French Open Day 13 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 13 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Semifinals

In a unique day at Roland Garros, all four singles semifinals are scheduled for Friday, to be played across three different courts.

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Roger Federer (photo by :Gianni Ciaccia)

The women’s quarterfinals are a day behind schedule due to Wednesday’s rainout. And unfortunately, there is also a big threat of rain today, especially at 11:00am local time when the women’s semifinals are set to start. But once play begins, the day will be headlined by Federer/Nadal XXXIX. In fact, both men’s semifinals could be scintillating, with the top four players in the world all advancing to this stage. That includes the three most prolific men’s singles champions at the Majors in the Open Era.

 

The women’s semifinals are the polar opposite. None of the four semifinalists had even been past the second round of this tournament before this fortnight. And each player has a different playing style and personality, with some great stories attached to them. If the rain allows all play to be concluded, it could be one of the most compelling days of the tennis year.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Roger Federer (3)

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Federer has won their last five meetings, bringing his deficit in their rivalry from 10-23 to 15-23. Nadal hasn’t prevailed since the 2014 Australian Open, though they haven’t met on clay since May of 2013. On the terra baute, Rafa holds a decisive 13-2 edge, with Roger’s only victories coming in best-of-three matches from 2007 and 2009. At the French Open, Nadal is 5-0, with four of those occasions being the championship match, most recently in 2011. Roger turned this rivalry around at the 2017 Australian Open, with an improved backhand thanks to a larger frame. Does Federer have a shot here? While Roger has dominated Nadal of late, defeating Rafa in best-of-five on clay, and on the spacious Court Philippe-Chatrier, remains the sport’s greatest challenge. That’s especially true at this stage of the tournament, as Nadal is 11-0 in French Open semifinals. And Federer’s recent struggles with break point conversions make the task all the more insurmountable. It would be a total shock if Rafa is not playing for his 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires come Sunday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (4)

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This has prolonged battle written all over it, which could be costly for the winner come Sunday. With this being the second men’s semifinal of the day, rain could prevent this match from being completed. Djokovic holds a 6-2 edge over Thiem, though Dominic’s taken two of the last three. That includes their quarterfinal clash here two years ago. Their most recent encounter was a few weeks ago on the clay of Madrid, which was Novak’s first win in this rivalry in two years. Thiem dropped a set in each of his first three matches, while Djokovic has won all 15 sets played this tournament. Novak hasn’t lost a match at a Grand Slam event in 52 weeks, and I like Djokovic’s chances to reach his fourth straight Major final, following a thoroughly challenging fight from Thiem.

Ash Barty (8) vs. Amanda Anisimova

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How will the 17-year-old American perform just 24 hours removed from her breakthrough upset of the defending champion, Simona Halep? That may be the ultimate decider in this one. Anisimova showed us yesterday how capable she is of controlling a match, especially with her backhand. But coming back a day after the biggest win of your life to play a new biggest match of your life is a lot for a player of any age. This teenager though did not seem at all overwhelmed by the moment in just her fourth Major appearance. Barty meanwhile has been playing Majors since 2012, though her career didn’t take off until she returned to the sport three years ago after a sabbatical playing cricket. But Ash is still only 23 years of age, and her game previously only successful on faster courts has evolved, bringing her to an unexpected first Major semifinal at the only clay Slam. The Australian has plenty of weapons to complicate matters for the young star, but in their first career meeting, I favor Anisimova. For a teenager, she’s demonstrated a remarkable amount of composure this season, and I don’t see her crumbling under the pressure of playing for her first Major final.

