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

Seven out of the world’s top 5 male and top 5 female players will be in action.

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Federer, Djokovic, Kerber, Osaka, Halep, Pliskova, and Thiem will all play their second round matches.  In addition, Juan Martin Del Potro returns to the singles court a day after a successful return to doubles with partner Kei Nishikori.  And in what could be the last match of his career, David Ferrer takes on a fellow countryman who is the best candidate to take on the nickname “Little Beast.”

 

Roberto Bautista Agut vs. David Ferrer (WC)

Does Ferrer have one last big win in him before retiring?  The 37-year-old announced this tournament in his home country would be his last.  In his opening round, he’ll face a Spaniard six years his junior with a similar style of play, and similar fighting spirit.  This will be their first career meeting outside of a Major. Their previous three matches were all extended battles decided in four sets.  Ferrer took the first two in 2013, while Bautista Agut prevailed more recently at the 2017 Australian Open. David already accumulated a few impressive victories on his farewell tour, most notably over Sascha Zverev in Miami.  And in what could be a twist of fate, Zverev awaits the winner of this match in the next round. Two weeks ago in Barcelona, Ferrer lost to another fellow Spaniard, Rafael Nadal. A loss on home soil to a dogged competitor like Bautista Agut would seem an appropriate way to go out, though you know Ferrer give his all to the last point.  And a victory is not out of the question, especially on clay which is not Roberto’s strongest surface. And this will surely be an uncomfortable assignment for Bautista Agut. Perhaps I’m picking with my heart, but I think we may just see one more thrilling Ferrer victory before he calls it quits.

Simona Halep (3) vs. Johanna Konta

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This will be the first match of the day on Manolo Santana.  Overall Konta has gotten the better of this rivalry, leading their head-to-head 3-2.  Their biggest encounter was in the Wimbledon quarterfinals two years ago, which Konta won 6-4 in the third to reach her second Major semifinal.  But since that career highlight in her home country, she has struggled with her confidence as well as with injury. Konta only has two victories at a Major since that Wimbledon, has no titles, and is ranked outside the top 40.  And clay has never been a good surface for the 27-year-old. However, Konta got some momentum going on the terra baute just last week, making the final in Rabat. Meanwhile Halep has been steady this year, yet less than stellar.  She has 19 match wins, but has only made one final with no titles. Perhaps reuniting with her former coach Daniel Dobre will help Simona lift a trophy over the next few weeks. This stretch of the clay season has been good to Halep in the past, but she’ll surely feel the pressure of having 2,800 points to defend between Madrid, Rome, and Paris.  Still, Halep will be the favorite against Konta on clay.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday in Madrid:

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  • Novak Djokovic (1) begins his 2019 Madrid campaign against 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz (Q), who yesterday upset Grigor Dimitrov.
  • Dominic Thiem (5), the second-best clay courter in the world over the past several seasons, also faces a young American, in the 6’11” Reilly Opelka (Q).  
  • Roger Federer (4) will play his first match on clay since May of 2016 against Richard Gasquet.  Federer leads their head-to-head 16-2, but Gasquet’s two victories both came on clay.
  • World No.1 Naomi Osaka (1) vs. 22-year-old Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo (WC).
  • Angelique Kerber (4) vs. Petra Martic, who just won a clay title in Istanbul nine days ago.

 

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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