Melbourne Summer Series Daily Preview: 89 Matches Scheduled for Wednesday - UBITENNIS
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Melbourne Summer Series Daily Preview: 89 Matches Scheduled for Wednesday

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Home favorite Ash Barty, earlier this week in Melbourne (twitter.com/WTA)

With all six tournaments now underway simultaneously at Melbourne Park, the order of play is overflowing with great matchups.

 

In Wednesday’s ATP Cup matches, the next generation takes center stage, with six top 12 players under the age of 25.  In the day’s WTA 500 matches, 10 of the world’s top 15 players will be in action.  And in the ATP 250 events, the top eight seeds in both singles draws play their opening matches. 

This preview will narrow down the scheduled 89 matches to the most prominent ones to watch throughout the day. 

Wednesday’s ATP Cup matches will be played on Rod Laver Arena and John Cain Arena starting at 10:00am local time.  The WTA 500 and ATP 250 events will begin at 10:30am on the outer courts, and at 11:00am on Margaret Court Arena, 1573 Arena, and Court 3.


The ATP Cup, a Round Robin Team Event between 12 Nations

Top Players: All of the ATP top 10 will compete except the injured Roger Federer.

Sascha Zverev (GER) vs. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) – Second Match on RLA

They’ve split four previous meetings, with Shapovalov taking the last two.  That includes a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory last year at this event.  Shapovalov played well yesterday despite losing two tight sets to Novak Djokovic.  This is Zverev’s first match since going 1-2 at the ATP Finals.  Milos Raonic will be a favorite in the tie’s other singles match against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs. Gael Monfils (FRA) – Second Match on JCA

They’re only previous meeting was an epic, when Berrettini outlasted Monfils in a fifth set tiebreak in the 2019 US Open quarterfinals.  Matteo was stellar yesterday, winning both singles and doubles in straight sets.  Gael is 0-4 since the tour restart last summer.  And who knows what could happen during the other Italy/France singles match, featuring Fabio Fognini and Benoit Paire.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. Alex de Minaur (AUS) – Not Before 7:00pm on RLA

De Minaur is coming off a title run in Antalya to start the year, but suffered a tough loss yesterday at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut, in a match that lasted nearly two-and-a-half-hours.  And Alex is 0-3 versus Tsitsipas, who is playing his first match since going 1-2 at the ATP Finals.  In the other singles match, John Millman should easily prevail against Michail Pervolarakis, who is ranked 462nd in the world.

Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN) – Not Before 7:00pm on RLA

Medvedev comfortably dispatched of Diego Schwartzman yesterday.  He’s 2-2 against Nishikori, who has only played six matches since August of 2019 due to injuries and the pandemic.  Andrey Rublev will be favored against Yoshihito Nishioka in the other singles matchup. 


The Yarra Valley Classic, a WTA 500 Event

Top seeds: Ash Barty, Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza

Ash Barty (1) vs. Marie Bouzkova (16) – Second Match on MCA

In her first match yesterday in nearly a year, Barty looked sharp.  Ash has never faced Bouzkova, who earned wins last year over Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta.

Sofia Kenin (2) vs. Jessica Pegula – Second Match on 1573

Kenin only played one set on Tuesday, as Camila Giorgi retired after dropping the first set.  But playing this fellow American will be tricky.  Pegula was a finalist in Auckland last year, a champion in Washington two summers ago, and is 2-0 against Kenin.

Garbine Muguruza (6) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (11) – Fourth Match on Court 13

This is a rematch from last year’s Australian Open quarterfinals, when Muguruza prevailed in straight sets.  Overall Garbine leads their head-to-head 5-1, with Pavlyuchenkova’s only victory coming on clay. 

Serena Williams (5) vs. Tsvetana Pironkova – Not Before 6:30pm on MCA

They just played a few months ago in the US Open quarterfinals, with Serena coming through in a tight three-setter.  They were scheduled to play again a few weeks later at Roland Garros, before Serena withdrew due to an Achilles injury.  While Pironkova is 3-1 against Venus Williams, with two memorable upset wins at Wimbledon, she’s 0-5 against Serena.

