Wimbledon Day 8 Preview: The Ladies’ Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Day 8 Preview: The Ladies’ Quarterfinals

With the top five seeds failing to reach the ladies’ quarterfinals for the second straight year, is Serena Williams now the favourite to claim her eighth ladies’ singles championship?



Serena Williams (@SI_Tennis - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf


Perhaps she is, but that outcome is anything but certain. Serena has only played 16 matches in 2019 as she’s battled injuries. She appears healthy now, though she’s still lacking match play, and not as quick around the court at the age of 37. While the other seven women remaining only combine for one Major singles title, they include some considerable grass court threats.

Serena Williams (11) vs. Alison Riske

In what many referred to as the “quarter of death,” the draw has actually opened up quite nicely for Serena. Ash Barty, Angelique Kerber, and Garbine Muguruza all went out early, and Serena won’t have to defeat a top 16 seed to reach the final. Her form has drastically improved as this fortnight has progressed, easily taking her last two matches in straight sets.

Her 29-year-old countrywoman is into her first Major quarterfinal, compared to Serena’s tally of 51. This is Riske’s 30th appearance in a Slam singles draw, and 21 of those times she went out in the first round. Of Ali’s 19 Major match wins, 11 have come at Wimbledon. She arrived at SW19 with a lot of confidence, having won a grass court title in s-Hertogenbosch last month.

Riske has needed four three-setters to reach this stage, three times coming back from a set down. Her upset on Monday over world No.1 Ash Barty was most impressive, but coming back just 24 hours after the best win of your career to play the GOAT on Centre Court will be a tremendous challenge. But if she emotionally recovers and isn’t overwhelmed by the occasion, Riske has the grass court tools to push Serena. However, in their first career meeting, Serena is the favorite to advance to her 37th Major semi-final.

Simona Halep (7) vs. Shuai Zhang

Simona Halep (@TennisChannel – Twitter)

Zhang was 0-5 at The Championships prior to this year, but has now matched her best result at a Major, as she was a surprise quarterfinalist in Australia three years ago. She upset two seeded players named Caroline, in Garcia and Wozniacki, to get here. And the 30-year-old from China holds a 2-1 edge over Halep, having claimed both of their last two matches on hard courts.

As Rennae Stubbs highlighted on ESPN in the US, Shuai can aggressively attack Simona’s weak second serves with her great backhand. But Halep obviously has a lot more experience in a match of this significance, and took apart her last two opponents, Victoria Azarenka and Coco Gauff. This could be an extended affair, but I like Simona’s chances to reach her first Wimbledon semi-final since 2014.

Elina Svitolina (8) vs. Karolina Muchova

What an effort by Muchova to upset one of the tournament favourites yesterday in Karolina Pliskova. The third seed twice served for the match, but the 22-year-old survived and was able to break right before the final set tiebreak would have occurred, taking the match 13-11 in the third. But after the equivalent of four gruelling sets of combat, it’s hard to imagine Muchova having much left today in her first Slam quarterfinal. And despite a prolonged first set on Monday against Petra Martic, Svitolina pulled away in the second, and should be fully fresh on Tuesday.

The eighth seed took their only previous meeting earlier this year in Doha. However, the biggest factor here will likely be Elina’s nerves. The 2018 WTA Finals champion is now into her fifth quarterfinal at a Major, but is yet to win one. And she’s suffered some heart-breaking losses in this round, most notably to Halep at the 2017 French Open where she gave up a huge lead and even held a match point. She’ll be a huge favourite here against an unproven and exhausted opponent, though that will only create more pressure for Svitolina. And grass has been Elina’s worst surface in her career, as she actually had a losing record at The All England Club ahead of this year. While I expect Svitolina will make this a complicated affair, I do think she’ll finally breakthrough to her first Slam semi-final over an exhausted opponent.

Johanna Konta (19) vs. Barbora Strycova

Johanna Konta is back. The British No.1 struggled to win matches following her first Major semi-final here two years ago. But Jo is now into her second consecutive Slam semi-final after impressive comeback victories over both Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Her opponent is a veteran 33-year-old who came into this tournament with just as many wins as losses on the season.

