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

ATP

Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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ATP

Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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ATP

David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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