Wimbledon Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Saturday at The Championships, the first week of play will conclude, and we should be left with 16 ladies and 16 gentlemen in singles by day’s end.

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With the departures of Venus Williams and Madison Keys on Friday, only two of the top 10 seeds remain in the ladies’ draw. One of those seeds is already through to the round of 16, as Karolina Pliskova has reached that stage for the first time at Wimbledon. The other is the world number one, who today will play a tricky third round opponent. In the gentlemen’s draw, we’ve also seen a fair amount of upsets, but many top names remain. They include Nadal, Djokovic, Del Potro, and Zverev, all of whom will take the court on Day 6.

Rafael Nadal vs. Alex De Minaur

The world number one and seventeen-time Major champion will open play on Centre Court. He’ll face this 19-year-old Australian for the first time. De Minaur jumped into the tennis pool and made a big splash in his home country six months ago. Alex notched seven total victories between his semifinal run in Brisbane, and his run to the final in Sydney. A familiar face has been in his player’s box: Lleyton Hewitt, one of De Minaur’s idols, has been coaching the young Australian. De Minaur’s style is reminiscent of Hewitt’s: quick movement around the court, flashy counterpunching, and plenty of pumping himself up. He’ll need to utilize every bit of those tactics against the all-time great on the other side of the net, though it likely won’t be enough to threaten Nadal unless Rafa has a day off. Even though Nadal’s had many of those in recent years at The All England Club, he’s looked fully comfortable in the hot and dry conditions thus far. This collision of generations should be fun to watch, and perhaps it’s a glimpse of a future star on Centre Court.

Simona Halep vs. Su-Wei Hsieh

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As the men’s number one plays on Centre, the women’s number one will start the day’s play on No.1 Court. Halep has weathered the upset storm in the ladies’ draw through two rounds. She has really solidified herself as the undisputed best player in the world, not only with her first Major title in Paris, but also with her consistency. Simona is now 15-2 at Grand Slam events this year, and has a great chance to improve on that record in a wide open draw. Grass may not be her best surface, but she’s made the semifinals at SW19 before, and has to be considered one of the favorites to win the title with so many other big names already out of the tournament. Her opposition on Saturday though, who is her third straight opponent from Asia, is no pushover. The 32-year-old veteran from Taipei is a former doubles number one, with two Grand Slam doubles titles to her name. She’s no slouch in singles either, as we saw at the Australian Open earlier this year. She pushed Angelique Kerber in a highly-entertaining fourth round battle. Hsieh plays with a lot of spin and slices, which of course can be highly effective on the grass. However, Su-Wei has never been farther than this round in singles at Wimbledon, and only twice beyond this stage in singles at any major. In their only previous meeting, on a hard court in 2013, Halep won in three sets. While the contrast in styles should provide entertaining rallies, Simona should prevail.

Angelique Kerber vs. Naomi Osaka

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The second match of the day on Centre Court will see a counterpunching lefty, and former Wimbledon finalist, against an up-and-coming righty who just bludgeons the ball. This is a rematch from the first round of last year’s US Open, the first time these two met. On that day, Osaka dismantled Kerber, dropping just four games in the process of the upset. They would play twice more at the end of 2017, with Kerber getting revenge in both of those matches. Osaka has really upped her game in 2018, most notably in her stunning tournament win at Indian Wells. The very next week in Miami, she thumped Serena Williams. Naomi already has 27 wins on the year, and now sits at a career-high ranking of 18th. A few weeks ago in Nottingham, Osaka showed she’s comfortable playing on grass by making the semifinals. The third round at Majors has been a bit of a road block for Osaka thus far in her career at Majors: she’s just 1-6 at this stage. Like Osaka, Kerber is also having a strong 2018. Angelique has 34 wins this year, and won the title in Brisbane. The German has made the quarterfinals or better at Wimbledon in three of the past six years, and has only done so in even years. Based on that numerology, she’s due for another deep run here, and that is entirely possible in a quarter of the draw which has already seen Garbine Muguruza eliminated. This may be the sturdiest test Kerber faces in returning to the semifinals at SW19. When Osaka is on, she can hit just about anyone off the court. Kerber will need to rely on her defensive skills as well as her experience on grass, while also using and the angles she’s so good at finding to move Osaka around and put her in uncomfortable positions. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Novak Djokovic vs. Kyle Edmund