Petra Kvitova (4) vs. Nadia Podoroska (14) – Fifth Match on Court 7

Kvitova survived a tough battle late last night against Venus Williams.  Podoroska was a hugely-surprising semifinalist at last fall’s French Open, but she only owns four tour-level wins in her career on hard courts.

Karolina Pliskova (3) vs. Danielle Collins (13) – Last Match on MCA

Both of these power players have easily advanced thus far this week, and have previous success down under.  This will be their first career meeting.


The Gippsland Trophy, a WTA 500 Event

Top seeds: Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka, Johanna Konta, Iga Swiatek

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Katie Boulter – First Match on MCA

Osaka looked great yesterday in her first match since her US Open triumph.  She’s 2-0 against Boulter, a 24-year-old Brit ranked 371st in the world who upset Coco Gauff on Tuesday.

Elina Svitolina (3) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (13) – First Match on 1573

Svitolina has won 19 of her last 23 matches, with two titles.  Ostapenko is vying to win three consecutive matches for the first time since 2019.  Jelena is 2-1 against Elina, though Svitolina took their most recent encounter, two years ago on a hard court in Doha.

Elise Mertens (7) vs. Caroline Garcia (12) – First Match on Court 7

This may be one of the best matches on this incredibly busy day.  Mertens was one of the WTA’s winningest players last season, but she lost a thrilling contest to Garcia at the French Open, 7-5 in the third.  Caroline has claimed all three of their previous clashes.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Laura Siegemund (16) – Third Match on MCA

Halep has only lost one of her last 19 matches, though she’s 1-2 against Siegemund.  All three of those matches took place on clay. 

Iga Swiatek (6) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova (9) – Third Match on Court 13

Halep’s only recent loss came at the hands of Swiatek, who got off to a rough start yesterday against Kaja Juvan, but ran away with the last two sets 6-2, 6-1.  Iga has never faced Alexandrova, who went 16-7 on hard courts last year. 


The Grampians Trophy, a WTA 500 Event

Top seeds: Belinda Bencic, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Rybakina, Maria Sakkari

Jennifer Brady (7) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova – Third Match on Court 8

Brady was the breakout star of last year’s US Open, playing an excellent semifinal against eventual champion Naomi Osaka.  Since the tour restart last summer, the American is 13-4 on hard courts.  Kuznetsova was victorious in their only career meeting, a year ago in St. Petersburg.

Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Katerina Siniakova – Fifth Match on Court 8

A few months ago in Rome, Siniakova crushed a seemingly-disinterested Kerber on clay in Rome 6-3, 6-1.  The three-time Major champion much prefers hard courts over clay.  And Kerber has claimed all three of their other previous meetings.


The Murray River Open, an ATP 250 Event

Top seeds: Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Borna Coric

Stan Wawrinka (1) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin – Second Match on Court 3

This is Wawrinka’s first match in three months, since he reached the Paris Masters quarterfinals with an impressive win over a red-hot Andrey Rublev.  Stan is 2-2 lifetime against Kukushkin, though they haven’t played since 2014.


The Great Ocean Road Open, an ATP 250 Event

Top seeds: David Goffin, Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner

David Goffin (1) vs. Carlos Alcaraz – Sixth Match on 1573

Alcaraz is a 17-year-old Spanish teenager who has already created a lot of buzz.  He reached seven lower-level finals last year, winning five of them.  And he is coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero, who won Roland Garros just a few weeks after Alcaraz was born.  Goffin lost his last five matches of 2020, and spoke of how the pandemic impacted him mentally.  But David rebounded by winning three matches last month in Antalya.    


Wednesday’s full order of play is here.

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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Friday Delivers Several Blockbuster Quarterfinals

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Seeing fans back in the stands was a welcome sight on Thursday in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

But will we be able to see those quarterfinals on Friday?  The forecast in Rome looks rather rainy, especially later in the day, so it may be challenging to complete play.

 

In men’s singles, two of the quarterfinals feature four of the top six players in the world.  Only one day after a three-and-a-half-hour epic against Denis Shapovalov, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal must face Madrid champion Sascha Zverev, who defeated him in the quarters just last week.  And five-time Novak Djokovic takes on Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has claimed 17 of his last 20 matches on clay.

