US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Saturday is headlined by a blockbuster third round matchup between two of the sport’s biggest new superstars.



Naomi Osaka (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf


To kick off the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, defending champion Naomi Osaka faces 15-year-old American phenomenon Coco Gauff. Earlier in the day on Ashe, another fast-rising teenager, Bianca Andreescu, takes on last year’s Australian Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki. And on the men’s side, some of the ATP’s most exciting players are in action: Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils, Denis Shapovalov, and Rafael Nadal.

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Coco Gauff (WC)

Osaka is on a 16-match winning streak at hard court Majors, dating back to last year’s US Open. There were a lot of questions coming into this event regarding her knee, which forced her to retire in Cincinnati. While she struggled a bit in her opening match, she easily advanced in straight sets on Thursday. But now she’ll face a situation eerily similar to last year’s ugly US Open final, where the crowd will be squarely against her, and exuberantly cheering on her opponent.

Coco Gauff has electrified the audience on Louis Armstrong Stadium this week, enduring two thrilling three-setters.  Tonight she makes her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut, and looks to advance to the round of 16 for the second consecutive Major. As impressive as Coco has been, expecting a 15-year-old to defeat the defending champion and world No.1 on tennis biggest stadium may be too much. And I’m not sure how much Gauff will have left emotionally after already playing two dramatic matches this week. Osaka’s experience on this court, as nightmarish as some of it is, should pay dividends. If Naomi maintains her level from the last round, she should advance here.

Bianca Andreescu (15) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (19)

What 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu has achieved this year is quite something. The Canadian came out of nowhere to win two Premier events, at Indian Wells and in her home country’s biggest tournament, the Rogers Cup. Overall this year at all levels, Andreescu is 38-4. Her four losses are all to current top 30 players. One of those was a mid-match retirement, and the other three were tight three-setters. While she missed several months of the year letting her body recover from injury, she hasn’t lost a completed hard court match in six months. Her talent and fight have been on full display in 2019.

One of her first hard court victories this season came at the expense of Wozniacki, back during the first week of the year in Auckland. Caroline is a two-time finalist in New York, and loves playing here. But she’s been struggling with rheumatoid arthritis over the past year, and has only played 40 matches since last year’s US Open. After coming back from a set down twice already this week, I’m not sure how much she’ll have left today. I like Bianca’s chances to advance to the fourth round of a Major for the first time in her career.

Nick Kyrgios (28) vs. Andrey Rublev

This will be the late night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Whoever decided to schedule Kyrgios late on a Saturday night is asking for trouble. Despite showcasing some of his usual drama, Nick has played extremely well through two rounds. He’s yet to drop a set this week. And he beat Rublev in their only prior encounter, last year on a hard court in the Russian’s home country.

But a year later, Rublev is a much stronger player, having recovered from a lower back injury that side-tracked his career. The 21-year-old upset Roger Federer two weeks ago in Cincinnati, as well as Stefanis Tsitsipas earlier this week. He’ll surely be a tough out, but I suspect Kyrgios will be motivated in front of the late night crowd, as he was on Tuesday night against Steve Johnson. And considering Nick’s immense talent, the match will be on his racket.

Gael Monfils (13) vs. Denis Shapovalov

Monfils has rather quietly put together a solid year, with a title and three other semi-final appearances. He’s on the verge of cracking back into the top 10 with a few more nice runs this season. And the US Open has been the Frenchman’s second best Major: three times he’s reached the quarterfinals or better. Meanwhile two years ago here, Shapovalov reached his first round of 16 at a Slam in just his second Major main draw. But Denis is yet to repeat that feat.

Prior to Winston-Salem last week, the 20-year-old Canadian had a losing record on the year, though he’s already accumulated five match wins since adding former US Open semi-finalist Mikhail Youzhny to his team at that event.  This will be the first career meeting between these two, and they’ll open the night session on Louis Armstrong Stadium. While most eyes will be on Osaka and Gauff at that time, I imagine this match will draw a good crowd of day session ticketholders who won’t be able to get into Ashe at night. Monfils loves a good audience, and he’s the favourite here based on recent form. He should be able to negotiate a large amount of errors out of Shapovalov.

John Isner (14) vs. Marin Cilic (22)

It’s the American No.1 against the 2014 US Open champion. However, neither man has experienced a good 2019.  Isner’s year started off pretty well, reaching three semi-finals before advancing to the final in Miami. But John suffered a stress fracture in his foot during that final, and missed three months of the year. And while he did win the grass court title in Newport, he went just 3-3 on North American hard courts leading up to this event.

On the other side of the net, Cilic has been a shell of his former self. Marin has been battling his nerves for the past year, and more recently some service yips have become evident. Cilic leads their head-to-head 8-3, but Isner has claimed three of their last five meetings. Their most notable encounter was at Wimbledon in 2015, when Cilic prevailed 12-10 in the fifth. This will be a mid-afternoon match on the Grandstand, which will surely be filled with vocal American support for Isner. Considering the way Cilic has choked under pressure so many times of late, Isner should be favoured in a match that will likely involve a few tiebreaks.

Other notable matches on Day 6:

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Hyeon Chung (WC). It’s nice to see Chung healthy and back in the mix, but I’m not sure how much he’ll have left after barely surviving against Fernando Verdasco in a fifth set tiebreak on Thursday night.

Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Aljaz Bedene. Zverev has already played two five-setters this week, and Bedene is another player who came through in a fifth set breaker on Thursday.

