US Open Day 2 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 2 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

With great weather forecasted throughout this fortnight, the conditions should enable some phenomenal tennis at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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Looking at the men’s side, “The Big Three” of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have claimed the last 11 Majors.  In contrast, nine different women have won the last 11 Majors. How much longer can Roger, Rafa, and Novak hold off the rest of the field, as well as Father Time?  And when will consistency emerge amongst the women?

 

Felix Auger-Aliassime (18) vs. Denis Shapovalov

This is a rematch from the same round on the same court one year ago.  On that day, Felix suffered some irregular heartbeat issues, and was forced to retire.  He was extremely emotional after the match, and was consoled by his opponent and best friend.  They also played earlier this year on clay in Madrid, with Felix prevailing in straight sets. Felix has achieved much more success than Denis in 2019.  He has 31 match wins, and recently debuted inside the top 20. Shapovalov meanwhile owns almost as many wins as losses, and just missed out on being seeded here, enabling this first round rematch.  Denis is the more experienced player at the Majors, but has lost in the first round of the last two Slams. Felix just earned his first wins at a Major last month at Wimbledon. It’s hard to predict how each player will react to facing someone they’re so close to, especially after what happened here last year.  But based on recent form, Felix is the clear favorite. His consistency should overcome the oft-erratic play of Shapovalov.

Aryna Sabalenka (9) vs. Victoria Azarenka

Following that all-Canadian affair, we have this all-Belarusian affair to kick off the night session on Louis Armstrong Stadium.  A year ago, Sabalenka came into this tournament turning a lot of heads. She had reached the semifinals in Cincinnati, and won the title in New Haven.  But she’s underwhelmed in 2019, and comes into this tournament under the radar. However, on the women’s side, under the radar is a good place to be, as the favorites often crash out early nowadays.  And the 21-year-old showed signs of rediscovering her form this summer by advancing to the final in San Jose. Azarenka is a two-time finalist at this event, though that was back in 2012 and 2013. It’s been a rough go for Vika of late, as she’s just 3-3 at Majors this year, and continues to receive tough draws such as this due to being unseeded.  Facing a fellow countrywoman can be tricky, especially when they’re almost 10 years your junior. And there’s no history to go by for either player with this being their first meeting. But one thing’s for sure: with the noise these two make when hitting the ball, it will be anything but quiet.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (8) vs. Andrey Rublev

This is an ATP Next Gen battle between two 21-year-olds who have both already made significant impressions on tour.  Tsitsipas is the one who’s garnered much more attention, with his run to the final at last year’s Rogers Cup, and his victory over Roger Federer in Australia on his way to this year’s semifinals.  But since losing a heartbreaking, five-hour epic to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open, Tsitsipas is only 4-6, and comes into this event on a three-match losing streak. Rublev has been the much hotter player of late, reaching the final in Hamburg last month and the quarters in both Cincinnati and Winston-Salem.  And two years ago here in Flushing Meadows, he reached the quarters as well. Their only previous meeting was appropriately at the ATP Next Gen Finals last year, where Stefanos was victorious under a different scoring system. But in the first match of the day on Armstrong, I like the more in-form Rublev to upset his contemporary.  As we’ve seen over the past few years, it can be challenging for higher-ranked younger players to defend their turf against members of their same generation. Borna Coric’s victory over Sascha Zverev two years ago at the Open immediately comes to mind.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Nicole Gibbs (Q)

This is a big moment for Nicole Gibbs.  As outlined in this great ESPN piece, the 26-year-old American recently overcame a cancer diagnosis.  This will be her first Major since last year’s US Open. She lost in the final round of qualifying last week to former US Open semifinalist Peng Shuai, but got into the main draw as a lucky loser.  She’s twice before reached the third round of a Major, both times on hard courts. Meanwhile the Wimbledon champion is currently on a three-match losing streak in New York, having bowed out in the opening round here two years in a row.  And there’s some questions surrounding her current condition after retiring in Toronto with an ankle injury. However, her former coach and close friend Darren Cahill stated on ESPN that she’s good to go for this tournament. Simona took their only prior match last year on a hard court in straight sets.  Assuming Halep is 100%, the result today shouldn’t be much different.

