Rogers Cup Friday Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Rogers Cup Friday Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day

Serena Williams gets her rematch from last year’s controversial US Open final against Naomi Osaka.

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Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams - US Open 2018 (photo Art Seitz 2018)

While Serena detailed in a recent article for Harper’s Bazaar that there is no ill will between the two superstars, I’m sure the 23-time Major singles champion would love to avenge that painful loss of a year ago.  And I’m sure Osaka would like to prove she can beat Serena without all the distractions their US Open final provided. There’s also much more on the line in this high-profile matchup, as Osaka is playing to regain the No.1 ranking.  She’s already surpassed Ash Barty in the live WTA rankings, but a loss today would allow Karolina Pliskova to surpass Osaka if Pliskova reaches the final. There will be a lot to watch for throughout quarterfinal day in Toronto.

 

In Montreal, the top eight seeds held in three of today’s four singles quarterfinals, making for some blockbuster matches.  Top seed Rafael Nadal is the favorite to defend his title, though as Chris Fowler of ESPN pointed out, Rafa has never successfully defended a hard court title in his career.  And recent Masters 1,000 champions Dominic Thiem, Sascha Zverev, Karen Khachanov, and Fabio Fognini are all still alive in the draw.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Serena Williams (8)

Osaka is 2-0 against Serena.  She first bested Serena last year in Miami, in just Serena’s second tournament after her complicated child birth.  And then of course there’s last year’s US Open championship match, where unfortunately Serena Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos stole most of the headlines away from Naomi’s first Major title.  But let there be no mistake: Osaka thoroughly out played and out competed Serena on that day, despite all the shenanigans. But can she make it 3-0 against her idol? Osaka experienced some troubling losses following her second straight Major win to start the year, but says she’s finally having fun again on the court for the first time since Australia.  And Serena says she’s feeling as fit and healthy as she has in a few years. Despite winning both her previous matches this week in straight sets, Serena has fallen behind early in every set she’s played. She can ill afford to do that against Osaka, who plays great with a lead and is much less likely to drop her serve right back to Serena. But in a match with this much backstory, and so many emotions involved for both players, composure will be a key element here.  I expect Serena will be determined to remain focused and maintain her composure today, and fight her way to her first win over Osaka. I just think this win will mean so much more to Serena than Osaka, as she’ll view a victory as a bit of redemption.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Karen Khachanov (6)

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These men won the last two ATP tournaments of 2018, both of which were the biggest titles of their respective careers.  Yet both have suffered from subpar 2019 seasons. Khachanov arrived in Montreal with an 18-17 record on the year. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, that includes 10 first round losses.  Zverev has been admittedly distracted by legal issues with his former agent, and his coaching situation is also unsettled with Ivan Lendl recently departing from his coaching team. It’s no wonder Sascha was so emotional following yesterday’s win over Nikolaz Basilashvili.  It was a rare scene for a third seed to collapse to the court after a third round win at a Masters 1,000 event. But it was a big victory for Sascha considering his struggles this year, and also considering he let match points go begging in a loss to Basilashvili just two weeks earlier in Hamburg.  Like Zverev, Khachanov also needed nearly three hours yesterday to clinch victory, against hometown favorite Felix Auger Aliassime. Needless to say neither man will be well-rested coming into this match. Zverev has the 2-1 edge in their head-to-head, though Khachanov took their most recent meeting at last year’s Paris Indoors.  As Brad Gilbert of ESPN pointed out yesterday, Khachanov’s severe forehand grip makes it tough to absorb pace from his opponents, which is why his coaching team is encouraging him to adjust that grip. However, as was fully evident towards the end of his match yesterday, Sascha has too frequentyly been hitting his groundstrokes without conviction.  He benefitted from some critical Basilashvili errors in the third set tiebreak. I doubt Khachanov will be as kind today. Karen appears to be the player with more confidence at this time, and Zverev obviously exuded much more emotions after yesterday’s win. I like Khachanov to come through and reach his second consecutive Rogers Cup semifinal.

Other notable matches on Friday:

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Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Fabio Fognini (7).  Rafa is 11-4 against Fabio.  Since Fognini’s shocking comeback win at the 2015 US Open, Nadal had defeated him six straight times before Fabio took their most recent meeting in Monte Carlo earlier this year.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Bianca Andreescu.  Does the Canadian teenager have another big upset in her?  As per the WTA, she’s 3-0 against top five opposition this year, and has won her last nine three-set matches.

Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Daniil Medvedev (8).  Thiem has won both their previous matches, both played within the past 12 months.

Elina Svitolina (6) vs. Sofia Kenin.  Svitolina prevailed 6-4 in the third earlier this year at Indian Wells in their only previous meeting.

Roberto Bautista Agut (10) vs. Gael Monfils (16).  Monfils owns a 3-1 record over the Spaniard, but Bautista Agut defeated the Frenchman here two years ago in a third set tiebreak.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep (4) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q), a 21-year-old from Prague who is yet to drop a set in either qualifying or main draw matches in this tournament.  That includes victories over Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko.

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Daria Kasatkina Praises New Racket After Discovering Form Ahead Of Roland Garros

Daria Kasatkina talked about her new racket after improving her form ahead of Roland Garros.

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Daria Kasatkina (@5SportsNet - Twitter)

Daria Kasatkina has given praise to her new racket after finding her form ahead of Roland Garros.

 

The Russian heads into the second grand slam of the season in some form after reaching the semi-finals in Rome.

Kasatkina reached her first semi-final at WTA1000 level since Sydney in January and has been having a good and progressive season.

The world number 20 defeated the likes of Leylah Fernandez and Paula Badosa on her way to the last four as she heads into Roland Garros with confidence.

After her quarter-final match in Rome UBITennis had the chance to ask Kasatkina about her new racket and how she found out about the Artengo brand, “I don’t know the player, first of all. Second of all, I fall in love with this racquet first time I took it,” Kasatkina admitted.

“It was last pre-season. I was trying racquets. This one was like a blind testing. I didn’t know what was the racquet. It was just a black frame. I tried it and I was like, What the… What is this? I was playing on the baseline, trying all the shots, all the strokes. I was like, What is this racquet?

“When they tell me the brand, I was like I thought they were making fun of me. I didn’t even know that this brand exist. They told me, If you like the racquet, take it, which I did. I’m really happy with the way this racquet is. I’m happy how I feel on the court with the racquet. This the most important because in our sport, tennis racquet is the most important thing. You cannot hesitate with this one. I’m really happy that I did this move.”

It’s one thing to love the racket in a pre-season trial but it’s another thing for the racket to adjust to a specific game style consistently on the tour week-in and week-out.

However that’s what has happened with Kasatkina and the Russian told reporters that it’s mainly to do with the spin that the racket produces, “Well, for me this racquet fits my game good because I’m spinning,” Kasatkina told the press.

“When I spinning the ball with this racquet, I felt like I can accelerate the ball more, ball was going with more power but the same or more control than before. This is the most important for me, to be able to feel that I can hit spin, I’m controlling the ball. This is exactly what I have. I’m happy with this way.”

Kasatkina’s happiness has translated into results with two WTA1000 semi-finals as she heads into Roland Garros with confidence, “Well, in January I liked how my tennis was. I think I was playing really good in Australia,” Kasatkina said when asked about her season so far.

“Then I had couple of not best weeks. Also getting COVID. Here and there was not the best. I a little bit went out of my shape. Was a tough, tough way to get back.

“Yeah, after Indian Wells, in Miami we start to work really a lot. I spend a lot of hours on the court playing, a lot of exercising with a thousand balls where I have to put a thousand balls inside the court. Was super tough, annoying, pain in the ass to make these practices.

“Then I realized that this one is something what I need to feel better on the court. I’m happy that I, together with Carlos and my team, we discovered this one.”

Kasatkina will now look to build on a new-found happiness and confidence at Roland Garros which starts on Sunday with the draw at 6:45pm local time.

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WTA Ranking: Swiatek extends her dominance. Jabeur moves up to No. 6

Iga Swiatek leads the WTA rankings heading into Roland Garros after her latest win in Rome.

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Iga Swiatek (@WTA - Twitter)

By Claudio Girardelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

 

Unstoppable. Iga Swiatek wins her fourth WTA 1000 of the year, her fifth tournament in a row. Her winning streak rises to 28. After her triumph in Rome, she has extended the gap between herself and the other players to 2150 points. Neither Barbora Krejcikova, defending champion at Roland Garros, nor Badosa and Sakkari, who will be defending their quarterfinal and sem-ifinal of last year could bridge such a gap.

