Wimbledon Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

They say upsets can be contagious, and that bug has spread across the grounds of The All England Club.

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Through four days of play, the ladies’ draw has already lost five of the top six seeds (and six of the top eight). On Thursday, Garbine Muguruza was the latest top seed to fall, as did 2017 Wimbledon Semifinalist Johanna Konta. In the gentlemen’s draw, Day 4 brought us the biggest upset to date. Marin Cilic, the third seed and 2017 finalist, lost to the 82nd-ranked player in the world, who had never won a match at SW19 prior to this week. Stan Wawrinka also went down in defeat on Thursday. Four of the top 10 male seeds have gone out, and a fifth may be on his way. Sascha Zverev is down two-sets-to-one to Taylor Fritz, in a match to be continued on Friday. Overall, 30 of the 64 singles seeds did not survive the first four days of The Championships. What will happen next?

 

Serena Williams vs. Kristina Mladenovic

Following the first round exit of pre-tournament favorite Petra Kvitova, the oddsmakers declared Serena Williams as the new favorite to win her eighth Wimbledon title. Considering this will only be her tenth singles match on tour in eighteen months, is that premature? Honestly, no. While she came into the fortnight with such little match play, and less than 100% healthy, no one has stepped up in her absence to dominate the tour (exhibit A: so many top seeds losing in the first two rounds). And we’ve seen Serena win majors while at less than her best before, or even while pregnant. Mladenovic though is a step up in competition for the 23-time Major singles champion. Last year, the Frenchwoman was ranked inside the top 10, in a season highlighted by her run to the quarterfinals at her home Major. She also had victories in 2017 over Halep, Wozniacki, Kerber, and Muguruza. But then she suffered a knee injury last year at Wimbledon, and it was all downhill from there. She went on a stunning 15-match losing streak. She’s now ranked 62nd in the world, though perhaps she’s ready to come out of her funk now that she’s barely defending any points for the rest of the season. And even though the singles results have subsided, she’s remained successful in doubles. Mladenovic won the women’s doubles title at the Australian Open, and won her second doubles title of the year just two weeks ago on the grass of Birmingham. They’ve only played once, with Serena defeating Kristina at the 2016 French Open. Serena should get through this one, but don’t sleep on Mladenovic – she can be dangerous.

Venus Williams vs. Kiki Bertens

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Here’s another case of a Williams sister facing a tough third round opponent. They just played for the first time a few months ago, with Venus avoiding the upset in Miami 7-5 in the third. Venus has struggled mightily this year, while Bertens’ stock continues to rise. Venus lost in the opening round at both of the first two Majors of 2018, and came into Wimbledon with only 10 wins on the year. If she’s going to turn her year around at any tournament, it’ll most likely happen here for the five-time Wimbledon champion and 2017 finalist. Bertens arrived at SW19 with twice as many wins as Venus in 2018. Kiki has become a bit of a clay court specialist since reaching the 2016 Roland Garros semifinals. 15 of her 22 wins this year have come on clay, including winning the title in Charleston and making the final in Madrid. However, she’s just 1-2 on grass this year, and has never been farther than this stage of The Championships. Still, Venus can ill afford to have an off day against a player with so many wins over the past few months.

Sam Querrey vs. Gael Monfils

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This match will open Thursday’s play on Centre Court. Querrey has won 11 of his last 13 singles matches at The All England Club. In 2016, his shocking upset of Novak Djokovic began Novak’s tailspin, which he’s still battling to recover from. Last year, he took out the visibly-hampered top seed and home favorite, Andy Murray, on Centre Court. Querrey is 0-2 lifetime against Monfils, but they’ve never met on grass, a surface which should heavily favor the American. Also working in Sam’s favor? Gael is 0-6 in third round matches at Wimbledon. He’ll need to scramble around every blade of grass and extend the rallies to challenge the big-hitting Querrey. If Monfils can remain motivated throughout the match, the contrast in styles could make for a great contest. Regardless, I like Sam’s chances to advance to the second week of The Championships for the third straight year.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu

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Buzarnescu has been one of the hottest players on tour in 2018. She started the year playing in the minor leagues of the sport, but 19 wins over the past three months has landed her the 29th seed here. Her recent run started in Prague, where she advanced to the final. Mihaela then made the round of 16 at the French Open, and collected a total of seven wins at grass court lead-up events. Her opponent today openly admits to feeling uncomfortable on the lawns of The All England Club. On Wednesday however, Pliskova broke a streak of five-straight second round losses at Wimbledon by ousting Victoria Azarenka in impressive fashion, her first win on Centre Court. Their only previous meeting happened on grass and went to Karolina, though that was over six years ago. I think Pliskova can make a run in the ladies’ draw if she can get some momentum and get passed this confident opposition.

