Internazionali d’Italia Day 3 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Day 3 Preview: The Men’s & Women’s Match of the Day

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The Grand Stand at Foro Italico (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

The favorites to win this event will play their first singles matches on a busy Wednesday in Rome.

 

For defending champion Rafael Nadal, this will be his first match in over six months, against a fellow Spaniard who reached the semifinals of last week’s US Open.  And this is the first time we see Novak Djokovic on court since he was defaulted two Sundays ago for hitting a lineswoman in the throat with the tennis ball.  On the women’s side, top seed Simona Halep arrives on a nine-match winning streak.  She was the champion in Dubai back in February and in Prague last month.  Simona is joined today by recent Rome champions Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina.  But the day’s most marquee women’s matchup features the US Open runner-up against the last player to beat her prior to that run in New York.

Victoria Azarenka (SE) vs. Venus Williams (WC)

Last month in Lexington, Williams comfortably defeated Azarenka 6-3, 6-2.  It was right after that loss Vika went on her 11-match win streak, becoming the champion of the Western & Southern Open and a US Open finalist.  By contrast, Venus is 0-3 since beating Azarenka, though her three losses have come against top 30 players.  Neither woman would describe clay as their favorite surface, but Vika reached the quarterfinals here last year, with impressive victories over Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza.  By contrast, Williams is just 2-5 on clay over the last three years.  However, Venus has the 6-2 edge in their head-to-head.  That includes their two most recent meetings, though Azarenka claimed their only match on clay.  Even though it was only four days ago she played her first Major final in seven years, Vika’s confidence level should be enough to get her through this tough opening round.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

There has been much speculation regarding Rafael Nadal leading into his first match since the 29th of February.  He and his team have spoken openly of how affected he has been by the pandemic, which caused him to opt out of traveling to New York to defend his US Open title.  And in his return to professional tennis, Nadal faces a man who just five days ago reached his second Major semifinal.  But this is a matchup that significantly favors Nadal.  He is 5-0 against Carreno Busta, with Pablo securing only one of 11 sets completed.  Rafa also has a history of dominating his fellow Spaniards.  And Pablo is not your typical Spaniard who excels on the red clay.  He actually went just 7-9 on this surface last season.  But it will be intriguing to see how Nadal performs today coming off such a long layoff.  It’s been a challenging six months for everyone, with Rafa seemingly more impacted than other players.  And while Nadal is easily the best clay court player of all-time, he’s also a player who is at his best when he’s match tough.  He will be eager to gain some significant court time over the next week in Rome.

Other Notable Matches on Day 3:

Four-time champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Salvatore Caruso (WC), a 27-year-old Italian who came back to defeat Tennys Sandgren yesterday in a final set tiebreak.

In a match between the two most recent ATP Next Gen Finals champions, Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Jannick Sinner (WC).  This is Tsitsipas’ first match since his epic loss to Borna Coric in New York.  Sinner survived the soap opera that was his opening round against Benoit Paire two days ago.

Two-time champion Elina Svitolina (4) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  Anastasia leads their head-to-head 3-1, though they’ve never played on clay.

Two-time finalist Simona Halep (1) vs. Jasmine Paolini (WC), who upset Anastasija Sevastova in the first round.

Defending champion Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Barbora Strycova.  Pliskova is 4-1 against her fellow Czech.

David Goffin (6) vs. Marin Cilic.  Goffin is 4-3 lifetime against Cilic, though Marin prevailed when they met in Rome three years ago.

Italian No.1 Matteo Berrettini (4) vs. Federico Coria (Q), an 18-year-old Argentine who came through qualifying and already has four match wins this past week.

Full order of play is here.

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Julia Goerges Announces Retirement From Tennis

Julia Goerges announced her retirement from tennis after over two decades in the sport.

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Former top 10 player Julia Goerges has said her goodbyes to tennis after announcing her retirement from the sport.

 

In a shock announcement the 31 year-old from Regensburg, Germany announced her retirement from the sport that she had been playing since she was five years old.

Speaking on Instagram and her website, Goerges paid tribute to the sport she has been apart for over two decades, “I am writing to you, because I am ready to say “Goodbye”,” The German explained.

“When I started playing tennis at the age of 5, I would never have thought that we would go such a long way together.

“You have given me so many different types of emotions throughout our journey and I am very thankful for everything you have shown and taught me. I learnt how to deal with the toughest losses but also enjoy the most amazing wins of my career, to fight back many times when I was struggling with you and through it all we never lost sight of our dreams.

“I always knew how I would feel when it is time to say goodbye to you, and that moment has arrived. I am ready to close the tennis chapter of my life and open a new one, which I am really excited about. Thank you for everything you have given me. You will stay forever in my heart.”

The news comes as a shock to many people as earlier in the year Goerges had originally said that she would continue for another 2-3 years.

However in the current circumstances, Goerges probably felt that this was the perfect timing to announce her retirement from the sport.

It was a career that started by winning the biggest title of her career in Stuttgart before a serious injury derailed her progress.

