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.

ATP

Dominic Thiem Downplays US Open Chances

The world No.4 has given a frank assessment about his hopes at the New York major shortly after the draw was made on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem may be a top four seed in next week’s US Open, but the Austrian has played down the prospect of him winning his first grand slam title at the event.

 

The 25-year-old has experienced a setback in his build up to the tournament. Since winning the Kitzbuhel Open on clay, Thiem has only managed to play three matches on a hard court. Reaching the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in what what was his best-ever run at the tournament. However, more recently Thiem has been sidelined from action due to a virus and pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters.

Thiem’s first round opponent at the US Open will be Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, who has suffered two consecutive first round losses on the tour. Fabbiano reached the third round in New York back in 2017, but has missed the two most recent editions.

“Without a doubt, there are much tougher rivals than Thomas Fabbiano in a first round, although I must say that, after overcoming this viral disease, I do not expect miracles.” Thiem told Sky Sport Austria on Thursday.

Heading into the event, Thiem has said he has set out no goal. He will be defending 360 ranking points after reaching the quarter-finals 12 months ago before losing in a five-set thriller to Rafael Nadal. Overall, Thiem’s win-loss at the US Open is 15-5 heading into this year.

“Right now I do not consider reaching a quarterfinals or a semifinal. I want to go round to round, looking beyond would be presumptuous.” He said.
“In the next few days I will keep my training to a minimum, the goal is to be in perfect shape on Monday.”

Despite his recent setbacks, 2019 has been a season of success for the world No.4. In March he won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. He would then go on to win trophies in Barcelona and Kitzhbuel. However, in the grand slams he has been less consistent. At the French Open Thiem reached the final, but has failed to win back-to-back matches at both the Australian Open (second round) and Wimbledon (first round). Although at the Australian Open he was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to illness.

The US Open will get underway on Monday.

Dominic Thiem at the US Open

2018
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Quarter-Finals 1
Rafael Nadal ESP
L 60 46 57 764 675
Round of 16 5
Kevin Anderson RSA
W 75 62 762
Round of 32 74
Taylor Fritz USA
W 36 63 765 64
Round of 64 31
Steve Johnson USA
W 675 63 57 64 61
Round of 128 81
Mirza Basic BIH
W 63 61 64
2017
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 28
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 61 62 16 671 46
Round of 32 34
Adrian Mannarino FRA
W 75 63 64
Round of 64 108
Taylor Fritz USA
W 64 64 46 75
Round of 128 186
Alex de Minaur AUS
W 64 61 61
2016
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 142
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 36 23 (RET)
Round of 32 39
Pablo Carreno Busta ESP
W 16 64 64 75
Round of 64 89
Ricardas Berankis LTU
W 64 63 62
Round of 128 66
John Millman AUS
W 63 26 57 64 63
2015
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 32 14
Kevin Anderson RSA
L 36 673 673
Round of 64 70
Denis Istomin UZB
W 64 64 10 (RET)
Round of 128 76
Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
W 75 63 75
2014
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 7
Tomas Berdych CZE
L 16 26 46
Round of 32 21
Feliciano Lopez ESP
W 64 62 63
Round of 64 12
Ernests Gulbis LTA
W 46 36 64 63 63
Round of 128 84
Lukas Lacko SLO
W 63 63 62

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Serena Williams Drawn To Face Maria Sharapova At US Open 2019

Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova is the headline clash in an intriguing 2019 US Open Women’s Singles Draw.

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Serena Williams will play Maria Sharapova in the first round of US Open 2019. It will be their first-ever meeting at Flushing Meadows.

 

When these women clash, it is always a talking point, always a reason to get excited. The American and the Russian are such high-profile athletes that it does not even seem to matter that the American has beaten Maria Sharapova an incredible 18 times in a row.

The sense of anticipation for the encounter is even higher in some ways because it is so long – three years and seven months – since they last faced each other. That was in the quarter-final of the 2016 Australian Open. They were due to play last year at the French Open, but Williams pulled out with a pectoral injury. Hopefully fitness issues will not ruin things this time around.

Barty and Kerber join Serena and Sharapova in packed quarter

The winner of the Serena-Sharapova match will emerge into a favourable section of the draw. Crafty 29th seed Hsieh Su-Wei is the only real obstacle between them and the last 16.

However, if either the American or the Russian makes it to the fourth round, their route will then become much more difficult. 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova, a quarter-finalist on each of her last three appearances at Flushing Meadows, is their most likely opponent at that stage.

In the other half of the quarter, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber faces a tricky opener against Kristina Mladenovic, while World No.2 Ashleigh Barty takes on Zarina Diyas. The German and The Australian should be wary of 30th seed Maria Sakkari. The Greek beat Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sabalenka during excellent runs in San Jose and Cincinnati.

After an easy start, things will get tough for Osaka

Naomi Osaka (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

The World No.1 and reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka has endured a difficult few months, so she will be happy to see that the draw has been relatively kind to her.

The Japanese player will face Anna Blinkova in round one and then either Astra Sharma or Magda Linette in round two. If she gets through those, she could face difficult matches against teen sensation Cori Gauff in round three and 13th seed Belinda Bencic in round four.

If Osaka makes it to the last eight, there are number of potential opponents who could cause her problems. Aryna Sabalenka is one, if she can negotiate a tricky opener against Victoria Azarenka and a challenging third-round meeting with Donna Vekic.

Vekic is another possible quarter-finalist, as is Julia Goerges, who could cause an upset in the third round by beating the 7th seed with a poor record at Flushing Meadows: Kiki Bertens.

