Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Wednesday Boasts a Jam-Packed Schedule with 43 Matches - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Wednesday Boasts a Jam-Packed Schedule with 43 Matches

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The grounds of Foro Italico will be overflowing with intriguing matchups on Wednesday (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

With rain forcing the cancellation of a few matches on Tuesday, the tournament will try to get back on schedule on Wednesday.  For a preview of the rescheduled contest between Daniil Medvedev and Aslan Karatsev, click here to see Tuesday’s preview.  Thankfully, Wednesday’s forecast looks rather dry.

 

In women’s singles, nine of the top 10 in the world will be in action, and a total of 10 Major champions.  The most marquee matchup features two of those Slam champs facing off, as Simona Halep takes on Angelique Kerber. And notably, Serena Williams will make her 2021 clay court debut.

In men’s singles, seven of the top 10 will play their second round matches, which does not include Novak Djokovic.  He already advanced to the third round on Tuesday despite a rain delay, and despite an explosive exchange with the chair umpire, who allowed Novak’s match to continue amidst heavy rainfall.  On Wednesday, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal will face Italian teenage phenom Jannik Sinner, in a rematch from last fall’s Roland Garros. 

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

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Jannik Sinner – Not before 6:00pm on Center Court

In the quarterfinals of last year’s French Open, Nadal prevailed over Sinner in straight sets.  That was easily Jannik’s best performance at a Major to date, as he’s just 1-4 outside of that run.  But Sinner has found plenty of success elsewhere.  Over the last six months, he won his first two ATP titles, and reached the final of the Miami Masters.  On the clay of Barcelona, he scored impressive wins over both Roberto Bautista Agut and Andrey Rublev.

Nadal won his 12th title in Barcelona, though he was in subpar form during his losses in both Monte-Carlo and Madrid.  Except for a blip in 2008 when he lost in the opening round of Rome to Juan Carlos Ferrero, Rafa has never failed to reach the quarterfinals here.  I’m curious to see if the lack of fans in the stadium impacts the Italian: will he relax in that environment, or miss the energy of the partisan crowd?  He rarely shows his emotions on court, so I’m not sure he’ll mind the quiet.  A win for Sinner would definitively be the biggest of his career, but Nadal remains the favorite in spite of some recent struggles.

Simona Halep (3) vs. Angelique Kerber – Fifth on Grand Stand Arena

Halep is the defending champion of this event, which was part of a 17-match win streak last season.  But in 2021, Simona is a modest 11-4 thus far, and is yet to reach a final, though it’s worth noting she did suffer a shoulder injury in March.  Kerber is only 7-7 on the year, and hasn’t been in the final of any event in nearly two years.  Her troubles on clay continue: since the start of 2019, Angelique is 5-6 on the red dirt.  And she’s lost in the first round of Roland Garros in four of the last five years.

These two friends, and occasional doubles partners, have had some epic battles in the past.  Their 2018 Australian Open semifinal was most memorable, when Halep outlasted Kerber 9-7 in the third after saving match points.  Overall, Simona leads their head-to-head 6-5, and they’re 1-1 on clay.  But on this surface, Halep must be favored, especially at an event where she’s advanced to the final in three of the last four years.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Serena Williams (8) vs. Nadia Podoroska – This will be Serena’s first match since her Australian Open semifinal loss to Naomi Osaka three months ago, and her first on clay since last September’s Roland Garros  That was Podoroska’s breakout event, where she made a surprise run to the semifinals.

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Jessica Pegula – Osaka has only played three matches on clay since the 2019 French Open.  Both players have achieved their best success on hard courts.  Naomi claimed their only previous meeting, two years ago in Beijing.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (SR) – Barty is coming off a loss in the final of Madrid, where she appeared to be slightly hampered by a leg injury.  On Tuesday, Shvedova earned her first tour-level win in four years, taking out Italian wild card Martina Trevisan in a third set tiebreak.  Shvedova missed several years of competition due to injury and childbirth.

Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Barbora Krejcikova – This will be Kenin’s first match without her father Alex as her coach.  Krejcikova was a doubles champion last week in Madrid, and dropped only two games in her opening match here.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Amanda Anisimova – Svitolina is a two-time champion of this event.  19-year-old Anisimova was a semifinalist two years ago at Roland Garros.  They’ve split two previous meetings, both on hard courts.

Aryna Sabalenka (7) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo – Sabalenka won her third WTA 1000 title on Sunday in Madrid.  Sorribes Tormo survived a near-four-hour marathon against Camila Giorgi on Monday night.  Sabalenka defeated Sorribes Tormo last October in Ostrava.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Marin Cilic – Tsitsipas is 10-2 on clay this season, as he won the title in Monte-Carlo and reached the final of Barcelona.  Cilic reached the semifinals of Estoril a few weeks ago.  Cilic is 1-0 against Tsitsipas, though that match occurred four years ago on a hart court.

Dominic Thiem (4) vs. Marton Fucsovics – Thiem is only 8-5 lifetime in Rome, and is currently on a three-match losing streak here.  Fucsovics advanced to the fourth round of last year’s French Open.  Thiem has taken all their prior clashes in straight sets.

Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Hugo Dellien (Q) – Zverev is coming off his fourth Masters title last week, and won this event four years ago.  27-year-old Dellien is ranked 127th in the world, and lost to Zverev 6-3 in the third when they met two years ago in Geneva.

Matteo Berrettini (9) vs. John Millman – On Tuesday, less than 48 hours after losing in the final of Madrid, Berrettini survived a three-setter against Nikoloz Basilashvili.  Millman has a losing record in his tour-level career on clay, but has impressively accumulated seven wins on this surface since last month.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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