And will eight-time champion Novak Djokovic be able to play after suffering an injury on Friday?
Rod Laver Arena will be the court to watch on Day 7, featuring seven Major singles champions who own a total of 49 Slam titles. That of course assumes Novak Djokovic takes the court on Sunday, as he felt as if he tore his oblique muscle during a five-setter against Taylor Fritz in the third round. And three other fourth round singles matches on Margaret Court Arena may also prove to be quite compelling.
Each day during this fortnight, this preview will analyze the day’s most prominent matches, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule. Sunday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.
Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Garbine Muguruza (14) – 11:00am on RLA
This will be the first career meeting between the 2019 champion and the 2020 runner-up. Osaka has now won her last 17 completed matches, while Muguruza has claimed 15 of her last 19. Neither woman has dropped a set this week, as both have dominated all comers. Osaka has allowed her opponents just 13 games, while Muguruza has allowed only 10. This has the feel of a Major final, but in reality it’s a fourth round encounter. Through three rounds, Osaka has won 80% of first serve points, and only been broken twice. Comparatively, Muguruza has won 74% on her first serve, and been broken just once. Naomi is the slightly better server, and the better mover, though this match will likely be decided by slim margins. It may come down to who is stronger mentally at the crucial moments. I can’t wait to see which champion that is.
Aryna Sabalenka (7) vs. Serena Williams (10) – Not Before 1:00pm on RLA
This is another first-time matchup between two extremely powerful women who love to bludgeon the ball. And just like Osaka and Muguruza, neither of these women have lost a set to this stage. Sabalenka has prevailed 18 of her last 19 matches, with three consecutive titles before arriving in Melbourne. Serena is 15-3 since the tour restart last summer. The 23-time Major singles champion played an ugly first set two days ago against Anastasia Potapova, but escaped it and comfortably won in straights. Serena’s second serve points won is an important stat to keep an eye on. In her first two matches, she won 57%, but that dropped dramatically to 32% in her third round. Serena needs to get that back up above 50% against Sabalenka, which is where Aryna’s percentage has averaged. And notably, Sabalenka hasn’t allowed any of her opponents to reach 50% of second serve return points won. It would also help Serena to get a higher percentage of first serves in, as she’s at 60% through three rounds. Sabalenka is an extremely aggressive returner and will look to control Serena’s second serve points from the start. But Serena is excellent at elevating her game in big moments, so I expect her to be extremely sharp today. And Sabalenka could easily be pretty tight in her first match against the GOAT, and as she tries to reach her first Slam quarterfinal. That’s advantage, Serena.
Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (18) – Not Before 3:00pm on RLA
On Friday, Thiem played 42 more games than Dimitrov. Dominic of course took part in a thrilling five-setter with Nick Kyrgios, coming back from two-sets-to-love down. Grigor was up 6-0, 2-0 when Pablo Carreno Busta retired due to injury. But Thiem actually spent less than three-and-a-half hours on court, so he should be relatively fresh on Sunday. Dimitrov has been quietly moving through this draw, without dropping a set. And Grigor leads their head-to-head 3-2, and 3-1 on hard courts. Dimitrov’s last two victories came on fast-playing hard courts, most recently at the 2019 Paris Masters. But Thiem’s confidence on this surface has increased substantially over the last few seasons, and he’s still the favorite in this battle of one-handed backhands.
Simona Halep (2) vs. Iga Swiatek (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on RLA
Four months in the fourth round of Roland Garros, Swiatek crushed Halep 6-1, 6-2 in just 68 minutes. But in their only other previous encounter, a year prior in the same round of the same event, Halep walloped Swiatek 6-1, 6-0 in just 45 minutes. I suspect this meeting will be much more competitive. After Simona escaped near-defeat in the second round against Ajla Tomljanovic, she bounced back strongly, allowing Veronika Kudermetova only four games on Friday. Meanwhile, reigning French Open champ Swiatek has comfortably won her last 10 matches at Majors in straight sets, with no opponent winning more than four games in a set. Surely Halep will arrive on court with some revised tactics to counter Swiatek’s recent brilliance, as Simona has one of the best coaches in the sport, Darren Cahill. But Iga has spoken of how her work with a full-time sports psychologist has helped her enormously, and her mentality on court is usually much more positive than Halep’s. Based on Swiatek’s recent level of play, I’m not betting against her.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Milos Raonic (14) – Last on RLA
If Djokovic is able to play, he couldn’t ask for a much more favorable round of 16 matchup. He’s 11-0 lifetime against Raonic, taking 26 of 29 sets. And the rallies shouldn’t be quite as grueling against the big-serving Canadian as they would against many other opponents. Milos has reached the quarterfinals or better in Melbourne five of the last six years, but this matchup has been a terrible one for him. So this match will come down to just how hampered Novak is by his injury.
Other Notable Matches on Day 7:
2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova (19) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh, who is 0-3 lifetime in the fourth round of Majors, but claimed her only previous meeting with Vondrousova last month in Abu Dhabi 7-6 in the third. Vondrousova’s run to the French Open final is the only time she’s advanced beyond this round at a Slam.
20-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (20) vs. Aslan Karatsev, a 27-year-old Russian who had three career ATP match wins prior to this week. He’s made a shocking run to the round of 16 without dropping a set, and upset Diego Schwartman in the last round. Felix defeated close friend Denis Shapovalov on Friday, and is vying for his first Major quarterfinal.
2020 US Open finalist Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Dusan Lajovic (23), who is into the fourth round at a Slam for the first time in nearly seven years. Their only two previous encounters occurred in consecutive years at Roland Garros, with Zverev winning both matches 6-2 in the fifth.
Sunday’s full order of play is here.
Petra Kvitova beats Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova to advance to the quarter final in Doha
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.
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.
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.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Gerasimov In Rotterdam Opener
The 22-year-old was made to work harder than he expected during his opening match.
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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