Yet, On the courts of the Bois de Boulogne there is much more at stake for Iga: if she weren’t to leave Paris with the Roland Garros crown, fans and pundits may cast some doubts upon the legitimacy of her leadership, conquered after Bartys’ shock retirement.

Unexpected. Who would have imagined Ons Jabeur could be so consistent? After winning the Mutua Madrid Open last week, she confirmed her worth and form at Rome. By reaching the final not only does she achieve her career best, but she is running for the top 5. Last year she reached the fourth round in Paris, but the players ahead of will be defending even more points than her: 2000 points Krejcikova, 430 Badosa, 780 Sakkari.

TOP 50

WTA Rank+/-PlayerTournaments playedPoints
10Iga Swiatek177061
20Barbora Krejcikova184911
30Paula Badosa274770
40Maria Sakkari184726
50Anett Kontaveit224446
6+1Ons Jabeur204380
7+1Aryna Sabalenka203966
8-2Karolina Pliskova163568
90Danielle Collins193315
100Garbiñe Muguruza183031
110Jessica Pegula202955
120Emma Raducanu232910
130Jelena Ostapenko192536
140Belinda Bencic192525
15+1Victoria Azarenka172440
16+1Elena Rybakina242420
17+1Leylah Fernandez242250
18-3Coco Gauff182165
19+2Simona Halep172126
20+3Daria Kasatkina222115
21-1Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova122093
22-3Angelique Kerber152074
23-1Madison Keys191899
24+5Jil Teichmann231783
25-1Tamara Zidansek201683
26-1Liudmila Samsonova271682
27-1Sorana Cirstea241670
28+4Amanda Anisimova201655
29+1Camila Giorgi211612
30-2Veronika Kudermetova221585
310Ekaterina Alexandrova221531
32-5Elina Svitolina201453
330Elise Mertens201446
340Petra Kvitova201435
350Marketa Vondrousova201421
360Anhelina Kalinina341387
37+3Yulia Putintseva241365
380Naomi Osaka111295
39-2Sara Sorribes Tormo231286
40-1Alizé Cornet241266
41+1Shuai Zhang361240
42+1Alison Riske241201
43+1Clara Tauson281199
44-3Ajla Tomljanovic231186
45+5Aliaksandra Sasnovich221183
460Kaia Kanepi221177
47-2Katerina Siniakova201171
48+3Nuria Parrizas Diaz421160
49+3Beatriz Haddad Maia351158
50+12Mayar Sherif421135

In the top 50, we can notice that:

  • In the top 10, Ons Jabeur (No.6) and Aryna Sabalenka (No.7) gain a position. The 2021 runner up in Rome, Karolina Pliskova drops 2 (No.8), still struggling this year.
  • In the top 20, best ranking for Leylah Fernandez (+1, No.17) while Coco Gauff loses three positions (No.18), yet to go that extra mile, beyond fifteenth place, her career best. Vi Simona Halep (+2, No.19) and Daria Kasatkina (+3, No.20) are back in the top 20.
  • Concerning positions from 21 to 50, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (-1, No.21) and Angelique Kerber (-3, No.22) slip out of the top 20. Jil Teichmann moves up 5 positions and reaches No.24. Amanda Anisimova (+4, No.28) and Aliaksandra Sasnovich (+5, No.45) are on the rise too. Three new entries in the top 50: Nuria Parrizas Diaz (+3, No.48), Beatriz Haddad Maia (+3, No.48) and the Egyptian Mayar Sherif (+12, No.50), who won the Liqui Moly Open 2022 in Karlsruhe. Elina Svitolina (No.32), who has just announced to be expecting a baby girl, loses 5 positions.

Three players leave the top 50: Shelby Rogers (-3, No.51), Sloane Stephens (-4, No.53) and Petra Martic (-23, No.70), defeated in Rome by Bianca Andreescu, who, after her 21-position leap of last week, gains other 18 positions and now is No.72. The other climbers of the week are: Xinyu Wang (+12, No.75), Lauren Davis (+12, No.90), Claire Liu (+26, No.92). Kristina Mladenovic instead slips out of the top 100 (-10, No.101).

