Wimbledon Daily Preview: A Rematch of the 2018 Gentlemen’s Singles Final in the Second Round - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: A Rematch of the 2018 Gentlemen’s Singles Final in the Second Round

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Novak Djokovic has eyes on his record-tying 20th Major singles title (twitter.com/Wimbledon)

Rain has dampened the grass as well as spirits through the first two days of The Championships.  The tournament is considerably behind schedule, with 48 first round matches still to be completed.  And Centre Court play on Tuesday saw some heartbreaking scenes, as both Adrian Mannarino and Serena Williams were forced to retire after slipping on the grass.  Thankfully, dryer conditions are forecast for the next few days at SW19.

 

On Wednesday, world No.1 Novak Djokovic will open play on Centre Court for the second time this week, against the man he defeated in the 2018 final, Kevin Anderson.  Also, five-time Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion Venus Williams faces recent Birmingham champ Ons Jabeur.  And the 2020 Roland Garros women’s champion Iga Swiatek takes on the runner-up of this event from 11 years ago, Vera Zvonareva.  Finally, late in the day, Court 18 will host what should be two highly-competitive matches featuring top 10 seeds.

Each day of the fortnight, this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time on all outer courts, 1:00pm on No.1 Court, and 1:30pm on Centre Court.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Kevin Anderson – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Djokovic leads their head-to-head 9-1.  Anderson’s only victory came 13 years ago at the Miami Open in their first meeting.  Aside from the 2018 Wimbledon final, their most notable encounter also occurred at this event.  In 2015, Djokovic came back from two sets down to prevail 7-5 in the fifth.  The South African has been sidetracked by injuries in recent years, and is now ranked outside the top 100.  Kevin is just 5-5 at tour level this season, and was 0-2 at Majors before his first round win.  Djokovic surprisingly dropped the first set on Monday to young British prospect Jack Draper, but I expect he’ll be in top form on Wednesday, and be able to comfortably take out the former runner-up.  Plus, Novak hasn’t lost in the second round of Wimbledon since 2008, which is also the year of Anderson’s only win over Djokovic.

Ons Jabeur (21) vs. Venus Williams – Third on No.1 Court

On Tuesday, Venus needed nearly three hours to overcome Mihaela Buzarnescu, her first win since February’s Australian Open.  Venus has made plenty of history throughout her historic career, and her opponent today is a fellow trailblazer.  Two weeks ago in Birmingham, Jabeur became the first Arab woman to ever win a WTA title.  The 26-year-old owns 30 victories this season, and sits at a career-high ranking of No.24 in the world.  Jabeur’s eclectic game would seem well-suited for this surface, though she is 2-3 lifetime at The All-England Club.  This will be her first time playing Venus, and facing the five-time champion, who owns 90 wins at this event, can be a daunting task.  But considering recent results, and the amount of time Venus spent on court just 24 hours earlier, Jabeur is considerable favorite to prevail.

Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Vera Zvonareva – Fourth on No.2 Court

This is another fascinating, first-time matchup between an accomplished veteran and one of the WTA’s best players of the last 12 months.  Swiatek is 34-10 since last summer, and debuted inside the top 10 last month.  Zvonareva reached back-to-back Major finals in the summer of 2010, left the sport in 2015, and has gradually climbed back up into the top 100 since returning to competitive play four years ago.  Vera won the women’s doubles event at last September’s US Open, and was a semifinalist in her home country at March’s St. Petersburg Open.  She remains a tricky, persistent opponent, but doesn’t possess the offensive weapons of Swiatek.  The 20-year-old should be able to reach the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in her young career.

Andrey Rublev (5) vs. Lloyd Harris – Fourth on Court 18

Last January in the final of Adelaide, Rublev crushed Harris 6-3, 6-0.  That was the second consecutive title for Andrey, and the beginning of an exceptional run for the Russian, who has won more matches since that time than anyone else in the sport.  But Harris has made significant progress in his career during the past 18 months.  Earlier this year, he came through qualifying to reach the championship match in Dubai.  And most impressively, he’s 5-0 this season against top 20 opposition.  However, none of those victories have come at Majors.  While there have been questions regarding Rublev’s ability to continue his success on this surface, he seemed fully comfortable on the grass of Halle earlier this month, where he advanced to the final.  Harris may provide a stern test, but Rublev is still the favorite to advance.

