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

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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