US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

The Williams v Williams battle headlines another exciting day’s play at the US Open.

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Serena Williams (zimbio.com)

By Matthew Marolf

Friday’s schedule is highlighted by the 30th meeting between the Williams sisters.

Following four days of severe heat, players will finally receive some relief in the form of cooler temperatures.  But with that comes a good chance of rain over the next several days. Luckily the US Open now possesses two courts with roofs, guaranteeing there will be play throughout each day.

Venus Williams vs. Serena Williams

Here is the marquee matchup the tennis world has been focused on since the draws were created a week ago. This is the earliest round Venus and Serena have played in a Major since their very first match on the tour, when they played in the Australian Open second round in January of 1998. No one could have imagined back then that we’d still be seeing them play over 20 years later. Overall Serena leads their head-to-head 17-12, and 10-5 at the Majors. Venus actually hasn’t defeated Serena at a Grand Slam event in over 10 years, since the 2008 Wimbledon final. Venus however did win their last meeting, at Indian Wells earlier this year, though that was only Serena’s third match back after her one-year layoff. Serena does just about everything a little better than her older sister. Venus has also spent much more time on-court over the first two rounds, and has been bothered by a knee injury that is still not 100%.  While it’s hard to bet against Serena, she too is still not quite at her top level of form. The majority of their previous matches have not been that exciting, as the crowd can feel the awkwardness of the sister playing against each other. Let’s hope we get a competitive match from these two all-time greats.

Sloane Stephens vs. Victoria Azarenka

Sloane Stephens (zimbio.com)

For the third time this year, these players will meet on US soil.  Stephens won both of their previous 2018 matches, in Indian Wells and Miami. However, Azarenka prevailed in all of their matches from prior years, which took place over three straight years at the Australian Open. Their most notable match was their first, in the 2013 Australian Open semi-finals. Vika was serving for the match when she let five match points slip by, and she began to panic. She took an over 10-minute medical timeout off-court before Stephens served at 4-5, effectively creating a long break for herself to re-group, and promptly broke Sloane to win the match. You know there still has to be some animosity from Stephens after such gamesmanship was employed in such a big moment. Azarenka arrived in New York with only 13 wins on the year, but she comfortably won her first two rounds here in straight sets. Stephens has certainly been the better player over the past year, and is at a career-high ranking of No.3 in the world. While Sloane struggled a bit in her second round match on Wednesday, she should be able defeat the two-time former US Open semi-finalist. That being said, Azarenka obviously knows how to win big matches on a big stage like this, and she likely won’t defeat herself out there.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Milos Raonic

Stan Wawrinka (zimbio.com

This is a rematch from the Australian Open earlier this year, where Raonic outlasted Wawrinka for a five-set fourth round win.  But that’s Milos’ only victory over Stan in their five meetings. And Stan is a much different player today than he was in January, when he was just coming off career-threatening knee surgery.  Wawrinka finally got a good amount of wins under his belt in Toronto and Cincinnati, and he took out Grigor Dimitrov for the second straight Major earlier this week. Meanwhile the oft-injured Raonic still hasn’t fully gotten his mojo back after his career-best season in 2016.  This will be a big-hitting affair to highlight the night session on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The matchup favours Stan, and he’s also the man coming in with more momentum.

Kevin Anderson vs. Denis Shapovalov

Denis Shapovalov (zimbio.com)

Both of these men had breakout summers a year ago.  Shapovalov made his surprising run to the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup, and followed it up by qualifying for this tournament and advancing to the fourth round. Anderson of course grabbed the opportunity in an open draw to get to his first Major final a year ago in New York. Both men have also survived challenging five-setters just to get to this point.  Anderson came back to win the final two sets of his first round against Ryan Harrison, while Shapovalov made the same comeback against Andreas Seppi in his second round. Anderson may be the player with more left in his tank since his prolonged battle came earlier in the week.  This will be their first-ever career meeting. Kevin has overcome his old reputation of choking under pressure to become one of the most reliable players on tour. But Denis’s explosive style has propelled him to significant upsets before. Still, it’s hard to bet against the experience of the 6’8” South African, in what could be a really fun one to watch.

