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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Jack Draper Points To Mental Fatigue As Reason For Queen’s Club Exit

Jack Draper is aiming for a big Wimbledon result despite recent mental fatigue.

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Jack Draper has revealed mental fatigue has caught up to him after his Queen’s Club exit against Tommy Paul.

The Brit was a bit flat-footed as he lost 6-3 5-7 6-4 to the American in his quarter-final match.

It was a tiring performance in what has been an action-packed last week for Draper having won his first ATP title in Stuttgart which was followed by a career-best win against Carlos Alcaraz at Queen’s Club.

However, Draper revealed after the match that the recent success has had a price in the form of mental fatigue, “It was tough to play the tennis I wanted to play, but we have to deal with that. It’s part of the game. I felt like I was having to really get myself going. Maybe because the last couple of weeks are catching up with me a little bit,” Draper was quoted by The Independent as saying.

“Physically, I felt good, my body has been great. It just becomes mentally quite taxing having to go day after day. I finished Stuttgart on Sunday, I got here very, very late on Sunday. I was training and then went in again on Tuesday. Then the match yesterday, it felt like there was quite a lot of emotional energy invested in that.

“I’m definitely having to pick myself up, I felt quite flat at times, and I think that showed in my decision-making at times in the match. I played a few more sloppy shots than I wanted to. But if I want to be one of the best players in the world, then I have to keep backing up my performances and get used to going deep every week. That’s what I want to do and what was disappointing about this one.”

It was still a positive tournament for Draper who will now enter the world’s top 30 in the rankings next week.

Now Draper will head into Wimbledon as a seeded player and the last few weeks have been a stern reminder as to the work it takes to succeed at the highest level, “If you want to be a top, top player in the world, you have to back up results week by week, day by day. You know you are in a great place and are one of the best in the world when you are able to do that,” Draper explained.

“Every day we are facing amazing tennis players who can beat you. If you are not quite on your game, for instance today, you lose the match. That is the next stage for me now. I want to try to go deep in tournaments and back it up every week.

“My body is in a good place, these are just things I have to get used to at the highest level and learn. I’m still young so I’m trying to piece a lot of things together. It was my first title last week, I’ve done it at Challengers and Futures, but it’s very different on the main tour so I probably need a bit more time.”

Draper will look for his best ever Wimbledon result when he competes in the third Grand Slam of the season, which starts on the 1st of July.

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Karolina Muchova Ready For Tennis Return, Aiming For Olympic Debut

Karolina Muchova is looking forward to the Olympics as she prepares to make her return to tennis in Eastbourne.

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Karolina Muchova is ready for her long awaited return to tennis with Wimbledon and the Olympics being her main goals.

The Czech Republican has not played since reaching the semi-finals at the US Open last year with the result in New York capping off a brilliant 2023 for Muchova.

Before that run at the US Open, Muchova also reached the final at Roland Garros and Cincinnati.

However, since then Muchova has struggled with a wrist injury as she detailed in a recent interview with Czech Republican TV, “The operation fixed a loose tendon in the right wrist,” Muchova was quoted by the WTA website as saying.

“After the operation, I had my arm in a solid splint for six weeks, then two or three weeks in a wrist brace, and then I slowly started with rehabilitation and training. My wrist was very stiff. At the start, I wasn’t even able to hold a fork, so I was asking myself how it would be possible to play a forehand or hold a racquet.

“I didn’t have that much free time because the rehabilitation process takes up much more time than you think, compared to when I train and travel to tournaments.

“Apart from the first few weeks when my arm was in a splint, I didn’t have much spare time. I went abroad from the Czech Republic one weekend, and to my family in Moravia, but otherwise it was work, morning to evening.”

A long process for Muchova to overcome as she will hope the injuries behind her and she can focus on being a threat at the top of the women’s game again.

Next up for the Czech Republican is Eastbourne in her comeback tournament as she will face a qualifier in round one.

That will be followed by playing Wimbledon as well as her first Olympic games at Roland Garros.

In particular, the Olympics is something that excites her as she has always wanted to play on the biggest stage, “At the end of this week, I’ll fly to Eastbourne with the team, where we’ll finally try to play some matches in preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Muchova explained.

“After Wimbledon I’ll return back to the clay, maybe play a tournament, or straight to the Olympics. I’m really excited for the Olympics. I’ve never been to one, and it’s around the corner in Paris, so I can’t be more excited.

“Representing my country is definitely a huge honor. I’ve signed up to play doubles with Maky [Voundrousova], and I hope it goes well for us.”

Wimbledon starts on the first of July while the Olympics will take place on the 27th of July.

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Andy Murray Faces Race Against Time For Wimbledon After Back Procedure

Andy Murray faces a race against time to be fit for Wimbledon.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to be fit for Wimbledon as he undergoes a back procedure on Saturday.

The procedure comes after seeing a specialist on Thursday after suffering an injury against Jordan Thompson at Queen’s Club.

It was in the warm-up, Murray suffered the injury before the five-time champion eventually retired after five games.

A bitter blow for Murray, who has given strong hints that this may be his last Wimbledon and may also retire after the summer.

There is also the Olympics for Murray as it would be a fitting end to his career given he has won two gold medals in his career.

However, this year’s Olympics is at Roland Garros and that may mean that Murray would be less eager to play in Paris.

As for Wimbledon, Murray has won the event on two different occasions and his potential appearance at SW19 will be the 16th time he takes to court at Wimbledon.

The third Grand Slam of the season takes place on the 1st of July.

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