Julia Goerges vs. Barbora Strycova

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Head-to-head records are rarely this tight when players have met this many times, with each of these veterans winning five of the ten times they’ve played. Surprisingly, this will be their first match on grass. Between the end of 2017 and the start of this year, Georges went on a 15-match winning streak. This included titles at Moscow, the WTA Elite Trophy event, and Auckland. However, she’s yet to transfer that success to a Major. She’s never been farther than the fourth round at any Grand Slam event, and lost in the first round of Wimbledon in five straight years prior to this week. Strycova has played much better at SW19, making the quarter-finals back in 2014. Going into this year’s French Open, Barbora was on an eight-match losing streak, making her fourth round appearance at Roland Garros on her weakest surface all the more surprising. She followed that up with a semifinal on the grass of Birmingham, where she upset Muguruza. Based on recent form, as well as past Wimbledon success, Strycova should have the edge here.

Order of play

CENTRE COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START

1 Sam Querrey (USA) [11] 17 vs Gael Monfils (FRA) 23

2 Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 100 vs Serena Williams (USA) [25] 104

3 Roger Federer (SUI) [1] 1 vs Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7

No.1 COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START

1 Taylor Fritz (USA) 94 vs Alexander Zverev (GER) [4] 96 T/F 4/6 7/5 7/6(0) 0/0

2 Kiki Bertens (NED) [20] 73 vs Venus Williams (USA) [9] 80

3 Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [7] 65 vs Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) [29] 72

4 Dennis Novak (AUT) 44 vs Milos Raonic (CAN) [13] 48

No.2 COURT – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START

1 Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [25] 25 vs Kevin Anderson (RSA) [8] 32

2 Julia Goerges (GER) [13] 81 vs Barbora Strycova (CZE) [23] 88

3 John Isner (USA) [9] 49 vs Radu Albot (MDA) 55

No.3 COURT – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START

1 Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 107 vs Madison Keys (USA) [10] 112

2 Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 92 vs Donna Vekic (CRO) 95

3 Adrian Mannarino (FRA) [22] 9 vs Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 15

4 Neal Skupski (GBR) / Naomi Broady (GBR) 27 vs Joe Salisbury (GBR) / Katy Dunne (GBR) 28

COURT 12 – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START

1 Lucie Safarova (CZE) 124 vs Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 126

2 Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) / Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 15 vs Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) [5] 16

3 Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [31] 57 vs Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 62

COURT 18 – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START

1 Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 114 vs Camila Giorgi (ITA) 119

2 Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) [1] 1 vs Federico Delbonis (ARG) / Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela (MEX) 2

3 Guido Pella (ARG) 36 vs Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 38

COURT 5 – 11:30 START

1 Kevin Krawietz (GER) / Andreas Mies (GER) 54 vs Pablo Cuevas (URU) / Marcel Granollers (ESP) [11] 56

2 Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) / Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 21 vs Lucie Hradecka (CZE) / Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) [14] 24

COURT 6 – 13:00 START

1 Fabrice Martin (FRA) / Raluca Olaru (ROU) 35 vs Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) / Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 36

2 Irina Bara (ROU) / Alize Cornet (FRA) 47 vs Andreja Klepac (SLO) / Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) [4] 48 T/F 5/7 7/6(3) 0/0

3 Andrei Vasilevski (BLR) / Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 37 vs Luke Bambridge (GBR) / Katie Boulter (GBR) 38

4 Antonio Sancic (CRO) / Petra Martic (CRO) 3 vs Artem Sitak (NZL) / Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR) 4

COURT 7 – 13:00 START

1 Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) [12] 25 vs Frederik Nielsen (DEN) / Joe Salisbury (GBR) 28