NEXT GEN RANKING

Leyla Fernandez moves up to No.2 of the Next Gen ranking, which includes only players born after 1st January 2002. She overtakes Coco Gauff, now No.3. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva from Andorra, semi-finalist at the ITF Tournament in La Bisbal D’Emporda enters the top 10.

Position+/-PlayerYOBWTA Rank
10Emma Raducanu200212
2+1Leylah Fernandez200217
3-1Coco Gauff200418
40Clara Tauson200243
50Marta Kostyuk200259
60Qinwen Zheng200274
70Diane Parry200296
80Daria Snigur2002133
90Elina Avanesyan2002138
10Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva2005158

RACE

The WTA Race is dominated by Iga Swiatek who has over twice as many points as the closest chaser, Ons Jabeur. Aryna Sabalenka gains 6 positions (No.11) and Daria Kasatkina gains 4 (No.15). Jil Teichman (+4, No.18) enters the top 20.

Position+/-PlayerTournaments PlayedPts
10Iga Swiatek95290
20Ons Jabeur102510
30Paula Badosa111877
4+1Maria Sakkari91866
5-1Jessica Pegula101802
60Danielle Collins61686
70Anett Kontaveit91486
80Madison Keys101383
90Simona Halep81371
100Belinda Bencic91321
11+6Aryna Sabalenka111227
12+1Amanda Anisimova91216
13-2Jelena Ostapenko91167
14-2Veronika Kudermetova101143
15+4Daria Kasatkina101131
16-1Elena Rybakina111047
17-3Naomi Osaka6990
18+4Jil Teichmann10925
19-1Ekaterina Alexandrova10911
20-4Barbora Krejcikova4895

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ATP Rankings Update: Novak Djokovic Consolidates His Supremacy

How has events at last week’s Italian Masters impacted on the standings?

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ATP NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

by Roberto Ferri, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

The ATP Masters 1000 Rome, aka the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, haven’t significantly impacted the ATP Rankings.

 

Thanks to his first final in Rome, Stefanos Tsitsipas overtakes Rafael Nadal; Casper Ruud is back in 8th place while Matteo Berrettini loses two positions and now is No. 10. The most striking news is that Novak Djokovic, while conquering his sixth crown in Rome, appeared close to his best tennis and has once more opened up quite a gap between himself and his chasers. 

TOP 20

PositionPlayerCountryPts+/-
1DjokovicSerbia8660 
2MedvedevRussia7980 
3ZverevGermany7200 
4TsitsipasGreece61701
5NadalSpain5525-1
6AlcarazSpain4770 
7RublevRussia3945 
8RuudNorway39402
9Auger-AliassimeCanada3850 
10BerrettiniItalia3805-2
11NorrieGB3355 
12SinnerItaly31951
13HurkaczPoland3095-1
14FritzUSA2920 
15ShapovalovCanada26711
16SchwartzmanArgentina2505-1
17Carreno BustaSpain21351
18OpelkaUSA2090-1
19Bautista AgutSpain1903 
20DimitrovBulgaria1785 

NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN

I came, I saw, I conquered.” Considering the geographic context, the Julius Ceasar quote seems most appropriate for commenting on Novak Djokovic’s triumph in Rome: thanks to the 1000 points earned in Rome, the world number 1 has whizzed up to 10th position in the ranking of the best players in 2022 with 1610 points.

Ahead of him (until when?) there are:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1NadalSpain3620
2TsitsipasGreece3490
3AlcarazSpain3460
4Auger AliassimeCanada2025
5ZverevGermany1980
6RublevRussia1920
7MedvedevRussia1900
8FritzUSA1765
9RuudNorway1615

NEXT GEN RACE TO MILAN

No changes have occurred in the ranking of the best under 21s:

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB
1AlcarazSpain34602003
2SinnerItaly12502001
3RuneDenmark5582003
4MusettiItalia4862002
5LeheckaCzech Rep.4832001
6DraperGB4492001
7TsengTaipei4202001
8NardiItaly2312003
9CobolliItaly2222002
10NakashimaUSA2002001

BEST RANKING

Eleven players in the top 100 reach their career best:

PlayerPositionCountry
Van de Zandshulp29Netherlands
Brooksby34USA
Rune40Denmark
Cerundolo44Argentina
Giron49USA
Bonzi53France
Altmaier54Germany
Lehecka77Czech Rep.
Tabito78Chile
Halys86France
Taberner88Spain

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