US Open Day 9 Preview: The Quarterfinals Commence - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 9 Preview: The Quarterfinals Commence

Will Naomi Osaka and Alexander Zverev live up to expectations in New York?

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The grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (usopen.org)

Eight men and eight women are just three matches away from Grand Slam glory.

 

On the men’s side, all remaining players are age 27 or less, meaning the champion will become the youngest active male to win a Major.  This will mark the first Grand Slam event in four years with someone not named Roger, Rafa, or Novak lifting the winner’s trophy.  The women’s side includes three mothers for the first time in the Open Era.  One had not won a match in a year until two weeks ago, another hadn’t played a tournament in over three years, and the other is the best female player of all-time.  In a fortnight full of inspiring stories, what will unfold during the next six days?

Yulia Putintseva (23) vs. Jennifer Brady (28)

Jennifer Brady is playing some great ball.  The 25-year-old was the champion in Lexington a few weeks ago, and is into her first Major quarterfinal without dropping a set.  With a versatile serve, penetrating groundstrokes, and improved movement, Brady’s opponents have failed to find a weakness to manipulate.  But she’s 0-2 against Putintseva, who twice before has reached this stage of a Major (both times at Roland Garros).  Also 25-years-of-age, Yulia survived a dramatic and controversial battle against Petra Martic on Sunday, which saw both players take medical timeouts at inconvenient times for their opponent.  Putintseva brings the drama wherever she goes, and is a feisty competitor who is not opposed to talking some trash.  But despite her strong ground game, Yulia does not possess the weapons or speed of the American.  Brady is a considerable favorite to reach the semifinals of her home Slam.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Borna Coric (27)

This is a rematch from the second round of the 2017 US Open, a match in which Zverev was goaded into many 30-40 ball rallies instead of harnessing his power game.  Coric would grind his way to a four-set win on that day.  Three years on, Zverev is a much-improved player.  Despite his second serve yips resurfacing last week, they’ve been less of an issue through four rounds, with 71 aces to 29 double faults.  By contrast, Coric has struggled of late, but his grit was on full display in his epic comeback two rounds ago over Stefanos Tsitsipas, where he saved six match points.  That was Borna’s second consecutive five-setter, which ended past 1:00am local time.  However, he bounced back impressively two days later, ousting Jordan Thompson in straight sets to reach his first Major quarterfinal.  Overall, Coric leads their head-to-head 3-1, with Zverev’s only win coming in Miami two years ago.  But if Sascha serves well and plays aggressively, he should be able to reach his second consecutive Slam semifinal.  Coric will not defeat himself and is a great counterpuncher, yet Zverev can better dictate play.

Naomi Osaka (4) vs. Shelby Rogers

Could we have an all-American semifinal?  Perhaps, though Rogers faces a much taller task then her friend Jen Brady.  Osaka was the champion here two years ago, and is the only woman to win back-to-back Majors since Serena Williams did so in 2015.  While Naomi withdrew from the Western & Southern Open final 10 days ago due to a hamstring injury, and still has it wrapped, it does not appear to be effecting her play.  She served exceptionally well two days ago against Anett Kontaveit, winning 84% on her first serve and 82% on her second.  Rogers fought hard and deserves full credit for reaching for first Major quarterfinal, despite Petra Kvitova double faulting on match point in the final set tiebreak.  Rogers has talked of focusing on her fitness during the pandemic shutdown, and the results have followed.  Just a few weeks ago in Lexington, she came back from a set down to upset Serena Williams.  Rogers does have three match wins against Osaka, though two were those were at lower level events, and the other was three years ago on clay.  Even without a partisan crowd filling Arthur Ashe Stadium, the American will surely be nervous in the biggest match of her career, having never advanced beyond the third round of a Major previously.  And with Osaka hitting the ball as soundly as she is, Naomi is a strong favorite to reach her third Slam semifinal.

Denis Shapovalov (12) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta (20)

Like today’s other men’s quarterfinal, this is also a rematch from the 2017 US Open.  In the fourth round three years ago, Carreno Busta prevailed after three tiebreak sets against an 18-year-old Canadian making his debut in the second week of a Major.  The Spaniard has also claimed their other two hard court meetings, with Shapovalov’s only victory coming on clay.  But Denis has shown this fortnight that he’s now a more complete player.  He escaped near-defeat against Taylor Fritz to win in five, then followed it up with a strong effort to take out David Goffin in four.  Carreno Busta advanced after Novak Djokovic was infamously defaulted on Sunday.  However, it’s worth noting Pablo is a former semifinalist here, and it was his defiant play which brought that frustration out of Novak.  But with Denis’ superior offensive skills, I like Shapovalov to extend his best-yet run at a Major.

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal To Quarantine In Adelaide Ahead Of Australian Open

The world’s best players are set to face off against each other in a new exhibition tournament at the end of this month.

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The highest ranked players in the world of tennis will travel to Adelaide instead of Melbourne to quarantine under a new deal announced by Tennis Australia.

 

Under the terms agreed with the Southern Australian Government, the three highest ranked players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s will travel to the region. The decision has been made to help ease the pressure on Melbourne who are close to their capacity of holding 1000 players and their teams. Adelaide is set to quarantine around 50 people ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2021.

Under part of the deal, an exhibition tournament will take place in the region as part of an incentive for them agreeing to help. Should all of the top three players take part, the event would feature Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on the men’s side. Meanwhile, the women’s field will feature home favourite Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka. The event will be played on January 29 and 30.

