Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Rematch from the Wimbledon Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Rematch from the Wimbledon Semifinals

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Angelique Kerber is on a roll this week in Ohio (twitter.com/CincyTennis)

Angelique Kerber has won 14 of her last 15 matches, but the one loss came at the hands of her opponent on Saturday, Wimbledon champion Ash Barty.  In the semifinals of The Championships, Barty prevailed 6-3, 7-6(3).  However, their previous four contests came on hard courts, and they split them 2-2. 

The men’s semifinals feature the top four seeds, and the four players likeliest to challenge Novak Djokovic for the US Open title.  Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev grew up together in the sport, and share a close bond.  But their on-court history has been completely one-sided.  Will that continue on Saturday?  The other men’s semifinal also features a lopsided rivalry, as Stefanos Tsitsipas has taken six of his last seven meetings with Sascha Zverev.

Also on Saturday, the men’s doubles semifinals, as well as the women’s doubles championship match.

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 11:00am local time.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Angelique Kerber –  11:00am on Center Court

Barty’s 2021 is starting to closely resemble the greatness of her 2019.  Two years ago, she went 57-13, winning four titles: Miami, Roland Garros, Birmingham, and the WTA Finals.  This season, she’s 38-7, winning four titles: the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami, Stuttgart, and Wimbledon.  And perhaps most impressive is her 14-1 record against top 20 opposition, with her only loss coming in the Madrid final against Aryna Sabalenka.  It’s worth noting while Kerber will return to the top 20 after this week, she’s currently ranked No.22.  The German has already earned four significant victories this week (Sakkari, Svitolina, Ostapenko, Kvitova).  Despite three of those being top 10 wins, she still has a losing record against the top 20 this year.  And Barty has been stellar this week, winning all her matches in straight sets, and dropping only eight games across her last four sets played.  The Australian is the favorite to reach her sixth final of the year, and the sixth WTA 1000 final of her career.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Andrey Rublev (4) – Not Before 1:00pm on Center Court

Over the last two years, they have met four times.  All four matches occurred on hard courts, all in the quarterfinal round, and all have been straight-set victories for Medvedev.  That run started two years ago in the quarterfinals of this event, and continued most recently at February’s Australian Open.  Rublev’s pummeling groundstrokes should be rewarded by the extremely quick conditions in Cincinnati, but Medvedev’s defensive skills have remained completely unchallenged this week.  The Toronto champion of a week ago has won all six sets contested thus far, with no opponent earning more than three games in a set.  When you dominate a player as Daniil has Andrey, it’s a difficult trend to break the longer it continues.  And Medvedev is 5-0 in his last five Masters 1000 semifinals.  All evidence indicates another victory for the top seed on Saturday.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) vs. Sascha Zverev (3) – No one has won more matches this year than Tsitsipas (48), but the Olympic gold medalist has won nine matches in a row, and 10 sets in a row.  The Greek leads their head-to-head 6-2, though the German took their most recent hard court encounter.  In this year’s French Open semifinals, Tsitsipas took out Zverev in five.

Karolina Pliskova (5) vs. Jil Teichmann – Teichmann has been the breakout star of this tournament, upsetting Naomi Osaka and Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic on back-to-back days.  Pliskova is looking for third consecutive tour final, dating back to Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.

Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani (6) vs. Sam Stosur and Shuai Zhang – This is the third final in as many weeks for Dabrowski and Stefani, who were the champions last week in Montreal.  This is Stosur and Shuai’s first tournament as a team since the Australian Open.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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Perspective And Fatigue: The Two Sides Of Iga Swiatek’s Dubai Defeat

Iga Swiatek spoke about perspective and fatigue after her semi-final exit in Dubai.

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Iga Swiatek showed two sides to her defeat in Dubai as the world number one surprisingly failed to win the title despite being the favourite in the semi-finals.

Heading into her semi-final in Dubai, Swiatek was heavy favourite to win her second consecutive WTA title after claiming the title in Doha the week before.

However Swiatek was unsuccessful in her bid to reach the final as she lost to Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Swiatek who missed a golden opportunity to establish even more dominance ahead of Indian Wells.

As all champions do Swiatek offered perspective to her defeat as she looks ahead to the rest of the season, “I mean, I’m angry but on the other hand, there aren’t many players that actually survive these kinds of tournaments so I just kind of have to let it go and accept it,” Swiatek was quoted by Tennis Majors.

There was not only perspective offered but also fatigue as expectations and pressure can force simple mistakes from the best players in the world.

The world number one acknowledged Kalinskaya’s performance but did admit her own performance contributed to the defeat, “Today I would say, I mean she [Kalinskaya] played well and for sure she deserves to be in the final, but I feel like it was more about me and my level,” Swiatek told Tennis Majors.

“I wanted to be focused on myself and I wasn’t really able to implement any tactics that I had. Usually, when I tell myself what to do, I can improve my game but today I was so out of power and tired that I just couldn’t. Day by day, it was a little bit worse.”

Swiatek will hope to re-energize herself ahead of the sunshine double in America.

Last year Swiatek lost to eventual champion Elena Rybakina in the semi-finals at Indian Wells before withdrawing from Miami.

The Pole will look to improve last year’s performance when she plays Indian Wells, which starts on the 6th of March.

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‘Speechless’ Mensik Reaches Maiden ATP Final In Doha

Jakub Mensik is into his first ATP final in Doha.

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Jakub Mensik admitted he was left speechless after reaching his first ATP final in Doha.

The 18 year-old continued his remarkable week with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Gael Monfils.

The Czech Republican produced clinical tennis as he beat the 2018 champion to reach his maiden ATP final.

After the match Mensik admitted he was left ‘speechless’ and spoke about the influence Monfils had on his career, “It is amazing. Hopefully not the last one [final]. Incredible week so far,” Mensik told the ATP website.

“Today again with Gael, he played unbelievable. I know it is tough to play against him, especially with his good movement. For me every point I have to play my best game.

“I have to say this performance was one of the best in my entire life. I am so glad I reached this level in the semis, so hopefully tomorrow I play like this. An amazing feeling with my first ATP final. I am speechless.

“I told him when I was young I watched him a lot on the TV. One of the biggest showman on court. He is a great guy, so hopefully in the future we will meet once again. The rallies were so fun with him.”

Mensik has so far beaten three former champions this week as he also defeated Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev this week.

Now Mensik will aim to win his first ATP title as he takes on Karen Khachanov in Saturday’s final.

Should Mensik win the title he could climb to 75 in the world as he started the week at 116 in the world.

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