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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Dominic Thiem rallies from one set down against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final at Thiem’s 7 in Kitzbuhel

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Dominic Thiem came back from losing the first set to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 en route to reaching the final at the Thiem’s 7 tournament. Thiem earned two breaks in the third and fifth games to race out to a 4-1 lead. Bautista Agut got both breaks back in the sixth and eighth games to draw level to 4-4 forcing the match to the tie-break. The Spanish player won the tie-break 7-5 to take the opening set.

 

Thiem slowly found his rhythm again in the second set and earned two break points in the fourth game but he was not able to convert them. The home star dropped only two points on his serve until the end of the second set and converted two of the three break points to clinch the second set 6-2.

Thiem earned a break in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead and held on his next service games. The tournament organizer sealed the third set 6-2 with his double break with a blistering return on the match point in the eighth game securing his spot in the final. Thiem will face either Andrey Rublev or Matteo Berrettini in the final.

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Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo

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The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.

 

The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.

“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.

The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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