US Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

US Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude

With a chance of thunderstorms throughout the day, some of Wednesday’s quarterfinals may be played indoors.

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Rafael Nadal (@usopen on Twitter)

Of the eight singles quarter finalists playing today, only one has ever before appeared in a Major final.  That would of course be Rafael Nadal, who is a 26-time Major finalist, and has won 18 of those finals. As if that doesn’t already paint Rafa as a heavy favorite, he’s 7-0 against his opponent today.  In the other men’s quarterfinal, it’s a speedy and flashy veteran against a powerful and passionate newcomer. On the women’s side, the youth movement is in full effect, with all of today’s competitors at 23 years of age or younger.  Which of these four youngsters will step up and advance to their first Major final?

 

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Diego Schwartzman (20)

Rafa and Diego played a few high-quality contests last year at Majors.  The issue is Schwartzman is yet to win one. And unlike Djokovic and Federer, Nadal has looked in peak form at this event, and fully healthy.  Rafa is also well-rested, having only dropped one set, and getting a walkover in the second round. That is a stark contrast to last year, when he played some grueling matches in the middle rounds of this tournament.  Nadal is a heavy favorite to reach his eighth US Open semifinal, against a player who is 0-2 at this stage of Majors.

Bianca Andreescu (15) vs. Elise Mertens (25)

The 19-year-old Canadian hasn’t lost a completed match in over six months.  Granted she missed many of those months due to injury, and had a walkover and a retirement mixed in there, but it still encompasses 21 completed matches.  And the Rogers Cup champ hasn’t lost all summer, currently on a 10-match win streak. But going this deep at a Major is brand new territory for Bianca, and her opposition today has been crushing it at this tournament.  Elise Mertens has only lost 16 games in eight sets played (and won). As Carole Bouchard reported on Twitter, Mertens changed her service motion leading into this event, to help alleviate arm and shoulder pain. It’s paid immediate dividends, as she’s only been broken twice through four matches.  But this is a big step up in competition for Mertens, who is yet to face a seeded player. In their first career meeting, I don’t think there’s much separating these two, aside from Bianca’s fight. She’s exhibited her will power time after time this season, and I’m not betting against her to reach her first Slam semifinal.

Gael Monfils (13) vs. Matteo Berrettini (24)

This should be good.  Both men have been playing some great tennis during this fortnight, on the heels of strong seasons.  They’re both in the top 15 of the year-to-date rankings. And their contrast in styles should make for some great, complex rallies.  Monfils possesses a decade of extra experience over the 23-year-old, but Matteo has proven a quick learner on tour with his quick rise up the rankings.  On the heels of this career-best result at a Major, Berrettini will rise to a career-high ranking on Monday. They’ve never played before, and Monfils is always a wild card as to exactly what version of him will show up, especially in a big match situation.  But he’s become a more reliable competitor of late, and his game should be enough to diffuse the power of the Italian. And as great as Berrettini played in his last match against Andrey Rublev, a letdown in the biggest match of his career seems likely. I like Monfils to return to the US Open semifinals for the first time in three years.

Belinda Bencic (13) vs. Donna Vekic (23)

In her first year on tour, Bencic reached her first Slam quarterfinal here five years ago at the age of 17.  Now after her career was sidetracked by injuries, she’s finally back in a quarterfinal after her takedown of world No.1 Naomi Osaka.  Meanwhile this is Vekic’s debut at this stage of a Major, and she’s frankly a bit lucky to be here. Julia Goerges served for the match in their fourth round encounter, but choked the match away.  But Vekic is an extremely talented player, who like Bencic has persevered through some lean years of her own after some early success as a teenager. They’ve split two previous meetings, though neither was on a hard court.  Bencic prevailed five years ago on grass, while Vekic won comfortably earlier this year at Roland Garros. Bencic is a bit quicker around the court, and has more guile in her game. She should advance here, though I worry if she’s due for a letdown of her own following her upset of Osaka.  But Bencic’s experience advantage over Vekic should help her navigate her way to her first semifinal at a Major.

Other notable matches on Day 10:

In the mixed double semifinals, Sam Stosur and Rajeev Ram (3) vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray, who are the defending champions.

And the other semifinal finds sisters on opposite sides of the net, as it will be Hao-Ching Chan and Michael Venus (1) vs. Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig (4).

