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

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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Patrick Mouratoglou Cast Doubt On US Open Taking Place As Covid-19 Cases Soar

One top health expert has warned American lawmakers that the country could reach 100,000 cases of the virus per day.

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The coach of Serena Williams has said he is unsure ‘if it is a good move’ for the US Open to go ahead amid the ongoing COVID-19 crises.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou told Sky Sports that he believes it is ‘a bit crazy’ for the event to be going ahead as planned. This year’s Grand Slam in New York is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing strict measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19. Including regular testing and temperature checks. Players will also be kept essentially in a ‘bubble’ throughout and limited to where they can go. All tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic but the Tour is set to resume in August.

”With what’s happening at the moment in the US, with the number of cases of COVID-19 going higher and higher every day, I don’t think how that can happen,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports.
“From outside, it looks a bit crazy to try to make it happen. So, I don’t know if it’s a good move.
“I wouldn’t say that if the situation was more stable like it is in Europe, then it’s a different story. But in the US and especially in New York and around New York is… I mean, the number of cases is increasing incredibly. So, I don’t know how reasonable that is to try to make it happen. And I don’t know if last minute the governor of New York will decide to cancel it because of course health first.”

Recently Dr Anthony Fauci, who is a top disease expert, told the United States Senate that he would not be surprised if the country soars to 100,000 cases of the Coronavirus each day. His warning comes as Reuters News Agency reports that there was a rise of more than 47,000 cases on Tuesday. The biggest jump in daily cases since the pandemic started.

As a result of the rise, New York has said that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population. Due to the uncertain situation, Mouratoglou believes it is still possible the US Open could get cancelled nearer the time.

“I think it’s completely possible that two weeks before he [Andrew Cuomo] decides I mean, considering the situation, this is not reasonable to bring people from all over the world there, mix them together and potentially put them in touch with one of the countries that has the most cases at the moment.” He said.

Some players are yet to clarify their plans for the Grand Slam and if they will be playing. Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep are some of those who have previously expressed their concerns. However, former champion and world No.1 Andy Murray says is it a ‘positive’ move for the event to be going ahead as well as the French Open which will follow shortly after.

“Getting the US Open and the French Open played this year is a good thing, I think. It’s positive, I just don’t like the way the French Open went about scheduling their event,” Murray told the BBC. “But we’re going to have to go back to playing at some stage. The most important thing is that the events are safe.”

The US Open is set to get underway on August 31st.

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