Wimbledon Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Thursday’s schedule is headlined by the much talked about second round matchup between Rafael Nadal and Kick Kyrgios.

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Nick Kyrgios (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

Serena Williams and Roger Federer will be heavy favorites today against opponents ranked outside the top 100, but Nadal gets to deal with the curious case of Nick Kyrgios.  Meanwhile the women’s No.1 as well as the defending champion has been banished to No.2 Court, in a baffling decision by the scheduling department.  But that shows just how loaded these halves of the singles draws are on what should be an extremely compelling Day 4 at The Championships.

Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Nick Kyrgios

Five years ago here at Wimbledon, Kyrgios made a name for himself by dismissing Nadal on Centre Court in the round of 16. That was Nick’s first of two times advancing to a Major quarterfinal, but it’s been over four years since he’s repeated that feat. The 24-year-old Australian now finds himself ranked outside the top 40, with only 19 wins over the past 52 weeks. But the often-uninvested Kyrgios usually gets up for matches against “The Big Three,” and he upset Nadal earlier this year in Acapulco on his way to that title.

Rafa presented Nick with a less-than-thrilled handshake following that loss, as there’s definitely some bad blood between these two. On the No Challenges Remaining podcast in May, Kyrgios described Nadal as acting “salty” whenever Nick defeats him. Rafa, like many, respects Nick’s talent, though not all his on-court antics, or all-too-common lack of effort. This all makes for a highly anticipated return to Centre Court for this rivalry, which is tied at 3-3 heading into today.

It will be crucial for Kyrgios to get an early lead and get into Nadal’s head, especially in a best-of-five match that significantly favors the fitness and fighting spirit of Rafa. In the past, there’s been times when Nadal has been rattled by opponents who do not show him full respect, such as Robin Soderling. But I expect Nadal to take Kyrgios out rather easily today.  He’ll be eager to avenge his loss here from 2014, and Nick has not been playing well or focusing well of late.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck

Ash Barty (@TennisAustralia – Twitter)

The French Open and Birmingham champion is on a 13-match win streak, but runs into a tricky opponent in her second round. Van Uytvanck made the round of 16 here a year ago, with upsets over Garbine Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit. And she took out two-time Major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Tuesday. The 25-year-old from Belgium has flat groundstrokes well-suited for the grass, though no WTA player’s game may be better suited for grass than that of the world No.1. In their only previous meeting, Barty prevailed last summer at the Rogers Cup in straight sets. With all the confidence she’s currently playing with, I suspect we’ll see a similar result here.

Petra Kvitova (3) vs. Kiki Mladenovic

Petra Kvitova (@WilsonTennis – Twitter)

Kvitova looked to be in fine form on Tuesday despite the left arm injury that forced her to miss over a month of action. Petra has beaten Kiki seven of the eight times they’ve played, though Mladenovic has been a much more confident player since adding Sascha Bajin to her team. That being said, grass is historically Mladenovic’s worst surface, as she has a losing record at SW19. This should be rather smooth sailing for the two-time champion, but will be a good indication of just how serious a contender Kvitova should be considered.

Jan-Lennard Struff (33) vs. Taylor Fritz

This is a rare second round encounter between two players ranked 33rd or higher in the world. Struff got bumped up into a seeded position in the draw when Borna Coric withdrew from the tournament. And Fritz is now actually ranked slightly higher than Struff thanks to his title win last week in Eastbourne, a result that occurred after the seedings for this tournament were set.

The 29-year-old German is nearly a decade older than Fritz, but the veteran is coming off his best result at a Major, having made the fourth round of Roland Garros six weeks ago. Both men are currently at career-high rankings, and both easily won their first round matches in straight sets. In their first career meeting, I give the slight edge to Fritz, who is on a six-match grass court winning streak, and seems the more comfortable player on this surface.

Matteo Berrettini (17) vs. Marcos Baghdatis

The 34-year-old Cypriot has announced he will retire after this tournament. A semi-finalist here in 2006, Baghdatis has spent most of this season playing challenger events, as he’s ranked outside the top 100. Marcos got a solid, straight set win in the first round, though he now faces one of the fastest-rising stars on tour. The 23-year-old Italian started the year ranked outside the top 50, but recently debuted inside the top 20 after claiming two titles within two months. Berrettini triumphed on clay in Budapest as well as on grass in Stuttgart. Matteo is obviously comfortable on grass, as he also reached the semis in Halle. In his title run in Stuttgart, he didn’t face a break point the entire week.  Based on Berrettini’s current level, this will likely be the swan song for the ever-likable Baghdatis.

Other notable matches on Day 4:

Seven-time champion Serena Williams (11) vs. Kaja Juvan (Q), an 18-year-old from Slovenia.

Eight-time champion Roger Federer (2) vs. Jay Clarke (WC), a 20-year-old from Great Britain.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber (5) vs. Lauren Davis (LL), who has struggled mightily since her epic match with Simona Halep at the 2018 Australian Open.

Kei Nishikori (8) vs. Cameron Norrie, a 23-year-old and current British No.2.

