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

All the same big names who played last week in Madrid are also present in Rome, with the notable additions of the Williams sisters.

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Serena Williams (@USTA - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

This is the last week for the sport’s top stars to garner momentum ahead of Roland Garros, which starts in just 13 days.  And they’ll play at the Foro Italico, one of the most picturesque tennis venues in the world. Today’s most newsworthy item is the return of Serena Williams. In her first match in two months, she’ll face the same exact person she last faced. A bit more on that later, but here’s what look to be the most intriguing matchups on Monday’s schedule.

Elise Mertens vs. Venus Williams

This will be Venus’ first match since Miami nearly two months ago. Her and her sister have made a habit in recent years of taking the first part of the clay season off. With only 19 wins over the past 52 weeks, Venus now finds herself ranked 50th in the world. Mertens is ranked a full 30 spots ahead of Venus, who will turn 39 next month.

The 23-year-old from Belgium had a career highlight in February, when she won the title in Doha by defeating three top 10 players.  But since that time, she’s gone just 4-6. While she’ll still be the favourite over Venus on clay, this certainly isn’t an unwinnable match for the highly competitive veteran, who’s pulled off many surprising wins over tough opposition in recent years.

Borna Coric (13) vs. Felix Auger Aliassime

This will be the first match of the day on Campo Centrale, and should be a good one. Their only previous meeting was two months ago in Miami, where the 18-year-old Canadian was a qualifier and upset Coric in straight sets. And Felix can play on the clay as well: he already has 10 match wins on the surface this year.

Borna is coming off the best season of his career, which ended with a Davis Cup title. But in 2019, he’s failed to follow-up. The 22-year-old has only accrued 13 wins this year, and only one over a top 20 player.  He’s yet to win a title this season, or even reach a final. Auger Aliassime has been the better player this year, and should be considered a slight favorite to get his second straight win over Coric. But Coric is a fighter who will give his all to avoid another loss to his younger opponent.

Other Notable Matches on Monday in Rome:

Serena Williams (10) vs. Rebecca Peterson (Q). The last time she played a match in March, a less-than-100% Serena needed three sets to defeat this same opponent, a 23-year-old from Sweden. What form will Serena be in for her first clay court match in nearly a year?

Italian No.1 Fabio Fognini (10) vs. Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga (PR). Jo is still struggling with a knee injury, which forced him to miss over six months of last season, and to pull out of Madrid last week.

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Beatriz Haddad Maia Provisionally Suspended After Testing Positive For SARMS

Top 100 player Beatriz Haddad Maia has been provisionally suspended after being caught under the ITF Anti-Doping Programme.

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Beatriz Haddad Maia (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

World number 99 Beatriz Haddad Maia has been provisionally suspended by the ITF for testing positive for the drug SARMS. 

 

The incident in question involves the WTA 125k event in Bol, Croatia where the Brazilian’s urine sample was found to contain two types of the SARM drug.

Currently ranked 99, Haddad Maia lost in the opening round to Sara Sorriibes Tormo at the event in Croatia and with immediate effect has been suspended.

In their statement the ITF said that the 23 year-old had been suspended under article 8.1.3(c) of the Anti-Doping Programme.

“Ms. Haddad Maia, a 23-year-old player from Brazil, provided a urine sample on 4 June 2019 in association with her participation in the WTA Croatia Bol Open held in Bol, Croatia from 3 June to 9 June,” the ITF said in the statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“That sample was sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) accredited laboratory in Montreal, Canada for analysis, and was found to contain SARM S-22 and SARM LGD-4033 metabolite. SARM S-22 and SARM LGD-4033 are Non-Specified substances, which are prohibited under category S1 of the 2019 WADA Prohibited List (Anabolic Agents), and therefore are also prohibited under the Programme. Positive tests for Non-Specified Substances carry a mandatory Provisional Suspension.”

It is understood that Haddad Maia will appeal her case and is now the third Brazilian to be caught under the Anti-Doping programme after Thomaz Bellucci and Joao Souza.

