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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Dominic Thiem Ousts Rafael Nadal For Maiden Australian Open Semi-Final

Dominic Thiem edged out world number one Rafael Nadal in four sets to reach his first Australian Open semi-final.

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Dominic Thiem (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem edged out Rafael Nadal 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time. 

 

In a stunning performance, Thiem eventually held his nerve to win all three tiebreaks in the match and secure a place in the last four.

The result means Nadal will lose his world number one if Novak Djokovic can win an eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne.

As for the Austrian, he will meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday.

In a rematch of the Roland Garros final, it was Thiem who had the more aggressive start to the match as he was red-lining the ball across the court and created break point opportunities.

Nadal’s clutch serving remained crucial though to survive the Austrian’s early surge. This was important as Nadal would soon show why he has won 20 grand slam titles as he played his best tennis when it mattered.

A good mix of pace and variety troubled Thiem as the Spaniard earned the first break of the match for a 5-3 lead in the opening set.

Despite the early setback, the Austrian continued to raise his level especially on the backhand side, producing a lot of winners. A forehand return winner sealed the break back immediately on his third opportunity.

Both men would continue to cancel each other out with insane cross-court angles as the opening set went to a tiebreak.

Dominating from the baseline, the 5th seed took control and wrapped up the opening set 7-6(3) in 68 gruelling minutes.

In the second set, Nadal continued to be the aggressor especially on the forehand as he realised how crucial the set was going to be.

An increased amount in unforced errors for Thiem proved costly as the world number one opened up a 4-2 lead in the second set.

But once again, Thiem struck back as a loose and nervy game from the Spaniard saw the Austrian level up at 4-4 in a tense point in the match.

Another tiebreak loomed as Thiem failed to take his chances after Nadal’s uncharacteristic unforced errors. However he didn’t make the same mistakes in the tiebreak as a net cord-forehand combination secured three consecutive points and a two set lead.

A two set advantage was a comfortable lead for Thiem but it doesn’t guarantee victory especially against one of the best competitors tennis has ever seen.

A cleaner set was produced from Nadal as he dug in deep to hold his service games and create some opportunities to break especially off the forehand.

Eventually those opportunities came as a tentative Thiem service game saw Nadal create two set points. A netted baseline shot from the world number 5 saw the Spaniard grab the third set as he roared in delight to the packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.

The momentum was now firmly with Nadal, who had better intensity as the forehand was firing against Thiem’s defensive skills.

However the Austrian’s mental strength has improved and he managed to overcome the Nadal storm by saving two break points as well as gaining the immediate break advantage.

There was trouble for the world number one now as Thiem’s serve was improving as he continued to outsmart and outpower the Spaniard.

Threats of a double break were quickly snuffed out by the 2009 champion and that would soon cost Thiem as he couldn’t serve out the match. The world number one took advantage of the Austrian’s nerves to break for 5-5.

Both men held their nerve afterwards to force a fourth set tiebreak, the third of the day. Yet again it would be Thiem who would win the tie-break as he booked his place in a maiden Australian Open semi-final.

After the match, Thiem declared his delight at one of the biggest victories of his career, “All the match was on a very good level, we both were in great form, that’s what can happen with two players in that form,” the Austrian said in his post-match interview.

I felt I was lucky in the right situations. It’s necessary as he’s one of the greatest of all times, one of the biggest legends in this sport, so you need a little luck to beat him.”

It was a stunning performance which now sees him meet good friend Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. As for Nadal his search for a second Australian Open title continues and could still lose his world number one ranking should Novak Djokovic win his eighth title in Melbourne.

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Australian Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude

Wednesday is highlighted by a rematch of the French Open final from the last two years.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf 

 

Rafael Nadal is one win away from securing his world No.1 ranking, though I’m sure he’s much more concerned with being three wins away from winning his record-tying 20th Major title. But standing in his way today is an opponent who has beaten him many times before. The other men’s quarter-final features the 2014 champion and a Next Gen standout who has excelled on the ATP tour, but is yet to make a deep run at a Major. On the women’s side, we have a pair of two-time Major champions against two women looking to reach their first Slam semi-final.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)

This is a marquee quarterfinal between two top five seeds. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4, with all but one of those matches taking place on clay. Their only hard court meeting was certainly a memorable one. In the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, they played for almost five hours, and past 2:00am, in a match decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  Thiem should take a lot of positives from that encounter despite the loss, and he’s only improved his hard court game since that time.

