Melbourne Summer Series Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday - UBITENNIS
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Melbourne Summer Series Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday




Naomi Osaka on Friday in Melbourne (

Just two days prior to the start of the Australian Open, players will vie for spots in the finals of the lead-up events.


Saturday will see the semifinals of the second annual ATP Cup, as Spain faces Italy and Russia takes on Germany.  Two WTA 500 and two ATP 250 events will also play their singles semifinals, while the delayed WTA Grampians Trophy will only present the quarterfinals, with the semifinals and final of that event scheduled for Sunday.  And with plenty of good doubles matches on the schedule, it will be another busy dark at Melbourne Park.

The ATP Cup semifinal 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 11:00am on Margaret Court Arena and 1573 Arena, and 12:30pm on the outer courts.

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

Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) – First on RLA

Struff claimed their only tour-level match, three years ago on a hard court in St. Petersburg.  But that was a different version of Rublev, not the one who grabbed five titles in 2020, and dropped just seven games through four sets this week.  Struff took part in much tighter matches during round robin play, but won them both, and helped Germany secure this semifinal spot by winning doubles on Friday.

Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. Sascha Zverev (GER) – Second on RLA

Zverev was the other half of that German doubles team.  He lost to Novak Djokovic earlier in the day 7-5 in the third, though he defeated Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday in a third set tiebreak.  Medvedev is yet to drop a set this week, and is on a 12-match winning streak.  Zverev leads their head-to-head 5-3, with all eight matches contested on hard courts.  But Medvedev won the last two, which both took place just a few months ago.

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA) – First on JCA

Fognini has never defeated Carreno Busta in seven tries.  That includes three hard court meetings, the most recent two years ago at Melbourne Park.  Pablo went 4-0 in sets this week, while Fabio went 2-2.

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) – Second on JCA

Berrettini is 3-1 against Bautista Agut, but they’ve split their two hard court encounters.  Matteo easily dispatched of Dominic Thiem and Gael Monfils earlier this week.  Roberto survived a stern test provided by Alex de Minaur, but went down to defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.

The Yarra Valley Classic, a WTA 500 Event

Garbine Muguruza (6) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (8) – Second on MCA

The winner will face Ash Barty in the championship match, as Serena Williams withdrew after defeating Danielle Collins on Friday due to a shoulder issue.  Muguruza crushed Sofia Kenin yesterday, avenging her loss from last year’s Australian Open final.  Vondrousova came through in a 10-point tiebreak against Nadia Podoroska.  This will be their first career meeting.

The Gippsland Trophy, a WTA 500 Event

Ekaterina Alexandrova (9) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Third on MCA

Alexandrova dismissed a hampered Simona Halep on Friday, and Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek a round earlier.  Kanepi was the beneficiary of a walkover yesterday from Karolina Muchova.  Earlier this week, Kaia ended the 15-match winning streak of Aryna Sabalenka.  She’s now actually on a 13-match streak of her own, coming off two ITF titles in the fall.  Alexandrova took their only previous matchup in a third set tiebreak, though that was three years ago on grass.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Elise Mertens (7) – Fourth on MCA

Osaka has now won her last 14 completed matches.  Naomi is 2-1 versus Mertens, and prevailed in their last two encounters in straight sets.  Osaka also won in straight sets last night, while Mertens survived a dramatic battle against Elina Svitolina.

The Grampians Trophy, a WTA 500 Event

Victoria Azarenka (3) vs. Anett Kontaveit (6) – First on MCA

They’ve met three times on three different surfaces.  Azarenka owns a 2-1 advantage, with Kontaveit’s victory coming on clay.  Vika saved two match points yesterday over Yulia Putintseva, while Anett has claimed all four sets played this week.

Maria Sakkari (5) vs. Angelique Kerber (8) – Second on 1573

Kerber leads their head-to-head 2-0, but Sakkari is a much improved player since they last met three years ago.  The 25-year-old from Greece is 16-6 since the tour restart, and this is now her third consecutive semifinal.  Kerber has only played eight matches over the past year, with a 5-3 record.

The Murray River Open, an ATP 250 Event

Dan Evans (8) vs. Jeremy Chardy – Second on Court 3

Evans is 0-3 against Chardy at all levels.  Their most recent meeting was in October of 2019 in Shanghai, where Chardy prevailed 6-4 in the third.  Evans earned two straight-set wins on Friday, while Chardy only needed one such win after Stan Wawrinka handed him a walkover.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (3) vs. Corentin Moutet – Third on Court 3

This is a matchup we will likely see many times in the coming years.  The Canadian has won all three of their encounters at all levels, including a decisive straight-set win at last year’s US Open, where he allowed Moutet just six games over three sets.  Both men played four sets of tennis on Friday.

The Great Ocean Road Open, an ATP 250 Event

Stefano Travaglia vs. Thiago Monteiro – Second on Court 6

The 29-year-old Travaglia upset two seeds on Friday: Alexander Bublik and Hubert Hurkacz.  Monteiro has taken out three Australians this week, as well as impressive newcomer Carlos Alcaraz.  This is their first time playing each other.

Karen Khachanov (2) vs. Jannik Sinner (3) – Third on Court 6

Their only previous match was a wild ride.  At last year’s US Open, Sinner claimed the first two sets, but then his body gave out, and he dropped 12 of the next 14 games while cramping.  The 19-year-old Italian managed to make the fifth set competitive, though he went down in a fifth set tiebreak.  Khachanov spent almost an hour longer on court yesterday.

Saturday’s ATP Cup schedule is here, and the rest of the schedule here.


Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome

The Canadian was pushed to three sets in his opening match by Filip Krajinovic.




Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of the BNL D’ Italia Masters in Rome after beating his Serbian opponent Filip Krajinovic in three gruelling sets 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.


The marathon encounter saw the Canadian hit 45 winners and 12 aces en route to victory. Avenging his loss to Krajinovic at the same tournament last year. His win-loss for the season now stands at 13-8.

” It’s always a tough match against him and I was happy I was able to win today,” the world No.20 said afterwards.

It was Krajinovic who got off to a fast start earning a breakpoint on the Montreal natives opening service game of the match and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. The Canadian responded at 2-1 earning his first two breakpoints of the match and breaking with a solid forehand winner to get the break back and go back on serve. At 3-2 the world number 20 had a chance to take the lead but it was saved by the world number 36. Nevertheless, he would go on to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the match.

Auger-Aliassime started the second set with confidence and broke the Serb’s opening service game. It stayed on serve until the world number 20 was serving for the win when he ended up getting broken to level the set at five. The very next game the Montreal native had three looks at a breakpoint but again was denied and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker stayed on serve until 4-4 when Auger Aliassime managed to get the crucial break but squandered it the following point and gave his Serbian opponent a chance to serve it out which he did following a double fault.

The third and decisive set was a roller-coaster with the Canadian holding his opening service game and than having three more breakpoints which he would convert to take another early 2-0 lead. Krajinovic would respond once again earning a breakpoint the following game and getting the break back to go back on serve until 3-3 when the Serb had his first chance to take a lead in the third set but the Canadian would come up with a huge point to save it.

The next game Auger-Aliassime would have a look at another breakpoint and this time would convert to take a 5-3 and serve for the match but struggled to close it out and the world number 36 broke serve once again.

With the Serb serving to stay in the match the Canadian increased his game to another level and managed to earn two match points. Sealing his first match win in Rome with a huge forehand winner down the line.

After the match in his post match press conference Auger Aliassime spoke about how he was able to overcome the adversity of having two chances to serve it out.

” You have to believe and be resilient at times, I wanted to win badly so I dug deep and I found a way so I am happy that I was able to find a way with all the circumstances,” he said.

Auger Aliassime will next face the number eight seed at the tournament Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine currently has a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head with their last meeting coming last October in Cologne, Germany on a indoor hard court.

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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Matteo Berrettini for the Men’s Championship




Italian No.1 Matteo Berrettini, on Saturday in Madrid (

Three years ago in Madrid, Sascha Zverev won this event, defeating Dominic Thiem in the final.  That was Zverev’s third Masters 1000 title, all earned within one year.  Sascha’s results at Majors have progressed since that time, though Sascha is yet to achieve his fourth Masters title, despite reaching three further finals.  The 24-year-old German has not dropped a set this week, which includes noteworthy back-to-back victories over the two best clay court players of the last five years: Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.