Kiki Bertens (4) vs. Taylor Townshend, a 23-year-old lefty from the United States.

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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[EXCLUSIVE] Brandon Nakashima: “I Love Federer, But My Game Resembles More Djokovic’s”

Nakashima speaks to UbiTennis about his liveliest memory of training with Nadal at Wimbledon. The duels he had with Lorenzo Musetti and Tseng Chun-Hsin, the high praise for Sebastian Korda and Hugo Gaston. Why he doesn’t like clubbing and what his new coach Pat Cash has been advising him to do.

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The latest instalment of UbiTennis’ video series sees Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink speak with Brandon Nakashima. An 18-year-old American tennis star born on August 3, 2001, who goes by the nickname B-Nak.

 

He is at No.220 in the ATP Rankings (with a career best at 218) and is second-best among those who were born in 2001, trailing only Jannik Sinner. His surname is of Japanese origin, but it was his Vietnamese maternal grandfather who initiated him to the game of tennis when he was three. He is 1.85 metres tall and weighs 78 kilograms. He was born in San Diego, and his father Wesley was also born in California – his parents are both pharmacists. He played for the University of Virginia, where he was the Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, before moving on to the pros.

Since Delray Beach, in February, he’s been working with Pat Cash, immediately reaching the quarter finals and beating four Top 100 players. His best shot is his two-handed backhand, and his favourite player is Federer. A superb athlete, he is considered the best American prospect. He is self-described as shy, but he actually isn’t that much, once he gets going. He loves sushi, but also admits to having a sweet tooth. Given the status of some of his victims, it can be assumed that he’s already better than his ranking.

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00:00: Introduction and recap of his highest-profile wins.

03:40: His behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic: “I wear a mask whenever I’m outside. I’ve been trying to stay cautious as much as possible in public areas”. He also appreciates the chance of being able to train at some local private courts.

05:07: The special relationship with his grandfather: “My mom’s dad is from Vietnam. He first started to get me out on the court when I was about three and a half years old, just feeding me balls at a local park and from that time onward I started practicing more and more everyday”.

06:45: Bonding with his main coach, Pat Cash, during the pandemic.

07:38: Cash claims he noticed immediately Brandon’s “extraordinary racquet control” – does he think that this is his best quality too?

08:42: Their first meeting: “We had a couple of mutual friends; at the time I had just turned pro and I was looking for a good coach…”

11:53: His idols growing up: “I always liked to watch Federer play, but I think now my game is more similar to Djokovic’s”.

12:40: The experience of hitting with Nadal: “A couple of years ago I was playing the junior Wimbledon tournament…”

14:36: His thoughts on the best future prospects…

17:20: His transition as a pro aged only 17: “It was crucial on and off the court for me to go to college and to then play a full season at 17 [Editor’s Note: at the University of Virginia], it helped my game and made me mature as a person. I’d advise most players to go to college and get that experience…”

19:45: Recapping his best junior Slam results.

21:25: Developing his game with Pat Cash: “During these training blocks here in California, we definitely decided to work a lot on the transition and net game to add more variety into my game…”

23:55: What are his current plans? “It’s tough to plan tournaments right now since we don’t know when or if they’re even starting…”

25:35: How does he feel about the issue of playing behind closed doors? “It will be interesting, everybody is so used to people watching, so I think most players will find it maybe a little weird at the beginning…”

26:47: His off-court life: “I try to relax and have fun. I like playing other sports, on days off I play golf with friends or relax at home watching TV, just getting the mind away from tennis. I don’t like going to dance or clubs, it never was my type of feeling of going out; I like a more chill state with my friends.”

30:04: His knowledge of tennis history.

31:30: Where does Brandon see himself in 2022/23? “The goal is to keep improving my results and my rankings, and maybe…”

33:20: After the Big Three era, who is his pick to become the next world N.1?

36:10: Pat Cash’s most frequent tip: “I have to train to get ready for the Slams…”

Article written and translated by Tommaso Villa

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Prague set to host new WTA Tournament next August

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Prague will host a new WTA tournament from 10 to 15 August. It will be one of of the WTA tournaments to be held after the coronavirus pandemic. The Prague Open will be held on the Sparta clay court in Prague with a prize money of $ 225.000.

 

The Prague Open will feature the top two Czech players Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova has won two Wimbledon titles and is currently ranked world number 12. She won a Czech exhibition tournament last May behind closed doors at a time when Czech Republic was already easing measures against the spread of coronavirus.

“The WTA was looking for venues and organizers to quicly prepare for a quality tournament in these strange times. We took advantage of the references we had obtained from the first tournament of the post coronavirus era, which took place on the Sparta courts and turned out to be a  success”, said Ivo Kaderka, Director of the Czech Tennis Federation.

Up to 2000 fans a day will be able to attend the Prague tournament.

“We are already in talks with the top Czech players. We will prepare mobile stands with a capacity of 2000 seats”, said tournament director David Trunda.

Tournament spokesman Karel Tejkal said that the Prague event is not a postponed version of last May’s Prague Open which did not take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

“This is a new tournament that is now part of the provisional WTA schedule for this year”, said Tejkal.

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