Australian Open Day 11 Preview: Serena Williams Plays Naomi Osaka in a Blockbuster Semifinal - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 11 Preview: Serena Williams Plays Naomi Osaka in a Blockbuster Semifinal

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Today marks a 40th Major semifinal for Serena Williams (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

With fans allowed back onto the grounds of Melbourne Park on Thursday, and Rod Laver Arena at 50% capacity, this should be an exciting day of tennis.

 

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka took part in one of the most controversial matches in recent history at the 2018 US Open.  The winner today will be the favorite in Saturday’s championship match, as Serena vies for her 24th Major, and Osaka for her fourth out of the last nine.  Serena is 15-1 when advancing to this stage of the Australian Open, while Naomi is 10-0 in the quarters, semis, and finals of Majors.

In the other women’s semifinal, Jennifer Brady has achieved her second consecutive semifinal at a hard court Slam, and looks to reach her first Major final against Karolina Muchova, who is a making her Slam semifinal debut.  And the first men’s semifinal also takes place on Thursday, with 17-time Major champion Novak Djokovic facing one of the most shocking Slam semifinalists in the Open Era.

Each day during this fortnight, this preview will analyze the day’s most prominent matches, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule.  Thursday’s singles semifinals will begin at 2:00pm local time on Rod Laver Arena.

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Serena Williams (10)

Osaka leads their head-to-head 2-1.  Naomi claimed their first meeting three years ago in Miami, which was only Serena’s fourth match back after child birth.  Of course they met later that year at the US Open, with Osaka prevailing in a final where Serena and the chair umpire dominated the headlines.  Their most recent encounter was 18 months ago in Canada, where Serena earned her first victory over Naomi.  Both women have played extremely well this fortnight, and escaped near-losses in the fourth round: Osaka against Garbine Muguruza, and Williams against Aryna Sabalenka.  And they’ll both feel extra stress on this day, not only because of the caliber of their opponent, but knowing the winner will be a heavy favorite in the final.  It’s rare that a player has the serving and power advantage over Serena, but that just may be the case in this matchup.  Osaka’s first serve speed has averaged a bit higher than Serena’s, and she’s out-aced Serena during this tournament.  As Patrick McEnroe highlighted on ESPN, it’s Serena’s consistency and improved movement that could be the difference against Osaka.  Coming out of the pandemic, Serena has spoken of putting less pressure on herself to win her 24th Major, and feeling more relaxed on court.  And she’s moving better now than she has since becoming a mother.  I don’t think Serena will be denied on this day.

Jennifer Brady (22) vs. Karolina Muchova (25)

Unlike Williams and Osaka, these semifinalists did not receive a day of rest, and are both coming off three-set battles just yesterday where they came back from a set down.  Muchova’s victory came with some criticism.  She took an extended medical timeout when down a set and a break, as she was struggling in the heat.  When she came back on court, the match totally turned in her favor.  Thursday is forecast to be another hot day in Melbourne, which could easily impact Muchova’s play once again.  Karolina also has no experience at this stage of a Major, compared to Jenn who played an excellent semifinal against Osaka less than six months ago at the US Open.  Muchova is the better returner, and possesses more of an all-court game, while Brady is a great server, owns a potent forehand, and isn’t as bothered by the heat.  On a hot day in Melbourne, I like Brady’s chances of reaching her first Slam final.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Aslan Karatsev (Q)

This is Djokovic’s 39th Major semifinal, and he’s accumulated 301 match wins at Slams in his career.  Meanwhile, this is not only Karatsev’s first Major semi, it’s his first Major altogether.  Until last summer, the 27-year-old Russian had never been ranked inside the top 150.  But after the tour restart in August, he went 26-6 at all levels, and is projected to move up to 42nd in the world with this semifinal run.  Could he pull off the improbable and advance to the finals in his Major debut?  It’s possible, as he possesses a powerful and consistent ground game, and has thus far appeared unbothered by the magnitude of what he’s accomplished.  And Djokovic is at less than 100%, as he’s been battling an abdominal injury.  But upsetting the eight-time champion of this event, who is 16-0 in semis and finals on this court, is a monumental task.  And one has to assume Karatsev will be feeling the weight of this moment in what is by far the biggest match of his life.  Djokovic should advance rather comfortably to his ninth final in Melbourne.

Other Notable Matches on Day 11:

In the men’s doubles semifinals, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek (9).  Mektic and Pavic are undefeated since teaming up this season, and they defeated Dodig and Polasek in the final of Antalya last month.

In the mixed doubles semifinals, Barbora Krejicokova and Rajeev Ram (6) vs. Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans (WC).  Krejicokova and Ram are both still alive in the women’s and men’s doubles draws respectively, and both own Major titles.  Australians Sanders and Polmans have never before advanced this far at a Slam.

Thursday’s full order of play is here.

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beats Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina came back from 1-3 in the opening set and converted four of the ten break points to claim a 7-5 6-2 win over Hubert Hurkacz in 1 hour and 34 minutes at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Hurkacz went up a break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Davidovich Fokina broke back in the fifth game at 15 and held serve to draw level to 3-3. Hurkacz saved a break point in the seventh game to hold serve after two deuces. Davidovich Fokina converted his second break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Hurkacz saved three break points in the third game of the second set, but Davidovich Fokina broke twice in the fifth and seventh games at deuce to win the final four games from 2-2 securing his spot in the quarter final. 

The 21-year-old Spanish player set up a quarter final against Egor Gerasimov, who knocked out Aljaz Bedene 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 51 minutes. Bedene converted his second break point at deuce in the first game. Gerasimov broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Gerasimov closed out the first set 6-4 with a break on his opportunity in the 10th game.