Nick Kyrgios (28) vs. Steve Johnson

Nick Kyrgios was the champion in Washington earlier this summer, but acted like a total chump two weeks ago in Cincinnati.  After being called for a time violation, the usually fast-playing Australian completely unraveled against Karen Khachanov. He would break multiple rackets, verbally abuse the chair umpire, and even spit in the chair’s direction after the match.  He received a record fine $113,000 for his deplorable behavior. Which Nick Kyrgios will we see here? Well if practice sessions are any indication, it could be the more competitive and professional version. Darren Cahill noted on ESPN that Kyrgios was going all out in some extended practice sessions last week in New York.  His opponent today won their only other encounter, on a hard court in Shanghai two years ago. In that match, Kyrgios retired after losing the first set, claiming he was suffering from a stomach bug. But Nick declined to be examined during or after the match, resulting in the forfeiture of his prize money. Notably, the chair umpire in that Shanghai match was the same as the Cincinnati match: Fergus Murphy.  Unlike Kyrgios, Johnson is one of the more likable and sympathetic figures on tour. He’s struggled considerably after the sudden death of his father and coach two years ago. Stevie has a losing record this year, and is ranked 86th in the world just a few years after nearly reaching the top 20.  The crowd could be a significant factor in this late night match on Louis Armstrong.  The American will obviously get some good support, and we’ve seen how Kyrgios can be easily impacted by comments from the crowd.  Despite all this, I think Nick will find his way to victory today, especially with Stevie’s current lack of confidence.

Other notable matches on Day 2:

Defending champion Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Anna Blinkova.  Just over a week after retiring in Cincinnati with a knee injury, what condition will Osaka be in for her return to Arthur Ashe Stadium?

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. John Millman, who upset Roger Federer here last year, but is just 16-22 on the year.

2017 champion Sloane Stephens (11) vs. Anna Kalinskaya (Q), a 20-year-old Russian who was a semifinalist a few weeks ago in Washington.

Indian Wells champion Dominic Thiem (4) vs. Thomas Fabbiano, who upset Tsitsipas in the first round of Wimbledon.

Indian Wells and Rogers Cup champ Bianca Andreescu (15) vs. Katie Volynets (WC), a 17-year-old American who won the USTA junior title to receive this wild card.

Anastasia Potapova vs. Coco Gauff (WC), the 15-year-old American who created such a buzz at Wimbledon by reaching the fourth round.

Two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza (24) vs. Alison Riske.  Muguruza hasn’t won a match since Roland Garros, while Riske has 17 match wins at all levels during that same time span.

Order of play

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 12:00 (17:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
N. Osaka (JPN) [1] vs. A. Blinkova (RUS)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
T. Fabbiano (ITA) vs. D. Thiem (AUT) [4]

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 19:00 (0:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Millman (AUS) vs. R. Nadal (ESP) [2]

Women’s Singles – Round 1
S. Stephens (USA) [11] vs. A. Kalinskaya (RUS)

Louis Armstrong Stadium – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
S. Tsitsipas (GRE) [8] vs. A. Rublev (RUS)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
S. Halep (ROU) [4] vs. N. Gibbs (USA)

Not before 15:00 (20:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Potapova (RUS) vs.C. Gauff (USA)

Louis Armstrong Stadium – 19:00 (0:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Sabalenka (BLR) [9] vs. V. Azarenka (BLR)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
S. Johnson (USA) vs. N. Kyrgios (AUS) [28]

Grandstand – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Riske (USA) vs. G. Muguruza (ESP) [24]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Isner (USA) [14] vs. G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
C. Wozniacki (DEN) [19] vs. Y. Wang (CHN)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs. F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) [18]

Court 17 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
D. Allertova (CZE) vs. P. Kvitova (CZE) [6]

Women’s Singles – Round 1
P. Badosa (ESP) vs. K. Bertens (NED) [7]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
A. Zverev (GER) [6] vs. R. Albot (MDA)

Not before 17:00 (22:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
I. Karlovic (CRO) vs. F. Tiafoe (USA)

