Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev Meet in the Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev Meet in the Quarterfinals

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Rafael Nadal, on Thursday in Madrid (twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen)

The King of Clay is a five-time Madrid Open champion, though he hasn’t won this event since 2017.  Sascha Zverev is actually a more recent champion, as he raised the winner’s trophy in 2018.  And while Nadal leads their head-to-head 5-2, Zverev has claimed their last two encounters.

 

Dominic Thiem lost to Nadal and Zverev in those 2017 and 2018 Madrid finals.  He’s still looking for his first title at this event.  On Friday, Thiem faces John Isner, who has consecutively taken out two top 10 seeds in third-set tiebreaks.  Another men’s quarterfinal features two seeded players who recently won titles on clay.  The other quarterfinal sees a player whose only Masters-level wins have come on this surface, against a man who had never won a Masters match on clay prior to this event.

The women’s singles finalists, Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka, have the day off ahead of Saturday’s championship match.  Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have already advanced to the women’s doubles final, and their opponents will be determined on Friday.  In addition, all four men’s doubles quarterfinals will be contested.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the two most prominent matches of the day, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule.  Friday’s play will begin at 1:00pm local time.

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. John Isner – 1:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Thiem has been thought of as a great clay court player throughout his career, yet his two biggest titles have come on hard courts: Indian Wells in 2019, and last year’s US Open.  He’s yet to win a Major or a Masters event on this surface, though he’s a two-time runner-up at both this event and Roland Garros.  Isner’s best results have also come on hard courts, as he won the Masters event in Miami three years ago, and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon that same year.  But the 36-year-old American has now reached the quarterfinals in his last three appearances in Madrid, and achieved a semifinal in Rome four years ago, so he’s far from a slouch on clay.

They have split two previous meetings, both of which took place in 2015.  Their clay court match went to Thiem in straight sets.  The Austrian is yet to drop a set this week, while as mentioned earlier, Isner is coming off back-to-back grueling contests decided by a final set tiebreak.  Big-serving Isner enjoys playing in the high altitude of Madrid, but Thiem will definitely be the fresher man, and is the better player on this surface.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Sascha Zverev (5) – Not Before 3:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

While Zverev won their last two matches in straights sets, they both occurred on indoor hard courts, which is not where Nadal excels.  The three times they’ve met on clay, Rafa has been victorious, winning seven of eight sets played.  Nadal had advanced quite easily so far this week, though he’s faced a wild card and a qualifier.

Zverev has been battling an elbow issue in recent weeks, but he’s also yet to drop a set at this event, with solid wins over Kei Nishikori and Dan Evans.  If Sascha can tally a high number of aces, and minimize his double faults, he’s fully capable of upsetting the Spanish No.1.  However, since finding his form two weeks ago in Barcelona, Nadal has looked much more comfortable on his favorite surface.  If Rafa advances, he may find Dominic Thiem waiting for him, which would be a blockbuster semifinal.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Matteo Berrettini (8) vs. Cristian Garin (16) – Berrettini won on clay two weeks in Belgrade, while Garin won two months ago in Santiago.  Like Thiem and Isner, they’ve split their two prior matches, with the clay clash going to Garin.

Casper Ruud vs. Alexander Bublik – Ruud upset Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday, and is vying for his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal on clay.  Bublik has earned impressive victories this week over Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev.  Their only previous matchup came two years ago on a hard court in St. Petersburg, with Ruud winning in three sets.

Gabriela Dabrowski and Demi Schuurs (3) vs. Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Dabrowski and Schuurs are looking to make the final in their first tournament as a team.  Pavlyuchenkova was also a semifinalist in singles, losing to Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot (7) – Mektic and Pavic are a sensational 30-3 as a team this season, with five titles in eight events.  Koolhof and Kubot are just 8-7 during the same span.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (6) – When these teams met in Acapulco earlier this year, Granollers and Zeballos prevailed in straight sets.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Frances Tiafoe Translates Performance Into Results In Cincinnati Opener

Frances Tiafoe is hoping performances translate into results as he reaches the second round in Cincinnati.

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Frances Tiafoe (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

After producing gutsy performances in close defeats, Frances Tiafoe finally translated that into victory with a 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(5) win over Matteo Berrettini in Cincinnati.

 

The American is one of the most unique players on the tour with his potential clear to see but isn’t always known for deep tournament results.

Tiafoe’s big serve, dangerous groundstrokes and charismatic personality makes him one of the most enjoyable players to watch on tour but that doesn’t get you wins on the tour which the American has found out the hard way.

In recent years though Tiafoe has slowly been improving results and earning some big wins but has often lacked consistency in wins despite performing to his best level.

