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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‘An Incredible Job’ – Nick Kyrgios Hails Strict Australian Open Quarantine Measures

The outspoken Australian also explains why he believes it is right to publicly criticise top names such as Novak Djokovic.

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Nick Kyrgios says he feels safer playing tennis than last year following a series of COVID-19 measures that have been implemented ahead of the Australian Open.

 

The former top-20 star has hailed the action taken by authorities which has triggered a somewhat mixed response from other players. Those playing in the first Grand Slam of the season are currently going through a 14-day quarantine with 72 players being unable to leave their room after being deemed a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for the virus. A series of positive tests was detected on flights en route to the country.

Although some players have criticised the process with allegations of poor room standards and preferential treatment for the top players who are currently based in Adelaide instead of Melbourne. Spain’s Paula Badosa tested positive for COVID-19 on the sixth day of her quarantine and had symptoms. In a recent interview with the Marca newspaper, Badosa says she feels ‘abandoned’ by authorities during what is the ‘worst experience’ of her career.

However, Kyrgios has hailed the comprehensive approach that has been taken by the authorities. He was one of the few players not to travel to Europe or North America during the second part of last year due to concerns related to the Pandemic. Compatriot Ash Barty was another to do the same.

“In Melbourne, with obviously the bubble, they’ve done an incredible job there. The authorities aren’t letting up and [are] making sure everyone is sticking by the rules,” Kyrgios told CNN.
“I actually feel quite safe. I didn’t really feel safe during last year, traveling and playing overseas, I thought it was a bit too soon to play.
“I think now the conditions are safe enough and everyone is going to work together and make sure we do it the right way.
“I don’t want to put anyone else at risk. I have loved ones that I don’t want to even have the chance to expose to Covid so I think it’s safe enough.”

Renowned for his at times fiery behaviour on the Tour and outspoken tone, the 25-year-old has no intention of changing his habits. Last summer he hit out at a series of his peers over their behaviour during the pandemic and blasted the Adria Tour. An exhibition series co-founded by Novak Djokovic which had to end early following an outbreak of the virus among players and staff members.

Djokovic is one of the players who Kyrgios has criticised the most in recent times. On January 18th he called the 17-time Grand Slam champion a ‘tool’ on Twitter after his letter to Craig Tiley was leaked to the public. Nevertheless, Kyrgios has no regrets over his comments as he feels it is vital to hold the top names accountable as he drew parallels between Djokovic and NBA great LeBron James.

I think it’s very important, especially one of the leaders of our sport. He’s technically our LeBron James,” he said.
“He has to set an example for all tennis players out there and set an example for tennis,”
added Kyrgios. “I think when he was doing some of the things that he was doing during the global pandemic, it just wasn’t the right time.
“I know everyone makes mistakes. Even some of us go off track sometimes but I think we need to hold each other accountable.
“I’m not doing any of this stuff for media attention, these are the morals that I’ve grown up with. I was just trying to do my part.”

Due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and injury, Kyrgios hasn’t played a full competitive match on the ATP Tour since his fourth round loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open almost a year ago.

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The Slow And Successful Rise Of Veronika Kudermetova

Let us look at the long path to success at high levels of the current Russian number two, who just finished as the runner-up in Abu Dhabi.

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Veronika Kudermetova - Roland Garros 2019 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)
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While waiting for the end of the Australian quarantine, UbiTennis continues our analysis of the players involved in the first tournament of the year, the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi.

After the article dedicated to Ekaterina Alexandrova, I shall continue with the Russian line by discussing Veronika Kudermetova. For her, the week in the Emirates was a very positive one, given that for the first time in her career she managed to reach the final of a WTA 500 event (the new denomination of the Premier tournaments, which assign 470 points to the winner). During the tournament, Kudermetova defeated Kontaveit, Turati, Badosa, Svitolina and Kostyuk, losing only to Aryna Sabalenka (who, between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, has an active winning streak of 15 matches). Veronika’s excellent moment is validated by the best ranking she achieved this week at N.36 – had she won the final, she would have become the Russian N.1, overtaking Alexandrova. 

