French Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

In a blockbuster second round match, a pair of two-time Major champions will collide.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

In the first round, Victoria Azarenka took out the 2017 French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. Now she’ll face the winner of the last two Grand Slam events, who narrowly escaped defeat on Tuesday. Also on Day 5, two of the WTA’s most impressive young competitors will square off in what should a fierce contest. And Thursday’s schedule also features defending champion Simona Halep, and 23-time Major singles champion Serena Williams. On the men’s side, six top 10 seeds in Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Sascha Zverev, Juan Martin Del Potro, Fabio Fognini, and Karen Khachanov will all take to the court.

 

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Victoria Azarenka

Naomi Osaka played just terribly for a set-and-a-half in her first round. She was able to turn the match around just in time, breaking Anna Karolina Schmiedlova as she served for the match. Naomi will need to drastically up her level today against Azarenka, who already has two wins over top 10 players during this clay court season. They have split their two previous meetings. Azarenka easily won at the 2016 Australian Open, when she was at her best and Osaka was still developing her game. But last year on the clay of Rome, Naomi dropped just three games. Osaka has been struggling with injury over the past few months, pulling out of both Stuttgart and Rome, though Naomi appeared healthy on Tuesday. And she has had a lot of changes in her life to adjust to, including a coaching change. She should feel relief having survived two days ago, as going out in the first round as the world No.1 after winning the last two Majors would not have felt good. But I’m picking the hungry Azarenka to send a message that she’s back by taking out the top seed.

Aryna Sabalenka (11) vs. Amanda Anisimova

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This is a rematch from the last Major, where the 18-year-old American upset one of the WTA’s fastest-rising stars. Many now have also anointed Anismova as a future Major champion, with that future predicted to come sooner than later. Adding to her fledgling resume, Amanda also won her first WTA title last month, on the clay of Bogota. And two weeks ago in Rome, she fought Kiki Bertens all the way to 5-5 in the third, before losing the last two games. Sabalenka meanwhile has cooled off a bit since winning her third title in a five-month span to start this year, with just 15 match wins since the second week of January. But she’ll detest the idea of losing to her younger opposition again, so I suspect the strong-willed 21-year-old will pull out a tight match.

Ash Barty (8) vs. Danielle Collins

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These two just played three lopsided sets a few weeks ago in Madrid. Each set had a score of 6-1, with Barty taking the first and the third. It took only an hour and 22 minutes to play three sets on that day. Many Danielle Collins matches can play out in that way, as she’s a go-for-broke player who can smother opponents when she’s on, and spray errors all over the court when she’s off. She was a surprise semifinalist this year in Australia, where she dropped just two games to world No.2 Angelique Kerber in a stunning fourth round effort. Of course that was the same tournament where Barty reached her first Major quarterfinal. The Australian No.1 followed up on that result by winning the title in Miami. Ash is not thought of as a clay court specialist, but the eighth seed is in an open part of the draw where she could easily make a run to the second week. I expect her variety will frustrate Collins, and lead Ash to another victory over the American.

Juan Martin Del Potro (8) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

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This could prove to be a compelling contrast in styles, with the 6’6” righty facing the 5’7” lefty. Earlier this year at Delray Beach, a less-than-100% Del Potro took out Nishioka in straight sets. And the big man is much more comfortable on clay than Nishioka, who possessed just one match win on clay this year heading into Roland Garros. But the 23-year-old showed he can successfully diffuse some powerful strokes when he outlasted Felix Alissiame Auger in a third set tiebreak at Indian Wells this past March. While I expect a fun match, I still consider Del Potro the solid favorite.

Fabio Fognini (9) vs. Federico Delbonis

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Here are two ATP veterans who love to play on the dirt. All but one of Fognini’s nine career titles have come on clay, including his Masters 1,000 triumph in Monte Carlo last month. Likewise, both of Delbonis’ titles have been earned on the terra baute. The 28-year-old from Argentina was a semifinalist just last week in Geneva. Fabio holds a 4-2 edge in their head-to-head, with almost all matches played on clay. But only one of those matches was decided in straight sets: their most recent meeting last year in Bastad, which went to Fognini. This could easily develop into another prolonged battle, with the unpredictable Italian being the favorite based on recent results. And also consider Delbonis’s 7-20 record at Grand Slam events.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

  • Serena Williams (10), who recovered quickly after dropping the first set in her opening round, vs. Kurumi Nara (Q), the 238th-ranked player in the world.
  • 2018 Champion Simona Halep (3) vs. Magda Linette, a 27-year-old from Poland.
  • 15-Time Major champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Henri Laaksonen (LL), a 27-year-old from Finland.
  • Last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem (4), who needed four sets to defeat an American wild card on Monday, vs. Alexander Bublik, a 21-year-old who has spent most of the past year on the challenger circuit after suffering a broken ankle last year.
  • Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Elias Ymer, another young champion from the challenger tour. What will Zverev have left after playing nearly 12 hours of tennis over the past seven days?

Order of play

Court Philippe-Chatrier – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles Second Round
D.THIEM [4] vs A.BUBLIK

Women’s Singles Second Round
S.WILLIAMS[10] vs K.NARA

Women’s Singles Second Round
C.GARCIA[24] vs A.BLINKOVA

Men’s Singles Second Round
M.KLIZAN vs L.POUILLE [22]

Court Suzanne-Lenglen 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles Second Round
N.OSAKA [1] vs V.AZARENKA

Men’s Singles Second Round
N.DJOKOVIC [1] vs H.LAAKSONEN

Men’s Singles Second Round
A.MANNARINO vs G.MONFILS [14]

Women’s Singles Second Round
S.HALEP [3] vs M.LINETTE

Court Simonne-Mathieu – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles Second Round
E.ALEXANDROVA vs S.STOSUR

Men’s Singles Second Round
M.YMER vs A.ZVEREV [5]

Men’s Singles Second Round
Y.NISHIOKA vs JM.DEL POTRO [8]

Women’s Singles Second Round
P.HON vs M.KEYS [14]

Court 1 – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles Second Round
A.SABALENKA [11] vs A.ANISIMOVA

Women’s Singles Second Round
D.COLLINS vs A.BARTY [8]

Men’s Singles Second Round
F.VERDASCO [23] vs A.HOANG

Men’s Singles Second Round
F.FOGNINI [9] vs F.DELBONIS

Court 7 – 10:00
Women’s Singles Second Round
K.SINIAKOVA vs M.SAKKARI [29]

Men’s Singles Second Round
D.LAJOVIC [30] vs E.BENCHETRIT

Men’s Singles Second Round
L.HARRIS vs B.CORIC [13]

Court 6 – 10:00 BST
Men’s Singles Second Round
P.CUEVAS vs K.EDMUND [28]

Women’s Singles Second Round
S.KENIN vs B.ANDREESCU [22]

Women’s Singles Second Round
D.KASATKINA [21] vs M.PUIG

Men’s Singles Second Round
T.FRITZ vs R.BAUTISTA AGUT [18]

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Kiki Bertens Believes In Stability And Trust Ahead Of 2020 Season

Kiki Bertens looks for stability in hope of grand slam success in 2020.

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Kiki Bertens (@rogerscup - Twitter)

Kiki Bertens believes stability and trust is the key to success ahead of the 2020 season despite a time of change for the Dutchwoman. 

 

A time of change is approaching for Kiki Bertens as she recently just got married to her physical trainer Remko De Rijke.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5iU5w9hTgf/

It’s not only off the court, change is approaching for the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist as her and coach Raemon Sluiter parted ways during the off-season.

After the split it would have been easy for Bertens to make a radical change to her coaching team but that is not her style as she has promoted Elise Tamaela to a main coaching role.

Even through a time of change, Bertens believes stability is crucial to success, “It takes me a while to be able to trust someone,” she admitted to Dutch website De Telegraaf. 

“And I don’t want to spend that time on something like that. We’re going to continue in the same way for next year. The results were not as expected in the Grand Slams but I had other good weeks. It’s really not that I felt different playing in the Slams than in other weeks in which I could win titles.”

Although the formula to winning a grand slam has yet to be solved, the world number nine has achieved great consistency having won 55 matches in 2019, which also included the biggest title of her career in Madrid.

A new era await for Bertens with her new coach and plenty of praise was given to Elise Tamaela ahead of the new season, “For me the most important thing is that that person knows a lot about tennis. I have to be able to fully trust her,” Bertens said.

“To be able to laugh with that person, eat with her. I prefer to keep the equipment to the minimum possible and be able to feel comfortable in terms of confidence. Sometimes more people in the team only bring more opinions. And that style is not mine.”

This simplistic formula has worked for Bertens in the past and as the 2020 season approaches, she’s not looking to change it.

However will inexperience lead to the same results at grand slams, with the level of the Women’s game rising, Bertens may find that breaking the boundaries of stability is needed.

The former world number four will start her march towards more glory in Brisbane on the 6th of January.

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Caroline Wozniacki Announces Retirement After Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open in January.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open as a new chapter in her life approaches. 

 

The Dane won 30 WTA singles titles in her career and spent 71 weeks as world number one although a grand slam had haunted her for most of her career.

However that changed in 2018 after an epic win over Simona Halep sealed a dream come true as she won her first grand slam at the Australian Open.

Since winning her maiden slam though, it has been an uphill struggle on the court for Wozniacki as she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Some days the former world number one and on some days, it is a constant battle for her to even wake up in the morning.

Now with other priorities taking over having been married to former NBA player David Lee since June and already studying Business at Harvard, Wozniacki today took the decision to retire from tennis after the Australian Open.

https://twitter.com/MPTenisPodcast/status/1202972268831367168

In a statement on Instagram, Woznaicki told her followers that she had accomplished everything she wanted to and looks forward to the future, “I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court,” she said.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done. In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.

“Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward.

“This has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you!

“Finally, I want to thank with all my heart, the fans, my friends, my sponsors, my team, especially my father as my coach, my husband, and my family for decades of support! Without all of you I could have never have done this!”

Although this retirement may have been coming, not many people would have predicted it would come at the scene of her grand slam breakthrough.

Now in the last stretch of her career, the Dane will want to finish on a high as she looks to celebrate a career that has lasted nearly 15 years.

 

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Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Venus Williams are the stand-out names in Adelaide

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Four top 10 players Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens and former Grand Slam champions Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber will grab the headlines at the Adelaide International from 12 to 18 January 2020.

 

A total of seven Grand Slam champions and five former world number one players will take part in the Adelaide WTA tourament.

This year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty leads a star-studded line-up, which includes 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Kiki Bertens and seven other members of the top 20.

The Main Draw also features Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins, World Number 30 Quang Wang. World Number 12 and this Rome WTA Premier finalist Johanna Konta will play her first tournament since the US Open following a knee injury.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams has been announced as the Top 20 wildcard.

“It is always exciting to play at a new tournament in front of new fans. I have had so many memorable times times in Australia over the years and I am looking forward to discovering Adelaide and all it has to offer”, said Venus Williams.

The men’s line-up includes 2019 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, Alex De Minaur, Lucas Pouille and Andrey Rublev.

“The full list of players is a real who’s who of tennis, from Australia’s favourite Ashleigh Barty to the iconic Venus Williams, right through to the young talent of Alex De Minaur and the experienced campaigner Novak Djokovic in the men’s field”, said South Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway.

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