Western & Southern Open Day 6 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Western & Southern Open Day 6 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Semifinals



Wednesday's sunset over the Grandstand (wsopen.com).

Naomi Osaka inspired the tournament to pause on Thursday in reaction to racial injustice and police brutality in the United States, but she will join the rest of the semifinalists on court today.

Yet in a sad reminder of the sexism that permeates the sport, both WTA semifinals have been scheduled to take place outside Louis Armstrong Stadium, and at the same time.  Putting that aside, we have four highly-enticing singles semifinals.  On the women’s side, a pair of two-time Major winners, Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka, will face two WTA veterans who are playing some of their best tennis.

On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic is vying for his 35th Masters 1,000 title, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the most ever.  The other three remaining men have zero Masters 1,000 titles among them.  Just three days ahead of the US Open, can anyone deter Novak’s momentum?

Naomi Osaka (4) vs. Elise Mertens (14)

They have split their two previous meetings, both contested on hard courts.  Mertens prevailed three years ago in Wuhan, while Osaka was victorious in (appropriately) Osaka.  Naomi was the on the brink of defeat in Wednesday’s quarterfinals against Anett Kontaveit, yet fought her way to advance 7-5 in the third.  Known for her power game, Osaka switched gears midway through the match, allowing her opponent to commit more errors in the second and third sets.  Mertens drove her opponent crazy while earning a straightforward win on Wednesday, utilizing a variety of slices and lobs against American Jessica Pegula.  She’ll likely look to do the same today to diffuse the power and speed of Osaka, but Naomi will be better equipped to handle Mertens’ guile.  This should be a tight matchup, but Osaka is the favorite on what will surely be an emotional day for her, win or lose.

Johanna Konta (8) vs. Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka is back.  Prior to this week, she hadn’t won a match since last year’s Western & Southern Open.  For years, her career has been interrupted by injuries, child birth, and a custody battle.  However, after four decisive wins without dropping a set, she’s into only her third semifinal since March of 2016.  A former champion of this event, Vika is looking to reach the final for the first time since she raised the trophy in 2013.  But doing so will be no easy task, as her opponent has dominated all comers this week.  Johanna Konta is also yet to drop a set, and is yet to be broken in six sets played.  We’ve seen this before from the British No.1: when her serve is at its best, she is difficult to derail.  Konta owns a 2-1 record against Azarenka, though one of those victories came when Vika retired due to injury.  With Konta serving the way she is on these fast courts, I like her chances to reach Saturday’s final.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Milos Raonic

Tsitsipas has plenty of experience this week in looking up to his opponent.  He’s already defeated three of the tallest men in the sport: Kevin Anderson, John Isner, and Reilly Opelka.  And now he faces the big-serving Canadian, who has hit 58 aces in seven sets to this stage.  Raonic almost didn’t make it to this semifinal, as he was forced to come from behind and save a match point against a red-hot Filip Krajinovic on Wednesday.  The only previous meeting between these two happened earlier this year, with Raonic winning in straight sets at the Australian Open.  On similarly fast-playing courts in New York, a confident Milos should be favored to repeat that feat.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (8) Having recovered from the neck pain that forced him to withdraw from doubles earlier this week, Djokovic has continued his fine form of 2020.  The world No.1 is 21-0 this season, with titles at all three events he played prior to the pandemic.  And while he’s the favorite to win again today, Bautista Agut is fully capable of the upset.  Roberto already came back from a set down to beat two top-tier opponents this week, in Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev.  And the Spaniard has claimed three of his last six matches against Djokovic, with all three wins coming on hard courts in the best-of-three format.  This will easily be the steepest challenge Novak has faced this week, and he will surely have the memory of last year’s Cincinnati semifinals in his mind, when Daniil Medvedev hit him right off the court after being a set down.  However, Djokovic’s defensive and returning skills should enable him to persevere and advance to his seventh championship match at this event. 


Ons Jabeur Becomes Latest Olympics Withdrawal

Ons Jabeur has played the last three Olympic Games but will not compete in Paris.



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Ons Jabeur has become the latest tennis player to withdraw from the Olympic Games.

The Tunisian would have been an outside contender to claim an Olympic medal for her country but has now withdrawn from the event.

Writing a statement on social media, Jabeur took the decision in order to look after her health as she aims to prepare for Wimbledon and the US Open.

It could be Jabeur’s last chance to compete at the Olympic Games with her career nearing towards an end.

