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

Australian Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude

Wednesday is highlighted by a rematch of the French Open final from the last two years.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf 

 

Rafael Nadal is one win away from securing his world No.1 ranking, though I’m sure he’s much more concerned with being three wins away from winning his record-tying 20th Major title. But standing in his way today is an opponent who has beaten him many times before. The other men’s quarter-final features the 2014 champion and a Next Gen standout who has excelled on the ATP tour, but is yet to make a deep run at a Major. On the women’s side, we have a pair of two-time Major champions against two women looking to reach their first Slam semi-final.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)

This is a marquee quarterfinal between two top five seeds. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4, with all but one of those matches taking place on clay. Their only hard court meeting was certainly a memorable one. In the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, they played for almost five hours, and past 2:00am, in a match decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  Thiem should take a lot of positives from that encounter despite the loss, and he’s only improved his hard court game since that time.

Dominic has won four hard court titles in the past 16 months, including the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. And just two months ago, he reached the championship match at the ATP Finals, with wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This is his first time advancing to the quarters in Australia, but this run is not surprising based on his recent hard court resume. The slower courts in Melbourne this year work to Dominic’s favour, though Rafa will like that temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days. But with this being a night match, it’ll get rather cool as this match goes on. Nadal has looked good through four rounds here, and passed a stern test supplied by Nick Kyrgios two days ago. However, I think this may be Thiem’s time to shine. He was oh-so-close to beating Nadal in their last hard court match, and he’s a much-improved player since hiring Nicolas Massu as his coach. In what will surely be a highly-competitive affair, I’m tipping Thiem to pull off the upset.

Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)

Alexander Zverev (@usopen)

Can this be true? Zverev, who has historically become entangled in long matches during the first week of Majors, has won four rounds here without dropping a set. It’s even more startling when you consider he went 0-3 at the ATP Cup to start the year, where he had terrible troubles with his serve. In his post-match interview on Monday, he spoke of how finding peace in his personal life has lead to good results on court. The 22-year-old has reached his third Slam quarterfinal, and his first off clay. He’ll certainly be the fresher player today, as Stan not only battled an illness last week, but has already played two five-setters.

That includes his comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev two days ago. And Zverev is 2-0 against Wawrinka, with both victories coming on hard courts. But this is a case where experience at this stage of a Major will be crucial, and Stan has plenty of that. This is his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne, and his 18th at all four Majors. Wawrinka has proven himself to be a big-match player, and excels in the best-of-five format. As improved as Zverev’s serve has been this fortnight, Wawrinka remains the bolder and more aggressive player, which is usually critical in matches like this. With that in mind, I like Stan’s chances to return to the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in three years.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Anett Kontaveit (30)

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen – Twitter)

The 24-year-old Kontaveit has been a rising WTA star for a few years now, but she appears ready for her big breakthrough. This run has literally come out of nowhere, as an illness forced her to withdraw from the US Open and miss the rest of the 2019 season. Her coach, Nigel Sears, told the media that she was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in a substantial weight loss, and a lack of activity for three or four months. But here she is into her first Major quarter-final, thanks to some impressive play. She dropped just one game to the sixth seed, Belinda Bencic, and came back from a set down to claim a tight match over a talented teenager, Iga Swiatek.

But today Kontaveit runs into an in-form Halep, who has reunited with Darren Cahill and is yet to drop a set at this event. These two players have similar, all-around games, though Halep is a bit more consistent, and a bit more skilled defensively. And Simona is 2-0 against Anett, having comfortably won the four sets they’ve played.  Halep should be favoured to reach her second semi-final in Melbourne.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza (@WeAreTennis – Twitter)

Speaking of Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions in good form, Garbine Muguruza is back. She seems to be rejuvenated with Conchita Martinez back as her coach. When her former coach, Sam Sumyk, missed Wimbledon a few years ago to undergo a medical procedure, Conchita filled in, and coached Muguruza to the title. Garbine split with Sumyk during the offseason, and is playing her best tennis in a few years with Martinez as a full-time coach.

But guess who Sumyk coaches now? That would be Pavlyuchenkova.  This union has also paid immediate dividends, though the 28-year-old Russian has been playing great tennis since the fall. Pavlyuchenkova outplayed a game Angelique Kerber on Monday, extending her record in the fourth round of Majors to 6-1. The problem is she’s 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. And she’s 1-4 against Muguruza, with the only win coming via a Garbine retirement. Muguruza just has a bit more game than Pavlyuchenkova, and she’s been on fire since overcoming an illness last week. Garbine took out two top 10 seeds in the last two rounds, via scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-3. While Sumyk will certainly have some sage advance for how to play against Muguruza, I don’t see it being enough considering Garbine’s current level.

Grand Slam

US Open Taking A Big Risk If Tournament Goes Ahead, Warns Former Top 10 Player

Will the USTA be able to defy the odds and stage the North American grand slam as planned?

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The prospect of the US Open going ahead as planned could potentially lead to ‘scandal’ occurring in the sport, according to a two-time quarter-finalist of the tournament.

 

Janko Tipsarevic says a ‘big question mark’ is looming over the grand slam and its intention to host the event from the last week of August. New York state, which is where the US Open takes place, is at the centre of the covid-19 outbreak in America. As of Saturday morning official figures put the number of cases at 113,700. The Billie Jean Tennis Center has recently been turned into a 350-bed facility to help cope with the outbreak.

