Australian Open Day 13 Preview: The Women’s Final - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 13 Preview: The Women’s Final

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It’s the number one player in the world against the number two player in the world. In an era of instability atop the women’s game, this is a rarity in a Grand Slam final. Both women are two-time major finalists hoping the third time is the charm to win their first Grand Slam title. Adding to the significance of this match, the number one ranking is also on the line. The past two decades have been dominated by big serving and big hitting women, especially on hard courts, so it’s refreshing to have two of the best defensive players square off in a major final. But it’s the improved offensive play from both players that has brought them to this championship match.

 

Simona Halep vs. Caroline Wozniacki

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I cannot remember a more traumatic road to a major final than the path Simona Halep has taken to arrive here on Saturday. The World Number turned her ankle during her opening round, causing speculation as to whether she would even be able to finish that match, let alone play again two days later. In her third round match against Lauren Davis, Halep had to save three match points in an almost four-hour match to eventually win 15-13 in the third set. And in the semifinals, Halep again saved match points and won an extended third set 9-7 to take out Angelique Kerber in an exhausting battle. After all that, it would be cruel for Halep to again go home without the trophy.

Simona Halep’s fighting spirit has been extremely impressive, especially considering her past reputation for becoming negative too quickly when falling behind in a match. Halep had quite a dramatic year in 2017. She was up a set and 3-0 in the French Open final against a relative unknown 20-year-old who had never won a tour title, but allowed herself to be hit off the court and have the title stolen from her. Over the summer, there were multiple matches where Simona was one match away from gaining the number one ranking for the first time, only to lose those matches. Halep finally got the number one ranking at the China Open close to the end of the season. It’s so nice to see a newly-anointed WTA number one not be overwhelmed by the crown, as Simona has more than proven she’s worthy of her ranking during this fortnight.

Caroline Wozniacki appeared in her first major final almost a decade ago at the 2009 US Open, but is still in search of her first major title. With a total of 67 weeks as the number one player, Wozniacki carries around the burden of being the best WTA player to have never won a Grand Slam event. Less than eighteen months ago, after struggling with form and injuries, Caroline arrived at the US Open ranked outside the top 70. But she has since turned her career around, with the end of 2017 being the peak of her career to date. A few weeks after winning the Premier event in Tokyo, she won the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals.

Wozniacki’s tournament has not been as tumultuous as Halep’s, but like Halep, she did save match points along the way. In her second round match against Jana Fett, Caroline was down 5-1 before winning six straight games to survive. Her level has considerably risen since, comfortably winning the rest of her matches on the way to this final.

Halep may be the number one seed, but Wozniacki leads their head-to-head 4-2. Caroline has taken their last three meetings, with the most recent just a few months ago at the WTA Finals. Halep won only two games in that match. Both women should be eager to continue to thinking more offensive-mindedly on the court. The winner will likely be the player who dictates play. The winner will also likely be the player who better controls their emotions. Which woman is more ready to conquer the demons of their past and win their first major title? I’m tempted to question if Halep has enough left physically and emotionally after all she’s been through in the past 12 days, but she already bounced back from an almost four-match earlier in the tournament to easily win her next two rounds. Unfortunately I’m still not fully convinced Wozniacki will avoid reverting back to her more comfortable defensive mode in a big match like this, especially against a player who is as good at defense as she is. Based on the determination I’ve seen from the world number one in Melbourne, my pick is Simona Halep.

Player comparison

Simona Halep

Caroline Wozniacki

AGE

26

27

CURRENT RANKING

1

2

WTA TITLES

16

27

BEST GRAND SLAM PERFORMANCE

French Open finalist (2014, 2017), Australian Open final (2018)

US Open finalist (2009, 2014), Australian Open finalist (2018)
CAREER PRIZE MONEY
(not counting 2018 Australian Open)

$20,912,291

$26,856,094

 

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WIMBLEDON: Day Six Talking Points world no.1 Iga Świątek left stunned by Alizé Cornet

Alize Cornet shocking Iga Swiatek was one of many eventful things that happened on day six of Wimbledon.

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Saturday at Wimbledon was extremely eventful, to say the least.

 

Let’s start with Poland’s Iga Świątek who was riding high on a 37-match unbeaten streak.

She was the favourite going into her third-round encounter with veteran Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet.

