Nadal has been dealing with a stomach virus for the past several days, which limited his practice schedule. He also made mention yesterday of having dealt with many issues over the past 18 months, some of which he has not spoken about in the press. All eyes will be on the King of Clay, who uncharacteristically lost in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona last month.
Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Felix Auger Aliassime
And on the other side of the court will be an impressive 18-year-old who already has 10 clay court wins this season. Auger Aliassime had no trouble taking out his more accomplished close friend, Denis Shapovalov, in the first round on Sunday. This will be Felix’s first time playing Nadal, and only his second meeting with a top five player. The first came just a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo, when Sascha Zverev won easily in straight sets. Is young Felix ready to take out the all-time great in his home country, and on his precious terra baute? That’s hard to imagine, but if it was ever going to happen, now may be the time against a physically-depleted Nadal. Of course Rafa is still the favorite despite his illness, but let’s see just how ready he is to compete for his sixth title in Madrid.
Petra Kvitova (2) vs. Caroline Garcia
In the 10 years this event has been played on clay, Kvitova is the only woman to win this title three times. The defending champion thrives at the higher altitude. Garcia is a tough round of 16 draw for Petra, as they’ve split six previous meetings. All of those matches have been decided on hard courts. They most recently played just a few weeks ago in Miami, when Kvitova won another round of 16 match in straight sets. Garcia’s last victory came in October of 2017 in Beijing, when the 25-year-old Frenchwoman was on the best run of her career to close out that year. She’s yet to duplicate those results, and came into Madrid with a losing record on the year. Though considering all her talent, it seems only a matter of time before Garcia is headed back towards the top 10. She could be a tough out for Kvitova today, but Petra has been the best player on tour in 2019, and should get through to the quarterfinals.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday in Madrid:
- In what could be the final match of his career, David Ferrer (WC) vs. Sascha Zverev (3). Just six weeks ago in Miami, Ferrer upset Zverev in three sets.
- Juan Martin Del Potro (7) plays only his fourth singles match since October and faces a tough challenge in 23-year-old Laslo Djere, who already won a clay court title earlier this year.
- Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Osaka has won both previous meetings in straight sets.
- Simona Halep (3) vs. 20-year-old Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.
- Kiki Bertens (7), a finalist here last year, vs. Anastasija Sevastova (12). This is the third straight year they’ve played in Madrid, and they’ve never played anywhere else. They split those two matches.
- Stan Wawrinka vs. Guido Pella. Pella already has 20 clay court wins this season, and won the title in Sao Paulo.
Coco Gauff reaches her maiden WTA final at the age of 15 in Linz
US 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff cruised past German former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4 after 91 minutes to reach her maiden WTA singles final at the Upper Austria Ladies Open in Linz.
Gauff lost in the final round of the qualifying tournament but she claimed her spot in the main draw as a lucky loser. After entering the main draw as a lucky loser Gauff scored three wins over Stefanie Voegele, Kateryna Kozlova, Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic consolidating her spot in the top 100.
Gauff saved nine of the ten break points she faced and won 71 % of her second serve points.
Petkovic earned the first break of the match in Gauff’s opening game, but Gauff broke straight back in the second game with a passing shot down the line in the next game. After holding serve Gauff earned two break points. The US teenager broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead after a backhand error from Perkovic. Gauff earned three set points in the 10th game and converted her first chance after a netted return from Petkovic.
Gauff faced three break points at 2-1, but she held on her serve to draw level to 2-2. The US player converted her sixth break point chance to take a 3-2 lead after a double fault from Petkovic.
Gauff saved two break points with a volley and a drop-shot, when she served for the match at 5-4, and sealed the win on her second match point.
Gauff set up a final against 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, who came back from one set down to beat last year’s Linz finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5. Ostapenko fended off one match points at 6-5 in the second set and two more match points at 5-4 in the third set of the 2-hour and 21-minute match.
Alexandrova broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to take the opening set 6-1. The Russian player fired an ace on her second set point to seal the first set after 30 minutes.
