Wimbledon Day 8 Preview: The Ladies’ Quarter-finals - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 8 Preview: The Ladies’ Quarter-finals

For the first time in the open era, none of the top 10 seeds advanced to the quarter-finals in a singles draw.

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But what the quarter-finals lack in top seeds, they make up for in Major singles championships. There are 26 in total, with Serena Williams of course holding the vast majority. These quarter-final matches also feature eight of the fiercest competitors on tour, all with different strengths and styles which result in four distinct and intriguing matchups. And as a bonus on Tuesday, Juan Martin Del Potro will complete his fourth round match against Gilles Simon, where he was up two-sets-to-one before play was suspended due to darkness.

 

Angelique Kerber vs. Daria Kasatkina

This will be the first match of the day on Centre Court, and is a rematch from just 15 days ago on the grass of Eastbourne. That quarter-final was a tense battle that went to a third set tiebreak, which Kerber won 7-3. Overall they’ve split their six career meetings, with the balance all taking place on hard courts. For Kerber, this is her third straight Major quarter-final. Kasatkina is in her second consecutive one, after getting to her first Major quarter-final last month in Paris. It’s been a breakout year for the 21-year-old Russian, who beat two top 10 players to make the final in Dubai, and three top 10 players to reach the final at Indian Wells. Kerber’s also had a strong year with consistent results, landing her in fourth place in the year-to-date rankings. Both players’ games are extremely pleasant to watch, and often create complex rallies. Pair that with the confidence they both have right now, and this match could be special. Kerber is the more accomplished player, with much more experience on big stages like this, especially on Centre Court. Her recent victory over Kasatkina on grass will be fresh in her mind, and may help her get through this tough opponent. But this match could go either way, and will likely be another extended, tight contest.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Dominika Cibulkova

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Remember how I mentioned fierce competitors? Well two of the fiercest will open the day’s schedule on No.1 Court. Neither of these players were on anyone’s radar going into this fortnight, yet both are yet to drop a set in this tournament. Ostapenko has cited Wimbledon as her favorite tournament. Jelena was the 2014 junior champion at Wimbledon, and also made the quarterfinals here just last year. She’s playing with a lot more freedom with the defense of her 2017 Roland Garros title behind her. Cibulkova is playing her best tennis since her career-best title at the 2016 WTA Finals. This is her third quarterfinal at SW19, and a victory today for either player will find them in their first Wimbledon semifinal. Cibulkova has won both of their previous matches, including on grass in 2016 at Eastbourne. But I have a feeling Ostapenko may notch her first victory over Cibulkova on this day. Her huge groundstrokes are extremely effective on the grass, and the higher ball bounces this year give Jelena more time to set up her shots. And it doesn’t hurt that no one’s been talking about Ostapenko’s chances of winning this title, as it alleviates a lot of pressure. If Dominika is going to prevail, her superior defensive skills may be the deciding factor. Either way, neither player is likely to hand the victory to the other. This quarterfinal should be another good one.

Serena Williams vs. Camila Giorgi

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In the second match of the day on Centre Court, the 23-time Major singles champion will face one of the only players on tour who hits the ball as hard as she does. Giorgi’s go-for-broke philosophy can have very different results from match-to-match, but she’s been on a lot more than she’s been off thus far in this tournament. Wimbledon has been the most successful Grand Slam event in the career of the 26-year-old Italian. She made her first Major round of 16 here in 2012, and is now into her first quarterfinal. Giorgi is fully capable of outhitting Serena Williams, though she’s also capable of littering the stat sheet with errors. The biggest challenge for Giorgi will be to execute her high-risk game on this stage, and against this opponent. Centre Court is a place where Serena has a huge experience edge. And in contrast to Camila, this is Serena’s 48th Major quarterfinal, and her 13th at Wimbledon. Williams is still not back to her best form, but she’s playing smart, composed tennis. Serena is yet to drop a set in this fortnight, and has never dropped a set against Giorgi in three meetings. The GOAT is the favorite to advance here.

Julia Goerges vs. Kiki Bertens

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Here are two players who have rather quietly compiled strong results over the past year. Goerges won three straight titles between the end of 2017 and the start of this year, but had never found success at a Major. After going 0-5 in the fourth round of Grand Slam events, she finally broke through yesterday, and is into her first Major quarterfinal at the age of 29. Goerges hit 41 aces through her first four rounds. It’s surprising she’s never done better at Wimbledon considering her big-serving game. In fact, prior to this year, she had lost in the first round of The Championships five years in a row. Likewise, Bertens had a losing record at Wimbledon heading into this tournament, but is into her first quarterfinal after consecutive upsets of two top 10 seeds, Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova. This will be a rematch from the Charleston final earlier this year. Bertens won that encounter, as well as their other previous match, though both were on clay. That surface has been very kind to Bertens in the last few years. Since May of 2016, Kiki has four titles and a Roland Garros semifinal to her name on clay. In theory, the grass should favor Goerges. The difference here will be who is more prepared to handle this moment. Though she’s the lower-ranked player, Bertens is the one who has been in a Major quarterfinal before. In addition, she’s already played on No.1 Court during this fortnight, while all of Goerges’ matches have been on outer courts. Kiki’s level of comfort and confidence may be enough to land her in her second Major semifinal.

Selected order of play

CENTRE COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START
1 Daria Kasatkina (RUS) [14] 48 vs Angelique Kerber (GER) [11] 49
2 Serena Williams (USA) [25] 104 vs Camila Giorgi (ITA) 119
3 Raven Klaasen (RSA) / Michael Venus (NZL) [13] 8 vs Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) [5] 16

No.1 COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START
1 Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 12 vs Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) [12] 17
2 Kiki Bertens (NED) [20] 73 vs Julia Goerges (GER) [13] 81
3 Robin Haase (NED) / Robert Lindstedt (SWE) 39 vs Dominic Inglot (GBR) / Franko Skugor (CRO) [15] 41

No.2 COURT – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START
1 Richard Krajicek (NED) / Mark Petchey (GBR) vs Patrick McEnroe (USA) / Jeff Tarango (USA) (OD)
NOT BEFORE 13.00
2 Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [5] 97 vs Gilles Simon (FRA) 107 T/F 7/6(1) 7/6(5) 5/7 0/0
3 Ben McLachlan (JPN) / Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) [14] 24 vs Frederik Nielsen (DEN) / Joe Salisbury (GBR) 28
4 Na Li (CHN) / Ai Sugiyama (JPN) vs Tracy Austin (USA) / Anne Keothavong (GBR) (SL)

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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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