Bedene went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Gerasimov broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Gerasimov earned five match points at 6-1 in the tie-break. Bedene saved the first three chances, but Gerasimov closed out the tie-break 7-4 on his fourth opportunity. 

Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Gregoire Barrère 6-0 6-3. The Spanish player built up a 6-0 2-0 lead with four consecutive breaks. Barrère came back by winning three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break in the fourth game. Bautista Agut reeled off four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-3 

Dennis Novak came back from 3-5 down by winning the final four games in the second set to beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Novak set up a quarter final clash against German Peter Gojowczyk, who came back from one set down to beat Juri Vesely 6-7 (3-7) 7-4 (7-4) 6-3 after 2 hours and 28 minutes. Gojowczyk hit 17 aces and won 86 % of his first service points. Gojowczyk saved four break points in the ninth game. Vesely earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-brek 7-3. The second set went on serve en route to the the tie-break. Gojowczyk earned one mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. The German player converted his only break point in the second game to seal the third set 6-3.

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John Isner not happy with the cut in prize money for Miami Masters

John Isner took to Twitter to raise some issues about the ATP and latest state of affairs in Tennis.

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John Isner (@usta - Twitter)

The American took to social media to vent his frustration saying it doesn’t make sense.

 

John Isner took to twitter today after hearing the news that the Miami Open will be cutting its prize money down with the singles champion only taking $300,110 with a first round loser only winning $10,000 in prize money.

Isner and many other players on tour believe the tournament should be forced to due an audit to truly reveal what their finances are and to see if they are hiding anything.

“How about a true audit to see how much tourneys are actually hurting and then a money formula after the event to reconcile?”

“Amazing we still don’t have this in a lot of our big events. How does that make any sense?” 

He also tweeted about the promoters saying the system the ATP uses is broken.

The American also spoke of the unfairness in the cuts the players are taking in comparison to the actual events.

“So players should take a 60% cut and 80% champions cut while ATP executives keep full salaries, benefits, and expense accounts? Make that make sense. Seems just a little bit hypocritical, don’t ya think?”.

Isner finally believes the players should benefit from the tournament not just in the short term but over a long tenure.

““Tennis is plagued by conflict and lack of transparency”

The tournament is scheduled for March 23rd at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and the tournament has confirmed they won’t be doing a quarantine like the Australian Open.

The players will need to provide a negative PCR test to board a flight to the US and once they land they will be tested once again and isolate until a negative result is shown.

The players will only be allowed at the hotel and the venue and any player who doesn’t respect the rules will be subject to penalties and be withdrawn from the tournament.

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Novak Djokovic’s Father Accuses Serbian Media Of Promoting ‘Ugly News’ Started By English Journalists

Srdjan Djokovic has defended his son by making a series of claims and describes him as a godlike figure to many.

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The father Novak Djokovic has hit out at the media in both his home country and the western world for not giving enough respect towards his son over the past decade.

 

Srdjan Djokovic has spoken out about the treatment of the 18-time Grand Slam winner less than a week after he triumphed at the Australian Open. On Sunday Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win the tournament for an historic ninth time in his career. On the same day as the triumph it was confirmed that he played the tournament whilst suffering from a tear in the abdominal area.

Despite Djokovic’s recent success, Srdjan believes the world’s media doesn’t praise the achievements of his son enough and focuses too much on the negative side. In the past the tennis star has been under fire over the Adria Tour which he co-founded and the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) aimed at supporting his peers on the Tour.

“The agony has been going on for 10 years and they have extended it for another year, instead of surrendering nicely and realising Novak is the best in the world and let it go. Novak is incomparable,” Srdjan told Kurir.rs.

Continuing to express his frustration further, Srdjan has accused Serbian journalists of not ‘glorying and celebrating’ Djokovic. Alleging that his country’s media are promoting what he describes as ‘ugly news’ which originated from England.

“There’s always something wrong. And you journalists in Serbia, ask yourself when you will have such a miracle as Novak. Why don’t you glorify and celebrate him, through his character and work – look at this, you journalists need to ask yourself, you are actually generating public opinion and that is what is required of you,” he said.
“But all the evils and upside down are on the front pages and successes are put aside. I guess something will change, you know if I let someone tell me, come on, do this, do that … Why are you transmitting that ugly news stated by journalists from England, why are you transmitting it in our media, let them do what they want and we do what we want.”

Besides the media, Djokovic’s father also claims that ‘every normal person in the world’ loves the world No.1 who he describes as a ‘deity.’ A word used to describe god or goddess. He attributes the support from Chinese fans as to why Djokovic has enjoyed success in the country. He has won a total of 11 ATP titles in China.

Srdjan also took aim at the lack of recognition the 33-year-old receives for his charitable actions through his own foundation and his support of his peers.

“He is not only fighting for himself and his interests, but for other tennis players who can barely make ends meet,” he stated.
“We record something about all of Novak’s nice manners during his entire career, how he says goodbye to the opponent, how he is towards the host, how he extends his hand and kisses the opponent when he loses. Which athlete does that?
“Rarely has anyone ever received an award for fair play, and you know how many such awards Federer has – about fifteen.”

Recently journalist Milomir Marić has claimed the Western World wants to prevent Djokovic from becoming the best tennis player in the world. Although it is unclear as to what evidence he has used to make this statement. However, Srdjan believes it is only a matter of time before his son becomes the GOAT.

“They will not stop because they must understand that Novak is finally the best tennis player of all time and they will have to accept that because it is a fact and he comes from Serbia,” he concluded.

The men’s all-time Grand Slam title tally is currently jointly held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who have 20 each. Next month Djokovic will break Federer’s record for the most weeks spent as world No.1 on the ATP Tour.

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