Italian Open Friday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Italian Open Friday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

Perhaps the three best male players of all-time highlight the men’s quarterfinals, while the WTA No.1 takes on the WTA’s hottest player.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by Gianni Ciaccia, copyright @Sport Vision)

Federer and Nadal are just one win away from facing off in Saturday’s semifinals.  Rafa will play a familiar foe in his elder countryman, while Roger will square off against the newest member of the top 10 who is nearly half his age.  And Djokovic will renew his rivalry with the beloved big man, Juan Martin Del Potro.

 

On the women’s side, Madrid Champion Kiki Bertens is just two wins away from becoming the new world No.2, but the world No.1 stands in her way on Friday.  In other action, a resurgent Victoria Azarenka meets one of the tour’s most consistent performers, Karolina Pliskova. After one of the most frantic orders of play you’ll ever see on Thursday, Friday looks to be another captivating day at Foro Italico.

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Kiki Bertens (6)

Both women played two matches yesterday due to the complete rainout on Wednesday, though Osaka advanced much more efficiently than Bertens.  Naomi won both matches in straight sets, while Kiki played six sets of tennis and was on court for a full hour longer than Osaka. These two split their two previous meetings, though both were played on hard courts.  And Osaka retired after the first set when they played last fall at the WTA Finals. Kiki will walk onto the court with an eight-match win streak, and is the stronger play on clay. But will she be burnt out after playing so much over the past two weeks?  Perhaps, though I still consider her the favorite. Osaka is just 10-5 since her Australian Open triumph, and hasn’t beaten a top 20 player in that time.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (8)

This will also be the third meeting between these two players, all within the past few months.  Of course it was at the Australian Open where the 20-year-old upset the 37-year-old in four tight sets.  Federer avenged that loss just a few weeks later in the final of Dubai to win his 100th career title.  Tsitsipas now holds victories over all of the Big Three, and will now have played each of those all-time greats within the past seven days.  Stefanos upset Nadal in the Madrid semifinals last week, but was taken out by Djokovic in the final. Both of these players also played twice yesterday, though Roger was the only one to face any complications.  He needed to save two match points in a third set tiebreak to outlast Borna Coric. I’m concerned about how Federer’s body will respond to having played two matches on clay in one day. While I’m sure he’ll dislike the idea of losing again to his younger opposition, it’s hard not to favor Tsitsipas on this day.

Other Notable Matches on Friday in Rome:

  • Madrid Champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro.  Del Potro won the first two matches of this latest injury comeback just yesterday, but is only 3-15 lifetime against Djokovic.
  • Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Fernando Verdasco.  A title-less Nadal this year may finally be finding his mojo, losing just two of 26 games played yesterday.  He’s only lost to Verdasco in three of 20 meetings, though one of Fernando’s wins did come on clay.
  • Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. Victoria Azarenka (WC).  Azarenka leads their head-to-head 4-3, and just defeated Pliskova on clay a few weeks ago in Stuttgart.
  • Kei Nishikori (6) vs. Diego Schwartzman.  They played a great match at last year’s US Open.  This should be good too: all three of their meetings have been tight, with all three going to Nishikori.
  • Johanna Konta vs. Marketa Vondrousova.  Konta has never been a good clay court player, but has impressed this week.  Vondrousova is coming off her second straight upset over Simona Halep.
  • Maria Sakkari (Q) vs. Kiki Mladenovic (Q).  It’s rare to see two qualifiers face off in the quarterfinals.  Mladenovic seems rejuvenated since hiring Naomi Osaka’s former coach, Sascha Bajin.

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Kiki Bertens Believes In Stability And Trust Ahead Of 2020 Season

Kiki Bertens looks for stability in hope of grand slam success in 2020.

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Kiki Bertens (@rogerscup - Twitter)

Kiki Bertens believes stability and trust is the key to success ahead of the 2020 season despite a time of change for the Dutchwoman. 

 

A time of change is approaching for Kiki Bertens as she recently just got married to her physical trainer Remko De Rijke.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5iU5w9hTgf/

It’s not only off the court, change is approaching for the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist as her and coach Raemon Sluiter parted ways during the off-season.

