Canada Daily Preview: The Top Seeds Face Considerable Challenges on Friday - UBITENNIS
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Canada Daily Preview: The Top Seeds Face Considerable Challenges on Friday

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Daniil Medvedev during his straight set win on Thursday (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

No.1 seeds Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka have already collected several 1000-level titles each (three for Medvedev, four for Sabalenka).  But they’ll both be thoroughly tested on Friday in their quest to add another, by two recent 1000-level hard court champions.  Medvedev will take on Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz, while Sabalenka plays Western & Southern Open champ, and fellow Belarusian, Victoria Azarenka.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time.

Aryna Sabalenka (1) vs. Victoria Azarenka (8) – 12:00pm on Centre Court in Montreal

Over the last two years, they’ve played three times on hard courts, with two of those meetings occurring at the US Open.  Sabalenka leads 2-1 in their rivalry.  The one victory Azarenka earned was last summer in New York, part of an 11-0 stretch for Vika.  But since that time, Aryna has played and won a lot more matches.  Dating back to last October, Sabalenka is 46-12, with four titles.  Azarenka is 20-6 during that same span, and has withdrawn from four matches this year due to injury.  This will be a loud, blistering affair between two players that do not hold anything back.  Sabalenka is surely feeling confident coming off her first Major semifinal at Wimbledon, and she possesses the fire power to control her destiny on this surface.  She’s a slight favorite to advance.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (7) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium Court in Toronto

This is a rematch from a dramatic round of 16 match last month at SW19.  Hurkacz was down two-sets-to-one when rain stopped the match.  As they restarted the next day, Hubi dominated the proceedings, prevailing 6-3 in the fifth.  Like Sabalenka, that was his first Slam semi, and came on the heels of an 0-6 streak following his title in Miami.  That was the most recent 1000-level hard court event, so obviously Hurkacz is comfortable in this setting.  But he participated in an exhausting, and often rather ugly three-setter late on Thursday night against Nikoloz Basilashvili.  And over the last nine months, no one has excelled on hard courts more than Medvedev, who is 31-4 on this surface since November.  Hubi’s serving prowess should not be dismissed, but Daniil’s versatility should enable him to reach his second consecutive semifinal in the Great White North.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Casper Ruud (6) – The Norwegian has won three straight titles and 15 consecutive matches, though none of those victories have come over top 40 players.  Earlier this year on the clay of Madrid, Ruud upset Tsitsipas in straight sets.

Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo – In their only previous meeting, at the 2017 Australian Open, Pliskova dominated Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 6-0.  But four-and-a-half years later, the Spaniard has become one of the sport’s toughest outs, wearing down opponents with her defense and lack of errors.

Coco Gauff (15) vs. Camila Giorgi – This is already Gauff’s seventh quarterfinal on the year.  Giorgi has been dangerous of late, winning 11 of her last 15 matches.  In May on clay, Gauff defeated Giorgi in straight sets. 

Roberto Bautista Agut (10) vs. Reilly Opelka – Both men saved match points to advance on Thursday.  Bautista Agut survived a grueling three-setter against Diego Schwartzman, while Opelka overcame Lloyd Harris in a third-set tiebreak.  Roberto leads their head-to-head 2-1, with all three matches contested on hard courts within the past two years.

Gael Monfils (11) vs. John Isner – This is the first time the newly-married Monfils has won back-to-back matches in 18 months.  These two have a storied history, consisting of 12 matches dating back to 2007.  Monfils leads 7-5, and has claimed four of their last five.

Friday’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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