Tough draws for Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep at the Porsche Indoor Grand Prix in Stuttgart - UBITENNIS
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Tough draws for Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep at the Porsche Indoor Grand Prix in Stuttgart

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Reigning US Open and Australian champion and world number 1 Naomi Osaka has been drawn in the same quarter as two-time champion Angelique Kerber and Hsieh Su Wei at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, which features six of the top 10 players of the WTA Ranking. The tournament takes place on indoor clay at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

 

Osaka will make her second appreance in the star-studded Stuttgart tournament after losing to Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the opening round in 2017. The Japanese player, who is receiving a bye from the opening round, is on a collision course for a possible second round match against Hsieh Su Wei, who will make her debut in the Stuttgart tournament against Qiang Wang in the first round.

Last year’s Roland Garros champion Simona Halep could face crowd favourite Andrea Petkovic in the second round. The Romanian player could meet either Kiki Bertens or this year’s Dubai champion Belinda Bencic.

Defending champion and this year’s Miami champion Karolina Pliskova will take on the winner of the blockbuster match between Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka. In this section Caroline Garcia has been drawn with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who reached the semifinal in Stuttgart last year and in Miami in 2019. Garcia contributed to the win in the decisive doubles match alongside her teammate Kristina Mladenovic in the Fed Cup semifinal against Romania in Rouen.

In the bottom half of the draw this year’s Australian Open finalist and Sydney champion Petra Kvitova could meet the winner of an all-Latvian first round clash between 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasjia Sevastova.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Claims Revenge On Tsitsipas To Reach 50th Masters 1000 Final

Rafael Nadal is into the Rome final after a 6-3 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas as he makes his 50th Masters 1000 final.

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Rafael Nadal (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal claimed revenge on Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-3 6-4 win to reach his 50th Masters 1000 final in Rome. 

 

The world number two got his revenge from his defeat to the Greek star last week in Madrid by cruising to victory I the Rome semi-finals.

It’s his first final since the Australian Open and the 50th Masters 1000 final of his career as he looks for an eighth Rome title.

In the final Nadal will play either world number one Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman.

It was a fast start from the Spaniard who broke in the second game for a 2-0 lead as he looked to send a clear message after recent struggles.

The world number seven though started to show why he should never be underestimated with his power from the back of the court and his positivity.

However some stunning forehands saw Nadal hold in a nine minute game as he sealed a 3-0 lead as he changed things up in his tactics.

Unlike in Madrid, the seven-time Rome champion used his forehand more than his backhand to punish Tsitsipas and be aggressive in the key moments.

Despite some good serving from Tsitsipas, it was Nadal who held firm to take the first set 6-3 and take the early advantage in this semi-final.

The second set saw Tsitsipas angry at the umpire at a few line calls as Nadal took advantage of the Madrid finalist’s emotional rollercoaster.

Some strokes of brilliance once again saw Nadal in the ascendancy as he broke in the third game for a 2-1 lead as Tsitsipas grew frustrated.

Despite Nadal threatening to break again Tsitsipas remained firm on serve as he wanted to force Nadal to at least serve out the match.

But some more insane shot-making and some fatigue from the Greek saw the former world number one close out the match and once again reach the final in Rome.

It was a good few weeks for Tsitsipas, who looks good to have a deep run at Roland Garros in just over a week’s time.

As for Nadal, it is his first final since the Australian Open and the 50th Masters 1000 final of his career, which comes as perfect timing ahead of the defence of his Roland Garros title.

A match against world number one Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman now awaits the Spaniard in his bid for an eighth title in the Italian capital.

 

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Alexander Zverev’s Search For Confidence Continues In Geneva As Roland Garros Approaches

Alexander Zverev is looking for some confidence heading into Roland Garros as he headlines the draw in Geneva.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev’s search for confidence continues in Geneva this week as he looks for some momentum heading into Roland Garros. 

 

The German has struggled for form this clay-court season having only won five matches in his six clay-court tournaments.

It has been a complete opposite from last year where he won Madrid, reached the final in Rome and made the last eight at the French Open.

This year has been different to last year though as he has had to deal with off-court distractions and has resulted in his lacklustre form.