Halep well-placed to put first-round exits behind her

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has fallen at the first hurdle at the last two US Opens. In 2017, she lost to Sharapova. And then she was thrashed by Kaia Kanepi in an error-strewn display in 2018.

Both of those were tough first-round draws, so the Romanian will be glad to be taking on a qualifier this time around. The fourth seed should reach the last 16 with relative ease, but that is where the real challenges are likely to begin with a possible clash against rising star Bianca Andreescu.

In the other half of the quarter, a potential third-round encounter between 11th seed Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Garbine Muguruza catches the eye. To reach that stage, the American and the Spaniard may have to beat tricky second-round opponents in the shape of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko respectively.

6th seed Petra Kvitova is also in that section. The Czech will be keen to put a spell of patchy form behind her by coming through a relatively calm section of the draw that also include 25th seed Elise Mertens.

Pliskova, Svitolina and Keys feature in a quarter full of potential winners

 

Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

While other sections steal the headlines for obvious reasons, the quarter that includes Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina may be the toughest of all.

2016 runner-up Pliskova could face Caroline Garcia in round three and Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova in round four.

Five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Svitolina might have to beat Venus Williams in round two, 32nd seed Dayana Yastremska in round three and Sofia Kenin or Keys in round four to reach the last eight again.

Keys will be feeling confident again after she won the title in Cincinnati. She will probably face Kenin in the third round, Svitolina in the fourth round and then Pliskova in the quarter-final if she makes it that far.

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Mats Wilander Questions Federer’s US Open Hopes, Serena’s Consistency And Kyrgios’ Antics

The former world No.1 has spoken out about a variety of top tennis stars ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

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With less than a week to go until the start of the US Open, a candidly speaking Mats Wilander has shared his opinion on a series of topics set to take place during this year’s tournament.

 

The 54-year-old former tennis pro has cast doubts on Roger Federer’s chances in Flushing Meadows. The Swiss player has won more grand slam singles titles than any other player on the men’s tour, however, he hasn’t triumphed at the US Open since 2008. Federer suffered a shock loss to John Millman in the fourth round last year.

The 38-year-old will be seeded third in this year’s draw and could potentially play both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic if he wants to win the title. Should he play world No.1 Djokovic, Wilander believes the Swiss maestro will struggle. However, he is more positive about Nadal’s chances. The Spaniard is the only one of the trio to have won a hard court title within the past two months.

“I think the biggest obstacle for someone like Federer is that he is going to play seven hard games,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“No matter what the style is, you may have a problem against a great server or a bottom player.
“Rafael Nadal is the only player who can beat Novak Djokovic in a five-set Grand Slam game.
“We need to have two boys in the semi-finals who don’t call themselves Roger, Rafa or Stan or Novak.”

Federer last played Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon, which he lost in five sets after having two championship points. Making it the fourth consecutive time he has lost to the Serbian in their head-to-head. On the other hand, Federer has a more promising record against Nadal. Winning six out of their seven meetings on the tour since 2015.

‘Slowly disappearing’ Serena

In the women’s draw eyes will be on Serena Williams as she once again bids to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam titles. The American is yet to win a title of any sort since becoming a mother. Settling for runner-up at three out of the past five grand slam tournaments. Including Wimbledon, where she suffered a comprehensive straight sets loss to Simona Halep.

The lack of silverware in recent time has been one debated by those following Williams’ career. However, Wilander believes the problem is that she no longer intimidates her rivals on the court.

“Her intimidation factor is slowly disappearing, compared to the youngest ones,” he said.
“She has not been consistent in the last four or five years on the regular tour and has not played enough tournaments and won enough victories.
“The dressing room probably thinks that there is a small chance that they can win because the consistency – both physical and in their tennis – has not been there.
“The intimidation factor is not as strong with Serena, as it is with someone like Roger or Rafa.”

Williams will be seeking redemption in New York following her high-profile outburst in last year’s final. She clashed with umpire Carlos Ramos after being issued with a warning for coaching. Prompting her to call the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘cheat.’ She was then issued with two additional penalties that amounted to a game penalty. In a recent interview Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has praised the incident.

Six-time champion Williams will be seeded eighth in this year’s tournament.

The Kyrgios problem

On the topic of Nick Kyrgios, Wilander has urged the Australian to become more professional on the tour. Kyrgios splits opinion in the world of sport due to his controversial behaviour. The most recent incident took place last week at the Cincinnati Masters where he was knocked out by Karen Khachanov in the second round. During that match, he engaged in a heated confrontation with the umpire and committed a series of code violations. Including walking off the court when he wasn’t allowed to and calling the official a “F***ing tool.” Kyrgios was subsequently fined $113,000 for eight separate incidents.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the 24-year-old, who recently won the Citi Open in Washington. The way he conducted himself during that tournament is what Wilander hopes to see at the US Open next week.

“I hope he doesn’t behave like he did in Cincinnati,” he said.
“I think that every week that passes is showing more and more interest in wanting to win tennis matches and wanting to improve everything around him.
“I think when he did what he did in Cincinnati, of course it looks bad and, of course, there are children in the stands and the language is bad, but at least the way he is now in the last weeks, he is showing that he cares.
“Nick wants to win, he hates losing and he wants to play well, he wants to entertain and he simply hasn’t been able to deal with it in a professional way.”

Kyrgios hasn’t reached the quarter-final of a grand slam since January 2015.

The draw for the US Open will will be made on Thursday with the main draw starting next Monday.

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