Order of play

Arthur Ashe Stadium

12:00:
(13) Belinda Bencic (Swi) v (23) Donna Vekic (Cro)
(24) Matteo Berrettini (Ita) v (13) Gael Monfils (Fra)

00:00:
(15) Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (Can) v (25) Elise Mertens (Bel)
(20) Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (Arg) v (2) Rafael Nadal (Spa)

Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Face Calls To Honour Margaret Court In 2020 Amid Potential Backlash

The 77-year-old is regarded as one of her country’s greatest-ever tennis players, but has been criticised for a series of homophobic comments she has made.

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Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court has said she wants to be treated the same as fellow former great Rod Laver concerning the upcoming anniversary of one of the biggest milestones she has ever achieved in her career.

 

2020 will mark 50 years since Court won all four grand slam titles within the same season. An elusive achievement in the world of tennis. Only three women in total have managed to complete a calendar grand slam – Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the others. Court also still holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles ever won by a tennis player at 24. One ahead of Serena Williams.

Court said she has received no contact from Tennis Australia regarding any plans to mark her milestone. Laver, who is the only man to ever complete the calendar grand slam twice, was honoured this year for his accomplishment. It is the 50th anniversary of when he claimed the four major trophies back in 1969.

“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary),” Court told Nine News Australia.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.”

Any move to honour Court at the Australian Open in January is likely to split opinion. The 77-year-old has been criticised for a series of homophobic remarks she has made for many years. In 1990 she once said that Martina Navratilova was a bad role model for children because she is gay. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, she said in another interview in 2017 that tennis was ‘full of lesbians’ and those who identify as transgender were ‘the work of the devil.’ In another incident, Court wrote a comment to an Australian newspaper is which she said took a swipe at former player Casey Dellacqua after she announced the birth of her child. Dellacqua is in a same-sex relationship.

There have been calls for Court’s name to be removed from one of the premier stadiums at the Australian Open in light of hew views. Billie Jean King, who is one of the founding members of the WTA, has previously called for the arena to be renamed.

“I don’t feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career,” Court told The Sydney Morning Herald about calls for her name being removed. “It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong.
“Many gay people think my name shouldn’t come off it. There are many gay people who don’t believe in gay marriage. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman and they will say that. Then you get the radicals coming at me, you have got these minority groups in every area now having a say and taking on nations and taking on big companies.”

Whilst her comments have triggered controversy, Court has insisted that she has nothing against gay people. Claiming she has members of the LGBT community attend her church. Following retirement from tennis, Court became a Christian pastor.

“I have gay people in the church. It is nothing against the people themselves, I just said what the Bible said. If I can’t say what the Bible says, there is something wrong.”

The ball is now very much in the court of Tennis Australia, who oversees the running of the Melbourne major. Although coming to a decision will not be easy. In June they were named as one of the best sporting organisations for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the annual Pride Sport Awards in Melbourne.

“As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.” A statement from Tennis Australia reads.

During her career Court won 140 titles in the Open Era (1968 onwards). 92 of those were in singles and 48 were in doubles. At the 1963 Australian Open and 1970 US Open she won all three titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

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Grand Slam

Simona Halep To Change Grand Slam Schedule Ahead of Olympics

The Romanian is set to play extra events in the majors in a bid to boost her chances of winning a medal in Tokyo.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep has her eyes set on winning more than one medal at the 2020 Olympic Games after confirming she will play extra matches during three grand slam tournaments next year.

 

The 28-year-old intends to participate in the mixed doubles along with a yet to be decided compatriot. It will be a rare appearance for Halep, who has only played in two mixed doubles tournaments throughout her professional career so far. Doing so at the 2015 US Open and 2016 French Open with Horia Tacu.

Despite her lack of experience in the discipline, the Romanian is hoping to build some momentum in the grand slams next year. A two-time grand slam champion, she has focused solely on singles competition at every major for over four years.

“I have only Melbourne, maybe French Open, and grass. Grass is a little bit dangerous because the surface is tough and you can get hurt a little bit with the men’s serve.” Halep told reporters in Beijing.
“But the goal is to play all the time mixed doubles with my partner to get used to the game, to be able to achieve a good result at the Olympics.”

Halep made her Olympic debut back in 2012, but opted not to play in the 2016 edition. In London she lost in the first round of both the singles and women’s doubles competition. Halep is bidding to become only the third Romanian tennis player in history to win an Olympic medal. Following in the footsteps of Tecau and Florin Mergea, who won a silver medal together in Rio 2016.

