Australian Open Day 11 Preview: Will Roger Federer Pose A Threat To Djokovic? - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

Australian Open Day 11 Preview: Will Roger Federer Pose A Threat To Djokovic?

With scorching hot temperatures on Thursday, who will survive and advance to the finals?

Avatar

Published

on

Both women’s semifinals will be decided during the day session, during the hottest time of the day. They feature three Major champions who are yet to win a Slam on hard courts, and a 21-year-old American new to this stage. Following four straight-set women’s quarterfinals, we are due for some drama today. The first men’s semifinal will be played in this evening, and it will be the 50th career meeting between two of the sport’s all-time greats.

 

Ash Barty (1) vs. Sofia Kenin (14)

Embed from Getty Images
The Australian No.1 continues to impress, as she successfully copes with the pressure of high expectations at her home Slam. While Ash appeared a bit edgy at times on Tuesday against Petra Kvitova, it did not significantly impact her play. She’s now into her second Major semifinal, and will have the experience edge against her opponent. Barty also owns a 4-1 record over Kenin, will all those matches taking place within the last two years. But Sofia’s only win came on a similarly-paced hard court last summer in Canada. And Kenin has quickly proven herself to be one of the WTA’s toughest competitors, and does not give her opposition many easy points. However, I could see Sofia being a little overwhelmed by this occasion, and at times she can get a bit down on herself. With the edge in experience, more variety in her game, and the boisterous Aussie crowd behind her, Barty should be favored to reach her second Major final.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Embed from Getty Images
Each of these women have won Majors on clay and grass, and are now vying for their first hard court Slam. And they have been the two most impressive WTA players during this fortnight. Halep is yet to drop a set, and many have remarked on how positive she has remained on court through five rounds. But her composure should be thoroughly tested today, by a rejuvenated Muguruza who is back to playing with the focus and determination that won her two Majors. Muguruza dropped sets in her first two matches while she was battling a virus, but has cleanly advanced through her last three rounds against three seeded players. Their last meeting was also in the semifinal of a Slam, at the 2018 French Open. Halep comfortably prevailed on that day 6-1, 6-4. The hot conditions today should favor Garbine’s power, though Simona’s stamina could become an advantage the longer the match goes. And I do expect this to be an extended affair. In what should be a tight contest, I give the slight edge to the speed, endurance, and positivity of Halep.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Roger Federer (3)

Embed from Getty Images
Djokovic leads their head-to-head 26-23, and has won nine of their last 12 meetings. Their last encounter at a Major was the best match of 2019: the first Wimbledon final to be decided by a final set tiebreak at 12-12. Djokovic prevailed that day thanks to winning three tiebreak sets, and despite winning less points overall. Federer would get a small dose of revenge a few months ago in the same city, when he defeated Novak in the round robin stage of the ATP Finals. But Federer comes into this match at much less than 100%, and is frankly lucky to still be in this tournament. He came back from an 8-4 deficit in the final set tiebreak against John Millman in the third round, and then somehow saved seven match points against Tennys Sandgren two days ago. Roger appeared to be dealing with multiple injury issues on Tuesday, and will only have 48 hours to try to recover and heal. While Federer has notched some wins over Djokovic of late in best-of-three matches, he hasn’t beaten Novak at a Major since 2012. And he hasn’t defeated Djokovic at a hard court Major since 2009. Roger is a meek (by his high standards) 7-7 in Australian Open semifinals, while Novak has never lost in a semifinal or final in Melbourne. Djokovic is a heavy favorite to reach his eighth championship match down under.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena

From 00:00am
I. Dodig (4)/F. Polasek (4) v M. Purcell/L. Saville

Not before 3:00am
A. Barty (1) v S. Kenin (14)

 Not before 4:30am
S. Halep (4) v G. Muguruza

From 8:30am
R. Federer (3) v N. Djokovic (2)
TBA v TBA (Legends)

Focus

Sofia Kenin Survives Samsonova Test At Roland Garros

Sofia Kenin battles past Samsonova to reach the second round at Roland Garros.

Avatar

Published

on

(@SofiaKenin - Twitter)

Sofia Kenin survived a tough test against Liudmila Samsonova, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to reach the second round in Paris.

 

The Australian Open champion has had a poor start to tennis’ restart but managed to grind out a three set win against her Russian opponent.

Samsonova managed to hit 38 winners and gave Kenin a real test before the American prevailed in three sets.

Next for Kenin is Ana Bogdan of Romania.

The match saw both players showed moments of solid tennis but nothing consistent as it was the attack of Samsonova against the defence of Kenin.

Four breaks in the opening six games backed this up as Kenin’s lack of aggression cost her throughout the match.

One tactic the American managed to show was a variety of pace which managed to catch the Russian off guard at times and forced her into many unforced errors.

A loose backhand from Samsonova secured the crucial break for the American in the ninth game as she served out the set in 47 minutes.

Then the rain came and a 90 minute break for Samsonova to think about how she was going to outpower Kenin’s agility and grit.

The break was beneficiary for the Russian as she came out the strongest, crushing her forehands against a flat Kenin.

It was a strange start for the world number six, who lost five of the first six games before responding with an immediate break back.

However Samsonova remained poised as she not only levelled the match at one set all but secured an early break in the deciding set.

Kenin had to up the intensity and her level if she wanted any chance of advancing into the next round.

That’s exactly what the American did as she managed to get the first strike in and dictated the points by creating some good angles out wide.

Although Samsonova still attempted to use her power, there was not enough Tennis IQ to hang with the grittiness of Kenin.

The fiery American moved into round two by winning five of the last six games in a 2 hour and 11 minute battle.

It wasn’t a pretty win for Kenin, but she won’t care about that at the moment as she moves into the next round to play Ana Bogdan.