2 Jamie Cerretani (USA) / Renata Voracova (CZE) 19 vs John-Patrick Smith (AUS) / Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 20

3 Mike Bryan (USA) / Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 21 vs Philipp Oswald (AUT) / Xenia Knoll (SUI) 22

COURT 8 – 11:30 START

1 Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK) / Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) [9] 9 vs Ken Skupski (GBR) / Neal Skupski (GBR) 11

2 Xinyun Han (CHN) / Luksika Kumkhum (THA) 54 vs Vania King (USA) / Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) [17] 56

3 Nicholas Monroe (USA) / Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO) 53 vs Ken Skupski (GBR) / Anna Smith (GBR) 54

COURT 10 – 11:30 START

1 Roman Jebavy (CZE) / Andres Molteni (ARG) 30 vs Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL) [6] 32

2 Sofia Kenin (USA) / Sachia Vickery (USA) 5 vs Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) / Monica Niculescu (ROU) [13] 8

3 Christina McHale (USA) / Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 29 vs Hao-Ching Chan (TPE) / Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) [7] 32

COURT 14 – 11:30 START

1 Mike Bryan (USA) / Jack Sock (USA) [7] 49 vs Sander Arends (NED) / Matwe Middelkoop (NED) 51

2 Jay Clarke (GBR) / Cameron Norrie (GBR) 5 vs Marcelo Arevalo (ESA) / Hans Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI) 6 T/F 4/6 7/6(5) 7/5 3/4

3 Raquel Atawo (USA) / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) [11] 25 vs Tatjana Maria (GER) / Heather Watson (GBR) 28

4 John Peers (AUS) / Shuai Zhang (CHN) 61 vs Hans Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI) / Lidziya Marozava (BLR) 62

5 Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK) / Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) 45 vs Andres Molteni (ARG) / Makoto Ninomiya (JPN) 46

COURT 15 – 11:30 START

1 Mandy Minella (LUX) / Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 37 vs Georgina Garcia Perez (ESP) / Fanny Stollar (HUN) 38

2 Dominic Inglot (GBR) / Franko Skugor (CRO) [15] 41 vs Marcelo Demoliner (BRA) / Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) 44

3 Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Alexander Peya (AUT) [8] 33 vs Mirza Basic (BIH) / Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 35

COURT 16 – 11:30 START

1 Antonio Sancic (CRO) / Andrei Vasilevski (BLR) 38 vs Robin Haase (NED) / Robert Lindstedt (SWE) 39

2 Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) / Yifan Xu (CHN) [6] 49 vs Shuko Aoyama (JPN) / Jennifer Brady (USA) 51

3 Alicja Rosolska (POL) / Abigail Spears (USA) 14 vs Latisha Chan (TPE) / Shuai Peng (CHN) [5] 16

4 Hugo Nys (FRA) / Shuko Aoyama (JPN) 11 vs Marcus Daniell (NZL) / Nadiia Kichenok (UKR) 12

5 Marcin Matkowski (POL) / Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 43 vs Divij Sharan (IND) / Alicja Rosolska (POL) 44

COURT 17 – 13:00 START

1 Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Marcin Matkowski (POL) 61 vs Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) [2] 64

2 Elise Mertens (BEL) / Demi Schuurs (NED) [8] 33 vs Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) / Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 35

3 Robin Haase (NED) / Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 13 vs Franko Skugor (CRO) / Vania King (USA) 14

4 Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) / Raquel Atawo (USA) 51 vs Nicolas Mahut (FRA) / Elina Svitolina (UKR) 52

MATCHES TO BE ARRANGED

NOT BEFORE 17.00

1 Jack Sock (USA) / Sloane Stephens (USA) 59 vs Dominic Inglot (GBR) / Samantha Stosur (AUS) 60

2 Robert Lindstedt (SWE) / Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) 5 vs Jay Clarke (GBR) / Harriet Dart (GBR) 6

3 Wesley Koolhof (NED) / Elise Mertens (BEL) 29 vs Jamie Murray (GBR) / Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 3

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‘An Incredible Job’ – Nick Kyrgios Hails Strict Australian Open Quarantine Measures

The outspoken Australian also explains why he believes it is right to publicly criticise top names such as Novak Djokovic.

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Nick Kyrgios says he feels safer playing tennis than last year following a series of COVID-19 measures that have been implemented ahead of the Australian Open.

