will be looking to avenge the loss of his countryman and friend John Isner, who was soundly defeated by Zverev on Friday night. Sam has never advanced past this round at his home major, and will look to draw inspiration from his semifinal appearance at Wimbledon in July. Zverev is having the best season of his career, thanks to pushing himself harder while seeing his younger brother Alexander excel. The two have never faced each other before, so there’s no history to go off here. This match may hinge on how well Querrey reacts to the expectations placed upon him as the only remaining American man in such a truly open draw. He’ll undoubtedly have the full backing of the late night New York crowd.

Order of play

Arthur Ashe stadium (11am local time)
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v Pablo Carreno Busta ESP (12)
Anastasija Sevastova LAT (16) v Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v Venus Williams USA (9)

(not before 19:00)
Petra Kvitova CZE (13) v Garbine Muguruza ESP (3)
Sam Querrey USA (17) v Mischa Zverev GER (23)

Louis Armstrong Stadium
After two doubles matches
Julia Goerges GER (30) v Sloane Stephens USA
Paolo Lorenzi ITA v Kevin Anderson RSA (28

Grandstand
After one doubles match
Lucas Pouille FRA (16) v Diego Schwartzman ARG (29)

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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