Wimbledon Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Defending Men’s champion Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka headline the first day of this year’s Wimbledon.




Novak Djokovic (@WimbledonChnl - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf


The pristine grass on the main stadiums of SW19 await the players on one of the most special days of the tennis year.

And it will be the first time Wimbledon hosts two covered courts, as No.1 Court’s new retractable roof will be available in case rain arrives to interrupt play. Though it may be awhile before we see the new roof in action, as there is currently no rain in the forecast for the coming days.

For the first time in six months, all active players with three or more Major singles titles are all present. Serena, Roger, Rafa, Novak, Venus, Maria, Andy, Stan, and Angelique will all play during this fortnight, with Murray of course only entering the doubles draws as comes back from hip replacement surgery. With all these champions in their 30’s, this will likely be one of the final times we see them all together in one fortnight.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber

As tradition dictates, Day 1’s play on Centre Court will commence with the defending men’s singles champion.  It was at this tournament a year ago where Djokovic won his first Major in over two years, edging Nadal in a tremendous semi-final before easily dispatching of an exhausted Kevin Anderson in the final.

Novak arrives this year having claimed three of the last four Slams, but is coming off a frustrating semi-final loss to Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros. And he finds a tough opponent in his opening round, in a veteran who defeated him earlier this year in Indian Wells. The 35-year-old German can also play on the grass: he was a quarterfinalist here in 2012.  However, Djokovic owns a 10-2 record in their career head-to-head, and already avenged his Indian Wells loss to Kohlschreiber by taking him out in both Monte Carlo and Rome. While Philipp will get his full attention, Novak is still a heavy favourite to prevail.

Kevin Anderson (4) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert

Kevin Anderson (@ATP_Tour – Twitter)

Here we have the other men’s finalist from last year, and he too has a dangerous opening round draw. Anderson is seeded fourth here despite being ranked eighth in the world thanks to Wimbledon’s seeding formula which favours grass court results over the past few years. The 33-year-old South African has only played two matches since March due to an elbow injury, and faces one of the highest-ranked players he could draw in the first round.

Herbert, a multi-time Major doubles champion, has been focusing solely on singles in recent months, though he will be teaming with Andy Murray in the Wimbledon men’s doubles event. The 28-year-old Frenchman has a career losing record at Slams in singles, but is coming off a run to the semi-finals on the grass of Halle two weeks ago. Anderson won their only previous meeting on a hard court four years ago.  Herbert has plenty of variety in his game, which is well-suited for the grass, and could prove to be a bracket buster against a former finalist who is lacking match play.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Yulia Putintseva

This is yet another first round draw that could not have pleased a top seed. Putintseva upset Osaka just two weeks ago in Birmingham, a loss which cost Naomi her No.1 ranking. Yulia also took their other previous meeting last year in Hobart. Since winning her second straight Major in January, and subsequently splitting with her coach, Sascha Bajin, Osaka has struggled with injuries and her form.

Naomi has advanced to the third round of Wimbledon in both the last two years, but is yet to advance farther. She is yet to establish herself as a threat on the grass. Putintseva has twice been a quarterfinalist at the French Open, but is just 3-5 lifetime at Wimbledon, so grass is also not her strong suit. Even though Osaka is yet to defeat Putintseva, I’m giving her the slight edge here. Naomi showed a lot of grit by getting through some rough matches in Paris when she was at much less than her best. I suspect she’ll find a way to fight through here as well.

Venus Williams vs. Coco Gauff (Q)

Venus Williams (@USOpen – Twitter)

It’s not often you find a 39-year-old or a 15-year-old in a Grand Slam singles draw, much less find them playing against each other. But this Day 1 encounter features the five-time Wimbledon ladies champion against the 2018 French Open juniors’ champion. This will be Gauff’s senior-level Major debut, while it’s Venus’ astounding 83rd main draw appearance at a Slam.

Coco has been deemed a champion of the future, but how will the teenager react to playing an icon from her same country? It’s been a rough 18 months for Venus, who is just 6-6 at the last six Majors. But Venus almost always finds her best tennis of the year at this tournament, and has made the semis or better in two of the last three years. Venus must be considered the favourite, though it will be interesting to see how this generational clash plays out.

Su-Wei Hsieh (28) vs. Jelena Ostapenko

You will rarely see a harsher contrast in styles than in this matchup.  It will be the unique, off-speed groundstrokes of Hsieh against the powerful, go-for-broke hitting of Ostapenko. A semi-finalist here a year ago, Jelena has just 15 wins since that time. The former junior Wimbledon champion fell just short of being seeded here, and could fall outside the top 80 with a loss today. However, she did get four solid grass-court wins leading up to this fortnight, over names like Sloane Stephens and Johanna Konta.  Ostapenko will dictate play, and will need to avoid getting frustrated by the often-agitating style of Hsieh. Su-Wei upset top-seeded Simona Halep here last year, and also took out then-world No.1 Osaka in Miami earlier this year.

