US Open Day 3 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 3 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Temperatures are due to rise along with the humidity, with a chance of thunderstorms throughout the day.

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Venus Williams (@USTA - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

Tuesday was a stunning day of upsets on the men’s side, with four top 10 seeds falling. The upset bug can often be contagious, so are we in for more surprises on Wednesday? Unlike the men, and unlike recent times, we’re yet to see any big upsets amongst the women, with all top 10 seeds advancing to the second round.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Venus Williams

This is a big-time second round encounter between a top five player and a seven-time Major champion. At 39-years-old, Venus played some of her best tennis in a long time on Monday, easily dispatching of San Jose champion Saisai Zheng 6-1, 6-0. Pam Shriver suggested on ESPN that Venus was motivated by her first round loss to 15-year-old Coco Gauff at Wimbledon. But she’s 1-2 against Svitolina, who claimed both of their most recent meetings in straight sets.

Venus will need to continue to strike the ball as cleanly and crisply as she did on Monday to overcome to defensive efforts of Svitolina. Yet it’s worth noting the US Open is the only Major where Svitolina has never advanced beyond the fourth round, so she’s yet to play her best in New York. With the crowd firmly behind Venus, I like her chances to pull off a signature victory in the twilight of her career.

Serena Williams (8) vs. Caty McNally (WC)

This is reminiscent of the Venus/Gauff match from Wimbledon last month. McNally is a 17-year-old American who is Coco’s friend and doubles partner. They’ve come up through the juniors together, and Caty lost the French Open juniors final to Gauff last year. She’s surely been inspired by what Coco achieved at Wimbledon, especially her first round victory over Serena’s sister.

McNally gained her first win at a Major just two days ago over former French Open semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky. But if Serena plays anything like she did on Monday in her dismantling of Maria Sharapova, Caty doesn’t stand much of a chance here. That being said, I’m curious to see if Serena can maintain her form from that high-profile opener, and how she reacts to facing a player two decades her junior.

Borna Coric (12) vs. Grigor Dimitrov

What a descent it’s been for Dimitrov. He began 2018 ranked third in the world, coming off his first Masters 1,000 title in Cincinnati and winning the 2017 ATP Finals. Since that time, Grigor is 39-34, and finds himself ranked 78th in the world. His lack of confidence has been startling, as he’s appeared lost on the court. But he earned a solid four-set win on Monday over Andreas Seppi.

And though his opponent is ranked 12th in the world, he’s also been having a rough time of late. Coric is just 17-12 over the past six months, and hasn’t beaten a top 20 player during that period. This will surprisingly be their first career meeting. As much as Dimitrov has been struggling, he feels due for a significant victory. I have a hunch he may gain such a win today.

Anastasija Sevastova (12) vs. Iga Swiatek

Sevastova loves playing in New York. She was a semi-finalist here last year, and has reached the quarters or better in all of the last three years. Today though she faces a considerable challenge in an 18-year-old from Poland who has already made some waves on tour. Swiatek has a lot of guile in her game, and reached the fourth round of Roland Garros a few months ago.

Iga also came through qualifying in both Toronto and Cincinnati this summer, and had two significant wins in those main draws over Carolines: both Wozniacki and Garcia. Sevastova and Swiatek have never played before.  This should be a lot of fun considering the variety in both players’ games. This is a tough one to call, but I give a slight advantage to Swiatek. She appears ready for another good run at a Slam, and I don’t think she’ll allow Sevastova’s unconventional style to frustrate her.

Su-Wei Hsieh (29) vs. Karolina Muchova

Speaking of women with a lot of variety, this is another match between two of the WTA’s most eclectic players. They met on a hart court six months ago in Doha, with Muchova pulling off the upset as a qualifier in straight sets. The 23-year-old from the Czech Republic won’t be playing qualies again anytime soon.

Karolina is now ranked inside the top 50, thanks to reaching the final on the clay of Prague in her home country, and her surprise run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals last month. Muchova’s certainly been impressive, but Hsieh is rarely an easy out. This should be a lot of fun, with the winner likely to face (and likely to frustrate) Serena Williams on Friday.

Other notable matches on Day 3:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Juan Ignacio Londero, who only has three hard court wins this season.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Damir Dzumhur. Damir was 0-3 at Slams this year prior to his first round win on Monday.

Ash Barty (2) vs. Lauren Davis, who upset defending champion Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon.

2016 champion Stan Wawrinka (23) vs. Jeremy Chardy. Wawrinka is 5-0 against Chardy, losing only one of 12 sets they’ve played.