“I wouldn’t still rule out the possibility of seeing a tennis ball being hit for the rest of 2020 but I consider the US Open a big question mark,” Tipsarevic told Sport Klub.
“I think the United States will be the hardest hit country by the coronavirus pandemic and it will be extremely hard to get the situation under control before the end of August, when the US Open is scheduled to start.”

Nevertheless, the United States Tennis Association is still not giving up their hope of staging the event as scheduled unlike other majors. The French Open has suspended their tournament to the last week of September in a hope they can still host the event this year. However, Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since 1945.

There are also questions as to how much time it will take to make the facility safe for the public after being used to treat those with the virus. The facility being used to treat those affected is the indoor training centre and not the premier Arthur Ashe stadium or other courts. Danny Zausner, who is the chief operating officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, insists there will minimal risk to the public should the US Open get underway in the summer.

“I can assure you that by the time people leave these two entities—and obviously we hope that’s sooner rather than later—that they will be cleaner and more meticulous than when they opened. Obviously, we’re not going to be bringing the public into these spaces until everyone is out.” Zausner told tennis.com.

Despite the reassurances, Tipsarevic still believes that the legal risk involving the tournament could be too high. Making a reference to Eugenie Bouchard, who onced sued the USTA after slipping over in the locker room and suffering a concussion.

“You probably remember when Eugenie Bouchard fell in the locker room a couple of years ago, sued the US Open, won the case and got compensated a few million dollars.” He said.
“Can you imagine a situation in which the tournament organizers decide to proceed with the US Open and a player contracts the coronavirus and has serious consequences. Just imagine that scandal.”

Out of the four grand slams, the US Open was the only one to take place during the first and second world wars.

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Announces Cancellation As Coronavirus Continues To Affect Tennis Calendar

For the first time since World War Two, Wimbledon has been cancelled.

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(@BleacherReport - Twitter)

Wimbledon has announced it has cancelled this year’s tournament due to health fears over the coronavirus. 

 

This is the first time since world war two that the famous grass-court tournament at SW19 has been cancelled as the coronavirus continues to impact the tennis calendar.

In a statement, Wimbledon confirmed that the next edition of the tournament will occur in 2021, “It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” they said on their website.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021. Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen – the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents – as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.

“Members of the public who paid for tickets in the Wimbledon Public Ballot for this year’s Championships will have their tickets refunded and will be offered the chance to purchase tickets for the same day and court for The Championships 2021. We will be communicating directly with all ticket-holders.”

Speaking on the decision, All-England Club chairman Ian Hewitt admitted that health and public safety was more important than tennis right now, “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.”

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”

As a result of today’s announcement, all grass-court tournaments in England and abroad have been cancelled as there will be no tennis until the 13th of July at the earliest.

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Cancelled And Roland Garros Punished For Its Decision

German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff confirms Wimbledon will not take place in 2020. The decision by the FFT to postpone Paris will not stand: the other organizations are committed to fight. FFT’s president Giudicelli may have overplayed his hand

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A bombshell interview by French sports newspaper l’Equipe to the Vice-President of the German Tennis Federation Dirk Hordoff has released some new details about the discussions taking place behind the scenes among top tennis executive to try and sort out the chaos created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

According to Hordoff, the grass-court season will be a write-off in 2020, with all tournaments waiting for Wimbledon to announce the cancelation of the tournament next Wednesday to make their decision official. “It’s the only decision that makes sense,” said the German executive “it is possible to play on clay later in the year, but it is not possible to have tournaments on grass in October, you can’t play on grass when it is moist”.

But the juiciest bits of the interview described with an abundance of details the reactions to the French Federation’s decision to unilaterally postpone the Roland Garros to late September (20 September – 4 October) without waiting to reach a consensus among the ATP, the WTA and the other Grand Slam tournament. “This is not the French way of doing things, it’s Bernard Giudicelli’s way of doing things”, said Hordoff. The FFT President Giudicelli reportedly forced the decision upon the other tournaments, uploading the press release to announce the decision while he was on a conference call with other tennis executives. “I believe he panicked because of the elections coming up [in February 2021] and wanted to score some points on his opponent” reported Hordoff. His decision to also cancel the qualifying tournament was intended to be a “biscuit” for the ITF President David Haggerty, since it would make the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November even more financially attractive to all the players who did not have the opportunity to earn money with the Roland Garros qualifying tournament. “He hoped to have the ITF on his side, but now he is alone against the rest of the world,” said Hordoff, adding that the ATP is threatening to remove the ranking points assigned to Roland Garros for both 2020 and 2021.

One manager at the FFT allegedly told Hordoff: “This decision will be his Waterloo”, alluding to Giudicelli’s birth region of Corsica, the island in the Mediterranean that also was Napoleon’s birthplace.

The idea for the remainder of the season would be to have Roland Garros some time between September and October, depending on when it is possible to start playing again and have a short clay-court season before then. The situation in New York is quite dire at the moment, so the US Open is still a question mark for the time being, explained Hordoff. “But the most important thing right now is people’s health. I believe that until we have a vaccine or a cure it will be difficult to start again. Can you imagine all the people travelling from tournament to tournament, all the players, the fans, the coaches, the physios, the referees? There are more important things than tennis to think about”.

“Financially tennis will be all right – concluded Hordoff – I don’t see any of the Top 100 having problems to survive even without tennis. Of course, there may be some sponsors that will pull back their support to some tournaments, but tennis will survive. It will be different, but it will survive”.

Correction: In previous versions of the article, Dirk Hordoff was being identified as the President of the German Tennis Federation. His position has now been corrected.

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