Hsieh won their only previous meeting, though that was on a hart court three years ago against a young and inexperienced Ostapenko. Despite Su-Wei being the seeded player, Jelena will likely feel more pressure here, considering all the points she’s defending. While I don’t foresee another deep run here this year, the grass should favour the game of Ostapenko. I expect her to hit her way through this one.

Other notable matches on Day 1:

Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Jiri Vesely (Q).  The left-handed qualifier has been hobbled by injuries of late, but thrives at Wimbledon, where he is 10-5 lifetime.

Simona Halep (7) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich.  The 25-year-old from Belarus upset Petra Kvitova in the first round a year ago.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Thomas Fabbiano.  This is a rematch from last year’s Wimbledon third round, which Tsitsipas easily took in straight sets.  Fabbiano is fresh off a run to the semifinals in Eastbourne last week.

Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Lin Zhu, a 25-year-old from China ranked outside the top 100.

Stan Wawrinka (22) starts his campaign for the only Major title missing from his collection vs. Ruben Bemelmans (Q), the 171st-ranked player in the world.


Canada Daily Preview: Two Clashes Between Top 10 Seeds in the Third Round




Felix Auger-Aliassime practicing this week in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

On Thursday, all third round matches will take place in both Montreal and Toronto, making for another extremely busy day of tennis.  And two of those third round encounters see top 10 seeds collide.  In Montreal, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime faces Cam Norrie in a rematch from last Friday’s Los Cabos semifinals.  In Toronto, Aryna Sabalenka plays Coco Gauff, who survived an extended battle on Wednesday against Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina


Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in Toronto and 12:00pm local time in Montreal.

Aryna Sabalenka (6) vs. Coco Gauff (10) – 11:00am on Grandstand in Toronto

Gauff’s second-round victory on Wednesday was a grueling affair.  After failing to convert four match points in the second-set tiebreak, Coco finally prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.  And she did so despite striking 13 double faults, a part of her game that continues to trouble her.  Sabalenka spent over an hour less time on court, defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo in straight sets.  Gauff leads their head-to-head 2-1, though all three meetings have been rather tight.  And of late, Coco has been the much stronger performer.  Going back to her run to the French Open final, Gauff has claimed 15 of her last 19 matches.  By contrast, Sabalenka arrived in Toronto having lost three of her last four.  While Coco will surely feel a bit tired on Thursday, she’ll also feel relieved having escaped what would have been a heartbreaking loss a day earlier, and should play a bit more freely.  And most importantly, she’s currently feeling much more confident than Sabalenka.

Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Not Before 4:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Last week in Los Cabos, Norrie took out Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.  However, that was Cam’s first victory over Felix in five tries.  The previous four had all gone the way of the Canadian, including another hard court matchup earlier this year in Rotterdam.  Auger-Aliassime pulled out a dramatic first-set tiebreak on Wednesday night over Washington runner-up Yoshihito Nishioka in thrilling fashion, eventually prevailing in straights.  Earlier in the day, Norrie advanced comfortably, allowing Botic van de Zandschulp only three games.  Just six days removed from their last encounter, Felix will be eager for revenge, especially at his home country’s biggest event.  But playing at home comes with a lot of pressure, and Auger-Aliassime is only 3-4 in his last seven matches.  Cam is the more in-form player, and should be favored to earn his second win over Felix in less than a week.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Camila Giorgi – Giorgi is the defending champion, and is yet to drop a set through two matches.  Last year in the semifinals of this same event, she defeated Pegula in three.  But overall the American leads their head-to-head 5-2 at all levels, and has twice defeated Camila since that semifinal.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alex de Minaur – It’s Australian versus Australian, and the Washington champ against the Atlanta champ.  Kyrgios upset world No.1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, and has now won 13 of his last 14 matches.  De Minaur has already defeated Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov this week. 

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia – In typical Swiatek fashion, she required just over an hour to prevail over Ajla Tomljanovic in her opening match.  Haddad Maia eliminated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez on Wednesday, and won 13 straight matches on grass in June.

Bianca Andreescu vs. Qinwen Zheng – Andreescu outlasted Alize Cornet on Wednesday night in a tight three-setter.  Qinwen benefitted from Ons Jabeur’s retirement due to abdominal pain during their second round matchup. 

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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‘Super Confident’ Nick Kyrgios Admits Admiration for Medvedev Ahead Of Clash

Nick Kyrgios has had positive things to say about Daniil Medvedev ahead of their second round meeting in Montreal.




Nick Kyrgios (@atptour - Twitter)

Nick Kyrgios has spoken highly of world number one Daniil Medvedev ahead of their second round clash in Montreal.