Kiki Bertens (7) vs. Julia Goerges (26). Bertens leads their head-to-head 2-1, though they’ve never played on a hard court.

Belinda Bencic (13) vs. Anett Kontaveit (21). This will be their first career meeting, with the winner playing either Osaka or Gauff.

2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko vs. Kristie Ahn (Q), a 27-year-old American who had never won a match at a Major prior to this week.


Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain



Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans. 


Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.  

Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.

“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying. 
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”

Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.

“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’

Will Kyrgios play?

Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity. 

“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …” 

Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment. 

“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”

The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions. 

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‘They Have Too Much Power’ – Stan Wawrinka Blasts Selfish Grand Slams



Stan Wawrinka has accused the four Grand Slam tournaments of looking after their interests and failing to hand players their fair share of the money they make from those events. 


Wawrinka, who has won three major titles during his career, acknowledges that the prize money has increased in recent years but argues the percentage of profits they redistribute is not high enough. According to Forbes, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) reported a revenue of $472M in 2022 in their financial statements. The total amount of player compensation available at this year’s US Open was in the region of $65m, which was a new record. 

“They do not redistribute enough to tennis compared to the income they generate,” Tennis Majors quoted Wawrinka as saying during an interview with L’Equipe. “And they have way too much power because they make [so much] money. 
“[The Slams are] where the history of tennis is written… These are the richest Federations which do not redistribute much. Even between them, there is no communication… The income from Grand Slams today is very important and the percentage returned to players is ridiculous. It has hardly increased at all.”

The Grand Slams argue that they have made efforts to increase prize money for players every year. Particularly for those who lose in the early round of their tournaments. For example, those who lost in the first round at the US Open earlier in the season won $81,500. At Wimbledon, first round prize money was £55,000 (roughly $68,900). 

These increases have failed to stop the criticism from Wawrinka who believes that the major events are only focused on what is best for them and not the players. 

“You are talking about the prize money, not the percentage paid. As revenues have increased significantly at the same time,” he said. “Grand Slam tournaments only concern their interest, for their country and their Federation. Today, we are stuck until the day the players say stop.”

The 38-year-old Swiss is a Grand Slam veteran and has played 221 matches at that level, winning 156 of those. So far in his career, he has earned a total of $18,777,025 in prize money just from those events.

Wawrinka also believes that players are not being consulted enough when it comes to making decisions on the Tour. However, he doesn’t see any need for a union to be formed, such as the PTPA which he believes has made little progress so far in addressing key issues. One example he uses is the move by organizers of the Australian Open to extend their event by an extra day from next year. 

“Tennis Australia showed up to say: “We’re starting on the first Sunday”, like that, thank you goodbye,” he said. “Did anyone ask us what we thought about it? No. It’s like that. From the outside, you tell yourself that this is not normal! That means we don’t work together.”

As for the other governing bodies of the sport, in Wawrinka’s view issues are arising due to their current structure with there being too many conflicts of interest. Saying those in charge are taking a more reactive than proactive approach to problems such as injuries being caused by the types of balls being used.

“The real problem with tennis is that most things are done in reaction,” he commented on the matter. “Nobody anticipates anything. We must include the players in the discussions to also explain to them the reasons for such and such discussions.
“When it comes to balls, the tournaments don’t want to agree because they all have a different sponsor, and at the same time we still have to fight to have enough to train with. We [go in circles. I’ve been on the circuit for twenty years and we talk about the same problems over and over again. The problem with tennis is that there are too many governances, too many different entities (ITF, Grand Slam tournaments, ATP, WTA) which only look out for their own interests. Today, the real problem in tennis is the Grand Slams.” 

Wawrinka is currently ranked 50th in the world. This season he has won 27 out of 50 Tour-level matches played. 

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Rafael Nadal To Play Australian Open, Says Tournament Chief




Rafael Nadal will head to Australia at the start of next year to play in the first Grand Slam of the season, according to the Australian Open tournament director. 


Craig Tiley has told Nine Network’s ‘The Today Show’ that the former world No.1 will be playing at Melbourne Park. Although there is yet to be any official comment from either Nadal or a member of his team about the matter. 

Nadal hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that he may retire next year. 

Whilst question marks remain over Nadal’s career, Tiley says he is confident the Spaniard will be playing at the Australian Open in what will be his 19th main draw appearance at the event. He has won the title twice before and was runner-up on four other occasions. 

“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” Tiley said.
“He’s been off for most of the year and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about, the champion of 2022. That’s awesome.”

Another player tipped to return to action is Nick Kyrgios who has also been hindered by injury in recent months. Kyrgios has played just one match in 2023 due to problems related to his knee and wrist. The setbacks came a year after he reached his maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon where he was beaten by Novak Djokovic. 

“The one great thing about Nick is that he’s very transparent and very open about how he’s feeling and what he thinks,” The Age newspaper quoted Tiley as saying.
“I personally believe in the communication that he’s very motivated to come back and play in January.
“He loves playing here … he knows everyone wants him to play. It’s just a matter of his health. He’s had a significant injury.
“He’s … in the process of still getting over that … [but] I fully expect him to be here and ready to play.”

Both Nadal and Kyrgios are currently ranked outside the top 200 due to their absences. 

The 2024 Australian Open will begin on January 14th. Next year the event will be held over 15 days for the first time in its history. 

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article a spokesperson for Nadal has responded to Tiley’s claims by stating that no return date has been set.

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