Italian Open Wednesday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Italian Open Wednesday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

These are the two must-see matches on the fourth day of the Italian Open in Rome.

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

Wednesday is a great day to have a ticket to see the tennis in Rome, with an absolutely jam-packed schedule.  The players taking to the courts on Wednesday combine for a total of 47 major singles titles. You know it’s a stacked card when Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Caroline Wozniacki are scheduled on Stadio Pietrangeli, the third court at Parco del Foro Italico.  With so many high-profile matches on the schedule, here’s my best guess as to what will be the most intriguing contests to watch on a busy day in Rome.

Simona Halep vs. Naomi Osaka

This will be the first match of the day on Stadio Pietrangeli, one of the favorite courts in the world of fans and players alike.  It’s a rematch from just two months ago at Indian Wells, a semifinal where Halep curiously won just three games and lacked the fight we’ve seen from her so often in the past year.  Simona had previously defeated Naomi rather easily in Australia back in January. Halep has struggled since that bizarre Indian Wells match, failing to advance to another semifinal in Miami, Stuttgart, and Madrid.  Meanwhile, I doubted Osaka’s chances against Victoria Azarenka in Rome on Monday, but she had no problem at all, dropping just three games. If Halep loses this match, she also loses her number one ranking. She’d also arrive in Paris with no momentum whatsoever, so this is a big match for Simona.  I would expect Halep to fight her way through this one, but both Halep and Osaka have surprised me recently in different ways. Regardless, their contrast in styles should make for a good match.

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Later in the day on the same court, a beloved 29-year-old faces a red hot 19-year-old.  A few months ago, Del Potro asserted himself as the player to beat on the ATP tour, with back-to-back titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells, and a semifinal run in Miami.  But doing so on clay is a tougher task for the big man. After giving his body a rest in April, Del Potro returned to play last week in Madrid, where he was upset in the round of 16 in a final set tiebreak by Dusan Lajovic.  Juan Martin will look to get some clay momentum this week ahead of Roland Garros, where he’s a former semifinalist. Tsitsipas has been the breakout player of this clay court season, where he advanced to his first ATP final in Barcelona.  That run included victories over three top 20 players. He immediately followed that up the next week in Estoril, making the semifinals there. He’s now come through qualifying in Rome for his first meeting against Del Potro. It should be interesting to see how this one unfolds, especially in front of a late-afternoon crowd on this outer court.

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Kevin Anderson saves a match point to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in Vienna

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This year’s   Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson came back from one set down to edge past this year’s Hamburg and Beijing champion Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in the first round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.  

Basilashvili faced just two break points in the first two sets and earned a match point at 6-5 in the tie-break of the second set, but Anderson reeled off the final three points of the tie-break to force the match to the third set. The South-African player, who is currently ranked seventh in the ATP Race to London and is in contention for a qualifting spot for the ATP Finals, saved six of the seven break points he faced and earned two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth game to close out the third set 6-3.

Anderson set up a second round match against Jurgen Melzer, who battled past Milos Raonic 7-6 (8-6) 7-5. Melzer saved a break point in both the fifth and seventh games before getting the only break in the 12th game to seal the win.

This year’s Shanghai finalist and Indian Wells semifinalist Borna Coric rallied from one set down to beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 6-4. Ramos Vinolas got the first break at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Coric broke  back in the 10th game on his third break point to draw level to 5-5. Ramos Vilolas rallied from 4-5 by winning three consecutive points to seal the first set tie-break 7-5. Coric broke three times to take a bagel win in the second set forcing the match to the decider. After saving three break points in the fourth game Coric got the decisive break at 15 in the ninth game to close out the match.

Marton Fucsovics fought back from one set down to beat Canadian Next Gen player Felix Auger Aliassime 1-6 6-0 7-5.

Russian lucky loser Andrey Rublev edged US qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

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Marin Cilic cruises past Denis Shapovalov in Basel first round

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Third seed Marin Cilic cruised past Denis Shapovalov 6-4 6-2 to advance to the second round at the Swiss Indoor Open at St. Jakobshalle in Basel.