Alexandrova went up an early break to build up a 3-1 lead. Ostapenko broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Alexandrova fended off three break points to draw level to 4-4. Alexandrova broke serve at love to take a 5-4 lead earning the chance to serve for the match. Alexandrova hit an ace to earn her first match point, but she did not convert her chance, as she sent her backhand long. Ostapenko broke serve to draw level to 5-5 setting up a tie-break. Ostapenko earned her first set point at 5-5 in the tie-break, as Alexandrova missed a forehand wide. Ostapenko sealed the second set to force the match to the third set, as Ostapenko fired a service return wide.
Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the decisive set. Alexandrova fired a forehand crosscourt winner in the 10th game to earn two match points, but she made unforced errors to miss both her chances. Ostapenko hit a forehand winner to draw level to 5-5. Alexandrova saved a match point at 6-5 with a return winner, but Ostapenko sealed the win on her second match point.
Alexander Zverev Boosts ATP Finals Chances After Reaching Shanghai Final
Alexander Zverev boosted his chances of reaching the ATP Finals after reaching the Shanghai final.
Alexander Zverev has boosted his chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals after defeating Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-4 in the Shanghai semi-finals.
It was a routine performance from the German as he only lost seven points on his serve to reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters final.
After losing in the semi-finals last year to Novak Djokovic, Zverev wasn’t going to make the same mistake in 2019 as he broke in each set to claim victory.
In his post-match interview with atptour.com, the 22 year-old admitted it was a great feeling to win today, “It feels great, obviously,” Zverev explained.
“I felt like I’ve played some decent tennis this week and being in a Masters 1000 final here in Shanghai is also something very special for me. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can play some good tennis tomorrow.”
The win now means that Zverev has opened up a 330 point lead between him and his opponent today, who is in eighth place in the race.
This is crucial for the German if he wants to defend the ATP Finals crown that he won last year when he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back-to-back.
Tomorrow, he will play in-form Daniil Medvedev in his sixth Masters 1000 final and although he leads their head-to-head 4-0, he is taking nothing for granted, “We’ve played some fantastic matches, all going my way until now,” Zverev said.
“I hope tomorrow that will not change. But he’s been playing some fantastic tennis, sixth final in a row, US Open finalist, won Cincinnati.
“He’s probably the best player in the world right now. I hope it’s just going to be a good match tomorrow.”
Both men are looking for their first Shanghai title as well as momentum heading into the season-finale in London next month.
Heather Watson sets up final against Rebecca Peterson in Tianjin
Unseeded players Rebecca Peterson and Heather Watson set up a final at the Tianjin Open WTA Tournament.
Rebecca Peterson came back from one set down to beat Ons Jabeur 0-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Jabeur won all the first five games, which went to deuce, and closed out the opening set with a bagel with a hold at 30 in the sixth game.
Peterson bounced back in the second set by breaking serve twice in the eighth and tenth game to clinch the second set 6-4.
Jabeur got an early break to open up a 3-1 lead. Peterson broke back in the sixth game and saved a break point in the ninth game. The Swedish player closed out the match with a break at 6-5.
“Today was a really tough match. She played well, I could not find my rhythm and I had to fight for every point, so I am happy that I got the win at the end. At the end of the season, everyone feels that their body is sore and they are tired. I am going to recover as well as I can and for sure I will be ready for tomorrow”,said Peterson.
World number 125 Heather Watson cruised past Veronika Kudemertova 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 14 minutes to reach her fourth WTA final and the first since Monterrey 2016. Watson dropped nine points in nine service games and saved all three break point chances she faced.
The British player broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to close out the first set 6-1 after 25 minutes. Kudemertova saved two break points in the third game of the second set before Watson got the break to take a 3-2 lead. Watson saved three break points in the sixth game to hold on her service game. Kudemertova fended off two match points on serve before Watson closed out the match with a hold at 30.
“Yesterday was a really tough match and I think all those hours on court helped me play well today, so it was a good thing. It’s my first time here in Tianjin, so it’s a great first experience for me. I am looking forward to playing the final and hopefully I can play as well as I managed today”,said Watson.
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