Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Nick Kyrgios to Challenge US Open Champ Dominic Thiem - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Nick Kyrgios to Challenge US Open Champ Dominic Thiem

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Nick Kyrgios, receiving the cheers of the Aussie crowd on Wednesday (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Kyrgios played in the tournament’s most exciting match thus far, savings match points in a five-set comeback win over Ugo Humbert on Wednesday.

 

Friday is the day when seeded players begin to collide in the draw, making for some big-time matchups.  Two men’s encounters will see a battle of top 20 seeds, including one between two young Canadians who are close friends.  Also, the two most recent women’s Major champions, Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek, face two of the WTA’s breakout performers of 2020.  And with 40 Major singles titles between them, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic with play their third round matches on Friday.

Each day during this fortnight, this preview will analyze the day’s most prominent matches, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule.  Friday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Not Before 7:00pm on JCA

Nick’s epic win on Wednesday was certainly mentally and emotionally draining, though it was less than three-and-a-half-hours, which is relatively short by five-set standards.  But he’s only played five matches since last February, and has been bothered by a leg injury since last week’s tune-up event, so he’ll certainly be less than 100% physically.  Thiem is one of the fittest men in the sport, and should be fully fresh as he’s yet to drop a set this week.  They’ve only played seven games previously, with Kyrgios retiring down 4-3 in the first set six years ago in Nice on clay.  If Nick can serve big and keep this match less physical, he has a real shot.  The faster courts this year at Melbourne Park should favor Kyrgios, as his groundstroke swings take less time to set up than Thiem’s.  But the reigning US Open champion has become one of the best hard court players in the world, and should be able to get past a depleted Kyrgios.

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Ons Jabeur (27) – Not Before 1:30pm on JCA

In her press conference after her win on Wednesday, Osaka spoke of how much she likes Jabeur and respects her game.  It was a year ago at this tournament when Jabeur broke through to become the first Arab woman to reach a Major quarterfinal.  The 26-year-old from Tunisia has plenty of variety in her game, which she’ll utilize to subdue the power of Osaka.  Jabeur successfully did that against a power player at the last Slam, upsetting Aryna Sabalenka in three sets at the French Open.  This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Jabeur.  The three-time Major champion has looked extremely sharp through two rounds, dropping just eight games thus far against two tough draws in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Caroline Garcia.  Naomi should be favored to overcome another challenging opponent today.

Denis Shapovalov (11) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (20) – Not Before 7:00pm on MCA

Having a second screen available for this match is a good idea, as it’s scheduled to start at the same time as the Thiem/Kyrgios encounter.  21-year-old Shapovalov and 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime had a lot of expectations placed upon them from a young age.  Thus far Denis has achieved more success, reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open and the final of the Rome Masters.  Felix has only advanced beyond this round of a Major once, and is an alarming 0-7 in ATP finals, and 0-14 in sets.  Shapovalov leads their head-to-head 2-1, with victories in back-to-back years at the US Open.  Auger-Aliassime’s only victory came on clay.  With more experience at big events, and seemingly possessing a mental edge over his good friend, Shapovalov is the favorite to advance.

Pablo Carreno Busta (15) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (18) – Third on MCA

Here’s another clash between top 20 seeds, with a two-time Slam semifinalist and a three-time semifinalist.  They have split six previous meetings, though notably Dimitrov has easily won both of their matches on hard courts.  They haven’t played in nearly three years.  Grigor has not dropped a set through two rounds, which includes a win over former finalist Marin Cilic.  Pablo has dropped one set, though he ousted Kei Nishikori in straights on Monday.  This could easily become an extended affair, but I give the slight edge to Dimitrov.  He has dominated their previous meetings on this surface, and these fast courts should reward his more offensive-minded game.

Iga Swiatek (15) vs. Fiona Ferro – Last on MCA

19-year-old Swiatek has now won her last nine matches at a Major, and has done so without losing a single set.  She’s never before played Ferro, a 23-year-old from France who won a clay court title in Palermo last summer, and then reached the round of 16 at her country’s Slam.  Fiona impressively upset Elena Rybakina two days ago.  While she has the tools to test the Roland Garros champion today, Ferro owns a losing record in her career on this surface.  And her skills are a bit overshadowed by the all-around game of Swiatek.  I like Iga’s chances to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the second straight year.