But she went down meekly in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

Having dominated the WTA Tour in 2022 since the announcement of then world number one, Ash Barty’s retirement.

This loss came as a shock to the tennis world.

For Cornet, she experienced euphoria at Wimbledon 2014 when she stunned then world number one Serena Williams on Court One.

And on the very same court, at the very same venue, Cornet’s golden moment came again.

The 31-year-old will play Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović next, who herself shocked last year’s French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková.

She beat the Czech in straight sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Bad tempered Kyrgios sees off Tsitsipas

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios could see himself fortunate to still be involved in this year’s championships, after this week’s spitting incident with a fan.

He was again at the centre of more controversy against Stefanos Tsitsipas, as he abused umpire Damien Dumusois with a barrage of criticism and abuse.

The Frenchman was within his rights to punish the Australian, but didn’t.

Meanwhile, the Greek went down in four sets 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).

And after the match, Tsitsipas called his counterpart “an evil person” and a “bully” and that “something needs to be done about him.”

Rafa cruises through, but Brits crash out

Spain’s Rafa Nadal, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, continues his quest to add a third to his trophy cabinet.

As well as a 23rd Grand Slam, and even more significantly, perhaps realise an unprecedented dream of winning the calendar Grand Slam.

Having won this year’s Australian and French Open’s, Rafa’s hopes are still alive.

He downed Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in a convincing straight sets triumph, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Next up for the Spaniard is the in-form grass-courter Botic van de Zandschulp who reached the semi-finals at Queen’s.

Elsewhere, Liam Broady went down to Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. 7-5.

And Katie Boulter disappointed against Serena’s conqueror Harmony Tan, losing 6-1, 6-1.

On Centre Court, Amanda Anisimova stunned fellow American Coco Gauff, winning 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1.

And Simona Halep is also through.

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(VIDEO) Nick Kyrgios And Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Controversial Contest Headlines Day Six At Wimbledon

Ubaldo Scanagatta dissects Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas’ controversial third round contest.

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Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta reviews day six as Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas were involved in a dramatic match on Court One with Kyrgios winning in four sets. There was also the exit of world number one Iga Swiatek, who’s 37 match winning streak came to an end and there was victory for Rafael Nadal as he cruised into the second week. Below is a video of Ubaldo dissecting play on day six at Wimbledon:

 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The First Sunday of Wimbledon is No Longer A Day of Rest

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A look at the grounds of The All England Club (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Historically, tradition has dictated the first Sunday of Wimbledon sees no play.  But that changes this year, with fourth round singles matches spread across Sunday and Monday.  This marks the end of Manic Monday, when those matches were all scheduled on the second Monday of the tournament.

 

Sunday’s schedule is headlined by a clash between two top 10 seeds, who are also two of the sport’s fastest rising stars, as Carlos Alcaraz takes on Jannik Sinner.  Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic looks to extend his 24-match win streak at Wimbledon against Tim van Rijthoven, who is an undefeated 8-0 at tour level this past month.  And in what should be a matchup full of guile and finesse, Ons Jabeur faces Elise Mertens.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Frances Tiafoe (23) vs. David Goffin – Second on No.2 Court

Both players have advanced rather comfortably to this stage, dropping only one set each.  Tiafoe is vying for his second Major quarterfinal, while Goffin is vying for his fourth, and his second at The Championships.  Tiafoe’s far-superior power game would seemingly make him the favorite over Goffin on this surface.  But ahead of this tournament, Frances was only 5-4 at SW19, compared to a 12-7 record for David.  And their head-to-head has been quite one-sided.  Goffin leads Tiafoe 4-1, which includes a four-set win in the second round of the last Slam in Paris.  The American’s only victory came three years ago in Miami.  And David owns a much better record this season (25-16 compared to 15-13).  Over the course of five sets, Goffin’s speedy defensive skills may be enough to propel him to his fifth victory over Tiafoe.


