Rogers Cup Wednesday Preview: Serena Returns As Khachanov Faces Swiss Foe - UBITENNIS
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Rogers Cup Wednesday Preview: Serena Returns As Khachanov Faces Swiss Foe

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep, and Naomi Osaka are all scheduled to play their opening matches on a jam-packed day in Canada.

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

With world No.1 Ash Barty’s loss to Sofia Kenin yesterday, Naomi Osaka could surpass Barty in the rankings with a win today.  However, Karolina Pliskova is capable of overtaking both Barty and Osaka with a deep run this week. Also in Toronto, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep will play her first match since her dream win at The All England Club, as will the woman she thumped in the final, Serena Williams.

 

In Montreal, Rafael Nadal will begin his title defense against a resurgent Dan Evans of Great Britain.  That will open play on Court Central, and be followed by this year’s other Roland Garros men’s singles finalist, Dominic Thiem.  He’ll take on 20-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who will look to recapture the magic of his 2017 breakthrough run in Montreal.  And in the night session, Denis’ close friend Felix Auger Aliassime will face the Canadian No.1, Milos Raonic. But Wednesday’s best men’s match may just be on the outer courts, in a big-hitting affair between Karen Khachanov and Stan Wawrinka.  Overall, the biggest factor in Montreal today may be the weather, as rain is forecasted throughout the day. That could throw the tournament schedule into chaos if any men’s singles matches are not completed.

Serena Williams (8) vs. Elise Mertens

After losing her third consecutive Major final at Wimbledon, the common theory regarding Serena’s latest defeat is she just isn’t match tough.  Injuries have limited her match play this season. In an effort to get more match play ahead of the US Open, Serena is making a rare appearance north of the US border.  This is only her ninth appearance at the Rogers Cup, and her first since 2015. But when she has made the trip to Canada, she’s often found success. Serena has advanced to the semifinals or better in all of the last five times she’s played this tournament.  This will be just her seventh tournament of 2019, and she’s yet to win a title since returning from child birth in March of last year. And her opening opposition here is certainly no slouch: a top 20 player Serena has never before faced. Mertens achieved a career highlight by prevailing in Doha six months ago, a run which included three top 10 wins.  But since that event, she’s just 14-14. While Elise has enough game to give Serena a true challenge, Serena didn’t enter this event to lose in her opening round. Her Wimbledon loss will only motivate her further. Assuming Serena is still fully healthy as she was at Wimbledon, she should prevail here.

Karen Khachanov (6) vs. Stan Wawrinka

Wawrinka is 2-0 against Khachanov, with both their matches taking place on hard courts within the past 12 months.  While Stan has taken all four sets they’ve played, three of those sets went to a tiebreak, showing how tight their matches have been.  Khachanov was a semifinalist here a year ago, and pushed Nadal in a high-quality semi despite losing in straight sets. Wawrinka also lost to Nadal here a year ago in two tight sets, one of the first signs than Stan was rediscovering his form following knee surgery.  Khachanov arrives here on a two-match losing streak, with losses to Roberto Bautista Agut at Wimbledon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week in Washington. Considering those two defeats, as well as his two defeats at the hands of Wawrinka, Stan must be considered the favorite in what will likely be another close contest.

Other notable matches on Wednesday:

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dan Evans (Q), in their first career meeting.

Kitzbuhel champion Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Denis Shapovalov.  The Canadian arrived in Montreal with a losing record on the season, and on a five-match losing streak.

In a clash of Canadian generations, Milos Raonic (17) vs. Felix Auger Aliassime.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Tatjana Maria (Q), in Osaka’s first match since her opening round loss at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep (4) vs. Jennifer Brady (Q), who dropped just three games to Kiki Mladenovic on Monday.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Alison Riske (Q), the woman who upset Ash Barty at Wimbledon.

A finalist here last year, Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (Alt).  The 22-year-old from Poland got into the draw thanks to Kevin Anderson’s withdrawal, and took out Taylor Fritz yesterday.

19-year-old Indian Wells champ Bianca Andreescu vs. Daria Kasatkina, who upset Angelique Kerber in the last round.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Frances Tiafoe Translates Performance Into Results In Cincinnati Opener

Frances Tiafoe is hoping performances translate into results as he reaches the second round in Cincinnati.

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Frances Tiafoe (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

After producing gutsy performances in close defeats, Frances Tiafoe finally translated that into victory with a 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(5) win over Matteo Berrettini in Cincinnati.

 

The American is one of the most unique players on the tour with his potential clear to see but isn’t always known for deep tournament results.

Tiafoe’s big serve, dangerous groundstrokes and charismatic personality makes him one of the most enjoyable players to watch on tour but that doesn’t get you wins on the tour which the American has found out the hard way.

