French Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

French Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

With the third round upon us, seeded players will begin to collide in the singles draws.



Rafael Nadal (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

On Friday in Paris, Rafael Nadal will face his first opponent ranked inside the top 100, a man who defeated him just 18 months ago, though under very different circumstances. Roger Federer will face the son of a man who was on tour when Roger first played at Roland Garros 20 years ago. And speaking of one-handed backhands, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov will square off, with the winner possibly facing yet another one-handed backhand in the next round, in Stefanos Tsitsipas.


On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka will seek a more comfortable win than her previous two matches, where she fought back from a set and a break down on each occasion. World No.2 Karolina Pliskova is the only other woman remaining who can leave this tournament atop the rankings, but she’ll face a stern test in a seeded player who owns a winning record against her. And 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza may be rounding back into form, though she’ll surely be challenged by top 10 player Elina Svitolina.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. David Goffin (27)

Goffin defeated a less-than-100% Nadal on an indoor hard court at the 2017 ATP Finals. But trying to become the third person in 89 tries to defeat Rafa at Roland Garros remains the sport’s biggest challenge. Nadal has taken all three of their other previous meetings in straight sets. And Goffin arrived in Paris with a losing record on the year, as he continues to struggle with confidence after battling a few injuries last season. This should be another straight set win for Nadal, in a section of the draw that is setting up beautifully for the 11-time champion.

Elina Svitolina (9) vs. Garbine Muguruza (19)

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Since winning her second Major at Wimbledon nearly two years ago, Muguruza has won just two titles. But as we’ve been before, Garbine can quickly round into form as a fortnight progresses, and is extremely formidable when she gains confidence. And Roland Garros has easily been her best Slam event, where she owns a 26-5 career record. Muguruza has made the second week of this tournament in each of the last five years, an extremely notable accomplishment for a player who normally lacks consistency. Contrarily, consistency is something Svitolina does possess, as well as 13 career titles outside of the Majors. However, at the Majors, while she’s reached four quarterfinals, she’s yet to advance farther. Svitolina arrived in Paris on a three-match losing streak, as she’s been struggling with a knee injury. I’m sure she didn’t mind getting a walkover in the last round, following a solid first round win over Venus Williams. Svitolina is 5-3 against Muguruza, having taken five of their last six matches. But it feels like Muguruza could be revving up again for another run at a Major, so I give her the slight edge over Svitolina, who has only played three matches since March.

Stan Wawrinka (24) vs. Grigor Dimitrov

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Will Dimitrov have anything left after surviving two five-setters this week? He’s already been on court for seven-and-a-half hours, which is a lot for a player who has not done much winning of late. Wawrinka advanced much more easily to this stage, most impressively dropping only five games to up-and-coming clay court specialist Cristian Garin on Wednesday. While they’re 4-4 lifetime against each other, Stan is the man who ousted Dimitrov in the opening rounds of both Wimbledon and the US Open last year. This would be Wawrinka’s first round of 16 at a Major since his knee injury two years ago, and he’ll likely get past a tired Grigor who has never advanced that far at this tournament.

Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Petra Martic (31)

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Martic actually owns a 3-1 record over the world No.2, so this is a dangerous matchup for the Rome champion despite her current seven-match win streak. Pliskova did get the best of Martic earlier this year in Miami, where she won in straights. In a section of the draw that’s light on top names, Pliskova has a good shot at returning to the semis. She was a semifinalist here two years ago, and possesses the fire power to control her destiny in this match. I like her chances considering her form and more positive attitude since joining forces with Conchita Martinez.

Anastasija Sevastova (12) vs. Elise Mertens (20)

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Here we get a rare meeting between two top 20 players in the first week of a Major, especially on the women’s side where seeds have often fallen quickly in recent years. But these are two of the WTA’s steadiest players of late. Both are also Major semifinalists: Mertens at last year’s Australian Open, and Sevastova at last year’s US Open. Anastasija is certainly the more emotional player, who can get down on herself extremely quickly in a match. But she can also drive her opponents crazy with the variety in her game. Their only previous meeting was on grass two years ago, which Anastasija won in three sets. But I’m giving the slight edge to Mertens, the player with stronger results at the French Open, as well as three clay court titles over the past few seasons. Sevastova has never gone farther than this round in Paris despite having played here many more years than Mertens. Elise reached the round of 16 last year in just her second appearance.

