US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

UbiTennis looks at the matches you don’t want to miss at Flushing Meadows on Friday.

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Louis Armstrong Stadium (usopen.org).

The third round will commence on Friday, when seeded players begin to clash in the draw.

 

And it will be a busier day than usual, with four singles matches carried over from last night due to rain.  Thankfully the forecast for Friday calls for sunny skies above Flushing Meadows.  With a dozen seeds already eliminated in both the men’s and women’s draws, will the upsets continue today?

Denis Shapovalov (12) vs. Taylor Fritz (19)

This is a battle between the Canadian No.1 and the American No.2, both of whom are on the rise.  The 21-year-old Shapovalov is 2-0 against the 22-year-old Fritz.  Both matches were contested on hard courts, and both were tight.  Shapovalov is the more proven commodity, as Fritz is vying to reach the fourth round of a Major for the first time.  His climb up the rankings has been more gradual, but Taylor reached a career-high of No.24 earlier this season after making the final in Acapulco.  Shapovalov’s fire power is more explosive when it’s on, yet more of a detriment when it’s off.  But the Canadian is the better mover, and he utilizes his lefty-ness extremely well.  After a lengthy encounter, I expect Shapovalov to reach the round of 16 in New York for the second time.

Petra Kvitova (6) vs. Jessica Pegula

Historically, this has not been Kvitova’s strongest Major.  However, that has changed a bit in recent years, having advanced to the second week three times.  Her 26-year-old American opponent is much less well-known, but is playing with a lot of confidence.  Pegula won an American hard court title last year in Washington, reached the final earlier this year in Auckland, and was a quarterfinalist here just last week.  Jessica has already survived two three-setters this week, one decided in a final set breaker.  She told usopen.org that she credits her recent good form on her improved fitness, as well as the time she spent playing World Team Tennis earlier this summer.  While Pegula is a dogged fighter and will not be easy out, Kvitova should be favored.  Petra is yet to drop a set this week, and the two-time Wimbledon champion can dictate play better than the American.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Borna Coric (27)

This could be a fun one if Coric is near his best.  After nearly reaching the top 10 two years ago, Borna had a rough 2019.  He battled a back issue throughout the summer, and went just 6-2 at the Majors with no tour titles.  Coric then started 2020 winning just one of this first five matches.  In June, he tested positive for COVID-19, which certainly impacted his training.  Despite that, Borna persevered to a five-set win on Wednesday over Juan Ignacio Londero.  Needless to say, he won’t feel fully fresh today.  Meanwhile after winning last year’s ATP Finals, Tsitsipas has continued to play good hard court tennis this season.  He was the champion in Marseille, the runner-up in Dubai, and a semifinalist last week on these same grounds.  There is nothing in Coric’s counterpunching game that should threaten a confident Tsitsipas.  And even though he’s the younger of the two, Stefanos’ experience advantage on stages like this is a crucial advantage.

David Goffin (7) vs. Filip Krajinovic (26)

Goffin is the higher seed, but he may not be the favorite here.  Krajinovic leads their head-to-head 2-1, with Goffin’s only win coming on clay.  Now coached by Janko Tipsarevic, the 28-year-old Serbian is one of the hottest players on tour.  He reached the semifinals of both Montpellier and Rotterdam in February, and dominated Dominic Thiem on his way to the quarterfinals last week.  2020 has been a modest season at best for Goffin, with an 11-6 record.  Both of these men enjoy playing on a fast hard court, which is what they’ll have today out on Court 11.  The outer courts are reportedly playing considerably faster than the roofed stadiums.  We’ve seen several extended four-to-five hour epics in recent days, and this has the makings of another.  Filip’s biggest stumbling block beyond his difficult opponent might be knowing he’s never advanced farther than this round at a Major.  But that may just change today.

Jennifer Brady (28) vs. Caroline Garcia

Garcia showed her best form in a long time on Wednesday, in eliminating top-seeded Karolina Pliskova.  Caroline struck almost twice as many winners as errors, and broke Pliskova’s serve three times in two sets.  But Jen Brady has been one of the WTA’s best performers since the tour restart last month, as she lifted the champion’s trophy in Lexington.  Brady has breezed through the draw thus far, with her big serve and forehand.  And she possesses experience at this stage of a Major, having twice advanced to the round of 16 at Slams.  They’ve played six times, and split those meetings, though Brady is 3-1 on hard courts.  It would only be natural for Garcia to have a letdown after her first big win in quite some time.  I like the American’s chances to prevail on home soil.

Other Notable Matches on Day 5:

The undefeated Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (28).  These two just played last week, with Djokovic easily prevailing 6-3, 6-1.

Two-time Major champion Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Marta Kostyuk, an 18-year-old Ukranian who ousted Anastasija Sevastova in the last round.