The Wimbledon finalist has competed at the last three Olympic Games but lost in the first round on all three occasions.

Jabeur joins Emma Raducanu, Aryna Sabalenka, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev as the players that are absent from this summer’s event.

The tennis event at the Olympics will start on the 27th of July and will take place at Roland Garros in Paris.

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Milos Raonic Beats Norrie; Holger Rune Falls to Thompson on Day 1 at Queens

MIlos Raonic hit 47 a record 47 aces on his way to victory as Frances Tiafoe retires against Hijikata, but Dimitrov goes through.



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Canada’s Milos Raonic blasted a record-breaking 47 aces on his way to a nail-biting 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(9) over home hope Cameron Norrie at the cinch Championships in London.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Raonic won 86% behind first serve, and saved both breakpoints he faced, but the 47 service winners was the most on the ATP tour for over 30 years and he squeezed through the two-hour fifteen-minute contest saving two match points in the final set tie-breaker.

“[Serving] is a big part of my game,” he said after the match “If I didn’t have my serve my career would be very different. My serve has always been the most important shot to me. This small record, it’s something special, something meaningful. So overall, a very positive thing and a fun stat to be proud of.”

Meanwhile Norrie remained upbeat despite the loss and firmly believes his form will turnaround soon: “I’m feeling great about my game but not getting results. It’ll come good, I have a lot to be positive about and won’t dwell on it.”

In the upset of the day, Australia’s Jordan Thompson sent seventh seed Holger Rune packing with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win putting him into the second round and a possible meeting with Andy Murray. In the first meeting between the two players, it was the 30-year-old who is ranked 43 in the world who played the important points better and got more balls back in court compared to Rune, who slipped on court and complained to the umpire about the surface being too wet.

In other results, qualifier Rinky Hijikata went through when Frances Tiafoe retired at the start of the third set with an injury to his right hip after a fall. The American took the first set 7-5 but the Australian hit back taking the second 6-4.

First on court today was former champion Grigor Dimitrov who cruised through against Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour, breaking the Frenchman’s serve five times, while the final match of the day was suspended and will be completed tomorrow. Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo was leading Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-0 in the decider having split the first two sets.

“I was very happy with the way I started the match. I think I set the bar high and wanted to be steady the whole time,” Dimitrov said after his match. “Serve and return I just tried to focus on, they are the fundamentals of this surface. As the match went on, I felt more solid and more secure, so I am very happy.”

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Carlos Alcaraz Feeling Fresh Ahead Of Queen’s Club

Carlos Alcaraz will look to defend his Queen’s Club title.



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Carlos Alcaraz is raring to go ahead of the grass court season as he prepares for his Wimbledon title defence at Queen’s Club.

The Spaniard is living in a dream right now having won his third Grand Slam title at Roland Garros followed by the news he will team up with Rafael Nadal at the Olympics.

It’s been an incredible last month and Alcaraz reflected on his title run in Paris and spoke about his vacation in Ibiza as he refreshed himself ahead of the grass court season, “I had a few days off. I went to Ibiza with a group of friends. I had fun. It was a great time celebrating Roland Garros,” Alcaraz told the ATP website.

“For me as a player, I need this kind of thing. Every player is different but for me to reach my best tennis I have to separate the professional part from the personal part. I have some days off to forget a little bit that I am a professional player. Being with my friends and family means I can rest a little bit.

“Roland Garros was a fantastic two weeks for me, a dream come true lifting the trophy.”

However tennis is a brutal sport and now Alcaraz’s attention turns to the grass court season where he had amazing memories last year.

The Spaniard won a five set thriller with Novak Djokovic to win his maiden Wimbledon title as he enters this year as defending champion.

Now Alcaraz is ready to attack the grass court season and is only focused on the next month ahead, “I have more matches in my bank on grass and now with the great run I had last year at Queen’s and Wimbledon I know a little bit on how to play and understand the game a little bit on grass,” the Spaniard explained ahead of Queen’s Club.

“I am more mature playing on this surface. The first practice I have done here, my movement wasn’t as good as last year but it is a slow process, so I have to be really focused in every practice and every match. We have to be focused on the tournament that we are playing right now.

“But right now my mind has to be here on the grass to be ready. As soon as I can to play good tennis and to get ready for Wimbledon. Right now my focus is on the grass and then after that, my mind will be on clay again to be at my best for the Olympics.”

Alcaraz will aim for a big run at Queen’s Club and will begin his campaign against Francisco Cerundolo on Tuesday afternoon.

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