Internazionali d’Italia Day 7 Preview: The Singles Semifinals & Doubles Finals - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Day 7 Preview: The Singles Semifinals & Doubles Finals

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Court Centrale will not be as empty on Sunday, with 1,000 seats opened up to the public (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

Following Diego Schwartzman’s stunning defeat of Rafael Nadal, are more upsets to come?

 

The most marquee match of the day is a WTA blockbuster between two Roland Garros champions.  The other women’s semifinal will be decided between two Major finalists from the Czech Republic.  On the men’s side, four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic is yet to face a seeded player, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been challenged by his competition, with another red-hot opponent today.  And just 24 hours after what he described as his “best match ever,” Diego Schwartzman faces one of the ATP’s best players since the tour restart, who is poised to make his top 10 debut.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Garbine Muguruza (9)

It’s the 2016 French Open champion against the 2018 champ, both of whom are two-time Major winners.  Top-seeded Halep has looked stellar this week, and is yet to drop a set.  Muguruza’s road has been considerably more challenging.  She’s had to fight hard to outlast some stiff opposition: Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Johanna Konta, and Victoria Azarenka.  So while that’s built Garbine’s confidence, it also means she’s spent almost twice as much time on court.  Muguruza leads their head-to-head 4-2, which includes their most recent meeting, earlier this year in the Australian Open semifinals.  However, their only two matches on clay have gone to Halep.  And Simona is on a 12-match winning streak, having won her last two events played.  These slow-playing courts in Rome favor the speed and defense of the top seed.  A fresh Halep is the favorite to reach her third Rome final in the last four years.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Casper Ruud

Djokovic has not looked his best thus far, yet has survived some high quality tennis from the likes of Filip Krajinovic and Dominik Koepfer.  Casper Ruud is another dangerous unseeded player who comes into this match with a lot of momentum.  This week he already took out Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic, and Matteo Berrettini.  The 21-year-old from Norway arrived in Rome with only two match wins at Masters 1,000 events.  But Casper can play on the clay: earlier this season he reached the final in Santiago, and won his first ATP title in Buenos Aires.  However, defeating the world No.1 in their first career meeting is a big ask.  Novak’s only loss this year was his default at the US Open, and I don’t expect that to change today.

Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (12)

Vondrousova was the surprise finalist at last year’s Roland Garros.  But due to injury, she would only play three more matches in 2019.  It’s been a struggle for the 21-year-old lefty to return to form.  Marketa was just 4-8 in this abbreviated season prior to this event.  After surviving a few close calls earlier this week, she steamrolled two-time champion Elina Svitolina yesterday 6-3, 6-0.  Today she faces another former champion.  The winner here a year ago, Pliskova is on an eight-match winning streak at this event.  Karolina dropped a set yesterday to Elise Mertens, but there’s no shame in that: Mertens is a tough out.  And Karolina closed out that match with a 6-0 third set, playing her best tennis yet this week.  In their only prior encounter, Karolina prevailed in straight sets last year on a hard court in Miami.  Vondrousova’s variety could prove frustrating, and playing a much-younger countrywoman can be tricky.  But Pliskova remains the favorite to reach her second consecutive final in Rome.

Diego Schwartzman (8) vs. Denis Shapovalov (12)

This is Diego’s second straight year advancing to the semifinals of this event, which are the only two occasions he’s done so at a Masters 1,000 tournament.  For Shapovalov, it’s his fifth Masters 1,000 semi, and he reached the final last year in Bercy.  Their first career meeting will also be one of the most important matches of their careers to date.  Shapovalov has accumulated eight match wins over the last three weeks, reaching his first Major quarterfinal in New York.  That’s a lot of tennis for the 21-year-old Canadian, including back-to-back three-setters over the last two days.  But a lack of energy doesn’t ever seem to be Denis’ problem.  And it would only be natural for Schwartzman to have a letdown coming off his first-career win over the King of Clay.  With Mikhail Youzhny helping Shapovalov improve his shot selection, his offense is becoming more sustainable.  He should be favored to play in Monday’s final.

Other Notable Matches on Day 7:

In the women’s doubles final, 2019 Wimbledon champions Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (1) vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru, who are in their first tournament as a team.

In the men’s doubles final, 2019 US Open finalists Marcel Garollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, the 2019 French Open finalists.

Full order of play is here.