Johanna Konta (26) vs. Marketa Vondrousova

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The winner here will reach their first championship match at a Major. For Konta, this is her third Slam semifinal, and her first in nearly two years. She’s now reached a Major semifinal on all three surfaces. She had no clay resume to speak of until this season, but has accumulated 15 wins on the surface over the past six weeks. This run truly came out of nowhere, as she was 3-6 at her last six Grand Slam events. She has spoken of how her new coach this season, Dimitri Zavialoff, has freed her up to add more variety to her game. The results have been impressive, especially in the quarterfinal against Sloane Stephens, where she put on a serving clinic. In the second set of that match, she won 20 of 21 service points played. While her opponent today is inexperienced at this level, she will not be an easy out. The 19-year-old from the Czech Republic has now reached the quarterfinals or better in each of her last six tournaments. Her last loss was actually at the hands of Konta, a three-set quarterfinal in Rome. Vondrousova took their other previous meeting last year on a hard court, at a time when Konta was struggling with her form. As stellar as Johanna’s play has been of late, Vondrousova has also been excellent, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight. And other than a slight lapse when trying to close out her quarterfinal match against Petra Martic, she’s shown few signs of nerves during the biggest run of her career. In a match that feels it could go either way, I’m favoring Vondrousova. It feels Konta is due for a bit of a letdown in form, while Marketa has been so steady all season.

Other Notable Matches on Day 13

  • In the mixed doubles final, Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig. Pavic and Dodig were Davis Cup champions for Croatia just six months ago.
  • In the women’s doubles semifinals, Timea Babos and Frenchwoman Kiki Mladenovic (2), finalists at two of the last three Majors, vs. Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka (6), who are both top 20 singles players and winners of both Indian Wells and Miami as a team.
  • In the other semifinal, Kirsten Flipkens and Johanna Larsson (15), vs. the Chinese team of Yingying Duan and Saisai Zheng.

Grand Slam

Steve Flink: “Djokovic and Nadal will end up with more Slams than Federer”

A final word on the 2021 Australian Open. Thiem was the biggest letdown of the fortnight, but which was the best match or the biggest upset?

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The men’s singles at the Australian Open ended in the most predictable way, with Novak Djokovic clinching his ninth title. However, the road to victory was laden with difficulties, as Hall-of-Famer tennis writer Steve Flink highlights in his third video chat about the tournament with Ubitennis founder and CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta. How close is the Next Gen to pushing out the Big Three? Was this Karatsev’s one shining moment or will he keep shocking the tennis world? This and more in the following chat:

 

0:00 – The men’s final: “I wasn’t sure Djokovic would be able to pull this off after his injury against Fritz, but after he beat Zverev I knew he’d win again.” Was such a trouncing of Medvedev at all predictable though?

5:00 – The keys to the Serbian’s masterclass win.

8:10 – “Medvedev had won most of his last meetings with Djokovic, but a Major final is a different story…” Did Djokovic actually tear an abdominal muscle?

14:30 – How close is the Next Gen to actually taking over?

17:30 – What was the impact of the 2-week quarantine on the tournament? “Many players struggled with injuries throughout the fortnight, but others, like Nadal, were already ailing at the beginning of the event.”

20:40 – Can Federer make another comeback? “His serve is so good that he can win many quick points, that will help him even if his fitness level isn’t up to par.”

24:30 – The best match of the tournament was…

29:45 – Who was the outbreak star? This is an easy one…

32:20 – What about the biggest letdown?

37:20 – A look into the future: will Djokovic end up surpassing Federer and Nadal’s 20-Slam tally?  

41:30 – The Serbian is also about to break the record for the most weeks spent at the top of the rankings – will he remain the world N.1 for much longer?

Transcript by Antonio Flagiello; edited by Tommaso Villa

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The Most Emotional Moments From The 2021 Australian Open

With everything going on in the world, and the 14 days of quarantine players went through before playing this event, it’s no surprise there were so many emotional moments during this past fortnight.

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Alexei Popyrin provided a refreshing dose of excitement with a loud Aussie crowd in attendance (ausopen.com)

The first Grand Slam of 2021 provided the tennis world with plenty of tears and jubilation throughout it’s two-week period. There was epic match comebacks, injury misfortunes and victories for those who has been absent from the game in recent months due to a variety of issues. UbiTennis looks back at those emotional moments that took place during the Australian Open.