2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Mariam Bolkvadze (Q), the 202nd-ranked player in the world from Georgia.

Cincinnati champion Daniil Medvedev (5) vs. Hugo Dellien, a 26-year-old from Bolivia in just his second Major appearance.

Kei Nishikori (7) vs. Bradley Klahn. Nishikori has reached the quarterfinals or better at all of the last five Slams.

 

Grand Slam

Garbine Muguruza Maintains Strong Start To Season At The Australian Open

Garbine Muguruza advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a hard-fought three-set win over Alja Tomljanovic.

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Garbine Muguruza (@TheFirstServeAU)

Garbine Muguruza beat Alja Tomljanovic 6-3 3-6 6-3 in a fascinating duel to earn a place in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open.

 

It is a result that enables the Spaniard, 26, to maintain her encouraging start to the new season. She won three matches in Shenzhen and two in Hobart. Then she beat Shelby Rogers in three sets in the first round at Melbourne Park.

All these wins are significant for Muguruza because of her struggles in 2019. Between the end of the French Open in June and the end of her season in September, the two-time Grand Slam champion only won one match.

During that three-month dry spell, the Spaniard parted with long-time coach Sam Sumyk and did some work with Spanish Fed Cup captain Anabel Medina Garrigues.

However, that arrangement did not last long. Muguruza announced in November that Conchita Martinez would become her coach again in 2020. Martinez famously guided the younger Spaniard to Wimbledon glory in 2017.

So far, the Muguruza-Martinez partnership is paying off. The Spaniard has re-discovered her assurance on court and she looks much calmer than she did for most of 2019.

Muguruza deals well with Tomljanovic

In the match against Tomljanovic, the former World No.1 had the right approach. She played a solid first set while the Australian was a little wayward and won it 6-3.

Then Muguruza’s form dipped and she lost the second set. But, crucially, she did not seem to be too bothered by this setback.

Instead, the Spaniard simply focused on the decider and produced her best tennis of the match to overcome an undeniably talented opponent who also played a good set.

“It was a tough battle,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview. “I think Alja played very well so I had to level up my game and stay in the fight until the last moment.”

The Spaniard continued, “I’m very excited to work with Conchita again. I’ve known her since I was 14 so we understand each other very well.”

Muguruza will take on either Elina Svitolina or Lauren Davis in the last 32.

Bencic passes Ostapenko test

Players often say that they struggle to find any kind of rhythm against Jelena Ostapenko because she tries to hit virtually every ball for a winner.

Given this, it will come as no great surprise to anyone that the Latvian employed that exact approach against Belinda Bencic in their second-round match.

While Ostapenko was going for everything, the Swiss player at the other end did everything she could to stay in contention at all times. If the Latvian pulled ahead, Bencic tried to make her play extra shots. If the World No.6 faced break points, she tried to hit aces so that her opponent had no chance of hitting a winner.

On this occasion, Bencic did not play particularly well, and she did not execute a particularly high percentage of the shots she attempted. However, she did enough to win a rollercoaster first set that included seven breaks 7-5. Then she recovered well from 2-5 in the second set to win it by the same score as the first.

It is a very useful skill to be able to win without playing at your best. Bencic has now done that in both of her matches so far. She will now play either Annet Kontaveit or Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Donna Vekic continued her impressive progress at this year’s Australian Open. She hit 38 winners during a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Alize Cornet.

 

 

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Grand Slam

Julia Goerges Knocks Out 13th Seed Petra Martic At Australian Open 2020

Petra Martic became only the second WTA top 20 player to be knocked out of the 2020 Australian Open when she lost a tough three-set match to Julia Goerges.

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If Petra Martic looked at the 2020 Australian Open draw and felt a sense of dread when she saw that she would probably face Julia Goerges in the second round, that would be entirely understandable.

 

The German, 31, is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous unseeded players at Melbourne Park this year. She possesses a huge serve and a brutal forehand. She has won seven WTA titles, appeared in ten other finals, and was once ranked World No.9. And she was seeded the last two times she participated in the first Grand Slam of the year.

To make matters worse for Martic, Goerges beat her in straight sets just seven months ago when then played at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

When you add all these ingredients together, you get the perfect recipe for an early exit from the 13th seed.

Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. But you would not have guessed it was going to during the first set, as Goerges made way too many unforced errors against a player as consistent as Martic.

Consequently, the German lost it 6-4. There was only one break of serve, but it came at a crucial time – the ninth game – and the Croatian then held easily to clinch the set.

Goerges keeps the faith

Despite this setback, Goerges never lost faith in her approach. She continued to attack – as she always does – but she also managed to cut down on the number of errors she made.

