Wimbledon Award Wild Cards To Former Champions Andy Murray, Venus Williams - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Award Wild Cards To Former Champions Andy Murray, Venus Williams

Here is a list of which players have received passes into this year’s tournament.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray will make his 13th appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card on Wednesday by The All England Club.

 

Murray, who won the men’s title in 2013 and 2016, is currently on the comeback from a groin injury which forced him to miss three months of the Tour this season. The latest setback for the Brit who has also undergone two hip surgeries in recent years in order to prolong his career. Murray is currently participating at the Cinch Championships in Queen’s where he beat Benoit Paire in his first round match on Tuesday.

“Look, I love playing tennis,” an emotional Murray said following his win over Paire.
“Obviously, competing is why you put in all the hard work.
“The last few years, I’ve not go to do that as much as I would have liked so, yeah [it’s] just great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

Another player to receive one of the initial wild cards is Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who is currently ranked 78th in the world. The 18-year-old recently reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier and won a Challenger title on clay. Last month he broke into the ATP top 100 for the first time to become the youngest player to do so since Borna Coric in 2014.

As for the women, Venus Williams has been given entry into the main draw. At the age of 40, Williams is one of the oldest players on the WTA Tour and she has only won three out of 18 matches played since the start of 2020. She is a five-time champion at Wimbledon with her most recent triumph taking place back in 2018. It will be her 23rd main draw appearance at Wimbledon.

Regarding the British players, Jay Clarke, Liam Broady, Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart have all been awarded wild cards. So has youngster Jack Draper, who stunned Jannik Sinner at Queen’s earlier this week.

Full list of wild cards

GENTLEMEN’S SINGLES

  1. Carlos ALCARAZ (ESP)
  2. Liam BROADY (GBR)
  3. Jay CLARKE (GBR)
  4. Jack DRAPER (GBR)
  5. Andy MURRAY (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced
  8. To be announced

LADIES’ SINGLES

  1. Katie BOULTER (GBR)
  2. Jodie BURRAGE (GBR)
  3. Harriet DART (GBR)
  4. Francesca JONES (GBR)
  5. Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  6. Venus WILLIAMS (USA)
  7. Not used – Next direct acceptance
  8. Not used – Next direct acceptance

GENTLEMEN’S DOUBLES

  1. Liam BROADY (GBR) and Ryan PENISTON (GBR)
  2. Jay CLARKE (GBR) and Marius COPIL (ROU)
  3. Lloyd GLASSPOOL (GBR) and Harri HELIOVAARA (FIN)
  4. Alastair GRAY (GBR) and Aidan MCHUGH (GBR)
  5. Stuart PARKER (GBR) and James WARD (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

LADIES’ DOUBLES

  1. Naiktha BAINS (GBR) and Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  2. Harriet DART (GBR) and Heather WATSON (GBR)
  3. Sarah Beth GREY (GBR) and Emily WEBLEY-SMITH (GBR)
  4. Tara MOORE (GBR) and Eden SILVA (GBR)
  5. To be announced
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

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Australian Open Daily Preview: US Open Champions Collide in the First Round

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Emma Raducanu practicing last week in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

At the last Major, then-18-year-old Emma Raducanu completed one of the most surprising title runs in sports history.  Ranked 150th in the world, she won 10 consecutive matches over the course of qualifying and the main draw without dropping a set, and without even contesting a tiebreak.  In only her fourth tour-level event, Emma claimed her first Major title.  She has understandably lost a few matches after such a surprising, life-changing feat.  And in the opening round of the next Major, she has drawn fellow US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

 

The other shocking finalist from this past September in New York, Leylah Fernandez, will also return to Grand Slam competition on Tuesday.  WTA action also features several multi-time Major singles champions, as well as Anett Kontaveit, who was the hottest player on tour at the end of last season.

Great Britain’s biggest male tennis star, Andy Murray, is a five-time runner-up of this tournament.  Three years ago, he played what was thought to be his last match in Australia, which included an emotional sendoff after a five-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut.  But after multiple hip surgeries, Murray has returned to Australia, where just last week in Sydney, he reached his first ATP final since 2019.  At that event, he overcame Nikoloz Basilashvili in a grueling three-hour three-setter.  On Tuesday, they will meet again.

Other ATP action includes US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Roland Garros finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur.

Each day this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.   Tuesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.


Nikoloz Basilashvili (21) vs. Andy Murray (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on John Cain Arena

Since missing last February’s Australian Open due to a positive COVID test, Murray is a modest 19-16 at tour level, yet has shown consistent progress throughout that run.  At the end of last season, he earned two top 10 victories (Hurkacz, Sinner).  Basilashvili gained 35 victories in 2021, winning two titles and also reaching the final of Indian Wells.  But at the Majors, he went only 3-4.  In addition to Andy’s victory last week in Sydney, he also defeated Nikoloz in the first round of Wimbledon last June.  Both their matches have been tight, but with both going to Murray, the Brit is the favorite on this day as well.  He possesses much more variety than Basilashvili, and is eager to prove he can still be a factor at Slams.


Angelique Kerber (16) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Fourth on Kia Arena

Due to suffering from COVID-19 in December, Kerber has not played a match since Indian Wells in October.  And as Simona Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill has often stated, Kanepi is one of the last people any player wants to see as their opening round draw.  He speaks from experience: Kaia upset Simona in the first round of the 2018 US Open.  As per Tennis Abstract, that’s one of eight top 10 victories Kanepi has at Majors, which also includes a win last year here over the defending champion, Sofia Kenin.  The 36-year-old Estonian is a six-time Slam quarterfinalist, and claimed two ITF events in the second half of last year.  These players have split four previous meetings, though they haven’t played in over eight years.  Considering Kerber’s interrupted preparation for this tournament, Kanepi has a great opportunity to score another first round upset at a Major.


Alex de Minaur (32) vs. Lorenzo Musetti – 7:00pm on Margaret Court Arena

De Minaur loves this first month of the season in his home country.  He went 2-1 at the ATP Cup, earning impressive wins over Matteo Berrettini and Ugo Humbert.  He’s yet to advance to the second week of his home Slam, but that could change this week in an open section of the draw, where Casper Ruud is the highest-ranked player.  Musetti is one of many standout young Italians.  The 20-year-old started last season by reaching two Challenger finals, then coming through qualifying to be the runner-up in Acapulco.  But his results tapered off from there, losing more matches than he won for the rest of 2021.  However, his flashy style should make for a fun contrast to the speed of the Australian.  And Alex will certainly feel the pressure of competing in Australia, especially during the night session.  This could turn into one of the most compelling matches of Day 2.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Mikael Ymer – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Tsitsipas is still working to get back to 100% after undergoing elbow surgery in the offseason, which casts doubt as to whether he is ready for best-of-five competition.  Stefanos had a great 2021, accumulating 55 wins.  At this event a year ago, he earned one of the signature wins of his career: a comeback from two-sets-down over Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.  Ymer is a 23-year-old from Sweden who last year in Melbourne achieved his first appearance in the third round of a Major.  But that’s where he ran into Tsitsipas, who comfortably defeated him 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.  I would expect their meeting this year to be much closer, yet despite his recent elbow issues, the Greek remains the favorite to advance.


Emma Raducanu (17) vs. Sloane Stephens – Last on Margaret Court Arena

Since the US Open, Raducanu is only 2-4, and is another player who battled COVID-19 in the offseason.  In her only match thus far this year, she lost to Elena Rybakina 6-0, 6-1.  Considering how talented the 19-year-old is, and with the accomplished Torben Beltz now her coach, good results are assumedly ahead of her.  But they may not be immediate, as Emma tries to adjust to her new normal as a huge star, and as a Major champion.  Sloane Stephens is someone who can relate to that situation, as her 2017 US Open title run also came as a surprise, coming shortly after missing almost a year of action.  The American went just 19-18 last year, and is yet to play in 2022 after recently getting married.  But in this battle of US Open champs, Sloane should be favored.  Raducanu is going to feel much different at this Major than her last, with all the attention and expectations she is now experiencing.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Garbine Muguruza (3) vs. Clara Burel – Muguruza is coming off the third-biggest title of her career, winning the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.  She was a finalist here two years ago.  Burel is a 20-year-old from France who reached four ITF finals and one WTA final last season.

Anett Kontaveit (6) vs. Katerina Siniakova – Kontaveit ended 2021 by going 29-4, and winning an astounding four titles in just over two months.  Siniakova is the No.1 doubles player in the world, who earned significant singles victories last year over Serena Williams as well as Muguruza.  Anett leads their head-to-head 4-1, which includes two wins within the last six months.

Leylah Fernandez (23) vs. Maddison Inglis (WC) – Like Raducanu, Fernandez has struggled to immediately follow-up on her US Open run, going just 3-2 since.  Inglis is a 24-year-old Australian who at a lower-level event three years ago lost to Leylah in a third set tiebreak.

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Henri Laaksonen – With Djokovic out of the tournament, Medvedev is now the favorite, but how will he perform with that knowledge?  Laaksonen is a 29-year-old from Switzerland who advanced to the third round of two Slams last season.  During a 2019 Davis Cup tie, Medvedev defeated him in three sets.

Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Storm Sanders (WC) – Sabalenka has endured an awful start to 2022.  She is 0-2, and is dealing with some major technical issues on her serve, striking 39 double faults across those two losses.  Storm Sanders is a 24-year-old Australian who won a double stitle two weeks ago with Ash Barty.  She is seeking her first-ever singles win at a Major.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Australian Open: Women’s First Round Blockbusters on Day One

The draw for the Australian Open 2022 has been made and the schedule has also been released for opening day

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Paula Badosa last week in Sydney (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The draw for the Australian Open 2022 has been made and the schedule has also been released ahead of tomorrow’s opening day.

 

I think the battle of the American’s, Sofia Kenin vs Madison Keys is going to be a fantastic match.

On the one hand, Kenin is a Grand Slam champion having won here in Australia two years ago, beating two-time Major champion Garbiñe Muguruza.

Kenin, 23, may have reached the final of the French Open later that year, but she has largely struggled with injuries since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, Keys reached her only Grand Slam final way back in 2017 at the US Open, losing comprehensively on home soil to compatriot Sloane Stephens.

At 26-years-old, Keys, is no longer the prodigy she once was. Although her form has nosedived in recent years, the world number 87 won the Adelaide title last week to suggest she might be making a comeback.

Both players have a point to prove and hard-courts are arguably their best surface. I am expecting a decent match.

Spain’s Paula Badosa takes on Australian number two Ajla Tomljanovic, partner of men’s player and last year’s Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.

Badosa made her big breakthrough last year, rising to a high of six in the world that brought with it a first Masters 1000 victory, as she stunned Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells, in three sets.

Although, she has struggled at the Grand Slams, with a quarter-final appearance at last year’s French Open, her deepest run to date.

However, last week’s triumph in Sydney will give Badosa fresh optimism she can go deep in Melbourne.

Croatian born Tomljanovic may often stand in Ashleigh Barty’s shadow in the Australian women’s game, but she is a talented player and could cause an upset on home soil.

Next up is Belinda Bencic who takes on Kristina Mladenovic.

Swiss Bencic might be remembered by some fans as Roger Federer’s partner in crime, where she helped the 20-time Grand Slam champion win the popular Hopman Cup event in its final edition back in 2019. This backed up their 2018 victory.

Bencic has been inconsistent but still won the Dubai Duty Free Championships that same year and won Olympic Gold at last year’s COVID delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Mladenovic’s form may have plummeted but she is a former top-ten player and a seasoned doubles player, having won five-doubles Grand Slam titles.

Now at 91 in the world, she is unlikely to be a threat to Bencic, but in tennis, anything can happen.

The other matches to look out for would be Czech ace, and current French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who entertains veteran German Andrea Petkovic.

And finally, 2017 French Open champion and last year’s Eastbourne International winner Jelena Ostapenko, 24, plays Anna Schmiedlova.

The Slovakian knows how to cause an upset after big wins over Venus Williams and Azarenka at the 2020 French Open, and another upset could be on the cards.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: The First Major of 2022 Begins

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Matteo Berrettini in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

A year after this event was delayed until February due to the pandemic, the Australian Open is back on schedule in 2022.  While Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic will not be present, top names like Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and Daniil Medvedev are all playing.

 

The men’s singles draw only includes four Major singles champions (Nadal, Murray, Cilic, Medvedev).  Will this be the second straight Slam where a new Grand Slam champion is crowned?  Following the deportation of Djokovic, reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev is now the favorite.  But how will he react to that pressure?  And recent Slam finalists like Sascha Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Matteo Berrettini are eager to take advantage of this opportunity.

The women’s singles draw features 14 Major singles champions.  As the trend has been for many years, the last nine Slams have been won by eight different women.  Will someone such as Barty or Osaka assert their Major prowess, or will another new name prevail?  And how will Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez perform after their electrifying runs at the US Open?

Monday’s schedule sees three of 2021’s most improved Americans taking on top ATP names: Nadal, Berrettini, and Norrie.  WTA action includes the 2020 champion taking on a title winner from just 48 hours earlier, while another of Saturday’s champs faces the No.2 Australian.  And defending champion Osaka, as well as top-seeded Barty, will also play their opening matches.

Each day this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.   Monday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.


Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Brandon Nakashima – Second on Margaret Court Arena

With Djokovic removed from the draw, Berrettini is now the highest seed in his quarter.  Six months after reaching his first Major final, Berrettini is seeking put last year’s Australian Open disappointment behind him, when he was forced to withdraw from his fourth round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to an abdominal injury.  Injuries have unfortunately been a recurring theme in Matteo’s career.  Just two months ago at the ATP Finals, the Italian was heartbroken when an oblique injury knocked him out of the event’s debut in his home country.  In his return from injury at this month’s ATP Cup, Berrettini went only 1-2, though he did push Medvedev to three sets in a high-quality affair.  Nakashima is a 20-year-old American who won two Challenger titles last season, and reached back-to-back hard court ATP finals in July.  Brandon earned six top 40 victories in the second half of 2021.  He can definitely test the Italian No.1, but he cannot match Berrettini’s fire power, which should enable Matteo to dictate his fate.


