Internazionali d’Italia Day 2 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Day 2 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day

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Parco del Foro Italico (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

Tuesday’s schedule features five Major singles champions playing their opening rounds.

 

The most marquee match of the day sees two of those top names facing off, with two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza taking on 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens.  They are joined by a trio of multi-time Slam champs: Stan Wawrinka, Angelique Kerber, and Svetlana Kuznetsova.  And some of the sport’s most promising young stars also play on Tuesday, including Denis Shapovalov and Coco Gauff.

Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Sloane Stephens

Muguruza had a strong start to the year, reaching the final of the Australian Open and the quarters in both Dubai and Doha.  But she’s just 1-1 since the tour restart.  Garbine was one of the players upset by Tsvetana Pironkova in New York.  Prior to the US Open, Stephens had earned only one match win since last September, with a 1-7 record in 2020.  But Sloane earned two comfortable victories in Flushing Meadows, and took a set off Serena Williams before the 23-time Major champ stormed back to prevail.  Stephens is 2-1 against Muguruza, with Garbine’s only win coming five years ago on a hard court.  They played on the red clay last year at Roland Garros, and Stephens won in straights.  It’s difficult to know what to expect in this match, as these two players can be so up and down from week to week.  Stephens arrives from New York with more confidence, though Muguruza possesses more previous success in Rome, twice reaching the semifinals.  Whoever the victor is will face the winner of another intriguing WTA clash, between Ons Jabeur and Coco Gauff.

Denis Shapovalov (12) vs. Guido Pella

This will be the first career meeting between these two lefties.  Just seven days ago, Shapovalov achieved his first Major quarterfinal at the US Open, yet disappointedly lost a five-setter to Pablo Carreno Busta.  Pella lost to an American wild card in New York, and has a losing record on the year.  However, the 30-year-old Argentine excels on the clay.  All five finals he’s reached in his career occurred on this surface.  And Pella already played two matches on the terra baute last week in Kitzbuhel.  Shapovalov is making a much sharper transition from competing on the speedy hard courts of Flushing Meadows just last week.  That challenge, paired with the emotional comedown from his US Open experience, will hurt his chances against a player who loves this surface.

Other Notable Matches on Day 2:

Anett Kontaveit (12) Caroline Garcia.  They’ve split two previous meetings, but Kontaveit claimed the only one decided on clay.

Ons Jabeur vs. Coco Gauff.  They just played a few weeks ago on a hard court in Lexington, with Gauff prevailing in three.

Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Katerina Siniakova.  Kerber leads their head-to-head 3-0, with victories on all three surfaces.

Stan Wawrinka (10) vs. Lorenzo Musetti (Q), an 18-year-old Italian qualifier ranked 249th in the world.

Full order of play is here.

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Resilient Daria Kasatkina Shuts Out The Critics To Win Silicon Valley Classic

After what has been a roller-coaster past few weeks, the Grand Slam semi-finalist is gaining momentum on the court.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Russia’s Daria Kasatkina says she has ‘no time for bulls**t’ after staging a fierce comeback to win the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.

 

Kasatkina won 12 out of the last 15 games played to beat Shelby Rogers 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2, to claim her first title of the season and fifth overall. During the match, she dropped only four points behind her first serve in the last two sets. The triumph caps off what has been an impressive week for the Russian who has also beaten Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa.

“It’s a tough journey, which is still going on. I’m happy with the way things are going, especially this season, but I don’t want to stop, because I did this mistake already one time and I don’t want to repeat it,” Kasatkina said afterwards. “I’m still hungry for the wins.”

San Jose was the first tournament the 25-year-old has played since opening up about her personal life. During an interview with vlogger Vitya Kravchenko, Kasatkina came out as gay and revealed that she is in a relationship with former ice skater Natalia Zabiiako. Zabiiako was also present at the tournament cheering Kasatkina on from the sidelines. During the same interview, she also spoke out against the Russian war in Ukraine.