Other notable matches on Day 6:

  • Roger Federer (3) vs. Casper Rudd, a 20-year-old from Norway. Neither man has dropped a set this week.
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Filip Krajinovic. The 27-year-old Serbian was a surprise finalist at the Paris Indoors 18 months ago. Including challenger events, he owns 16 clay court wins over the past two months.
  • Kei Nishikori (7) vs. Laslo Djere (31). This 23-year-old Serbian won a clay court title earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro, and also reached two other clay semifinals since February.
  • Sloane Stephens (7) vs. Polona Hercog. Sloane is 3-0 against the 25-year-old Slovenian, and just defeated her a few weeks ago in Madrid.
  • Belinda Benic (15) vs. Donna Vekic (23). This should be an interesting encounter between two rising stars in their early-20’s who could meet for years to come on the WTA tour.

Order of play

Court Philippe-Chatrier (10am BST)

Petra Martic (CRO) [31] vs [2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE)

Martin Klizan (SLO) vs [22] Lucas Pouille (FRA) – TO FINISH

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) [19] vs [9] Elina Svitolina (UKR)

David Goffin (BEL) [27] vs [2] Rafael Nadal (SPA)

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [6] vs Filip Krajinovic (SRB)

Court Suzanne-Lenglen (10am BST)

Elise Mertens (BEL) [20] vs [12] Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)

Casper Ruud (NOR) vs [3] Roger Federer (SWI)

Sloane Stephens (USA) [7] vs Polona Hercog (SVN)

Stan Wawrinka (SWI) [24] vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)

Court Simonne-Mathieu (10am BST)

Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) vs [28] Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)

Pablo Carreno Busta (SPA) vs Benoit Paire (FRA)

Nicola Mahut (FRA) vs Leonardo Mayer (ARG)

Johanna Konta (GBR) [26] vs Viktoria Kuzmova (SLO)

Court 1 (10am BST)

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [7] vs [31] Laslo Djere (SRB)

Belinda Bencic (SWI) [15] vs [23] Donna Vekic (CRO)

Court 7

Priscilla Hon (AUS) vs [14] Madison Keys (USA) – TO FINISH

Court 12

Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) vs [27] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) – TO FINISH

Court 14

Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) vs Kaia Kanepi (EST)

Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) vs Corentin Moutet (FRA)

Grand Slam

Na-Lae Han, Tatsuma Ito Clinch Australian Open Wildcards

With just over a month to go, wildcards for the first grand slam of 2020 have already been decided.



Han Na-Lae (image via

South Korean player Na-Lae Han is set to make her grand slam debut at the Australian Open next month after winning the Asia-Pacific playoff tournament in Zhuhai, China.


The 27-year-old, who was the top seed in the tournament, downed Ayano Shimizu 6-2 6-2 in the final to secure her spot in Melbourne. Han is currently ranked 182nd in the world and has won a trio of ITF $25,000 titles this season. She is currently the only player from her country to be ranked inside the top 300 on the WTA Tour.

“It’s the first time I played Ayano. I am really happy to win the championship and to capture the wildcard,” Han told Tennis Australia.

Han was hoping for double success after also taking part in the doubles draw alongside compatriot Choi Ji-hee. However, the duo lost in the semi-finals. Han won her first and so far only WTA title at the 2018 Korean Open in the doubles with Choi. The wildcard was secured by the Chinese Taipei pairing of Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu.

In the men’s tournament Japan’s Tatsuma Ito upset top seed Jason Jung 7-5, 6-4, to seal his place. 31-year-old Ito has been ranked as high as 60th in the world and will be playing in the main draw of the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career. However, he last won a match in the tournament back in 2013. This year he reached the main draw after coming through qualifying, but lost in the first round to Dan Evans.

“I really enjoyed this moment” said Ito after his win. “I moved through into the main draw after qualifying this year. It was very tough for me and my body. It will easier next year (smiling).”

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song won the men’s doubles title. Meanwhile, China had a clean sweep in the junior competitions with Xiaofei Wang and Fangran Tian winning their events.

This year’s playoffs have been branded as a success by tournament director Isabelle Gemmel. It is the eighth consecutive year the tournament has taken place, which aim to promote top-level tennis in the region.

“Na-Lae Han was undefeated all week and Tatsuma Ito overcame a couple of tough matches to win the all-important main draw wildcard.” Said Gemmel.
“With two new countries, Korea and Japan, winning for the first time in singles, it underlines how the Asia-Pacific wildcard playoff has established itself as a key tournament in its own right and how valued it is in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The 2020 Australian Open will get underway on January 20th.

List of winners

MEN’S SINGLES: Tatsuma Ito (JPN)


MEN’S DOUBLES: Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song (KOR)

WOMEN’S DOUBLES: Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu (TPE)

BOYS’ SINGLES: Xiaofei Wang (CHN)

GIRLS’ SINGLES: Fangran Tian (CHN)


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Grand Slam

Margaret Court’s Tennis To Be Celebrated At Australian Open But Not Her Politics

Margaret Court will be invited to the Australian Open this year despite her political views.



Margaret Court(@shopworldoffers - Twitter)

Tennis Australia will be celebrating Margaret Court’s tennis at the Australian Open in January but not her politics. 


