Madrid Open Preview: Petra Kvitova Eyes Women's Title As Zverev Faces Next Gen Star - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Preview: Petra Kvitova Eyes Women’s Title As Zverev Faces Next Gen Star

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Petra Kvitova (zimbio.com)

Friday was a newsworthy day in Madrid, as Rafael Nadal suffered a defeat on clay for the first time in 51 weeks at the hands of Dominic Thiem.  Today in the semifinals, Thiem will battle Kevin Anderson, a man he’s never beaten in six tries. But in our preview, we’ll focus on the other men’s semifinal, between ATP young guns Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov.  Also on Saturday, the women’s final will take place, with the hottest player on the WTA tour facing a surprise finalist.

 

Petra Kvitova vs. Kiki Bertens

In the women’s final, Kvitova will look to extend her 10-match win streak and secure her second straight title after taking the trophy last week in Prague.  It would be her fourth title of the year, having already won back-to-back titles earlier this year in St. Petersburg and Doha. A win today would move her passed Simona Halep and into second place in the year-to-date rankings.  Her opponent is a 26-year-old Dutch player going for the biggest title of her career. While not as established as Kvitova, Bertens can play on the clay. Kiki advanced to the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2016, and won the clay tournament in Charleston just last month.  The only time these two played each other, Kvitova lost just one game. But that was three years ago, and on the grass at Wimbledon. Still, considering Kvitova’s current win streak, and the altitude in Madrid enhancing her game, Petra should prevail.

Alexander Zverev vs. Denis Shapovalov

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19-year-old Denis Shapovalov had never won a tour-level match on clay before this week, but now he finds himself in his second Masters 1000 semifinal.  His first such semifinal was his only previous meeting against 21-year-old Alexander Zverev, who stopped the Canadian’s thrilling run in Montreal last summer.  Shapovalov has gone on another impressive run this week, highlighted by defeating the Canadian number one Milos Raonic. Shapovalov will become the new top-ranked Canadian if he wins this semifinal.  But Zverev will be stiff competition. The German is on a seven-match winning streak, having won the title just last week in Munich. Zverev hasn’t dropped a set this week in Madrid, and will be the favorite to advance to his fourth Masters final.

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Novak Djokovic Faces Jaziri Test As Familiar Face Waits For Tsitsipas In Dubai

Novak Djokovic will play his first tournament since capturing his eighth Australian Open title in Dubai this week.

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Novak Djokovic (@usopen - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic will face Malek Jaziri in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Championships this week. 

 

The Serb enters the tournament in Dubai having edged his way to the Australian Open title last month at Melbourne Park.

Full of confidence and energy, Djokovic will play Malek Jaziri in the opening round in Dubai with the Tunisian being a former quarter-finalist here.

Speaking at the draw ceremony, Jaziri feels at home playing in the middle-east, “I feel like I’m playing at home here,” the Tunisian told the Khaleej Times.

“That run a couple years back and I’ve also made the quarters a couple of times, it’s perfect to be back competing here.”

Should Djokovic get through Jaziri in the opening round then Philipp Kohlschreiber or Mohammed Safwat will await in the second round. A last eight showdown with Karen Khachanov could also be on the cards for the Serb.

Not only is Djokovic in singles action this week but he is also teaming up with Marin Cilic in doubles as they face top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

As for the second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, he could face a rematch with Hubert Hurkacz from last year’s event where the Greek won.

Before that match happens in the second round, Stefanos Tsitsipas will have to get past Pablo Carreno Busta while Hurkacz faces the unpredictable Alexander Bublik.

In other headline first round matches, Dan Evans will face 4th seed Fabio Fognini while Marin Cilic will face eighth seed Benoit Paire.

Here is the full draw with play getting under way on Monday:

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Milos Raonic Fights Off Johnson Challenge To Reach Delray Beach Semi-Finals

Milos Raonic fought off a tough test from Steve Johnson to reach the last four in Delray Beach.

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Milos Raonic (@DelrayBeachOpen - Twitter)

Milos Raonic fought off a tough Steve Johnson challenge to reach the Delray Beach Open semi-finals. 

 

The Canadian didn’t play his best tennis in his 7-6(6) 6-3 victory over the American but used his fighting qualities to reach the last four in Florida.

A break of serve each in the opening set saw a tiebreak separate the two men before the former Wimbledon finalist edged to a one set lead.

Then the Canadian took control breaking twice in the second set to seal his spot in the semi-finals of an ATP event for the first time since Stuttgart last year.

After the win, Raonic admitted he didn’t play his best tennis, “You just have to sort of scrap and find a way,” the Canadian told the ATP website.

“I was moving well, I put a lot of returns in. I was doing the things I could control as well as possible. Didn’t serve particularly well, but it was just important to keep fighting. Got a few lucky breaks and made the most of them.”

If Raonic wants to reach the final in Florida then he will have to serve will in his next match against big serving, Reilly Opelka.

The American blasted 16 aces past Soonwoo Kwon in his emphatic 6-3 6-4 victory over the South Korean to reach the last four.

In the tightest quarter-final of the day yesterday, Yoshihito Nishioka edged past promising American talent Brandon Nakishima 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Two crucial breaks at the start of the deciding set proved crucial for the Japanese star as he set up a semi-final with Ugo Humbert, who only dropped three games against Frances Tiafoe.

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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