But after completing the Bertens/Mertens back-to-back upset combo, Strycova is into her second Slam quarterfinal, equalling her result here from five years ago. Barbora has admitted this could be her last Wimbledon, and if so, what a way to go out. And while she will be the underdog today, she is 1-0 versus Konta, having caught Jo during her post-Wimbledon 2017 slump.  As challenging as Strycova’s game can be on a grass court, Konta should make her way to her second Wimbledon semi-final in three years.

Other notable matches on Day 8:

In the second round of mixed doubles on Centre Court, Andy Murray and Serena Williams vs. Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo (14).

In the quarterfinals of gentlemen’s doubles on No.1 Court, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (1) vs. Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (11).

In the quarterfinals of ladies’ doubles on No.2 Court, Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic (1) vs. Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peshke (7).

Grand Slam

‘He Could Become An Excellent Player’ – Remember Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Debut 21 Years Later

More than two decades ago on this day was the start of where it all began for the former world No.1. But what did he and his opponent think about his first match played at a major?



Roger Federer at the 1999 French Open

On this day 21 years ago the most decorated grand slam champion in the history of men’s tennis began his major career.


Roger Federer embarked upon the 1999 French Open as the youngest player in the field and yet to break into the world’s top 100. Aged 17, the Swiss player was yet to play in the final of an ATP Tournament and only managed to enter the Roland Garros main draw thanks to a wild card. His opponent was third seed Pat Rafter who at the time was at the peak of his career. The Australian had won back-to-back US Open titles leading up to the tournament.

Undoubtedly the odds were piled heavily against a young and inexperienced Federer, but he still managed to make his mark. Surprisingly taking the first set before Rafter fought back to eventually win 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.

“The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,” the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote at the time.

Rafter echoed a similar view to L’Equipe during his post-match media engagements. He went on to become one of the few players to have a perfect winning record against Federer of 3-0. Also defeating him twice during the 2001 season.

“The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.”

Rafter’s prediction came true but even he at the time didn’t expect the 17-year-old to go on and become one of the greatest. Now Federer holds the records for most grand slam titles (20), most weeks as world No.1 (310) and has won more ATP Awards than anybody else (37). Approaching the age of 39, he remains a prominent fixture in the world’s top 10 18 years on from his debut.

Federer has spoken about his first taste of a grand slam a few times in the past. One of his most notable observations was during a conversation he had with Rafter at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. When speaking about losing his one set lead, the Swiss maestro said it was partly to do with his mental weakness and showing too much respect to the top guns at the time.

”I was up a set and I was just 17 years old and I wasn’t expected to win,” Federer recounted. ”I think I got broken in the second set and I was like ‘Oh, God, what am I doing?’
”Next thing you know I’m losing 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. It was very mental. I had a lot of respect for the older generation who were already accomplished. Obviously stars like Pat were, for me, people I really looked up to, even though I knew I could beat them. Mentally I was not so solid.”

Rafter has also admitted that his 1999 victory was partly down to the mental weakness of his rival during a 2018 interview with Blick newspaper. However, he blames losing the first set on never playing Federer before.

“I met Roger for the first time at the French Open in 1999. It was his grand slam debut. Since I did not know his game at the time, it took me some time to adjust to him. That’s why I lost the first set,” he said.
“Roger’s biggest handicap was his mental maturity, he was only 17 years old. That was one of the reasons why I came back and win in four sets.”

Whilst the French Open was where it all began for Federer, his record in the major is the worst out of the four grand slams. It is the only one he has failed to win multiple times, claiming his sole title back in 2009. Overall, he has played in the main draw 18 times with a win-loss of 70-17.

How old was the current top 10 when Federer made his grand slam debut?

  1. Novak Djokovic – 12
  2. Rafael Nadal – 12
  3. Dominic Thiem – 5
  4. Roger Federer – 17
  5. Daniil Medvedev – 3
  6. Stefanos Tsitsipas – 9 months
  7. Alexander Zverev – 2
  8. Matteo Berrettini – 3
  9. Gael Monfils – 12
  10. David Goffin – 8

(numbers in years unless otherwise stated)

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‘Global Announcement’ Regarding Revised 2020 Calendar In The Works, Says French Open Chief

Guy Forget has issued an update regarding the current status of the clay-court major.



