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.  

 

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Who Are The Best Hard Court Creators In The Last 12 Months?

Here are some of the best players at earning break points on a hard court in the last 12 months.

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Garbine Muguruza (@Tennis - Twitter)

As the Australian Open, slowly, approaches UbiTennis looks at the biggest hard court creators from the last 52 weeks.

 

Although winning matches are determined on how many break point opportunities you convert, to convert the break points you need to create them in the first place.

This can be the biggest challenge but for the players below this isn’t a problem as they are able to consistently create break point opportunities on a hard court.

Starting with the women, it may be a surprise to nobody that Garbine Muguruza, one of the more aggressive returners on the tour leads the way, earning on average 10.4 break points in the last 52 weeks on a hard court.

Muguruza’s hard-hitting style mixed with controlled placement puts her in pole position to punish her opponents on return.

There are also other big hitters in the top 10 such as Petra Kvitova, who averages 9.6 break points while Aryna Sabalenka earns 9.5 break points on a hard court.

While 2020 grand slam champions Iga Swiatek (9.8) and Naomi Osaka (9.3) also feature on this list.

Meanwhile on the men’s side it is Roger Federer who leads this list on average earning 10.8 break points, slightly more than Garbine Muguruza who is on top of the women’s list.

Federer is just ahead of Roberto Bautista Agut with 10.5 break points. This shows just how much Bautista Agut has improved on hard courts in the last 12 months being able to create so many break point opportunities with his return game.

Also featuring on this list are Alexander Zverev (9.2), Novak Djokovic (8.5) and Daniil Medvedev (8.3).

These are the players to look out for when seeing the players who are most likely to create opportunities in their respective draws and who the biggest servers may want to avoid in the Australian Open.

Here are the full lists of the top 10 from each tour and remember the Australian Open is set to begin on the 8th of February.

WTA Top 11 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks

  1. Garbine Muguruza – 10.4
  2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – 10.2
  3. Saisai Zheng – 9.9
  4. Iga Swiatek – 9.8
  5. Anett Kontaveit – 9.6
  6. Petra Kvitova – 9.6
  7. Petra Martic – 9.6
  8. Aryna Sabalenka – 9.5
  9. Ons Jabeur – 9.5
  10. Simona Halep – 9.3
  11. Naomi Osaka – 9.3

ATP Top 12 – Most Break Points Earned On A Hard Court In Last 52 Weeks

  1. Roger Federer – 10.8
  2. Roberto Bautista Agut – 10.5
  3. Alexander Zverev – 9.2
  4. John Millman – 8.9
  5. Dominic Thiem – 8.9
  6. Guido Pella – 8.8
  7. Cristian Garin – 8.5
  8. Novak Djokovic – 8.5
  9. David Goffin – 8.4
  10. Adrian Mannarino – 8.3
  11. Daniil Medvedev – 8.3
  12. Grigor Dimitrov – 8.3

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Further 23 Players In Hard Quarantine After More Positive Tests On Charter Flight

More players head into hard quarantine ahead of the first grand slam of the year.

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(@emirates - Twitter)

A further 23 players have been told that they are being placed into hard quarantine after another positive COVID-19 test on a charter flight from Abu Dhabi.

 

Players were notified this evening in Australia that there was a positive test on the Abu Dhabi charter flight. Although it looks it wasn’t a player who tested positive it now means 23 more players will now go into hard quarantine.

This follows the news of 24 players going into hard quarantine after two positive tests from a charter flight from Los Angeles.

It is understood from several journalists that among those who are now being placed into hard quarantine from the Abu Dhabi flight are Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari, Bianca Andreescu, Angelique Kerber, Marta Kostyuk, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ons Jabeur.

Although there are only 47 players in hard quarantine so far, there is a fear that this number could rise with more COVID test results still waiting to come back.

Before the charter flights, Andy Murray, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova were denied entry into Australia via the chartered flights due to positive COVID results.

The first set of tournaments in Australia are set to begin on the 31st of January with the Australian Open due to begin on the 8th of February.

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ANALYSIS: Daniil Medvedev’s Run At The ATP Finals – Win Against Nadal Was The Turning point

Using two types of graphs, UbiTennis takes a closer look at the five matches won by Daniil Medvedev at the 2020 ATP Finals.

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Let’s analyse the five matches won at the ATP Finals by Daniil Medvedev, using the graphical representations provided by Federico Bertelli. We have renamed the graphs as “The ride”, recalling the famous Wagnerian composition. The first series of graphs is made up of decision trees and illustrates the trend of Medvedev’s and his opponents behind their respective serves, from the first round robin match to the final won against Dominic Thiem.

