French Open Day Two: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day Two: Five Must-See Matches

A trio of past French Open winners will start their campaigns on Monday, but they could be in for a stern test early on.

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Rafael Nadal (photo by @Gianni Ciaccia)

On the opening day of the French Open, the biggest shock was the exit of two-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber. Today will the focus will be on the stars of the sport with 11-time winner Rafael Nadal, top seed Novak Djokovic and the formidable Serena Williams all taking to the court.

 

Here are the matches to follow at the French Open on Monday.

Rafael Nadal Vs Yannick Hanfmann

In the history of the French Open, only two men have ever defeated Nadal. Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. The king of clay has endured a rocky past few months on the tour, but has still managed to reach the semi-finals of three consecutive clay-court tournaments, before winning the Italian Open. Earning his first title of the season.

Nadal first challenger this year will be Yannick Hanfmann, who achieved a ranking high of 99th in 2018. The German came through the qualifying rounds without dropping a set and won two challenger titles last year. Hanfmann turned professional only four years ago and has had a hearing impairment since birth. Meaning he can only hear 60% of what an average person does.

The clash should be one-way territory for Nadal, who has never lost before the third round at Roland Garros. Hanfmann has the ability to test the Spaniard on the clay, but it will take an epic effort for him to do so over three sets. Providing Nadal if fit and healthy, he should progress to the next round with relative ease.

Johanna Konta Vs Antonia Lottner

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Could this be the year Johanna Konta wins a match in Paris? After four consecutive first round losses in the tournament, the British No.1 is quietly confident of ending that streak. 2019 has been Konta’s best season on the clay by a massive margin. Reaching the finals at both Marrakech and Rome. She has already achieved 10 wins on the clay this season, compared to only three victories during 2018.

Qualifier Antonia Lottner will be hoping to spoil Konta’s bid. The 22-year-old hasn’t won a singles title since 2016 (which was on the ITF Tour) and has never won a main draw match at a grand slam. However, Lottner did stun Belinda Bencic earlier this year and has a winning 3-1 record against top 20 players.

Konta is expected to prevail in her opening match, but potentially the biggest threat she could face is herself. In the past, she has admitted that she doesn’t like playing matches at the favourite. Will her mental game cause problems against Lottner?

Novak Djokovic Vs Hubert Hurkacz

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Novak Djokovic will be bidding to win his 22nd consecutive match in a grand slam tournament. The world No.1 is on the verge of becoming the first man in the Open Era to hold all four major titles at once for the second time in his career. Heading into the tournament, the Serbian has enjoyed a solid clay performance. Winning his first title on the surface since 2017 in Madrid, followed by reaching the final in Rome.

Djokovic has a far from easy first round opponent in the form of world No.44 Hubert Hurkacz. The 22-year-old Polish player has climbed the world rankings by almost 150 places within the past year. So far this season he has won just two matches in five clay-court tournaments played prior to this week. However, Hurkacz has also defeated three top 10 players already this year with all of those wins occurring on a hardcourt.

The top seed is expected to come through the match, but could face some stiff resistance from across the court. If Hurkacz finds his A game, the encounter may be closer than expected. Djokovic hasn’t lost his opening match at a grand slam since the 2006 Australian Open.

Petra Kvitova Vs Sorana Cirstea

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Petra Kvitova is one of four women in contention of ending the tournament as world No.1. It was at Roland Garros in 2017 where she started her comeback to the tour following a knife attack. Since then, the Czech has won more WTA titles than any other player within that period. Including this year’s Stuttgart Open, which was played on indoor clay. Kvitova has already won 28 matches this season, which is the joint-highest on the WTA Tour.

Cirstea is more than familiar with Kvitova’s game after playing her on seven previous occasions. The Romanian enters the draw with a confidence boost after reaching the semi-finals in Nuremberg last week. Her best performance on the WTA Tour since 2017. Cirstea has been ranked as high as 21st in the world, back hasn’t won a WTA trophy since 2008.

It would be a huge shock if title contender Kvitova falls at the first hurdle. The Czech should be able to easily progress beyond the first round and thwart the threat her rival poses. She will be the first left-handed player Cirstea has played this year.

UPDATE: KVITOVA HAS WITHDRAWN DUE TO INJURY

Serena Williams Vs Vitalia Diatchenko

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There is huge confusion surrounding the current health of Serena Williams. She withdrew from Rome with a knee injury, but looked in good shape whilst training in Paris last week. To add to the confusion, the former world No.1 was has been spotted in a wheelchair whilst at Disneyland. Overall, she has played only one competitive match on the clay and the French Open is her fifth tournament of the season.