Court 5 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
M. Minella (LUX) vs. B. Bencic (SUI) [13]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
M. Klizan (SVK) vs. M. Cilic (CRO) [22]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Tsonga (FRA) vs. T. Sandgren (USA)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
K. Ahn (USA) vs.S. Kuznetsova (RUS)

Court 10 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
J. Goerges (GER) [26] vs. N. Vikhlyantseva (RUS)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
K. Volynets (USA) vs. B. Andreescu (CAN) [15]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
H. Chung (KOR) vs. E. Escobedo (USA)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
G. Monfils (FRA) [13] vs. A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)

Court 13 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Petkovic (GER) vs. M. Buzarnescu (ROU)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
K. Edmund (GBR) [30] vs. P. Andujar (ESP)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
L. Harris (RSA) vs. E. Gerasimov (BLR)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) vs. M. Brengle (USA)

Court 4 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
M. Kukushkin (KAZ) vs. R. Bautista Agut (ESP) [10]

Men’s Singles – Round 1
F. Krajinovic (SRB) vs. C. Stebe (GER)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
T. Babos (HUN) vs. C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) [28]

Women’s Singles – Round 1
Kr. Pliskova (CZE) vs. D. Parry (FRA)

Court 6 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Krunic (SRB) vs. J. Ostapenko (LAT)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Sousa (POR) vs. J. Thompson (AUS)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Kontaveit (EST) [21] vs. S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
T. Kokkinakis (AUS) vs. I. Ivashka (BLR)

Court 7 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Cornet (FRA) vs. J. Pegula (USA)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
F. Verdasco (ESP) [32] vs. T. Kamke (GER)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
T. Townsend (USA) vs. K. Kozlova (UKR)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
B. Schnur (CAN) vs. B. Paire (FRA) [29]

Court 8 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
A. Popyrin (AUS) vs. F. Delbonis (ARG)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
X. Wang (CHN) vs. K. Flipkens (BEL)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
U. Humbert (FRA) vs. M. Copil (ROU)

Court 9 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
L. Sonego (ITA) vs. M. Granollers (ESP)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
K. Kanepi (EST) vs. T. Maria (GER)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
E. Mertens (BEL) [25] vs. J. Teichmann (SUI)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
A. Hoang (FRA) vs. L. Mayer (ARG)

Court 11 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
M. Berrettini (ITA) [24] vs. R. Gasquet (FRA)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
D. Collins (USA) vs. P. Hercog (SLO)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
D. Schwartzman (ARG) [20] vs. R. Haase (NED)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
S. Cirstea (ROU) vs. K. Siniakova (CZE)

Court 12 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
B. Fratangelo (USA) vs. G. Simon (FRA)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
V. Pospisil (CAN) vs. K. Khachanov (RUS) [9]

Women’s Singles – Round 1
R. Hogenkamp (NED) vs. D. Vekic (CRO) [23]

Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Bolsova (ESP) vs. B. Strycova (CZE) [31]

Court 14 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Men’s Singles – Round 1
A. Bublik (KAZ) vs. S. Giraldo (COL)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
P. Parmentier (FRA) vs. A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Tomljanovic (AUS) vs. M. Bouzkova (CZE)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
H. Laaksonen (SUI) vs. M. Cecchinato (ITA)

Court 15 – 11:00 (16:00 BST)
Women’s Singles – Round 1
F. Di Lorenzo (USA) vs. V. Kudermetova (RUS)

Women’s Singles – Round 1
A. Sharma (AUS) vs. M. Linette (POL)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Struff (GER) vs. C. Ruud (NOR)

Men’s Singles – Round 1
J. Kovalik (SVK) vs. A. Bedene (SLO)

 

Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Face Calls To Honour Margaret Court In 2020 Amid Potential Backlash

The 77-year-old is regarded as one of her country’s greatest-ever tennis players, but has been criticised for a series of homophobic comments she has made.

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Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court has said she wants to be treated the same as fellow former great Rod Laver concerning the upcoming anniversary of one of the biggest milestones she has ever achieved in her career.

