US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

In a change from recent events, the women’s draw has seen significantly less upsets than the men’s through two rounds.

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US Open 2019 (photo via Twitter, @usopen)

22 of the 32 WTA seeds have survived this far, while less than half the seeded male players advanced to the third round.  And while that would normally make “The Big Three” heavier favorites, Novak Djokovic is battling a considerable injury, and Roger Federer has not been himself.  And on the women’s side, it still feels the number of possible champions is in the double digits. Who will make it through to the second week and emerge as the top contenders?

 

Serena Williams (8) vs. Karolina Muchova

Serena was furious with her form in her second round match against American teenager Katy McNally, feeling she made way too many errors with her forehand.  McNally was able to take the first set, and frustrated Serena will her all-court game. Muchova also plays with a lot of variety, which was on full display yesterday in her third-set tiebreak win over Su-Wei Hsieh.  Muchova’s game could also complicate matters for Serena. But the 23-time Major champion will benefit from having a day off, while Muchova grinded out that tough second round win in warm temperatures just yesterday. In their first career meeting, it may take Serena some time to figure out 23-year-old Czech, but I’m confident she’ll do so in the end.

Madison Keys (10) vs. Sofia Kenin (20)

This is a rematch from the Cincinnati semifinals just two weeks ago, where Keys prevailed in straight sets.  But Kenin took their other prior encounter, back in May on the clay of Rome. Madison went on to win the title in Cincinnati, and comes into this match on an eight-match winning streak.  But Kenin has been one of the hottest players on tour this summer, as she was semifinalist in both Cincy and Toronto. Neither woman has dropped a set this week in New York, so this should be good.  As usual, the match will likely rest on Madison’s racket, as she can dictate play with her power. However, Kenin has quickly proven herself to be one of the WTA’s most dogged competitors, and she won’t succumb to defeat easily.  But Keys loves playing at this tournament, with a 13-2 record over the past few years, so she’s the favorite to advance in this all-American matchup.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Dayana Yastremska (32)

We go from an All-American matchup to an all-Ukranian matchup.  Svitolina ousted a game Venus Williams in front of a raucous crowd in the last round, and now faces the challenge of taking on a countrywoman five years her junior.  It’s been a breakthrough season for Yastremska, who’s won two titles and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. And she has the firepower to take it to the fifth seed, who prefers to stay on the defense.  Just earlier this summer in a straight set victory over Victoria Azarenka in Toronto, Dayana struck 47 winners. And speaking of Azarenka, this matchup is reminiscent of her Belarusian battle of generations against Aryna Sabalenka.  The younger competitor won on that day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened here as well. It seems only a matter of time before Yastremska is making deep runs at Majors, and I think she could take the next step today.

Kei Nishikori (7) vs. Alex de Minaur

Get ready for some tremendous rallies from two of the ATP’s speediest players.  Nishikori has reached the quarterfinals at every Major this year, establishing himself one of tennis’ most reliable performers at big events.  Kei benefitted from the retirement of Marco Trungelliti halfway through their opening round, and overcame a fourth set comeback from American Bradley Klahn on Wednesday.  Meanwhile the 20-year-old Australian was forced to play his second round match yesterday due to rain, but easily defeated the 31st seed Cristian Garin in straight sets.  De Minaur was twice a champion this season, in both Sydney and Atlanta.  He loves playing on the hard courts, and pushed former champion Marin Cilic to 7-5 in the fifth here a year ago.  Alex thrillingly saved six match points before Cilic closed out that battle. In their first career meeting today, it feels like de Minaur is primed for a breakthrough.  This is his fourth time into the third round of a Major, but he’s yet to advance farther. Based on the way he’s been serving, and his competitive streak, Alex may just upset the former US Open finalist in what I expect will be an extended affair.

Daniil Medvedev (5) vs. Feliciano Lopez

Medvedev has been the winningiest player on tour this year, especially over the past month.  But perhaps all that tennis is finally catching up with him. Daniil has played 18 matches since July 30th, and appeared to be battling fighting body cramps in his four-set win yesterday.  Today he faces one of the oldest yet fittest players on tour in 37-year-old Feliciano Lopez, who also won their only previous meeting two years ago on clay.  And Feli can still go in singles: he was the Queens Club champion just a few months ago. Yet Lopez also had an exhausting match of his own yesterday against Yoshihito Nishioka.  On a hard court, Medvedev remains the favorite, as long as his body cooperates.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Denis Kudla, a 27-year-old American into the third round of a Major for the second time.  How will Djokovic’s shoulder be two days after he was in obvious pain?

Roger Federer (3) vs. Dan Evans.  Federer is 2-0 against the 29-year-old Brit, but Evans pushed him to two tiebreaks in Australia earlier this year.

