Miami Open Day 11 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Day 11 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

On Thursday, the men complete their quarter-finals, while the women play the semi-finals.

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Kevin Anderson (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

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

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  • 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

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Daniil Medvedev Suffers Wimbledon Setback In Halle

Daniil Medvedev preparations for Wimbledon suffered a setback in Halle.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Daniil Medvedev has suffered a setback ahead of Wimbledon after he was beaten in the second round in Halle by Zhizhen Zhang.

The world number five entered Halle having lost in the fourth round of Roland Garros to Alex De Minaur.

Medvedev doesn’t have the best record on grass and that once again was the case in his 6-3 2-6 7-6(5) defeat to Zhang.

The third seed broke serve on more occasions than his Chinese opponent but ultimately lacked quality in the final set tiebreak.

After the match Zhang was happy with the way he handled the tiebreak, “A really tough match. Last time I lost a third-set tie-break [in Stuttgart last week]. And today again, a third-set tie-break. I was thinking, ‘Okay, it’s time. The perfect moment to get revenge’,” Zhang explained.

“I’m super happy that today I handled it to the end.”

Now Medvedev heads to Wimbledon, where he had his best result last year losing to Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile Zhang will now face Christopher Eubanks in the quarter-finals after the American knocked out defending champion Alexander Bublik.

The other quarter-final confirmed will see Arthur Fils taking on Alexander Zverev.

Zverev defeated Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 7-6(5) and said the following after his victory, “Extremely happy with my performance,” Zverev told the ATP website.

“I felt like it was good tennis and I’m happy to be in the quarters. I’m enjoying the moments on these beautiful courts, happy to be playing the way I am. Hopefully I can continue building, continue playing better.”

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Former Champion Ash Barty To Make Wimbledon Return In Invitational Doubles

Ash Barty is set to return to tennis at Wimbledon.

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Former Wimbledon champion Ash Barty will return to the tennis court at SW19.

The Australian hasn’t played tennis since announcing her retirement from the sport after winning the Australian Open in 2022.

Barty defeated Danielle Collins in the final and stunningly announced that she would retire from competitive tennis at 25 years old.

Since then the former world number one has had a child as well as competing in exhibition golf tournaments.

However, it now seems like Barty is ready to phase herself back into the tennis world as it has now been announced that she will return to Wimbledon to play the invitational doubles.

It’s unclear who her partner will be at this point but it will be the Australian’s first appearance at SW19 since winning the Wimbledon title in 2021.

Fans will be hoping that this could lead to a potential return to the tour just like Caroline Wozniacki did at last year’s Wimbledon before returning a few months later.

That does look unlikely though given Barty’s mindset and comfortability with her current lifestyle.

Furthermore, Barty will also be joining BBC’s punditry team for the actual Championships.

The main tournament will start on the first of July with the invitational doubles starting on Tuesday 9th of July.

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Andy Murray Retires against Thompson; Third Seed Dimitrov Also Out at Queens

Andy Murray suffered a heart-breaking exit. Taylor Fritz downs Raonic, while Rinky Hijikata also progresses to last eight.

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Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray retired after just five games against Australian Jordan Thompson with a back injury that has been niggling him for the last few weeks.

He had been trying his best to manage it, but ultimately succumbed to a loss of strength and coordination and control in his right leg.

The 37-year-old Scot has been on the tour for eighteen years and completed his 1,000th match in the round before, but it was evident during his warm up that something was off. He was not stretching up fully when practising serves, whilst also landed tentatively on his feet.

In fact, former five-time champion Murray looked in some difficulty even walking down the steps walking towards the court. “When I walked up the stairs before going out, and in the pre-match warm up, my back was uncomfortable,” said Murray in a BBC interview afterwards. “I don’t know exactly what the problem is. I hadn’t experienced that before. I have no idea how long it will take to get better and what the treatment options are.”

It was clear that Murray regretted choosing to play today. “The atmosphere was pretty awkward on court; everyone can see there is a problem I don’t know whether I should play or stop. It’s disappointing for the crowd and everyone who has paid to come and watch. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t gone out.”

The pair had met once before back in 2017, also at Queens. But Murray had won Wimbledon the year before; his body was seven years younger than now and far less battered and bruised. It remains to be seen whether the former world number one can be fit in time for this year’s Championships.

Meanwhile Sebastian Korda put in a gritty display to overcome an under-par Grigor Dimitrov in three tough sets 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

In a very even match with winners and unforced errors almost equal, it was former champion Dimitrov who was regularly under pressure in his service games and offered 14 breakpoints in total. He was behind in numerous baseline duels dropping the ball short many times, enabling Korda, who reached the semi-finals last year, to come in and attack first. The American was also very solid from the forecourt winning 73% at net, as well as winning 83% of points behind his first serve.

The third set looked like it was heading to a tie-break but Korda hit a razor-sharp forehand down the line winner at 30-30 in the final game before world number ten Dimitrov overcooked a forehand to hand the victory to his younger opponent.

“It was a big struggle,” said Korda on court afterwards. “We were both serving really well and holding serve and waiting for our chances. There weren’t many but the ones that came, we tried to get one.”

He downplayed his recent wrist injury and instead was grateful to be playing on the centre court grass: “it’s incredible to play at Queens, definitely one of my favourite tournaments to come to, everything is so amazing. I’m very happy with how it’s going so far. I am super happy. Hopefully I can keep playing some good tennis this week and leading into Wimbledon as well.”

In today’s opening match, qualifier Rinky Hijikata squeezed past Matteo Arnaldi 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (9-7). While the Italian blasted 37 winners, Hijikata remarkably only offered five unforced errors throughout the two sets. The Australian cruised through the opening breaker without losing a point. However, the second set decider was far closer.

Hijikata squandered five match points and a 6-3 lead in the second set tie-break. A wild forehand miss meant the players crossed at six points each and another put him set point down. But he regrouped after a tremendous rally and won the final three points to reach the quarter finals on his debut at Queens.

“I was pretty nervous,” said Hijikata after the win. “I definitely made it tough for myself today but Matteo was coming up with some really good stuff under pressure and he is a quality player and pretty tricky to put away, but I’m glad to get through today. It’s pretty sweet playing on this court, so thank you to everyone for coming out today.”

Hijikata has been struggling for match wins of late and highlighted his resilience and also gave thanks to his coach: “It’s been a tricky couple of months but I’ve been trying to persevere and keep working hard with my coach, so a lot of the credit goes to him. It hasn’t been easy but a week like this makes it all worthwhile. I was looking forward to the grass swing for the last few months and I always love playing on this surface at a tournament like this, let’s see what I can do for the rest of the grass court season.”

In the last match of the day, American Taylor Fritz defeated Milos Raonic, who had smashed 47 aces in the round before, in straight sets 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. There were no breaks of serve in the first set, lasting 44 minutes, while fourth seed Fritz broke to go 5-4 up in the second and then served out a love game and faces Thompson for a place in the semi-finals.

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