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Jelena Ostapenko cruises into the second round with a straight-set win over Petra Martic in Ostrava

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Former Roland Garros champion and world number 44 Jelena Ostapenko cruised past number 5 seed Petra Martic 6-3 6-1 after 57 minutes to reach the second round at J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martic won her previous two head-to-head matches against Ostapenko at Indian Wells in 2018 and in Birmingham in 2019. 

Ostapenko has scored her milestone 20th career over a top-20 rival. The Latvian player hit 30 winners to 15 unforced errors. 

Martic got an early break in the first game and consolidated it with a hold of serve to take a 2-0 lead. Ostapenko saved two break points and held serve for 1-2 before breaking serve with a forehand passing shot in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. The Latvian player reeled off five consecutive games to open up a 5-2 lead. Martic held serve to claw her way back to 3-5. Ostapenko served out the set at love. Ostapenko hit 20 winners to 10 unforced errors. 

Ostapenko got an early break with a forehand crosscourt winner. The 2017 French Open champion went up a double break and hit a series of forehand winners to race out to a 4-0 lead extending her winning streak to five consecutive games. Martic held serve in the fifth game to close the gap to 1-4. Ostapenko held serve easily to build up a 5-1 lead with a crosscourt backhand winner. In the next game Ostapenko earned two match points, as Martic hit the netcord with a dropshot and closed out the match with a forehand down the line. 

“I think I played really well well today. I just got used to playing the first couple of games, but then I played really well and I did not give her any chances to play her game, and I made so many winners. I played very smart and also used dropshots and mixed it up a little bit, which helped me, but in the deciding moments I was still aggressive. I knew Martic was going to make a lot of balls in play and I would have to be very focused and very consistent to beat her”, said Ostapenko. 

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Maria Sakkari reaches her third quarter final of the season in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari got through to her third quarter final of the season after beating Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 at the J&T Banka Open in Ostrava with five breaks and 32 winners. 

 

Sakkari has already reached two quarter finals in 2020 in St. Petersburg and at the Western and Southern Open in New York and scored the fourth win of her career against a top 5 player. 

Sakkari went up a 3-0 lead with a double break. Svitolina pulled one of the two breaks back in the fourth game to claw his way back to 1-3. Sakkari converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3. 

Svitolina earned her first break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Sakkari battled to deuce four times and converted her third break points in a marathon fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Sakkari earned another brek to open up a 5-3 lead to close out the match after 1 hour and 16 minutes. 

“Obviously winning against a player like Elina, the way I played I think that made me happy today. I think playing like me gives me a lot of confidence. Getting another top 5 win is very important for me. When I was starting my career, I had people telling me that I cannot play indoors. I think it was a big mistake listening to them. I have beaten very good indoor players in St. Petersburg and here in Ostrava. I have developed my game in a way that I can now be dangerous indoor sas well. My serve is big, and I am playing a little bit more aggressive. So I am super happy. I have proved these people wrong”, said Sakkari.

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Grigor Dimitrov rallies from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar in Antwerp

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Grigor Dimitrov came back from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar 4-6 6-3 6-4 at the European Open in Antwerp.

 

Andujar earned the break in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Dimitrov went up an early break in the second game to take the second set 6-3. The Bulgarian player raced out to a 4-1 lead with a double break in the decider. Andujar pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Dimitrov saved four match points in the eighth game to hold serve at deuce and converted his first match point in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4. 

Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat this year’s US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta 5-7 6-3 6-4 after 2 hours and 33 minutes Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the opening set to build up a 5-2 lead. Carreno Busta fought back by winning five consecutive games with two breaks in the ninth and eleventh games to win the first set 7-5. 

Humbert saved four break points in the fifth game before breaking serve in the eighth game to win the second set sending the match to the third set. Humbert fended off four break points at 2-3 in the third set and broke serve to love to take a 5-4 lead, when Carreno Busta made three consecutive groundstroke errors. Humbert has improved his win-loss record to 18-11 and won the ASB Classic title in Auckland last January. The Frenchman scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Danil Medvedev in the Hamburg quarter final. 

Humbert will face either US Taylor Fritz or South African qualifier Lloyd Harris. Fritz dropped six of his first service points in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over his compatriot Reilly Opelka. 

Milos Raonic beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in 86 minutes setting up a second round match against Cameron Norrie. Bedene fended off two match points, when he was serving at 5-6 15-40 to force the second set to the tie-break. Raonic rallied from 1-3 down to win the tie-break 7-4. The Canadian player reached the final at the Western and Southern Open in New York and lost to Borna Coric in the semifinal in St. Petersburg.  

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