Rafael Nadal vs. Karen Khachanov

Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

This will be their fifth meeting, all within the past 14 months.  Nadal has won all nine sets they’ve played, but the hard-hitting Khachanov showed in their last match how his power can be effective against Rafa.  The 22-year-old Russian played a tight match against Nadal just a few weeks ago in the Rogers Cup semi-finals, Karen’s first time at that stage of a Masters 1,000.  He’ll likely be the sternest test Nadal faces prior to the quarterfinals, with the winner here to play the winner of Nikoloz Basilashvili against Guido Pella. And I could see Khachanov doing just that.  While upsetting Nadal on Arthur Ashe stadium seems unlikely, taking a set or two off the 17-time Major champion feels within reach. Khachanov, seeded 27th here, is just a few big wins away from taking his career to the next level.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

2009 Champion Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Fernando Verdasco, who took out Andy Murray on Wednesday.

21-year-old Borna Coric vs. 22-year-old Daniil Medvedev.

15th-Seeded Elise Mertens, who already has 44 wins this year, vs. 23rd-Seeded Barbora Strycova.

Order Of Play Day 5

Play starts at 16:00 GMT unless stated

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 17:00 GMT

S. Stephens (USA) [3] v V. Azarenka (BLR)

R. Nadal (ESP) [1] v K. Khachanov (RUS) [27]

Not Before 00:00 GMT

S. Williams (USA) [17] v V. Williams (USA) [16]

J. Del Potro (ARG) [3] v F. Verdasco (ESP) [31]

Louis Armstrong Stadium

B. Strycova (CZE) [23] v E. Mertens (BEL) [15]

Q. Wang (CHN) v E. Svitolina (UKR) [7]

D. Shapovalov (CAN) [28] v K. Anderson (RSA) [5]

Not Before 00:00 GMT

M. Raonic (CAN) [25] v S. Wawrinka (SUI)

S. Kenin (USA) v K. Pliskova (CZE) [8]

Grandstand 

E. Makarova (RUS) v A. Sevastova (LAT) [19]

D. Thiem (AUT) [9] v T. Fritz (USA)

J. Isner (USA) [11] v D. Lajovic (SRB)

K. Muchova (CZE) v A. Barty (AUS) [18]

Court 17

F. Lopez (ESP)/M. Lopez (ESP) [10] v C. Harrison (USA)/R. Harrison (USA)

N. Basilashvili (GEO) v G. Pella (ARG)

K. Kanepi (EST) v R. Peterson (SWE)

Not Before 10pm GMT

B. Coric (CRO) [20] v D. Medvedev (RUS)

 

 

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Acapulco Faces Safety Issues Ahead Of ATP 500 Tournament

Acapulco faces safety and infrastructure issues before the ATP 500 tournament next week.

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Acapulco has faced safety concerns ahead of the tournament as players have been advised to stay in the tournament hotels or tennis venues.

As exclusively revealed by James Gray of the i newspaper, Acapulco is facing security and infrastructure concerns ahead of the tournament.

ATP players have reportedly been told in an email to stay confined to the tournament hotels and the tennis venue as crime rates have increased in the city.

Organisers in Mexico have reassured people that players will be able to train safely with the following statement, “The Arena GNP, venue for the Mexican Open of Tennis, and the host hotel are currently operational to carry out the tournament,” the tournament organisers told the i newspaper.

“Since Tuesday, we have been receiving players in Acapulco, and they have already had the opportunity to train at the venue.”

However there are still infrastructural problems including lack of flights to Acapulco as well as other safety concerns which have been affected by Hurricane Otis.

Despite the problems the ATP seem confident that the event will be safe and secure ahead of the ATP 500 event, “It is not uncommon for players to receive security advisories from ATP as a precautionary measure across more than 250 Tour and Challenger Tour events each season,” A spokesperson told the i newspaper.

“The advisory sent for Acapulco factors in the additional complexity of Hurricane Otis’ disruption. There have been major efforts and investment to restore the Acapulco venue in recent months.”

The ATP 500 event in Acapulco will take place next week with Alex De Minaur being the defending champion.

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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