Western & Southern Open Day 1 Preview: The Men’s And Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Western & Southern Open Day 1 Preview: The Men’s And Women’s Match of the Day

Eight months into the year and the main draw of the first combined tournament will finally get underway on Saturday.

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The Grandstand will be used as the main stadium for the Western & Southern Open (wsopen.com)

 

Professional tennis is back in a big way after months of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this is the fourth weekend in August, it marks just the first combined ATP Masters/WTA Premier tournament of 2020.  This year the event has been moved from Mason, Ohio to New York City.  It will be played on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, also home of the US Open, which starts in just nine days.  The USTA is holding these tournaments back-to-back at the same location in order to create a safe bubble for the players in one place.

Seven of the ATP’s top 10 are in this Masters 1,000 draw, with only Rafael Nadal, an injured Roger Federer, and Gael Monfils not playing.  The WTA attendance is a bit more lacking, with only four top 10 players present in Flushing Meadows.  But this event features top names like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, as well as wild card entrees Venus Williams and Andy Murray.

It will be most interesting to see how everyone performs in their first big tournament since January or February of this year, as tennis players rarely take a six-month break from competition outside of a serious injury.  This seven-day event will conclude on Friday with the singles and doubles championships.  Each day, we’ll take a closer look at one men’s and one women’s match from that day’s schedule of play.

Denis Shapovalov (12) vs. Marin Cilic

These two men’s careers have been going in opposite directions of late.  The 21-year-old Canadian closed out last season in excellent fashion, winning Stockholm and reaching the Masters 1000 final in Bercy.  Cilic meanwhile had a subpar 2019, going just 22-19.  However, Cilic did fight his way to the round of 16 in Melbourne this past January.  They have split their two previous matches, both contended on hard courts.  Shapovalov should be favoured based on recent form, though making predictions for an unprecedented restart such as this is a tough business.  The time off could have easily helped Cilic recharge and refocus, and there’s no way to know just how dedicated any of these players have been in their training during the time off.  But if both men come out of the gates strong, this could be a crackling opening round contest.

Dayana Yastremska (16) vs. Venus Williams (WC)

While the tours were on hiatus, Venus Williams turned 40-years-of-age.  While her results in recent years have been mixed, she’s played her best tennis on the hard courts of her home country.  In 2019, 11 of her 19 wins came in the USA.  Last week in Lexington, she took out Victoria Azarenka before succumbing to her younger sister Serena in a tight three-setter.  Today she faces a Ukrainian half her age who has quickly climbed the rankings.  Coached by Sascha Bajin, who is a former member of Serena’s team, Yastremska has won three WTA titles in the last two years, and was a finalist in Adelaide at the start of 2020.  She accumulated four wins over top 20 players earlier this year.  Like Venus, Dayana is an aggressive player who usually controls the rallies.  This match-up between two of the WTA’s harder hitters will likely be decided by the player who can better manage their unforced error tally.

Other Notable Matches on Day 1:

In a battle of wild cards, Frances Tiafoe (WC) vs. Andy Murray (WC).  This will be Murray’s first match of 2020, as he missed the beginning of the season due to a pelvic injury.  Tiafoe is a measly 21-30 since his breakout run at last year’s Australian Open.  This is their first career meeting.

Donna Vekic (15) vs. Victoria Azarenka.  Vekic leads their head-to-head 2-0, with both victories coming last year on American hard courts.  Azarenka has not won a match since the first round of this event a year ago.

Kyle Edmund vs. Kevin Anderson (PR).  Edmund won the New York Open back in February shortly before the tour shut down.  Anderson entered the draw on a protected ranking, having missed the majority of 2019 due to multiple injuries.  They’ve split their two previous matches.

Maria Sakkari (13) vs. Coco Gauff.  The 16-year-old phenomenon Gauff picked up where she left off last week in Lexington, reaching the semifinals.  Sakkari had a nice start to the year, winning nine matches between January and February.  This will be the first time these two rising stars have played.

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‘Super Confident’ Nick Kyrgios Admits Admiration for Medvedev Ahead Of Clash

Nick Kyrgios has had positive things to say about Daniil Medvedev ahead of their second round meeting in Montreal.

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Nick Kyrgios (@atptour - Twitter)

Nick Kyrgios has spoken highly of world number one Daniil Medvedev ahead of their second round clash in Montreal.

 

Kyrgios is in some of the best form in his career having reached the final of Wimbledon last month.

That has been followed up by a doubles title in Atlanta and a singles and doubles triumph in Washington.

Now the Australian is into the second round in Montreal after defeating Sebastian Baez 6-4 6-4.

Now Kyrgios takes on the ultimate challenge as he takes on world number one Daniil Medvedev who heads into the match in form himself having beaten Cameron Norrie to win the Los Cabos title.

Speaking ahead of the match the Australian admitted he was confident but has nothing but admiration for Medvedev’s game style, “I know I’ve got Medvedev next which kind of sucks,” Kyrgios told the Tennis Channel.

“I feel like against pretty much any player right now, I’d feel extremely confident. Obviously I feel confident going up against him, but we all know what he can produce. It’s going to be a good match for sure. I’m a bit tired but I’m gonna try and give him a good run.

“I’d like to play 95 per cent of the draw in the next round but if it’s anything like today, I know there’s going to be a lot of balls coming back and it’s going to be tough. A part of me wants the challenge, but a part of me knows it’s not going to be easy at all. I’m not gonna shy away from it, I’m going to do everything I can to recover and rest.

