Cincinnati Open Saturday Preview: The Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Open Saturday Preview: The Semifinals

Both the men’s and women’s top seeds have advanced this far, but just how favored should they be to win this event?

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Novak Djokovic remains the heavy favorite on the men’s side, but faces a stiff test in the winningest player in the US Open Series.  And the other semifinal is quite an unlikely one. While David Goffin was a semifinalist here a year ago, this is Richard Gasquet’s first Masters 1,000 semifinal since Miami in 2013, as highlighted by Ravi Ubha on Twitter.  On the women’s side, the 2009 French Open champion faces the 2019 French Open champion. And in the other semifinal, two Americans will battle to represent the US in the championship match at one of their country’s biggest tournaments.

 

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (9)

These are easily the two men who have played at the highest level this week in Cincinnati.  Neither has dropped a set or been challenged at all by their opposition. Djokovic owns a 3-1 record against the 23-year-old Russian, but Medvedev claimed their most recent match in Monte Carlo earlier this year.  That was at a time when Novak was struggling with his form, which has not been the case of late. Since that loss in Monte Carlo, Djokovic is a stellar 23-2, with his only losses coming on clay at the hands of Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.  Medvedev though is on a similarly impressive tear, with 12 wins within the past three weeks alone. Daniil now leads the ATP with 42 match wins this year. He’s playing today to reach his third final in as many weeks. But taking out Novak Djokovic on a hard court is a tall task nowadays, and all the tennis Medvedev has played these last few weeks has to catch up with him eventually.  As excellently as Daniil has been playing against lesser competition, he’s struggled when facing bigger names, such as last week’s Rogers Cup final against Rafael Nadal where he won just three games. I expect Medvedev will be a bit more successful today, but Djokovic remains the favorite.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Both of these players were forced to come back from a set down yesterday.  Barty did so emphatically, winning 12 of the last 14 games. Kuznetsova’s comeback was a bit more complicated, as Karolina Pliskova served for the match in the second set.  That was the 34-year-old’s third victory this week over a player ranked 11th or higher.  This surprising run follows a rough period in her career where she even considered retirement, as outlined here in a great WTA piece by Courtney Nguyen.  This will be Kuznetsova’s first match against Barty, who has fought her way to this semifinal despite not playing her best tennis this week.  With Pliskova as well as Naomi Osaka losing yesterday, Barty is guaranteed to regain the No.1 ranking after this tournament. That may free her up and help her up her level.  Her all-court game will be a lot for Kuznetsova to handle, especially considering this is the most tennis Svetlana has played in a long time. Barty is the favorite here, but judging by the way Kuznetsova has competed this week, another Sveta upset would not be a total shock.

Other notable matches on Saturday:

Madison Keys (16) vs. Sofia Kenin.  Kenin took their only previous meeting 6-4 in the third, which was earlier this year on the clay of Rome.

David Goffin (16) vs. Richard Gasquet (PR).  They’ve split their two encounters, both played within the last two years on hard courts.

In the women’s double final, Rogers Cup finalists Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs (5) vs. Lucie Hradecka and Andreja Klepac (8), who were on a four-match losing streak prior to this week.

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Sam Stosur Produces Comeback To Reach First WTA Final For 28 Months In Guangzhou

Sam Stosur reached her first WTA final for two and a half years with a three set win over Viktorija Golubic in Guangzhou.

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Sam Stosur (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

Sam Stosur came from a set down to beat Viktorija Golubic 2-6 7-6(4) 6-1 to reach her first WTA final in two and a half years. 

 

After losing the first set in comfortable fashion and surrendering her early break lead in the second set, the Australian fought back to reach the Guangzhou final.

The win means that Stosur will now compete in her first WTA final for two and a half years, when she won the Strasbourg title in 2017.

Speaking after the match the former US Open was delighted with the way she rallied back into the contest, “I just tried to hang in there and find a way to start playing a bit better,” she told the WTA website.

“She’s very tough to play against so I’m just happy to get through. This is where everyone wants to be, so to now make it to the final, I’m really happy and I’ll give it my best shot tomorrow.”

Having reached the final, she will now re-enter the world’s top 100 and compete for the 10th title of her career, which would be her first on hard courts since 2014.

Standing in Stosur’s way will be world number 20 Sofia Kenin after the American edged out Anna Blinkova 7-6(5) 4-6 6-1 in a tight contest.

Six breaks of serve was enough for Kenin as she aims to win her third title of the season having won in Hobart and Mallorca this season.

Seeds Deliver In Seoul As Rain Halts Play In Osaka

Meanwhile in the Seoul, the seeds managed to deliver to book their spots in the semi-finals. Yafan Wang, Karolina Muchova and Magda Linette all cruised into the last four in South Korea.

Although second seed Ekaterina Alexandrova had to survive a big scare against in-form Kristie Ahn with the Russian edging through 6-7(0) 6-4 6-4.

However there was a bleak day in Osaka, Japan where only one match was completed as three of the quarter-finals will have to be played tomorrow.

The one result saw Angelique Kerber reach the semi-finals having lead Madison Keys 6-4 4-6 2-1 before the American retired.

Tomorrow will be Kerber’s first WTA semi-final since reaching the final in Eastbourne in June.

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Serena Williams Confident In Bid For Grand Slam History Claims Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou says that Serena Williams is confident of another grand slam victory despite recent setbacks.

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Serena Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou (@BBCSport - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that the American is confident in her bid for more grand slam history. 

 

Despite the American not winning a set in her last four grand slam finals, Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that she is still confident in winning another grand slam again.

Serena’s last grand slam win was at the Australian Open in 2017 before taking a break from the sport to become a mother.

Although it has been a struggle, Mouratoglou believes time is on the 37 year old’s side, “I think time is working for her,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.

“I think she was much better at the US Open than she was at Wimbledon and Wimbledon better than Roland Garros. 

“She is getting back in shape and the more in shape she will be the more dangerous she will be. I think she has started to play really good tennis.”

Losses to Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu have exposed Serena’s lack of confidence and how nervous she is in the grand slam finals.

However Mouratoglou believes that Serena’s historic moment will come sooner rather than later, “It is one match for history and the pressure is quite high,” he said.

“I am not in her mind but I can figure she is playing one match for history. This is the highest pressure anyone can have in life and on the other side of the court she plays girls who have zero pressure because it is their first final.

“They are going to play many [Grand Slams], they are young, they are excited, enthusiastic so they play without pressure and that makes a big difference. But at some point she will figure out how to deal with that.”

Serena’s next tournament is scheduled to be the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in late October, should she qualify although there is a good possibility that we won’t be seeing on a tennis court until next year.

Will 2020 be the year that Serena finally figures out how to deal with the pressure of creating more history for herself? Only time will tell.

 

 

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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