However that might be about to change as Tiafoe earned a gutsy and huge win over Matteo Berrettini in his Cincinnati opener as he came through a last set tiebreak against the Italian.

The victory may be a surprise to some but for the American it’s been coming as his recent performances have shown, “People don’t understand, obviously results haven’t really shown how well I’ve been playing. I’ve been playing some great tennis, honestly,” Tiafoe told the ATP website.

“I really just needed this. I know it’s a first-round match…. But everyone knew why I needed this against a quality player, so it was big. I know I’ve beaten a lot of these guys, but it hasn’t happened of late. So it’s one of those things where you’ve got to get over the hump. But I’m happy I get another chance to play again.”

Tiafoe will be hoping consistency can be part of his game as the end of the season approaches and there would be nothing better for the American than to make a deep run at his home grand slam at the US Open.

Next for Tiafoe will be fellow American Sebastian Korda, who he has a 3-0 head-to-head record against before potentially facing John Isner or Hubert Hurkacz in the third round.

Tiafoe’s 2022 Season So Far:

Adelaide 1: R2 (l. Kokkinakis)

Adelaide 2: R1 (l. Paul)

Australian Open: R2 (l. Fritz)

Indian Wells: R3 (l. Rublev)

Miami: R4 (l. Francisco Cerundolo)

Houston: Quarter-Finals (l. Isner)

Barcelona: R3 (l. Auger-Aliassime)

Estoril: Final (l. Baez)

Madrid: R1 (l. Garin)

Rome: R1 (l. Krajinovic)

Roland Garros: R2 (l. Goffin)

Queen’s Club: R1 (l. Wawrinka)

Eastbourne: R1 (l. Bublik)

Wimbledon: R4 (l. Goffin)

Atlanta: Semi-Finals (l. Brooksby)

Washington: Quarter-Finals (l. Kyrgios)

Montreal: R2 (l. Fritz)

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Fan Told To Leave Match At Western And Southern Open Over Size Of Her Ukrainian Flag Speaks Out

Organisers at the tournament have also issued a statement concerning what happened and why the individual was asked to leave the court.

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Image via https://twitter.com/CincyTennis/

A woman says security at the Western and Southern Open threatened to call the police if she did not leave a qualifying match after complaints were made by a Russian player about her Ukrainian flag. 

 

Lola, who is originally from Uzbekistan but now lives in America, was seen at the tournament over the weekend using a Ukrainian flag to cover herself whilst watching a match between Anastasia Potapova and Anna Kalinskaya. It is understood that one of those players, who are both Russian, made a complaint to the umpire. Prompting the official to speak directly to Lola which then resulted in a member of security getting involved.  

During an interview with Local 12 News, Lola has given her account of the incident that occurred. Saying the match was stopped twice due to a dispute over the issue. 

“’You’re not being nice. You need to put the flag away,’” Lola said she was told by the umpire. “The message I got was that it is agitating Russian players. I said, ‘I’m not putting it away.’ They kept playing for a minute or two. Then, they stopped the game again, and then the security guard came up to me and said, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to call the cops if you won’t leave.”

Russia is currently involved in a war with Ukraine after launching a military attack on the country on February 24th. A move which has prompted widespread condemnation from both the western world and the sporting world. At this year’s Wimbledon Russian players were banned from participating, as well as players from Belarus which is a country accused of supporting Russia. On both the ATP and WTA Tour’s players from both those countries are only allowed to compete as neutral athletes. 

In wake of the incident, the Western and Southern Open issued a statement saying that the size of Lola’s flag breached the tournament’s policy. Lola said she was informed about the rule 15 minutes after being asked to leave the court and was allowed back into the venue once she put her flag in the car. 

“Per the Western and Southern Open’s bag policy, as stated on the tournament’s website, flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 [inches] (46 x 46cm) are prohibited,” a spokesperson for the tournament said in an email to Reuters.
“Therefore, the patron was asked to remove the flag from the grounds and, after doing so, was allowed to remain at the tournament.”

The tournament declined to comment on the conduct of the umpire and said it is for the WTA to do so. 

Meanwhile, local charity Cincy4Ukraine say they have contacted a lawyer to see if Lola’s first amendment rights were violated. If there is a suggestion that this has been the case, a court hearing could take place should Lola want to take legal action. 

As for the Russian players involved, Kalinskaya beat Potapova 7-5, 6-1, to reach the main draw and will play Martina Trevisan. Potapova has also made it into the main draw as a lucky loser and will play Simona Halep. 

Kalinskaya, Potapova and The WTA have not publicly commented on the incident so far. 

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