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.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Carlos Alcaraz for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship

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Carlos Alcaraz after winning his semifinal on Friday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 14 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in gentlemen’s singles and mixed doubles.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic was on a 34 match Wimbledon win streak, playing for his fifth consecutive title, and had not lost a match on Centre Court in a full decade.  But in a spectacular five-hour five-setter, Carlos Alcaraz upset the all-time great to win his first Wimbledon title.  On Sunday, we get the rematch, as Djokovic looks to avenge that painful loss, and Alcaraz looks to defend a Major title, and win back-to-back Majors, for the first time.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

They followed up last year’s championship match here with another fantastic final just a month later in Cincinnati, where Djokovic saved championship point to eventually win in a third-set tiebreak, and after nearly four hours of play.  Novak would go on three weeks later to win the US Open, while Carlitos was not the same player for some time.  Alcaraz would not reach another final at any event for over six months, until this past March in Indian Wells. 

Despite a few surprising losses, and an injury that disrupted his season, Alcaraz is now a strong 32-6 on the year, and a superb 17-1 at Majors.  Carlitos has been able to quickly rebound from upsets at smaller events, like his loss to Jack Draper a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club, and up his level for the big events.  He’s dropped five sets through six matches, most of which have contained some sloppy play at times, yet Carlitos has played his best when it mattered most to reach his fourth Major final.  And he’s 3-0 thus far in Major finals.

2024 has been a surprisingly subpar season in the illustrious career of Djokovic.  Not only has he not won a title to date, he hadn’t advanced to a final until now.  Playing a more limited schedule, he’s just 23-6 this season.  And it was just a month ago that he was forced to withdraw from the Roland Garros quarterfinals after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and put his Wimbledon status in doubt.  Yet Novak has recovered almost miraculously, dropping only two sets to this stage, though he did receive a quarterfinal walkover of his own from an injured Alex de Minaur.

Overall Djokovic is 3-2 against Alcaraz, and they’ve split two meetings at Majors, both of which took place a year ago.  In the 2023 Roland Garros semifinals, Carlitos started cramping after just two sets of play, and provided little resistance in sets three and four.  That made his five-set victory in this final a month later all the more surprising.

Novak has not appeared to be significantly hampered by his surgically-repaired knee, though there’s no way it can be 100%.  So if another five-setter takes place on Sunday, that has to favor Carlitos, especially since he is an amazing 12-1 when pushed to five sets in his young career.

But the Djokovic CV at this tournament, and at this stage of Majors, is beyond formidable.  Since the start of The Championships in 2014, he is 59-3 at SW19.  And during the same span at all Majors, he is 42-8 in semifinals and finals.  Novak just very rarely loses matches like this, especially on Centre Court.

On a that surface usually favors the aggressor, Djokovic has been able to change that narrative with his stifling defense and court coverage.  However, Alcaraz is one of the only players Djokovic has ever faced who can match him defensively, and at times dictate play against him with his risk-taking style.  We saw here a year ago just how frustrated Novak became by Carlitos’ game, damaging the net post by breaking his racket against it after getting broken in the fifth set.

Yet as many have mentioned these last two weeks, Djokovic “has that look about him,” meaning the steely determination and confidence that he was lacking during the first six months of this year appear to be back.  He is extremely motivated to reassert himself atop the game, in a season where the new generation of Alcaraz and Sinner won the first two Majors. 

If Carlitos gets off to another slow start on Sunday (he’s lost the first set in three of his six matches thus far), or suffer lapses in his level again, Novak will take advantage of that better than any of the defending champion’s previous opponents.  And while he’ll surely do so at some point in his career, until Alcaraz defends a Major title, or wins back-to-back Majors, it’s hard to favor him to do so.  I’m backing Djokovic to win his eighth Wimbledon title, and his historical 25th Major singles title, the most of all-time.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Santiago Gonzalez and Giuliana Olmos vs. Jan Zielinski Su-wei Hsieh (7) – The Mexican team of Gonzalez and Olmos are playing for their first Major title, as Olmos is 0-1 in Major finals, while 41-year-old Gonzalez is 0-4.  Zielinski and Su-wei won this year’s Australian Open as a team, the first Major title of Zielinski’s career, while Su-wei has now won eight between women’s doubles and mixed, and is 8-1 in Major finals.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship

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Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.


Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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England’s Euros Final Clash With Spain Will Not Be Shown At Wimbledon

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Crowds of spectators watch live action on the Big Screen on the Hill at The Championships 2023. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Sunday 09/07/2023. Photo credit: AELTC/Adam Warner.

Football might be coming home on Sunday but those attending Wimbledon will have to leave the site if they want to watch the game. 

Gareth Southgate’s side takes on Spain for the chance to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, as well as their first of any sort on international territory. Their semi-final win over the Netherlands was the most-watched TV programme this year so far in the UK with a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV. This figure doesn’t include those who watch the game online via ITVX or in public places. Broadcasters are hopeful that the final, which will be shown on both the BBC and ITV, could break the 30 million mark for viewers. 

Despite the highly-anticipated sporting event, the communications department of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has confirmed to Ubitennis that they will not be showing the Euros match on their large screen, even if the matches finish by 8 pm. The men’s final is scheduled to begin six hours earlier at 2 pm local time. 

The AELTC explains that part of their reasons for doing so is due to the huge cleanup operation that will be taking place immediately after the event. Some of the equipment used at the Grand Slam needs to be packed and moved elsewhere to be used for the Paris Olympic Games. 

Whilst some football fans attending Wimbledon might be disappointed, the AELTC has always stated from day one that they don’t intend to show football matches with their sole focus being on tennis. 

We’re very much focused on the tennis, this has been the case in the past,” AELTC Chief executive Sally Bolton said on the first day of this year’s tournament.
“We won’t be showing the football on any of the screens here. We’re confident that everyone who’s coming here will want to watch the tennis. 
There will be no special arrangements.”

It remains to be seen if there will be a big exodus of fans from Wimbledon on Sunday evening before England’s tie with Spain. However, this depends on the length of the men’s final which last year lasted almost five hours. It is roughly a 30-minute walk to Wimbledon train station where many pubs nearby will be showing the football.  

Across the UK some schools are allowing children to start at a later time on Monday due to the Euros. Businesses such as Tesco and Lidl are making changes to their opening times. Meanwhile, the Wireless Festival is ending early and World Matchplay Darts has also moved to an earlier time.

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