Karolina Pliskova (8) vs. Donna Vekic – Fifth on Court 18

These players just met in the first round of the French Open, where Pliskova was able to defeat Vekic in straight sets.  Karolina has claimed all four of their matches, though this remains the one Major where Pliskova has never been beyond the fourth round.  And Karolina has struggled since the tour restart in August: outside of her two runs to the final in Rome, she’s just 14-15.  Vekic was a top 20 player as recently as last year, but she too has struggled of late, and underwent knee surgery earlier this season.  Donna has achieved some good results at this event: she reached the round of 16 in 2018, and took part in a high-quality, dramatic affair with Jo Konta, which she eventually lost 10-8 in the third.  Pliskova seems overdue for a run into the later rounds of The Championships, considering her powerful serve and groundstrokes.  But her play has been so up-and-down in recent months, so a fifth win over Vekic is not a sure thing.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Guido Pella – Berrettini was the champion of Queen’s Club 10 days ago.  Pella was a surprise quarterfinalist when Wimbledon was last staged in 2019. 

Elina Svitolina (3) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck – Svitolina advanced to the semis here two years ago, while the 27-year-old from Belgium reached the fourth round in 2018.  Their only previous meeting was six years ago at Indian Wells, where Svitolina prevailed in three.

Karolina Muchova (19) vs. Shuai Zhang – Both players advanced to the quarters at SW19 in 2019: Muchova in her debut, and Shuai after going 0-5 in her first five appearances.  Last October in Ostrava, Muchova dropped only two games to the 32-year-old from China.

Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Katie Boulter (Q) – Sabalenka struck a staggering 48 winners in her straight set win on Monday.  Boulter is a 24-year-old Brit who reached the quarterfinals of Nottingham two weeks ago.

Andy Murray (WC) vs. Oscar Otte (Q) – Murray is looking to win back-to-back matches at tour level for the first time since last summer.  Otte survived the second-ever 12-all tiebreaker in a match that spanned the first two days of this tournament.

Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Madison Brengle – Kenin claimed their only previous meeting in a third-set tiebreak, three years ago at the US Open.  Brengle saved four match points in her opening round against another American, Christina McHale.

Maria Sakkari (15) vs. Shelby Rogers – Sakkari reached her first Major semifinal earlier this month in Paris, where she lost a heartbreaker 9-7 in the third to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova.  Rogers upset Petra Kvitova at last year’s US Open on her way to the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Looking For Experience After Splitting With Coach

Emma Raducanu revealed her post-US Open plans as she prepares for life on the main WTA tour.

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Emma Raducanu (@CambridgeAwe - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu is looking for more experience in her team after splitting from her short-term coach Andrew Richardson.

 

The US Open champion revealed the news at the ‘homecoming party’ set up at the National Tennis Centre in London where the Duchess of Cambridge was present.

Speaking at the event Raducanu said that she needed more experience as she will now play on the main tour on a regular basis, “At this stage of my career I really need someone that has had that WTA Tour experience at that high level,” Raducanu was quoted as saying by the BBC website.

“Especially right now as I’m so new to it, I think I really need someone just to guide me who has already been through that themselves. “Never did I even dream of winning the US Open and now I’m ranked 22 in the world, which is pretty crazy to me.”

Richardson was always a short-term arrangement with him now committed to improving his 10 year-old son.

As for Raducanu she is now 22 in the world and faces unfamiliar territory in playing a full-time schedule.

After winning the US Open as a qualifier, Raducanu has received unlimited amount of attention and expectation which is something she will need guidance with.

Now Raducanu will set out a schedule in the next few days with the Brit set to return as early as Indian Wells which starts on the 6th of October, “I got back on court a few days ago, and yesterday I did a full training day,” she explained.

