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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Caroline Wozniacki Calls For More Help To Support Returning Mothers

Caroline Wozniacki has called on the WTA to support returning mothers.

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Caroline Wozniacki has called on the WTA to provide more support for returning mothers.

The Dane is one of a number of top stars that have returned to the tour since becoming a mother.

Recently the likes of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka have all returned to the tour since becoming a mother.

However Wozniacki believes the WTA could provide more support to mothers who plan on returning to the tour, “I think I’ve been treated very well, The tournaments have really embraced me coming back and with kids,” Wozniacki explained to the Press Association.

Where I do share my view, and where a lot of other women on tour share the view, is I think there should be more done for women coming back from maternity leave. It has been looked at because obviously there’s more players now that want to come back but, at the same time, it’s not the same as coming back from an injury.

“As someone who came back after almost four years, I think when you give birth and for the body to recover, you’ve grown a human inside you, there’s a lot of changes that are happening in the body after that. I think in general women deserve more time to feel, ‘OK, now I’m ready, I can really prepare and get ready for competing at the highest level’.

It’s an issue that has made progress but there is still work to do in order to encourage people that it’s possible to make a smooth transition from motherhood to the tennis court.

As for Wozniacki, the Dane recently lost in the first round of Birmingham to Elise Mertens and is now preparing for Wimbledon where she has received a main draw wildcard.

Wimbledon starts on the first of July.

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Could Dan Evans’ Latest Injury Halt Andy Murray’s Olympic Plans?

Andy Murray Olympics hopes could pin down to Dan Evans’ recovery from his latest injury.

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Andy Murray had said that he may not play the Olympic Games if he plays just the singles event.

This could be the last summer that Andy Murray plays competitive tennis as he gears up for a potential Wimbledon farewell.

However Wimbledon may not be the tournament that Murray announces his retirement with the Olympics coming up next month.

The Olympics will take place in Paris and the former gold medallist has been announced in GB’s team ahead of the games.

There is a plot twist to all of this and that plot twist is Murray’s recent comments about whether he would play the Olympic Games.

In a recent interview Murray admitted that he wouldn’t be keen on just playing singles in Paris given the fact that it’s being played on his least favourite surface clay, “There is more chance of me winning a medal in the doubles rather than the singles,” Murray told BBC Sport.

“I’m not 100% sure. It depends a little bit physically how I’m doing and a bit how the next few weeks ago as well. My plan just now is to play but it’s not straightforward.”

The only player that Murray could play doubles with at the Olympics is Dan Evans, which they will probably find out on the fourth of July if they will get into the event.

However there is now a spanner in the works which is Dan Evans’ recent injury with the Brit suffering a nasty fall against Brandon Nakashima at Queen’s Club.

It will be known in the next couple of days how bad Evans’ injury is but after his match in London, the Brit was worried about a potential MCL injury, “I’m worried, no doubt,” Evans told the press association.

“I mean, a good thing, I thought it was my groin. That settled down pretty much straight away. But I think it’s MCL, sort of a bit inside of the knee. There is an issue there, that’s for sure after the testing so far with the physios.

“So I’ve got to wait 48 hours, let it settle, and then get a scan. I’m worried, yeah. That’s the bottom line, of course. Yeah, I’m in limbo a bit. It’s frustrating. If I miss the Olympics or Wimbledon it would be a tough one to swallow, no doubt.

“I don’t know. I’m just, I’m heartbroken at the minute, to be honest. Yeah, it’s tough.”

If the injury to Evans, results in Murray’s Olympics withdrawal then it would be a sad way to end Murray’s Olympics career that has included two gold medals.

However the main importance is that Evans is able to compete in the near future as he aims to be fit in time for Wimbledon.

Wimbledon starts on the first of July with the Olympics taking place 26 days later.

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Former Champion Angelique Kerber And Naomi Osaka Headline Initial Wimbledon Wildcards

Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka headline the Wimbledon wildcards this year.

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Former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has headlined the initial Wimbledon wildcards that have been announced this morning.

The German won the title in 2018 after defeating Serena Williams and is aiming to recreate some more magic at SW19 as she receives a wildcard into the main draw.

Although Kerber’s comeback hasn’t gone to plan, the German will hope grass is where she can find some confidence with the Olympic Games also in her plans there.

Another player who will be hoping for a change of fortunes at Wimbledon is former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who has also received a wildcard for the event.

Wozniacki was thrashed this week by Elise Mertens in Birmingham and will be hoping that she can improve her form over the next couple of weeks.

However a player that is in confident form right now is former US Open champion Naomi Osaka who has received a wildcard into Wimbledon.

The former world number one almost defeated Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros and is finding her feet on the grass after struggling in previous years.

On the men’s side Nottingham champion Jacob Fearnley has received a main draw wildcard as well as last year’s Juniors champion Henry Searle.

Here is the full list announced by the AELTC this morning with the final list set to be confirmed later this week or early next week.

Men’s Singles:

  1. Liam Broady
  2. Jan Choinski
  3. Jacob Fearnley
  4. Arthur Fery
  5. Billy Harris
  6. Paul Jubb
  7. Henry Searle
  8. TBA

Women’s Singles

  1. Francesca Jones
  2. Angelique Kerber
  3. Yuriko Lily Miyazaki
  4. Naomi Osaka
  5. Emma Raducanu
  6. Heather Watson
  7. Caroline Wozniacki
  8. TBA

Men’s Qualifying Singles

  1. Oliver Bonding
  2. Charles Broom
  3. Jay Clarke
  4. Felix Gill
  5. George Loffhagen
  6. Jack Pinnington Jones
  7. TBA
  8. Play-Off Place
  9. Play-Off Place

Women’s Qualifying Singles

  1. Emily Appleton
  2. Armani Banks
  3. Sonay Kartal
  4. Hannah Klugman
  5. Clervie Ngounoue
  6. Mika Stojsavljevic
  7. Mingge Xu
  8. Play-Off Place
  9. Play-Off Place

Men’s Doubles

  1. Liam Broady/Billy Harris
  2. Charles Broom/Arthur Fery
  3. Jay Clarke/Marcus Willis
  4. Dan Evans/Henry Searle
  5. Jacob Fearnley/Jack Pinnington Jones
  6. TBA
  7. TBA

Women’s Doubles

  1. Emily Appleton/Yuriko Lily Miyazaki
  2. Alicia Barnett/Freya Christie
  3. Harriet Dart/Maia Lumsden
  4. TBA
  5. TBA
  6. TBA
  7. TBA

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