WTA Abu Dhabi Daily Preview: Quarterfinal Monday - UBITENNIS
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WTA Abu Dhabi Daily Preview: Quarterfinal Monday

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Sofia Kenin is approaching one full year inside the WTA top 10 (twitter.com/WTA)

In singles, three of the top four seeds remain, though the top two seeds were forced to save match points yesterday.

 

Top-seeded Sofia Kenin saved a match point in the second set against Yulia Putintseva, coming back to win 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.  No.2 seed Elina Svitolina overcame two match points in the third set tiebreak against Ekaterina Alexandrova, surviving 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(8).  The other highest seeds remaining, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, are yet to drop a set through three rounds.  This sets up some blockbuster matchups for the last three days of the tournament.

Sofia Kenin (1) vs. Maria Sakkari (9)

Both of their previous matches have gone three sets, and both have gone to Kenin.  They played at Wimbledon and the US Open in the summer of 2018.  It will be interesting to see if that pattern continues today, as both women have evolved their games considerably two-and-a-half years on.  Unlike Kenin, Sakkari has not been tested on her way to this quarterfinal.  She is yet to drop a set, and yesterday struck 33 winners against Garbine Muguruza, who managed only five winners of her own.  And the 25-year-old from Greece has prevailed in her last two matches against top five opposition, with wins over Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic last year on hard courts.  Kenin is a bit lucky to still be alive in this tournament.  Not only was she down match point yesterday, but two rounds ago, she was down a set against Kirsten Flipkens when the Belgian was forced to retire due to injury.  So while the Australian Open champion hasn’t been at her best this week, perhaps these escapes will allow her to play more freely today.  Based on her 2-0 record against Sakkari, and the perseverance she continues to display, Kenin is the slight favorite today despite Maria’s stellar form.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Aryna Sabalenka (4) vs. Elena Rybakina (6).  Sabalenka is on 12-match winning streak, and Rybakina reached five finals in last year’s abbreviated season.  Their only previous meeting was 16 months ago in Wuhan, where Sabalenka prevailed in three sets.

Elina Svitolina (2) vs. Veronika Kudermetova.  Their only encounter was in Moscow two Octobers ago, with the 23-year-old Russian pulling off the upset 7-5 in the third.

Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. Marta Kostyuk.  They also have only met once, with the Spaniard defeating a then-16-year-old Kostyuk in straight sets at Wimbledon in 2018.

Three of the four doubles quarterfinals will also take place on Monday.  Most notably, it’s the US Open champions Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva vs. Jennifer Brady and Garbine Muguruza.

Full order of play is here.

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Gael Monfils Targets Spot At Home Olympics Before Retirement 

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Image via ATP Twitter

Gael Monfils may be starting his 2023 season later than usual but he isn’t contemplating stepping away from the sport anytime soon. 

 

The former top 10 star has been absent from the Tour since August due to a foot problem during what has been an injury-stricken year for the Frenchman. Monfils also missed the French Open and Wimbledon due to a heel injury which required surgery. Overall, he has won 14 out of 21 matches played on the Tour in 2022. 

Providing an update on his current fitness during an interview with Canal+, Monfils confirmed that he will not be playing at the Australian Open in January which will be the fourth major tournament in a row he has missed. Whilst his recovery is progressing well, he is targeting a return during the clay season which concludes at the French Open. He is also unable to access his protected ranking at Melbourne Park because the rulebook states that a player must be absent for at least six months to be eligible. 

“I know that there is a protected ranking, when you don’t play for a certain amount of months. I know that if I take it, I have to not play the Australian Open to reach the six months needed and that will be my decision,” Tennis Head quotes Monfils as saying.

However, the 36-year-old isn’t planning to stop playing just yet with aspirations to play at his home Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris in 2024. Monfils is already a three-time Olympian and has reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice before. 

Despite some speculation over his retirement, Monfils hopes to continue playing until the age of 40. Although he admits this depends on his family after he and his wife Elina Svitolina welcomed their first child earlier this year.

“2023 is an important year for me, a year of transition, transition between my injuries and the fact to be competitive to try to qualify for Paris 2024. I would not like to miss the Olympics, it would be my last one,” he added.
“I hope that 2024 would not be my last year but maybe the one after that. Before, I said that I wanted to play until I’m 40 but the more time I spend with my daughter, the more time I’m thinking maybe I’ll play a bit less.”

Monfils has won 11 Tour titles so far in his career, including this year’s Adelaide International. He has reached at least one final every year since 2005. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev And Taylor Fritz Looking Forward To Diriyah Cup

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz will start their Australian preparations in Saudi Arabia next week.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (@WeAreTennisTR - Twitter)

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz are looking forward to boosting their Australian Open preparations when they compete in the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia.

 

The tournament takes place from the 8th-10th of December with the 12 player tournament offering the perfect preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year.

As well as Tsitsipas, Rublev and Fritz, the field includes some of the world’s best players including Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka.

Speaking ahead of the event Tsitsipas claimed that the event will be very good preparation ahead of the Australian Open which starts on the 16th of January, “This is going to be very good preparation for me,” Tsitsipas told The National.

“Most players choose to have an off period from tennis but for me, it’s very important to get matches in before I travel to Australia. So having good competitors to compete against (top players), this is the best preparation that I can have before starting the 2023 season.

“I know that the people in Saudi Arabia may not have the opportunity to see tennis players like us very often. So, for sure, I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to have a good time.”

Saudi Arabia has held a whole host of events including formula one and Golf events with there being more and more concerns from fans over sports-washing given the country’s human rights record.

However the Greek isn’t too concerned about that and is looking forward to exploring the country’s culture:

“I’m happy they’re introducing a big event like this, and in the heart of Saudi Arabia to give opportunities to citizens from all over the world to explore this beautiful country, through its sports, through its very rich heritage and culture, and through other activities that are available within the country.”

As for Fritz, the American is coming off a career best season having won his maiden Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells as well as reaching the semi-finals at the ATP Finals.

The 25 year-old said that playing against the best players in the world will only help his preparations for the Australian Open, “I think it’s going to help prepare for the Australian Open and for the rest of the year because I can start out by playing against the best players in the world,” Fritz claimed.

“The field is so strong, so it’s always great to surround yourself with a lot of great players. People should come to support because hopefully it’ll be a lot of good tennis.

“Hopefully they’ll be cheering for me to win. They can expect a lot of big hitting, big serving, and hopefully some nice shot-making.”

Finally Rublev said that competing in Saudi Arabia will help find his level with the Russian having an inconsistent end to the season at the ATP Finals.

Rublev is looking to break more ground in 2023 as he searches for his Grand Slam breakthrough, “I think it’s really great because sometimes when you finish the season and you have eight weeks of not playing tournaments, you start to feel a bit stressed or nervous because you can’t tell if you’re improving or not,” Rublev admitted.

“So these kind of events help to check how your level is at the moment because you compete against other great players.”

The tournament begins on Thursday and will last for three days.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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