Other Notable Matches on Day 5:

Seven-time champion Serena Williams (10) vs. Anastasia Potapova, a 19-year-old Russian ranked 101st in the world.  They played at this same event a year ago, with Serena allowing Potapova just three games.

Eight-time champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (27).  This is the second consecutive American opponent for Djokovic, who was pushed by Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday.  Novak is 2-0 against Fritz, dropping only nine games in the four sets they’ve played.

Two-time Major champion Simona Halep (2) vs. Veronika Kudermetova (32), a 23-year-old Russian who reached the final of Abu Dhabi last month. 

Two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza (14) vs. Zarina Diyas, a 27-year-old from Kazakhstan.  Their only previous meeting was last year in Shenzhen, with Muguruza prevailing in a tight three-setter.

Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Adrian Mannarino (32).  They’ve played three hard court matches over the last six months.  All of them were close, but all were won by Zverev.

Aryna Sabalenka (7) vs. Ann Li.  Sabalenka has claimed 17 of her last 18 matches, though 20-year-old Li has won 12 of her last 13 at all levels, and is 6-0 this month in Melbourne.

In a women’s doubles match featuring four top 25 singles players, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Ash Barty and Jennifer Brady.

Friday’s full order of play is here.

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Petra Kvitova beats Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova to advance to the quarter final in Doha

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Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova knocked out Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-3 to advance to the quarter finals at the Qatar Total Open in Doha. Kvitova hit 31 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

 

Kvitova saved two break points to hold serve after two deuces. Kvitova broke twice in a row to win the fisrt set 6-1. The Czech saved three of the four break points she faced. 

Pavlyuchenkova took a 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game of the second set, but Kvitova reeled off five games with three consecutive breaks to close out the second set 6-3. 

Number 8 seed Victoria Azarenka rallied from a slow start to beat German qualifier and Roland Garros quarter finalist Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-2. 

Siegemund broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Azarenka broke back in the fifth game of the first set to draw level to 3-3. Siegemund was unable to convert eight game points in a marathon seventh game featuring 12 deuces. Azarenka converted her fourth break point to take a 4-3 lead, but Siegemund broke back to draw level to 4-4. Azarenka broke again in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. 

Azarenka raced out to a 5-0 lead with three breaks, but she was not able to serve out the win on her first attempt in the sixth game. Siegemund pulled one break back in the sixth game. Azarenka sealed the win on her fifth match point with a hold in the eighth game to secure her spot in the quarter finals. 

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit cruised past three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-4 to advance to the third round. Kontaveit dropped her serve once in the entire match. 

Kontaveit went up a double break in the second and fourth games to cruise through to a 6-1 win in the opening set. The Estonian player raced out to a 4-1 lead with two consecutive breaks. Kerber pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Kontaveit held her next service games to claim the second set 6-4. Kontaveit has extended her win-loss record to 4-1 in her five head-to-head matches against Kerber. 

This year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Jessica Pegula beat 2016 Doha finalist Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 7-5. 

Pegula earned a double break in the third and seventh games to close out the first set 6-2. 

The second set started with three consecutive breaks. Pegula took a 2-1 lead with two breaks in the first and third games. Ostapenko broke back at love to draw level to 4-4 after winning 12 consecutive points from 2-4 down. 

Pegula won 12 of the last 14 points from 4-5 down to claim the second set 7-5 with a break in the 11th game.

Maria Sakkari eased past Madison Keys 6-2 6-2 with two breaks in each set. The Greek player earned an early break at love in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Sakkari converted her fourth break point after eight games to win the first set 6-2. Sakkari saved a break point and broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2.  

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Alexander Bublik pulls off the biggest win of his career as he upsets Alexander Zverev in Rotterdam

Alexander Bublik produced the biggest win of his career to reach the second round in Rotterdam.