“I want to win any medal in the Olympics to fulfil everything I have done in tennis,” Halep said following her triumph at Wimbledon in July. “It is a chance to play for my country and I have always loved to do that. The disappointment from [losing in Fed Cup] this year really hurt me so to play well to get a medal, it would be a dream.”

The world No.6 has also been confirmed as her country’s flag-bearer for the upcoming event in Tokyo.

Playing through the pain

Whilst her long-term goal has been set out, Halep’s focus for the immediate future is on this week’s China Open. She kicked-off her campaign on Sunday with a clinical 6-1, 6-1, win over Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. Peterson was her first real test since withdrawing from Wuhan due to a back injury. Whilst the score looks positive, she is not getting too ahead of herself.

“I’m not 100 percent recovered, I still feel pain,” said the sixth seed.
“Always when you have an injury, it’s a little bit risky.
“But I accepted it, I took the risk.”

A former runner-up of the tournament, Halep is hopeful of having a strong run. Beijing is her first tournament since turning 28 on Friday. To mark the occasion, she celebrated the milestone at one of the world’s most prestigious landmarks.

“Every year it’s nice to come back here,” she said. “This tournament’s a big tournament and important for everybody, and the atmosphere is very nice. You can see everyone is focused on their job.
“This year I celebrated my birthday at the Great Wall. It was actually the first time I’ve visited the Great Wall after coming here many years in a row. I think it’s going to be a good week for me—even if I was a little bit injured last week, I feel good now. I’m feeling good to play and to win matches.”

Halep will play Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round on Monday.

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Roger Federer Can Win Australian Open, Says Laver

The 81-year-old speaks out about the world No.3.

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Roger Federer (@usopen on Twitter)

Tennis legend Rod Laver has back world No.3 Roger Federer to add to his record-breaking grand slam tally in the future.

 

The 38-year-old currently holds the record for most major singles won by a man at 20. However, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are closing in on that tally. Djokovic is currently on 16 and Nadal in one adrift on 19 following his latest triumph at the US Open. Meanwhile, Federer has only featured in the final in one out of the last six grand slam tournaments. Doing so at Wimbledon in July where he failed to convert two championship points against Djokovic. His last major title took place at the 2017 Australian Open.

Despite the recent lack of major silverware for the Swiss Maestro, Australian great Laver believes he can still challenge for the biggest titles in the sport. Saying that it is possible that Federer could continue playing until the age of 40.

“He seems to be fine and that’s what counts. If you love the game as much as you do, that’s fine.” He commented on Federer’s longevity in the sport.
“I also give Roger a very good chance of winning the Australian Open again in Melbourne in January.”

Laver admits that it is possible that the two other members of the Big Three could end their careers with more titles than Federer. Nadal is five years younger than him and Djokovic is six. However, he believes there is one thing that separates him from the others.

“Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are all big champions. But Roger surpasses tennis, the world of sport, and sports in general in a way that no one in history has done before him. He is the most recognized athlete in the world and a figurehead for this great game.

The first encounter between Laver and Federer took place 13 years ago in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Since then, the two have formed a bond with Laver saying they ‘clicked’ straight away.

The biggest example of the friendship between the two is perhaps best illustrated by the Laver Cup. An annual team tournament where Europe takes on the rest of the world. Similar to that of Golf’s Ryder Cup. Named in honour of the tennis great, Federer is one of the co-founders of the event. Which has since been granted a place within the ATP Calendar. Although no ranking points are on offer.

This year’s edition will be held in Switzerland for the first time. Critics have been quick to point out the disparity between the two teams. Europe consists of all players ranked inside the top 20 compared to one from the world team. However, Laver dismissed the significance.

“I do not think so. The team World has excelled in both Laver Cups in doubles and also celebrated one or two big victories in singles. I expect it to be exciting.” He said.

The three-day 2019 Laver Cup will get underway in Geneva on Friday.

List of players participating

 Team Europe
Captain:  Björn Borg
Vice-captain:  Thomas Enqvist
Player Rank
 Rafael Nadal 2
 Roger Federer 3
 Dominic Thiem 5
 Alexander Zverev 6
 Stefanos Tsitsipas 7
 Fabio Fognini 11
 Team World
Captain:  John McEnroe
Vice-captain:  Patrick McEnroe
Player Rank
 John Isner 20
 Milos Raonic 24
 Nick Kyrgios 27
 Taylor Fritz 30
 Denis Shapovalov 33
 Jack Sock 208

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