The governing bodies of tennis are hoping to announce their plans for the remainder of the 2020 season in unison, according to the tournament director of the French Open.


Guy Forget has told French radio station Europe 1 that he is working with the ITF, ATP and WTA on a ‘global announcement’ regarding what the rest of the tennis season would look like when it resumes. All professional events have been either cancelled or suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are hopes that the sport could resume in August, however, there is still uncertainty around the US Open with a final decision set to be made in June.

The uncertainty surrounding Flushing Meadows is also problematic for the French Open, which is set to take just two weeks after the event concludes. Forget has stated that he is working with the USTA to ensure that the two major events do not collide. The French Open had originally planned to start on May 24th before being delayed due to the pandemic.

“The official announcement has not been made yet. It (the French Open) will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October,” Forget told Europe 1.
“We’ve been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year.
“There are so many question marks. The city of New York is more affected by the coronavirus than France. They also have a lot of organisation problems, they will make an announcement mid-June to say how it’s going to be like for the US Open.”

Whilst the USTA is contemplating taking place behind closed doors, Forget is confident that his event will be able to welcome fans in some capacity. At present, France has banned all events that involve 5000 or more people. More than 500,000 tickets were sold for the tournament last year.

“We’ll see how the situation is in a couple of months. We will adapt to what the government will say. We have to be ambitious and optimistic,” he said.

The French Open is scheduled to be held from September 20th until October 4th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the defending champions in the men’s and women’s draws.

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Chances Of Fan-Less US Open Rising Amid Warning From Former Champion Marin Cilic

The former world No.3 believes such a move would devalue the tournament, but it is the best option the USTA has?



The last player outside of the Big Four to win the US Open title believes the motion to play the event behind closed doors will feel like playing practice matches instead of a grand slam.


2014 champion Marin Cilic has voiced his concerns as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) continues to ponder what to do with the major event. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with officials hoping to restart the Tour in August. However, there are concerns about the chances of the US Open taking place as originally planned due to New York being one of the most affected states in America by Coronavirus. More than 20,000 people have died in New York from the virus.

One option under consideration is hosting the event without any fans due to fears that the venue could become a COVID-19 hotspot with many people gathering in one place. Last year a record 737,872 fans visited the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center over two weeks. Such a move would be a huge financial loss for the organisers, but the event would still be able to go ahead. However, Cilic isn’t convinced that it would be the right move.

“I just feel that it’s going to more or less feel like practice matches,” he said during an interview with Reuters.
“It’s always going to be … in the years to come, ‘oh, you know that guy won a U.S. Open in 2020 without fans’. I don’t think it’s going to have that weight…
“It wouldn’t be the best scenario.”

Whilst it may not be the best scenario in the eyes of Cilic, it does appear that the USTA will be heading in that direction. Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo posted a message on Twitter in which he said he is willing to partner with sports teams who will play events without fans. A possible lifeline for the US Open.

“New York State is ready and willing to partner with major sports teams that are interested in playing games safely, without fans. If our professional sports teams can make it work (and be safe) on their end, we’re supportive,” he wrote.

Originally the CEO of the USTA, Mike Dose, said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the tournament would be played behind closed doors. However, that view has since significantly changed with more now leaning in favour of that option.

Lew Sherr is the Chief Revenue Officer of the USTA. Speaking to The Sports Business Journal, he said he has been surprised by the reception he has received from sponsors over the idea of a no-fan US Open with many viewing it as an historic event.

“Two months ago, it just didn’t feel like you could stage the celebration or the spectacle that is the U.S. Open in a no-fan scenario and have it be what we think of as the U.S. Open,” Sherr said.
“As we’ve gone forward, I’ve come around to recognizing what an achievement it would be to play, and how much our fans are missing the game and would be excited to see the competition, and that you need to think about it differently. It’s a different event. It would be broadcast differently, it would be consumed differently, it’s not just playing the U.S. Open as you know it, with empty seats.”

A final decision on the US Open will be made next month.

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