Australian Open Day 8 Preview: Italian Men and American Women Challenge Top Seeds - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 8 Preview: Italian Men and American Women Challenge Top Seeds

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Matteo Berrettini is looking to reach his second Major quarterfinal (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Three American women and two Italian men will play on Rod Laver Arena and vie for a spot in the quarterfinals.

 

Two of those American women are unseeded, and will look to upset top five players.  The other was a semifinalist at the last hard court Major, and may be a favorite to repeat that result this week.  The men from Italy will also face top five seeds, in a 20-time Major champion and a 22-year-old from Greece.  And two Russian men are just one round away from a highly-anticipated quarterfinal clash. 

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

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Jessica Pegula – 11:00am on RLA

Both women are yet to lose a set, despite facing some stiff competition: Svitolina in Coco Gauff, and Pegula in Victoria Azarenka.  And both women have improved as the tournament has progressed.  Svitolina allowed Yulia Putintseva only four games in the last round, and Pegula dropped just four games across her last four sets.  Their only previous match was just last month in Abu Dhabi, with Svitolina winning in straight sets.  The 26-year-old American has an aggressive ground game, and has practically broken opponents at will.  Through three rounds, Pegula has earned 16 breaks of serve.  This is new territory for Jessica, who is making her debut in the second week of a Major.  Svitolina’s second serve points won was below 50% in her first two rounds, so it will be crucial to keep that closer to the 71% she achieved in the third round.  Based on their recent encounter, and Svitolina’s advantages in the movement and experience departments, Elina should be able to reach her third quarterfinal in Melbourne.

Jennifer Brady (22) vs. Donna Vekic (28) – Second on RLA

25-year-old Brady has become one of the WTA’s most impressive performers since the tour restart last summer.  She won her first WTA title in Lexington, then achieved her first Slam semifinal, pushing eventual champion Naomi Osaka to the limit in an excellent match.  And Brady dominated during the first week here, with no opponent winning more than three games in a set.  Jen has a great serve and a formidable forehand, resulting in only one break of her serve thus far, and a total of 66 winners.  Vekic survived a grueling match with Kaia Kanepi two days ago, saving match points in an emotional comeback victory.  This is Donna’s fourth time in the round of 16 at a Major, but this appearance is quite a surprise, as she came into this event on a six-match losing streak.  Brady will be the one who can better dictate play, and should be able to control whether her destiny includes a spot in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Fabio Fognini (16) – Not Before 3:00pm on RLA

Nadal leads their head-to-head 12-4, with a 6-1 edge on hard courts.  But Fognini’s only win on this surface was significant.  It came at the 2015 US Open, when Fabio became the only man to defeat Rafa from two sets down at a Major.  In those last three sets, the Italian simply redlined and hit the 20-time Slam champ right off the court.  In his recent autobiography, “Warning: My Life Among the Lines,” Fognini described Nadal as “A volcano energy explosion, guided by discipline and method.”  So Fabio has the utmost respect for Rafa, but with four previous victories, he also believes he can beat him.  Nadal came into this tournament with lower back issues, though he’s seem rather unbothered.  Rafa has not dropped a set, and has gone back to his normal service motion as his back has improved.  And Nadal is 12-0 in his last twelve fourth round matches at this event.  I like Rafa’s chances to make that a baker’s dozen on Monday.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Shelby Rogers – Not Before 7:00pm on RLA

These two just played 11 days ago at this same venue, with Barty prevailing in a 10-point tiebreak after they split the first two sets.  There’s been some concern regarding the wrapping on Ash’s hamstring, and she pulled out of the doubles event last week.  But the world No.1 appeared unhampered two days ago in a solid win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.  Like the other American women in action today, Rogers is currently playing the best tennis of her career.  She’s coming off a quarterfinal run at the last hard court Major, when she upset Petra Kvitova in a third set tiebreak.  The 28-year-old also defeated Serena Williams last summer in Lexington, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Thus far, Rogers has won an impressive 80% of first serve points.  If Shelby can maintain that level against Ash, she’s fully capable of upsetting Barty, especially with the Australian at less than 100%.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Matteo Berrettini (9) – Last on RLA

The big question in this matchup is how Berrettini will feel after enduring pain in his rib area during the third set against Karen Khachanov two days ago.  The 24-year-old Italian was able to overcome the injury and defeat the Russian in three consecutive tiebreaks.  Tsitsipas overcame a stern five-set test from Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, but otherwise has only dropped nine games in six sets played.  Both players have been in strong form since the start of the ATP Cup two weeks ago.  They played in the first round of this event two years ago, with Tsitsipas winning in four tight sets.  They also met in the second round of qualifying at the 2017 US Open, with Stefanos advancing in a deciding set tiebreak.  If Berrettini is healthy, this should be another good battle today.  Though based on their past, and considering Matteo’s injury, Tsitsipas must be favored.

Other Notable Matches on Day 8:

ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old American who also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon three years ago.  Medvedev has won his last 17 matches, though he required five sets to finish off Filip Krajinovic on Saturday.

Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Casper Ruud (24).  Both men had excellent 2020 seasons: Rublev with 41 wins and five titles, and Rudd with 22 wins and one title.  Andrey is 2-0 against Casper, with both matches taking place within the last two years on clay.

In what should be a highly-entertaining affair, Elise Mertens (18) vs. Karolina Muchova (25).  Mertens claimed their only previous meeting in straight sets, four months ago on this same surface.  Neither woman has dropped a set through three rounds.

Monday’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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