 

Gael Monfils in tears after his first round loss

Prior to the pandemic, Monfils had won two consecutive titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam.  But since the tour restart, he’s now 0-6, and lost in five sets in the opening round to Emil Ruusuvuori.  His comments are in French, but he was asking for “mercy” during his press conference.

“I don’t have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t,” Monfils said.
“I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I’ve lost again. I can’t serve, I’m playing badly. I’m being honest and it’s going to take time.”

Bianca Andreescu wins her first match in 16 months

The 2019 US Open champion didn’t play at all in 2020, due to injuries and pandemic restrictions.  She’s described many low moments she experienced during that time.  And after going through 14 days of hard quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne, with her coach testing positive for COVID-19, the Canadian was holding back tears after winning her opening round in three sets.

“I feel pretty damn good,” Andreescu said afterwards in an on-court interview. “I mean the match wasn’t easy at all and I’m super, super happy with how I fought it out, especially towards the end.”

Alexei Popyrin saves match points to stun David Goffin

This was the first exciting match to take place in front of a full audience in nearly a year, as Aussies packed Court 3 to cheer on the comeback win of the 21-year-old Australian.  Popyrin saved four match points in the fourth set tiebreak, and the crowd reaction to his victory sounded amazing.

“I think it just shows that the work I did in pre-season, the mentality that I’ve taken on this year is all paying off, and my game is improving, and I can feel that,” Popryin commented on his victory.

Thanasi Kokkinakis wins his first match since 2019

Kokkinakis’ struggles with injuries over the years are well-documented, so it’s understandable the 24-year-old Aussie was brought to tears in picking up his first tour-level win in 18 months, especially at his home Slam.

“At 5-0 (in the third set) I felt this massive roar and cheer from the crowd and I started tearing up,” Kokkinakis said.
“It was a bit of a soft moment but there was just so much stuff behind the scenes to get back to that point that not a lot of people realise.
I definitely got a bit emotional.
“I had a lot of friends and family there watching. They probably made up about 90 per cent of the stands, so I’m appreciative of that.
“Just playing with that energy and crowd and being able to win – there was so much work behind the scenes and so much pain – it’s just a massive relief.”

In the second round Kokkinakis took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets before getting knocked out of the tournament.

 Venus Williams suffers a nasty ankle injury

This was hard to watch.  Venus screamed out in pain and hobbled around the court after injuring her ankle.  And she had arrived on court with an injured knee.  After a long timeout to address both injuries, with a despondent Venus in tears, she showed her grit by finding a way to finish out the match in the event’s most inspiring moment.

You can’t always prepare for the triumph of the disaster in sports or in life. “You can’t control it all. What you can control is how you handle the ups and the downs,” Williams later wrote on Instagram.
“No matter the outcome I always hold my head high and I leave everything I have on the court.
“I never look back in regrets because no matter the odds I give it all.
“You don’t have to look back when you leave it all out there. Always look forward, the deepest dream you could be…”

Nick Kyrgios saved two match points in a five-set epic

In another emotional moment involving an Australian, Kyrgios’ epic 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Ugo Humbert was a thrilling affair on Nick’s favorite court, John Cain Area.

If you were in my head, I was just thinking about all the s*** I was going to cop if I lost that match,” Kyrgios told the Nine Network after the match.
“I don’t know how I did that, honestly, it’s one of the craziest matches I’ve ever played.”

Kyrgios lost in the third round to Dominic Thiem.

Donna Vekic in tears after ousting Kaia Kanepi

Vekic was immediately in tears after converting her own match point, advancing to the second week of the tournament despite losing six straight matches coming into this event.

Matteo Berrettini battles through pain to defeat Khachanov

The Italian suffered an abdominal injury during the third set, and was teary-eyed after closing out the match in straights.  He would have to withdraw from his fourth round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to the injury.

““I felt something on my ab. I thought that [it] wasn’t something really big, but the next day when I woke up I felt it was big. So I spoke to the doctors and they told me, ‘Look, it can get [much] worse’. So it’s not worth trying. I’m not 100 per cent. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 per cent. I think it’s not really professional to step [onto court] when you’re not the best.” Berrettini commented on his injury.

