Wimbledon Daily Preview: Federer Faces a Familiar French Foe - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Federer Faces a Familiar French Foe

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Roger Federer wants to see his name engraved on the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy for a ninth time (twitter.com/Wimbledon)

A round after Adrian Mannarino had Roger Federer on the brink of defeat before injuring himself and eventually retiring, Thursday sees the 8-time Wimbledon champion play another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet.  Two other Major champions, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko, are both coming off grass court titles last week, and are contenders to claim another Slam next Saturday.  However, both will take on dangerous opposition in the second round. 

 

It was two years ago at The Championships when a 15-year-old Coco Gauff made a name for herself by upsetting Venus Williams in the first round.  Now she’s a top 20 seed, and will play a three-time Major champ in doubles, Elena Vesnina.  And 2014 semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov faces one of the game’s most-improved and most-entertaining competitors, Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.  With many of these matches scheduled at the same time, multiple screens are recommended to keep up with all the action around the grounds.

Each day of the fortnight, this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’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.

Coco Gauff (20) vs. Elena Vesnina – Second on Centre Court

After her breakout 2019 season, Gauff suffered a bit from the infamous sophomore slump, especially following the pandemic tour shutdown.  But Coco has quickly rounded back into form.  On clay this season, she was a stellar 16-4, which included a title in Parma, and her first Major quarterfinal in Paris.  Vesnina returned to the tour this year after missing two years while becoming a mother.  She’s only played five singles matches in her comeback, and her two victories have come over players ranked 98th and 138th in the world.  Gauff has great memories from two years ago on Centre Court, and is a strong favorite to earn another victory on this hallowed lawn.

Angelique Kerber (25) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo – Third on No.2 Court

The 2018 champion went just 7-6 last season, but she’s rediscovered her mojo on the grass.  Last week in her home country, she won the Bad Homburg Open, which included a great semifinal victory over Petra Kvitova.  Sorribes Tormo also reached the semifinals of that event, which is the latest accomplishment in a strong 2021 for the 24-year-old from Spain.  Sara was the champion in Guadalajara, and owns three wins over top 30 players.  All of those came at the Miami Open in three sets, a tournament in which Sorribes Tormo displayed tremendous fight and stamina.  Her persistence has made her a very tough out, but Kerber should be able to overcome her on this surface.

Daria Kasatkina (31) vs. Jelena Ostapenko – Third on No.3 Court

Ostapenko raised the winner’s trophy last week in Eastbourne, her first title in nearly two years.  In the quarterfinals, she defeated Kastakina in three sets.  That was their second time meeting in Eastbourne, with both matches going to the 2017 Roland Garros champion.  Kasatkina claimed their other two tour-level encounters, though neither were on grass.  Following a few subpar seasons, Kasatkina is playing revitalized tennis in 2021, which has earned her two titles and 27 match wins.  Both players achieved success at this event in 2018: Daria was a quarterfinalist, while Jelena was a semifinalist.  Kasatkina’s diverse style of play is capable of diffusing the power of Ostapenko, who is known for becoming error-prone and visibly irritated on court.  But when Ostapenko is playing with confidence, as she is now, she’s hard to subdue.

Grigor Dimitrov (18) vs. Alexander Bublik – Third on Court 12

Dimitrov made a nice run to the quarters of February’s Australian Open, before a back injury hampered his performance against Aslan Karatasev.  Since leaving Melbourne, he’s only 6-7, and had to retire at Roland Garros due to another injury.  Thankfully, he appeared fully healthy during his first round win over Fernando Verdasco.  But in recent months, Bublik has been the better player.  Prior to this tournament, he possessed twice as many 2021 wins as Dimitrov, reaching two finals earlier this season.  The only previous meeting between these two took place in September of 2019, with Bublik prevailing in a third set tiebreak on a hard court in Chengdu.  Also in 2019, Bublik reached the final of Newport on grass.  By contrast, Dimitrov is 2-4 on this surface over the last three.  So based on recent form, both on and off grass, Bublik feels like a serious threat to upset the 18th seed.

Roger Federer (6) vs. Richard Gasquet – Third on Centre Court

Federer played a few poor sets of tennis on Tuesday, as he continues to search for the level that won him 20 Majors.  But this is a matchup that should enable him to build some momentum.  Roger leads the head-to-head against Richard 18-2, with both of Gasquet’s wins coming over 10 years ago on clay.  On grass, the Frenchman has only managed one of nine sets contested.  Overall, Federer has accumulated their last 22 sets.  And Gasquet is far from his top form, as he’s 9-7 on the year, and hasn’t advanced beyond the second round of a Major since the 2018 US Open.  While the outcome doesn’t feel in question, the comfort with which Roger is able to close out the match may be quite telling of his chances going forward in the draw.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Ash Barty (1) vs. Anna Blinkova – 22-year-old Blinkova had lost eight of her last nine matches prior to this event.  Barty hasn’t lost to a player ranked as low as Blinkova (No.89) in nearly two years, and that was a loss to two-time Major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Danill Medvedev (2) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (WC) – The second seed survived a tough first round draw in Jan-Lennard Struff.  Alcaraz is an impressive 18-year-old who reached the third round a few weeks ago at Roland Garros, and has claimed four Challenger titles on clay over the past year.

Elina Svitolina (3) vs. Magda Linette – Svitolina is 2-0 against the 29-year-old from Poland.  Both matches were decided in straight sets, though both were on clay.

Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Tennys Sandgren – Zverev easily prevailed in his opening round on Tuesday.  Sandgren advanced to the round of 16 here two years ago.  In 2017, Sascha defeated Tennys 7-5, 7-5 in Washington.

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Botic van de Zandschlup (Q) – Queen’s Club champion Berrettini has taken 19 of his last 22 matches.  His 25-year-old Dutch opponent has never been beyond the second round of a Slam.

Barbora Krejcikova (14) vs. Andrea Petkovic – French Open champion Krejcikova is on a 13-match win streak, and won the women’s doubles title here three years ago.  Petkovic is a former top 10 player who is only 4-9 on the year.

Kei Nishikori vs. Jordan Thompson – Nishikori was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in both 2018 and 2019, and on Wednesday defeated another Australian, Alexei Popyrin.  Thompson upset Casper Ruud in five sets a round ago.

Thursday’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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