Jelena Ostapenko (12) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:00pm on No.1 Court

Ostapenko is looking to advance to the quarterfinals or better at this event for the third time.  And the 2017 Roland Garros champion is in the midst of a strong season, with a 23-11 record and a title run in Dubai.  And just last week, Jelena was a finalist in Eastbourne.  In a wide-open quarter of the draw, where she is the only player ranked above No.97 in the world, Ostapenko is a considerable favorite to reach her second Wimbledon semifinal.  And before this week, Maria was on nine-match losing streak at Slams.  A year ago during this event, Tatjana was giving birth to her second child.  But she’s returned to the tour with a vengeance in 2022, accumulating 34 match wins at all levels.  Her game is well-suited for grass, and she upset Maria Sakkari in the last round.  In their first career meeting, Ostapenko’s current form and aggressive groundstrokes make her the favorite.  But her game can also be quite unreliable, and Jelena can rack up unforced errors in large bunches.  If she does, a Maria upset is entirely possible.


Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Second on Centre Court

19-year-old Alcaraz and 20-year-old Sinner are extremely inexperienced on this surface.  Before this tournament, Carlos had only played two matches on grass, while Jannik was 0-4 in the main draw of grass court events.  Yet both have proven this week that they are formidable opposition on this surface.  Alcaraz survived a tight five-setter in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, and Sinner earned wins over both Stan Wawrinka and John Isner.  They’ve played once at tour-level, with Carlitos winning two tight sets last November in Bercy on an indoor hard court.  Both players are having very strong seasons, with Alcaraz owning a record of 35-4, and Sinner 30-8.  But Sinner’s game seems a better fit for this surface, so I give him the slight edge to prevail in what should be another close matchup between these two.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Elise Mertens (24) – Third on No.1 Court

Their paths to this matchup could not be much different.  Jabeur has only dropped 13 games across six sets, while Mertens came back from a set down in both her first two matches, saving two match points in the second round.  However, in their only previous meeting at last year’s US Open, it was Mertens who was victorious in straight sets.  Elise has advanced beyond this round of a Major three times, though she’s 3-8 in the round of 16 at Slams, and has stalled in this round at the last three.  Ons is now a two-time Major quarterfinalist, and is looking to match her result from this event a year ago.  Jabeur is currently playing with great confidence, and is an excellent 33-9 on the season.  I like her chances of evening her record against Mertens on Sunday.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tim van Rijthoven (WC) – Third on Centre Court

Van Rijthoven has come out of nowhere during this grass court season.  Prior to last month, the 25-year-old had never played a main draw match at tour-level, as multiple serious injuries had derailed his career.  Yet as a wild card ranked outside the top 200, he became the champion in s-Hertogenbosch, where he defeated three top 20 players (Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, Medvedev).  And now in his Major debut, he’s taken out two seeded players (Opelka, Basilashvili).  But can he challenge the 20-time Major champion?  Tim certainly has plenty of confidence right now, and has a booming serve that can earn him some easy holds.  He’s struck 53 aces across his first three matches.  I would not be surprised if he takes a set off Djokovic, but I would be truly shocked if he can take three.  Novak has not lost at this event since 2017, and has solidified himself as the best grass court player of the last decade.  And in his last two rounds, he surrendered only seven games per match.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Caroline Garcia vs. Marie Bouzkova – Garica survived a third-set tiebreak in the first round, then defeated two seeded players in straight sets (Emma Raducanu and Shuai Zhang).  Bouzkova took out three straight Americans thus far (Collins, Li, Riske), and was just 3-12 in the main draw of Majors prior to this fortnight.  When they played on grass last year in Birmingham, Marie prevailed 6-3, 6-0.

Jule Niemeier vs. Heather Watson – For 30-year-old Watson, this is her first appearance in the round of 16 at a Major.  22-year-old Niemeier had never won a main draw match at a Slam before this run.  Earlier this year in Monterrey, Heather overcame Jule in a third-set tiebreak.

Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Tommy Paul (30) – This is Norrie’s first appearance in the round of 16 at a Slam, after previously going 0-5 in the third round.  This is also Paul’s debut in this round at a Slam, coming off two quarterfinals on grass last month.  Cam is 2-1 against Tommy, with all three matches taking place on hard courts.

Jamie Murray and Venus Williams (WC) vs. Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett (WC) – Jamie and Venus prevailed in three sets in a highly-entertaining first round match on Friday.  O’Mara and Barnett are British wild cards who upset the No.5 seeds in their opening round.

Nicolas Mahut and Shuai Zhang (3) vs. Jack Sock and Coco Gauff – Three of the four players in this match advanced to the third round in singles.  The outlier, Mahut, participated in one of the most famous matches in Wimbledon history, which went to 70-68 in the fifth, and also won the men’s doubles title here in 2016.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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