Wimbledon Day 7 Preview: Six Must-See Matches On Manic Monday - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 7 Preview: Six Must-See Matches On Manic Monday

Today is the best day of the year on the tennis calendar.

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It’s Manic Monday at The Championships. Tradition dictates the middle Sunday is a day of rest at Wimbledon, which means all 16 fourth round singles matches are presented on the same day, the only Major where this happens. On Centre Court alone, 60 Major singles titles will be represented by Serena, Roger, and Rafa. With so many big matchups throughout the day, here’s your guide to which matches deserve your focus from morning until evening.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Kiki Bertens

This will open play at 11:30am local time on No.2 Court. No one could have predicted Karolina Pliskova would be the only top 10 seed in the ladies’ singles draw to advance to the second week of Wimbledon. Prior to last week, Pliskova had a losing record at The All England Club, and had never been farther than the second round. Karolina has openly spoke about her discomfort on the grass of SW19. Her opponent on Monday can relate. Kiki Bertens told the press last week, “Grass isn’t my friend.” Bertens has been one of the best clay court players in the world over the past few years, but she’s just as surprised as anyone to find herself in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Both women survived intense third round matches to get here. Pliskova was down a set and 4-1 to Michaela Buzarnescu, before the Romanian had an emotional meltdown on court and allowed Karolina back into the match. Bertens upset the five-time champion, Venus Williams, 8-6 in the third. Pliskova leads their head-to-head 2-1, though their first two meetings happened over five years. They did just meet on clay in Stuttgart earlier this year, with Pliskova dropping just four games in victory. Kiki may be a bit emotionally drained following her dramatic upset of Venus on Friday, whereas Karolina may play more freely on Monday knowing she was lucky to escape her last match. And while Pliskova has no previous success at Wimbledon, she does have two grass court titles to her name. I like Pliskova’s chances to reach her sixth quarterfinal out of the last eight Grand Slam events.

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Su-Wei Hsieh

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Concurrently over on Court 18, two of my favorite players to watch on tour will square off. Both are coming off impressive upset victories in week one: Cibulkova took out British Number One Johanna Konta, while Hsieh saved a match point and eliminated World Number One Simona Halep in the best match of the first week. Much like Bertens, I am concerned how much Hsieh will have left emotionally and physically, especially playing less than 48 hours after the biggest singles win of her career. Su-Wei has also never been farther than this stage of a singles draw at a Major, while Cibulkova has reached the quarterfinals or better at a Major seven times, including twice at Wimbledon. Dominika has appeared like a woman on a mission during this fortnight. She came into this tournament with almost as many losses as wins on the year, but is yet to drop a set through three rounds. As some have suggested, perhaps she found motivation is being bumped from her seeding due to the awarding of a seed to Serena Williams. Cibulkova won both previous meetings against Hsieh. While all signs point to a Diminika victory, we’ve seen how unpredictable the ladies’ draw has been. We’ve also seen how effective Hsieh’s slicing and dicing can be in frustrating opponents. Regardless of the result, the contrast in styles should provide plenty of entertainment here.

Angelique Kerber vs. Belinda Bencic

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This will be the opening match on No.1 Court at 1:00pm local time. Kerber has recaptured much of the swagger that brought her two Major championships in 2016, and is a legitimate contender for this title. She played outstandingly against Naomi Osaka on Saturday, serving well and making very few errors. However, this may be her stiffest test yet at this year’s Wimbledon. Just two years ago, Bencic was ranked sixth in the world at the age of 18. But then multiple injuries derailed her career, and she was forced to rebuild her ranking on the IFT circuit. In the last three months of the 2017 season, Bencic won 28 matches and four titles on the ITF level. She started 2018 with an upset win over Venus Williams in Melbourne, though shortly after she was hit with another setback, as she again missed a few more months of action due to injury. Much like the Australian Open, she upset a top seed in her opening round here, ousting Caroline Garcia. This time though she was able to follow-up on that result, and is into her first round of 16 at a Major since the 2016 Australian Open. Surprisingly, Belinda is 3-0 lifetime against Angelique, with all victories coming on hard courts, and prior to Belinda’s injury issues. Is she ready to defeat a red-hot Kerber? I’m not convinced she’s far enough into her comeback to do so. In an open section of the draw, both players will know a huge opportunity lies in front of the winner.