Cam Norrie (12) vs. Sebastian Korda – Third on Kia Arena

Kia Arena is a new 5,000-seat on the grounds of Melbourne Park, and is now the tournament’s fourth-largest venue.  Norrie had a tremendous 2021, going 52-25 with two titles, including his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells.  However, he’s currently on a four-match losing streak, and went 0-3 two weeks ago in the ATP Cup.  Meanwhile, Korda rose 80 spots in the rankings last season, finishing inside the top 40.  The now-21-year-old claimed his first ATP title in Parma, and was the runner-up of the ATP Next Gen Finals.  Last January, in the Delray Beach semifinals, Korda defeated Norrie 6-3, 7-5.  Sebi is yet to compete in 2022, as he tested positive for COVID upon arriving in Australia.  With neither player currently possessing a considerable amount of momentum, 12th-seeded Norrie is the favorite to advance based on his recent success and significant edge in experience.


Rafael Nadal (6) vs. Marcos Giron – Not Before 4:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

As Gaspar Ribeiro Lanca highlighted on Twitter, this will be the first Major of Nadal’s long career without both Federer and Djokovic in the draw.  But Rafa does not arrive with much match play, which is usually crucial to his chances at a Slam.  This will only be Nadal’s fourth match since the first week of August.  He only required three wins to prevail at a lead-up event two weeks ago in Melbourne, his first tournament since undergoing a procedure to address a lingering foot injury.  Overall Rafa was 24-5 in 2021.  At this event a year ago, he let a two-set lead slip in the quarterfinals against Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Giron is a 28-year-old American who achieved a career-high ranking of No.56 this past October.  Between June and October, he reached four ATP quarterfinals.  However, upending  a player as formidable as the 20-time Major champ is a feat Marcos is yet to achieve.  But he should offer enough to resistance to reveal just how ready Nadal’s body is for this Major, in his first best-of-five match since June.


Sofia Kenin (11) vs. Madison Keys – Not Before 5:00pm on John Cain Arena

Last week was huge for the career of Madison Keys.  After going 11-15 last season, she gained her first title since 2019 by becoming the champion in Adelaide.  Similarly, Kenin also had a rough 2021, and is hoping to rediscover the form that made her 2020’s WTA Player of the Year by bringing her father back as her coach, just six months after he left her team.  Kenin has a 2-2 record thus far in 2022.  These Americans played three times in 2019, with Keys taking both of their hard court matchups.  Based on that history, and their current form, Madison should be favored to eliminate the 2020 champion. 


Paula Badosa (8) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic – Last on Margaret Court Arena

On Saturday in the Sydney final, Badosa overcame Barbora Krejickova in a third-set tiebreak after a dogged fight by both players.  The Indian Wells champ has now won 13 of her last 16 matches.  Tomljanovic advanced to her first Major quarterfinal six months ago at The Championships, but has lost almost as many matches as she’s won since that time.  And just this past Wednesday in Sydney, she was defeated by Badosa in their first meeting.  Assuming Paula is fully recovered from Saturday’s grueling final, the Spaniard should be able to eliminate the Australian for the second time in as many weeks.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Naomi Osaka (13) vs. Camila Osorio – This will only be Osaka’s fourth match since her US Open upset at the hands of Leylah Fernandez.  Osorio is 20-year-old from Colombia who ended 2021 at a career-high ranking thanks to reaching her second WTA final in October.  This is their first career meeting.

Reilly Opelka (23) vs. Kevin Anderson – Opelka achieved his first two Masters 1000 semifinals last year, and debuted inside the top 20.  Anderson has struggled to regain his level of a few years ago after battling multiple injuries.  Six years ago in Atlanta, when Reilly was ranked 837th in the world, he upset Kevin in three sets.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Lesia Tsurenko (Q) – Barty was a stellar 42-8 in 2021, and started this season by winning a WTA title in Adelaide.  Tsurenko is a 32-year-old who came through qualifying without dropping a set, and was a quarterfinalist at the 2018 US Open.  Both of their previous encounters have occurred in Australia, with each prevailing once.

Barbora Krejcikova (4) vs. Andrea Petkovic – The reigning French Open champion is coming off the aforementioned demoralizing loss on Saturday to Paula Badosa.  Last summer, Petkovic earned her first WTA title since 2015.  But she also lost to Krejcikova last summer, as Barbora was victorious in straight sets at Wimbledon.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Daniel Altmaier – Zverev accumulated 59 wins last year, and has advanced to the second week at the last eight Majors.  Altmaier is a fellow German who ended 2021 by winning a Challenger tournament in Puerto Vallarta.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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