“We’re right up to the edge of people that can quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief,” Australian Open chief Craig Tiley told the Tennis Channel.
“We approached the South Australian government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people, but they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it because there’s no benefit for them to do it to put their community at risk if the players then go straight to Melbourne.
“But it would be a benefit if they played an exhibition tournament just before they came to Melbourne, so the premier (Steven Marshall) has agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and then have those players play an exhibition event.”

The conditions of the Quarantine will be the same as it will be in Melbourne with players only allowed to leave their room in order to train during the 14-day period. Should anybody break protocol, they could face up to a AUS$20,000 fine, possible risk of criminal sanction and even deportation from the country.

“We think this is a great opportunity to launch before we go into the season. This a state and city who have just invested $44 million in building a new stadium. So this is a nice way to say thank you,” Tiley added.

Melbourne will still remain the primary location for tennis with the region hosting a series of events both before and after the Australian Open. On the men’s tour, the plan is to hold two 250 tournaments and the ATP Cup during the first week of February. Meanwhile, the WTA is set to stage two 500 events during the week starting January 31st and then a 250 tournament immediately after the Australian Open.

Speaking about Melbourne Park, Tiley is hopeful that between 50% and 75% of its usual capacity will be used by fans. To put that into perspective, last year the US Open was played behind closed doors and the French Open significantly reduced their capacity due to the pandemic.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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Australian Open Axes Hotel Quarantine Contract Following Legal Threat

The decision comes after residents voiced concern that international tennis players pose a potential health risk to them.

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Tennis Australia has been forced to relocate one of their player accommodation venues after residents threatened to take the government to court.

 

Earlier this week a group of penthouse owners at the Westin Hotel in Melbourne confirmed that they were contemplating legal action, arguing that international players posed a health risk to them. The group also claims that they have been given insufficient information about the arrangements which has been disputed by the local government.

Despite assurances by officials that the residents would not be interacting with the players due to part of the hotel being sealed off, it has been decided to no longer use the Westin. It is unclear as to how many players would have been staying at the venue.

“The Australian Open team has been working closely with COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) on suitable quarantine hotel options in Melbourne. Several hotels in Melbourne have already been secured, including a replacement for the Westin, to safely accommodate the international playing group and their team members as well as allow for them to properly prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year. The health and safety of everyone is our top priority,” a statement from Tennis Australia reads.

Lisa Neville, who is the country’s minister of police, said the decision to change venue has been taken in order to prevent the risk of the Melbourne major being delayed once again. Ms Neville said she was first made aware of the concerns on Sunday.

We became aware on Sunday that there were some concerns that had been expressed by the residents in the apartments,” she said.
“We were also concerned this may delay the standing up of the Australian Open so we’ve gone through a process of securing a new site.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players arriving in the country must quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to play professional events. Although they are allowed to train during this period. As a result, the Australian Open will be taking place during February for the first time in more than 100 years.

According to abc.net.au, the government will publish a list of hotels that will be used for quarantine next week. Players are set to start arriving in Australia from January 14th.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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Australian Open Facing Legal Action Over Quarantine Plans

Less than two weeks before players are set to enter a mandatory quarantine, residents at one hotel are considering taking Tennis Australia to court.

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The Australian Open is facing a new crisis with a group of apartment owners launching a legal case to not allow players to stay at their premises.

 

Residents at the Westin Melbourne says they were given insufficient information about plans for players to stay at the Westin ahead of the Grand Slam and argue they pose a health risk to them. The venue has been chosen as one of the premises when players from around the globe will stay during a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the country. During the quarantine, they are not allowed to play professional tournaments but will be permitted to train. Players are set to start arriving in Melbourne from January 14th.

“At 84, I’m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us,” owner Digby Lewis told Fairfax.
“I’m more than happy to toss in $10,000 or $20,000 to help the legal fight, it’s bloody shocking.”

According to The Age newspaper, the legal action is being considered by the 36 owners of penthouse apartments in the hotel, including many who live there on a permanent basis. One of their plans of action could include trying to obtain a last-minute injection which would prevent players from arriving if the court agrees to issue one.

The Victorian government formally approved the quarantine plan on December 18th and apartment owners were then notified on December 23rd. Although they insist that they never agreed to the terms.

“It’s incredibly arrogant to ambush us this way as if it’s a done deal. There are substantive public health and legal issues that have not even been examined,” apartment owner Mark Nicholson told The Age and the SMH.

In a statement issued to Reuters news agency, a representative from The Westin hotel has insisted that residents will not be in contact with players throughout their stay. They will be using separate entrances and lifts into the venue in accordance with their ‘COVID safe’ guidelines.

Their floor will remain exclusive while there will be no reticulation of ventilation between the floors,” the statement outlines.

Jacinta Allan, who is the acting Premier of Melbourne state, has also tried to ease any concerns the residents have. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Allan said a ‘rigorous assessment’ was conducted before the hotel was approved to host international athletes.

“The Westin, like every venue, went through a rigorous assessment, very strict infection prevention measures have been put in place in all of the venues,” she said.
“The very clear advice is that arrangements have been put in place so there is no contact between the existing residents and the people staying associated with the Australian Open.
“There are separate entrances, there are separate floors, there are floor monitors on every floor, there is 24/7 Victoria Police presence associated with every venue.”

The development is the latest setback for Tennis Australia and their plans for the Grand Slam. Due to the pandemic the Australian Open has had to be delayed until February for the first time in more than 100 years. Officials originally hoped for players to arrive in the country from December before the government ruled against it.

The Australian Open will get underway on February 8th.

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