Ash Barty (2) vs. Maria Sakkari (30).  Barty owns a 2-1 record in their head-to-head, though Sakkari claimed their only meeting in the US, last year in Indian Wells.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Ons Jabeur, a 25-year-old from Tunisia who has never been farther than this stage of a Slam.

Stan Wawrinka (23) vs. Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old lucky loser from Italy who spent nearly 13 hours on court in his last three matches, with almost five hours of that coming yesterday afternoon.

Johanna Konta (16) vs. Shuai Zhang (33).  Konta has a 4-1 edge, with Shuai’s only win coming in her home country of China.

Anastasija Sevastova (12) vs. Petra Martic (22).  They’ve split two previous meetings, both played on clay.

Order of play

Arthur Ashe Stadium – 5pm (BST) start

Roger Federer [3] vs Dan Evans

Not before 6.30pm

Serena Williams vs Karolina Muchova

Not before 12am

Sofia Kenin [20] vs Madison Keys [10]

Novak Djokovic [1] Denis Kudla

Louis Armstrong Stadium – 4pm (BST) start

Ons Jabeur vs Karolina Pliskova [3]

Maria Sakkari [30] vs Ashleigh Barty [2]

Not before 7.30pm

Stan Wawrinka [23] vs Paolo Lorenzi

Not before 12am

Elina Svitolina [5] vs Dayana Yastremska [32]

Feliciano Lopez vs Daniil Medvedev

Grandstand – 4pm (BST) start

Alex de Minaur vs Kei Nishikori [7]

Johanna Konta [16] vs Zhang Shuai [33]

Fiona Ferro vs Qiang Wang [18]

Dominik Koepfer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili [17]

Court 17 – 4pm [BST] start

Pablo Carrena Busta vs David Goffin [15]

Grigor Dimitrov vs Kamil Majchrzak

Court 10 – 4pm [BST] start

Petra Martic [22] vs Anastasija Sevastova [12]

 

 

 

 

Grand Slam

2020 US Open Champions To Get $3 Million Payout Amid COVID-19 Crises

A full breakdown of what players will win in every round of the tournament have been revealed.

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This year’s US Open will see their prize money pool slashed by $3.6 million compared to 2019 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has published a breakdown of the earnings players will be receiving at the Grand Slam which will start at the end of this month. Similar to other tour events such as the Western and Southern Open, earnings for early tournament losers will be increased compared to 12 months ago and those going further on in the tournament will see theirs going in the opposite direction.

Singles champions in both the men’s and women’s draws will take home $3 million, which is a $850,000 drop compared to what the winners took home in 2019. Last year the US Open had the highest prize money pool in Grand Slam history at $57 million. As for the runner-up their reward will be $1.5M, which is a fall of $400,000.

“We’re proud to be able to offer a player compensation package that maintains nearly 95 percent of the prize pool from 2019,” USTA CEO Mike Dowse said in a statement. “The prize money distribution for the 2020 US Open is the result of close collaboration between the USTA, WTA and ATP, and represents a commitment to supporting players and their financial well-being during an unprecedented time.”

The only increase when it comes to the singles tournament is related to the first round where the losers will take home 5% more ($61,000) than what they would have won at the same stage last year. The second and third round prize money remains unchanged.

On Tuesday the US Open suffered a blow when reigning champion Rafael Nadal confirmed that he wouldn’t be playing this year due to ongoing concerns about the virus. Joining the likes of Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who have also confirmed they will not be playing in Flushing Meadows.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal wrote on Instagram.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

Due to the pandemic this year’s competition is taking place behind closed doors in what is a heavy financial blow for the USTA, who relies deeply on the revenues generated in New York. Which attracted more than 700,000 fans in 2019. The event usually brings in $400M in revenue annually, which makes up roughly 80% of the USTA’s tally.

Prize money breakdown

Result20192020Difference
Champion$3,850,000$3,000,000-$850,000
Runner-up$1,900,000$1,500,000-$400,000
SF$960,000$800,000-$160,000
QF$500,000$425,000-$75,000
R4$280,000$250,000-$30,000
R3$163,000$163,000$0
R2$100,000$100,000$0
R1$58,000$61,000+$3000

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More Top Names Expected To Withdraw From US Open, Warns Andy Murray

Who will be the next tennis star to announce their withdrawal?

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Former world No.1 Andy Murray believes some male players will follow Ash Barty in withdrawing from next month’s US Open over travelling and COVID-19 concerns.

 

The British tennis star told reporters on Thursday he had heard that some ‘top players’ will not be playing in the Grand Slam without elaborating further. This year’s US Open will take place without fans for the first time in history due to the pandemic. Players will be restricted as to where they can stay or visit whilst based inside what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’ Murray has already committed to playing at the event but he is less certain about some of his rivals.

