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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Jamie Murray Wants More Funding For Scottish Tennis Ahead Of Challenger Event

Jamie Murray wants more funding for Scottish Tennis after admitting disappointing response from the LTA.

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Jamie Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Jamie Murray has spoken out on his frustration at the LTA for not giving Scottish enough funding ahead of the Glasgow Challenger event. 

 

The seven-time grand slam champion is getting ready for the Murray Trophy in Glasgow which begins this week where he will be competing.

However one of the concerns right now is the lack of funding it is receiving despite the success of the Murray brothers, who have won a combined ten grand slams between them.

Ahead of the event in Glasgow, the doubles specialist think more can be done to capitalise on their success, “I think so. Certainly from what we’ve achieved over the last however many years, going back to our junior days of playing,” Murray said to STV News.

“If you think about the Scottish players that have represented us in Davis Cup and won ties, I would say they do (deserve more funding), We’re a country after all, not a county.

“Things could have been better over the last ten years to make the most of what Andy has been achieving. Up here Tennis Scotland are doing their best to take things forward. We haven’t always had the best deal from the money that the LTA gets to hand out to Tennis Scotland.”

It’s certainly an issue that has been raging on for the last few years that both Andy and Jamie Murray have been very passionate about.

But only time will tell whether the Lawn Tennis Association listen to the concerns of the two men have been responsible for Great Britain’s recent tennis success.

As for Murray he will be partnering John-Patrick Smith in the event, which is taking place this week and is looking to continue his momentum after winning the US Open mixed doubles title.

Now for the Brit, his main goal is to win Wimbledon as he looks to achieve more doubles success, “It’s been exciting for me in the last few years to go to these level of tournaments and feel you’ve got a genuine chance to win,” Murray admitted.

“For me, Wimbledon would be the biggest goal until the end of my career, to win the men’s doubles. It didn’t work out for me this year but next year. There’s always next year.”

 

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Karolina Pliskova lifts her fourth title of the season in Zhengzhou

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Number 1 seed Karolina Pliskova cruised past number 7 seed Petra Martic 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and 36 minutes in the final of the Zhengzhou Open, an inaugural WTA Premier tournament. The final was postponed by six hours after torrential rain.

 

Pliskova came back from 0-2 in the first set by winning 12 of the next 15 games to win her fourth title this season after Brisbane, Rome and Eastbourne. The Czech player is the fifth top seed to win a tournament this season after Aryna Sabalenka in Shenzhen, Alison Van Uytvanck in Budapest, Caroline Garcia in Nottingham and Anastasjia Sevastova in Jurmala.

Pliskova took a re-match against Martic, who beat the Czech player in four of their previous five head-to-head matches and won their third round clash at Roland Garros.

Pliskova saved two of her three break points and converted four of her eight break points.

Martic earned an early break with a forehand return winner to open up a 2-0 lead in the first set. As the match resumed after a rain delay Martic did not convert a double break point. Pliskova broke back in the fourth game with a forehand winner to draw level to 2-2.

Pliskova saved a break point chance in the seventh game with a forehand down the line. The Czech player broke serve in the eighth game, when Martic made a forehand error and sealed the first set 6-3 with a service winner.

Pliskova dropped only six points on her first serve in the second set and broke serve in the third game when Martic sent a backhand slice wide. The former world number 1 player held her serve with an ace before breaking for the second time in the fifth game. She hit four winners to seal the win, as she was serving for the match at 5-2.

“I think I played good matches. Of course, not all the matches were perfect, the week never can be really perfect because it’s so many days and so many things can be just different every day. I beat tough players, which I maybe lost to a couple of times before. I think that was the biggest plus of this week, especially with Petra. These wins are always important. It doesn’t matter where you play, which tournament you play, but it’s always important. To get the trophy is always special. It does not matter really which tournament or how big the tournament is, it’s always good”, said Pliskova.  

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Nao Hibino beats Misaki Doi in all-Japanese final in Hiroshima

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World Number 146 Nao Hibino beat Misaki Doi 6-3 6-2 in the all-Japanese final of Haa-Cupid Japan Open in Hiroshima.

 

Doi broke serve at 15 in the second game with a deep return, but she dropped her serve at love in the third game. Dou earned another break with a forehand to open up a 3-1 lead. Hibino pulled the break back in the fifth game, when Doi sent her backhand long.

Hibino reeled off nine consecutive games from 1-3 down to build up a 6-3 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games of the first set and two more breaks in the first and third games of the second set. Doi dropped her serve in six consecutive service games and hit 8 winners to 14 unforced errors. Doi pulled back one break in the fifth game. Hibino broke for the third time at deuce to win the second set 6-2.

Hibino claimed both the singles and the doubles titles at the same tournament for the first time in her career. She teamed up with Doi to clinch the doubles title with a 6-3 4-6 10-4 win over Christina McHale and Valeria Savinykh.

“I was so nervous today, so much more than the semifinals, but because I experienced being nervous in the semifinals, I knew what to expect. I was able to stay positive during the match today”, said Hibino.

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