US Open Day 7 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

US Open Day 7 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Sunday is headlined by a rematch of the 2016 men’s singles final.

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Novak Djokovic - US Open 2019 (photo via Twitter, @USOpen)

That will be the nightcap on Arthur Ashe Stadium, proceeded by a big-time fourth round affair between two WTA top 10 seeds.  During the day on Ashe, 43 Major singles title will be in action, as Roger Federer and Serena Williams play their round of 16 matches.  And the race for WTA No.1 ranking still hangs in the balance, with the top three players in the world all having the chance to leave New York with that crown.

 

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Stan Wawrinka (23)

This is their first match since the US Open final of three years ago, when Wawrinka stunned Djokovic in four sets to win his third Major.  That was just 15 months after Stan had also stunned Novak in the French Open final in four sets. But those are two of only five Wawrinka victories in this rivalry, compared to 20 for Djokovic.  They’ve combined to create some epics in recent times. Stan and Novak played four five-setters at hard court Majors between January 2013 and January 2015, with Djokovic taking three of the four.  The biggest question today is regarding the condition of the world No.1’s shoulder. It didn’t seem to drastically impact his form in a straight set win over Denis Kudla, though he remained tight-lipped regarding the extent of the injury.  And Novak mysteriously arrived to the grounds extremely late on Friday, delaying his scheduled practice multiple times. Of course Wawrinka has battled his own injury troubles in recent years, but appears to be as healthy and well-conditioned as he’s been in over two years.  Many of Novak and Stan’s greatest battles have occurred late at night at Slams. In front of an engaged New York crowd on a Sunday night, I think Stan will play inspired tennis, and push Djokovic farther than his shoulder will allow him to go on this day.

Roger Federer (3) vs. David Goffin (15)

After some seriously subpar tennis in his first two rounds, Federer cleaned up his act on Friday against Dan Evans, dropping only five games.  And he’s 8-1 against Goffin, with David’s only victory coming at the 2017 ATP Finals. They most recently met on the grass of Halle in June, where Federer prevailed in the championship match 7-6, 6-1.  Goffin will force Federer to hit a few more balls than most opponents, but doesn’t posses a weapon that can really threaten the 20-time Major champion. As long as Federer plays more like his third round match than the first two, he should advance comfortably.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Madison Keys (10)

Keys owns a 2-1 record over Svitolina, which includes a win in this same round at this same tournament two years ago, which was also a night match on Ashe.  But earlier this year in Australia, Svitolina got the best of Keys in the round of 16 of that event. This is the one Major where Elina is yet to advance beyond this round, while Keys has made the semis or better here two straight years.  Neither woman has dropped a set to this stage. Keys comes in on a nine-match winning streak, having won the title in Cincinnati. But Madison was clearly feeling under the weather on Friday, and was lucky to escape her match against fellow American Sofia Kenin in straights.  She’ll need to be close to 100% to overcome the excellent defensive skills of Svitolina. But Svitolina is the more consistent competitor, so I give her the slight edge on this day considering Keys’ health, and her history of up-and-down play.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Johanna Konta (16)

This is a battle between two of the WTA’s best servers.  Their history has been quite one-sided, with Pliskova taking six of their seven encounters.  That includes their most recent meeting, in the championship match of Rome. However, Konta’s only win did come on a hard court, three years ago in Beijing in a third set tiebreak.  This will be their first match at a Major. Like Svitolina, this is the only Slam where Konta hasn’t appeared in a quarterfinal. She could be catching Pliskova at an opportunistic time, as Karolina hasn’t looked her best through three rounds here.  But as their head-to-head shows, this matchup just does not favor the British No.1. Pliskova should advance to the quarters here for the fourth straight year.

Alex de Minaur vs. Grigor Dimitrov

This is a huge moment for both men, at very different stages of their careers.  The 20-year-old Australian is into the fourth round of a Major for the first time, after an excellent upset of Kei Nishikori two days ago.  And to say the 28-year-old Bulgarian has been slumping since winning the 2017 ATP Finals is an understatement. But he’s taken advantage of an opening in the draw, with the withdrawal of Borna Coric ahead of their second round match, and facing a lucky loser in the third round who was coming off two consecutive five-setters.  De Minaur and Dimitrov have never played before, but Alex is definitely the more in-form player, with considerably more confidence. Grigor will have to remain consistently offensive to counteract the speed and service skills of de Minaur. I just don’t see it being enough, and like Alex to schedule a likely meeting with Federer on Tuesday.