Dominic has won four hard court titles in the past 16 months, including the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. And just two months ago, he reached the championship match at the ATP Finals, with wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This is his first time advancing to the quarters in Australia, but this run is not surprising based on his recent hard court resume. The slower courts in Melbourne this year work to Dominic’s favour, though Rafa will like that temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days. But with this being a night match, it’ll get rather cool as this match goes on. Nadal has looked good through four rounds here, and passed a stern test supplied by Nick Kyrgios two days ago. However, I think this may be Thiem’s time to shine. He was oh-so-close to beating Nadal in their last hard court match, and he’s a much-improved player since hiring Nicolas Massu as his coach. In what will surely be a highly-competitive affair, I’m tipping Thiem to pull off the upset.

Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)

Alexander Zverev (@usopen)

Can this be true? Zverev, who has historically become entangled in long matches during the first week of Majors, has won four rounds here without dropping a set. It’s even more startling when you consider he went 0-3 at the ATP Cup to start the year, where he had terrible troubles with his serve. In his post-match interview on Monday, he spoke of how finding peace in his personal life has lead to good results on court. The 22-year-old has reached his third Slam quarterfinal, and his first off clay. He’ll certainly be the fresher player today, as Stan not only battled an illness last week, but has already played two five-setters.

That includes his comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev two days ago. And Zverev is 2-0 against Wawrinka, with both victories coming on hard courts. But this is a case where experience at this stage of a Major will be crucial, and Stan has plenty of that. This is his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne, and his 18th at all four Majors. Wawrinka has proven himself to be a big-match player, and excels in the best-of-five format. As improved as Zverev’s serve has been this fortnight, Wawrinka remains the bolder and more aggressive player, which is usually critical in matches like this. With that in mind, I like Stan’s chances to return to the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in three years.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Anett Kontaveit (30)

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen – Twitter)

The 24-year-old Kontaveit has been a rising WTA star for a few years now, but she appears ready for her big breakthrough. This run has literally come out of nowhere, as an illness forced her to withdraw from the US Open and miss the rest of the 2019 season. Her coach, Nigel Sears, told the media that she was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in a substantial weight loss, and a lack of activity for three or four months. But here she is into her first Major quarter-final, thanks to some impressive play. She dropped just one game to the sixth seed, Belinda Bencic, and came back from a set down to claim a tight match over a talented teenager, Iga Swiatek.

But today Kontaveit runs into an in-form Halep, who has reunited with Darren Cahill and is yet to drop a set at this event. These two players have similar, all-around games, though Halep is a bit more consistent, and a bit more skilled defensively. And Simona is 2-0 against Anett, having comfortably won the four sets they’ve played.  Halep should be favoured to reach her second semi-final in Melbourne.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza (@WeAreTennis – Twitter)

Speaking of Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions in good form, Garbine Muguruza is back. She seems to be rejuvenated with Conchita Martinez back as her coach. When her former coach, Sam Sumyk, missed Wimbledon a few years ago to undergo a medical procedure, Conchita filled in, and coached Muguruza to the title. Garbine split with Sumyk during the offseason, and is playing her best tennis in a few years with Martinez as a full-time coach.

But guess who Sumyk coaches now? That would be Pavlyuchenkova.  This union has also paid immediate dividends, though the 28-year-old Russian has been playing great tennis since the fall. Pavlyuchenkova outplayed a game Angelique Kerber on Monday, extending her record in the fourth round of Majors to 6-1. The problem is she’s 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. And she’s 1-4 against Muguruza, with the only win coming via a Garbine retirement. Muguruza just has a bit more game than Pavlyuchenkova, and she’s been on fire since overcoming an illness last week. Garbine took out two top 10 seeds in the last two rounds, via scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-3. While Sumyk will certainly have some sage advance for how to play against Muguruza, I don’t see it being enough considering Garbine’s current level.

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(VIDEO) Roger Federer Pulls Off Houdini Act To Set 50th Djokovic Meeting

Ubitennis is joined by Rene Stauffer to discuss Roger Federer’s miraculous win over Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open.

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Roger Federer (@atptour - Twitter)

It was another dramatic day at the Australian Open as Roger Federer pulled off a miraculous comeback to edge out Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals. The Swiss saved 7 match points as he survived the three and a half hour clash to set up a 50th meeting with Novak Djokovic. Below Ubaldo Scanagatta and Rene Stauffer discuss Federer’s miraculous win against Sandgren. 

 

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