 

2020 will mark 50 years since Court won all four grand slam titles within the same season. An elusive achievement in the world of tennis. Only three women in total have managed to complete a calendar grand slam – Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the others. Court also still holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles ever won by a tennis player at 24. One ahead of Serena Williams.

Court said she has received no contact from Tennis Australia regarding any plans to mark her milestone. Laver, who is the only man to ever complete the calendar grand slam twice, was honoured this year for his accomplishment. It is the 50th anniversary of when he claimed the four major trophies back in 1969.

“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary),” Court told Nine News Australia.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.”

Any move to honour Court at the Australian Open in January is likely to split opinion. The 77-year-old has been criticised for a series of homophobic remarks she has made for many years. In 1990 she once said that Martina Navratilova was a bad role model for children because she is gay. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, she said in another interview in 2017 that tennis was ‘full of lesbians’ and those who identify as transgender were ‘the work of the devil.’ In another incident, Court wrote a comment to an Australian newspaper is which she said took a swipe at former player Casey Dellacqua after she announced the birth of her child. Dellacqua is in a same-sex relationship.

There have been calls for Court’s name to be removed from one of the premier stadiums at the Australian Open in light of hew views. Billie Jean King, who is one of the founding members of the WTA, has previously called for the arena to be renamed.

“I don’t feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career,” Court told The Sydney Morning Herald about calls for her name being removed. “It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong.
“Many gay people think my name shouldn’t come off it. There are many gay people who don’t believe in gay marriage. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman and they will say that. Then you get the radicals coming at me, you have got these minority groups in every area now having a say and taking on nations and taking on big companies.”

Whilst her comments have triggered controversy, Court has insisted that she has nothing against gay people. Claiming she has members of the LGBT community attend her church. Following retirement from tennis, Court became a Christian pastor.

“I have gay people in the church. It is nothing against the people themselves, I just said what the Bible said. If I can’t say what the Bible says, there is something wrong.”

The ball is now very much in the court of Tennis Australia, who oversees the running of the Melbourne major. Although coming to a decision will not be easy. In June they were named as one of the best sporting organisations for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the annual Pride Sport Awards in Melbourne.

“As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.” A statement from Tennis Australia reads.

During her career Court won 140 titles in the Open Era (1968 onwards). 92 of those were in singles and 48 were in doubles. At the 1963 Australian Open and 1970 US Open she won all three titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

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Grand Slam

Simona Halep To Change Grand Slam Schedule Ahead of Olympics

The Romanian is set to play extra events in the majors in a bid to boost her chances of winning a medal in Tokyo.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep has her eyes set on winning more than one medal at the 2020 Olympic Games after confirming she will play extra matches during three grand slam tournaments next year.

 

The 28-year-old intends to participate in the mixed doubles along with a yet to be decided compatriot. It will be a rare appearance for Halep, who has only played in two mixed doubles tournaments throughout her professional career so far. Doing so at the 2015 US Open and 2016 French Open with Horia Tacu.

Despite her lack of experience in the discipline, the Romanian is hoping to build some momentum in the grand slams next year. A two-time grand slam champion, she has focused solely on singles competition at every major for over four years.

“I have only Melbourne, maybe French Open, and grass. Grass is a little bit dangerous because the surface is tough and you can get hurt a little bit with the men’s serve.” Halep told reporters in Beijing.
“But the goal is to play all the time mixed doubles with my partner to get used to the game, to be able to achieve a good result at the Olympics.”

Halep made her Olympic debut back in 2012, but opted not to play in the 2016 edition. In London she lost in the first round of both the singles and women’s doubles competition. Halep is bidding to become only the third Romanian tennis player in history to win an Olympic medal. Following in the footsteps of Tecau and Florin Mergea, who won a silver medal together in Rio 2016.

“I want to win any medal in the Olympics to fulfil everything I have done in tennis,” Halep said following her triumph at Wimbledon in July. “It is a chance to play for my country and I have always loved to do that. The disappointment from [losing in Fed Cup] this year really hurt me so to play well to get a medal, it would be a dream.”

The world No.6 has also been confirmed as her country’s flag-bearer for the upcoming event in Tokyo.