Now the 22 year-old is looking to have some much-needed wildcard as he tops the field in Geneva this week on the last stop on the road to Roland Garros.

A first round bye means that Zverev has time to prepare for his first match against either Ernests Gulbis or Yoshihito Nishioka.

Should Zverev win that match, then a potential quarter-final against Andreas Seppi could await as he looks to hit top-form just in time for the second grand slam of the season.

Also in Geneva this week is second seed Stan Wawrinka, who begins against Feliciano Lopez or a qualifier and Munich champion Cristian Garin who begins against Taro Daniel or a qualifier.

There is also the possibility of Grigor Dimitrov being the main draw as he appears in the qualifying draw as he also looks for some confidence heading into Paris.

Canadians Headline Lyon 

In the other ATP tournament this week Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are amongst the headliners in Lyon.

Shapovalov will play either Ugo Humbert or Cameron Norrie, while Auger-Aliassime faces the winner of John Millman or Pablo Andujar.

The other two seeds with a bye are Nikoloz Basilashvili and Roberto Bautista Agut as they look to gain some momentum heading into Paris.

Other notable first rounds are Hubert Hurkacz against Pablo Cuevas while Monte-Carlo runner-up Dusan Lajovic takes on Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

Here are the draws for both tournaments with play beginning on Sunday:

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Italian Open Saturday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

It’s semifinal day in Rome, and hopefully the rain in the forecast doesn’t disturb the order of play.

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Rafael Nadal (photo by Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Quarterfinal day actually carried over into semifinal day, as Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro battled well past 1:00am.  Djokovic saved two match points and prevailed in an over three-hour affair. He and Rafael Nadal are just one win away from their first meeting on clay this year, an occasion the tennis world has been anxiously awaiting.  But first, Nadal must face the man who defeated him last week, Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the women’s semifinals, two of the WTA’s most consistent performers face two surprise semifinalists.

 

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (8)

This is a rematch from last Saturday’s semifinal in Madrid, where Tsitsipas took out the King of Clay in his nation’s capital.  Nadal will be eager to avenge that loss, and even more eager to gain more confidence just eight days before the French Open begins.  Perhaps Nadal is finally rounding into form. In the three matches he’s played this week, he’s only dropped six games in six sets. He won three of those sets 6-0.  However, Tsitsipas is a step up in competition from Rafa’s last three opponents, and should be well-rested after Roger Federer withdrew from their quarterfinal yesterday.  It’s hard to imagine the 20-year-old upsetting Nadal on clay for the second straight week. I expect a hungry Nadal to prevail in straight sets.

Kiki Bertens (6) vs. Johanna Konta

With a win today, Bertens would usurp Simona Halep as the new world No.2.  Johanna Konta, former world No.4, has already done enough this week to get her ranking back high enough to be seeded at Roland Garros.  The British No.1 has struggled mightily since making the Wimbledon semifinals two years ago. And she’s never fared well on clay. In fact, she had a losing record on this surface in each of the last three seasons.  But a run to the final in Rabat two weeks, where she lost to fellow Rome semifinalist Maria Sakkari, was the confidence boost she needed. Konta is now 9-2 on clay this year. However, Bertens is the WTA’s most winningest player on clay over the past few years, and is on an eight-match winning streak coming off her title run last week in Madrid.  Bertens was completely exhausted on Thursday, but somehow pulled out two three-set matches in one day. She was surely thrilled to have a day off yesterday thanks to the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka. Bertens and Konta have split their four previous matches, though they’ve never played on clay. Bertens will be the favorite on the terra baute of Rome, but don’t count out Konta considering her current form and Kiki’s self-described exhaustion.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday in Rome:

  • Novak Djokovic (1), who will be happy to be back in the night session considering his quarterfinal ended earlier this morning, vs. Diego Schwartzman, who defeated another tired player yesterday in Kei Nishikori.
  • Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. 23-year-old Maria Sakkari of Greece.  Their only previous meeting was last year at this tournament, when Sakkari upset Pliskova 7-5 in the third, and Pliskova repeatedly hit the chair umpire structure with her racket after a bad line call.

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