Three-time Major champion Angelique Kerber (17) vs. Ann Li, a 20-year-old American who upset Alison Riske on Wednesday by a score of 6-0, 6-3.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Adrian Mannarino (32).  Zverev is 2-0 against the tricky French veteran, having never dropped a set.

US Open 2020 schedule – Friday’s Order of Play (Selected main and all UK time.)

ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM

From 5pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
N. Osaka (JPN) [4] v M. Kostyuk (UKR)

From 6:30pm
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
D. Shapovalov (CAN) [12] v T. Fritz (USA) [19]

From midnight
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
N. Djokovic (SRB) [1] v J. Struff (GER) [28]
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
J. Pegula (USA) v P. Kvitova (CZE) [6]

LOUIS ARMSTRONG STADIUM

From 4pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
V. Gracheva (RUS) v P. Martic (CRO) [8]
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
A. Kerber (GER) [17] v A. Li (USA)
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
A. Mannarino (FRA) [32] v A. Zverev (GER) [5]
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
S. Tsitsipas (GRE) [4] v B. Coric (CRO) [27]

From midnight
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
S. Rogers (USA) v M. Brengle (USA)

COURT 17

From 4pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
A. Sasnovich (BLR) v Y. Putintseva (KAZ) [23]
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
C. Garcia (FRA) v J. Brady (USA) [28]
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) [20] v R. Berankis (LTU)

COURT 5

From 4pm
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
C. Norrie (GBR) v A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)

From 5:30pm
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 2
C. Moutet (FRA) v D. Evans (GBR) [23]
Suspended yesterday – current: 4-6 | 6-3 | 6-5
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
M. Linette (POL) [24] v A. Kontaveit (EST) [14]
WOMEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
N. Melichar (USA)/Y. Xu (CHN) [3] v C. Gauff (USA)/C. McNally (USA)

COURT 11

From 4pm
MEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
C. Harrison (USA)/R. Harrison (USA) v R. Ram (USA)/J. Salisbury (GBR) [3]
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
F. Krajinovic (SRB) [26] v D. Goffin (BEL) [7]
MEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 3
J. Thompson (AUS) v M. Kukushkin (KAZ)

COURT 7

From 4pm
WOMEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
A. Friedsam (GER)/K. Siniakova (CZE) [8] v A. Blinkova (RUS)/V. Kudermetova (RUS)

From 5pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 2
C. McNally (USA) v E. Alexandrova (RUS) [21]
Suspended yesterday – current: 4-6 | 6-3
MEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
M. Daniell (NZL)/P. Oswald (AUT) v C. Eubanks (USA)/M. McDonald (USA)
MEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
J. Peers (AUS)/M. Venus (NZL) v S. Gille (BEL)/J. Vliegen (BEL)

COURT 8

From 5pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 2
S. Vickery (USA) v I. Swiatek (POL)
Suspended yesterday – current: 7-6(5)

COURT 12

From 4pm
WOMEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
L. Hradecka (CZE)/A. Klepac (SLO) v A. Muhammad (USA)/T. Townsend (USA)
MEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
W. Koolhof (NED)/N. Mektic (CRO) [8] v S. Bolelli (ITA)/M. Gonzalez (ARG)

From 7pm
WOMEN’S DOUBLES – ROUND 2
V. Azarenka (BLR)/S. Kenin (USA) [7] v L. Siegemund (GER)/V. Zvonareva (RUS)

COURT 14

From 5pm
WOMEN’S SINGLES – ROUND 2
E. Mertens (BEL) [16] v S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
Suspended yesterday – current: 6-3 | 1-0

Grand Slam

REPORT: French Open Attendance To Be More Than Halved Amid COVID-19 Threat

It is understood that the number of fans allowed to attend daily has been cut by roughly 55%.

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This year’s French Open has been forced to dramatically reduce their initial plans for 11,500 daily visitors, according to information obtained by L’Equipe newspaper.

 

The number has reportedly been cut to just 5000 following a ‘governmental decision’ linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers had originally set out plans for three separate zones with two holding up to 5000 people and an additional welcoming 1500. However, it has now emerged the new number will only be applied to one specific zone where the premier Philippe-Chatrier Court is located. Meaning that it is possible that matches played on courts Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne-Mathieu will not be opened to the public.

In recent days France has seen a rise in coronavirus cases and reported 9784 new infections in the country on Wednesday. A slight dip of France’s all-time high of 10,561 which was recorded last Saturday. It is understood that the decision to reduce the crowd size at Roland Garros is also based on spikes in other countries apart from France.

There has been no official comment from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but L’Equipe reports that the change has been made in line with new local government guidance. The ruling will have no impact on next week’s qualifying tournament which is being played behind closed doors.

Leading up to the clay-court major some players have voiced caution about attending the event with crowds. Outspoken player Nick Kyrgios, who is not playing in Paris this year, went as far as accusing organisers of not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Former champion Simona Halep has also voiced her own concerns.

