Wimbledon Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

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.

Published

on

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.

Focus

Robin Soderling: “People always remember when I beat Nadal at Roland Garros. It was a great feeling”

Published

on

Former Swedish player Robin Soderling remembered the worst period of his life during an interview with Behind the Raquet website. Soderling was diagnosed with mononucleosis, an illness that forced him to miss the US Open at the last minute. He decided to take more time out of tennis and withdrew for the rest of the season and from the 2012 Australian Open.

 

Soderling has not played a tour level match since he won the 2011 Swedish Open in July 2011. He was at the peak of his career and was ranked world number 5 at the time. At the age of 26 he was ranked inside the top 5 for more than 50 consecutive weeks.

Soderling spoke to Noah Rubin for Behind the Raquet telling how he lived through this period and how hard was to go from beating Nadal at Roland Garros to the difficult times, when he was not able to get out of bed.

“It was extremely difficult to make the decision to retire. I played my last match when I was 27 years old. In my head I had many more years left in tennis. I was at the peak of my tennis career when I got sick with mononucleosis, which was around two years before I retired. For a long time before I was diagnosed I was stressed, tired and rundown. Through this all I kept playing, I became sick all the time because my immune system was weak, but I kept pushing. Deep down in my mind I knew something was wrong. Even though I was playing well, it was all up and down, until I got mononucleosis. I feel like the combination of my bad immune system and seriously overtraining affected me. Doctors said I first got it in Indian Wells in 2011. It was not too bad at the beginning but got worse after my last tournament in Bastad. I did not leave my house for six months. After about a year I would begin to feel better. I would train a little, up the intensity, and then the symptoms would come back. I would get so tired and the fever would come back. When I made the decision I could finally accept it and figure out how to live my life again. It was a weird feeling during my first six months after my career because I did not care about tennis. Later, I started to watch tennis on TV and saw the players I was playing against then. I started to want to be on the track again, competing. After so long, It already felt like too much time had passed to come back and did not have the energy to do it either. There are times when I blame myself, when I wish I could take a step back and not take things so seriously. I lived in that bubble where everything was tennis. Now I see it only as a sport. My problem was that I did not have that on/off button. I could not change my mindset between games, practice sessions, and time off the track. There are no times out of season in tennis. It is a sport that does not allow you to disconnect and even on vacation you have to take care of your body”.

Soderling played the best match of his career on 31 May 2009, when he upset the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros 2009. Only Novak Djokovic managed to repeat this feat in 2015.

“People always remember when I beat Nadal at Roland Garros 2009. It was a great feeling. I don’t think anyone in the world expected me to win that match. It was strange, because right after the match, I realized it wasn’t the final. I wanted to be focused because if you relax, you easily lose a match. People always bring up when I beat Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open. I did not want to be that guy to beat Rafa but then lose in the finals. I just wanted to stay focused because if you relax even a little bit you lose a match, like a Grand Slam final, easily. At the time I did not realize how big of an accomplishment it was. I remember getting back to the locker room and having about 350 text messages. It kind of started to hit me that this was a big thing. I appreciate all the support I got that day and still get for winning that match but the bigger story is Nadal. We will never see someone winning 12 Roland Garros titles again”.

Continue Reading

Focus

Mats Wilander: “Novak Djokovic is the biggest loser during the interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic”

Published

on

Former Swedish tennis legend Mats Wilander talked about the consequences of the coronavirus on tennis during an interview to the French sports newspaper L’Equipe. Wilander recognized who are the possible winners and losers of the coronavirus pandemic that is plaguing the entire world.

 

Wilander said that Novak Djokovic is the biggest loser in the interruption. The 17-time Grand Slam champion won the first edition of the ATP Cup, his eighth title at the Australian Open against Dominic Thiem and the ATP 500 title in Dubai beating Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“It’s a shame that is everything in the world and also in tennis. I miss live tennis. It would have been the most important period of the season with Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. We are missing the best period of the season. It’s terrible for all tennis fans. Players may have the chance to train, but the biggest challenge is to find the motivation, because they don’t know exactly what they are training for. It’s like the 2018 Wimbledon semifinal between Anderson and Isner. We don’t know when this situation will end”.

The season has been suspended until 13th July and there is a big question mark over the planned resumption next summer. Even top 10 players cannot train on the tennis court, because there are exit restrictions in large parts of the world.

“Djokovic had not lost a game this season and only the coronavirus has been able to curb his momentum. The Serb is the biggest loser during the interruption. I think that other possibly affected players have also been the most outstanding tennis players of the Next Gen, since they were facing a great opportunity to approach the big three and be able to fight them in some Grand Slam. I was confident that the young promises were going to have a great year. I thought 2020 was going to be the year of the youth. They have progressed a lot in training and tennis players like Shapovalov, Tsitsipas and Auger Aliassime will grow playing the maximum number of matches. When you are young, training does not interest you much. All you want is to spend almost four hours on a tennis court and fight for victories against better tennis players than you”.

 Wilander thinks that few tennis players are the beneficiaries of the long break.

“I think the only players who can take positive things out of this situation are those who ended up injured after the Australian Open. When all this returns to normal, everyone will start from scratch, but right now it is impossible to know when it will be. Many players are preparing physically at home to not lose their physical shape, but they know that it is very difficult for them to play again this season. The most complicated thing is to stay motivated”.

Fans will miss the opportunity to see Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who are near the end of their careers. After the cancellation of the grass season, Federer announced that he will play in Halle and Wimbledon in 2021, but it remains to be seen how many months the Swiss Maestro will be able to play in these uncertain times.

“Many people will think that young players have been the most affected because they lose the opportunity to play against the best players on the circuit, but I have another theory. Fans are also the losers. The pandemic has caused us to miss the opportunity to see Federer and Williams on the track since for them time is not their friend, knowing that they are almost at the end of the careers.”

Continue Reading

Focus

Stefanos Tsitsipas: “I will miss Wimbledon and I can’t wait to 2021”

Published

on

Stefanos Tsitsipas said that the Wimbledon cancellation news was just an April fool after organizers of the famous British tournament called off their Grand Slam event due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and public health concerns.

 

Tsitsipas made his debut at Wimbledon in 2017 and reached the fourth round in 2018. He lost to Stefano Travaglia in the opening round at Wimbledon last year, but he bounced back winning the ATP Finals in London.

This year Tsitsipas won the Marseille title for the second consecutive year and lost the Dubai final against Novak Djokovic in Dubai. He lost to Milos Raonic in the third round at the Australian Open. At the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in Australia he beat Alexander Zverev and lost to Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios.

Tsitsipas was the first Greek player to break into the top 5 and the first player from his country to reach a Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in 2019. Last year he scored the biggest win of his career against Novak Djokovic in Shanghai and won three titles in Marseille and Estoril. He finished runner-up to Roger Federer in Dubai and to Dominic Thiem in Beijing.

“I went to bed thinking this was all a bad April fools joke but I woke up today to find that Wimbledon is actually cancelled. I will miss this special event and I can’t wait to 2021. Stay home. Stay sane”, wrote Tsitsipas in a Twitter post.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending