Roland Garros Daily Preview: Nadal, Djokovic, Swiatek, Gauff Strive for the Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Nadal, Djokovic, Swiatek, Gauff Strive for the Semifinals

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Rafael Nadal celebrates on Monday after his fourth round victory (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

For the twelfth time, Rafael Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday.  It’s a rematch of last October’s semifinals, and a match between two men who haven’t dropped a set.  Also, in what will feel like a completely different night session, with 5,000 fans attending, Novak Djokovic will play Matteo Berrettini for just the second time.  Wednesday’s women quarterfinals also feature two players who are yet to lose a set: defending champion Iga Siwatek, and 17-year-old Coco Gauff.  They will take on two in-form players who, like Gauff, are vying for their first Major semifinal.  And notably, both of the WTA quarterfinals are first-time meetings.

 

Also on Wednesday, two women’s doubles quarterfinals will also be contested, featuring six top 50 singles players.

Coco Gauff (24) vs. Barbora Krejcikova – 11:00am on Court Philippe-Chatrier

As per WTA Insider, Coco is the youngest Major quarterfinalist in 15 years, since Nicole Vaidisova at this event in 2006.  Both women will be fully fresh on this day, as they won their round of 16 matches on Monday in less than an hour.  And both women are on nine-match winning streaks, as both claimed titles in the week leading into this tournament.  Krejcikova also advanced to the round of 16 here last autumn.  Most of Barbora’s previous success came on the doubles court, where she’s a two-time Slam champ.  But 25-year-old is an impressive 22-8 in singles this season, as she was also a finalist in Dubai.  It would not be a surprise to see Krejcikova earn the victory, though I give the slight edge to Gauff.  Coco is playing with a new level of assured confidence, and the 17-year-old American seems on the verge of greatness.

Iga Swiatek (8) vs. Maria Sakkari (17) – Second on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Swiatek is now up to 11 straight French Open matches, and 22 straight sets.  And including her run to the title in Rome, she’s on a 10-match win streak overall.  Sakkari has steadily improved her results over the last few seasons, and in the last round, she completely dominated last year’s runner-up, Sofia Kenin.  The 25-year-old from Greece is capable of controlling play and blasting winners on both sides, as she did two rounds ago against Elise Mertens, when she struck a total of 53 winners.  But I can’t picture Sakkari being able to do so against the speed, power, and confidence of Swiatek.  Additionally, the pressure of being the favorite to repeat as champion does not seem to be rattling the 20-year-old from Poland.  Iga should be able to advance to her second consecutive semifinal in Paris.

Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Diego Schwartzman (10) – Third on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Not to be outdone by his co-defending champion, Nadal has now claimed 35 consecutive sets at Roland Garros.  And he’s taken 10 of the 11 matches he’s played against his opponent today.  Schwartzman lost the first nine before finally upsetting the King of Clay last September in Rome.  But just a few weeks later at last year’s French Open, Rafa prevailed in straight sets.  Like Nadal, Schwartzman is 12-0 in sets this fortnight, though he’s also yet to face a seeded player.  And more importantly, he’s yet to face a man who is 104-2 lifetime at this event.  Diego is one of the game’s best returners, but as great as he’s played through four rounds, it’s hard to imagine him sustaining a level high enough to take three sets off Nadal.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Matteo Berrettini (9) – Not before 8:00pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

In their only previous meeting, during 2019’s ATP Finals, Djokovic won by a score of 6-2, 6-1.  Novak advanced much less comfortably two days ago, when he dropped the first two sets to another Italian, Lorenzo Musetti.  Djokovic looked a bit off during those two sets, and after the match, admitted he was nervous.  He cannot afford to get off to the same slow start on Wednesday, as Berrettini is a much more experienced player, especially in best-of-five matches.  And the 25-year-old has much better endurance than his teenaged countryman.  Other than those first two sets against Musetti, Djokovic has played rather flawlessly to this stage.  Matteo’s big serve and forehand combo are certainly dangerous, though likely not enough to take out Novak, especially on this surface.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Irina-Camelia Begu and Nadia Podoroska vs. Petra Martic and Shelby Rogers – This is Begu and Podoroska’s first event as a team, and only the third for Martic and Rogers, who also reached the quarters a few weeks ago in Rome.

Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Rybakina – Linette and Pera also advanced to the quarters in Rome, the first tournament of their partnership.  Pavlyuchenkova just defeated Rybakina in an excellent singles quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s full schedule is here.

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Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters

Novak Djokovic is into his eighth ATP quarter-final of the season.

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Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic stormed past Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3 6-1 to reach the Astana quarter-finals.

 

The Serb cruised past a valiant Van De Zandschulp to reach the last eight in Astana.

Djokovic is looking to make up significant ground as he looks to climb up the ATP rankings having missed a flurry of tournaments this year.

Next for Djokovic is Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Despite the win, the world number seven had to overcome a clean first set from his Dutch opponent, with Van De Zandschulp returning effectively.

The world number 34’s efficient baseline play saw him test Djokovic in the early stages as he forced the 21-time Grand Slam champion to Deuce in the fifth game.

However the Wimbledon champion survived the early pressure from Van De Zandschulp and went on the attack in the next game, breaking with ease for a 4-2 lead.

The Dutchman continued to apply the pressure on return but to no success as Djokovic saved a break point with bold play as he took a 5-2 lead.

That would be Van De Zandschulp’s only sign of returning threat as Djokovic served out the opening set to love in 39 minutes.

Although the Serb’s return made the headlines like always, it was his returning that was the dominant force in the second set as Van De Zandschulp found no way through Djokovic’s precise baseline game.

The former world number broke on three consecutive occasions as he claimed victory and a place in the quarter-finals of an ATP event for the eighth time this season.

After the match Djokovic praised his serve which was the key to success in Astana, “I think my serve worked very well when I needed to get out of the trouble in the first set particularly,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“There were some 30/30 games, and when I broke his serve for 4-2, I faced a break point and I came in, and he had a look at that passing shot and he missed it. The match is decided in these moments. [Between] 5-2 or 4-3 up there is a big difference, and I served well to end the first set.

“[In the] second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more. Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will now play against Karen Khachanov who defeated Marin Cilic in three sets earlier on in the day.

There was also a 6-4 6-4 victory for Hubert Hurkacz over Alexander Bublik, who is searching for a late spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

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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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