Canada Daily Preview: A Wimbledon Semifinal Rematch Headlines on Saturday - UBITENNIS
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Canada Daily Preview: A Wimbledon Semifinal Rematch Headlines on Saturday

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Karolina Pliskova on Friday in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

The top seeds are still alive in both men’s and women’s singles, though each has a literal tall task ahead of them.  Aryna Sabalenka achieved her first Major semifinal last month at Wimbledon, and won the first set of that semi, before Karolina Pliskova took over, closing out the match 6-4 in the third.  On Saturday, Sabalenka has a chance to avenge that loss.

 

Daniil Medvedev was a finalist at the last Canadian Masters in 2019, and has been the winningest hard court player of the last 12 months.  But standing in his way is the nearly-seven-feet-tall American John Isner, who is on a nine match win streak on North American hard courts.

The other two singles semifinals feature 2018 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and three players looking to reach their first 1000-level final.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:30pm local time with men’s doubles in Toronto, and 1:00pm in Montreal with the first WTA singles semifinal.

Aryna Sabalenka (1) vs. Karolina Pliskova (4) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Montreal

Pliskova’s victory at The Championships is actually her only win over Sabalenka.  The Belarusian claimed their other two previous meetings, which occurred in 2018.  Their only prior hard court encounter came three summers ago in Cincinnati, which Aryna won 7-5 in the third.  Notably, all three of their matches have been tight three-setters.  Pliskova is one of the only players on tour that can match Sabalenka’s power, and she normally possesses a superior serve.  But in their Wimbledon semifinal, Aryna actually out-aced the WTA Ace Queen 18-14.  She also struck six more winners in that match.  The issue was exactly half of Sabalenka’s aces and winners came in the first set, and she was not able to sustain that level in sets two or three.  However, Sabalenka has reached top form the last two rounds, including a comfortable straight-set win on Friday over two-time Major champion Victoria Azarenka.  This should be another close matchup between these two, especially considering they’re both 4-0 in their last four WTA 1000 semifinals.  But I give the slight edge to Sabalenka, who should be able to dictate play a bit more than Pliskova during longer rallies.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. John Isner – Not Before 8:00pm on Stadium Court in Toronto

The only time these two players met, it was all Medvedev.  At last year’s ATP Cup, the Russian needed only one hour to put away Isner 6-3, 6-1.  But I do not think it will be one-way traffic again on Saturday.  The 36-year-old American has only dropped one set this week, and that includes wins over three seeded players.  He spent much less physical and emotional energy on court Friday than Medvedev.  John easily dispatched of Gael Monfils, while Daniil scarcely survived Hubert Hurkacz in a third-set tiebreak.  When shaking hands at the net, Medvedev even admitted to Hurkacz that Hubi was the better player on the day.  Daniil prefers to stand way back in the court when returning serve, and I’m sure he’ll take another step or two back to defend against Isner’s booming serves.  Monfils did the same on Friday, and John was frequently able to take advantage of all the open court.  While Medvedev is a better returner than Gael, standing so far back is a dangerous strategy against Isner.  The American is competing with a ton of confidence right now, and should be the much fresher player.  He has played a lot less tennis this year than Medvedev, and it feels like he’s due for a big result.  Upsetting the top seed in a Masters 1000 semifinal would be just that.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Reilly Opelka – Tsitsipas was a finalist the last time this event was held in Toronto three years ago.  Opelka is into his second Masters 1000 semifinal, having also achieved this feat earlier this season in Rome.  When they met at last summer’s Western & Southern Open, Opelka retired during the first set due to a right knee injury, in their only career meeting.

Jessica Pegula vs. Camila Giorgi – Pegula is having the best season of her career, with a 28-14 record, though this is only her second semifinal of 2021.  Giorgi was 17-34 at WTA 1000 events prior to this week, but played some of the best tennis of her career in her last two matches, upsetting both Petra Kvitova and Coco Gauff.  Their only tour-level matchup came two years ago in the final of Washington, with Pegula prevailing 6-2, 6-2.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Fan Told To Leave Match At Western And Southern Open Over Size Of Her Ukrainian Flag Speaks Out

Organisers at the tournament have also issued a statement concerning what happened and why the individual was asked to leave the court.

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Image via https://twitter.com/CincyTennis/

A woman says security at the Western and Southern Open threatened to call the police if she did not leave a qualifying match after complaints were made by a Russian player about her Ukrainian flag. 

