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

All round of 16 singles matches will be played on an extremely busy day in Canada.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - Indian Wells 2019 (Luigi Serra)

Overall 49 Major singles titles are represented by the players remaining in the men’s and women’s singles draws, with 41 of them belonging to Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.  They’ll both be considerable favorites in their matches on Thursday. The day’s most intriguing matchups involve two Canadian teenagers who are in the midst of breakout seasons, and pursuing further glory at their country’s biggest tournament.

Karen Khachanov (6) vs. Felix Auger Aliassime

This will be the first career meeting between the 23-year-old Russian and the 19-year-old Canadian, who is celebrating his birthday today.  This is the teenager’s first time playing in the city he was born. Felix already has solid wins this week over two veteran countrymen, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic, though Raonic was forced to retire after they split the first two sets.  Khachanov yesterday notched his first win over Stan Wawrinka with some high quality play. He’ll be a step up in competition for the young Canadian. I’m surprised this was not scheduled for the evening session, which would allow Felix the opportunity of playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd in prime time.  Still, the day session folks will be exuberantly behind the birthday boy. And Felix may need all their energy to overcome a confident Khachanov, who has rediscovered his form after a slow start to 2019. Karen will be the favorite in what could be the beginning of a rivalry to play out for many years to come.

Kiki Bertens (5) vs. Bianca Andreescu

19-year-old Andreescu shocked the tennis world by winning Indian Wells back in March.  But this is only her third tournament since, as she’s given her body time to recoup from injuries.  Bianca was already pushed to three sets in both of the last two days, and yesterday had to battle back from 5-3 down in the third before winning the last four games to take out Daria Kasatkina.  She did so despite looking physically spent during that third set, so how much will she have left today? Meanwhile Bertens has only spent one hour on court this week, dropping just three games to an American qualifier yesterday.  The fifth seed should prevail here, but as we’ve learned this season, count out the ultra-competitive Andreescu at your own peril. That’s especially true on North American hard courts, where she owns 20 match wins at all levels this year.

Other notable matches on Thursday:

Serena Williams (8) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova (Q).  Serena looked pretty impressive yesterday against Elise Mertens.  This will be her first meeting against the 24-year-old qualifier from Russia.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Guido Pella.  Rafa is 3-0 against Guido having never dropped a set.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Iga Swiatek (Q).  The 18-year-old from Poland defeated Caroline Wozniacki just last night.

Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Marin Cilic (14).  Thiem earned his first-ever Rogers Cup win yesterday against Denis Shapovalov.  Cilic has really been struggling this season, with almost as many losses as wins.

In a battle of former French Open champions, Simona Halep (4) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (WC).  Halep just barely survived yesterday over Jennifer Brady in a third set tiebreak, and was clearly less than 100%.

2017 champion Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Nikolaz Basilashvili (13).  Basilashvili defeated Zverev two weeks ago on clay in a third set tiebreak.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Anett Kontaveit (16).  Pliskova took both previous meetings, including a hard court match earlier this year in Indian Wells.

Gael Monfils (16) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (Alt).  Hurkacz upset last year’s finalist, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the last round.

In a match between two former Rogers Cup champions, both of whom won when the WTA tournament was staged in Toronto, Elina Svitolina (6) vs. Belinda Bencic (11).

 

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Novak Djokovic Starts Rehab Ahead Of Ambitious Wimbledon Return

Novak Djokovic could make an ambitious return to Wimbledon.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Novak Djokovic has started his rehab after having surgery on a meniscus injury he suffered at Roland Garros.

The Serb suffered the injury during his fourth round clash with Francisco Cerundolo where Djokovic came back from two sets to one down to claim victory.

However Djokovic played no further part at Roland Garros as he suffered a bad meniscus injury and had to withdraw from the tournament.

It resulted in Djokovic having to have surgery the following day in Paris as he gave up his world number one ranking to Jannik Sinner.