Other notable matches on Day 7:

Serena Williams (8) vs. Petra Martic (22).  In their first career meeting, Martic vies for her second Major quarterfinal, after reaching her first a few months ago in Paris.  By contrast, Serena is playing to reach her 52nd quarterfinal at a Slam.

Ash Barty (2) vs. Qiang Wang (18).  Barty leads their head-to-head 2-0, and Qiang is making her round of 16 debut at a Major.

The US Open’s new villain, Daniil Medvedev vs. Dominik Koepfer (Q), a 25-year-old from Germany who will crack the top 100 for the first time in his career after this event.  The ATP has an informative piece on Koepfer here.

Coco Gauff may have been eliminated in singles, but she’s still alive in the doubles event.  Scheduled third on Louis Armstrong Stadium, it’s Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke (9) vs. Coco Gauff and Katy McNally (WC).

And in case you haven’t gotten your full Kyrgios fix yet, Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer (16) vs. Marius Copil and Nick Kyrgios.

Order of play for singles matches only (time in BST)

Arthur Ashe Stadium 

17:00:
(3) Roger Federer (Swi) v (15) David Goffin (Bel)
(8) Serena Williams (USA) v (22) Petra Martic (Cro)

00:00
(5) Elina Svitolina (Ukr) v (10) Madison Keys (USA)
(1) Novak Djokovic (Ser) v (23) Stan Wawrinka (Swi)

Louis Armstrong Stadium 

16:00:
(18) Qiang Wang (Chn) v (2) Ashleigh Barty (Aus)
(16) Johanna Konta (Gbr) v (3) Karolina Pliskova (Cze)
(9) Nicole Melichar (USA) & Kveta Peschke (Cze) v Cori Gauff (USA) & Catherine McNally (USA)

Not before 21:00:
Dominik Koepfer (Ger) v (5) Daniil Medvedev (Rus) 

Grandstand 

16:00: Alexa Guarachi (Chi) & Bernarda Pera (USA) v Caroline Dolehide (USA) & Vania King (USA)

Not before 17:30:
Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) v Alex De Minaur (Aus)
Anna Kalinskaya (Rus) & Yulia Putintseva (Kaz) v Shuai Peng (Chn) & Alicja Rosolska (Pol)
(8) Marcel Granollers (Spa) & Horacio Zeballos (Arg) v (10) Rajeev Ram (USA) & Joe Salisbury (Gbr)

ATP

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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Daniil Medvedev Gave Rafa Fans The Scare Of A Lifetime

Charleston Post and Courier columnist James Beck reflects on the US Open men’s final and what the future might have in store.

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NEW YORK — Rafa, you gave your followers quite a scare.

 

No. 19 looked like it was in the books when you got the first break point of the ninth game of the third set. But it wasn’t, and the second break point flew by as well.

Oh well, it was just 5-4, Daniil Medvedev. There was still time to close out the match in three sets. But after deadlocking the set at 5-5, you won only one point in the last two games of the set.

IT MIGHT BE A LONG NIGHT

Settle back, Rafa Nadal fans. It might be a long night.

The men’s final of Sunday’s U.S. Open was going the distance, even though Nadal served with double game points in the decisive 10th game of the fourth set, but still lost the set.

Nadal even served for the match with a 5-2 lead in the fifth set. He lost that one on a time violation first-serve penalty leading to a double fault to end the game.

Was it time to get worried about Rafa getting No. 19 this night? Was this going to be a Serena-like  case of bad fortune for Nadal? Of course, Serena Williams one day earlier had failed again for an all-time tying No. 24 Grand Slam title.

It could have happened to Nadal, too. Anything could have, judging from the way his tall and amazingly agile and quick Russian opponent was playing.

MIGHTY SERVE ENDED A HISTORIC FINAL

Nadal looked like he had a lock on No. 19 again before wasting two match points with Medvedev serving the ninth game of the fifth set.

Rafa even had to fight off a break point in the 10th game before ending the nearly five-hour marathon with a perfectly place serve down the middle.

He went flat on his back in disbelief, and Medvedev went around the net. The two embraced.

It, indeed, was one of the most memorable moments in the history of Grand Slam tennis.

Finally, a 7-5, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory that pushed Nadal’s Grand Slam championship total to within one of Roger Federer’s all-time record.

AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE BY BOTH PLAYERS

This was simply an amazing match that left a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, mostly of Nadal supporters, drained. It was that riveting.

This had to be one of the greatest U.S. Open finals ever.

Medvedev put on an unthinkable display of grit and talent, a sheer desire to win. Medvedev and Nadal  were like acrobats at times as they moved around the court to pull off amazing tennis stunts. Anything was possible because of the two players’ athletic abilities.

Nadal is definitely for real. But if his 23-year-old Russian opponent is for real, as he certainly appeared Sunday night, the Australian Open isn’t going to be a picnic for Federer, Nadal or the injured Novak Djokovic, or anyone else.

And then there’s the French Open where Rafa will be heavily favored to get No. 20 if he fails in Melbourne. Of course, if Rafa plays the way he did in the first two sets on Sunday, he may notch No. 20 Down Under.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? WHY NOT A DRAW?

What happens if both Nadal and Federer are tied for the all-time lead with 20 Grand Slam titles each?

If they’re deadlocked in another year or two, it might be time for a permanent dual timeout for both players. As sad as such a day would be, it would be a day to celebrate. Co-record holders wouldn’t be a bad way to go since retirement is inevitable for these two great players.

Although Federer demonstrated at Wimbledon and Nadal showed Sunday night, they can still rival the best tennis has to offer, but the rest of the men’s tennis game isn’t going to take a break waiting for these two greats to retire. Medvedev and his likes will continue to close the gap until there isn’t one.

PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD

As a result of what happened in Sunday’s U.S. Open final, the days ahead will add even more pressure for both Nadal and Federer each time a Grand Slam rolls around.

Federer already has felt that pressure, both here and at Wimbledon, as he tried to widen his lead over Nadal and Djokovic. Even Nadal seemed to feel some of the same pressure Sunday night while trying to close out Medvedev.

After defeating Federer in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic called Federer “one of the greatest ever” in his acceptance comments after the match. Federer frowned, but Djokovic was right.

Djokovic knows, because he’s not out of the all-time race just yet.

It would be nice if Federer and Nadal could/or would retire at the same time, and join Rod Laver as the greatest men’s tennis players ever. But just not quite yet.

 

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at 

http://www.postandcourier.com/search/?l=25&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&t=article%2Cvideo%2Cyoutube%2Ccollection&app=editorial&q=james+beck&nsa=eedition

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US Open A Ratings Hit In North America

Both the men’s and women’s finals managed to attract some record TV viewing figures.

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Bianca Andreescu’s win over Serena Williams in the final of the US Open was the most watched women’s final on ESPN of all time, according to official figures.

 

The Canadian 19-year-old rallied to a 6-3, 7-5, win over the former world No.1 to claim her first grand slam title. Her triumphed attracted an overnight rating of 2.7 million on ESPN. A 13% increase on last year (2.4) when Naomi Osaka defeated Williams. At its peak, which was towards the end of the second set, the rating was as high as 3.9. ESPN has also confirmed that the 2019 women’s final was their joint-highest US Open rating of all time.

Across the border, Andreescu’s win also made history in her home country of Canada. An average audience of 3.4 million watched her match on TSN and RDS with a peak of 5.3 million. Making in the networks most watched tennis match in history. It is also the most-watched broadcast since the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championships. TSN has also noted that Andreescu’s run has helped them achieve a 69% rise in views compared to 2018 to 10.7 million people watching the grand slam at some point. Meanwhile, their digital platforms have achieved a 145% year-on-year rise with 13 million impressions on TSN’s social media platforms.

There was also success for the networks with the men’s final. Rafael Nadal edged out Daniil Medvedev in a dramatic five-set encounter. The Spaniard was leading by two sets, before his opponent drew back to draw level. Forcing a tense decider. Their encounter was ESPN’s most popular men’s US Open final since 2015 and a 33% increase on 12 months ago. It attracted an overnight rating of 2.0. The 2015 clash between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer scored a 2.4 rating.

The strong broadcast numbers coincide with what has been a record year for the New York major. A record 737,872 fans attended the event over two weeks with the Arthur Ashe Stadium managing to have 23 out of 24 sell out sessions. The number doesn’t include the ‘Fan Week’ that took place before the start of the main draw. 115,355 people attended that to bring the overall figure to 853,227.

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