US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Nick Kyrgios’ match with 20 time grand slam champion Roger Federer headlines day six of the US Open.

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Nick Kyrgios (zimbio.com)

By Matthew Marolf

On the heels of an exciting Day 5, Saturday’s schedule has plenty of matches that look to be highly competitive. 

Roger Federer vs. Nick Kyrgios

All three of their previous meetings have been decided by a final set tiebreak.  Kyrgios won their first match three years ago in Madrid, but Federer prevailed in front of a raucous crowd in Miami last year, as well as in Stuttgart a few months ago.  Not included in their official head-to-head is their match from last year’s inaugural Laver Cup, which Federer also won in a tiebreak to secure the win for Team Europe.  Much has been said regarding Kyrgios’ second round match from Thursday, where he was clearly not giving his all and found himself in a deep hole before Chair Umpire Mohamed Lahyani got down from his post to inappropriately encourage Nick to compete.  I would assume Kyrgios will full apply himself against the 20-time Major champion on Arthur Ashe Stadium, as Nick just about always gets pumped up when playing top names, though assuming anything with Kyrgios is at your own risk.  This will be their first meeting at a Major, and the best-of-five format should give Roger a definitive advantage.  I struggle to imagine Kyrgios upsetting Federer in an extended four or five set battle.  This will certainly be fascinating to watch.  With the winner to face an unseeded opponent in the fourth round, either man will be a heavy favourite for a likely meeting with Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova (zimbio.com)

Here we have a meeting of French Open champions, in a rematch of one of the best WTA matches in 2018.  In Rome earlier this year, these women had an epic, over three-hour slugfest, with Sharapova prevailing 7-5 in the third.  Maria hasn’t been at her best this summer though, going just 2-2 between the French Open and this tournament.  And she’s obviously been less than 100% through her first two rounds here, with her wrist taped up and a lot of service troubles.  Sharapova hit 19 double faults in her first two matches.  Meanwhile Ostapenko didn’t win a match in the US Open Series following her Wimbledon semifinal, and barely survived three-set encounters in both of her first rounds.  And she’s had her own serving issues, hitting 26 double faults through two rounds.  I’m not sure either player is ready to give us a repeat of the thriller in Rome, and we’ll likely see a high unforced error count on both sides of the net.  But these are two gutsy competitors who are unlikely to give less than their all through the last point.  The cleaner hitter on Saturday will likely pull through here.

Petra Kvitova vs. Aryna Sabalenka

Petra Kvitova (zimbio.com)

This will be the second meeting between two of the most notable players of 2018.  Kvitova is back at the top of her game this year following the in-home attack she suffered in December of 2016.  Petra has five titles on the year, 46 match wins, and is third in the year-to-date rankings.  However she’s appeared a bit worn out at times after so much match play in the first six months of the year, evident in her 6-0 third set loss in the opening round of Wimbledon.  Petra has been economical thus far this week, winning both of her first two matches in straight sets.  That’s crucial for Kvitova considering the hot and humid conditions, which she’s suffered in many times before.  Sabalenka is one of the hottest players on tour, coming off her semifinal run in Cincinatti, and her first WTA title last week in New Haven.  Does the 20-year-old have enough steam left to upset the two-time Wimbledon champion?  Their only previous meeting was a three-setter that went to Kvitova earlier this year in Miami.  I’m extremely curious to see who prevails between these two heavy hitters.

Angelique Kerber vs. Dominika Cibulkova

Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

This is another women’s match on Saturday that I can’t wait to see play out.  In contrast to the Kvitova/Sabalenka match, we’ll get a lot of long, grinding, strategic rallies.  Their rivalry over the years has been a tight one, with Kerber holding a slight 7-5 edge.  Angelique comfortably won both of their 2018 meetings.  Their most significant encounter was in the championship match of the 2016 WTA Finals, when Cibulkova upset Kerber, after losing to her in round robin play, for the biggest title of her career.  Dominika has failed to follow-up on that result, with almost as many losses as wins over the past two seasons.  Meanwhile the reigning Wimbledon champion played quite tentatively on Thursday against Johanna Larson, but escaped the upset 6-4 in the third.  In a match that feels it could go either way, I would not be surprised to see Cibulkova get the duke in a prolonged battle.

