US Open Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

US Open Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

With Wednesday’s outer court matches completely rained out, today will be one of the year’s busiest days of tennis.

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Naomi Osaka - US Open 2019 (photo via Twitter, @usopen)

Only nine of 32 singles matches were decided yesterday, meaning we have 55 second round singles matches to be played on Thursday.  The outer courts will be overflowing with quality matchups, some of which were previewed yesterday here.  Today we’ll focus on the day’s most intriguing matchups on Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong.  And the best news? The forecast is warm and sunny.

 

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Magda Linette

Osaka did not play her best in the opening round, but upped her level enough to oust Anna Blinkova in three.  But today she faces a hot player with a lot of confidence. Linette just won her first WTA title last week at the inaugural Bronx Open, storming through qualifying to win eight matches in nine days.  And while Osaka defeated Linette at this year’s Australian Open, Magda prevailed when they played last summer in Washington. Linette is a strong defensive player, so Osaka will need to stay on the offense and manage her unforced error count.  The defending champion still had her knee wrapped up on Tuesday, but it did not appear to be a significant factor. This is a dangerous second round draw, but I expect Osaka to improve her game today and advance.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (WC)

With four top 10 seeds already gone in Nadal’s half of the draw, Rafa is now an even heavier favorite to return to the US Open final.  Today he’ll face Australian opposition for the second straight round. As Nick McCarvel highlighted on Twitter, the 23-year-old Australian earned his first win at a Major in over four years on Tuesday.  It’s been an extremely challenging few seasons for Kokkinakis, a promising young player who has suffered from injuries to the point where he considered retiring from the sport. I’m sure he’ll embrace this opportunity to face an all-time great on tennis’ biggest stadium.  They met at the 2014 Australian Open with Nadal prevailing in straight sets, though Thanasi was a 17-year-old wild card at the time. Kokkinakis has shown he’s capable of competing with the game’s best, as he upset Roger Federer in Miami last year. I think Thanasi will make this competitive and compelling, but Rafa is certainly favored.

Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Frances Tiafoe

These are two ATP Next Gen players who have been in significant slumps of late.  Since Tiafoe’s Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open in January, he’s a meek 14-17.  And he’s just 2-5 in his career at the US Open, and his win on Tuesday was thanks to an Ivo Karlovic retirement.  This Slam has also been a troubling event for Zverev, who was just 4-4 in New York prior to this year. Sascha has been playing some subpar tennis in recent months, with his serve remaining particularly troubling.  He’s admitted to being distracted by off-court issues since winning the ATP Finals last November. Zverev leads their head-to-head 3-1, though Tiafoe’s victory was in their only match played in the US, two years ago in Cincinnati.  After watching how Sascha barely survived a five-setter in the last round, I suspect Tiafoe will be the victor today, especially with the New York crowd behind him.

Timea Babos (Q) vs. Coco Gauff (WC)

The 15-year-old American continues to amaze.  In front of a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium two days ago, Coco came back from a set down to defeat Anastasia Potapova, another impressive young talent.  And now Gauff draws a qualifier in the second round, in seemingly a winnable match. But Babos is far from a pushover. As a qualifier, she’s already accumulated four wins over the past 10 days.  She’s currently a part of the top-seeded team in the women’s doubles event, and has reached the quarterfinals or better in doubles at all of the last eight Majors. While that success hasn’t translated over to the singles court, she did reach the third round here three years ago.  However, I think Cocomania will continue to run wild in Flushing Meadows. Gauff showed on Tuesday, as she did at Wimbledon last month, her ability to find a way to win even when her best tennis is eluding her.

Caroline Wozniacki (19) vs. Danielle Collins

This is a huge contrast in styles, between the defensive Wozniacki and the ultra-offensive Collins.  The 25-year-old American was a hugely surprising semifinalist in Australia this year. But Collins owns a losing record since that run, and pulled out of last week’s Bronx Open with an undisclosed injury.  Meanwhile Wozniacki has endured a tough year after revealing she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a year ago. She’s just 15-12 this season, having pulled out of multiple events. She appeared down and out in her opening round against Yafan Wang, but battled her way back to victory.  Caroline and Danielle have split two previous meetings, both of which were on clay. If Wozniacki is feeling close to 100% today, I like her defense skills to overcome the oft-erratic offense of Collins. Plus, Wozniacki knows how to win in New York. She has more wins at the US Open than any other Major, and is a two-time former finalist.

Other notable matches on Day 4:

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep (4) vs. Taylor Townsend (Q), the second consecutive American qualifier Halep faces at this event.

Madrid champion Kiki Bertens (5) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was a quarterfinalist in Australia earlier this year.  Pavlyuchenkova has taken two of their three recent hard court meetings.

Petra Kvitova (6) vs. Andrea Petkovic.  Petkovic owns a 5-3 record over Kvitova, and defeated her in the opening round of last year’s Australian Open 10-8 in the third.

In a battle between two of the WTA’s feistiest players, Aryna Sabalenka (9) vs. Yulia Putintseva.

Canadian teenage superstar Bianca Andreescu (15) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (LL), who hasn’t advanced beyond the second round of a Major in over five years.

The American No.1 John Isner (14) vs. Vasek Pospisil, who upset Karen Khachanov on Tuesday.

2014 champion Marin Cilic (22) vs. Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, a 28-year-old from Germany with a 4-10 career record at the Majors.  Since reaching last year’s US Open quarterfinals, Cilic has almost as many losses as wins.