Playing through the pain

Whilst her long-term goal has been set out, Halep’s focus for the immediate future is on this week’s China Open. She kicked-off her campaign on Sunday with a clinical 6-1, 6-1, win over Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. Peterson was her first real test since withdrawing from Wuhan due to a back injury. Whilst the score looks positive, she is not getting too ahead of herself.

“I’m not 100 percent recovered, I still feel pain,” said the sixth seed.
“Always when you have an injury, it’s a little bit risky.
“But I accepted it, I took the risk.”

A former runner-up of the tournament, Halep is hopeful of having a strong run. Beijing is her first tournament since turning 28 on Friday. To mark the occasion, she celebrated the milestone at one of the world’s most prestigious landmarks.

“Every year it’s nice to come back here,” she said. “This tournament’s a big tournament and important for everybody, and the atmosphere is very nice. You can see everyone is focused on their job.
“This year I celebrated my birthday at the Great Wall. It was actually the first time I’ve visited the Great Wall after coming here many years in a row. I think it’s going to be a good week for me—even if I was a little bit injured last week, I feel good now. I’m feeling good to play and to win matches.”

Halep will play Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round on Monday.

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ATP

Roger Federer Can Win Australian Open, Says Laver

The 81-year-old speaks out about the world No.3.

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Roger Federer (@usopen on Twitter)

Tennis legend Rod Laver has back world No.3 Roger Federer to add to his record-breaking grand slam tally in the future.

 

The 38-year-old currently holds the record for most major singles won by a man at 20. However, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are closing in on that tally. Djokovic is currently on 16 and Nadal in one adrift on 19 following his latest triumph at the US Open. Meanwhile, Federer has only featured in the final in one out of the last six grand slam tournaments. Doing so at Wimbledon in July where he failed to convert two championship points against Djokovic. His last major title took place at the 2017 Australian Open.

Despite the recent lack of major silverware for the Swiss Maestro, Australian great Laver believes he can still challenge for the biggest titles in the sport. Saying that it is possible that Federer could continue playing until the age of 40.

“He seems to be fine and that’s what counts. If you love the game as much as you do, that’s fine.” He commented on Federer’s longevity in the sport.
“I also give Roger a very good chance of winning the Australian Open again in Melbourne in January.”

Laver admits that it is possible that the two other members of the Big Three could end their careers with more titles than Federer. Nadal is five years younger than him and Djokovic is six. However, he believes there is one thing that separates him from the others.

“Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are all big champions. But Roger surpasses tennis, the world of sport, and sports in general in a way that no one in history has done before him. He is the most recognized athlete in the world and a figurehead for this great game.

The first encounter between Laver and Federer took place 13 years ago in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Since then, the two have formed a bond with Laver saying they ‘clicked’ straight away.

The biggest example of the friendship between the two is perhaps best illustrated by the Laver Cup. An annual team tournament where Europe takes on the rest of the world. Similar to that of Golf’s Ryder Cup. Named in honour of the tennis great, Federer is one of the co-founders of the event. Which has since been granted a place within the ATP Calendar. Although no ranking points are on offer.

This year’s edition will be held in Switzerland for the first time. Critics have been quick to point out the disparity between the two teams. Europe consists of all players ranked inside the top 20 compared to one from the world team. However, Laver dismissed the significance.

“I do not think so. The team World has excelled in both Laver Cups in doubles and also celebrated one or two big victories in singles. I expect it to be exciting.” He said.

The three-day 2019 Laver Cup will get underway in Geneva on Friday.

List of players participating

 Team Europe
Captain:  Björn Borg
Vice-captain:  Thomas Enqvist
Player Rank
 Rafael Nadal 2
 Roger Federer 3
 Dominic Thiem 5
 Alexander Zverev 6
 Stefanos Tsitsipas 7
 Fabio Fognini 11
 Team World
Captain:  John McEnroe
Vice-captain:  Patrick McEnroe
Player Rank
 John Isner 20
 Milos Raonic 24
 Nick Kyrgios 27
 Taylor Fritz 30
 Denis Shapovalov 33
 Jack Sock 208

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