Australian Open Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 4 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Yesterday’s heat will be replaced by much cooler conditions, but the wind will continue to make its presence known around the grounds.

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A day before seeded players start to run into each other in the singles draws, many top seeds will be considerable favourites on Thursday. Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Daniil Medvedev, and Dominic Thiem should all advance without significant trouble. So let’s take a look at the seeded player who will face some dangerous floaters on Day 4.

Belinda Bencic (6) vs. Jelena Ostapenko
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Ostapenko claimed their only previous meeting in 2018 at Indian Wells. However, both players are in very different players two years on. After years of battling injuries, Bencic finally returned to the top 10 last season. Her 2019 was highlighted by 50 match wins, two titles, and her first Major semifinal at the US Open. By contrast, the 2017 French Open champion had a losing record last year. Ostapenko has been racking up the unforced errors and double faults on tour. Bencic is by far the steadier player, with much more variety in her game. And considering the Australian Open has been the worst Major for Jelena in her career, I like Bencic to advance to the third round.

Nick Kyrgios (23) vs. Gilles Simon
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There’s been speculation that Kyrgios will be motivated to play well this fortnight by the wildfire situation in his home country. Nick seemed to be taking matters very seriously on Tuesday, in a straight set first round win. Though as we’ve seen for years now, his effort level can vary greatly from match to match. His 35-year-old opponent is a former top 10 player now ranked outside the top 50, and was 0-4 in the second round of Slams last year. But Simon’s lack of pace can drive players crazy, as we saw here in Melbourne a few years ago when he drew 100 unforced errors out of Novak Djokovic. The first and only previous encounter between these players was six months ago in Washington, which Kyrgios took in straight sets on his way to that title. An inspired and focused Kyrgios should have no problem taking care of the tricky Frenchman again today.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Lauren Davis
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The diminutive Davis took part in an epic affair here two years ago, when she went down in defeat to Simona Halep 15-13 in the third. The 26-year-old American struggled to recover from that match until mid-last year, when she gained some traction on the ITF circuit and went on to defeat the defending champion, Angelique Kerber, at Wimbledon. So the flat-hitting Davis is fully capable of taking it to less powerful players like Svitolina. And the fifth seed comes into this event a bit undercooked, with her only lead-up match being a 6-1, 6-1 loss at the hands of another American, Danielle Collins. But Svitiolina is 4-0 lifetime against Davis, losing only one of nine sets played. I don’t see a strong reason why the result would be different today.

Taylor Fritz (29) vs. Kevin Anderson
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The biggest question here will be what does Anderson have left after his first round, a match that went to a fifth-set tiebreak and wasn’t decided until after 1:00am local time Wednesday morning. And that was only Kevin’s fourth match since Wimbledon, as he missed nearly six months of action due to a knee injury. Meanwhile the 22-year-old American is coming off the best season of his career, winning his first ATP title in Eastbourne and reaching two other finals later in the summer. Fritz would normally be outmatched by Anderson, as there’s not much he does better than the South African. But against a depleted Anderson who lacks match play, Fritz should be favored to prevail in their first career meeting.

Danielle Collins (26) vs. Yulia Putintseva
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Well this is guaranteed to be a feisty contest, with two of the WTA’s most boisterous players. But it is not guaranteed to be a long affair. They’ve played twice in the past year, with neither match lasting an hour. Last summer on the grass of Eastbourne, Collins retired down 5-0 in the first set. And just two weeks ago in Brisbane, Collins prevailed 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes. The American already has six match wins to start the year, with victories over top names like Svitolina, Bencic, and Kenin. Putintseva came through qualifying in both Brisbane and Adelaide earlier this month, so she’s also playing with some confidence. Collins is defending semifinal points from a year ago, and seemed to be feeling the pressure in her opening round match, which she escaped 6-4 in the third. I expect her to relax a bit more following that scare, and we’ve seen how dangerous she can be when she’s on. Danielle will be capable of dictating play in this one, and should be the victor.

Other notable matches on Day 4:
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  • 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Federico Delbonis, a 29-year-old from Argentina who has never won more than three games in a set in three previous matches against Nadal.
  • Three-time Major champion Stan Wawrinka (15) vs. Andreas Seppi, who upset Roger Federer in Melbourne five years ago.
  • Karolina Pliskova (2), who has reached the second week at all of the last seven hard court Slams, vs. Laura Siegemund, who is 1-0 against Pliskova. That match occurred three years ago on clay in Siegemund’s home country of Germany.
  • The always-entertaining Gael Monfils (10) vs. the nearly-seven-foot-tall Ivo Karlovic, who will turn 41-years-old next month, and on Tuesday became the oldest man in the Open Era to win a match at this event.
  • Dominic Thiem (5), who lost in the second round here a year ago, vs. Australian Alex Bolt (WC), who reached the third round here last year.

Order of play (time in GMT)

Rod Laver Arena

From 00:00am
G. Muguruza v A. Tomljanovic
L. Siegemund v K. Pliskova (2)

Not before 3:00am
E. Gerasimov v A. Zverev (7)

Not before 8:00am
H. Dart v S. Halep (4)
R. Nadal (1) v F. Delbonis


Margaret Court Arena

From 00:00am
B. Bencic (6) v J. Ostapenko
D. Medvedev (4) v P. Martinez
P. Hon v A. Kerber (17)

Not before 8:00am
A. Seppi v S. Wawrinka (15)
E. Svitolina (5) v L. Davis


Melbourne Arena

From 00:00am
D. Vekic (19) v A. Cornet
J. Moore/A. Sharma v A. Barty/J. Goerges
A. Bolt v D. Thiem (5)

Not before 7:45am
N. Kyrgios (23) v G. Simon


1573 Arena

From 00:00am
C. Bellis v K. Muchova (20)
G. Monfils (10) v I. Karlovic

Not before 3:30am
T. Fritz (29) v K. Anderson
D. Jakupovic/R. Olaru v T. Babos (2)/K. Mladenovic (2)


Court 3

From 00:00am
Z. Diyas v A. Blinkova

Not before 3:00am
L. Hewitt/J. Thompson v J. Nam/M. Song
J. Munar v A. Popyrin

Not before 7:00am
M. Ymer v K. Khachanov (16)


Court 5

From 00:00am
S. Arends/R. Berankis v J. Melzer (12)/E. Roger-Vasselin (12)
M. Demoliner/M. Middelkoop v T. Sandgren/J. Withrow
J. Duckworth/M. Polmans v A. Harris/C. O’Connell
Y. Lee/F. Wu v S. Kenin (16)/B. Mattek-Sands (16)


Court 7

From 00:00am
M. Pavic (10)/B. Soares (10) v L. Bambridge/B. McLachlan
S. Sorribes Tormo v A. Kontaveit (28)
E. Perez (12)/S. Stosur (12) v L. Arruabarrena/O. Jabeur
P. Gojowczyk v P. Carreno Busta (27)


Court 8

From 00:00am
S. Johnson/S. Querrey v C. Hsieh/Y. Lu
A. Rodionova v K. Bertens (9)
D. Goffin (11) v P. Herbert
G. Garcia Perez/S. Sorribes Tormo v M. Adamczak/K. Srebotnik


Court 10

From 00:00am
G. Minnen/A. Van Uytvanck v S. Aoyama (10)/E. Shibahara (10)
Y. Duan (9)/S. Zheng (9) v H. Carter/L. Stefani
N. Cacic/D. Lajovic v M. Gonzalez (15)/F. Martin (15)
S. Hsieh (1)/B. Strycova (1) v M. Bouzkova/T. Zidansek


Court 11

From 00:00am
R. Ram (11)/J. Salisbury (11) v M. Fucsovics/C. Norrie
V. Kudermetova (13)/A. Riske (13) v S. Peng/S. Zhang
K. Muchova/J. Teichmann v C. Gauff/C. McNally
C. Bellis/M. Vondrousova v E. Mertens (3)/A. Sabalenka (3)


Court 12

From 00:00am
J. Chardy/R. Lindstedt v P. Cuevas/G. Pella
A. Pavlyuchenkova (30) v T. Townsend
G. Duran/D. Schwartzman v L. Kubot (2)/M. Melo (2)
K. Flipkens/T. Townsend v T. Maria/A. Sevastova
D. Jurak/N. Stojanovic v K. Bondarenko/A. Krunic


Court 13

From 00:00am
X. Han/L. Zhu v N. Kichenok/S. Mirza
N. Basilashvili (26) v F. Verdasco
S. Kwon/J. Millman v S. Gonzalez/K. Skupski
A. Blinkova/Y. Wang v A. Kontaveit/M. Minella


Court 14

From 00:00am
E. Alexandrova/I. Bara v K. Christian/A. Guarachi
I. Swiatek v C. Suárez Navarro
H. Hurkacz/V. Pospisil v J. Murray (14)/N. Skupski (14)
B. Krejcikova (4)/K. Siniakova (4) v A. Friedsam/L. Siegemund


Court 15

From 00:00am
G. Barrere/A. Mannarino v U. Humbert/F. Tiafoe
N. Hibino/M. Ninomiya v L. Hradecka (11)/A. Klepac (11)
A. Cornet/F. Ferro v Z. Diyas/E. Rybakina
D. Collins (26) v Y. Putintseva


Court 19

From 00:00am
A. Bedene v E. Gulbis
Y. Sugita v A. Rublev (17)
S. Kuznetsova v C. Giorgi/K. Peschke (8)
D. Schuurs (8) v F. Stollar/D. Yastremska


Court 22

From 00:00am
D. Krawczyk/J. Pegula v I. Begu/K. Pliskova
E. Mertens (16) v H. Watson
M. Sakkari/A. Tomljanovic v G. Dabrowski (6)/J. Ostapenko (6)
J. Isner (19) v A. Tabilo

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Carlos Alcaraz for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship

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Carlos Alcaraz after winning his semifinal on Friday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 14 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in gentlemen’s singles and mixed doubles.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic was on a 34 match Wimbledon win streak, playing for his fifth consecutive title, and had not lost a match on Centre Court in a full decade.  But in a spectacular five-hour five-setter, Carlos Alcaraz upset the all-time great to win his first Wimbledon title.  On Sunday, we get the rematch, as Djokovic looks to avenge that painful loss, and Alcaraz looks to defend a Major title, and win back-to-back Majors, for the first time.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

They followed up last year’s championship match here with another fantastic final just a month later in Cincinnati, where Djokovic saved championship point to eventually win in a third-set tiebreak, and after nearly four hours of play.  Novak would go on three weeks later to win the US Open, while Carlitos was not the same player for some time.  Alcaraz would not reach another final at any event for over six months, until this past March in Indian Wells. 

Despite a few surprising losses, and an injury that disrupted his season, Alcaraz is now a strong 32-6 on the year, and a superb 17-1 at Majors.  Carlitos has been able to quickly rebound from upsets at smaller events, like his loss to Jack Draper a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club, and up his level for the big events.  He’s dropped five sets through six matches, most of which have contained some sloppy play at times, yet Carlitos has played his best when it mattered most to reach his fourth Major final.  And he’s 3-0 thus far in Major finals.

2024 has been a surprisingly subpar season in the illustrious career of Djokovic.  Not only has he not won a title to date, he hadn’t advanced to a final until now.  Playing a more limited schedule, he’s just 23-6 this season.  And it was just a month ago that he was forced to withdraw from the Roland Garros quarterfinals after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and put his Wimbledon status in doubt.  Yet Novak has recovered almost miraculously, dropping only two sets to this stage, though he did receive a quarterfinal walkover of his own from an injured Alex de Minaur.

Overall Djokovic is 3-2 against Alcaraz, and they’ve split two meetings at Majors, both of which took place a year ago.  In the 2023 Roland Garros semifinals, Carlitos started cramping after just two sets of play, and provided little resistance in sets three and four.  That made his five-set victory in this final a month later all the more surprising.

Novak has not appeared to be significantly hampered by his surgically-repaired knee, though there’s no way it can be 100%.  So if another five-setter takes place on Sunday, that has to favor Carlitos, especially since he is an amazing 12-1 when pushed to five sets in his young career.