Now the road to recovery starts for Djokovic as he posted on Instagram the start of his rehabilitation programme.

Usually the programme takes three weeks to six months to recover from but Djokovic’s injury wasn’t as bad as first reported.

It remains to be seen as to whether Djokovic will make his return at Wimbledon or whether he will wait until the Olympic Games to make his return.

Last year Djokovic reached the final at Wimbledon before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in a five set epic.

However it would be no surprise to see Djokovic withdraw as the one thing the Serb is yet to achieve is to win Olympic Gold.

A fully healed Djokovic could be tough to stop in Paris as he looks to achieve a lifetime goal.

Wimbledon starts on the 1st of July while the Olympics starts on the 27th of July.

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Determined Andreescu Ready To Maintain Consistency After Defeating Osaka

Bianca Andreescu is back to her best after defeating Naomi Osaka in s-Hertogenbosch.

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Bianca Andreescu is ready to maintain consistency as her form continues to improve with her latest victory coming against Naomi Osaka in S-Hertogenbosch.

In a battle of the former US Open champions, Andreescu defeated Osaka 6-4 3-6 7-6(3) to move into the semi-finals.

The Canadian is only playing her second tournament this year after her run to the third round at Roland Garros, losing to eventual finalist Jasmine Paolini.

However that hasn’t stopped Andreescu from producing incredible performances as has gone back to the variety that earned her the US Open title five years ago.

Speaking about the match Andreescu praised her consistency on return as she admitted that she really wanted to the victory, “So the key for. me was to stay as consistent as possible,” Andreescu told the WTA website.

“My return today, the goal was to just bunt it back and then take control of the second serve. At 5-2, I might have let up a little bit on my serve. I was saying to myself ‘Go for it’ but the other side of myself said ‘Calm down’. So I got a bit conflicted with that.

“But really could have gone either way. It was two points difference maybe, in the whole match. I never give up. I ran a lot today. More than her for sure. I really wanted it. I really wanted it today and I think that made the big difference.”

Since that US Open title win five years ago, Andreescu has failed to live up to her potential as she has gained the reputation of being one of the most injury prone players on the tour.

Now the Canadian is aiming to find some consistent playing time as she aims to rebuild her ranking.

Speaking ahead of the semi-finals in Holland, Andreescu is not getting to far ahead of herself, “These are the reason we play this sport,” Andreescu commented after beating former world number one Osaka.

“Winning against players like this, at least for me, it really shows me where my level is at. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because every day is different. I just want to take it in and use it to my advantage.”

Next for Andreescu will be Dalma Galfi in the semi-finals as she plays her first WTA semi-final since January 2023.

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Jack Draper Stuns Tiafoe in Stuttgart; Becomes New British Number One

The Brit serves up astonishing 31 aces in just 17 service games

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Britain’s Jack Draper was pushed all the way before beating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie-breaker to reach the semi-finals of the Boss Open in Stuttgart today – a result which also makes him the new British number one.

Draper’s biggest wins of his career came when he defeated world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal last year as a qualifier, and also beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the US Open third round. However, today’s victory over Tiafoe confirms his ascent to the top spot in the British rankings, something which is extremely proud of.

“It’s an incredible privilege, an honour to be in that position,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been so lucky to have guys like Andy Murray, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of me all these years and they’re still in the mix pushing me, so it’s a real honour, a big milestone.”

Games went with serve in the opening set until Tiafoe broke when the scores were even at five games all. Tiafoe, whose three ATP titles have come on all three surfaces, survived a break back point in the next game to take the set with 15 winners and an impressive 71% of first serves in. The payers stopped briefly for a rain delay at the start of the second set.

“It was difficult, it wasn’t easy after the first set, I thought Frances played a really good game, just the one break.” Said Draper. “Going off, I was very frustrated, but then I came back really strong, I knew I had my opportunities and I knew I would have some more. I’m really happy with the way I served and competed and how brave I was at the end.”

