Indian Wells Day 12 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Day 12 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

The women’s finalists will be decided today, and we’re also just one round away from a possible Federer/Nadal semifinal.

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Rafael Nadal (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Roger and Rafa both have to win today against tough 22-year-old opponents. Federer will face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who has already upset three seeded players during this tournament. Nadal will square off with Russia’s Karen Khachanov, who already won a Masters 1000 title last November in Bercy. And how about a day schedule that includes not only Roger and Rafa, but also Novak Djokovic? He’s in the doubles semifinals with Fabio Fognini, facing the established team of Lukasz Kubot and Mercelo Melo.

 

As the men’s semifinalists are solidified on Friday, both women’s semifinal matches will be decided. And in both, proven WTA commodities will be challenged by red-hot youngsters: yet another 22-year-old, and an 18-year-old Canadian. Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu have been racking up wins this year by blasting winners past their opponents. But Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina are two of the tour’s best defenders, and will not give up their spots in the final without a fight.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Karen Khachanov (12)

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Nadal is 5-0 lifetime against Khachanov, with all those matches taking place within the past two years. But the last time they met, it was a thriller. In the US Open third round just six months ago, Rafa needed four sets, as well as four hours and 23 minutes, to get through this big-hitting opposition. Now they’ll play again on US soil, and Khachanov will only need to win two sets to be victorious today, a more feasible task against Nadal. Since winning the biggest title of his career at the Paris Indoors four months ago, Karen really struggled, with a 4-5 record coming into this tournament. He lost in his opening round of all three tournaments he played in February. But Khachanov has built momentum over the past week in Indian Wells, a run highlighted by a straight set win over John Isner, the eighth seed. Nadal meanwhile has rebounded nicely at this tournament, coming off disappointing losses at the Australian to Novak Djokovic and in Acapulco to Nick Kyrgios. Rafa is fully comfortable playing in Indian Wells, even citing this as his favorite tournament of the year. He enjoys being outside of a big city, and is a guest at the home of the tournament owner, Larry Ellison. While I hope this match is even half as good as the last time they met on US soil, Nadal is a strong favorite to advance to a likely 39th meeting with Federer.

Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Belinda Bencic (23)

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Belinda Bencic is back. After suffering from multiple injuries over the past few seasons, the 22-year-old is on fire in 2019. She started the year by teaming with Roger Federer to defend their Hopman Cup title. And now she’s on a 12-match winning streak, having won the Premier 5 event in Dubai just a few weeks ago. In that one week, she secured four top 10 wins, over Sabalenka, Halep, Svitolina, and Kvitova. All four of those matches were three-set wins, two of which went to a third set tiebreak. And in another three-setter just yesterday, Bencic outlasted Karolina Pliskova in a great display of ball striking from both sides of the net. And surprisingly, Bencic has won three of four matches played against Kerber. Two of those wins were on US hard courts, in New York and Cincinnati. Kerber did win their last meeting, but that was on grass at Wimbledon last year. Bencic is much better on hard courts than grass, and is playing at an elite level again now. Can her aggressive returns and pinpoint groundstrokes remain consistent against the defensive skills of Kerber? Based on what we’ve seen of late, I say yes, especially if this goes three sets. And we may just see her play against a rising star even younger than her in the final.

Other notable matches on Day 12

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  • Elina Svitolina (6), who has already survived back-to-back dramatic three setters to reach this semifinal, vs. Wild Card Bianca Andreescu, who just destroyed Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals
  • Roger Federer (4) vs. Hubert Hurkacz, in their first career meeting
  • Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (6) vs. Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini

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Five Ideas To Improve Tennis

From the rule of the fifth set in the Slams to the controversial medical time out, passing through the distribution of ATP points: how can tennis be improved? Let’s discuss it together.

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BY DAVIDE ORIOLI (translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa)

 

With the sport still stuck in the pits for who knows how long, the moment seems suitable to discuss how to change tennis in order to make it more palatable, televised, popular. Or even simply more coherent. Indeed, there are still aspects of the rules of tennis that are controversial and on which not only fans, but also tennis players and directors themselves, debate. In this article we want to go straight to the point proposing five aspects of the rules that could be improved.

All the institutions that govern tennis in recent years have attempted experiments, already implemented in some tournaments. The ATP for example, as everyone knows, is using the NextGen Finals to test some ideas such as the Fast4 (short sets for those who arrive first in four games, with tie-breaks on 3-3), the NoAd with a killer point on the 40 even, the No Let that plans to play the exchange even if the ball touches the net on the service, and so on, up to free coaching and towel management. These changes have already been experienced and therefore we will not deal with them in this article. Instead, we are going to propose five still little (or not at all) debated ideas, listing them to go from least to most significant.

5 – Change of sides during Super tie-breaks

As said, it is a minutia idea that will not change the history of tennis, but during the Super tie-breaks you should not change sides every six points. The rule makes sense in classic tie-breaks: change the side after the sixth point to make sure that both tennis players play at least one point on each side. For example, we think of conditions of low sun on the horizon that can disadvantage those who play against the sun, or wind against or in favor. Turning every six points guarantees at least one change of course during the tie-break, and further if (and only if) one proceeds to the bitter end. The rule is logical and correct, but for this reason in the Super tie-break it should be adapted to the length of the latter, therefore changing every nine points.

With the change at the sixth and twelfth point, in fact, there are two problems. The first is that the pace of the game becomes extremely fragmented, just at the height of the meeting. Super tie-breaks in which 12 points or less are played are very rare, below one percent, which means almost always having two field changes, one of which is perfectly avoidable. The second problem is the very regularity of the Super tie-break. Being the average duration of these around 17 points, in the end each tennis player will normally have played 11 exchanges on one side of the court and six on the other. A particularly marked discrepancy.

To explain it better, suppose absurdly that atmospheric events make one side so advantageous that those who play on that side of the net win the point 100% of the time. The system with which the changes are built at the moment ensures that up to 6 even, and even during the tie-break, nobody can win the set by exploiting that condition. It will proceed indefinitely on a level playing field, as corrected. With the current system used for the Super tie-break instead, this condition of fair balance is interrupted, and the player who is lucky enough to serve first on the favorable side of the court, will win the game for 10-6. Obviously this is an exaggeration to better explain the principle, but even if the advantage of playing on the one hand was minimal, it is still correct that both players take the same advantage of it. Also because the Super tie-breaks decide the result of the entire match.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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