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This will conclude the day’s schedule on Centre Court, and will be the match Great Britain follows most closely. Edmund is now the British number one, and is also the only Brit remaining in either singles draw. I normally would not bring up the World Cup in a tennis preview, but England’s quarterfinal match against Sweden will likely conclude right around the start of this match. That result may impact the Centre Court crowd’s energy, and Edmund will be counting on them to be boisterous as he faces the three-time former champion. Don’t misunderstand that statement: Kyle has a real chance to win this match. He hasn’t just been handed the title of British number one in Murray’s absence: he’s earned it. His semifinal run in Australia was highly impressive, and included victories over two top 12 seeds. He even defeated a returning Andy Murray last week in Eastbourne. Edmund’s now ranked 17th in the world, a career high, and his ranking will likely improve regardless of today’s result. As for Djokovic, he’s shown signs in the last two months of regaining his mojo, but we’ve also seen him blink in pressure situations. This can be summed up in one word: Cecchinato. Djokovic holds a career 3-1 edge against Edmund, but Kyle won their last meeting exactly two months ago today in Madrid. This could easily turn into an extended, thrilling encounter on Centre Court. Edmund has a great one-two punch with his big serve and snappy forehand, and he may seriously complicate matters for Djokovic.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Kei Nishikori

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In the last match on No.1 Court’s schedule, it’s a big opportunity for a player with all the potential in the world to show he’s ready to step up. Nishikori is of course the more accomplished player, even though he’s currently the lower-ranked player after missing much of the past year due to injury. However, Kyrgios is the better grass court player, and the player so many are waiting on to realize that potential. Nick made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon as a 19-year-old in 2014, but has not gone any farther at any major in the last four years. Kyrgios didn’t play any singles matches during the European clay court season, and pulled out of Roland Garros citing an elbow injury. He returned to play on the grass of Queen’s Club, where he earned solid wins over Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund, and Feliciano Lopez before losing a close match to Marin Cilic in the semifinals. Unfortunately his dramatics on court have not subsided, even in relatively comfortable victory. Kyrgios found many reasons to complain to the chair umpire, the crowd, his box, and himself during a straight sets victory over Robin Haase on Thursday. It’s that negative attitude which may cost him against Nishikori. Kei is not back to his best form, and has never played his best on grass, but he’ll never defeat himself as Nick will. Nishikori is 3-0 lifetime against Kyrgios, though they’ve never met on grass. On paper, Kyrgios should win this match, but the result may rest on whether Kyrgios can meet this occasion. I’m not sure what we’ll see today: the Nick that played so confidently and won three tiebreaks over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Australia this year, or the Nick who too often gives off such bad energy on court. Until he consistently proves otherwise, I’ll expect the latter.

Order of play

Play starts at 11:30 BST on each court unless stated
Centre Court (from 13:00 BST)
1. Alex De Minaur v Rafael Nadal
2. Angelique Kerber v Naomi Osaka
3. Kyle Edmund v Novak Djokovic

Court 1 (from 13:00 BST)
1. Simona Halep v Su-Wei Hsieh
2. Ernests Gulbis v Alexander Zverev
3. Nick Kyrgios v Kei Nishikori

Court 2
1. Juan Martin Del Potro v Benoit Paire
2. Dominika Cibulkova v Elise Mertens

Court 3
1. Ashleigh Barty v Daria Kasatkina
2. Jelena Ostapenko v Vitalia Diatchenko
3. Jiri Vesely v Fabio Fognini

Court 12
1. Alison Van Uytvanck v Anett Kontaveit
2. Carla Suarez Navarro v Belinda Bencic
3. Karen Khachanov v Frances Tiafoe

Court 18
1. Gilles Simon v Matthew Ebden
2. Daria Gavrilova v Aliaksandra Sasnovich

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Team World Gets First Lead at Laver Cup

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-Chicago, Illinois

Team World was in really bad shape midway through Day Two of the Laver Cup. They were down 7-1 after the losing the first two singles matches on Saturday. Fast forward 24 hours and two wins later and John Isner and Jack Sock combined for a remarkable victory on Sunday winning their doubles match over Roger Federer and Sasha Zverev in dramatic fashion 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 11-9 giving the World Team an 8-7 edge, the first time Team World has led the competition in the two years it has been played.

It was a highly entertaining affair from the start. Sock and Isner who won the Indian Wells doubles title together this year the favourites over the No. 2 and No. 5 players in the world. Federer and Zverev hadn’t played together as a team before but they held their own. They won the first set in 28 minutes making just three unforced errors along the way.

In the second set there were no breaks of serve so the teams went to a tiebreak. Team World jumped out to an early 5-1 lead after Sock hit a great backhand crosscourt return and ran over to his bench to celebrate. A monster serve from Isner forced a deciding match tiebreak set.

In the tiebreak Team Europe got out to an early lead after a big backhand service return from the 6’6 German was unreturnable.

Sock, again, came up big down 8-6. He hit a beautiful backhand crosscourt shot past Federer to close the gap. After a Federer serve made it 9-7 it was Isner’s turn to steal the show. A big forehand which Zverev chose not to hit thinking it was heading out made it 9-8 and then a monster serve set up a Sock put a way volleys to to even it at 9-9. An Isner ace made it 10-9 and then on the next point a Zeverev backhand sailed long sending the stadium into a frenzy. Sock fell to the ground and Isner jumped for joy like a young kid. It was a great thing to watch something you don’t see in tennis often.

