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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Angelique Kerber Splits With Rainer Schuettler After Eight Month Partnership

Angelique Kerber has parted ways with Rainer Schuettler after an eight month partnership which ended in Wimbledon disappointment.

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Angelique Kerber (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Three time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber has split with her coach Rainer Schuettler after an eight month partnership. 

 

It’s been a topsy-turvy year for the German so far after reaching the finals in Indian Wells and Eastbourne as well as being 11th in the Race To Shenzhen rankings.

However after losing in the first week of all three of her grand slams so far, last year’s Wimbledon champion has decider to end her partnership with Rainer Scheuttler.

The 31 year-old made the announcement on Twitter as she admitted it was a tough decision to make but a necessary one to make, “Moving forward, it’s never easy to change – especially when you work with great people like Rainer,” Kerber said.

“But for now, we’ve decided that it’s the right time for a fresh start. He has become a friend and I‘m thankful for his hard work & dedication in the last months.”

A couple of days ago, Kerber also said it was time to embrace the challenges moving forward as she looks to improve her sluggish form ,“This time of year feels very different compared to last year, but it’s still part of the same journey,” Kerber explained on Twitter.

“Whether you‘ve won or lost the last match- it‘s done, it‘s over and it can‘t be changed. It‘s about the lessons you learn from both outcomes that will determine your path. 

“There have always been ups and downs, twists and turns in my career that I accept as part of my story as an athlete. Even more, I‘ve learned to deal with it and embrace the challenge moving forward.”

Although Kerber and Schuettler have become good friends, the results never really translated when it really mattered most as Kerber couldn’t keep her focus on the big occasions.

A very brave decision to do it more than half way through the season though as Kerber looks to finish the season strong in a frustrating year.

Next for the former world number one is the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which starts on the 5th August.

 

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Johanna Konta Speaks About Charity Work Ahead Of Second Half Of Season

Johanna Konta talks about her work with charity as she looks to end the season strong.

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Johanna Konta (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Johanna Konta has spoken about her charity work as she prepares for the final grand slam of the season. 

 

It has been an encouraging 2019 so far for the Brit after reaching the finals in Rabat and Madrid as well as reaching the last four at Roland Garros.

Although that was met with disappointment and criticism at Wimbledon after her quarter-final exit to Barbora Strycova, Konta is looking to continue the momentum in the American summer.

However for now, the world number 15 is taking her mind off tennis to focus on her charity work and in particular tackling homelessness.

Recently Konta visited the prime minister on the subject and spoke to the WTA Website about why she feels passionately about homelessness, “Homelessness has always been a big thing that’s close to my heart, that I want to help,” Konta said.

“I met a young lady called Kenny, who has come through Centre Point and it’s through them that she’s got her shift here with The Clink.”

The Brit is an ambassador for the charity CentrePoint, who support young homeless people in London since 1969 as homelessness has been a big problem in the UK.

The Clink provided catering for the event an 10 Downing Street, which was about bringing young people who are at risk of violence and helping them talk to businesses and role models to see how they can not take to crime.

On her visit, Konta explained why it was a dream come true to go to 10 Downing Street, “I feel like you’re walking through history, especially as you walk up the stairs and you see all the Prime Ministers through time. It’s inspiring and I feel very lucky.”

Next for Konta is the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which starts on the 5th of August as she prepares for the final grand slam of the year at the US Open.

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Wimbledon Day 13 Preview: The Gentlemen’s Final

In a championship match with significant GOAT implications, Roger Federer plays for a record-extending 21st Major, as Djokovic defends his title and vies for his 16th.

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Roger Federer (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

In 25 days, Roger Federer will turn 38 years of age. Remarkably, here he is in his 31st Major final, and his 12th at The All England Club. His most recent Slam final came 18 months ago in Australia, where he defeated Marin Cilic in five sets. Playing the French Open last month for the first time since 2015, and advancing to the semi-finals on his worst surface, provided Roger with considerable confidence. After falling to Rafael Nadal in Paris, he avenged that loss here on Friday in a thrilling semi-final. But in order to win his ninth Wimbledon, he’ll need to do something he’s never done before: defeat both Nadal and Djokovic at the same Grand Slam event.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic arrived at SW19 ranked outside the top 20. After holding all four Majors at once, he hadn’t claimed another in over two years. But a semi-final victory over Nadal would propel Djokovic to win three consecutive Slams. He’s now the definitive world No.1, and looks to pull within four Major titles of Federer, and within two of Nadal.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roger Federer (2)

This is their third time playing in the gentlemen’s singles final. In 2014, Djokovic pulled out the win in five sets, a turning point in Novak’s career having lost his last five Major Finals outside of Australia. A year later, Djokovic prevailed in four. Overall Novak has the slight edge in their head-to-head 25-22, and has taken eight of their last 10 meetings. At Majors, Djokovic leads 9-6, and hasn’t lost to Federer at a Slam in seven years, which was their first Wimbledon matchup in the 2012 semi-finals.

Both men needed three sets and about three hours to win their semi-finals, though Federer’s match against Nadal was the tighter and more draining affair. For Roger, coming back less than 48 hours later to play the other GOAT contender, who is also nearly six years younger than Federer, is a huge ask. But if Roger plays with the same energy he did on Friday, he has a shot. He’ll need to serve even better than in the semi-finals, as he faces the best returner in the game.

The crowd could play a critical role here. They’ll undoubtedly be raucously behind Roger, and we saw on Friday against Roberto Bautista Agut how bothered Novak can get by crowds cheering for his opponent. He receives it as disrespect, though he often seems to thrive on it. But Novak would be wise to not outwardly mock the Centre Court audience today, as it will only increase their enthusiasm for Federer. On paper, Djokovic is a solid favourite. There’s no real weakness in his game, and the best-of-five format plays to his advantage, especially if this goes the distance.

However, we saw on Friday the magic Roger is still capable of on Centre Court. He’ll know this may be one of his last chances to win a Major, though will that inspire him or unsettle him? We saw Serena Williams tighten up under similar circumstances yesterday. While I don’t think this will be a blowout like the ladies’ championship match, Djokovic will be too much for Federer to overcome in the end. Novak will be joining Simona Halep at the champions ball on Sunday evening.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

In the ladies’ doubles final re-scheduled for today due to the length of the gentlemen’s doubles final, singles standouts Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (3) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu (4), who upset the defending champion in the semi-finals.  Singles semi-finalist Strycova would become the new doubles No.1 with a win today.

In the mixed doubles final, which has unfortunately been bumped to No.1 Court, French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan (8) vs. 42-year-old Roberto Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko, who is a former junior champion here, and was a singles semifinalist a year ago.

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