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

It’s semifinal day in Rome, and hopefully the rain in the forecast doesn’t disturb the order of play.

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Rafael Nadal (photo by Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Quarterfinal day actually carried over into semifinal day, as Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro battled well past 1:00am.  Djokovic saved two match points and prevailed in an over three-hour affair. He and Rafael Nadal are just one win away from their first meeting on clay this year, an occasion the tennis world has been anxiously awaiting.  But first, Nadal must face the man who defeated him last week, Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the women’s semifinals, two of the WTA’s most consistent performers face two surprise semifinalists.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (8)

This is a rematch from last Saturday’s semifinal in Madrid, where Tsitsipas took out the King of Clay in his nation’s capital.  Nadal will be eager to avenge that loss, and even more eager to gain more confidence just eight days before the French Open begins.  Perhaps Nadal is finally rounding into form. In the three matches he’s played this week, he’s only dropped six games in six sets. He won three of those sets 6-0.  However, Tsitsipas is a step up in competition from Rafa’s last three opponents, and should be well-rested after Roger Federer withdrew from their quarterfinal yesterday.  It’s hard to imagine the 20-year-old upsetting Nadal on clay for the second straight week. I expect a hungry Nadal to prevail in straight sets.

Kiki Bertens (6) vs. Johanna Konta

With a win today, Bertens would usurp Simona Halep as the new world No.2.  Johanna Konta, former world No.4, has already done enough this week to get her ranking back high enough to be seeded at Roland Garros.  The British No.1 has struggled mightily since making the Wimbledon semifinals two years ago. And she’s never fared well on clay. In fact, she had a losing record on this surface in each of the last three seasons.  But a run to the final in Rabat two weeks, where she lost to fellow Rome semifinalist Maria Sakkari, was the confidence boost she needed. Konta is now 9-2 on clay this year. However, Bertens is the WTA’s most winningest player on clay over the past few years, and is on an eight-match winning streak coming off her title run last week in Madrid.  Bertens was completely exhausted on Thursday, but somehow pulled out two three-set matches in one day. She was surely thrilled to have a day off yesterday thanks to the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka. Bertens and Konta have split their four previous matches, though they’ve never played on clay. Bertens will be the favorite on the terra baute of Rome, but don’t count out Konta considering her current form and Kiki’s self-described exhaustion.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday in Rome:

  • Novak Djokovic (1), who will be happy to be back in the night session considering his quarterfinal ended earlier this morning, vs. Diego Schwartzman, who defeated another tired player yesterday in Kei Nishikori.
  • Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. 23-year-old Maria Sakkari of Greece.  Their only previous meeting was last year at this tournament, when Sakkari upset Pliskova 7-5 in the third, and Pliskova repeatedly hit the chair umpire structure with her racket after a bad line call.

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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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