In women’s singles, two-time champion Elina Svitolina plays a Roland Garros champion for the second consecutive day.  On Thursday, Svitolina took out Muguruza in straight sets.  On Friday, she’ll do battle with Iga Swiatek, who has won 12 of her last 13 on clay.  Another French open champ, Ash Barty, will play 17-year-old Coco Gauff for the first time, as Coco looks to upset a seeded player for the third round in a row.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play begins at 10:00am local time.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Sascha Zverev (6) – Not Before 12:00pm on Center Court

What will Nadal have left after Shapovalov took him to the limit on Thursday?  Zverev will certainly be the fresher player, and will walk onto court with plenty of confidence.  While Rafa claimed their first five meetings, Sascha has now grabbed their last three, and all in straight sets.  That includes his victory just seven days ago in Madrid, which is part of Zverev’s current seven-match win streak.  And during that span, he’s dropped only two sets.  

In recent years, the quarterfinals of this event have been a stumbling block for Nadal.  He’s lost in the quarters four out of the last six years.  It’s difficult to ever refer to Rafa as an underdog on clay, even when he’s behind in a match.  However, he just might be the underdog on this day.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Iga Swiatek (15) – Not Before 6:00pm on Center Court

Svitolina has been solid yet unspectacular in 2021.  She’s accumulated a 19-8 record, though she hasn’t reached a final since last September in Strasbourg.  As of today, Swiatek has compiled a record of 16-5, which exactly matches her record from 2020.  The reigning French Open champ also won the title in Adelaide this past February.  This will be their first career meeting, and it will be interesting to see how the defense skills of Svitolina match up with the more offensive style of Swiatek. 

Elina won this tournament in 2017 and 2018, so this may be the best venue for her to elevate her season.  And despite Iga’s great successes early in her career, this is the farthest she’s ever been at a WTA 1000 event.   Notably, this is scheduled to be the last match of the evening session on Center Court.  If the match gets onto court, it will likely be played in slow, wet conditions.  Even though Swiatek thrived in cooler weather last fall at Roland Garros, those conditions should favor the game of Svitolina.  And Elina has a huge edge in experience at this level, as she looks to reach her 12th WTA 1000 semifinal.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Djokovic leads their head-to-head 4-2, and 2-0 on clay.  That includes their most recent clash last October at Roland Garros, when Tsitsipas came back from two sets down, only to lose in five.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Coco Gauff – Barty is now 27-4 on the year, and is vying for her fifth semifinal.  Gauff is yet to reach a semifinal this season, but this week she’s played her best tennis in quite some time, taking out both Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka.

Karolina Pliskova (9) vs. Jelena Ostapenko – Pliskova has advanced to the championship match in Rome each of the last two years.  This is Ostapenko’s second quarterfinal here, and her first in three years.  Pliskova is 4-3 against Ostapenko, and prevailed when they met last month on clay in Stuttgart.

Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Lorenzo Sonego – Rublev is already playing for his 30th win of the year.  Sonego survived an over-three-hour battle with Dominic Thiem, which ended at 11:00pm local time on Thursday night.  Last October in the final of Vienna, Rublev took out Sonego 6-4, 6-4.

Petra Martic vs. Jessica Pegula – Prior to this week, Martic hadn’t won three consecutive matches since last year’s US Open.  Pegula continues to take her career to new heights, as she’s set to debut in the top 30 next week.  The 27-year-old American upset Naomi Osaka two rounds ago.  When they played on clay two years ago in Charleston, the match went to Martic in three sets.

Reilly Opelka vs. Federico Delbonis (Q) – Opelka defeated Aslan Karatsev on Thursday to reach his second Masters 1000 quarterfinal.  For 30-year-old Delbonis, this is his first-ever quarterfinal at this level.  Opelka and Delbonis have never played before, but whoever wins will make their Masters semifinal debut.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome

Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.

 

The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.

Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.

Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.

This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.

A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.

In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.

After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.

Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.

Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.

Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.

After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.

Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.

Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.

Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.

In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.

The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.

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