 

The former top-20 star has hailed the action taken by authorities which has triggered a somewhat mixed response from other players. Those playing in the first Grand Slam of the season are currently going through a 14-day quarantine with 72 players being unable to leave their room after being deemed a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for the virus. A series of positive tests was detected on flights en route to the country.

Although some players have criticised the process with allegations of poor room standards and preferential treatment for the top players who are currently based in Adelaide instead of Melbourne. Spain’s Paula Badosa tested positive for COVID-19 on the sixth day of her quarantine and had symptoms. In a recent interview with the Marca newspaper, Badosa says she feels ‘abandoned’ by authorities during what is the ‘worst experience’ of her career.

However, Kyrgios has hailed the comprehensive approach that has been taken by the authorities. He was one of the few players not to travel to Europe or North America during the second part of last year due to concerns related to the Pandemic. Compatriot Ash Barty was another to do the same.

“In Melbourne, with obviously the bubble, they’ve done an incredible job there. The authorities aren’t letting up and [are] making sure everyone is sticking by the rules,” Kyrgios told CNN.
“I actually feel quite safe. I didn’t really feel safe during last year, traveling and playing overseas, I thought it was a bit too soon to play.
“I think now the conditions are safe enough and everyone is going to work together and make sure we do it the right way.
“I don’t want to put anyone else at risk. I have loved ones that I don’t want to even have the chance to expose to Covid so I think it’s safe enough.”

Renowned for his at times fiery behaviour on the Tour and outspoken tone, the 25-year-old has no intention of changing his habits. Last summer he hit out at a series of his peers over their behaviour during the pandemic and blasted the Adria Tour. An exhibition series co-founded by Novak Djokovic which had to end early following an outbreak of the virus among players and staff members.

Djokovic is one of the players who Kyrgios has criticised the most in recent times. On January 18th he called the 17-time Grand Slam champion a ‘tool’ on Twitter after his letter to Craig Tiley was leaked to the public. Nevertheless, Kyrgios has no regrets over his comments as he feels it is vital to hold the top names accountable as he drew parallels between Djokovic and NBA great LeBron James.

I think it’s very important, especially one of the leaders of our sport. He’s technically our LeBron James,” he said.
“He has to set an example for all tennis players out there and set an example for tennis,”
added Kyrgios. “I think when he was doing some of the things that he was doing during the global pandemic, it just wasn’t the right time.
“I know everyone makes mistakes. Even some of us go off track sometimes but I think we need to hold each other accountable.
“I’m not doing any of this stuff for media attention, these are the morals that I’ve grown up with. I was just trying to do my part.”

Due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and injury, Kyrgios hasn’t played a full competitive match on the ATP Tour since his fourth round loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open almost a year ago.

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The Slow And Successful Rise Of Veronika Kudermetova

Let us look at the long path to success at high levels of the current Russian number two, who just finished as the runner-up in Abu Dhabi.

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Veronika Kudermetova - Roland Garros 2019 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)
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While waiting for the end of the Australian quarantine, UbiTennis continues our analysis of the players involved in the first tournament of the year, the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi.

After the article dedicated to Ekaterina Alexandrova, I shall continue with the Russian line by discussing Veronika Kudermetova. For her, the week in the Emirates was a very positive one, given that for the first time in her career she managed to reach the final of a WTA 500 event (the new denomination of the Premier tournaments, which assign 470 points to the winner). During the tournament, Kudermetova defeated Kontaveit, Turati, Badosa, Svitolina and Kostyuk, losing only to Aryna Sabalenka (who, between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, has an active winning streak of 15 matches). Veronika’s excellent moment is validated by the best ranking she achieved this week at N.36 – had she won the final, she would have become the Russian N.1, overtaking Alexandrova. 

 

It should be emphasized, however, that all the talk about the rankings is muddled by the rules introduced with the pandemic, rules that tend to maintain the status quo, and in fact disfavour up-and-coming players like Kudermetova. Had only the results obtained in 2020 been counted, Veronika would have ended the season ranked 29th instead of 46th. Then, by factoring in the final reached in the UAE last Wednesday, her spot in the Top 30 would have been cemented even further. It might seem senseless to keep referring to a virtual ranking based on past rules (which are slated to come back in March, though), but I think it helps to identify the players who are doing better, despite the many difficulties of the current period. In fact, we know that we are playing less than usual, and this makes it more difficult to build that momentum which, thanks to above average conditions of form and enthusiasm, translates into significant leaps in quality and standing.

