(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz - UBITENNIS
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(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz

UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta analyses the Miami Open final where a brand new Masters 1000 champion will be crowned.

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Jannik Sinner - ATP Miami 2021 (via Twitter, @atptour)

Earlier this year Jannik Sinner and Herbert Hurkacz were on the same side of the court playing doubles on the ATP Tour. However, today in Miami they will be facing off against each other with the biggest title in their careers at stake. Both players have already shown impressive tennis in the tournament with 19-year-old rising star Sinner fighting back from a set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Poland’s Hurkacz has beaten three top 10 seeds en route to the final.

 

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Ons Jabeur Acknowledges Mental Toughness Ahead Of Charleston Semi-Finals

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in her mental game as she heads into her fourth WTA semi-final in Charleston.

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Ons Jabeur (@VolvoCarOpen - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in the mental parts of her game after reaching the Charleston semi-finals.

 

The Tunisian comfortably beat Coco Gauff 6-3 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the last four in Charleston.

It was a dominant performance from the world number 28 who broke on six occasions to set up a semi-final against Danka Kovinic.

However yesterday’s win was also evidence that Jabeur’s mental toughness has improved as in 2020, the Tunisian was 0-5 in quarter-final matches and 0-2 against Gauff having lost in Lexington and Rome to the American teenager.

Speaking after the victory, Jabeur admitted that it was nice to settle those demons last night, “Maybe this year is a revenge year for me,” Jabeur told the WTA website.

“Honestly, mentally-wise I’m much better. I’m getting there. I had my opportunities against her last year. She’s a great player. I know exactly what I’m going to face and I was ready for the battle.

“I’m glad that I’m playing good now. I know that clay is amazing and I gotta say, I have been enjoying sliding a lot lately. It’s the best part of the clay. I like the green clay. It’s different than the red clay but I like it. The bounce is not too high, it’s not too low. It’s a good balance for me.

“I’m just trying to play my game. I’m trying to enjoy after a very tough start to the season. A lot of expectations. I’m really glad I got to prove myself this week and I’m in the semi-finals.”

Jabeur will look to continue her good form in 2020 which saw her climb into the world’s top 30 and end the season with a 27-11 win-loss record.

Saturday will be Jabeur’s fourth WTA career semi-final and her first since 2019 where she reached the last four in Tianjin.

The meeting with Kovinic will be the first WTA Tour meeting of their career although Jabeur won their meeting on the ITF circuit in Budapest in 2018 6-2 6-1.

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The Grand Field Has Disappeared In Charleston

Covid 19 has left a large foot print on the landscape of women’s professional tennis known as the WTA Tour.

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Charleston, S.C., started off with a grand field for its $500,000 Volvo Car Open. Former Grand Slam champions and current top 20 players were numerous. Even world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was in the field.

 

But now the tournament has reached its semifinals with four players all ranked outside the world’s top 20. This group of survivors isn’t really accustomed to playing in the later rounds of WTA Tour tournaments.

UNKNOWN TOUR VETS TAKE OVER CHARLESTON

No, these four are not newcomers to the tour. You might call them tour veterans. They’ve been around for awhile. They just haven’t experienced a great deal of success.

Where did the likes of recent Grand Slam champions Barty and Sofia Kenin, and multi-Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza go so quickly? Maybe they needed more time to tour the world-renown seaside city of Charleston.

They left a bunch of unknowns for the job of determining the winner of the Volvo Car Open. The two finalists are guaranteed to be a 23-year-old and a 26-year-old. All four are right-handers, and three of them pound the ball from the baseline.

KEEP AN EYE ON JABEUR

Not that Ons Jabeur hits only moon balls from the baseline, but the 26-year-old Tunisian has the most diverse game of the semifinalists. She must practice drop shots in her sleep. She can drop-shot with anyone.

Just ask young Cori Gauff, who fell victim to Jabeur’s mix of delicate touch and raw power in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Jabeur in the Volvo quarterfinals on Friday.

At No. 28, Jabeur is the highest ranked of the semifinalists. She’s only 5-6, but she can play this game. At first glance, she might look like she’s incapable of covering the court. But don’t be fooled. She’s a rocket that can turn delicate at any time.

SUNDAY’S FINAL MIGHT HOLD THE SECRET

Look for big things from Jabeur the next few years, just maybe starting with Sunday’s final of the Volvo Car Open. 

First, Jabeur has to get by another 26-year-old, Danka Kovinic of Montenegro who is ranked just 91st in the world. The 5-7 Kovinic got some good practice in her three-set quarterfinal win over gritty 5-4 Yulia Putintseva.

The 23-year-olds in the other semifinal are go-for-brokers Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Paula Badosa of Spain. They’ll hit outrageous winners, yet unthinkable wild shots, the way they did in surprising straight-set upsets of former Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Barty on Friday, Badosa taking care of the suddenly erratic Barty.

Badosa has several interesting features: she’s a striking 5-11 and wants to follow in Maria Sharapova’s style, she was born in New York City and she won the 2015 Junior French Open.

You may never hear from these four young women again, or Charleston might make them stars the way it has so many other WTA Tour players.

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James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com and search for James Beck.

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Lorenzo Musetti’s Run Ended By Djere In Cagliari

Sonego, Fritz, Basilashvili, join Serb in semi-final line-up.

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Laslo Djere (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Italian teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti’s run at the Sardegna Open was ended by Laslo Djere in an error-strewn match played out in tricky conditions.

 

The 19-year-old, who has looked in supreme form this week and ousted top seed Dan Evans in a second round thriller on Thursday, appeared to run out of steam in the deciding set as the Serb ran out a 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.

The strong gusts that have blown across the centre court all week at the Cagliari Tennis Club appeared to have saved their best efforts for this encounter, as both men seemed to be affected by the tricky conditions. Djere particularly struggled on his serve, offering up 8 double faults, but he was still able to take control of the final set as his young opponent faded.

Musetti will no doubt still be pleased with his work in Sardinia. He will be one to watch next week as a Wild Card at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he has been drawn against Aslan Karatsev in the first round, with a potential second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, third seed Lorenzo Sonego ensured there would still be an Italian representative in the last four as he came through against Yannick Hanfmann 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. The German started impressively and had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Sonego then recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the ensuing tie break to level proceedings, before going on to seal the win.

In the semi-finals Sonego will have the chance to gain revenge for his defeat in Doha last month to Taylor Fritz. The American second seed came through 6-3 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Aljaz Bedene.

Fritz appeared to be cruising at a set and a break up, with his opponent struggling to make an impact on the gangly American. It left Bedene somewhat uncharacteristically venting his frustration, but this seemed to work for the Slovenian as he was able to break back. It was Bedene’s serve that let him down at a crucial moment, two double faults at 3-3 helping to hand Fritz another crucial, and ultimately decisive, break.

The final semi-final spot was claimed by Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 under the floodlights in the final action of the day. Struff has struggled for form so far in 2021 but had looked solid so far this week, and the match-up led to some predictably entertaining rallies. After a tight first two sets, Doha champion Basilashvili was able to take advantage of some Struff errors early in the third, surging to a 3-0 lead. Despite a mini-fightback from the German, Basilashvili clung on to book a Saturday meeting with the unseeded Djere.

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