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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Andy Murray Set For 2017 Rematch With Wawrinka As Thiem Handed Tough Route In Paris

Dominic Thiem is given a hard draw at Roland Garros as Andy Murray meets a familiar foe in his first match.

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(@ESPNtenis - Twitter)

Andy Murray set for a 2017 Roland Garros rematch with Stan Wawrinka as Dominic Thiem handed difficult draw in Paris.

 

The Roland Garros draw has served up some tasty first round encounters with the main talking points taking place in the third quarter.

In that third quarter, sees a rematch between two grand slam champions from an epic semi-final in 2017.

Of course that match is Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in what is Murray’s first appearance in Paris since that match.

A couple of days ago, the duo were practicing in a sign of reminiscing their past, now they will do more than that when they take on each other in the first round.

However the tasty matches don’t stop there as the recent US Open champion Dominic Thiem has been given a rotten draw which includes a first round match against another former US Open champion, Marin Cilic.

Should Thiem beat Cilic then he could face tall American Reilly Opelka and Rome semi-finalist Casper Ruud before even getting to the second week.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka could wait in round four for the Austrian while Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman could be a last eight opponent.

Gael Monfils and Alexander Bublik will also clash in the pick of the first round in the third quarter.

Thiem is also in Rafael Nadal’s half, the man who is looking to win a 13th Roland Garros title.

The Spaniard will kick things off against Egor Gerasimov with Dan Evans or Kei Nishikori potentially awaiting in R3.

After a promising first week, Nadal could face John Isner or Fabio Fognini in the last 16, with Alexander Zverev awaiting in the quarter-finals.

The German, who recently lost an epic US Open final, will begin against Dennis Novak, with Alex De Minaur awaiting Zverev in R3. While the pick of the first rounds in Jannik Sinner against David Goffin.

In the top half, Novak Djokovic will begin against Mikael Ymer as he is arguably the best player in the world right now.

Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khachanov are likely to stand in his way en route to the quarter-finals.

Potential last eight matches include Matteo Berrettini, Jan Lennard Struff and Pablo Carreno Busta.

While Roberto Bautista Agut will face Richard Gasquet in the pick of the first round matches in the second quarter.

Finally in the second quarter Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are on a quarter-final collision course with each other but face tough opening matches.

Medvedev takes on talented Hungarian Marton Fucsovics while Tsitsipas plays Jaume Munar.

Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev are among those lurking in the second quarter.

A tasty two weeks in Paris are set, with the main draw beginning on Sunday in the French capital.

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Internazionali d’Italia Day 8 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Championships

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Diego Schwartzman played one of the best matches of the year Saturday night against Denis Shapovalov (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

The top two seeds will play for the women’s title, while Novak Djokovic vies for his fifth championship against whatever is left of the phenomenal Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 28-year-old Argentine has reached his first Masters 1,000 final.  Less than 48 hours ago, he earned his first career win over Rafael Nadal.  And late last night, Diego played a spectacular, three-plus-hour semifinal against Denis Shapovalov.  Coming back to defeat the world No.1, who’s only loss this year was his own doing, seems unfathomable.  However, Novak brought his New York crankiness with him to Rome this week, becoming extremely frustrated on court.

This is the third Rome final in four years for Simona Halep, though she’s yet to obtain the winner’s trophy.  But the top seed is on a 13-match winning streak, and won her last two events played.  Her opponent is on a nine-match winning streak in Rome, and looking to successfully defend her title.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Karolina Pliskova (2) – 2:30pm local time

Halep leads their head-to-head 7-4, though Pliskova has claimed the last two.  They’ve split their two matches contested on clay.  That includes their most prominent encounter, in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, which Halep won in three sets.  Simona was pushed to the limit yesterday by Garbine Muguruza, with her semifinal lasting an hour longer than Karolina’s straight set win over Marketa Vondrousova.  But Halep should still feel fresh for today’s championship match.  She did not play in New York, and all her other matches this week were straight-setters.  Simona also should take a lot of confidence from out-dueling Muguruza yesterday afternoon.  Much like Garbine, Pliskova has looked better this week with every passing round, and will look to utilize her power to overcome the two-time Major champion.  By contrast, Halep will use her speed and returning ability.  And based on Halep’s current form, her third Rome final may be the charm.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Diego Schwartzman (8) – not before 5:00pm local time

This is the 10th championship in Rome for Djokovic, with a 4-5 record previously.  He’s actually lost his last three finals here, to Rafael Nadal, Sascha Zverev, and Andy Murray.  Schwartzman will be the first seeded player Novak faces this week, though his opponents have caused him much anguish thus far. Diego’s efforts have been remarkable, playing an astoundingly high level.  While Schwartzman is 0-4 against Djokovic, he’s pushed Novak in their two previous battles on clay.  They went to a final set three years ago at Roland Garros as well as last year in the semifinals of this event.  But expecting Diego to do so again today following his last two matches seems unrealistic.  Djokovic is the favorite to win his fifth title, and gain momentum just six days ahead of the French Open.