Order of play

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 5pm (BST) start

A Zverev [6] vs F Tiafoe

S Halep [4] vs T Townsend

Not before 12am (BST)

C Wozniacki [19] vs D Collins

T Kokkinakis vs R Nadal [2]

Louis Armstrong Stadium – 4pm (BST) start

N Osaka [1] vs M Linette

J Isner [14] vs J Struff

Not before 12am (BST)

C Gauff vs T Babos

C Stebe vs M Cilic [22]

Grandstand – 4pm (BST) start

S Kenin [20] vs L Siegemund

H Dellien vs D Medvedev [5]

J Ostapenko vs A Riske

Not before 10pm (BST)

A Hoang vs N Kyrgios [28]

Court 5 – 4pm (BST) start

A de Minaur vs C Garin [31]

J Konta [16] vs M Gasparyan

K Flipkens vs B Andreescu [15]

Not before 10pm (BST)

H Laaksonen vs D Shapovalov

Court 10 – 4pm (BST) start

K Mladenovic vs F Ferro

J Brooksby vs N Basilashvili [17]

K Kanepi vs D Vekic [23]

F Verdasco [32] vs H Chung

Court 13 – 4pm (BST) start

M Sakkari [30] vs S Peng

E Alexandrova vs S Zhang [33]

A Pavlyuchenkova vs K Bertens [7]

T Sandgren vs V Pospisil

Court 4 – 4pm (BST) start

K Muchova vs S Hsieh [29]

F Lopez v Y Nishioka

J Goerges [26] vs F Di Lorenzo

Court 6 – 4pm (BST) start

G Barrere vs D Goffin [15]

A Bedene vs B Paire [29]

A Kalinskaya vs K Ahn

Court 7 – 4pm (BST) start

D Kudla vs D Lajovic [27]

E Mertens [25] vs Kr Pliskova

A Sabalenka [9] vs Y Putintseva

D Schwartzman [20] vs E Gerasimov

Court 8 – 4pm (BST) start

P Martic [22] vs A Bogdan

P Carreno Busta vs R Berankis

A Bublik vs T Fabbiano

Court 9 – 4pm (BST) start

I Swiatek vs A Sevastova [12]

M Berrettini [24] vs J Thompson

P Andujar vs L Sonego

Court 11 – 4pm (BST) start

P Cuevas vs K Majchrzak

S Cirstea vs A Bolsova

A Rublev vs G Simon

Court 12 – 4pm (BST) start

D Evans vs L Pouille [25]

A Popyrin vs M Kukushkin

Court 14 – 4pm (BST) start

R Peterson vs D Yastremska [32]

M Kecmanovic vs P Lorenzi

Court 15 – 4pm (BST) start

O Jabeur vs A Sasnovich

A Kontaveit [21] vs A Tomljanovic

Grand Slam

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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Grand Slam

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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ATP

Novak Djokovic Hails Return Of Grand Slam Tennis Amid Speculation Over US Open Attendance

The Serbian tennis star is yet to confirm his calendar for the 2020 season.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he is ‘happy and excited’ that professional tennis will be resuming in the coming weeks without confirming if he would play in both grand slam tournaments later this year.

 

On Wednesday it was announced that the ATP Tour will be restarted in August ahead of the US Open later that month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all tennis tournaments have either been suspended or cancelled since March. However, certain restrictions will be in place for the upcoming events with the US Open set to be played behind closed doors for the first time in its history.

“I’m extremely happy and excited to see that all the tournaments; especially Grand Slams, are organising their events,” Djokovic told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast.
“I think that a lot of people were sceptical, especially for the US events considering what the US went through as a country during this pandemic. So a lot of people, including myself; were quite sceptical on whether it would happen or not.”

Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row on the ATP Tour, had previously voiced concerns over playing in New York. Labelling the rules as ‘extreme’ with the idea that players can only bring one member of their team to the site. However, the USTA confirmed on Wednesday that these plans have now been eased in order to accommodate bigger entourages. Players can now take three members each with them to the event, which has scrapped draws in a bid to limit the number of people. Something that has caused outcry among wheelchair tennis players.

“Obviously the regulations and measures as of today are quite strict, I must say. With quarantine and with some players; especially those from South America, not being able to travel out of their countries to come to the States. Hopefully that will change: the ATP and the USTA, everyone is working on it. The worst case scenario is that it remains like this, but there is time.” He said.
“Hopefully every single player who is participating, chosen by ranking and who deserves their place at the US Open; will have an equal opportunity to travel there and compete as everybody else. This is very, very important because this is the foundation of the ATP and the foundation of international tennis.
“We will all collectively try to make sure that this is the priority. Let’s hope that in the next two months some of those restrictions will loosen up a bit and that we will have a great, great tournament.”

Whilst remaining coy about his plans for North America, the 33-year-old has stated his intention to play at the French Open. Which is set to get underway two after the conclusion of the US Open. Djokovic last won the tournament back in 2016 and reached the semi-finals last year.

Tournament director Guy Forget has said he was confident that fans will be able to attend Roland Garros in some capacity. Although the final decision will be made by the French government. Qualifying rounds will also be played.

“It is great that we have a roof, obviously, on Philippe Chatrier this year, so those are the positive things and I look forward to it. I mean it’s one of the most important and one of the nicest tournaments in the world. I always enjoy playing there and I can’t wait to go back.” Djokovic commented.

More clarity about Djokovic’s calendar could emerge this week. He is currently in Croatia for the second leg of the Adria Tour and will be undertaking various media commitments.

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