“I just read that they will have fans,” Halep told reporters earlier this week. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

The French Open will start on September 28th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the reigning champions but Barty will not be defending her title due to travelling concerns related to COVID-19.

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Grand Slam

‘Her Values Are Not What Tennis Stands For’ – Andy Murray Backs Calls To Rename Margaret Court Arena

The British tennis star is the latest top name to hit out at Court over her history of anti-gay comments.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has said the Australian Open should consider renaming one of their premier courts after Margaret Court due to her controversial views.

 

The former world No.1 says 78-year-old Court, who holds the record for most singles Grand Slam titles won, doesn’t represent the values of the sport. Despite being one of Australia’s most decorated tennis players of all time, Court has a history of making various anti-gay views but maintains that she is not homophobic. She once said that the women’s tour was ‘full of lesbians‘ and during her playing career described rival Martina Navratilova as a ‘bad role model’ due to her sexuality. In other incidents she also boycotted Qantas airlines due to their support of marriage equality and publicly criticised former player Casey Dellacqua for having a baby with her same-sex partner.

Murray joins a list of figures calling for a change along with Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe who both held an on-court protest back in January calling for the name change. The Brit argues that the controversy surrounding Court takes focus away from tennis and this should not be the case. This year the Australian was honoured at the Melbourne major with a low-key event to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years. I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing,” Murray told pridelife.com.
“As far as renaming the venue. I think that yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for. When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that.”

Tennis Australia, who oversees the Australian Open, has previously distanced themselves from Court’s views. In a statement previously issued they said the decision to recognise the 50th anniversary of her triumph was solely due to her achievements and they do not endorse her views.

“Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm,” Murray commented.

The issue of gay rights is rarely spoken about in the world of men’s tennis. Unlike the women’s game there are no openly gay male players and only a handful have publicly spoken about their sexuality in recent years. The most well known being former top 100 American player Brian Vahaly who came out after he retired from the sport.

“I think, certainly in men’s tennis, there have been a number of players who have come out as gay, but not while they’re competing. I think there’s still a stigma around it which obviously shouldn’t be the case,” said Murray.

There are various theories about the reasons where there may be no openly gay players on the Tour. Murray says he has never witnessed or heard homophobic comments whilst playing in the sport, but admits that it may be different if somebody did come out.

“I wouldn’t say that I have heard it in the locker room. If more gay men came out it’s something you might see more of potentially,” he explained.
“There have been a few things said in articles I’ve read where players have made homophobic comments, but I’ve not been in the presence of anyone when they have made homophobic comments in the locker room.”

Murray will return to action in less than two weeks time at the French Open in Paris.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams French Open Over Crowd Decision

The world No.41 explains why he is ‘disappointed’ with the French major as other players also voice caution about playing in front of crowds.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has accused officials at the French Open of not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously following their decision to allow spectators to attend.

 

The clay-court Grand Slam has created three separate zones where fans are allowed to attend with each of those having a daily capacity limit. The zones including court Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen will hold up to 5000 each. Meanwhile an additional 1500 spectators will be allowed to visit the area surrounding the third court, Simonne Mathieu. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) says strict measures will be in place and their plans have been drafted following ‘advice from a committee of expert scientists.` Masks must be worn at all times by those attending.

Despite the measures that have been put in place, former top 20 player Kyrgios has criticised the move amid the number of cases in the country. France has recently seen a surge in their daily toll. On Tuesday they reported 7852 newly confirmed cases within a 24-hour period compared to 6158 the day before. Last Saturday the number surpassed the 10,000 mark.

“I am most likely not going to play,” Kyrgios told News Corp.
“Especially with the cases rising there. I don’t feel comfortable to go there and play.
“They are thinking about doing it with crowds. I don’t think the tournament is taking it seriously. It’s disappointing the level of seriousness they are taking towards it.”

Kyrgios hasn’t played a competitive match since February after choosing to skip the North American swing over concerns related to the pandemic. A decision that was also taken by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep. Although he also previously hinted that it is unlikely that he will be travelling to Europe this year and therefore ending his season early. A approach that was also taken by compatriot Ash Barty.

The 25-year-old isn’t the only player to have express concerns about crowds at Roland Garros. 2018 champion Halep told reporters at this week’s Italian Open, which is being held behind closed doors, that she is hopeful that officials at the venue will be ‘strict’ with the measures.

“I just read that they will have fans,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

Meanwhile, cautiously-speaking Nadal says it is a case of wait and see what happens in Paris. This year he is bidding to win the major for an historic 13th time.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what’s the situation’s going to look like in Roland Garros,” he told journalists on Monday when questioned about the French Open.
“Let’s see how the virus evolves the next couple of weeks. Hopefully in a good way. Doesn’t look like that, no? Let’s see. We need to be patient and we need to wait to see how the situation improves.”

Unlike the main draw, the qualifying rounds will be held behind closed doors in order to make it easier for players to move around the venue. The tournament gets underway on September 21st with the main draw starting the week after.

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