Miami Open Day 7 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Day 7 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

Sunday will see Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, and both defending singles champions take to the court.

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Daria Kasatkina (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

On Saturday, the tournament lost many top players, including both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Serena withdrew due to a knee injury, while Osaka was upset by Su-Wei Hsieh. On the men’s side, Roger Federer survived a scare from Radu Albot, and was likely to face Stan Wawrinka in the next round. But Stan didn’t make it that far, as he was upset by Filip Krajinovic despite having a big lead in the third set tiebreak. And then David Ferrer, who will retire later this Spring, shocked the second seed, Sascha Zverev. There’s been so many upsets on the American hard courts this month, will that trend continue today?

 

Daria Kasatkina (14) vs. Venus Williams

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The 21-year-old Russian holds a 2-1 record over Venus, winning both of their previous hard court matches. Venus’ only victory came at Wimbledon in 2016, where she prevailed 10-8 in the third. All three of their meetings have gone the distance – their contrast of styles makes for grueling, compelling matches. After a breakout year that saw her enter the top 10 for the first time, Kasatkina has been struggling mightily in 2019. She’s just 3-6 on the year, and her three wins are over players ranked well outside the top 100. Venus on the other hand has been competing very well of late, with six wins over the past three weeks alone. Those wins include her big upset of Petra Kvitova in Indian Wells, and her defeat of Carla Suarez Navarro just two days ago. Venus feels extremely comfortable playing in Miami, with a career tally of 66 wins at this tournament. Based on that history, as well as recent form, Venus is the favorite here.

Hubert Hurkacz vs. Felix Auger Aliassime

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This third round match is between two of the ATP’s hottest players in 2019. Both are young, rising stars on the brink of breaking into the top 50 in the world. Hurkacz is coming off a quarterfinal run last week in Indian Wells, where he defeated three top 30 seeds: Kei Nishikori, Denis Shapovalov, and Lucas Pouille. And on Friday in Miami, the 21-year-old from Poland upset Indian Wells Champion Dominic Thiem in straight sets. His playing style has been compared by many to that of Andy Murray’s. On the other side of the net will be an 18-year-old Canadian who is also playing with a lot of confidence. Auger Aliassime made the final last month in Rio de Janeiro, then upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in Indian Wells. He had to come through qualifying to get into this event, and already has four wins this week including those qualifying rounds. Felix has easy power, and is extremely quick around the court. These two have never met before, so I’m curious to see how the first of what will likely be many future encounters will play out. The winner may be the more physically and emotionally fresh player on this day, I’m just not sure who that will be. Auger Aliassime has already played 11 sets of tennis this week, while Hurkacz is coming off the biggest win of his career. This should be a good one.

Other notable matches on Day 7

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  • Six-Time Miami Champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Federico Delbonis, who only has seven Miami Open match wins in his career
  • Simona Halep (2) vs. Polona Hercog (LL). Hercog won the only time they’ve ever played, at a 100K event nearly 10 years ago on clay
  • 2018 Miami Champion Sloane Stephens (4) vs. Tatjana Maria. Stephens would lose almost 20% of her ranking points with a loss today
  • 2018 Miami Champion John Isner (7) vs. Albert Ranos Vinolas. Isner would fall out of the top 10 with a loss today

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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