US Open Day 11 Preview: The Women’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

US Open Day 11 Preview: The Women’s Semifinals

Serena Williams is again just two matches from her 24th Major singles title, but three formidable women stand in her way, all of whom own victories over her.

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On Thursday night, Serena will play her 38th Major singles semifinal.  She’s has an astonishing 32-5 record at this stage of Slams, though three of those losses have come in New York over the past 10 years.  The other three semifinalists combine for only one previous Major semifinal. That belongs to Elina Svitolina, who just made her Slam semifinal debut two months ago at Wimbledon.  Will Serena’s enormous experience edge help to finally tie the all-time Grand Slam singles title record?

 

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Serena Williams (8)

Serena is 4-1 against Svitolina, though they haven’t played in over three years.  And Elina claimed their most recent encounter, which was a heartbreaker for Serena.  That was in the round of 16 at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Svitolina prevailed in straight sets, preventing Serena from claiming another Olympic medal.  Serena loves to avenge losses such as that, so I’m sure she’ll be extra motivated this evening. However, she’ll also know Svitolina is capable of defeating her, as will Elina.  As impressive as Serena’s 44-minute demolition of Qiang Wang was two night ago, where she hit 25 winners and the Chinese No.1 hit zero, there’s a lot more in Svitolina’s game that can bother her.  Elina is one of the best movers on tour. And she herself has been extremely impressive during this fortnight, as she’s yet to drop a set. And that includes victories over power players similar to Serena, such as her sister Venus.  Svitolina has previously struggled under pressure at the Majors, but that seems to be a thing of the past. At almost 38-year-old, it’s going to be hard for Serena to sustain her high level from Tuesday through two more rounds, especially with history on the line.   I expect Svitolina to thoroughly push Serena, but still like the 23-time Major champion to fight her way through in three sets. Even if her level dips a bit, she’s still Serena.

Belinda Bencic (13) vs. Bianca Andreescu (15)

Unlike the first semifinal, these two do not get a day of rest between the quarters and semis.  Both played just yesterday, though Bencic’s quarterfinal was much shorter than Andreescu’s, and ended about eight hours earlier.  Belinda has also spent much less time on court at this event, having only dropped one set and getting a walkover in her third round.  Andreescu has now played two consecutive three-setters within the past three nights. This is not only the first Major semifinal for both women, but also their first career meeting.  Both are feisty competitors on court, not afraid to show their emotions both positively and negatively. As tired as the 19-year-old Canadian must be, her amazing record this season shows how much grit she possesses.  She’s on an 11-match win streak, and has won 22 straight completed matches (removing a retirement and a walkover from her season). During that stretch, she’s won 12 three-set matches, and has six times come back from a set down, including just yesterday.  Bianca continues to find ways to outlast and outcompete the competition. Against a talented and intelligent opponent today, I’m betting on her to figure out a way to reach her first Major final

Other notable matches on Day 11:

In the men’s double semifinals, Rogers Cup champions Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (8) vs. Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies (12), the French Open champions.  This is just the third event as a team for Granollers and Zeballos.  After winning the French Open, Krawietz and Mies were 2-7 prior to this semifinal run.

In the other men’s doubles semifinal, Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Roberto Farah (1) vs. Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.  Jamie Murray will also play in the mixed doubles final later this week.

In the first women’s semifinal, Major singles champions Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty (8) vs. Viktoria Kuzmova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who are in just their second event as a team.  Azarenka and Barty upset the top seeds in the last round, while Kuzmova and Sasnovich upset the third seeds.  The other women’s semifinal will be decided later this week.

 

Grand Slam

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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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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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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