After the split it would have been easy for Bertens to make a radical change to her coaching team but that is not her style as she has promoted Elise Tamaela to a main coaching role.

Even through a time of change, Bertens believes stability is crucial to success, “It takes me a while to be able to trust someone,” she admitted to Dutch website De Telegraaf. 

“And I don’t want to spend that time on something like that. We’re going to continue in the same way for next year. The results were not as expected in the Grand Slams but I had other good weeks. It’s really not that I felt different playing in the Slams than in other weeks in which I could win titles.”

Although the formula to winning a grand slam has yet to be solved, the world number nine has achieved great consistency having won 55 matches in 2019, which also included the biggest title of her career in Madrid.

A new era await for Bertens with her new coach and plenty of praise was given to Elise Tamaela ahead of the new season, “For me the most important thing is that that person knows a lot about tennis. I have to be able to fully trust her,” Bertens said.

“To be able to laugh with that person, eat with her. I prefer to keep the equipment to the minimum possible and be able to feel comfortable in terms of confidence. Sometimes more people in the team only bring more opinions. And that style is not mine.”

This simplistic formula has worked for Bertens in the past and as the 2020 season approaches, she’s not looking to change it.

However will inexperience lead to the same results at grand slams, with the level of the Women’s game rising, Bertens may find that breaking the boundaries of stability is needed.

The former world number four will start her march towards more glory in Brisbane on the 6th of January.

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Caroline Wozniacki Announces Retirement After Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open in January.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open as a new chapter in her life approaches. 

 

The Dane won 30 WTA singles titles in her career and spent 71 weeks as world number one although a grand slam had haunted her for most of her career.

However that changed in 2018 after an epic win over Simona Halep sealed a dream come true as she won her first grand slam at the Australian Open.

Since winning her maiden slam though, it has been an uphill struggle on the court for Wozniacki as she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Some days the former world number one and on some days, it is a constant battle for her to even wake up in the morning.

Now with other priorities taking over having been married to former NBA player David Lee since June and already studying Business at Harvard, Wozniacki today took the decision to retire from tennis after the Australian Open.

https://twitter.com/MPTenisPodcast/status/1202972268831367168

In a statement on Instagram, Woznaicki told her followers that she had accomplished everything she wanted to and looks forward to the future, “I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court,” she said.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done. In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.

“Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward.

“This has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you!

“Finally, I want to thank with all my heart, the fans, my friends, my sponsors, my team, especially my father as my coach, my husband, and my family for decades of support! Without all of you I could have never have done this!”

Although this retirement may have been coming, not many people would have predicted it would come at the scene of her grand slam breakthrough.

Now in the last stretch of her career, the Dane will want to finish on a high as she looks to celebrate a career that has lasted nearly 15 years.

 

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Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Venus Williams are the stand-out names in Adelaide

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Four top 10 players Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens and former Grand Slam champions Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber will grab the headlines at the Adelaide International from 12 to 18 January 2020.

 

A total of seven Grand Slam champions and five former world number one players will take part in the Adelaide WTA tourament.

This year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty leads a star-studded line-up, which includes 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Kiki Bertens and seven other members of the top 20.

The Main Draw also features Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins, World Number 30 Quang Wang. World Number 12 and this Rome WTA Premier finalist Johanna Konta will play her first tournament since the US Open following a knee injury.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams has been announced as the Top 20 wildcard.

“It is always exciting to play at a new tournament in front of new fans. I have had so many memorable times times in Australia over the years and I am looking forward to discovering Adelaide and all it has to offer”, said Venus Williams.

The men’s line-up includes 2019 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, Alex De Minaur, Lucas Pouille and Andrey Rublev.

“The full list of players is a real who’s who of tennis, from Australia’s favourite Ashleigh Barty to the iconic Venus Williams, right through to the young talent of Alex De Minaur and the experienced campaigner Novak Djokovic in the men’s field”, said South Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway.

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