Serena Williams Handed Tough Draw at 2020 US Open As She Bids For 24th Grand Slam Title - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Handed Tough Draw at 2020 US Open As She Bids For 24th Grand Slam Title

Serena seeks Grand Slam No.24. But the women’s draw at the 2020 US Open could scarcely be more open or difficult to predict.

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Much of the attention will be on Serena as she hunts down Grand Slam number 24. But the women’s draw at the 2020 US Open could scarcely be more open or difficult to predict.

 

When six of the world’s top ten decided not to travel to New York due to coronavirus, the pool of potential winners expanded. Even though women’s draws at Grand Slams have often been unpredictable in recent years in normal circumstances, the odds of a surprise winner are shorter this time because all the players involved are likely to face fewer top players on their way through the field.

However, as tennis legend Martina Navratilova pointed out in an interview with BBC Sport, “We don’t treat Marion Bartoli’s win at Wimbledon in 2013 any different even though she didn’t play anyone ranked higher than 17th – that’s just how the draw works out.”

Serena’s Quest For 24th Grand Slam Title

Serena Williams has a great chance to win her 24th Grand Slam title against a weakened field. Or rather, she would have if she were in form. She lost to Jennifer Brady in the last four in Lexington. Then she was defeated by Maria Sakkari in the last 16 of the Western & Southern Open.

The American’s loss to the Greek seems particularly relevant now that the draw is out, as she is seeded to face Sakkari in the fourth round. If Serena makes it that far, and beats the 15th seed, she could then face either Madison Keys or Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-final. If she reaches the semi-final, she will probably find Sofia Kenin or Johanna Konta standing in her way. All in all, it is fair to say the draw has not been kind to the 23-time Grand Slam champion. However, that in no way means that she cannot win the title.

Could US Open 2020 Be Konta’s Moment?

Konta has been mightily impressive at the Western & Southern Open. She has brushed aside all three opponents with consummate ease and looks an excellent bet to go on and claim the trophy.

Whether she wins the event or not, the Brit can head into the US Open full of confidence. She must beat Fed Cup teammate Heather Watson in the first round. Then she may have to negotiate a tricky third-round encounter with rising star Karolina Muchova.

If she gets through to the last 16, she could face a tough match against either Aryna Sabalenka or Victoria Azarenka. Then, if the draw follows the seedings, she will have to tackle a very challenging test in the shape of reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Time For Pliskova To Deliver

Top seed Karolina Pliskova is capable of winning a Grand Slam title. Whether she ever will is anybody’s guess. But she may never get a better chance than this. Six of the top ten are absent and she has been gifted a kind draw from the pool of the players taking part.

The only match that the Czech should be worried about before the semi-final stage is a possible fourth-round against either Angelique Kerber or Alison Riske. While the German looks to be past her best, she could draw on all her experience and produce a masterclass. And the American showed how dangerous she can be at last year’s Wimbledon.

If Pliskova reaches the last four, that is when things are likely to get really difficult. She could face either Naomi Osaka or Petra Kvitova, who are both capable of beating absolutely anybody.

All Eyes On Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka (@BleacherReport on Twitter)

Despite the shortage of tennis this summer, Naomi Osaka has been in the news a lot. She has used her high profile to take a commendable stand against systemic racism all over the world. On the eve of the US Open draw, she informed her followers on Twitter that she would be withdrawing from her Western & Southern Open semi-final to draw attention to the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

In response to Osaka’s decision, the ATP, WTA and USTA postponed all matches at the Western & Southern Open until Friday. The World No.10 was pleased by this move from the governing bodies, and she has agreed to play her semi-final. However, considering that all of this is going on, it seems unlikely that the Japanese player is devoting much of her time to tennis, so it will be interesting to see how focused she is when she plays Elise Mertens tomorrow.

It will also be intriguing to see how Osaka plays at the US Open. There are a lot of dangerous players in her quarter – Petra Kvitova, Elena Rybakina, Annet Kontaveit, Dayana Yastremska, Camila Giorgi, Coco Gauff and Danielle Collins to name a few – so if she is not fully focused on her game she could lose at any time.

If Osaka performs well, she will probably face Kontaveit in round four, Kvitova in the quarter-final and Pliskova in the semi-final. And if the Japanese plays at a level somewhere near her best, she has a fantastic chance of winning her third Grand Slam title.

Grand Slam

The Wimbledon Naughty List: Which Players Have Been Fined And What For?

Ubitennis takes a look at who has been hit with a penalty and more importantly why.

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Nick Kyrgios might be the player everybody’s talking about due to his behavior but few realize that he is one of 19 to be hit with a financial penalty during the first week of Wimbledon.

In fact, more than $75,000 worth of fines has already been issued during the first week of the championships. According to official data, more than three times as many men have committed an offense than women. Although interestingly it is only two female players who have been punished for receiving coaching and nobody in the men’s draw.

Australia’s Kyrgios leads the leaderboard for the biggest fine after what has been a controversial past few days. In his first round match, he argued with the umpire and spat in front of some people in the crowd who he said were ‘disrespecting him.’ Resulting in him being hit with a $10,000 penalty. He later said during his press conference that he was tired of being verbally abused by some fans watching him play.

 

Then on Saturday in a dramatic clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas he argued once again with officials, got a warning for swearing and at one stage called for his opponent to be defaulted for hitting a ball into the stands. 

“Why would I need to apologize? I’m getting fined for it. Because I got — I always get fined. I’m very keen to see what he will get after today.” Kyrgios said following his third round win. 

Kyrgios has been fined another $4000 for his antics and Tsitsipas has to pay $10,000 for his behavior. The relationship between the two took another dramatic turn after the match when the Greek accused his peer of bullying during an explosive press conference

After Kyrgios, America’s Reilly Opelka was docked $5000 for swearing. The value of the fine is an interesting one when three other players have also been fined for the same offense but they only have to pay $3000. The difference could be due to repeated swearing during the match.

The majority of the men’s fInes are for either unsportsmanlike conduct or audible obscenities. The only exception is Benoit Paire who was fined $2500 for equipment abuse.

As for the ladies’ draw, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko received the biggest fine ($4500) for coaching. Former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza was another player to be published for her actions.

Here is a breakdown of the fines issued between Day 1 and Day 6 of the championships. 

WOMEN

  • Daria Saville AUS (round one) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Lesia Tsurenko UKR (round two) $4500 – COACHING
  • Garbine Mugurza ESP (round 2) $3500 – COACHING
  • Harriet Dart GBR (round 2) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE

MEN

  • Fernando verdasco ESP (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Adrian Mannarino FRA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Stan Wawrinka SWI (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Yoshihito Nishioka JPA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios AUS (round one) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Pedro Martinez ESP (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Diego Schwartzman ARG (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Lukas Klein SVK (round one) $3000 –  UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Reilly Opelka USA (round two) $5000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Benoit Paire (round one) $2500 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Jiri Vesely CZE (round two) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina ESP (round two) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Denis Shapovalov CAN (round 2) £3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios (round 3) $4000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (round 3) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT

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Grand Slam

(VIDEO) Day 7 at Wimbledon: Jannik Sinner Stuns Alcaraz, Djokovic Fights Back

Ubitennis found Ubaldo Scanagatta reflects on all the action that took place on Sunday with renowned commentator Steve Flink.

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Jannik Sinner joins a small group of only six Italian men to have reached the last eight at SW19. The 20-year-old ousted the fierce Carlos Alcaraz in four sets. Another four-set triumph was Djokovic’s win over Dutch walk card Tim Van Rijthoven.

 

Hall of Famer Flink joins Ubitennis to give his view on the events that have taken place. 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Former Champions Nadal, Halep Headline Monday’s Play

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Simona Halep after her first round victory (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep are both currently on 10-match win streaks.  Nadal has won his last 10 matches overall, going back to his 22nd Major title run in Paris.  Halep has won her last 10 matches at Wimbledon, going back to her title run in 2019.  On Monday, both face seeded opposition on Centre Court.  Rafa takes on one of the sport’s fastest-rising players of the last 12 months, Botic van de Zandschulp, while Simona faces the No.4 seed Paula Badosa.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Nick Kyrgios vs. Brandon Nakashima – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Kyrgios helped create yet another circus during his four-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, in a match where both players behaved quite terribly.  But Nakashima is a player who will not fall for Nick’s theatrics, as he is extremely composed on court.  The 20-year-old American was ranked outside the top 100 a year ago, yet is projected to debut inside the top 50 with this result, his deepest run at a Major.  Brandon collected 45 match wins at all levels last season, with two Challenger titles and two ATP-level finals.  Nakashima is a consistent player, with strong groundstrokes off both sides.  But he does not possess the serving prowess of Kyrgios, nor the experience on big stages.  And there’s no bigger stage than Centre Court, Wimbledon.  Nick has fond memories on this court, as it’s where he made his Major breakthrough eight years ago with an upset over Rafael Nadal.  That remains only one of two Slam quarterfinals Kyrgios has achieved.  But in his first career meeting against Nakashima, he’s the favorite to reach that stage at a Major for the first time in over seven years.


