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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Angelique Kerber To Retire At Olympic Games

Angelique Kerber has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Olympics.

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(@SzymiPrzybysz - Twitter)

Angelique Kerber has announced that she will be retiring from tennis at the Olympic Games.

The former three-time Grand Slam champion returned to the sport at the United Cup in January after becoming a mother.

It’s been a return full of ups and downs but ultimately Kerber only had one goal at the end of it and that was to play at the Olympics.

Now the 36 year-old will get to achieve that dream, Kerber has announced on Instagram that the Olympics will be her last tournament of her career.

In a post Kerber spoke about her Olympic journey as this is her third ever Olympics and said that this was the finish line.

Kerber will aim to end her career on a high as she has achieved some of the best achievements that this sport has to offer.

A former world number one, three-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic silver medallist at the Rio Olympics.

An incredible career for an incredibly resilient player that the tour will miss deeply.

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Matteo Berrettini battles past Alejandro Tabilo to reach the quarter final in Kitzbuehl

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Matteo Berrettini beat second seed Alejandro Tabilo 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) to reach the quarter final at the Generali Open in Kitzbuehl. 

Berrettini has extended his winning streak to seven consecutive matches following his second title of the year in Gstaad against Quentin Halys. The Italian player won 79% of his first service points.  

Berrettini went up 2-2 0-30 but Tabilo hit two aces to hold  serve. Tabilo led 30-15 at 3-4, but Berrettini hit three aces to hold serve. Berrettini earned his first mini-break to take a 5-4 lead after a double fault from Tabilo and won the final two points to close out the tie-break 7-4. 

Tabilo saved four break points in the second game from 0-40 down to hold serve at deuce. Berrettini went up a break in the eight game to take a 5-2 lead. The Italian player was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, as Tabilo broke back in the 10th game. Both players went on serve en route to tie-break. Berrettini earned two mini-breaks to take a 5-2 lead. Tabilo pulled one mini-break back, but Berrettini sealed the win on his third match point.

“Having the chance to just play, feeling good and healthy, fighting for matches is just what I wanted for so many matches. So I am enjoying it and I am looking forward for my next match”, said Berrettini.

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Jannik Sinner Withdraws From Olympics Due To Tonsillitis

Jannik Sinner has withdrawn from the Olympics due to tonsillitis.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

World number one Jannik Sinner has withdrawn from the Olympics due to tonsillitis.

The Italian was well placed to win a medal in Paris but has now had to withdraw from the games due to illness.

It was supposed to be his first Olympics as he was set to be the top seed in both singles and doubles.

However Sinner seems to still be struggling from his health problems that he had at Wimbledon in his quarter-final match against Daniil Medvedev.

In a statement on Twitter Sinner said he was strongly advised to miss the Olympics and will now watch from home.

Sinner will now be replaced in the singles draw by Andrea Vavassori while Luciano Darderi will now team up with Lorenzo Musetti in doubles.

Now Sinner aims to be healthy in time for his title defence in Canada which starts on the 5th of August.

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