Diatchenko has booked a place in the main draw for the first time since 2016. In recent weeks the Russian has played on the lower-level ITF circuit and won three consecutive tournaments between March and April. Her record in major tournaments is poor. Losing in the first round in seven out of her nine appearances. However, her two victories have occurred at the French Open in 2009 and 2015.

Williams is widely expected to win and is known to peak in time for the grand slams, but there are many unanswered questions. Nevertheless, she is likely to conjure up a way to progress to the second round.

Order of play

Court Philippe-Chatrier – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
C.WOZNIACKI [13] vs V.KUDERMETOVA

Men’s Singles First Round
Y.HANFMANN [Q] vs R.NADAL [2]

Men’s Singles First Round
N.DJOKOVIC [1] vs H.HURKACZ

Women’s Singles First Round
S.WILLIAMS [10] vs V.DIATCHENKO

Court Suzanne-Lenglen – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
P.PARMENTIER vs K.BERTENS [4]

Women’s Singles First Round
S.CIRSTEA vs P.KVITOVA [6]

Men’s Singles First Round
JW.TSONGA vs P.GOJOWCZYK

Men’s Singles First Round
D.THIEM [4] vs T.PAUL [W]

Court Simonne-Mathieu – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
V.KUZMOVA vs A.CORNET

Men’s Singles First Round
M.ZVEREV vs R.GASQUET

Men’s Singles First Round
S.WAWRINKA [24] vs J.KOVALIK

Women’s Singles First Round
B.STRYCOVA vs S.STOSUR

Court 1 -10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
K.KANEPI vs J.GOERGES [18]

Women’s Singles First Round
J.PEGULA vs A.BARTY [8]

Men’s Singles First Round
A.BEDENE vs B.CORIC [13]

Men’s Singles First Round
J.CHARDY vs K.EDMUND [28]

Court 14 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
PH.HERBERT vs D.MEDVEDEV [12]

Women’s Singles First Round
Z.DIYAS vs A.ALBIE [W]

Men’s Singles First Round
B.PAIRE vs M.COPIL

Women’s Singles First Round
M.BOUZKOVA [L] vs B.ANDREESCU [22]

Court 7 – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
J.KONTA [26] vs A.LOTTNER [Q]

Women’s Singles First Round
L.SAMSONOVA [Q] vs D.VEKIC [23]

Men’s Singles First Round
S.STAKHOVSKY [L] vs G.SIMON [26]

Men’s Singles First Round
D.SHAPOVALOV vs [20] JL.STRUFF

Court 6 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
A.VATUTIN vs [Q] C.MOUTET [W]

Women’s Singles First Round
S.ZHANG vs V.LEPCHENKO [Q]

Women’s Singles First Round
E.MERTENS [20] vs T.ZIDANSEK

Men’s Singles First Round
M.JANVIER [W] vs P.CUEVAS

Court 4 – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
L.DAVIS [W] vs Kr.PLISKOVA

Men’s Singles First Round
Y.MADEN [Q] vs K.COPPEJANS [Q]

Men’s Singles First Round
J.MUNAR vs S.CARUSO [Q]

Women’s Singles First Round
G.GATTO-MONTICONE vs [Q] S.KENIN

Court 5 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
P.CARRENO BUSTA vs J.SOUSA

Women’s Singles First Round
A.PAVLYUCHENKOVA vs M.MINELLA

Men’s Singles First Round
H.LAAKSONEN [L] vs P.MARTINEZ [Q]

Women’s Singles First Round
M.BUZARNESCU [30] vs E.ALEXANDROVA

Court 8 – 10:00 BST start
Women’s Singles First Round
D.PARRY [W] vs V.LAPKO

Men’s Singles First Round
R.CARBALLES BAENA vs A.MULLER [Q]

Women’s Singles First Round
Y.PUTINTSEVA vs R.PETERSON

Men’s Singles First Round
R.ALBOT vs T.SANDGREN [Q]

Court 9 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
N.BASILASHVILI [15] vs JI.LONDERO

Men’s Singles First Round
R.OPELKA vs C.GARIN

Women’s Singles First Round
D.COLLINS vs T.MARIA

Women’s Singles First Round
A.RISKE vs A.PETKOVIC

Court 10 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
M.KECMANOVIC vs D.KUDLA

Women’s Singles First Round
A.SHARMA vs S.ROGERS

Men’s Singles First Round
L.HARRIS vs L.ROSOL [L]

Women’s Singles First Round
K.NARA [Q] vs D.JAKUPOVIC

Court 12 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
F.KRAJINOVIC vs F.TIAFOE [32]

Men’s Singles First Round
G.ANDREOZZI vs G.PELLA [19]