Margaret Court has won 24 grand slam singles titles, the most of any female player in history as of now, and has been invited to celebrate 50 years since winning one of 11 Australian Open titles.

That year, she would also win all four grand slam titles, marking a historic year for Court in the context of her tennis career.

But for many Australians and people around the world that is not the way she is being remembered lately as it’s her politics that are taking over.

Just before the Gay Marriage Referendum vote in 2018, Margaret Court expressed her rather hateful views towards the LGBTQ community, calling transgender children the work of “the devil.”

Furthermore she claimed that tennis was full of lesbians, “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties,” Court told Vision Christian Radio in 2017.

Those views have been criticised by many with the likes of Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova wanting her name stripped from the second biggest court at the Australian Open.

Now, a couple of years later after much debate, Court will be invited to the Australian Open for her incredible achievement 50 years ago as Tennis Australia announced today.

The Australian was thrilled to hear the truce given by Tennis Australia, “This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone. It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia,” Court said in Tennis Australia’s press release.

During the event a special documentary of Court reflecting back on that achievement will be released as well as this there will be in-stadium entertainment celebrating the event as well as a legends lunch.

But once again Tennis Australia once again distanced themselves from Court’s political views as they stated in their press release, “As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” Tennis Australia said.

“They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion. Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.

“#Open4All encompasses events such as the Glam Slam, an international LGBTQI tournament that has been held at the Australian Open for the past few years, and will be back for AO 2020.

“We have also hosted events for the National Inclusion Conference and have ongoing working relationships with the Pride in Sport Index and Stand Up Events. A full program of #Open4All events at Australian Open 2020 will be released in the coming weeks.

“The Australian Open is for everyone, and we look forward to welcoming the world to Melbourne in January 2020.”

Although, Court will continue to cause controversy especially considering Tennis Australia’s ‘tale of two halves’ press release.

The Australian will hope that it will be her tennis that will be remembered in January, but it won’t be a smooth ride on the road to being appreciated.


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Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Face Calls To Honour Margaret Court In 2020 Amid Potential Backlash

The 77-year-old is regarded as one of her country’s greatest-ever tennis players, but has been criticised for a series of homophobic comments she has made.



Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court has said she wants to be treated the same as fellow former great Rod Laver concerning the upcoming anniversary of one of the biggest milestones she has ever achieved in her career.


2020 will mark 50 years since Court won all four grand slam titles within the same season. An elusive achievement in the world of tennis. Only three women in total have managed to complete a calendar grand slam – Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the others. Court also still holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles ever won by a tennis player at 24. One ahead of Serena Williams.

Court said she has received no contact from Tennis Australia regarding any plans to mark her milestone. Laver, who is the only man to ever complete the calendar grand slam twice, was honoured this year for his accomplishment. It is the 50th anniversary of when he claimed the four major trophies back in 1969.

“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary),” Court told Nine News Australia.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.”

Any move to honour Court at the Australian Open in January is likely to split opinion. The 77-year-old has been criticised for a series of homophobic remarks she has made for many years. In 1990 she once said that Martina Navratilova was a bad role model for children because she is gay. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, she said in another interview in 2017 that tennis was ‘full of lesbians’ and those who identify as transgender were ‘the work of the devil.’ In another incident, Court wrote a comment to an Australian newspaper is which she said took a swipe at former player Casey Dellacqua after she announced the birth of her child. Dellacqua is in a same-sex relationship.

There have been calls for Court’s name to be removed from one of the premier stadiums at the Australian Open in light of hew views. Billie Jean King, who is one of the founding members of the WTA, has previously called for the arena to be renamed.

“I don’t feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career,” Court told The Sydney Morning Herald about calls for her name being removed. “It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong.
“Many gay people think my name shouldn’t come off it. There are many gay people who don’t believe in gay marriage. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman and they will say that. Then you get the radicals coming at me, you have got these minority groups in every area now having a say and taking on nations and taking on big companies.”

Whilst her comments have triggered controversy, Court has insisted that she has nothing against gay people. Claiming she has members of the LGBT community attend her church. Following retirement from tennis, Court became a Christian pastor.

“I have gay people in the church. It is nothing against the people themselves, I just said what the Bible said. If I can’t say what the Bible says, there is something wrong.”

The ball is now very much in the court of Tennis Australia, who oversees the running of the Melbourne major. Although coming to a decision will not be easy. In June they were named as one of the best sporting organisations for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the annual Pride Sport Awards in Melbourne.

“As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.” A statement from Tennis Australia reads.

During her career Court won 140 titles in the Open Era (1968 onwards). 92 of those were in singles and 48 were in doubles. At the 1963 Australian Open and 1970 US Open she won all three titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

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