However a late surge in her late-20s, saw her win a total of 12 WTA titles and reach the semi-finals of a grand slam for the first time at Wimbledon 2017.

Now it seems Goerges’ 2nd round exit against Laura Siegemund was the last match of her career as she sets her sights on being involved with tennis off the court especially with her new performance app ‘Recast Tennis.’

A career that she can be very proud of, Happy retirement Julia Goerges!

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Anett Kontaveit fends off two match points to win a hard–fought match against Ekaterina Alexandrova

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This year’s Palermo finalist Anett Kontaveit came back from a double break down  in the third set and faced two match points in the decisive third set to battle past Ekaterina Alexandrova 4-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in the first round at J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Alexandrova has won 33 of her past 39 indoor matches in the last two seasons since October 2018. The Russian player was leading 5-2 in the third set and 6-4 in the tie-break and served for the match three times. 

Alexandrova earned the first break point of the match in the third game with her backhand and converted it as Kontaveit sent her forehand into the net. Alexandrova came to within two points of taking a double break for 4-1, but Kontaveit hit two forehands to hold her service game. Kontaveit broke back at love in the sixth game and held serve to take a 4-3 lead. Alexandrova broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and converted her second set point in the 10th game with a forehand wiiner. 

In the first game of the second set Alexandrova came close to converting her fourth break point with a crosscourt forehand, but a Hawkeye overrule that it had barely missed clipping the line. Kontaveit held her serve with two service winners. The 24-year-old Estonian player broke serve with a forehand winner to open up a 2-0 lead. Alexandova broke straight back in the third game. Kontaveit broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to seal the second set 6-2 with a lob. 

Alexandrova started the third set with an early break at deuce with a forehand winner down the line. The Russian player won nine consecutive points to get a double break for 4-1 with two consecutive forehand winners. At 5-2 Alexandrova wasted her first chance to serve out the win after a double fault and dropped her serve. Kontaveit pulled her second break back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5 with a forehand. Alexandrova broke again with her forehand in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead. Kontaveit broke back with a backhand return winner forcing the second set to the tie-break. Kontaveit saved two match points after Alexandrova netted her forehand on the first chance and Kontaveit hit a backhand winner on the second. Kontaveit converted her first match point with a forehand volley to set up a second round match against either Magda Linette or a qualifier. 

“I was so close to being out, so I just tried to stay in the match. I never really gave up. I tried to be a little more aggressive, when I was down. I felt maybe I had taken a little bit off my shots”, said Kontaveit. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Becomes First Greek To Reach Roland Garros Quarter-Finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas made more history after beating Grigor Dimitrov at Roland Garros.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek male or female tennis player to reach the Quarter-Finals at Roland Garros with a 6-3 7-6(9) 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov.

 

Another historic milestone beckoned for Tsitsipas as he took down a spirited Dimitrov in straight sets.

It was Tsitsipas who made the quickest start as he grinded out the unforced errors from Dimitrov’s racket.

A 3-0 lead was the ideal start as his court coverage mixed with his power from the back of the court caused Dimitrov all sorts of problems.

The duo had never played before and the Bulgarian was finding it tough to battle past Tsitsipas’ defence in heavy conditions.

A lot of angles were created by both players as they looked to construct points well rather than power past their opponents.

Dimitrov was starting to figure out this solution but Tsitsipas remained firm and took the opening set 6-3, by the one break of serve.

A much more competitive second set developed as the variation between attack and defence was on show.

Dimitrov started to play smarter tennis by using the backhand slice to try and open up the court and make more consistent power off the forehand side.

This lead to more belief in Dimitrov that he could outsmart and outhit Tsitsipas in what was turning into a fascinating encounter.

A couple of half-chances came and went for Dimitrov as some clutch play from especially on the backhand saw him remain solid on serve.

A thrilling second set tiebreak would decide the second set as the Bulgarian looked to take his momentum in the tiebreak.

After losing the first three points, Dimitrov played some bold and stunning shots when up against it but was too cautious when it really mattered.

Failing to convert two set points, a forehand unforced error into the net sealed Dimitrov’s fate as he lost the second set tiebreak 10-9.

From then on it was all about Tsitsipas as he raised his level and Dimitrov’s belief, momentum and level significantly dropped.

Creating a break point on every return game, a break in the second and eighth game sealed victory in 2 and a half hours.

A stunning match from Tsitsipas, who overcame a brilliant second set from Dimitrov, to win in straight sets and become the first Greek man or Woman to reach the last eight in Paris.

Next for Tsitsipas will be a rematch from the Hamburg final as he takes on Andrey Rublev.

The Russian came back from a break down in sets two and three to beat Marton Fucsovics 6-7(4) 7-5 6-4 7-6(3) in a three hour and 58 minute battle.

When Tsitsipas and Rublev meet on Wednesday, Tsitsipas will hope to end the world number 12’s nine match winning streak.

Rublev’s last loss came against Hubert Hurkacz in Rome.

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