Madrid Open Thursday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Thursday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

Thursday’s schedule at Caja Magica is phenomenal, highlighted by the top three men and women in the world: Novak, Rafa, Roger, Naomi, Petra, and Simona.

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Fabio Fognini (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

The men will play all their round of 16 matches, while the women will play their quarterfinals.  In total, 62 Major singles titles are still remaining in these draws. We’re in for some blockbuster matchups on Thursday in Spain’s capital.

 

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Fabio Fognini (10)

This is a battle between the winners of the two most important clay court tournaments last month.  Fognini took the biggest title of his career in Monte Carlo, while Thiem prevailed in Barcelona. Both men defeated Rafael Nadal on the way to those titles.  Dominic didn’t drop a set in five matches two weeks ago in Barcelona. Thiem is 2-1 against Fognini, but Fabio took their most recent encounter last year in Rome.  This is the Italian’s first week of play since his title run in Monte Carlo, as he pulled out of Barcelona and Estoril with a hamstring injury. A finalist last year at this tournament, Thiem should get past this dangerous yet unpredictable clay court opposition.  The winner will face the winner between Roger Federer and Gael Monfils.

Petra Kvitova (2) vs. Kiki Bertens (7)

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These two just met in the semifinals of Stuttgart two weeks, with Kvitova pulling out a three-set win.  Their only other clay court meeting was last year in the final of Madrid, which Petra also won in three sets.  Kvitova holds the overall edge in their head-to-head, 3-2. Petra is capable of outhitting Kiki, though Bertens has groundstrokes that can push Kvitova deep and wide, taking her off the offensive.  Both are two of the most confident players on tour right now, so this should be a good one. Neither woman has dropped a set so far this week. Kvitova is the defending champion, and comes into this on a seven-match win streak coming off her title in Stuttgart.  However, I think Bertens is due for a win in this rivalry, and may rise to the occasion on this day.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday in Madrid:

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  • Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Jeremy Chardy.  Chardy has never defeated Djokovic despite 12 tries, and never even taken a set.
  • Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Frances Tiafoe.  Rafa easily won their only previous meeting over an exhausted Tiafoe earlier this year in Melbourne.
  • Roger Federer (4) vs. Gael Monfils (15).  Federer owns a 9-3 advantage over Monfils.
  • Kei Nishikori (6) vs. Stan Wawrinka.  Wawrinka leads their head-to-head 6-4.  All of those matches were on hard courts except for their first back in 2012, which Stan won in straight sets.
  • Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (Q).  This will be the first meeting between these two 22-year-olds.
  • Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Belinda Bencic.  Bencic upset Osaka earlier this year in Indian Wells.
  • Simona Halep (3) vs. Ash Barty (9).  Barty defeated Halep in January at Brisbane, though Halep was just returning from injury at the time.  And clay should greatly favor Simona, who won 6-0, 6-0 yesterday, claiming 48 of 60 points played.
  • Sloane Stephens (8) vs. Petra Martic.  Stephens took out Martic in two tiebreak sets at this year’s Australian Open.  

 

ATP

Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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ATP

David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Madison Keys battles past Simona Halep to reach the quarter final in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys beat this year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 6-1 3-6 7-5 to advance to the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati for the second consecutive year.

 

Madison Keys stopped a five-match losing streak against Simona Halep after a thrilling three-set match scoring her first win over the Romanian player in five years.

After beating Halep in their first head-to-head match in 2014, Keys lost five consecutive matches against her Romanian rival, including four in 2016. They met for the first time since the 2016 WTA Finals, where Halep beat Keys 6-2 6-4 in a round-robin match.

Keys never faced a break point and dropped just eight points in four service games and reeled off nine of the eleven points on Halep’s first serve to cruise through to a 6-1 win in 20 minutes.

In the second set Halep dropped her serve twice, but she converted three of the ten break points. The Romanian player held her serve at love for the first time in the match to win the second set sending the match to the third set.

Keys went up a 3-0 lead in the decider and earned four break points for 4-0. Halep converted her fifth break points at deuce and held serve at love to draw level to 3-3. Keys did not convert a match point at 5-4, but she sealed the win by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the 12th game at deuce to the delight of the home crowd.

“I think I played really smart tonight. Obviously I played a really good first set, and I don’t think she played her best tennis in the first set. I think the third set we played a pretty high level of tennis. I think it was the first time that I played a little bit more within myself and didn’t try to do too much too soon. She has been number 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before I could take a deep breath. I am really happy after losing my lead in the third set, I was able to get back. It definitely reminds me that when I am in the right mindset and playing some good tennis, I can compete with anyone”, said Keys.

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