As for Kudermetova, there are at least two aspects of her career that, in my opinion, make her particularly interesting: the difficulties she faced to find financial support in her teenage years, and the comparison with her peers born in 1997, a special year for women’s tennis. In fact, Veronika was born in the same year as successful and precocious players such as Bencic, Ostapenko and Osaka, as well as Konjuh (unfortunately stopped by injuries) and Kasatkina, her Russian “twin” with whom she shared the years on the junior tour. Let’s start from those years.

On page 2, Kudermetova’s beginnings 

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Do Your Players Understand The Tennis Score System? – If They Don’t, They’ll Struggle Mentally

The more unrealistic expectations players have got, the more they are going to struggle with their thoughts and emotions.

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A frustrated coach calls. Asks for a mental tool to help “fix” their player’s mentality. But it’s not always a mental tool that is required. Often, it’s about going back to the basics. It’s about educating players about the realities of tennis. First step is getting players to know how to count. Second step is educating players about the score system. Close to every coach gets the first step done properly. The second step, not so much. And let me be the first to say, I have not been any better myself. 

 

So how do we start to educate players about the score system of tennis? 

A bold but true statement, that needs to be taken into account. “Tennis players are a bunch of losers” as Kelsey Anderson once entitled a blog post of hers. The reality is that tennis players lose a lot when playing matches. 

Craig O’Shannesy has made statistics in tennis easy to understand and digest. Craig’s work is a cornerstone in helping players with more realistic expectations. More realistic expectations equal less frustration and anger on court. 

So, let’s have a look at a key static to help educate the player you are coaching. 

Roger Federer
-103 titles
-1200+ match wins.
-20 Grand Slams
-Nearly $130 million in prize money

Undeniably one of the best tennis players to ever live. 

How many percentages of the points he has played in his professional career has he won? 

Before I knew the statistic, I guessed 70% or even 75%. After all, we are talking about Roger Federer.

I was wrong!

55%. 

Meaning that Roger Federer has lost 45 % of the points that he has played in his professional career. Almost half the points he has played. I was astonished the first time I heard this statistic! 

We are not talking about your average professional, it’s a player that has dominated the sport together with the rest of the so called “big three”. 

Talking about “the big three”. Interestingly Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the only 2 other players to equal Federer on 55 % of points won in their professional career. 

So what does this statistic mean to players?

A lot of players believe that they should be winning 8/10 points to win a match. That they have to destroy the other player. They play 3 good points and then miss an easy put-away forehand and yell “I’m sooooo bad!”. 

The reality is that if a player is only messing up on every 4th point, they are doing an unbelievable job. Tennis is a game of mistakes. No matter how hard players try they can’t avoid making mistakes. We want to minimize unforced errors but player’s thinking that they can go through a match without making mistakes and losing a lot of points is simply unrealistic. 

When a player’s internal reality is different from the reality they are faced with in matches, it will lead to frustration and anger. The frustration and anger will be termed as bad behavior and a mental problem. The mental problem is often attempted to be fixed with mental tools. Could be a physical routine or a breathing technique. While the mental tools can treat the symptom and be very helpful in acute situations, it’s important to address the cause of why the frustration and anger arises in the first place. 

From the 55% statistic on Federer how is it possible to help the players with more realistic expectations? 

Here are 2 coaching advice to reinforce to players:

“Expect to lose almost every other point even in the matches that you are winning” 

“If you can keep you opponent from winning 2 points in a row for long enough – eventually you’ll win”

Remember that unrealistic expectations lead to players experiencing frustration and anger. The better we educate players about the realities of tennis, the more realistic expectations they will have. The more realistic expectations the more focus and mental energy can be spent focusing on their gameplan and executing their shots. The more focus on executing their shots, the bigger opportunity of performing well. The better the player perform, the bigger the opportunity of winning the match. 

By Adam Blicher
Danish Sport Psychologist Consultant Adam Blicher is a member of the International Sport Mental Coach Association

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