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Alexander Bublik (@abnamrowtt - Twitter)

The Kazak world number 43 stunned the tennis world beating the number three seed and world number seven.

 

Alexander Bublik is through to the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam at the Ahoy after beating the world number seven and number three seed Alexander (Sascha) Zverev in straight sets 7-5 6-3. Bublik hit 21 winners in the match while Zverev finished the match with 20 unforced errors.

A good start for the German

Zverev hadn’t played a match since losing in the Australian Open quarterfinal vs Novak Djokovic a couple of weeks back so we didn’t know if rust was going to be an issue.

The German actually got off to a great start earning two break points in the opening game of the match and managed to get the early break and we though this was going to be the in form Zverev we are used to seeing.

At 4-3 the Kazak had a chance to go back on serve setting up two break points with a brilliant passing shot and breaking the very next point as the number three seed missed a volley at the net to even the set at 4-4.

With the world number seven serving to stay in the set the world number 43 went on the attack and managed to earn a set point with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break and take the first set 7-5 winning the next point with a great finish at the net with a overhead.

The Kazak pulls it off

After both players held their opening service games in the second set the German had a chance to take another lead and broke to take an early 2-1 lead as Bublik hit an untimed unforced error.

The Kazak would once again bounce back and this time break to go back on serve at 3-3 as the German was struggling making lots of unforced errors. The very next game he had five breakpoints to take the lead and it took him until the fifth break chance to get it done as he would break with a superb passing shot to take a 5-3 lead.

Bublik would serve out the match to take it in straights and send another seed packing. After the match Bublik gave his thoughts about the big win in an on court interview.

“Well I mean ya beating Sascha is great I guess, the match was up and down for both of us, I don’t think he played well today , I didn’t play well either, had some problems with the serve, I was a bit more consistent today, I was a bit more lucky in a few shots here and there, I believe I had more luck than he did today but I’m happy to get through”.

Bublik will face Tommy Paul in the next round with a chance to make the quarterfinals after making the final last week in Singapore and falling just short.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Gerasimov In Rotterdam Opener

The 22-year-old was made to work harder than he expected during his opening match.

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It was a tricky day at the office for Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who ousted Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov in the first round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

 

The second seed required nearly two hours to score a 7-6(4), 7-5, win over the world No.76 who reached the semi-finals of the Open Sud de France last week. Tsitsipas was tested throughout the 116-minute clash but managed to prevail with the help of 31 winners against 29 unforced errors.

“I had to play more consistently and also what I increased in the [key] moments was the speed of my ball, which felt kind of floppy before. He had a solid game, he was serving well at times. He wasn’t missing a lot, so it was difficult,” atptour.com quoted Tsitsipas as saying afterwards. “I think once I put in my head that I needed to fight and I [couldn’t] take [any] single moment for granted, things changed and I felt the confidence.”

During what was a roller coaster opening set, the second seed let out bursts of frustration as he failed to tame his opponent on the court. Tsitsipas broke for a 3-2 lead and looked to be gaining momentum after leading 40-0 in the following game. Then a series of costly mistakes from the Greek enabled Gerasimov to claw his way back and level. Much to the bemusement of the world No.6 who smash his racket on the floor out of anger at one stage.

As both players continued to exchange in lengthy rallies, a tense tiebreaker eventually separated the two. Trading mini breaks, Tsitsipas secured the breakthrough he sought a couple points later with the help of a backhand error from his opponent to move him ahead 5-4. This time he was able to consolidate the lead to clinch the opener after hitting an unreturned serve down the centre of the court.

It was a case of deja vu in the second set for Tsitsipas who saw another break advantage come and go within two games during the early stages. Once again he struggled to pull away from his rival who produced some high quality tennis that exceeded his current ranking position. Nudging ahead to a game from victory at 6-5 Tsitsipas managed to snatch the match with the help of two consecutive errors from Gerasimov.

Despite playing in Rotterdam for the fifth year in a row, it is only the second time Tsitsipas has won a main draw match at the tournament. The first time was last year against Hubert Hurkacz who he will coincidentally play against in the next round of this year’s edition.

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