In recent years though Tiafoe has slowly been improving results and earning some big wins but has often lacked consistency in wins despite performing to his best level.

However that might be about to change as Tiafoe earned a gutsy and huge win over Matteo Berrettini in his Cincinnati opener as he came through a last set tiebreak against the Italian.

The victory may be a surprise to some but for the American it’s been coming as his recent performances have shown, “People don’t understand, obviously results haven’t really shown how well I’ve been playing. I’ve been playing some great tennis, honestly,” Tiafoe told the ATP website.

“I really just needed this. I know it’s a first-round match…. But everyone knew why I needed this against a quality player, so it was big. I know I’ve beaten a lot of these guys, but it hasn’t happened of late. So it’s one of those things where you’ve got to get over the hump. But I’m happy I get another chance to play again.”

Tiafoe will be hoping consistency can be part of his game as the end of the season approaches and there would be nothing better for the American than to make a deep run at his home grand slam at the US Open.

Next for Tiafoe will be fellow American Sebastian Korda, who he has a 3-0 head-to-head record against before potentially facing John Isner or Hubert Hurkacz in the third round.

Tiafoe’s 2022 Season So Far:

Adelaide 1: R2 (l. Kokkinakis)

Adelaide 2: R1 (l. Paul)

Australian Open: R2 (l. Fritz)

Indian Wells: R3 (l. Rublev)

Miami: R4 (l. Francisco Cerundolo)

Houston: Quarter-Finals (l. Isner)

Barcelona: R3 (l. Auger-Aliassime)

Estoril: Final (l. Baez)

Madrid: R1 (l. Garin)

Rome: R1 (l. Krajinovic)

Roland Garros: R2 (l. Goffin)

Queen’s Club: R1 (l. Wawrinka)

Eastbourne: R1 (l. Bublik)

Wimbledon: R4 (l. Goffin)

Atlanta: Semi-Finals (l. Brooksby)

Washington: Quarter-Finals (l. Kyrgios)

Montreal: R2 (l. Fritz)

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Fan Told To Leave Match At Western And Southern Open Over Size Of Her Ukrainian Flag Speaks Out

Organisers at the tournament have also issued a statement concerning what happened and why the individual was asked to leave the court.

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Image via https://twitter.com/CincyTennis/

A woman says security at the Western and Southern Open threatened to call the police if she did not leave a qualifying match after complaints were made by a Russian player about her Ukrainian flag. 

 

Lola, who is originally from Uzbekistan but now lives in America, was seen at the tournament over the weekend using a Ukrainian flag to cover herself whilst watching a match between Anastasia Potapova and Anna Kalinskaya. It is understood that one of those players, who are both Russian, made a complaint to the umpire. Prompting the official to speak directly to Lola which then resulted in a member of security getting involved.  

During an interview with Local 12 News, Lola has given her account of the incident that occurred. Saying the match was stopped twice due to a dispute over the issue. 

“’You’re not being nice. You need to put the flag away,’” Lola said she was told by the umpire. “The message I got was that it is agitating Russian players. I said, ‘I’m not putting it away.’ They kept playing for a minute or two. Then, they stopped the game again, and then the security guard came up to me and said, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to call the cops if you won’t leave.”

Russia is currently involved in a war with Ukraine after launching a military attack on the country on February 24th. A move which has prompted widespread condemnation from both the western world and the sporting world. At this year’s Wimbledon Russian players were banned from participating, as well as players from Belarus which is a country accused of supporting Russia. On both the ATP and WTA Tour’s players from both those countries are only allowed to compete as neutral athletes. 

In wake of the incident, the Western and Southern Open issued a statement saying that the size of Lola’s flag breached the tournament’s policy. Lola said she was informed about the rule 15 minutes after being asked to leave the court and was allowed back into the venue once she put her flag in the car. 

“Per the Western and Southern Open’s bag policy, as stated on the tournament’s website, flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 [inches] (46 x 46cm) are prohibited,” a spokesperson for the tournament said in an email to Reuters.
“Therefore, the patron was asked to remove the flag from the grounds and, after doing so, was allowed to remain at the tournament.”

The tournament declined to comment on the conduct of the umpire and said it is for the WTA to do so. 

Meanwhile, local charity Cincy4Ukraine say they have contacted a lawyer to see if Lola’s first amendment rights were violated. If there is a suggestion that this has been the case, a court hearing could take place should Lola want to take legal action. 

As for the Russian players involved, Kalinskaya beat Potapova 7-5, 6-1, to reach the main draw and will play Martina Trevisan. Potapova has also made it into the main draw as a lucky loser and will play Simona Halep. 

Kalinskaya, Potapova and The WTA have not publicly commented on the incident so far. 

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