I have heard some of the top male players aren’t going to play. I would expect that would be the case,” he said.
“It’s everyone’s personal decision. If they don’t feel safe, and don’t feel comfortable, travelling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it’s completely understandable.”

In recent months both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have cast doubts about travelling to America and hinted that they may instead focus their intention on the European clay swing. Although no official decision has been disclosed to the public. Both of them are currently on the entry list for the Western and Southern Open, which takes place at the same venue as the US Open the week before. Roger Federer and Gael Monfils are the only two top 10 players not entered into the event.

Despite New York seeing a much more steady rate of COVID-19 infections compared to other parts of America, many players have voiced concerns over travelling there during the pandemic. The US government has already said that athletes are excluded from quarantine rules and the same is likely to be applied to events in Europe too.

All of the players will have some reservations and it’s whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk,” said Murray.
“Like I said the other day, my feeling is once we are inside that bubble they created, we will be okay. It’s more the international travel, and getting there which I will be a bit concerned about it.”

Amid the uncertainty surrounding who will play at the US Open, Murray believes when the Tour resumes there will be a series of upsets. Paving way for what he describes as ‘interesting results’ at the major event.

“You just can’t replicate matches in practice, it just isn’t the same,” the three-time Grand Slam champion commented. “It is different on the body, on the mind. The pressure is just different and no matter how hard you try to make your practices as challenging and difficult as matches, they just aren’t.
“Some players who have had injury lay-offs will probably be a little bit more experienced in terms of coming back after a long period, but it’s an opportunity for players. There will be upsets for sure. Going into the US Open with potentially only one or two matches in the Cincinnati event in New York, it will make for some interesting results.”

The US Open will start on August 31st. In the men’s draw world No.2 Nadal is the reigning champion.

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Grand Slam

Ash Barty To Skip US Open Over ‘Significant Risks’ As Former Champion Signs On

The Australian has become the first top name to pull out of New York, but how many others will follow?

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This year’s US Open will take place without the presence of the women’s world No.1 due to ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ash Barty has become the first top 10 player to officially confirm that they will not be playing at the New York major next month. The Australian released a statement on Thursday saying she felt uncomfortable travelling to the region because of the ‘significant risk’ posed by the virus. In recent weeks there has been speculation that Barty may withdraw from the event.

“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said.
“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year.”

America has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases nationally with new daily cases regularly exceeding the 50,000 mark. Although the situation in New York, where the US Open is held, is better than many other states. Earlier this week America exceeded 150,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in what is the highest figure in the world.

It is unclear when the 24-year-old will return to competitive tennis, but she is expected to play at the French Open where she will be deafening her title. Barty hasn’t played a match on the WTA Tour since her semi-final loss to Petra Kvitova at the Doha Open in February.

“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks,” she said.

Barty leads the WTA rankings by more than 2000 points with a tally of 8717.

Osaka to play

On the same day as Barty’s announcement, it was confirmed that Naomi Osaka would be playing at the Grand Slam following recent speculation. A report by Opencourt.ca said the 2018 champion is yet to sign up for the event, which has a deadline of August 3rd, and hasn’t entered to play in the Western and Southern Open.

In a statement issued to Reuters by Osaka’s management, they have now dismissed those claims. Saying the two-time Grand Slam winner would actually be playing at both events. Although it is unclear as to why the Japanese player didn’t sign up for the Western and Southern Open before the deadline.

Osaka hasn’t played in any exhibition events during the Tour Break and the last competitive match was during her country’s Fed Cup tie with Spain in February.

Reuters didn’t publish any quotes issued by Osaka’s management team.

Others in doubt

There are also doubts surrounding other members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour. Simona Halep, who pulled out of next week’s Palermo Open due to ‘travelling anxiety,’ is looking increasingly likely she will stick to European clay over the summer. The Romanian has said she is yet to make a decision but has signed on to play a clay-court tournament in Prague, which started three weeks before the US Open.

“It’s too early to make a decision, right now she would have to quarantine for two weeks after coming back from New York, so it’s a difficult situation. I’m more optimistic with regards to the French Open, I live in Paris and still wear a mask in public, but the situation has improved a lot and I think that a 50-60% capacity event might actually happen.” Halep’s manager Virginia Ruzici told UbiTennis earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina has previously mentioned one of her potential plans includes returning to tennis in Madrid after the US Open. Hinting that she may focus her attention solely on the european swing ahead of the French Open.

“Considering how things are today, I think I will start in Madrid and will not play at the US Open,” Ukrainian Tennis portal btu.org.ua quoted Svitolina as saying on July 14th. “So this is what I think at the moment, but so it is not a 100% final decision.”

Angelique Kerber is another former Grand Slam winner yet to commit to the event.

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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