However one seed who didn’t last the first round was 26th seed Donna Vekic as she crashed out to world number 142 Irina Bara 6-3 6-4.

The result means Vekic has only won back-to-back matches on three occasions in her 10 tournaments in 2020. Bara will now play Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.

Continue Reading

Focus

Below-Par Karolina Pliskova Survives Scare In French Open Marathon

The lackluster Czech overcame some patchy play to set up a showdown with a former French Open champion in the next round.

Avatar

Published

on

Second seed Karolina Pliskova encountered a stern opening test at the French Open after outlasting Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in a two-hour roller-coaster.

 

The former world No.1 was forced to battle back from a set down to prevail 6-7(8), 6-2, 6-4, in what was an historic occasion for her rival. 24-year-old Sherif is the first female player from her country to ever contest a Grand Slam main draw match. During the marathon 135-minute encounter, Pliskova looked tentative at times as she produced 45 unforced errors alongside 46 winners. Furthermore she could only convert five out of 15 break point opportunities due to some fierce play from Sherif.

“It was super tough. Especially after losing the first set where I had a couple set points,” said Pliskova.
“I think I was not playing my game during the first set but my level got up a little bit higher in the next two.’
“She played a great game. Especially on this surface in these conditions. She is very tough.”

Pliskova entered the match as the undisputed favourite being ranked over 170 places higher than her opponent. However, the Czech struggled to find consistency in her shot-making early on. Eight times Pliskova had a set point opportunity at two different stages of the opener but she failed to concert all of them. At one stage the frustration got too much for her after she received a code violation for smashing her racket on the court. Meanwhile, underdog Sherif continued to weather the storm by playing inspired tennis as with a mixture of delicate drop shots and deep hitting. The determination of the Egyptian paid off after a tentative smash from Pliskova sailed long to award her the 7-6 lead.

The opener served as a wake up call for Pliskova who finally managed to regain rhythm in her game that paved the way for a rapid resurgence. During the second frame she dictated proceedings with the help of a four-game winning streak as she swiftly drew level in the match.

Besides Sherif, Pliskova also had to contend with the damp conditions and was seen at one stage rubbing her shoulder. This year’s tournament has also changed their ball brand with some players saying it is slower and heavier to hit than usual.

As the rain started to intensify both players continued battling on Court Philippe Chartier until the very end. Pliskova still looked to be below-par on the court and even lethargic after some points. Still, she wouldn’t be denied the victory. The pivotal break occurred during a marathon game at 3-3 that consisted of seven deuces. A backhand shot into the net from Sherif gifted the break as Pliskova neared towards the finish line. Serving for a place in round two, she sealed the win with the help of an ace down the centre of the court.

“The conditions are so different compared to Rome. It was 35 degrees and here (in Paris) it is close to 20,” said Pliskova. “ I’m just happy to be through because these matches can only move me forward and I can feel better after them. Hopefully I am going to have a little bit of a better feeling in the next one.”

In the next round Pliskova will play former champion Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian experienced little difficulty in her opening match as she swept aside Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-1.

Continue Reading

Focus

Rafael Nadal Marches On At French Open

The king of clay was in control of proceedings throughout the match as his opponent suffered a nasty fall in the third set.

Avatar

Published

on

Second seed Rafael Nadal has begun his quest for a record 13th French Open title with a clinical first round win over Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov who sustained an injury during the closing stages.  

 

The Spaniard was rarely troubled throughout his 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, win on Court Phillippe Chatrier as he recorded his 94th main draw victory at the tournament. Which is over 20 more than any other player in ATP Tour history. Against Gerasimov Nadal blasted three aces and 32 winners en route to securing a place in the second round. Although his win was partly overshadowed by the world No.83 who twisted his ankle during the third set and struggled with his movement.

“I am really happy to be back playing on court Philippe Chatrier,” Nadal said French during his on-court interview.
“It is great to be back on this court and hopefully next year the tournament will be back to normal with this beautiful crowd that I receive support from every year.”

Despite being a vocal critic of the ball change at Roland Garros, the 34-year-old had no difficulty when it came to powerful shot-making as he bullied his rival around the court with the use of angle shots. This year’s tournament has changed their ball brand to Wilson which some say is slower and heavy to hit in the cooler conditions.

It was a case of deja vu for the king of clay during the first two sets with a single break in each of those being enough for him to get a stronghold of the match. Gerasimov, who was making his main draw debut at the age of 27, did demonstrate glimmers of his potential. However, it was not enough to disrupt Nadal who impressively won 40 out of 48 points behind his serve during that period.

Nadal encountered his first blip one-and-a-half hours into the match after a lapse in concentration resulted in him getting broken and falling behind 0-2 in the third frame. However, the setback didn’t last for long as he soon leveled back up before disaster struck his opponent. During a rally Gersimov took a tumble after rolling his ankle and then underwent a medical time out to have it bandaged. When the match resumed the underdog visibly struggled with his movement as Nadal cruised to a one-sided victory.

I’m going to practice every single day and play matches with the most positive attitude possible,” Nadal pledged.
“It’s true that it is a different Roland Garros that we are used to. The conditions are very challenging but here we are to try our best. For me this year is as special as everyone that I am here.’
“I am going to keep trying my best. I’m happy to be in the second round and it’s a good start.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal’s preparation for the clay-court major has been limited in terms of matches played on the clay. This season he has only managed to participate in three which was at the Italian Open where he lost in the quarter-finals to Diego Schwzrtzman. It is the first time he has entered the French Open without winning an ATP title on the surface earlier in the season.

Awaiting Nadal in the second round will be America’s Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated qualifier Steven Diez in straight sets. The upcoming match will be the first meeting between the two. Since his debut in 2005, Nadal has only lost twice at Roland Garros to Novak Djokovic and Robin Solderling.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending