Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Friday will be highlighted by two of the sport’s brightest young stars meeting for the second consecutive Major.

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At the US Open last summer, Naomi Osaka easily dispatched of 15-year-old Coco Gauff. But it’s what happened after the match that warmed the hearts of the tennis world. Seeing her younger opponent was upset after the loss, Osaka encouraged Gauff to join her for the post-match interview, in a touching display of kindness. Five months later, Is Coco ready to compete with Naomi? That’s only one of many appetizing third round matches today. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will also be in action.

 

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Coco Gauff

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Gauff only managed to take three games from Osaka in New York. And she struggled at times against Sorana Cirstea two days ago, squeaking out a victory 7-5 in the third. But I think she’ll be much more ready for the challenge of playing Osaka today. Since their US Open match, Gauff won her first title in Linz, and spent time training in the offseason with Serena Williams. However, no one has played better since the US Open than Osaka. She’s won 16 of her last 17 matches, claiming titles in both Osaka and Beijing. While I expect a more competitive match between these two today, Naomi remains the favorite.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Milos Raonic (32)

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Both men should be fully fresh for their first career meeting. Neither has dropped a set through two rounds, and Tsitsipas received a walkover on Wednesday as Philipp Kohlschreiber retired with a back injury. The 29-year-old Canadian has battled a plethora of injuries throughout his career, and again missed significant time in 2019. But he’s managed to perform very well at this event despite the injuries, reaching the quarterfinals or better in four of the last five years. While Tsitsipas is coming off the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, he went just 1-2 at the ATP Cup, and is only 1-3 in his last four matches at Majors. In what could easily become an extended affair, I’m tipping Raonic to continue serving well and pull off the slight upset.

Roberto Bautista Agut (9) vs. Marin Cilic

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This is a rematch from last year’s Australian Open, which Bautista Agut won in four hours and five sets. That was the third of three five-set wins for the Spaniard here a year ago, as he also outlasted Andy Murray and John Millman. That was the start of Roberto’s best season to date, reaching the quarterfinals here and the semifinals at Wimbledon. By contrast, 2019 was Cilic’s worst season since his drug suspension in 2013. Marin has crumbled in pressure situations all too often, though he showed some great grit by taking out Benoit Paire in a fifth set tiebreak on Wednesday. But that had to take a lot out of Cilic, and he’s now faced with one of the ATP’s strongest competitors. Bautista Agut has won his last 10 matches, dating back to the Davis Cup in November. He should be favored to extend his winning streak to 11.

Petra Kvitova (7) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova

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It’s the 2019 finalist against one of the hottest players on tour. The 25-year-old Alexandrova is on a 12-match winning streak, including her ITF title run last month at Limoges and her first WTA-level title two weeks ago in Shenzhen. She’s now the Russian No.1, and looking to reach the fourth round of a Major for the first time. Kvitova survived a tight match two days ago against another up-and-coming player, Paula Badosa of Spain. Petra fought through hot and windy conditions in that match, and she’ll be pleased to find the weather cooler and calmer today. In their first career meeting, Kvitova should be able to control play and advance to the Australian Open round of 16 for the fourth time.

Roger Federer (3) vs. John Millman

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At the 2018 US Open, Millman took advantage of Federer’s suffering in extremely hot and muggy conditions, defeating Roger in four sets. That victory propelled the 30-year-old Millman to his first Major quarterfinal. John would struggle mightily over the next 12 months under the weight of new expectations, but finally rediscovered some confidence after last year’s US Open. He won a challenger event in Taiwan, and was a finalist at the ATP event in Tokyo. And Millman already has six match wins in 2020, with notable victories over Felix Auger Aliassime and Karen Khachanov. All that being said, he’ll still be a considerable underdog against the 20-time Major singles champion. Federer took both of their other previous meetings, and looked extremely sharp in his first two matches here. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, Roger has broken his opponent’s serve at the beginning of all six sets he’s played this week. Despite the lack of a warmup event, Federer is in fine form, and should advance comfortably against an opponent like Millman who does not possess any big weapons.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

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  • Serena Williams (8), who displayed intense anger with her form on Wednesday, vs. Qiang Wang (27), who lasted only 44 minutes against Serena at last year’s US Open in a 6-1, 6-0 pummeling.
  • Novak Djokovic (2), who lead Serbia to the ATP Cup two weeks ago, vs. Yoshihito Nishioka, who has reached the third round of a Major for the first time.
  • Australian Ash Barty (1) vs. Russian teenager Elena Rybakina (29), who won a total of 57 matches at all levels last season.
  • Diego Schwartzman (14) vs. Dusan Lajovic (24). When they played in Melbourne two years ago, Schwartzman survived 11-9 in the fifth.
  • Caroline Wozniacki, who pulled off impressive comebacks in both sets against Dayana Yastremska in the second round, vs. Ons Jabeur, who loves utilizing the slice against her opponents.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena

A. Barty (1) versus E. Rybakina (29) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Q. Wang (27) versus S. Williams (8) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Y. Nishioka versus N. Djokovic (2) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
N. Osaka (3) versus C. Gauff Women’s Singles 3rd Round
J. Millman versus R. Federer (3) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

