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

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Naomi Osaka on Friday in Melbourne (twitter.com/WTA)

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.

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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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