Kasatkina’s decision to speak out about two sensitive topics prompted a big reaction both in her native Russia and elsewhere. The country currently has a ‘gay propaganda’ law which prohibits the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ relationships to minors. Furthermore, it is an offence in the country to label the conflict in Ukraine as a war, instead, officials refer to it as a ‘special operation.’

“For sure there was a negative part and positive part,” Kasatkina said of the reaction to her interview,“ and I was able to focus just on the positive parts and get the energy. I was just focused on playing tennis this week. I don’t have much time for bulls—t, like the internet, the comments and everything. You have to think of the job first. You have to be focused on what is the most important and the other things that happen after.”

Kasatkina said she has received support from her fellow peers on the Tour, including runner-up Rogers who was playing in her first Tour final for six years.

“It’s really brave of her and a lot of people are really proud of her,” Rogers said. “She always has a smile on her face and is just a joy to be around. So, she’s handling it really well. She’s a strong girl.”

As a result of her triumph in San Jose, Kasatkina has re-entered the world’s top 10 this week in ninth position.

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Canada Daily Preview: The Williams Sisters Return to Action, Plus Andy Murray Faces Taylor Fritz

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Serena Williams this past week in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The Canadian Open is a unique ATP Masters/WTA 1000 combined event on the tennis calendar, as the men and women alternate between two different cities each year.  In 2022, the WTA tournament is in Toronto, while the ATP tournament is in Montreal.

 

The WTA singles draw is loaded, featuring 26 of the top 27 players in the world.  It includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, defending champion Camila Giorgi, Naomi Osaka, Venus and Serena Williams, and Canada’s own Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu

“The Big Three” are absent in Montreal, but plenty of top names are present.  They include world No.1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov

Monday’s WTA schedule in Toronto is tremendous, boasting 39 Major singles titles (Serena, Venus, Halep, Kvitova, Ostapenko, Stephens, Kenin, Krejcikova, Rybakina), plus Leylah Fernandez.  Montreal’s Order of Play includes Stan Wawrinka and Denis Shapovalov, plus a blockbuster first round encounter between Andy Murray and Taylor Fritz.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in Toronto, and 12:00pm in Montreal.  But with thunderstorms forecast throughout the day in both cities, it could be a challenging day for fans and players alike.


Nuria Parrizas Diaz (Q) vs. Serena Williams (SR) – Second on Centre Court

It is quite odd to see both Venus and Serena Williams unranked, yet neither currently possesses a ranking over a year since their last singles victories.  Serena’s three-set, over three-hour loss in the first round of Wimbledon was her first match in a full year.  Obviously eager for match play three weeks ahead of the US Open, she’s looking for her first win since last year’s Roland Garros.  Her opponent is a 31-year-old from Spain who reached a career-high ranking of No.45 this season.  Diaz won 51 matches at all levels in 2021, and reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open.  While she’s certainly not a pushover, this a rather kind first round draw for Serena in a WTA 1000 tournament.  It should serve as a good indication of Serena’s current level a month after her Wimbledon loss to Harmony Tan.


Andy Murray (WC) vs. Taylor Fritz (10) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central

This is a first-time meeting between the three-time Slam champion and this year’s victor in Indian Wells.  It’s been a dramatic year for Fritz, as that Masters 1000 title was the biggest of his career.  But after defeating an injured Rafael Nadal in that final, Nadal would avenge that loss in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where Taylor lost a heartbreaker in a fifth-set tiebreak.  And this past week in Washington, Fritz retired down 4-1 in the third set to Dan Evans, as he was suffering in the extreme heat.  Murray also experienced disappointing losses at those same two events.  At Wimbledon, he was defeated in four sets by John Isner, a player he was previously 8-0 against.  And in Washington, Andy lost a three-hour battle to Mikael Ymer.  Currently ranked 50th in the world, Murray would love to improve his ranking and earn a victory over a top 15 player.  But Fritz is the much more in-form player, with 31 wins in 2022, and is the favorite to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Elena Rybakina vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – The freshly-crowned Wimbledon champion is 0-1 since that life-changing feat, losing to Daria Kasatkina last week in San Jose.  Bouzkova also had her best Slam run at last month’s Wimbledon, when she reached the quarterfinals.  Rybakina leads their head-to-head 2-0.

Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Emil Ruusuvuori – Wawrinka is just 3-6 since returning from two left foot surgeries.  Ruusuvuori earned impressive victories this past week in Washington over Mackie McDonald and Hubi Hurkacz.

Barbora Krejcikova vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Krejcikova has been struggling in singles since returning from an arm injury at Roland Garros, but earned her fifth Major title in doubles at Wimbledon.  Similarly, Pliskova is only 10-12 this season after suffering a hand injury in December.  Yet Pliskova is 3-0 against Krejcikova.

Sloane Stephens vs. Sofia Kenin – This is a battle of Major champions, though neither of them arrive in strong form.  Despite a quarterfinal run in Paris, Stephens has a losing record on the year.  And Kenin is on a seven-match losing streak, as an injury forced her to miss much of this season. 

Denis Shapovalov vs. Alex de Minaur – Shapovalov is on a terrible streak of his own, having lost eight of his last nine matches.  De Minaur is coming off a title run in Atlanta last month.  And the Australian has claimed both of their previous meetings at tour level.

Storm Sanders (Q) vs. Leylah Fernandez (13) – This will be Leylah’s first match since a stress fracture left her foot immobilized in a boot for weeks following the French Open.  Sanders is an accomplished doubles player who is ranked 279th in the world in singles. 

Jil Teichmann vs. Venus Williams (WC) – After returning to competition in mixed doubles at Wimbledon, this is Venus’ first time playing singles since last August.  That’s the same month Teichmann was a surprise finalist in Cincinnati.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Iga Swiatek Downplays Recent Winning Streak Ahead Of North American Swing

The world No.1 is refusing to get ahead of herself going into the US Open.

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Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Iga Swiatek says her focus is on the present and not the past as she makes her final preparations ahead of the North American hardcourt swing. 

 

The two-time French Open champion dominated the women’s Tour earlier this season with a remarkable 37-match winning streak that saw her win six titles in a row. Becoming the first woman to record that many consecutive wins since Martina Hingis did so back in 1997. In total, she was unbeaten for 135 days during a period where she topped the world ranking for the first time following Ash Barty’s retirement from the sport. 

However, in recent weeks things haven’t gone entirely smoothly for the Pole who was knocked out in the third round at Wimbledon by Alize Cornet. Then on home territory at the Warsaw Open, she fell in the quarter-finals to Caroline Garcia who went on to claim the title. 

Swiatek will be hoping to regain some momentum at the National Bank Open in Toronto which will get underway on Monday. It will be only her second appearance at the tournament and her first since 2019 when as a qualifier she stunned Caroline Wozniacki before falling to Naomi Osaka.  

“I know there are many players who did even more, but I’m pretty proud of what I did in the first part of the season,” Swiatek told reporters on Saturday. “I hope this gives me some freedom to play freely because I don’t have to prove anything. On the other hand, it can also pressure me, so I’m just trying not to think about what happened but prepare for what’s coming.”

Despite her recent blips on the Tour, Swiatek will be the favourite to triumph in Toronto. She has won every WTA 1000 tournament which has taken place so far this year. In total she has played 51 matches in 2022, winning 46 of them. 

Despite the success, the 21-year-old is keen to improve her game even further. She is currentl;y coached by Tomasz Wiktorowski who has previously worked with Agnieszka Radwanska. 

“I just hope I’m not going to be only focused on winning, winning, winning because I want to also improve some stuff in my game,” Swiatek explains. “We had time to practice a little bit more after Roland Garros and after Wimbledon. So I hope that I’ll implement those things.”

In her draw, Swiatek will face either Shelby Rogers or Veronika Kudermetova in her opening match. Rogers is currently playing at the Silicon Valley Classic and has reached the final. Then she could play Leylah Fernandez in the next round. Also in her section of the draw are Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Mugurza. All of which are potential quarter-final opponents. 

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