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Internazionali d’Italia Day 7 Preview: The Singles Semifinals & Doubles Finals

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Court Centrale will not be as empty on Sunday, with 1,000 seats opened up to the public (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

Following Diego Schwartzman’s stunning defeat of Rafael Nadal, are more upsets to come?

 

The most marquee match of the day is a WTA blockbuster between two Roland Garros champions.  The other women’s semifinal will be decided between two Major finalists from the Czech Republic.  On the men’s side, four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic is yet to face a seeded player, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been challenged by his competition, with another red-hot opponent today.  And just 24 hours after what he described as his “best match ever,” Diego Schwartzman faces one of the ATP’s best players since the tour restart, who is poised to make his top 10 debut.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Garbine Muguruza (9)

It’s the 2016 French Open champion against the 2018 champ, both of whom are two-time Major winners.  Top-seeded Halep has looked stellar this week, and is yet to drop a set.  Muguruza’s road has been considerably more challenging.  She’s had to fight hard to outlast some stiff opposition: Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Johanna Konta, and Victoria Azarenka.  So while that’s built Garbine’s confidence, it also means she’s spent almost twice as much time on court.  Muguruza leads their head-to-head 4-2, which includes their most recent meeting, earlier this year in the Australian Open semifinals.  However, their only two matches on clay have gone to Halep.  And Simona is on a 12-match winning streak, having won her last two events played.  These slow-playing courts in Rome favor the speed and defense of the top seed.  A fresh Halep is the favorite to reach her third Rome final in the last four years.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Casper Ruud

Djokovic has not looked his best thus far, yet has survived some high quality tennis from the likes of Filip Krajinovic and Dominik Koepfer.  Casper Ruud is another dangerous unseeded player who comes into this match with a lot of momentum.  This week he already took out Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic, and Matteo Berrettini.  The 21-year-old from Norway arrived in Rome with only two match wins at Masters 1,000 events.  But Casper can play on the clay: earlier this season he reached the final in Santiago, and won his first ATP title in Buenos Aires.  However, defeating the world No.1 in their first career meeting is a big ask.  Novak’s only loss this year was his default at the US Open, and I don’t expect that to change today.

Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (12)

Vondrousova was the surprise finalist at last year’s Roland Garros.  But due to injury, she would only play three more matches in 2019.  It’s been a struggle for the 21-year-old lefty to return to form.  Marketa was just 4-8 in this abbreviated season prior to this event.  After surviving a few close calls earlier this week, she steamrolled two-time champion Elina Svitolina yesterday 6-3, 6-0.  Today she faces another former champion.  The winner here a year ago, Pliskova is on an eight-match winning streak at this event.  Karolina dropped a set yesterday to Elise Mertens, but there’s no shame in that: Mertens is a tough out.  And Karolina closed out that match with a 6-0 third set, playing her best tennis yet this week.  In their only prior encounter, Karolina prevailed in straight sets last year on a hard court in Miami.  Vondrousova’s variety could prove frustrating, and playing a much-younger countrywoman can be tricky.  But Pliskova remains the favorite to reach her second consecutive final in Rome.

Diego Schwartzman (8) vs. Denis Shapovalov (12)

This is Diego’s second straight year advancing to the semifinals of this event, which are the only two occasions he’s done so at a Masters 1,000 tournament.  For Shapovalov, it’s his fifth Masters 1,000 semi, and he reached the final last year in Bercy.  Their first career meeting will also be one of the most important matches of their careers to date.  Shapovalov has accumulated eight match wins over the last three weeks, reaching his first Major quarterfinal in New York.  That’s a lot of tennis for the 21-year-old Canadian, including back-to-back three-setters over the last two days.  But a lack of energy doesn’t ever seem to be Denis’ problem.  And it would only be natural for Schwartzman to have a letdown coming off his first-career win over the King of Clay.  With Mikhail Youzhny helping Shapovalov improve his shot selection, his offense is becoming more sustainable.  He should be favored to play in Monday’s final.

Other Notable Matches on Day 7:

In the women’s doubles final, 2019 Wimbledon champions Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (1) vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru, who are in their first tournament as a team.

In the men’s doubles final, 2019 US Open finalists Marcel Garollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, the 2019 French Open finalists.

Full order of play is here.

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