Recently Haddad Maia had beaten former world number one Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon before losing to Harriet Dart in the next round.

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Jack Sock Feeling Refreshed Ahead Of Tennis Return In Atlanta

Jack Sock is feeling ready to go ahead of his return to Tennis in Atlanta on Tuesday evening.

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Jack Sock (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

Jack Sock is feeling refreshed and raring to go as he looks to make his return to Tennis this week in Atlanta. 

 

After missing six months of action due to two torn ligaments in his thumb, Jack Sock is ready to make his return this week in Atlanta.

Although the injury was frustrating, Sock sees it as a blessing in disguise as he finished 2018 with a 8-22 record in singles, “It’s very unfortunate to get injured obviously, but I think it was potentially the biggest blessing in disguise for my career,” Sock told atptour.com.

“So to be able to take those months and get a new mentality, enjoy playing the sport again and get excited about playing and come back out, I’ll be ready to fire.” 

Even though Sock is making his return to action this week in singles and doubles, the American admits that it will take a while for the thumb to loosen up, “It’s still a little stiff,” Sock said.

“I was hoping to maybe start a little bit earlier than this and maybe have played a couple tournaments leading into the US Open Series, but you don’t realise how much you need your thumb in daily life and in tennis and how I hold it, the forehand was the last thing I was able to do.”

Now the two-time doubles grand slam champion is feeling refreshed and is looking forward to the challenge of being the underdog, “Overall I feel very refreshed. I’m excited to play again, which I haven’t been able to say that in a long time,” he explained.

“I’m definitely excited to get out there and compete again. I’m just going to go play tennis for the first time in a while. I’m just going to go be happy on the court and enjoy playing and I’ll be the underdog now, which will be nice.

“I’ll be the ranking underdog and be able to go out and play free and have a smile on my face. If I win, amazing. If I don’t win, I’m out there playing again. It’s not going to bother me.”

The 26 year-old is now 180 in the world in singles as he looks to reclaim some of the form that got him to the ATP World Tour Finals in 2017 and 2018 in doubles.

It will be a testing first round for Sock as he plays talented Serbian and Antalya finalist Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round at 7pm local time on Tuesday evening.

 

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Rudolf Molleker knocks out two-time champion Leonardo Mayer in Hamburg

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German 18-year-old Next Gen player Rudolf Molleker knocked out 2014 and 2017 Hamburg champion Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 1 hour and 39 minutes at the Hamburg European Open.

 

Molleker beat Mayer in 2017 in the Hamburg qualifying round, but Mayer got a spot in the main draw as a lucky loser and went on to win the title.

Molleker fended off all three break points in two consecutive games of the first set, before saving two set points in the tie-break. He sealed the second set with a single break.

The German teenager saved two break points in the seventh game with two service games with two service winners and one more chance in the ninth game to set up a tie-break. Mayer took the lead twice at 6-5 and 8-7, but Molleker saved both chances with two winners and sealed the tie-break on the 18th point after a double fault from Mayer.

Molleker earned an early break at the start of the second set and held his service games in the next games before sealing the win with a service winner at 5-4 to secure his spot in the round of 16.

Marton Fucsovics cruised past Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-0 dropping just 16 points on serve. Fucsovics got an early break in the fourth game to clinch the opening set 6-3. The Hungarian player broke three times in a one-sided second set and sealed the win with a service winner.

Andrey Rublev, who lost in the second round at Wimbledon and Umag, edged this year’s Munich and Houston champion Christian Garin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) after 1 hour and 39 minutes to score his second win over the Chilean player this year. Rublev broke three times to seal the opening set 6-4. The Russian player got the break back at 4-5 in the second set to set up a tie-break, which he sealed 7-5.

Jeremy Chardy came back from losing the first set to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3 after 2 hours and 34 minutes. Paire fended off a set point at 4-5 in the opening set to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Paire got a late break in the second set, but Chardy won two games at 5-5 to force the match to the third set. Chardy went up a double break to seal the third set 6-3.

Martin Klizan converted all five break points to cruise past Daniel Altmaier 6-2 6-2.

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