“But he’s a hell of a player and it’s incredible to see how he plays. He returns so far back, hits some crazy shots that we’ve never seen before. He does it his own way, he’s unorthodox and really special in the game. I love watching him play because he just looks so crazy out there, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

“I love people who just play the way they want to play. He’s comfortable in his own skin so hopefully it will be two contrasting styles as well. Not going to get much different tennis from me, I’m going to serve massive and play big and try to dictate. If I do that well, usually it works.”

Kyrgios is hoping to have good results this week as well as next week in Cincinnati so he can be seeded for the last grand slam of the year at the US Open.

The duo have met on three occasions with Kyrgios leading the head-to-head 2-1 but it’s Medvedev who won their last meeting at the Australian Open in four sets.

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Bianca Andreescu survives thrilling match against Kasatkina in Toronto return

Bianca Andreescu reached the second round in her home tournament while Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu crashed out.

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(@Andreescu_Fans - Twitter)

The 2019 champion made her return three years after winning the title and reached the second round to the delight of the Canadian fans.

 

Bianca Andreescu is into the second round of the National Bank Open being hosted at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, Ontario after beating the San Jose champion Daria Kasatkina in straight sets 7-6, 6-4.

Although the scoreline seemed pretty routine this match had everything with highs and lows for both players but the Toronto native managed to get through.

“She played really well, super consistent and I am so happy I had that mental toughness to get through in two sets and that was key for me.”

In the first set both players got off to a very nervous start as the first five games of the match were breaks of serve before Andreescu was able to secure the first hold of the match to take a 4-2 lead.

At 5-3 with the Russian serving the Canadian earned two set points but was denied by the number 11 seed and the next game broke the world number 53 to go back on serve at 5-5.

The Toronto native responded by breaking right back once again and served for the set for the second time but Kasatkina broke once more to force a tiebreaker.

The Russian found herself up 4-2 but lost the following two points and the Canadian fought back and managed to take the tiebreaker 7-5 and the first set 7-6 in one hour and 25 minutes.

Dealing with high blood pressure she was seen by the trainer and the doctor during the break between both sets and she was given medication to rectify the problem.

Once again holding serve seemed to be the issue as after the world number 53 held the opening service game of the second set she broke to take an early 2-0 lead.

Kasatkina responded by breaking right back and holding to even the set at 2-2 and broke once again using her powerful forehand on breakpoint to seal the break.

Again she failed to consolidate the break and the Canadian broke her right back and after consolidating the break broke again to take a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve out the match.

Andreescu wasn’t able to close it out as the number 11 seed broke right back but in the following game, the Canadian responded by winning the match on her opponent’s serve.

After the match in her post-match on-court interview, she was asked if she felt the exact same emotions she had back in 2019 and what she will remember from the match.

“I wished I enjoyed it a bit more and I was really looking forward to having that positive attitude that I always have.”

Andreescu will now face Alize Cornet on Wednesday after the Frenchwomen was able to beat another Frenchwomen Caroline Garica in a tough three-set match on Monday night.

A busy Tuesday in Toronto

It was a busy day in Toronto and here are some of the other results from day 2 at the National Bank Open.

Belinda Bencic the number 12 seed got by the Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, and Naomi Osaka was forced to retire down 7-6, 3-0 against Kaia Kanepi due to a back injury.

Amanda Anisimova beat the Canadian wild card, Carol Zhao, in straight sets as well 6-3, 6-1, and Camila Giorgi, the defending champion, ousted the number nine seed Emma Raducanu also in straight sets 7-6, 6-2.

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Denis Shapovalov ousted by Alex De Minaur in Montreal

Denis Shapovalov and Andy Murray exited Montreal while Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov advanced.

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Denis Shapovalov (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

The Canadian lost another first-round match on Tuesday after his match was suspended due to rain on Monday night.

 

Denis Shapovalov seems to be going through a very rough patch, he has one win in his last 10 matches and on Tuesday was bounced out of his home event by the Aussie Alex De Minaur in straight sets 7-5, 7-6.

The match which was originally scheduled for Monday night was suspended with De Minaur up 7-5 6-6 and at 3-3 in the second set tiebreak when the skies opened up.

19 hours later they were both back on Center Court for the fastest match of the day which last less than 10 minutes with the Canadian hitting a double fault and 3 consecutive unforced errors to end the match.

The first set was extremely tight and it was only at 5-5 that the Aussie was able to seal the crucial break and serve out the match. The same could be said for the second but the Toronto native was able to force a breaker.

De Minaur will now face Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday after the Bulgarian beat the Canadian wildcard who was making his National Bank Open debut and a Montreal native Alexis Galarneau.

The number 15 seed was able to win in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 but in the second set had to come back from 5-2 to force the breaker and then win the match.

In other action, the number 12 seed Diego Schwartzman beat the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in three tight sets 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes.

Taylor Fritz, the number 10 seed, sent Andy Murray packing in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 in the first match of the night session while Nick Krygios beat the Argentine Sebastien Baez 6-4, 6-4.

Gael Monfils to the delight of the French Canadian crowd on Grandstand needed three sets to beat another Spaniard Pedro Martinez 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in two hours and 50 minutes.

Another Canadian Vasek Pospisil making his return to IGA Stadium was beaten by Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 and Pablo Carreno Busta beat the 11th seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2.

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