Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Djokovic, Barty, Nishikori Among Players Pulling Double Duty - UBITENNIS
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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Djokovic, Barty, Nishikori Among Players Pulling Double Duty

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Ash Barty practicing in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

Wednesday’s schedule provides one of the best days of tennis you’ll see all year.  And as far as doubles is concerned, the best you’ll likely see until the next Olympic Games.  The mixed doubles event begins on Wednesday, featuring many players still alive in other disciplines.  Mixed doubles and men’s singles will play their round of 16 matches on Wednesday, while women’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles will play their quarterfinals.  With all remaining players in all five draws competing, the 28th of July boasts 28 critical matchups throughout the day, just 48 hours before medals will begin to be rewarded.

 

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

Daniil Medvedev (2) [ROC] vs. Fabio Fognini (15) [ITL] – 11:00am on Centre Court

Despite their lopsided Australian Open final earlier this year, Medvedev may be the player most likely to prevent Djokovic from winning the gold medal in men’s singles.  But they would not meet in the draw until the gold or bronze medal match.  And Medvedev first needs to deal with Fognini, who has plenty of experience upsetting top players.  As per Tennis Abstract, Fabio owns 15 top 10 victories in his career, with four of them notably over Rafael Nadal.  However, he’s now lost 12 of his last 13 matches against the top 10, dating back to over two years ago.  And unlike clay and grass, Medvedev is fully comfortable on a hard court.  Since November of last year, Daniil is a formidable 27-3 on this surface.  And he is yet to drop a set through two rounds.  All four of their prior meetings occurred on hard courts.  The Italian took their first encounter, four years ago in Cincinnati.  However, the Russian has claimed their last three, though two of them went to a deciding set.  Representing one’s country can often yield unexpected results, as we’ve already seen in this event.  But on a hard court, Medvedev is a solid favorite to reach the quarterfinals.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Ash Barty and Storm Sanders – 1:00pm on Court 6

This is a women’s doubles quarterfinal featuring the last two women’s singles Major champions.  Krejcikova and Siniakova are also three-time Slam champs in doubles, most recently winning Roland Garros.  Barty has actually reached six Major finals in doubles, though she’s only prevailed in one: the 2018 US Open, with partner CoCo Vandeweghe.  In the semifinals of that event, Barty and Vandewedge dismissed Krejickova and Siniakova in straight sets.  That was one of three victories in 2018 for Ash and CoCo over the Czech team.  A year later, the team of Barty and Victoria Azarenka went 2-1 against them.  In singles, Ash and Barbora just met a few weeks ago in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, with the Australian prevailing in straight sets.  Before Tuesday, that was Krejcikova’s only singles loss since the second week of May.  Barty and Sanders are good friends, but they are not an established team, as they regularly play with other partners.  The experience edge is decidedly with Krejcikova and Siniakova, who are 27-6 this year alone, with three titles.  As motivated as Barty is to win a medal for Australia, especially after her loss in singles, the top seeds in women’s doubles remain the favorites.  Regardless, Barty still has another chance for a medal, as she’s also in the mixed doubles draw with John Peers.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Belinda Bencic (9) [SUI] vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (13) [ROC] – It was Bencic who took out Krejcikova in singles on Tuesday.  Now she faces this year’s other French Open finalist, who has only allowed opponents seven games through six sets thus far.  Bencic leads their head-to-head 4-2, but they’re 2-2 on hard courts, with Pavlyuchenkova prevailing most recently, a year ago in Dubai.

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (16) [ESP] – Djokovic is now 36-3 on the year, and 11-0 on hard courts.  The 22-year-old Spaniard reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros last month, but when he played Djokovic a month earlier in Rome, earned only three games.  Djokovic will also play mixed doubles later in the day, with partner Nina Stojanovic.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (1) [CRO] vs. Ben McLachlan and Kei Nishikori [JPN] – Mektic and Pavic are now an absurd 50-5 this season, with eight titles.  McLachlan and Nishikori lost their only previous match this year as a team, though they didn’t drop a set in their first two rounds.  Kei will also play Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in singles earlier in the day.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) [GRE] vs. Ugo Humbert (14) [FRA] – Last year at the Paris Masters, their match was decided by three tiebreaks, with the final and decisive one going to the Frenchman.  Humbert has now won three titles over the past 18 months, though all on faster surfaces than this.  Also on Wednesday, Tsitsipas will team with Maria Sakkari against Gabriela Dabrowski and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Garbine Muguruza (7) [ESP] vs. Elena Rybakina (15) [KAZ] – This will be a slugfest between two of the WTA’s hardest hitters.  Last month on the grass of Berlin, Muguruza defeated Rybakina in straight sets.

Diego Schwartzman (8) [ARG] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – This could be one of the most competitive and compelling matches on the day.  Schwartzman has nabbed two of their three prior matches, all on hard courts. 

Paula Badosa [ESP] vs. Marketa Vondrousova [CZE] – Both players upset favorites to win this event: Badosa took out Iga Swiatek, while Vondrousova ousted Naomi Osaka.  Swiatek will get a rematch with Badosa in mixed doubles, as she teams with Lukasz Kubot against Badosa and Pablo Carreno Busta.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig [CRO] vs. Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury [GBR] – The Brits have played excellently, winning four straight sets over four accomplished doubles players.  Dodig is a five-time Major champion between men’s and mixed doubles.  He and Filip Polasek defeated Salisbury and Rajeev Ram to win February’s Australian Open.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink Talks Djokovic’s Fitness, Nearest Rivals And Future Of American Tennis

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta to discuss Novak Djokovic’s tenth Australian Open title.