Stefanos Tsitsipas fights back to defeat Rafael Nadal

Tsitsipas became only the second man to ever do so at a Grand Slam event, and described himself as “speechless” when interviewed after the match.

Serena Williams’ wave goodbye after her semifinal loss

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1362260576446132226

This felt like more than simply “See you next year, Melbourne.” Serena stopped her stride as she exited the court, waving and placing a hand to her heart. After being asked about the moment in press, she broke down and quickly exited the room.

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ATP

Novak Djokovic Captures Record Ninth Australian Open Title With Clinical Win over Medvedev

The world No.1 toppled his lacklustre opponent who produced a series of costly unforced errors to seal his 18th major title at Melbourne Park.

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Novak Djokovic has extended his dominance at the Australian Open by comprehensively beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch an historic ninth title in Melbourne Park.

 

The showdown on the Rod Laver Arena was between two giants of the current game. Djokovic is the most decorated male player in Australian Open history and has recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players in the tournament prior to the final. Meanwhile, Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being against a member of the top 10. However, a large majority of the encounter was dominated by the top seed who produced a total of 20 winners as he broke seven times en route to victory.

“I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said of his rival during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”

For the first time in the Open Era the men’s final was being contested by the first and fourth seeds in what was a battle from the onset. Playing on what he describes as his ‘home court’ Djokovic was the quicker of the two to settle into the match after a forehand down the line from the Serbian triggered a Medvedev error to give him a break en route to a 3-0 lead. Eventually Medvedev regained his footing as he gave his rival a dose of his own medicine by winning three games in a row to draw level. Both illustrated glimpses of their best tennis with sublime defensive play but it was the world No.1 who has the edge in the opener. Leading 6-5 a blistering Djokovic backhand passing shot handed him a trio of break points to clinch the set. He failed in his first two attempts, but it was third time lucky after the Russian fired a forehand shot into the net.

The thunderous hitting continued into the second frame as players started to contend with an increasingly animated crowd who had to be told repeatedly to stay quiet during points. One of the disturbances was a refugee protest which involved the removal of two people. On the court Djokovic once again traded breaks with his rival early on before pulling away with the help of some costly Medvedev mistakes. Prompting the world No.4 to smash one of his rackets out of anger and received a code violation for doing so as he fell behind 2-5. Medvedev’s mood deteriorated further in the next game as the top seed returned a serve deep to the baseline to clinch a two-set lead.

source – AusOpen Twitter

Winning all the mini battles that were fought, Djokovic’s offensive was one that drew his rival to despair who continuously made glimpses towards his camp in the crowd. Mentally Medvedev was done as Djokovic masterfully manoeuvred his way to the trophy once again. A three-game winning streak at the start of the third set placed him within touching distance of the win. Enough of a margin to see him over the finish live as he clinched victory on his first championship point after hitting an overhead volley. Prompting Djokovic to fall to the floor.

“I would like to thank my team,” said the nine-time champion. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks but always a special thanks to you. You have dedicated so much time making sure I’m able to play and I am grateful to you. Thank you guys, I love you.’
“Last but not least, I would like to thank this court and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s a love affair that keeps going.”

It is the second time that 25-year-old Medvedev has lost in a major final after doing so to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. Although he remains one of the most likely candidates to take over the reign of the Big Three in the years to come. Since the start of 2020 he has won 38 Tour matches which is the third highest on the ATP after Djokovic and Andrey Rublev.

“(It’s) Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best!” said Medvedev.
“Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one.’
“I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

The triumph has given Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam title which is just two away from the all-time record currently held by both Nadal and Roger Federer. He has now won a record nine titles in Melbourne Park which makes him only the second male player in history to have won the same major title that amount of times. Nadal has 13 French Open titles to his name. It is also the fifth time in his career Djokovic has successfully defended his title at the Australian Open.

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