Unsurprisingly, this improvement yielded positive results for the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist. She hit eight winners (and made just five unforced errors) as she opened a 5-2 lead.

However, Goerges almost wasted her hard work. She made two unforced errors when she was serving for the set at 5-3 and suddenly found herself facing three break points. Fortunately for the German, she produced one winner and Martic made two errors to bring the score back to deuce. Then Goerges won the next two points to seal the set.

The third set was a strange affair. The German looked in control when she broke early and established a 4-2 lead.

However, she played an awful service game to allow the Croatian to break back and level the score at 4-4. Then she failed to convert two break points in the next game and Martic capitalised to move ahead.

To her great credit, Goerges remained resolute. She battled to a hold. Then she hit some sparkling winners and outlasted the 13th seed in a few long rallies to get the decisive break in game eleven. Finally, she hit three superb winners as she held to love to complete a hard-fought triumph.

Osaka glides into round three

Naomi Osaka continued her serene progress through the draw with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Zheng Saisai in the Margaret Court Arena.

Although she will be happy with the win, the defending champion will be keen to serve better in the next round. She was broken three times by the Chinese player and only won 57% of all the points played on her serve.

Osaka could face Coco Gauff in the last 32 for the second Grand Slam in a row. The American sensation takes on Sorana Cirstea in the second round later today.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Sofia Kenin became the first player to make it through to the third round. She completed a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of American youngster Ann Li in just 57 minutes.

The 14th seed will now line up against Zhang Shuai in the third round. The experienced Chinese player beat American qualifier Catherine McNally 6-2 6-4.

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Grand Slam

Belinda Bencic overcomes first hurdle while Keys breezes through at Australian Open

Belinda Bencic won a tricky encounter against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Madison Keys hammered Daria Kasatkina.

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Belinda Bencic (@sport3laguna on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic secured safe passage through to the second round of the 2020 Australian Open with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

 

The Swiss, 22, enjoyed an excellent 2019. She reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, won two WTA Premier titles and returned to the top ten after a three-year absence caused by a series of injuries.

Now the pressure is on for Bencic as she seeks to consolidate her ranking, so she was understandably relieved to negotiate the first hurdle at the first major of the year.

“I think every first round is very difficult,” the Swiss said in her on-court interview. “It’s really tough to find rhythm so I think it’s all about fighting and I’m really happy I got through.”

The first set was a bit of a scrappy affair. Bencic capitalised on a poor start from Schmiedlova to move 4-0 up. Then the Slovakian benefitted from some sloppy tennis from the Swiss as she dragged herself back into the set at 4-3.

Games eight and nine could have gone to either player. However, Bencic made fewer errors than her opponent and that proved crucial as she won both to take the set 6-3.

Bencic recovers after slow start

Although she won the opening set, the World No.6 looked very frustrated as she walked to her chair. And that annoyance came through in her tennis for the next three and a half games as she struggled to find the court.

When Bencic did get the ball in, she frequently landed it short. And Schmiedlova punished her with a series of excellent winners.

Then, just as the set seemed to be running away from the Swiss player at 3-0 with the Slovakian serving, she re-discovered her rhythm.

Bencic hit a couple of winners and outlasted Schmiedlova in a couple of long rallies to prolong the game and force two break points. Then she benefitted from an error by the World No.202 which gave her the break she needed.

For the next two games, the World No.6 looked in total control. She bossed the points and quickly levelled the set at 3-3.

The Slovakian responded superbly. She cracked three big winners to break her opponent for the second time in the set.

This time, however, Bencic refused to let her get away. She broke back immediately and then held her serve to love to move 5-4 ahead.

Schmiedlova held comfortably in game ten. Then the Swiss player battled through a very difficult service game. She let out a roar of ‘come on!’ when her opponent’s last ball travelled beyond the baseline.

Buoyed by this, Bencic attacked the Slovakian’s serve. She extracted two errors from the World No.202’s racket and cracked a forehand winner to make it 0-40. Then she seized the third of her match points with a deep backhand that Schmiedlova could not get back over the net.

Keys powers past Kasatkina

Madison Keys started her 2020 Australian Open campaign in style as she thumped Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1 in just 57 minutes.

The American began in blistering style as she hit seven winners in the first five games to move 4-1 up. Then she gathered herself after a brief blip to close out the set 6-3.

The second set was even more one-sided. Keys crunched 19 winners and broke Kasatkina three times to take it 6-1 in 26 minutes. She will now face either Magda Linette or Arantxa Rus in round two.

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