@Sportshorn

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Team World Back in the Laver Cup Heading Into Sunday

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-Chicago, Illinois

Kevin Anderson played some phenomenal tennis and exacted some revenge for his loss to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon Final.

In a highly entertaining match on Saturday night at the United Center it was Anderson who put two important points on the board with a 7-6 5-7 10-6 win over the No. 3 player in the world.

Anderson came out strong from the start perhaps inspired by playing in front of the Chicago crowd. He attended college here after moving from his home in South Africa.

Anderson had 19 winners in the first set which included some solid play from the baseline. Two of those shots came in the opening set tiebreak. The best of the bunch a brilliant cross court forehand to give him a 6-5 lead. Djokovic then doubled away the set on the next point.

The second set was highly contested as well and included a huge rally in the eighth game won by Djokovic after a crosscourt winner. The only break from either player in the match came in the 11th game when Anderson hit a backhand long one of his 38 unforced errors in the match. Djokovic held a game later to even things up.

In the tiebreak Anderson got out to an early 3-1 but Djokovic came back to go up 4-3. A big crosscourt forehand and a huge serve put Anderson in the drivers seat up 7-5. Two points later, the 6’8, World No. 9 crushed a huge forehand service return which the 14-time Grand Slam champ couldn’t reach. On match point Djokovic hit a forehand into the net giving Anderson the win and seeing Djokovic lose for the first time in singles since the third round in Toronto in early August.

“Right from the beginning I was feeling really good,” said Anderson. “I was serving well, I was staying in points a lot and doing all the things I needed to do against him. I thought all in all it was a really high quality match.”

“I enjoyed it. The atmosphere was electric, said Djokovic. “I got to experience the Laver Cup at it’s best in my singles today. I tried, I gave it my best but Kevin was playing fantastic, playing amazing, serving amazing, just brilliant match, brilliant performance he deserved to win.”

Team Europe closed the gap in the competition even further as Nick Kyrgios and partner Jack Sock got a routine straight sets win over Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 in the final match of the night.

So after things weren’t looking so good after two more singles defeats earlier in the day, Team World has closed the gap to 7-5 heading into the final day. On Sunday, starting with doubles, each match win is worth three points so the Laver Cup is fully up for grabs.

@Sportshorn

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Team Europe Takes Commanding 7-1 Lead at Laver Cup

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-Chicago, Illinois

Team Europe has taken a commanding 7-1 lead after the day session matches at the Laver Cup in Chicago. In front of another packed house at the United Center, Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer came away victorious. Zverev coming from a set down to defeat John Isner 3-6, 7-6, 10-7 while Federer easily dispatched Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2 in just 65 minutes.

Team Europe has now won five of the six matches so far at the event and guarantees themselves a lead heading into Sunday’s final day no matter what happens in the two remaining matches this evening. Each of Saturday’s wins was worth two points. The winning team needs 13 to capture the Laver Cup trophy.

Zverev started off slowly going down 3-0 in the first set with Isner playing some knockout tennis. The 6’11 American hit 15 winners including eight aces.

Zverev turned around his play in the second set keeping the ball in the court and forcing a tiebreak. In the breaker, the 6’6 German saved a match point with a huge backhand winner which drew a great reaction from Zverev and his European teammates. Another backhand winner locked up the tiebreak as well.

In the match tiebreak Zverev got ahead 4-0 and 5-2 but Isner fought back to make it interesting with help from his big serve. On match point it was another Zverev backhand winner which sailed past the approaching Isner. The youngest member of the European team dropping to his knees in celebration.

In the second match of the day, Federer played some of his best tennis of the year against Kyrgios on Saturday. His beautiful one-handed backhand was on target throughout, he served reasonably well and he broke his opponent three times. Kyrgios was left dumb-founded and frustrated on several occasions as Federer’s winners were just catching the lines.

There was an entertaining moment in the second set, hard to believe in a match involving Kyrgios. Down a set and 3-1, a Kyrgios serve appear to be called “out” but was quickly changed to “in” with Federer barely getting his racquet on the ball. The chair umpire said they should replay the point which irked both the Australian and Team captain John McEnroe. Both players had their turn criticizing the umpire with the on court microphones picking up the commentary. Kyrgios called the umpire “delusional”, McEnroe in an angry voice yelled “No chance was he going to get that return back” and waved his arms in disgust. Kyrgios went on to lose the game and the match. As Kyrgios said to the press afterwards, the call didn’t impact the match as he was getting beaten quite badly.

“I had a good training week,” said Federer. ” I have been now in the States for almost two months, so I didn’t fight with jet lag, you know, like maybe some of the other guys on my team. I think that all helped. And then I think I had a clear game plan and just had the feeling like I was making a lot of returns against Nick. And from the baseline I was calm, composed, knew when to attack, when to wait. I was moving my feet very well.”

@Sportshorn

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