As the second set continued, Draper missed two breakpoints when 4-3 ahead including a huge chance when he pushed his opponent out wide and approached the net – but put too much on his drop volley which Tiafoe punished. Draper had been serving unbelievably throughout the set with 11 aces overall, and blitzed through another love service game to go 5-4 up and apply some scoreboard pressure.

In the next game he hit a strong forehand up the line to win the crucial first point and then chased down a drop shot to hit another flashy winner to go 0-30 ahead. Tiafoe won the next point but then double faulted to give Draper set points – and he converted with yet another superb forehand up the line to level the contest at a set all.

Both players held serve easily at the start of the third but then tested each other out as the set progressed. Tiafoe fought through a deuce game and got to 30 all on Draper’s serve but the Brit averted the danger. Draper missed a match point when 5-4 up with a missed return but entered the tie-break in good shape – his first serve was almost unplayable winning over 85% when in.

“I’m incredibly happy with the win. I’ve lost all my last three third set tie-breakers so to come through today was really amazing, I’m really proud of my effort. I’m really happy with the way I served and the way I played; it was a really high-quality match. Frances was serving very well himself so to serve the way I did; it was a really big positive for me.”

Draper now goes on to face another American Brandon Nakashima who progressed after Jan-Lennard Struff withdrew with sickness. Speaking about his next opponent who was born in the same year as Draper, he said: “He’s someone who is an incredibly good young player, a really exciting talent, I think he had a lot of injuries last year like myself but he’s been rising this year and playing a lot of matches. Like everyone here, they’re all amazing players and it will be a tough battle.”

After the match, Draper spoke to Sky Sports and elaborated further about the positive influence of the other British top five, and about the Euro 2024 tournament beginning this evening.

“Those guys have all inspired me to be better. Obviously, Andy is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and has achieved so much in the game. For me he’s one of the greatest players. I’ve learned so much from those guys, the professionalism, the discipline and they’ve always been really good for me, just as a young player looking up to them and copying what they do so I’m very grateful for that.”

“[In the football]: Hopefully England can do one better than three years ago because we did well to get to the final. We have an incredibly strong team. It’s going to be a lot of tough matches but hopefully they can pull through.

On the other side of the draw, former champion Matteo Berrettini faced qualifier James Duckworth.  The Australian, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2021, could only manage 64% of first serve points won and committed 16 unforced errors while also facing eight breakpoints. A single break of serve in both sets was enough for the Italian to move forward into the semis, as he won 6-4, 7-5 with another strong serving display.

“It was a really solid match, especially on my serve, I didn’t give him any breakpoints,” said Berrettini afterwards. “I felt like the rhythm on the serve was really good, on grass it’s really important and in the right moments I stepped in and was more aggressive. It’s really important to put a lot of returns in and that’s what I tried to do and it worked out, and so I’m happy for that.

When asked why he was so hard to beat on the faster surface he replied, “you should ask my opponents that! I think obviously for my weapons, my serve, it pays off on grass to play aggressively and that’s what I like to do. I’m using the slice as well on the backhand side and it’s important to play good in the important moments and being able to put pressure on your opponent when you’re serving is really important, and I think that’s the key. And when I step on grass, I feel like I want to play for hours and hours so here I am”

The 28-year-old is a big football fan, and was also asked about whether he would watch the opening match of the tournament. “Germany is playing tonight so I will watch tomorrow’s match. I love Germany but to supporting Germany is a little bit too much! Tomorrow is the start [for Italy] so good luck to the guys. Three years ago, we had really good memories during this time, so let’s see!”

Following Struff’s earlier withdrawal against Nakashima, it meant there was only one other quarter final today where Lorenzo Musetti progressed despite dropping the first set 4-6 to Hungarian Alexander Bublik. The Italian raced through the second set 6-1, and when he broke serve to go 1-0 ahead in the decider, Bublik retired.

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