 

These are the details of his debut match against Zverev. The graph is easy to read: on the right (in blue) the times he held his serve are represented, while the time he broke his opponent are on the left (in red). The thicker the segment that connects two scores, the more frequently that ‘path’ of play has been covered.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/39qVQVmRFll9YWeGxM_Dl-qEBE7Z2iwMHIfrEa6v5WwIKELuSfGEYrmgVQkDzPhlhsEthmsawLr4Cx-hi-NC15wcu85Yjt_unBZPfFJWpWoyoW5JS1Xbzxf63e2tZnzu0Z_RDCg
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/72lIM46LmWsHKBUr3Rhw7oYq4Lto4obP0mA7E_kQH9bVB58TMEhC1Onixq0M8tZch1ZG4v8Hmf_Ntxss48abHouM1wqaPgRaQSeAcsSbJCZAY1Tea-lYVQzeStc61ayblLIasXM

Medvedev’s solidity holding serve is undeniable, because he performed best in deuce receiver and deuce server situations. It can also be observed how the Russian got broken just once in his first three matches, against Zverev at 30-40, while against Nadal he was particularly in trouble with his own serve, as the Spaniard was the only one who broke him several times, taking advantage of some favourable scoring situations such as 0-40, 15-40 and deuce receiver.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/e0lb0_yVnzwb24LWS-xN7qdhxz4DqiNqCBEolubVLln3Qv_7Na99-mCi4WU_k9UrBT4T4H2OqcnxnlYEcO8TX4LtwMA3nkLW94JK6hnnEEshOXFd9_HNZ6seBhP56_deatR2Rig
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/IPBeJdkVLRtQewleS-MxR7QHtzpehhO8wIslpXwlGLisR7KrzSbMng2lAUoAdjIMj2EWBPWhA838l2AJX27anuWFex_oIUSFdMHfoQWDlpW8DoLUx209sVr8cg7qdfvOdfJojX8

However, against Thiem, although Medvedev found himself tangled in a decider, the trend reverts back to that of the round matches: the only chance that Thiem had to snatch the serve was on the deuce receiver. He had no other chance from 40-40. 

https://www.ubitennis.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Medvedev-finals.jpg

The graphical analysis, corroborated by the thickness of the oblique blue lines, also shows the growing solidity of the Russian from match to match, winning the opening two points in his service games. This is a sign of a growing confidence in his game as the Russian advanced towards the final stages of the tournament, e.g. the semi-final and the final.

As for the situations in which Medvedev was particularly proficient on his opponent’s serve, the deuce receiver stands out, a circumstance that was present in all five matches, followed by the 30-40 – he broke on this situation against Zverev and Schwartzman.

AN OVERVIEW

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/vjDrxErqtjvDOnK9dhmExHj5OiMeiNHupX3ffY3sKFBPPQ39Yb7Gipu39P5_XYAlGoBbgeILp7kDrYKrQBoaVRJHSzD731_9doLJ2GVFq4xafnYhzlBeyORsZ4HY5UB88OHV3ao

The second series of graphs on Medvedev’s Valkyrian ride consists of radar graphs illustrating the classic statistics shown at the end of each match, which are equivalent to the following percentages – starting from the top and going clockwise: percentage of first serves in play, percentage of points won with his first and second serve, break points saved and converted, points won on the return against first and second serve, total points won, total points won on the return and on serve. What you see above is the diagram of Medvedev’s debut match: it is easy to see that he did better than Zverev in all statistics except for the percentage of first serves in play.

From the analysis of the first three matches of the group stage, even though the yellow area is predominant in almost all the statistical percentages, it’s clear that Medvedev was more effective in saving break points than his opponents (more than 80 percent against Zverev and 100 percent against Djokovic and Schwartzman), as well as in converting them. Against Schwartzman, he was actually bettered in the percentage of points won with the second service and in points won on the return against the opponent’s second serve.

https://www.ubitennis.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bbb.jpg

However, in the next two matches the percentage profiles of break balls saved and converted change because Nadal’s and Thiem’s numbers are higher than the Medvedev’s. So, ultimately, it means that Medvedev conceded fewer break points and managed to convert those that his opponents offered him during the match. 

That shows a great solidity.

If the general statistical profile of the Medvedev’s match against Thiem is similar to that of the matches won against Djokovic and Zverev, and in some ways to the one against Schwartzman as well, the statistics outline against Nadal is totally abnormal and should be considered as an outlier. The percentage of points won returning Nadal’s second serve and on his own second serve were the crucial ones. We will analyse this aspect in another article that will deal with Medvedev’s positioning on the return.

In conclusion, from the analysis of the statistical profiles, it appears that the semi-final bout against Nadal was the toughest obstacle that Medvedev had to overcome in his ride to success in a tournament in which he turned out more than anyone to be able (perhaps naturally) to give the match the desired direction, even when the numbers were not completely by his side.

Article by Andrea Canella; translated by Alice Nagni; edited by Tommaso Villa

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