Kyrgios is in some of the best form in his career having reached the final of Wimbledon last month.

That has been followed up by a doubles title in Atlanta and a singles and doubles triumph in Washington.

Now the Australian is into the second round in Montreal after defeating Sebastian Baez 6-4 6-4.

Now Kyrgios takes on the ultimate challenge as he takes on world number one Daniil Medvedev who heads into the match in form himself having beaten Cameron Norrie to win the Los Cabos title.

Speaking ahead of the match the Australian admitted he was confident but has nothing but admiration for Medvedev’s game style, “I know I’ve got Medvedev next which kind of sucks,” Kyrgios told the Tennis Channel.

“I feel like against pretty much any player right now, I’d feel extremely confident. Obviously I feel confident going up against him, but we all know what he can produce. It’s going to be a good match for sure. I’m a bit tired but I’m gonna try and give him a good run.

“I’d like to play 95 per cent of the draw in the next round but if it’s anything like today, I know there’s going to be a lot of balls coming back and it’s going to be tough. A part of me wants the challenge, but a part of me knows it’s not going to be easy at all. I’m not gonna shy away from it, I’m going to do everything I can to recover and rest.

“But he’s a hell of a player and it’s incredible to see how he plays. He returns so far back, hits some crazy shots that we’ve never seen before. He does it his own way, he’s unorthodox and really special in the game. I love watching him play because he just looks so crazy out there, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

“I love people who just play the way they want to play. He’s comfortable in his own skin so hopefully it will be two contrasting styles as well. Not going to get much different tennis from me, I’m going to serve massive and play big and try to dictate. If I do that well, usually it works.”

Kyrgios is hoping to have good results this week as well as next week in Cincinnati so he can be seeded for the last grand slam of the year at the US Open.

The duo have met on three occasions with Kyrgios leading the head-to-head 2-1 but it’s Medvedev who won their last meeting at the Australian Open in four sets.

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Bianca Andreescu survives thrilling match against Kasatkina in Toronto return

Bianca Andreescu reached the second round in her home tournament while Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu crashed out.




(@Andreescu_Fans - Twitter)

The 2019 champion made her return three years after winning the title and reached the second round to the delight of the Canadian fans.


Bianca Andreescu is into the second round of the National Bank Open being hosted at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, Ontario after beating the San Jose champion Daria Kasatkina in straight sets 7-6, 6-4.

Although the scoreline seemed pretty routine this match had everything with highs and lows for both players but the Toronto native managed to get through.

“She played really well, super consistent and I am so happy I had that mental toughness to get through in two sets and that was key for me.”

In the first set both players got off to a very nervous start as the first five games of the match were breaks of serve before Andreescu was able to secure the first hold of the match to take a 4-2 lead.

At 5-3 with the Russian serving the Canadian earned two set points but was denied by the number 11 seed and the next game broke the world number 53 to go back on serve at 5-5.

The Toronto native responded by breaking right back once again and served for the set for the second time but Kasatkina broke once more to force a tiebreaker.

The Russian found herself up 4-2 but lost the following two points and the Canadian fought back and managed to take the tiebreaker 7-5 and the first set 7-6 in one hour and 25 minutes.

Dealing with high blood pressure she was seen by the trainer and the doctor during the break between both sets and she was given medication to rectify the problem.

Once again holding serve seemed to be the issue as after the world number 53 held the opening service game of the second set she broke to take an early 2-0 lead.

Kasatkina responded by breaking right back and holding to even the set at 2-2 and broke once again using her powerful forehand on breakpoint to seal the break.

Again she failed to consolidate the break and the Canadian broke her right back and after consolidating the break broke again to take a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve out the match.

Andreescu wasn’t able to close it out as the number 11 seed broke right back but in the following game, the Canadian responded by winning the match on her opponent’s serve.

After the match in her post-match on-court interview, she was asked if she felt the exact same emotions she had back in 2019 and what she will remember from the match.

“I wished I enjoyed it a bit more and I was really looking forward to having that positive attitude that I always have.”

Andreescu will now face Alize Cornet on Wednesday after the Frenchwomen was able to beat another Frenchwomen Caroline Garica in a tough three-set match on Monday night.

A busy Tuesday in Toronto

It was a busy day in Toronto and here are some of the other results from day 2 at the National Bank Open.

Belinda Bencic the number 12 seed got by the Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, and Naomi Osaka was forced to retire down 7-6, 3-0 against Kaia Kanepi due to a back injury.

Amanda Anisimova beat the Canadian wild card, Carol Zhao, in straight sets as well 6-3, 6-1, and Camila Giorgi, the defending champion, ousted the number nine seed Emma Raducanu also in straight sets 7-6, 6-2.

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