Women’s Singles First Round
A.BOLSOVA [Q] vs V.ZVONAREVA

Women’s Singles First Round
SW.HSIEH [25] vs V.GOLUBIC

Court 13 – 10:00 BST start
Men’s Singles First Round
A.DE MINAUR [21] vs B.KLAHN

Women’s Singles First Round
L.KUMKHUM vs A.SEVASTOVA [12]

Women’s Singles First Round
D.YASTREMSKA vs C.SUAREZ NAVARRO [28]

Men’s Singles First Round
R.MOLLEKER [Q] vs A.BUBLIK

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Roger Federer Survives Tsonga Test To Reach Halle Quarter-Finals

Roger Federer reached the quarter-finals in Halle after a tough three set win over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

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Roger Federer (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Roger Federer edged out Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 7-6(5) 4-6 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals in Halle as he searches for a 10th title. 

 

The nine-time champion didn’t have it all his own way against the dangerous Frenchman as he edge to victory to reach the last eight.

A crucial break in the eleventh game sealed the win for Federer as he had his first test on a grass court in 2019 as he bids for a 10th title.

Tomorrow, Federer will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the last eight.

Today would test Federer’s grass-court ability as he was up against a player that had beaten him on grass before and was capable of outpowering him.

There were signs of that early on in the match as Tsonga used his first serve to dominate play and cause trouble for the nine-time champion.

It wasn’t only on serve that the Frenchman looked comfortable as he even created two break points on the Federer serve early on.

However some short and sharp points for the 37 year-old sealed a crucial hold of serve as he looked to build on his first round win over Millman.

After saving set point with a big serve down the middle, Tsonga felt confident in his game as a first set tiebreak loomed between the pair.

Despite leading by the early mini-break, Tsonga had become too predictable with his serving patterns and Federer used his experience to take advantage.

A mini-break of his own and another big serve sealed the deal for Federer as he took the tiebreak 7-5 in 50 minutes.

The consensus was that the opening set was crucial in Tsonga’s chances of getting a much-needed win and that’s what it turned out to be as he had lost the momentum.

Another serve out wide became too regular for Federer on return as he smashed home a forehand winner for the break in the first game.

However it was too late to rule out Tsonga just yet, remember he did overturn a two set deficit against Federer eight years ago at Wimbledon.

These memories are still in Tsonga’s memory today and after pressurising Federer, he finally earned his reward as the Swiss couldn’t handle a powerful forehand as he conceded the break advantage.

There was a new-found aggression about Tsonga towards the end of the second set as the momentum was now with him.

Some stunning forehands had Federer on the ropes and a break in the last game secured the set as this match would be heading to a deciding set.

The momentum was firmly with the Frenchman as he created a few break points to put the nine-time champion under pressure.

For Federer now, he had to raise his level as Tsonga was now dominating the majority of the rallies with his powerful forehand.

Despite the opportunities though, the world number 77 couldn’t convert and would eventually be punished as the top seed pounced in the big moment.

Some smart returning saw a break in 11th game and a hold to 30 sealed the win as he reaches the quarter-finals in what was a big test.

Next up for Federer in his bid to win a 10th title is Roberto Bautista Agut tomorrow.

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On-Court Coaching: A Terrible Idea Or The Next Logical Step In Men’s Tennis?

Whilst the WTA Tour has relished the on-court coaching rule for the past 11 years, opinion among the men’s tennis elite reflect a completely different scenario.

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Nick Kyrgios of Australia is pictured in action during day four of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 19, 2019. (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON: Five games into his opening match Fernando Verdasco looked lost on the court at The Queen’s Club. Down a double break and only able to take two points off his opponents serve, he glared towards the camp in the crowd. They could not say anything without getting Verdasco a penalty. Something his female counterparts don’t fear.

 

On-court coaching has been allowed on the WTA Tour since 2008. A process where the coaches of players are allowed to interact with them during changeovers to issue advice and so forth. The bosses of the WTA at the time said it was done to add entertainment value and give insight to fans watching. 11 years on from that decision, other tournaments have started their own experiments.

The US Open, which was the first major to introduce equal prize money back in 1973, has outlined their plans. Involving allowing coaches to shout to players from the sidelines in between points. A move that was undoubtedly triggered by last year’s women’s final where Serena Williams was penalized for receiving coaching. Something her guru Patrick Martogolou, who is a supporter of on-court coaching, initially admitted to before she later denied took place. It was assumed that organizers wanted to implement this change in 2019, but it appears that this will not happen now.

Should these changes occur, it will move men’s tennis closer to the prospect of on-court coaching. Something that raises one crucial question – do the players want it on the ATP Tour?