 

Lola, who is originally from Uzbekistan but now lives in America, was seen at the tournament over the weekend using a Ukrainian flag to cover herself whilst watching a match between Anastasia Potapova and Anna Kalinskaya. It is understood that one of those players, who are both Russian, made a complaint to the umpire. Prompting the official to speak directly to Lola which then resulted in a member of security getting involved.  

During an interview with Local 12 News, Lola has given her account of the incident that occurred. Saying the match was stopped twice due to a dispute over the issue. 

“’You’re not being nice. You need to put the flag away,’” Lola said she was told by the umpire. “The message I got was that it is agitating Russian players. I said, ‘I’m not putting it away.’ They kept playing for a minute or two. Then, they stopped the game again, and then the security guard came up to me and said, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to call the cops if you won’t leave.”

Russia is currently involved in a war with Ukraine after launching a military attack on the country on February 24th. A move which has prompted widespread condemnation from both the western world and the sporting world. At this year’s Wimbledon Russian players were banned from participating, as well as players from Belarus which is a country accused of supporting Russia. On both the ATP and WTA Tour’s players from both those countries are only allowed to compete as neutral athletes. 

In wake of the incident, the Western and Southern Open issued a statement saying that the size of Lola’s flag breached the tournament’s policy. Lola said she was informed about the rule 15 minutes after being asked to leave the court and was allowed back into the venue once she put her flag in the car. 

“Per the Western and Southern Open’s bag policy, as stated on the tournament’s website, flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 [inches] (46 x 46cm) are prohibited,” a spokesperson for the tournament said in an email to Reuters.
“Therefore, the patron was asked to remove the flag from the grounds and, after doing so, was allowed to remain at the tournament.”

The tournament declined to comment on the conduct of the umpire and said it is for the WTA to do so. 

Meanwhile, local charity Cincy4Ukraine say they have contacted a lawyer to see if Lola’s first amendment rights were violated. If there is a suggestion that this has been the case, a court hearing could take place should Lola want to take legal action. 

As for the Russian players involved, Kalinskaya beat Potapova 7-5, 6-1, to reach the main draw and will play Martina Trevisan. Potapova has also made it into the main draw as a lucky loser and will play Simona Halep. 

Kalinskaya, Potapova and The WTA have not publicly commented on the incident so far. 

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova

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Serena Williams practicing on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday.  And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?

 

Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well.  Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court

This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years.  Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months.  Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022.  But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.  Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters.  Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak.  In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.


Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon.  Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation.  With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday?  She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena.  Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year.  But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena.  This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena.  That’s advantage, Emma.  But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue.  She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles.  Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles.  Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels. 

Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak.  Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul.  Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking.  He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Unfazed By Rankings Drop Ahead Of US Open Title Defence

Emma Raducanu talked about pressure as she takes on Serena Williams in Cincinnati.

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Emma Raducanu (@marioboc17 - Twitter)

Ahead of her US Open title defence in a couple of weeks, Emma Raducanu remains unfazed about her potential drop down the rankings.

 

Emma Raducanu is set to defend her US Open title in a couple of weeks after winning her maiden grand slam title as a qualifier last year.

The Brit will have 2,000 points to defend and an early exit risks a huge rankings drop in what has been a big experience for the 19 year-old this year.

Raducanu enters the last grand slam of the year without form or momentum on her side having only won back-to-back matches at three events this year.

Speaking in Cincinnati, Raducanu told the press that she is prepared to start from the bottom again if she has to, “If I lose 2,000 points so be it, I’ll start again from the bottom,” Raducanu told reporters.

“I know I can do something that no one else has done. I qualified and won the US Open, so I can start from the beginning, I can start from zero and I’m not afraid of that.

“I just think that everything that’s happening right now has probably just meant to be in my journey and I need to go through those development stages at some point because I did miss them. I went from playing 25ks to winning the US Open.”

Raducanu’s rise has been incredibly quick and the Brit will be anticipating that anything can happen over the next few months in terms of her development.

Defending the grand slam is huge pressure and it will be interesting to see if returning to the US Open will inspire her to raise her level.

Before Raducanu goes to the US Open, she competes in Cincinnati and faces 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in her opening round.

Williams is currently on her farewell tour and Raducanu admits it’s going to be an unforgettable experience to play her, “I think it’s gonna be an exciting match. I’m looking forward to it,” Raducanu said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to play probably the best the best tennis player of all time. It’s probably going to be my last opportunity to ever play her. I think that, for our careers to have crossed over, I think I’m really fortunate that I get to play her.

“Whatever happens, I think it’s gonna be a really good experience for me and something that I will remember for the rest of her life.”

The match will now likely take place on Tuesday after originally been scheduled for Monday evening.

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