Margaret Court Arena

D. Schwartzman (14) versus D. Lajovic (24) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
E. Alexandrova (25) versus P. Kvitova (7) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Keys (10) versus M. Sakkari (22) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus M. Raonic (32) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Zhang versus S. Kenin (14) Women’s Singles 3rd Round

Melbourne Arena

L. Hewitt (WC) J. Thompson (WC) versus J. Nam (WC) M. Song (WC) Men’s Doubles 1st Round
O. Jabeur versus C. Wozniacki Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Cilic versus R. Bautista Agut (9) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
G. Pella (22) versus F. Fognini (12) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

1573 Arena

D. Jakupovic R. Olaru versus T. Babos (2) K. Mladenovic (2) Women’s Doubles 1st Round
M. Fucsovics versus T. Paul Men’s Singles 3rd Round
A. Riske (18) versus J. Goerges Women’s Singles 3rd Round
T. Sandgren versus S. Querrey Men’s Singles 3rd Round

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New York Open Saturday Recap: Kyle Edmund and Andreas Seppi Advance to Sunday’s Final

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The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Home of the New York Open

The Brit and the Italian both comfortably prevailed in their semifinal matches, and will play for the championship Sunday afternoon inside Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.

 

Kyle Edmund never trailed in Saturday’s first semifinal against fellow seed and ATP Next Gen upstart Miomir Kecmanovic.  In the second game of the first set, Kecmanovic was serving at 40-0, but then lost the next five points to drop serve, which included two double faults. Miomir’s next service game at 0-3 went to deuce, when Edmund promptly crushed two forehand return winners to gain a double break. Edmund would take the first set 6-1.

Kyle’s forehand was on fire in this match, with his backhand showing some noticeable improvements as well.  However, as the second set progressed, Kecmanovic started ripping his own forehand and backhand with much more authority. But at 4-4, Miomir lost control of his groundstrokes, resulting in a break at love. Edmund would then hit multiple aces in the final game, closing out the match 6-1, 6-4. Kyle won an impressive 79% of first serve points in the match.

Regarding the tighter second set, Edmund stated, “You play top players in the world, you expect a fight back.”

“I had to weather that storm a bit, he was gaining more confidence,” Kyle said.

In the second semifinal, Andreas Seppi also allowed his opponent just five games, eliminating qualifier Jason Jung by a score of 6-3, 6-2. Just like the first semifinal, Seppi broke his opponent in his first service game, and never looked back. Jung understandably started off a bit tight in his first-ever ATP semifinal, and never settled into the match. Seppi will now vie for his first title since 2012.

The singles championship match will take place Sunday at 4:00pm local time. Edmund leads their head-to-head 4-1, with a 4-0 edge on hard courts. Their last meeting was just last month in Auckland, where Kyle won 6-3, 7-6(4).

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Casper Ruud comes back from the verge of defeat to reach the final in Buenos Aires

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Casper Ruud came back from one set down to beat home favourite Juan Ignacio Londero 4-6 7-5 6-1 to reach the final in Buenos Aires. Ruud was three points from defeat, but he reeled off 10 of the last 11 games to win the match.

 

Londero broke Ruud for the first time at 1-1 in the opening set with a forehand and hit a forehand winner on set point. The Argentine drew an error from Ruud at 2-2 to break serve. Londero was broken at serve with three forehand errors, as he was serving for the match at 5-4. Ruud broke serve at love two games later, as Ruud drew level to 5-5 with a backhand return winner.

Ruud will play against Portuguese lucky loser Pedro Sousa, who reached the final after Diego Schwartman pulled out of the match due to a left leg injury.

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Andrea Petkovic Demands More Action From Tennis In Fight Against Racism

Andrea Petkovic has urged tennis authorities to make a stronger stance against racism.

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Andrea Petkovic (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Andrea Petkovic has demanded that more action needs to be taken if Tennis wants to tackle racism successfully. 

 

The German who is currently injured and is a part-time host for ZDF Sport has spoken about the need for tennis to take stronger action against Racism.

Speaking of her own experiences and background, Petkovic has urged the need for tennis to speak out on these issues more regularly, “We, in particular, as athletes who play abroad, get to know foreign cultures,” Petkovic said in an interview with Sueddeutsche.

“We are seen as role models and we should position ourselves against racism again and again. I myself am the daughter of a migrant family who came to Germany from the former Yugoslavia and was warmly welcomed here. Germany made this success possible for me, without the support of the German Tennis Association I would never have made it this far. 

“It makes me sad to see how things are developing, that the voices are getting louder from the right. However, a large majority in Germany are still resisting it.”

As her tennis career soon reaches its climax, Petkovic is starting to speak out on more sporting issues therefore putting pressure on tennis authorities to listen on these issues from a different perspective.

At the moment the German just had knee surgery, ruling her out of Indian Wells, and the 32 year-old admits her schedule will be lighter as the years go by, “I definitely want to play this year and maybe add the Australian Open 2021 to it. There won’t be that many tournaments. I listen to my body.”

The world number 80 will look to be fit for the WTA tournament in Stuttgart, which starts on the 20th of April.

 

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