“I personally don’t feel that there is a need for it. Obviously, the WTA does it, but I feel there is no need because I’m used to not having it on the court.” Kyle Edmund said at the Fever-Tree Championships on Sunday.

Critics of the technique argue that it takes away the player’s ability to think for themselves. Making them mentally weaker. In the Open Era, there has never been a grand slam main draw where the competitors could seek help from anybody else during matches. However, what about a compromise similar to the one proposed by the US Open?

“With the debate concerning having coaching off the court in terms of speaking, as other sports do, I’d say I’m more interested in that aspect.” Edmund indicates.

Nick Kyrgios could potentially be the kind of person who would benefit from a change in the rules. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, he admits that he struggles mentally during the big tournaments. So potentially having somebody to speak to him during matches could help.

However, the Australian doesn’t have a mentor and is a fierce critic of on-court coaching. Arguing that it could create an uneven playing ground if it was implemented in men’s tennis.

“I don’t agree with it at all. I think on-court coaching shouldn’t be a part of the sport.” He stated.
“I don’t think — like, it’s supposed to be one on one. You’re supposed to figure out things yourself when you’re out there on the court.”
“For guys who don’t have a coach, like myself or guys who can’t afford a coach, it’s not really a level playing field when you have a guy that’s literally talking to their players on the court. It makes no sense.”

Kyrgios’ view is one that has been backed by one of the biggest names in men’s tennis – Roger Federer. In the German city of Halle, the Swiss Maestro was questioned about on-court coaching.

“I don‘t support on-court coaching, I think that I have the best team in the world, and so I don‘t think it‘s fair that I could profit from that and another guy, who has maybe no coach can‘t benefit at all.” Federer explained.

2019 prize money rankings (as of 17/6/2019)
1. Rafael Nadal $6.28M
20. Jan Lennard-Struff $910, 090
50. Filip Krajinovic $521, 146
100. Marcelo Melo $306, 269
200. Elias Ymer $83, 342

A logical step forward?

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Daniil Medvedev was straight to the point when asked his own opinion of the subject. Saying such a change will have zero benefits for him. Although he believes changing the rules is only logical. During numerous matches coaches in the crowd has been caught making gestures towards their players. Something that is hard to police for the umpires.

“I am for it. Not because it will benefit me because I don’t think it will. Even if I asked my coach to come onto the court one time per match.” Medvedev told Ubitennis.
“But when we see a lot of sports it is allowed. During matches, they can say anything and when you are working with your coach almost 365 days a year and he can’t say anything, it’s a bit strange.’
“It won’t change a lot (for me), but I think it should be legalized.”

There is also the role of technology in the debate. Application software company SAP works alongside the WTA. Under the rules, they are able to provide coaches with real-time data so they can feedback to players during matches. Something some argue enhances the quality of matches.

“The WTA introduced the on-court coaching rule in 2008. That gave SAP the opportunity to bring real-time data to players and coaches as they need it,” SAP’s Global Sponsorships Technology Lead Jenni Lewis told intel.co.uk.
“And they need it as the match is happening, so the coach can go out during on-court coaching and share that information.”

Tennis is a sport that has developed a reputation of priding itself on its history and rightfully so. However, the downside is trying to maintain a balance between traditionalists and those driving for change. Illustrated by past debates concerning the use of tiebreakers in the final set of grand slam matches, the unique rules set out at the next Gen Finals and the fallout over the Davis Cup revamp.

Given these sticking points, would the ATP really want to bother with on-court coaching?

Only time will tell.

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Matteo Berrettini: “The top 10 and a Grand Slam semifinal are my goals”

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Last week’s Stuttgart champion Matteo Berrettini beat sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashviil 6-4 6-4 after 70 minutes to set up an all-Italian second round match at the Moventi Open in Halle.

 

Before this week’s week match Basilashvili led over Berrettini 2-1 in his previous head-to-head matches, but the Italian player beat his Georgian rival in the first round in Winston Salem last year.

Berrettini saved both break points he faced to stay unbroken in the sixth consecutive match on grass this season. Last week the 23-year-old Italian player won the Stuttgart tournament without dropping his serve in the whole tournament.

In his opening round match in Halle Berrettini produced another solid performance breaking serve in the fifth game of the first set and in the ninth game of the second set.

“I take a match at a time. It is strange to be ranked world number 22 but I would lie if I said that the top 10 and a Grand Slam semifinal are not my goals. I am surprised that I adjusted so well to different conditions. It’s always difficult to play another tournament after winning a title the previous week. In Stuttgart I beat unbelievable guys. I never lost my serve, but all the matches were so close. I am really happy for what I did on the court because it was mentally really difficult to stay there and I am really proud of myself”, said Berrettini.

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