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Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic won his tenth Australian Open title last week but what does the future hold for the Serb?

 

This was something that was discussed between hall of fame writer Steve Flink and UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta.

After Djokovic’s stunning straight sets win to claim a 22nd Grand Slam title, the pair discussed who the Serb’s future rivals may be for the rest of the season.

Flink stated that Alcaraz is Djokovic’s nearest challenger and would love to see them face off several times this season, “I think the smallest gap is between Djokovic and Alcaraz, I think we’ll found that out,” Flink explained.

“I think that’s what we need to see this year, Ubaldo. Is Alcaraz going to pick up where he left off last year, winning his first major, finishing the year number one. Has the temperament, has the game?

“I want to see Djokovic and Alcaraz play this year, I hope maybe 3-4 times at least and I think that could be great for the game and that maybe the biggest test would be to play the young Alcaraz who’s so fearless.”

Reflecting on the Australian Open Flink was very impressed with the way the world number one played over the two weeks especially managing his injury.

Flink thinks that Djokovic getting to world number one is a great achievement given the circumstances, “Just imagine how far ahead he would be in the rankings,” the Serb explained.

“If he had 2000 points for Wimbledon as he should have received, he’d be way way ahead of the pack. But just the fact he got back to number one which no one was really expecting since last fall is a great achievement.

“He was all along the overwhelming favourite to come back and win the Australian Open for the tenth time. However I honestly believe that he was genuinely very worried about his leg. Some people didn’t want to believe that but I definitely believed it because he got hurt in Adelaide and then you saw he was cancelling practice sessions in the middle of the leading up to the Australian Open.

“He was very worried and he kept wearing that strapping on his leg. Plus there was those medical time-outs he was taking in the earlier rounds and I don’t think it was until he played De Minaur in the fourth round that he was physically close to his best. And then from that point on he looked pretty invincible but I do think coming in he had deep concerns about his physical condition.”

Also in their chat, they discussed other rivals to Novak Djokovic such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Holger Rune and Sebastian Korda.

There was also much encouragement from Flink over the future of American men’s tennis with him comparing the current generation to the mid 1990’s, “This is the best group we’ve had since you have to go back, I mean we can look at the Roddick-Blake-Fish era and yes I mean Roddick was the last American man to win a major singles title at the 2003 US Open. And Blake was in the top five in the world and Fish had some great exploits but this group has more depth,” Flink explained.

“This is more like the mid-90’s, I’m not saying we’re going to have a Sampras, Courier, Chang, Agassi, you know the greatest American generation but all of these guys starting with Fritz and Tiafoe and then Korda who we already mentioned and Tommy Paul, his first major semi-finals despite the fact he lost to Djokovic in straight sets, Tommy Paul has burst into the top 20.

“And we’ve got an awful lot of talent in the top 50 now, I haven’t been this encouraged in a long time. I think it’s a very impressive American line-up.”

Below you can see the full video where they also discuss who has the most potential between Jannik Sinner, Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti.

Video Breakdown:

00:00: Intro

00:26: Discussion over Djokovic’s level and injury concerns at Australian Open.

3:40: Reflecting on Djokovic’s post Wimbledon form

4:38: Reflecting on Djokovic’s physical state in comparison to Nadal and Djokovic’s competition

7:23: Discussion about Tsitsipas

12:45: Further discussion about Alcaraz  

14:55: Talk about Medvedev’s disappointing form

16:32: Talk about Ruud’s style of play

18:10: Talk about Auger-Aliassime

20:24: Discussion about Holger Rune, Sebastian Korda and American Tennis

24:26: Discussion about biggest potential amongst Sinner, Berrettini and Musetti

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Andreescu edges Kostyuk to reach semis in Hua Hin

Bianca Andreescu is into the semi-finals in Thailand.

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Bianca Andreescu (@BenLewisMPC - Twitter)

The Canadian is into the final four in Thailand after beating the Ukrainian in straight sets.

 

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the semifinal of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after beating the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 in one hour and 28 minutes.

The number one seed hit 19 winners and won 69% of her first serve points in a match where she had an amazing start but was dealt some adversity in the second set.

“I don’t think I started playing bad in the second set,” Andreescu said. “I think she just raised her game and she is always a tough opponent so I wasn’t expecting anything easy.”

The Toronto native who was making her first trip to Thailand came out to a flying start breaking three times in the first set en route to serving a bagel 6-0 set in a mere 25 minutes on court.

Riding the momentum into the second set, the Canadian broke again in the first game and at 3-1 went up a double break and found herself up 5-1 and a game away from the semis.

That’s when the number five seed started fighting back and at 5-2 broke Andreescu for the first time in the match and won the next two games to level the set at 5-5, using her powerful forehand to do it.

The set and the match were ultimately decided by a tiebreaker where the top seed got the early lead at 4-2 and served out the set and match at 6-3 in the breaker to secure the win.

After the match in her on-court interview, she was asked about her chances in the next match.

“I am hoping to win the tournament and I really believe in myself and if I get the support I need hopefully I can win the next two matches.”

Andreescu will face another Ukrainian in the semi-finals Lesia Tsurenko who had no issues getting past the German Tatjana Maria in straight sets 6-1 6-1 in one hour and 16 minutes.

In the other two quarterfinal matches, Lin Zhu of China beat the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 15 minutes to set up an all-Chinese semi-final with the number seven seed Xinju Wang.

Wang needed three sets to get past the Brit Heather Watson 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes.

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