Alize Cornet vs. Ajla Tomljanovic – Second on No.2 Court

Cornet became the player to end Iga Swiatek’s 37-match win streak, and she did so with a comprehensive straight-set win.  This is the Frenchwoman’s 18th season of Grand Slam play, and she finally achieved her first Major quarterfinal six months ago in Australia, where she took out both Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.  Tomljanovic achieved the same milestone a year ago at this event, when she defeated Emma Raducanu, Jelena Ostapenko, and Cornet.  On that day, Ajla prevailed over Alize 6-3 in the third.  Overall they have split four previous meetings.  Neither player was having a stellar season prior to this tournament, with both owning losing records on the year.  But on this surface, and in a highly-important matchup, I give the spunky competitive spirit of Cornet the slight edge.


Paula Badosa (4) vs. Simona Halep (16) – Second on Centre Court

Their only prior encounter occurred earlier this season in Madrid, where Halep was easily victorious by a score of 6-3, 6-1.  And while Badosa possesses the better ranking at this time, Halep actually has a better record on the year.  And Simona is now 9-1 on grass in 2022, which was the same record she had on grass in 2019, when she last played on this surface.  The two-time Major champion missed this event last year, as well Roland Garros and the Tokyo Olympics, due to a calf injury.  Neither player has dropped a set this fortnight, with Badosa taking out another two-time Slam champ, Petra Kvitova, in the last round.  That was a high-quality affair, with both Paula and Petra effectively applying their aggressive nature on this surface.  While Halep is the much more accomplished grass court player, I favor Badosa’s strong baseline game to again be rewarded on Monday, and to even her head-to-head with Halep.


Amanda Anisimova (20) vs. Harmony Tan – Third on No.1 Court

Both of these players already achieved phenomenal wins during the first week.  Anisimova came back from a set down to defeat Coco Gauff, while Tan prevailed over Serena Williams after over three hours of play.  Tan had never advanced beyond the second round of a Major, but followed up the biggest win of her career with two straight-set victories.  Anisimova is vying for her best result at a Slam since her 2019 run to the Roland Garros semifinals.  And it was during that run when her only previous matchup with Tan took place, with Amanda prevailing 6-3, 6-1.  Anisimova is in the midst of a strong season, with a record of 28-10.  Her outstanding backhand should allow her to dictate play and earn another win over Tan, despite Harmony’s diverse game filled with guile, drop shots, and tweeners.


Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp (21) – Third on Centre Court

This is a rematch from the third round of the last Major, when Nadal won in straight sets at his beloved Roland Garros.  Rafa did not look his best during his first two rounds here, but upped his level significantly in a comfortable victory over Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday.  Van de Zandschulp’s rise the last 12 months in his mid-20’s has been remarkable.  He reached the US Open quarterfinals as a qualifier, and has now advanced to the third round or better at the last four Slams.  And just a few weeks ago on grass at Queen’s Club, Botic was a semifinalist.  He may provide Nadal with his sternest test of this tournament yet, but defeating the 22-time Major champion, and ending Rafa’s bid for the calendar-year Grand Slam, would be extremely surprising.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Alex de Minaur (19) vs. Cristian Garin – De Minaur has only dropped one set to this stage, though he’s yet to face opposition ranked higher than 80th in the world.  Garin is into the fourth here for the second straight year, and also has only lost one set.  Alex leads their head-to-head 3-0, which includes a grass court contest right before this event in Eastbourne.

Elena Rybakina (17) vs. Petra Martic – Every set Rybakina has played in these Championships has been a tight one, but she’s yet to lose one.  Martic has also claimed all her sets thus far, which includes a victory over the eighth seed, Jessica Pegula.  Both players are vying for their second Major quarterfinal.  Elena is 1-0 against Petra, as she prevailed in two tiebreak sets a couple years ago in Dubai.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Jason Kubler (Q) – Fritz is on a seven-matchwin streak, dating back to his title run a week ago in Eastbourne.  Across the last two weeks, his serve has only been broken four times.  Kubler is a 29-year-old Australian who has been plagued by a heredity knee condition throughout his career.  He was 2-6 in the main draws of Slams prior to this fortnight.  At the 2018 US Open, Fritz was up two-sets-to-one over Kubler when Jason was forced to retire.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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