 

It should be emphasized, however, that all the talk about the rankings is muddled by the rules introduced with the pandemic, rules that tend to maintain the status quo, and in fact disfavour up-and-coming players like Kudermetova. Had only the results obtained in 2020 been counted, Veronika would have ended the season ranked 29th instead of 46th. Then, by factoring in the final reached in the UAE last Wednesday, her spot in the Top 30 would have been cemented even further. It might seem senseless to keep referring to a virtual ranking based on past rules (which are slated to come back in March, though), but I think it helps to identify the players who are doing better, despite the many difficulties of the current period. In fact, we know that we are playing less than usual, and this makes it more difficult to build that momentum which, thanks to above average conditions of form and enthusiasm, translates into significant leaps in quality and standing.

As for Kudermetova, there are at least two aspects of her career that, in my opinion, make her particularly interesting: the difficulties she faced to find financial support in her teenage years, and the comparison with her peers born in 1997, a special year for women’s tennis. In fact, Veronika was born in the same year as successful and precocious players such as Bencic, Ostapenko and Osaka, as well as Konjuh (unfortunately stopped by injuries) and Kasatkina, her Russian “twin” with whom she shared the years on the junior tour. Let’s start from those years.

On page 2, Kudermetova’s beginnings 

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Do Your Players Understand The Tennis Score System? – If They Don’t, They’ll Struggle Mentally

The more unrealistic expectations players have got, the more they are going to struggle with their thoughts and emotions.

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A frustrated coach calls. Asks for a mental tool to help “fix” their player’s mentality. But it’s not always a mental tool that is required. Often, it’s about going back to the basics. It’s about educating players about the realities of tennis. First step is getting players to know how to count. Second step is educating players about the score system. Close to every coach gets the first step done properly. The second step, not so much. And let me be the first to say, I have not been any better myself. 

 

So how do we start to educate players about the score system of tennis? 

A bold but true statement, that needs to be taken into account. “Tennis players are a bunch of losers” as Kelsey Anderson once entitled a blog post of hers. The reality is that tennis players lose a lot when playing matches. 

Craig O’Shannesy has made statistics in tennis easy to understand and digest. Craig’s work is a cornerstone in helping players with more realistic expectations. More realistic expectations equal less frustration and anger on court. 

So, let’s have a look at a key static to help educate the player you are coaching. 

Roger Federer
-103 titles
-1200+ match wins.
-20 Grand Slams
-Nearly $130 million in prize money

Undeniably one of the best tennis players to ever live. 

How many percentages of the points he has played in his professional career has he won? 

Before I knew the statistic, I guessed 70% or even 75%. After all, we are talking about Roger Federer.

I was wrong!

55%. 

Meaning that Roger Federer has lost 45 % of the points that he has played in his professional career. Almost half the points he has played. I was astonished the first time I heard this statistic! 

We are not talking about your average professional, it’s a player that has dominated the sport together with the rest of the so called “big three”. 

Talking about “the big three”. Interestingly Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the only 2 other players to equal Federer on 55 % of points won in their professional career. 

So what does this statistic mean to players?

A lot of players believe that they should be winning 8/10 points to win a match. That they have to destroy the other player. They play 3 good points and then miss an easy put-away forehand and yell “I’m sooooo bad!”. 

The reality is that if a player is only messing up on every 4th point, they are doing an unbelievable job. Tennis is a game of mistakes. No matter how hard players try they can’t avoid making mistakes. We want to minimize unforced errors but player’s thinking that they can go through a match without making mistakes and losing a lot of points is simply unrealistic. 

When a player’s internal reality is different from the reality they are faced with in matches, it will lead to frustration and anger. The frustration and anger will be termed as bad behavior and a mental problem. The mental problem is often attempted to be fixed with mental tools. Could be a physical routine or a breathing technique. While the mental tools can treat the symptom and be very helpful in acute situations, it’s important to address the cause of why the frustration and anger arises in the first place. 

From the 55% statistic on Federer how is it possible to help the players with more realistic expectations? 

Here are 2 coaching advice to reinforce to players:

“Expect to lose almost every other point even in the matches that you are winning” 

“If you can keep you opponent from winning 2 points in a row for long enough – eventually you’ll win”

Remember that unrealistic expectations lead to players experiencing frustration and anger. The better we educate players about the realities of tennis, the more realistic expectations they will have. The more realistic expectations the more focus and mental energy can be spent focusing on their gameplan and executing their shots. The more focus on executing their shots, the bigger opportunity of performing well. The better the player perform, the bigger the opportunity of winning the match. 

By Adam Blicher
Danish Sport Psychologist Consultant Adam Blicher is a member of the International Sport Mental Coach Association

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