Cilic went up a double break in the first and third games to race out to a 4-0 lead. Schapovalov pulled one break back in the sixth game at deuce and held his serve at 30 to close the gap to 3-4. Cilic did not face any break points in his final two service games to close the first set 6-4 after 41 minutes.

Cilic went up an immediate break at 15 in the opening game of the second set after a forehand error from Shapovalov to open up a 3-1 lead. Shapovalov saved a break point with a service winner to hold his serve at deuce for 2-3. Cilic sealed the win with a double break in the seventh game at 30 with a double fault from Shapovalov and hold of serve at 15 in the 8th game. Shapovalov made 23 unforced errors in the second set.

Cilic will face either Marius Copil or Ryan Harrison in the second round. The 30-year-old Croatian player won the Basel title in 2016 and reached the semifinal in 2017. This year he won the Queen’s title and reached the final at the Australian Open. The number 3 seed is one of the three top 10 players in a line-up which also features home star Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. In the second round the Basel-born 20-time Grand Slam legend could face John Millman, who will open his campaign against Jan-Lennard Struff. Millman upset Federer in the fourth round at this year’s US Open.

Swiss player Henri Laaksonen beat this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-2 to score his first win against a top-25 player. Laaksonen needed a break at deuce in the ninth game to win the first set. The Swiss player converted his third break point chance in the third game of the second set and saved a break point to hold his serve to open up a 3-1 lead. He sealed the win with a double break in the seventh game at deuce and a hold of serve at 30 in the final game.

Elsewhere Taylor Fritz beat Serbian qualifier Laslo Djere 7-5 6-0.

The Basel line-up features three players who recently showed good form: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Danil Medvedev and Adrian Mannarino. Tsitsipas won his maiden ATP title in Stockolm. Medvedev won his third trophy of year in three different continents (Sydney, Winston Salem and Tokyo). Manarino lost in the Moscow final against Karen Khachanov.

 

 

 

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Kiki Bertens Grabs 11th Top Ten Win On WTA Finals Debut

Kiki Bertens sealed an 11th top ten win today as she beat Angelique Kerber on her WTA Finals debut.

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Kiki Bertens (zimbio.com)

Kiki Bertens keeps on making history as she sealed an 11th top ten win of her career with a 1-6 6-3 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber on her WTA Finals debut. 

The Dutchwoman completed victory in two hours as she sealed her 11th top ten win since Madrid this year by defeating Kerber.

Despite a good start, Kerber ultimately lost the match and will face Naomi Osaka on Wednesday in order to stay in the group.

The result means that for the first time since 2003, all opening Round Robin matches have seen the lower-ranked player win.

The Wimbledon champion started the contest well, playing aggressively and with confidence as she was used to the big occasion. While Bertens looked a little bit nervous as this was her debut at the WTA Finals.

The German’s control and poise throughout the first set was certainly impressive and that showed in the score-line as she effortlessly took the opening set 6-1.

Despite splitting with her coach Wim Fissette just before the WTA Finals, Kerber showed no signs of fear or doubt as she broke at the start of the second set.

However a talk from coach, Raemon Sluiter seemed to inspire the Dutchwoman as she started to take the ball earlier especially on Kerber’s second serve.

With confidence, Bertens broke twice in the set and dealt a crucial blow in the eighth game as she served to force a deciding set.

The eighth held to 15 and secured the second set in 39 minutes to raise hopes of securing another top 10 victory.

There were six breaks at the start of the final set as both women looked to be aggressive on return and stamp there authority in this crucial Red Group match.

This was before a confident Bertens showed some fierce on-court play as Kerber’s defence finally broke down and could no longer prevent the Dutchwoman’s attack.

The German tried to grab the break back but it wasn’t enough as a stubborn Bertens secured victory at 00:30 at night. The win is Bertens’ 11th top ten win of her career and will now play Sloane Stephens on Wednesday, with a straight sets win guaranteeing her qualification.

As for the German she will look to bounce back against US Open champion Naomi Osaka, with a win needed t9o give her any hopes of reaching the last four.

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