Wimbledon Daily Preview: Roger Federer Plays the Last British Man Standing - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Roger Federer Plays the Last British Man Standing

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Roger Federer during his second round win over Richard Gasquet (wimbledon.com/AELTC/Ben Solomon)

A day after Brits Dan Evans and Andy Murray went down in defeat on Centre Court, Cameron Norrie will have to overcome the eight-time champion in order to reach the second week.  Also on Saturday, US Open champion Marin Cilic challenges US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev.  And Felix Auger-Aliassime looks to join his close friend and fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the round of 16, but the dangerous Nick Kyrgios stands in his way.

 

On the women’s side, the Roland Garros finalists will both play eclectic opposition.  Barbora Krejcikova won both the singles and doubles events in Paris, and has now won 20 straight matches in both disciplines.  In the third round, she faces Anastasija Sevastova, who reached the second week of the US Open in three consecutive years.  And French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova takes on fellow top 20 seed Karolina Muchova, who advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open in February.

Each day of the fortnight, this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’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.  With rain forecast through much of the day, outer court action may be severely delayed.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (16) vs. Karolina Muchova (19) – 11:00am on Court 18

Following the disappointment of losing her first Major final, Pavlyuchenkova lost her only match prior to this fortnight.  However, that was to eventual Eastbourne champion Jelena Ostapenko, so it was far from a bad loss.  The Russian has easily advanced to this stage, and would certainly enjoy celebrating her 30th birthday on Saturday with her third victory over Muchova.  After achieving her first Major semifinal in Melbourne, Karolina didn’t play for over two months due to injury.  But she bounced back quickly by defeating Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari in Madrid, before falling to Pavlyuchenkova in the quarters.  That’s one of two previous meetings between these players, both of which have gone to Anastasia.  But on the grass of The All-England Club, where Muchova was a quarterfinalist in her only previous appearance, her all-court makes her a slight favorite to gain her first win over the French Open runner-up.

Barbora Krejcikova (14) vs. Anastasija Sevastova – Second on No.3 Court

Roland Garros champ Krejcikova in on a 14-match win streak in singles.  And she knows how to win at The Championships.  Inspired by her mentor and former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, Barbora won the women’s doubles event here three years ago.  The same cannot be said for Sevastova.  While she’s reached the second week of every other Major at least once, she was 2-7 lifetime at this event prior to this week.  But her unorthodox style, paired with her defiant spirit, has lead to five top 20 wins in her career at Slams.  Before this year, Krejcikova had never won a singles match at Wimbledon.  However, considering her current confidence level, Barbora is a significant favorite to reach Manic Monday.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (16) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Second on No.1 Court

Their only previous meeting also took place on British grass.  It occurred two years ago at Queen’s Club, where Auger-Aliassime prevailed 7-5 in the third.  Felix is certainly the player who is more match tough, with 22 wins this season, and an appearance last month in the final of Stuttgart on this surface.  By contrast, this is only Nick’s third tournament in the past 16 months, and his first outside Australia since the pandemic began.  But Kyrgios claims he doesn’t need match play, and states he could still beat half the draw without any recent competition.  He backed up those words by winning a thrilling five-setter over Halle champion Ugo Humbert in the opening round.  This will likely be a tight contest decided by a few tiebreaks, between two players with great first serves.  However, playing eight matches since February of last year is not a recipe for reaching the second week of Wimbledon for the first time since 2016, or for winning pivotal points at the end of close sets.

Roger Federer (6) vs. Cameron Norrie (29) – Second on Centre Court

25-year-old Norrie is having a fantastic season.  The left-hander has accumulated 31 match wins, and appeared in three finals over the last 10 weeks alone.  This is now his fourth consecutive third round appearance at a Major.  However, he’s never been farther, and is only 1-5 this year against top 10 players.  And of course, playing Roger Federer on Centre Court in front of your home country is quite an unnerving task.  While Roger has been far from his top level since returning from two knee surgeries, his comfortable victory over Richard Gasquet on Thursday may help him settle into this tournament.  And the last lefty not named Nadal to defeat Federer was Albert Ramos Vinolas in 2015.  Roger should easily advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon for an astounding 18th time. 

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Marin Cilic – Third on No.1 Court

Much as he did on clay, Medvedev appeared quite frustrated during his opening round loss on grass in Halle.  But now he’s on a six-match win streak, coming off his title run in Mallorca.  It was three years ago at this event when Cilic’s career took an unfortunate turn.  The runner-up a year prior, Marin let slip a two-set lead, losing in five to Guido Pella, a player who had never won a match at Wimbledon before that year.  Over the next few seasons, Cilic would lose almost as many matches as he won.  And it’s been nearly three years since he’s appeared in a Slam quarterfinal.  But when Marin returned to grass last month in Stuttgart, he played some of his best tennis in years to earn his first title since 2018.  Medvedev grabbed their only other matchup, two years ago in Washington.  But if Cilic serves well, he just might be the favorite at an event where he once reached four consecutive quarterfinals, and where Medvedev is yet to proceed beyond this round.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Ash Barty (1) vs. Katerina Siniakova – Barty has not looked her best through two rounds.  Siniakova reached the final just last week in Bad Homburg, and could meet her doubles partner Krejcikova in the next round with a win over the world No.1.

Angelique Kerber (25) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich – Kerber won that event in Bad Homberg, and survived a grueling, highly-entertaining matchup against Sara Sorribes Tormo on Thursday.  Sasnovich reached the fourth round here in 2018, when she upset Petra Kvitova in the first round.

Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – It’s amazing Fritz is even playing, much less winning, considering he had knee surgery just a few weeks ago.  But Zverev is playing very well, and is yet to drop a set.

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Aljaz Bedene – Berrettini is on a seven-match grass-court winning streak, and is the only seed remaining in his eighth of the draw.  The Italian is 2-1 against Bedene, which includes a four-set victory at this event two years ago.

Hubert Hurkacz (14) vs. Alexander Bublik – Hurkacz lost six straight matches after winning the Miami Open, but has rebounded by claiming two straight-set victories this week.  Bublik upset another top 20 seed, Grigor Dimitrov, in the last round.  And last year in Dubai, Bublik defeated Hurkacz in their only previous encounter.

Coco Gauff (20) vs. Kaja Juvan – Gauff is vying to reach the fourth round of The Championships for the second straight time.  Juvan is a 20-year-old from Slovenia ranked outside the top 100.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Alja Tomljanovic – Ostapenko outlasted Daria Kasatkina on Thursday 8-6 in the third.  Tomljanovic is playing in her 27th Major main draw, but this is only her second time advancing beyond the second round.

Saturday’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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