“I was feeling pretty good about myself and my game, and I am very excited to compete again. All the opportunities I am getting have been very fun, but where I really want to be is on the tennis court, as I’m just thriving out there.

“I haven’t decided on my schedule yet – I will decide in the next few days where I am going to go to – but wherever I play next, I’m going to make sure I’m ready. I don’t want to jump into things too early.”

Should the 18 year-old make a strong end to the season then she could make the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

Although she is 14th in the race, players such as Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka could miss the event and it’s something that is on the back of the mind of Raducanu, “The WTA Finals I would never even dream of before, because it was just so far out of reach and out of sight, but coming reasonably close to it now, I think it would be great if I qualified,” she admitted.

“But if not, it’s a complete bonus, because my priority is just putting in the best possible pre-season that I can, so I can start strong next year and next season.”

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Berrettini pulls off comeback win over Auger Aliassime at Laver Cup

Matteo Berrettini contributed to a 3-1 overall scoreline for Team Europe over Team World after day one of the Laver Cup.

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Matteo Berrettini (@LaverCup - Twitter)

The Italian fought back from a set down to beat the Canadian and give team Europe a commanding lead.

 

In the longest match in Laver Cup history so far Matteo Berrettini needed a match tiebreak to beat the world number 11 and good friend Felix Auger Aliassime 6-7, 7-5, 10-8 in a match that lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

The Italian hit 15 winners and served seven aces while the Montreal native hit 37 unforced errors in the loss.

“I was fighting and I felt the match was really hard and Felix (Auger-Aliassime) was playing well and he didn’t give me anything and he made no mistakes and he was serving really well and I felt a different energy because we are playing for a team, not just myself and they helped me a lot”.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Italian with the first two breakpoints of the match but the Canadian was able to save both and hold serve.

The next game was a rollercoaster and the Montreal native responded by earning four chances to break and after 13 minutes finally made the breakthrough to take a 4-2 lead.

At 5-3, the world number 11 found himself with two set points but failed to convert and the Italian fought back and got the break back and at 6-5 the Canadian had five more set points but again the Italian saved all five and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Auger Aliassime got the early break to take a 2-0 lead and that break was enough for him to finally serve out the first set and take a 1-0 set lead. The world number seven was keen to bounce back and had two early chances to break at 1-1 but the Canadian saved both and held serve once again.

The very next game it was the Montreal native turn to apply the pressure on the Berrettini serve but the Italian managed to save both breakpoints he faced and held serve.

At 5-5, the Canadian kept pushing earning two more break points but couldn’t get the breakthrough, and the very next game the Rome native pounced and managed to get the crucial break to win the second set and force a match tiebreak.

The breaker was extremely tight until 3-3 when the Canadian managed to get the break and jumped out to a 5-3 lead before losing two straight points and the breaker was even at five.

Once again the world number 11 got the break again and was up 7-5 but again lost two straight points and we were even at seven and then at 9-8 Berrettini with the rally of the match sealed the win with a great passing shot.

After the match in his post-match interview, the Italian was asked about being selected to play doubles in the night session.

“I am going to be honest when they told me I would be playing singles and doubles I didn’t expect to play a match that long so I spoke with the captain and we will see but I am still young”.

Day 1 results

Casper Ruud got the ball rolling for Team Europe as he beat the American Rielly Opelka in the first match of the day in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 to give his team the first point of the tournament.

In the first match of the night session Andrey Rublev gave Team Europe a convincing 3-0 lead as he came back to beat the Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 in the match tiebreaker.

Finally in the last match of the day Team World got their first point as the duo of John Isner and Denis Shapovalov came back from a set down to beat the doubles pairing of Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev 4-6, 7-6, 10-1.

Day 2 preview:

Day 2 features some amazing matchups in both the day and night session with Stefanos Tsitsipas starting the day against the Aussie Nick Krygios before John Isner takes on Alexander Zverev.

In the night session Denis Shapovalov takes on the US Open champion from Russia Danil Medvedev with another doubles match wrapping things up as the team of Andrey Rublev and Tsitispas will take on John Isner and Nick Kyrgios.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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