Diego Schwartzman vs. Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori (zimbio.com)

These two swift competitors have played twice before.  Both of those matches took place in 2017 on clay, both went to a final set, and both were won by Nishikori.  Both players also have fond memories in New York.  Kei was of course a finalist here in 2014, and a semi-finalist in 2016, while Diego appeared in his first Major quarterfinal here just last year.  They also both made quarterfinals at Majors earlier this year: Nishikori at Wimbledon, and Schwartzman at Roland Garros.  This is yet another match on Saturday that seems it could easily go four or five sets, and will feature many long and dynamic rallies.  And it’s another one where calling a winner is tough, but considering Nishikori is 13-2 in New York since 2014, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

Novak Djokovic vs. Richard Gasquet, who has only beaten Novak once in 14 tries.

Sixth-Seeded Caroline Garcia vs. Six-Time Major Quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro.

In an all-German affair, Sascha Zverev vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Indian Wells Champion Naomi Osaka vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who upset Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon.

2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic vs. ATP Next Gen Standout Alex de Minaur.

Day Six Order Of Play

Play Starts at 16:00 BST unless stated.

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 17:00 BST

M. Keys (USA) [14] v A. Krunic (SRB)

N. Kyrgios (AUS) [30] v R. Federer (SUI) [2]

Not Before 00:00 GMT

M. Sharapova (RUS) [22] v J. Ostapenko (LAT) [10]

N. Djokovic (SRB) [6] v R. Gasquet (FRA) [26]

Louis Armstrong Stadium 

K. Bertens (NED) [13] v M. Vondrousova (CZE)

D. Cibulkova (SVK) [29] v A. Kerber (GER) [4]

P. Kohlschreiber (GER) v A. Zverev (GER) [4]

Not before 00:00 GMT

P. Kvitova (CZE) [5] v A. Sabalenka (BLR) [26]

M. Cilic (CRO) [7] v A. De Minaur (AUS)

Grandstand

J. Millman (AUS) v M. Kukushkin (KAZ)

K. Siniakova (CZE) v L. Tsurenko (UKR)

N. Osaka (JPN) [20] v A. Sasnovich (BLR)

Not Before 22:00

D. Schwartzman (ARG) [13] v K. Nishikori (JPN) [21]

Court 17

Y. Nishioka (JPN)/M. McDonald (USA) v M. Bryan (USA) [3]/J. Sock (USA) [3]

C. Garcia (FRA) [6] v C. Suarez Navarro (ESP) [30]

L. Pouille (FRA) [17] v J. Sousa (POR)

J. Struff (GER) v D. Goffin (BEL) [10]

 

 

 

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Roland Garros: ‘Disappointed’ Garcia Denies Problem With Roland Garros Form

Caroline Garcia’s poor run of results at Roland Garros continued after a fourth consecutive second round defeat.

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Caroline Garcia has denied there is a problem with her form at Roland Garros after she lost 6-3 6-3 to Sofia Kenin in the second round.

It was yet another disappointing defeat for Caroline Garcia who lost on straight sets on Philippe Chatrier to former finalist Sofia Kenin.

After struggling past Eva Lys in her opening round, Garcia was unable to re-motivate her game as she went out in the second round.

Speaking after the match Garcia admitted she was ‘disappointed’ to have lost and admits she has a complicated relationship with Philippe Chatrier, “I’m disappointed to have lost. I didn’t manage to find my game,” Garcia told French journalists in her press conference.

“She didn’t leave me a lot of margins. I didn’t manage to get the upper hand. I lost sometimes when I had actually gained points to play. This is where I have regrets.

“Well, yes, it’s complicated. It’s true. You have said it well. You have described it well. It’s a large court by size, with a number of fans. There is a lot of seats, a lot of room. When it’s not full, all the lower seats are empty, even though the upper seats are occupied, then you feel that you’re on your own.

“On Lenglen it’s less true, because people are closer to you. Even your own team, you can’t hear them. So it’s quite uncomfortable.”

Today’s defeat was a just one in a series of bad results for Garcia who has now lost in the second round of Roland Garros for the fourth consecutive time.

However in a tense exchange with journalists Garcia refused to acknowledge the bad form and said that everything is fine, “I don’t remember. Who beat me last year? I can’t remember,” Garcia when asked about her results at Roland Garros.

“Yes, everything is fine. You know, all in all, it’s the same. A defeat is a defeat. More or less it’s the same emotions than afterwards. Last year it was not the same situation. There was disappointment after both matches.

“There are times when you say I could have done better here and there, I could have played that ball differently, but then at the end of the match it’s easy to change the world again and think back.

“Well, of course we can have high expectations. I lost the second round last time, as well. It was not better. But then on the French Open, on clay when it’s cold, then it’s difficult to play one’s best tennis.

