WTA Finals Day 6 Preview: Naomi Osaka Targets First Win - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals Day 6 Preview: Naomi Osaka Targets First Win

In the red group, all matches thus far have gone to three sets, and all four players still have a chance of advancing on Friday.

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The last two spots for the semifinals in Singapore will be decided today when the Red Group play their final round of matches. US Open champion Naomi Osaka, who is yet to win a match, takes on Kiki Bertens. Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens plays Angelique Kerber in what will be the sixth meeting between the two players.

 

Red Group Standings heading into Friday’s final round robin matches:
1) Sloane Stephens: 2-0 in matches, 4-2 in sets, 32-27 in games.
2) Angelique Kerber: 1-1 in matches, 3-3 in sets, 30-28 in games.
3) Kiki Bertens: 1-1 in matches, 3-3 in sets, 28-28 in games.
4) Naomi Osaka: 0-2 in matches, 2-4 in sets, 27-34 in games.

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Advancement scenarios for Friday’s matches:

  • A Stephens loss combined with a Bertens victory is the only way Stephens would not advance, unless Bertens wins in three sets and Kerber wins in three sets, in which case advancement would be determined by percent of games won between Stephens, Kerber, Bertens.
  • Kerber will advance with a win, unless she wins in three and Bertens wins in three (see above). The only scenario where Kerber can lose and advance is if Stephens and Osaka both win in three, in which case advancement would be determined by percent of games won between Kerber, Bertens, and Osaka.
  • Bertens needs to win to advance, with both of the above percent of games won scenarios being the only exceptions.
  • Osaka needs to win and needs Stephens to win as well, unless they both win in three as covered above.

Naomi Osaka vs. Kiki Bertens

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Osaka won their only previous meeting almost three years ago in Acapulco, but this is an entirely different occasion. Osaka has looked a bit negative and emotionally fatigued this week, and losing two tight matches this week likely won’t help her disposition. Both players are yet to win a first set in Singapore, and whoever does so today will have a huge advantage. Following a lot of exhausting tennis earlier this week, coming back from a set down on Friday will be challenging. Osaka and Bertens have hit nearly 100 unforced errors each through two matches, and not nearly as many winners. On the slower hard court in Singapore, the player with less errors on Friday will likely prevail. I think Bertens will have a bit more mental energy left, and favor her chances for victory.

Angelique Kerber vs. Sloane Stephens

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The final match of the round robin phase will feature two of the most entertaining players to watch on tour. The rallies should be tremendous, with top-notch court coverage and defensive skills on full display. But the last few times they’ve played, Kerber has struggled to get anything going against Stephens. Sloane is 4-1 lifetime against Angie, with the German’s only win coming over six years ago. The last three times they’ve met, Kerber has taken just eight games in six sets. That includes a match earlier this year on a hard court in Miami. And Stephens will be feeling confident coming off two victories earlier this week, and will feel comfortable knowing she’ll likely advance to the semifinals even if she loses. All the pressure will be on Kerber, and I don’t see her faring much better against Stephens on this day.

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Gael Monfils Targets Spot At Home Olympics Before Retirement 

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Gael Monfils may be starting his 2023 season later than usual but he isn’t contemplating stepping away from the sport anytime soon. 

 

The former top 10 star has been absent from the Tour since August due to a foot problem during what has been an injury-stricken year for the Frenchman. Monfils also missed the French Open and Wimbledon due to a heel injury which required surgery. Overall, he has won 14 out of 21 matches played on the Tour in 2022. 

Providing an update on his current fitness during an interview with Canal+, Monfils confirmed that he will not be playing at the Australian Open in January which will be the fourth major tournament in a row he has missed. Whilst his recovery is progressing well, he is targeting a return during the clay season which concludes at the French Open. He is also unable to access his protected ranking at Melbourne Park because the rulebook states that a player must be absent for at least six months to be eligible. 

“I know that there is a protected ranking, when you don’t play for a certain amount of months. I know that if I take it, I have to not play the Australian Open to reach the six months needed and that will be my decision,” Tennis Head quotes Monfils as saying.

However, the 36-year-old isn’t planning to stop playing just yet with aspirations to play at his home Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris in 2024. Monfils is already a three-time Olympian and has reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice before. 

Despite some speculation over his retirement, Monfils hopes to continue playing until the age of 40. Although he admits this depends on his family after he and his wife Elina Svitolina welcomed their first child earlier this year.

“2023 is an important year for me, a year of transition, transition between my injuries and the fact to be competitive to try to qualify for Paris 2024. I would not like to miss the Olympics, it would be my last one,” he added.
“I hope that 2024 would not be my last year but maybe the one after that. Before, I said that I wanted to play until I’m 40 but the more time I spend with my daughter, the more time I’m thinking maybe I’ll play a bit less.”

Monfils has won 11 Tour titles so far in his career, including this year’s Adelaide International. He has reached at least one final every year since 2005. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev And Taylor Fritz Looking Forward To Diriyah Cup

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz will start their Australian preparations in Saudi Arabia next week.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (@WeAreTennisTR - Twitter)

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz are looking forward to boosting their Australian Open preparations when they compete in the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia.

 

The tournament takes place from the 8th-10th of December with the 12 player tournament offering the perfect preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year.

As well as Tsitsipas, Rublev and Fritz, the field includes some of the world’s best players including Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka.

Speaking ahead of the event Tsitsipas claimed that the event will be very good preparation ahead of the Australian Open which starts on the 16th of January, “This is going to be very good preparation for me,” Tsitsipas told The National.

“Most players choose to have an off period from tennis but for me, it’s very important to get matches in before I travel to Australia. So having good competitors to compete against (top players), this is the best preparation that I can have before starting the 2023 season.

“I know that the people in Saudi Arabia may not have the opportunity to see tennis players like us very often. So, for sure, I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to have a good time.”

Saudi Arabia has held a whole host of events including formula one and Golf events with there being more and more concerns from fans over sports-washing given the country’s human rights record.

However the Greek isn’t too concerned about that and is looking forward to exploring the country’s culture:

“I’m happy they’re introducing a big event like this, and in the heart of Saudi Arabia to give opportunities to citizens from all over the world to explore this beautiful country, through its sports, through its very rich heritage and culture, and through other activities that are available within the country.”

As for Fritz, the American is coming off a career best season having won his maiden Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells as well as reaching the semi-finals at the ATP Finals.

The 25 year-old said that playing against the best players in the world will only help his preparations for the Australian Open, “I think it’s going to help prepare for the Australian Open and for the rest of the year because I can start out by playing against the best players in the world,” Fritz claimed.

“The field is so strong, so it’s always great to surround yourself with a lot of great players. People should come to support because hopefully it’ll be a lot of good tennis.

“Hopefully they’ll be cheering for me to win. They can expect a lot of big hitting, big serving, and hopefully some nice shot-making.”

Finally Rublev said that competing in Saudi Arabia will help find his level with the Russian having an inconsistent end to the season at the ATP Finals.

Rublev is looking to break more ground in 2023 as he searches for his Grand Slam breakthrough, “I think it’s really great because sometimes when you finish the season and you have eight weeks of not playing tournaments, you start to feel a bit stressed or nervous because you can’t tell if you’re improving or not,” Rublev admitted.

“So these kind of events help to check how your level is at the moment because you compete against other great players.”

The tournament begins on Thursday and will last for three days.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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