Three years ago in Gstaad, Matteo Berrettini won his first ATP title, and his first of three on clay.  The 25-year-old Italian has claimed a total of four 250-level titles, including one just two weeks ago in Belgrade.  But this marks Berrettini’s first time advancing to the final of an event outside the 250 Series, though he notably reached the semifinals of the 2019 US Open.  Matteo has taken eight of nine sets played this week, and came back from a set and a break down in the quarterfinals against Cristian Garin, winning the last 11 games of that match.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Matteo Berrettini (8) – Not Before 6:30pm

Zverev leads their head-to-head 2-1, though they’ve split their two clay court encounters.  At the 2018 Rome Masters, Zverev prevailed.  A year later at the same event, Berrettini prevailed.  Their only other meeting took place at the 2019 Shanghai Masters, which went to Sascha.  All three of their matches have been decided in straight sets.

Including his victories this week over Nadal and Thiem, Zverev is now on a three-match winning streak against top 10 opposition, ending a streak of five consecutive losses against the top 10.  Berrettini has only played two matches against the top 10 since the 2019 ATP Finals, as injuries have forced him to miss significant time from the tour.  Despite that, he’s now 16-3 this season, and currently on an eight-match win streak.

Zverev certainly has the experience edge in matches of this caliber, and has a bit more variety in his ground game, specifically his backhand.  Berrettini will look to dictate play with his powerful forehand.  Both players are capable of racking up a high ace tally, though Sascha’s second serve can be a recurring weakness.  While we’ve had two consecutive Masters events with first-time 1000-level champions crowned, Zverev should be favored to win his fourth Masters title, and his second in Madrid.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) – 3:30pm

The men’s doubles championship will also be decided on Sunday.  Mektic and Pavic are 32-3 in 2021, and looking to win their sixth title of the season.  A few weeks ago in the Monte-Carlo semifinals, they defeated Granollers and Zeballos in a deciding set tiebreak.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Sabalenka Wins 10th Career Title In Madrid

Aryna Sabalenka won her 10th career title in Madrid with a three set win over Ash Barty.




Aryna Sabalenka (@MutuaMadridOpen - Twitter)

The Belarusian beat the world number one in three sets to claim the title in the Spanish capital.


Aryna Sabalenka is your Mutua Madrid Open champion after beating the world number one and Aussie Ash Barty in three sets 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 hitting 34 winners and serving nine aces in the win.

“I’m really happy with the win, it was a crazy match and I’m really happy and it feels amazing right now”

The Belarusian got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and going right to work on getting the early break which she did the following at the second time of asking with solid return forehand winner.

The Aussie looked out of sorts and in 25 minutes the number five seed had blitzed through the first set and won it not losing a game.

The world number one was determined to stay in the match and had four chances to break in the very first game of the second set and did at the fourth time of asking to take an early 1-0 lead.

At 2-1 the number five seed earned two chances to get the break back and go back on serve and she did just that with one of her powerful forehand winners.

The very next game the Belarusian struggled on serve and gave the world number one another chance to break after a double fault and she would break again.

That break was enough for the Aussie to take the second set and force a deciding third set for the title.

The first three games went with serve and at 2-1 it was the Aussie once again with two chances to break after another double fault but the number five dug in once again and managed to save both breakpoints and hold serve.

At 4-4 it was the Belarusian turn to apply pressure on the world number one and she earned three breakpoints and she would get the crucial break with a stunning return winner.

She would serve out the match to extract revenge on her Aussie opponent for beating her the previous week in Stuttgart and on Monday will be the new world number four.

After the match in her post match press conference Sabalenka told Ubitennis how she was able to overcome the adversity of losing the second set.

“That is why she is number one, she is always trying to find a way and she did it really well in the second set, the first set was a really quick one and I was surprised and in the second set she started using the slice more and moving better and was a little bit more aggressive, it was a great level during the entire match and I am really happy that I could finish it with a win”

Sabalenka will now travel to Rome to play in the Italian Open and as of Monday will be the new world number four when the new rankings are posted which is a career-high.

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