“It’s not the surface that corresponds and that suits my game. Even if it’s “the” tournament of the year, clay court is not my most suitable surface.”

Garcia will hope that she can continue to work on her clay court game as she will have many Roland Garros campaigns ahead of her.

Next up for Garcia will be the grass court season which is a surface that is more suiting to her surface than clay.

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David Goffin Slams Hostile French Open Crowd

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A fan at the French Open spat out their chewing gum at David Goffin during a tense first round clash at the tournament on Tuesday. 

Goffin, who is a former quarter-finalist in Paris, described the reception he received from the crowd as ‘total disrespect’ during his clash against home player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. A 20-year-old wild card who recently claimed his maiden Tour title in Lyon. The Belgian managed to oust the home player 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, after more than three-and-half hours of play. 

During one stage of the match, Goffin was seen holding his hand to his ear towards the rowdy crowd. A gesture he felt he had the right to do considering the atmosphere.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to tease the public a little,” The I quoted Goffin as saying.
“Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s really too much. It’s becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands.
“It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.
“Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It [the match] was getting complicated. That’s why I wanted to stay calm. IfI started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me.”

The French Open crowd has a reputation for being highly animated during matches with there being numerous examples throughout the years. Nicolas Jarry received booing when he walked on the court to play Corentin Moutet after an incident between the two earlier this season. 

“This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We’re going to have to do something about that,” Goffin continued.
“I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there’s not that. Or in Australia either. And at the US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here [at Roland Garros], it’s really an unhealthy atmosphere.”

However, former French Open junior doubles champion Mpetshi Perricard has praised the support he got from the fans during his match. It was only the second time in his career that the world No.66 has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” he said.
“I had a lot in Lyon as well, but that was different because here the guys are really with you from first to the last point. It’sreally very pleasant to have such an audience.
“I like it that they encouraged me. It helped me when I was broken in the fourth [set], and I would like to thank them for it. It’s really fantastic to have these guys there.”

Goffin will be hoping to get more support in his second round match against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. He is making his 13th main draw appearance in Paris at the age of 33. 

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Holger Rune Beats Evans in Straight Sets and Moves into Round 2

Danish 13th seed praises improved mentality; aims to get back to the top five

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Thirteenth seed Holger Rune came through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Dan Evans in cold indoor conditions under the roof on Suzanne-Lenglen and goes on to face Italian Flavio Cobolli in round two.

The defeat for Evans meant that there are now no British men left in the singles draw after disappointing first round losses for Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie.

Rune, who once shared a practice session with Evans, admitted it took time to figure out his opponent’s game style: “It’s not that I know his game inside and out. He likes the slice obviously, and he’s a very good grass court player as well so he plays pretty flat over the net. So, yeah, it took a lot of time to adjust.”

Rune, a two-time former quarter finalist at the French Open, broke serve with the score tied at 4-4 in the first set and then served out to take the opener. A single break of serve was enough again in the second, while he had to dig much deeper in the third set when he went 4-2 down but managed to maintain composure to win the last four games to seal victory. The 21-year-old was very satisfied with his first-round performance and was pleased his intense practice sessions had been paying off.

“It was a good start, I think. Very solid match from start to finish. We had a good preparation, I would say. We had obviously time after Rome to really prepare with my game and physically and mentally, as well. I think we used the time right. So now is just to perform and put everything together. We are working always on my game. I think my game is good. My physicality felt great today, so it’s a thing we have really been working on to be able to stay out there and not feel fatigued and feel explosive even after hours of playing, and I definitely felt that today.”

Rune finished the match with eight aces, and more than double the number of winners (44 to 21), while Evans struggled with his serve making less than 50% of first serves in play along with five double faults. Whilst approaching the net numerous times throughout the match, he was passed sixteen times by some wonderful strokes off both wings by his Danish opponent. Rune was impressed with his mentality afterwards: “Mentally I just had to stay composed. You know, there is always challenges in the matches. Today was a call here and there. I thought I stayed composed. Been working on that, as well.”

Rune, who won 75% of points on his first serve definitely felt like he is on the right path to get him back inside the top five of the rankings: “I feel like I’m kind of back on track, have stability in my team, which is nice in my life. So, it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving on court. Now it’s just about getting that few match wins under the belt, to get some rhythm and gain some confidence in the matches as well. Then, I believe, you know, I’m fitter than last year. I’m playing better and improved. I just need to put everything together.”

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