Kevin Anderson vs. Gael Monfils

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Next up on No.1 Court, we have a battle of power against speed. For Gael Monfils, this is actually his first time in the second week of The Championships in ten appearances. He’s coming off an upset off Sam Querrey, a man who’s found a lot of success on the lawns of The All England Club in recent years. Querrey also plays a very similar style to Kevin Anderson. Monfils was able to absorb Sam’s power and dictate the rallies. He’s also done the same thing to Anderson every time they’ve met. Gael holds a 5-0 record over Kevin, winning 10 of the 11 sets they’ve played. That being said, they haven’t met in nearly two years, and Anderson has been a different player over the past year. Kevin’s also had more success at Wimbledon, as this is the fourth year out of the last five in which he’s made the fourth round. The problem is he’s yet to advance any farther. In fact, Anderson is only 2-10 in the fourth round of Majors. Kevin has faced a similar road block at Masters 1,000 events, where he was 0-10 in quarterfinals until her finally won at that stage in Madrid this year. Anderson has admirably been open regarding his mental struggles. As much as he’s worked to battle through them, they still persist. We just saw him choke away a two set lead to Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round of Roland Garros last month. At the same time, I don’t trust Monfils to rise to the occasion in two consecutive big-time matches. I have no idea how this match will play out, but I’m sure it will be compelling.

John Isner vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas

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This will be the third match of Day 7 on No.3 Court. Just like Monfils, this is Isner’s first Wimbledon round of 16 appearance in 10 tries. The 6’10” big man has never liked the low-bouncing balls the grass courts supply, so he’s happy to find the balls are bouncing a bit higher this year. Meanwhile the 19-year-old from Greece has reached the fourth round in just his second Wimbledon. His athleticism and tenacity were on full display during the first week of The Championships, most notably surviving a five-set thriller against Jared Donaldson. Isner also escaped a tight five-setter in his second round, saving match points against Ruben Bemelmans. Their only meeting was in Shanghai last fall, and to no one’s surprise, it was decided in two tiebreaks, which Isner won. If John is ever going to make a run at Wimbledon, this is likely his best chance. His big serve and experience edge should get him through, though I don’t discount the fighting Greek’s chances either, in a match that will likely be decided by a few pivotal points.

Rafael Nadal vs. Jiri Vesely

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The final match on the day’s Centre Court schedule will be Nadal’s opportunity to get passed the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in seven years. His opposition is eerily similar to the man who defeated him on this day last year, Gilles Muller: a big-serving lefty. The 6’6” Vesely has already eliminated two top 20 seeds from this tournament, though Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman are not their best on grass. This is Jiri’s second appearance in the Wimbledon round of 16, the only Major where he has achieved that feat. Jiri was ranked inside the top 40 a few years ago, but came into Wimbledon barely ranked inside the top 100, and with a losing record of the year. While Vesely fits the prototype of the players Nadal has lost to at Wimbledon in recent years, this year the conditions are more in Rafa’s favor. Nadal won their only previous meeting, though that was on clay. An upset here is not unfathomable, but with Rafa eager to make a run at The Championships, I suspect he’ll advance.

Order of play

Play starts at 11.30am unless otherwise stated

Centre Court (play starts at 1pm)
1-Roger Federer (Switzerland) v 22-Adrian Mannarino (France)
25-Serena Williams (U.S.) v Evgeniya Rodina (Russia)
Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) v 2-Rafa Nadal (Spain)

Court One
11-Angelique Kerber (Germany) v Belinda Bencic (Switzerland)
Gael Monfils (France) v 8-Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
Karen Khachanov (Russia) v 12-Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

Court Two
7-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) v 20-Kiki Bertens (Netherlands)
24-Kei Nishikori (Japan) v Ernests Gulbis (Latvia)
5-Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) v Gilles Simon (France)

Court Three
12-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus)
13-Julia Goerges (Germany) v Donna Vekic (Croatia)
9-John Isner (U.S.) v 31-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece)

Court 12
Camila Giorgi (Italy) v Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)
Mackenzie McDonald (U.S.) v 13-Milos Raonic (Canada)

Court 18
Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei) v Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia)
Alison van Uytvanck (Belgium) v Daria Kasatkina (Russia

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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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