But the Djokovic CV at this tournament, and at this stage of Majors, is beyond formidable.  Since the start of The Championships in 2014, he is 59-3 at SW19.  And during the same span at all Majors, he is 42-8 in semifinals and finals.  Novak just very rarely loses matches like this, especially on Centre Court.

On a that surface usually favors the aggressor, Djokovic has been able to change that narrative with his stifling defense and court coverage.  However, Alcaraz is one of the only players Djokovic has ever faced who can match him defensively, and at times dictate play against him with his risk-taking style.  We saw here a year ago just how frustrated Novak became by Carlitos’ game, damaging the net post by breaking his racket against it after getting broken in the fifth set.

Yet as many have mentioned these last two weeks, Djokovic “has that look about him,” meaning the steely determination and confidence that he was lacking during the first six months of this year appear to be back.  He is extremely motivated to reassert himself atop the game, in a season where the new generation of Alcaraz and Sinner won the first two Majors. 

If Carlitos gets off to another slow start on Sunday (he’s lost the first set in three of his six matches thus far), or suffer lapses in his level again, Novak will take advantage of that better than any of the defending champion’s previous opponents.  And while he’ll surely do so at some point in his career, until Alcaraz defends a Major title, or wins back-to-back Majors, it’s hard to favor him to do so.  I’m backing Djokovic to win his eighth Wimbledon title, and his historical 25th Major singles title, the most of all-time.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Santiago Gonzalez and Giuliana Olmos vs. Jan Zielinski Su-wei Hsieh (7) – The Mexican team of Gonzalez and Olmos are playing for their first Major title, as Olmos is 0-1 in Major finals, while 41-year-old Gonzalez is 0-4.  Zielinski and Su-wei won this year’s Australian Open as a team, the first Major title of Zielinski’s career, while Su-wei has now won eight between women’s doubles and mixed, and is 8-1 in Major finals.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship

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Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.


Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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England’s Euros Final Clash With Spain Will Not Be Shown At Wimbledon

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Crowds of spectators watch live action on the Big Screen on the Hill at The Championships 2023. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Sunday 09/07/2023. Photo credit: AELTC/Adam Warner.

Football might be coming home on Sunday but those attending Wimbledon will have to leave the site if they want to watch the game. 

Gareth Southgate’s side takes on Spain for the chance to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, as well as their first of any sort on international territory. Their semi-final win over the Netherlands was the most-watched TV programme this year so far in the UK with a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV. This figure doesn’t include those who watch the game online via ITVX or in public places. Broadcasters are hopeful that the final, which will be shown on both the BBC and ITV, could break the 30 million mark for viewers. 

Despite the highly-anticipated sporting event, the communications department of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has confirmed to Ubitennis that they will not be showing the Euros match on their large screen, even if the matches finish by 8 pm. The men’s final is scheduled to begin six hours earlier at 2 pm local time. 

The AELTC explains that part of their reasons for doing so is due to the huge cleanup operation that will be taking place immediately after the event. Some of the equipment used at the Grand Slam needs to be packed and moved elsewhere to be used for the Paris Olympic Games. 

Whilst some football fans attending Wimbledon might be disappointed, the AELTC has always stated from day one that they don’t intend to show football matches with their sole focus being on tennis. 

We’re very much focused on the tennis, this has been the case in the past,” AELTC Chief executive Sally Bolton said on the first day of this year’s tournament.
“We won’t be showing the football on any of the screens here. We’re confident that everyone who’s coming here will want to watch the tennis. 
There will be no special arrangements.”

It remains to be seen if there will be a big exodus of fans from Wimbledon on Sunday evening before England’s tie with Spain. However, this depends on the length of the men’s final which last year lasted almost five hours. It is roughly a 30-minute walk to Wimbledon train station where many pubs nearby will be showing the football.  

Across the UK some schools are allowing children to start at a later time on Monday due to the Euros. Businesses such as Tesco and Lidl are making changes to their opening times. Meanwhile, the Wireless Festival is ending early and World Matchplay Darts has also moved to an earlier time.

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