The first women’s semifinal features two young players who have never advanced this far at a Premier Mandatory event: 22-year-old Ash Barty and 23-year-old Anett Kontaveit. The first men’s quarter-final of the day similarly highlights the ATP’s youth movement, with 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov and 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe. The second women’s semifinal sees a former world No.1 just one match win away from reclaiming that ranking, against a former Major finalist looking for her first Premier Mandatory final. And in the last men’s quarter-final, it’s two players in their 30’s. 32-year-old Kevin Anderson is vying for the biggest title of his career, and 37-year-old Roger Federer is going for career title No.101.
Roger Federer (4) vs. Kevin Anderson (6)
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Federer is 5-1 against Anderson, but that one loss was a big one. Federer was up two sets and had a match point last year in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, yet Anderson climbed his way back to win 13-11 in the fifth. That’s actually the only match in which Kevin has taken a set from Roger. Federer would avenge that loss later in the year, and in the same city, with a straight set win at the ATP Finals. Roger didn’t play his best tennis at the start of this tournament, but he’s improved with every round, and looked very sharp yesterday against Daniil Medvedev. Anderson has been suffering from a right elbow injury, and had to pull out of both the New York Open and Indian Wells. It’s impressive that he’s advanced to this quarterfinal having not played since the Australian Open, though he’s yet to play a seeded player. This match-up leans heavily toward Federer’s favour, and he’s the more in-form player. Roger will be motivated to not allow Kevin to get another win over him. As Ben Rothenberg quoted Federer on Twitter, “If you beat me at Wimbledon, you’ve got my attention.”
Simona Halep (2) vs. Karolina Pliskova (5)
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These two just played an extremely competitive Fed Cup match just last month, with Halep prevailing 6-4 in the third. Halep holds a 7-2 record over Pliskova, with most of her victories coming in straight sets. The only times Karolina has gotten the better of Simona are last year on clay in Madrid, and in a 2016 Fed Cup match. Other than a scare in her third round match here against Polona Hercog, Halep has advanced comfortably to this semifinal. Pliskova’s path was a bit more complicated, as she twice had to go deep into a third set to survive. Karolina has been the healthier and more successful player this year. She is 20-4 in 2019, with a title win in Brisbane, a semifinal run in Melbourne, and quarter-final run two weeks ago in Indian Wells. Pliskova’s tennis has been much improved over the past six months with the joint coaching team of Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez. Halep had about half as many wins as Pliskova on the year coming into this tournament, though she’s playing her best tennis of the season with her own coaching situation now settled. This match-up is to Halep’s advantage, as she makes it difficult for Pliskova to hit through her. But will she feel the pressure of regaining the No.1 ranking with a win today? We saw her lose several such matches which would have earned her that ranking in 2017. This could easily become a prolonged contest, and if so, I wonder how Halep’s knee will hold it, as it’s been taped all week. In a month where we’ve seen a lot of upsets on the American hard courts, I’m going with Pliskova to advance to Saturday’s final. She’s the player with more confidence and momentum.
Other notable matches on Day 11
- Denis Shapovalov (20) vs. Frances Tiafoe (28). They’ve split two previous matches, both last year on American hard courts
- Ash Barty (12) vs. Anett Kontaveit (21). Their first meeting will be one of the most important matches in both of their young careers
Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans
The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.
World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.
The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.
“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”
Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.
Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.
“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”
It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.
“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.
Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis
Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.
The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday.
The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open.
“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend.
Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.
Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.
The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year.
As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call.
Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington
Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York.
Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia.
The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova.
Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff.
Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020.
Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic.
Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January.
Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4.
The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field.
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